I don’t read many short stories, but this week, I’ve happened to read two …
The Small Miracleby Paul Gallico
Published in 1951, Gallico’s story is a charming fable of faith and love about an orphan boy Pepino, and his donkey Violette.
Pepino and Violette live in Assisi. They make ends meet by doing donkey work for everyone in the town. One day Violette is taken ill and the vet can’t help. Pepino goes to church to ask the priest if he can take Violette into the basilica of St Francis to pray for a cure. The Supervisor and Bishop forbid it, but Father Damico tells Pepino to ask the Pope, so off he goes to Rome …
Sweet, and with a light touch, this was a delightful tale. Unusually, it was published as a single illustrated story back then, and the charming drawings really help to show the spirit of St Francis alive in the love of Pepino for his donkey. A charity shop find, it was well worth the 50p I paid.
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The Little Daughter of the Snow from Old Peter’s Russian Tales by Arthur Ransome (pub 1916).
One of the books I’m looking forward to reading in the coming weeks is The Snow Childby Eowyn Ivey. It was inspired by this particular fairy tale from Ransome’s collected tellings of Russian fairy tales, (which I previously wrote about here). Before I embark on the new book, which everyone seems to love, and I’ve deliberately steered clear of reading too many details about, I thought I’d re-read the old tale, a mere ten pages, to set the scene for me…
In Ransome’s story, a childless old couple build a snow girl who comes to life. She is an elemental force, spending most of her time outside playing. But one day she gets lost in the forest. A fox brings her home and think he’ll get a chicken as thanks, but the old couple plan to trick him out of his reward. The snow girl melts away while telling them that they didn’t love her enough if they wouldn’t give away a chicken.
The cruel moral sting in the tail makes this one of the saddest in the collection. I’m really looking forward to reading The Snow Child now!