And so our imaginary journey through the streets of Venice comes to an end. The last two itineraries have blurred into one another, so I'll go just ahead and heartily recommend to one and all to buy the book, whether you're going to Venice or just plan to sit in your own backyard and imagine you're somewhere lofty and far away. I'll leave you with one last story, this one about beauty, for beauty has been on my mind of late (did you know your skin stops regenerating new cells or some shit after you turn 30? According to L'Oreal it does).
So, voila: The Fairy who Bestowed the Gift of Beauty
A young girl, just freshly turned sixteen, was walking home from Vespers one evening when she spied a beautiful woman all dressed in white. The beautiful woman watched her silently as she passed. This happened every day for three days and the young girl became curious. Who was this strange creature? On the fourth day the woman said, "Girl, wouldn't you love to become as lovely as I am?" And of course the girl replied, "Yes."
The woman told her to go home and cover all the mirrors in the house with white cloth and wait until midnight, when she would be visited by three beautiful ladies who would bestow their beauty upon her. "Do not be afraid, do not call upon the Virgin Mary," the woman said.
The young girl went home and did exactly as she was told, but in her excitement, she forgot to cover one mirror. The three women showed up at the stroke of midnight, dazzlingly radiant. But in the one small mirror she forgot to cover, the young girl saw the reflection of their backs: hideous, hairy and malformed, like "those of an animal."
The girl screamed and ran out of the house. On the street, she smacked right into the beautiful temptress who had conned her into this in the first place.
"Fool!" cried the woman, for she knew exactly what the girl had done.
She advanced toward the girl, who backed away. As she cowered she saw that the beautiful woman had the hairy cloven hooves of a goat peeking out from beneath her robe.
"Mother Mary, save me!" screamed the girl.
A bright white flashed from the sky, and when it had vanished, the evil fairy was gone.
The moral of this one? Don't trust a beautiful woman with ugly feet.
I'd love to do an imaginary ghostly travelogue again some time. If you're reading this, you must have a ghost story or two from your home town. Why don't you share it with me? Or, maybe you can suggest another town I can do a series on. Haunted Cincinnati? Haunted Krakow? Haunted Panama City? Do tell, won't you?