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THE BLIND OGRE
IN Italy dwelt a woman named Janella who had eight children. Seven of them were sons, but the youngest was a daughter.
After the sons grew up they went off to see the world. They went on and on until they came to a wood in which dwelt an ogre. This ogre had been blinded by a woman while he lay asleep, and ever since then he had been such an enemy to womankind that he devoured all whom he could catch.
When the youths arrived at the ogre’s house, tired out with walking, and faint with hunger, they begged him, for pity’s sake, to give them something to eat.
The ogre replied that if they would serve him he would supply them with food. They would have nothing else to do but watch over his safety,each in turn, a day at a time.
This seemed a very satisfactory arrangement to them, and they consented to remain in the service of the ogre. So he let them have all the lower part of the house to live in.
After the brothers had been gone from home a long time, and no tidings of them were received, Channa, their sister, dressed for a journey and went to seek them. On and on she walked, asking at every place she came to whether any one had seen her seven brothers. Finally she got news at an inn of where they were, and away she went to the ogre’s house in the wood.
There she made herself known to her brothers and was received with great joy. After the greetings were over the youths told her to stay quietly in their part of the house so the ogre would not be aware of her presence. They also cautioned her to give a portion of whatever she had to eat to a cat which lived there. Otherwise the cat would do her harm.
Channa heeded their advice and got along very well. She shared her food with the cat, always doing it fairly to the last morsel, and saying, “This for me — this for thee.”
But one day when the ogre sent the brothers out to do some hunting they left Channa a little basket of peas to cook. While shelling the peas, she found a hazel nut among them, and as ill-luck would have it she ate the nut, forgetting to give half to the cat. The latter, out of spite, ran to the hearth and put out the fire.
Then Channa left the room and went upstairs to the blind ogre’s part of the house. She asked him for a few coals, and when he heard a woman’s voice he said: “Welcome, madam! Just you wait a while.” Afterward he began to sharpen his teeth with a whetstone.
She saw that she had made a mistake in not obeying her brother’s orders, and she ran back to the room below. There she bolted the door and placed against it stools, tables, chests, and in fact everything she could move.
As soon as the ogre had put an edge on his teeth he groped his way to the door and found it fastened. So he proceeded to kick it to break it open. The seven brothers came home while he was making all this disturbance, and the ogre accused them of treachery.
Things might have gone badly had it not been for the cleverness of Grazio, the eldest, who said to the ogre: “She has fortified herself so securely inside that you cannot get at her. Come, I will take you to a place where we can seize her without her being able to defend herself.”
Then they led the ogre by the hand to the edge of a deep pit, where they gave him a push that sent him headlong to the bottom. After that they got shovels and covered him with earth.
By and by they returned to the house and Channa unfastened the door. They told her to be more careful in future, and to beware of plucking any grass or other plant that might grow on the spot where the ogre was buried, or they would be changed into doves.
“Heaven keep me from bringing such a misfortune on you!” Channa exclaimed.
They took possession of all the ogre’s goods, made themselves masters of the whole house, and lived very comfortably and merrily there until spring. Then it happened one morning when the brothers had gone off on some errand, that a poor pilgrim came to the ogre’s wood. He was looking up at an ape perched in a pine tree when the creature threw a heavy cone at him. This struck him on the head so hard that the poor fellow set up a loud cry.
Channa heard the noise and ran to where he was sitting on the ground hanging on to his bruised head. She took pity on him and plucked a tuft of rosemary which was growing on the ogre’s grave near by. Then she hurried to the house and made a plaster of it with bread and salt. In a few minutes she rejoined the pilgrim and bound the plaster on his head. After that she had him go with her to the house where she gave him some breakfast. When he finished eating she sent him on his way.