The Crimson Fairy Book
How The Beggar Boy Turned Into Count Piro
Once upon a time there lived a man who had only one son, a lazy, stupid boy, who would
never do anything he was told. When the father was dying, he sent for his son and told
him that he would soon be left alone in the world, with no possessions but the small
cottage they lived in and a pear tree which grew behind it, and that, whether he liked it or
not, he would have to work, or else he would starve. Then the old man died.
But the boy did not work; instead, he idled about as before, contenting himself with
eating the pears off his tree, which, unlike other pear trees before or since, bore fruit the
whole year round. Indeed, the pears were so much finer than any you could get even in
the autumn, that one day, in the middle of the winter, they attracted the notice of a fox
who was creeping by.
'Dear me; what lovely pears!' he said to the youth. 'Do give me a basket of them. It will
bring you luck!'
'Ah, little fox, but if I give you a basketful, what am I to eat?' asked the boy.
'Oh, trust me, and do what I tell you,' said the fox; 'I know it will bring you luck.' So the
boy got up and picked some of the ripest pears and put them into a rush basket. The fox
thanked him, and, taking the basket in his mouth, trotted off to the king's palace and made
his way straight to the king.
'Your Majesty, my master sends you a few of his best pears, and begs you will graciously
accept them,' he said, laying the basket at the feet of the king.
'Pears! at this season?' cried the king, peering down to look at them; 'and, pray, who is
'The Count Piro,' answered the fox.
'But how does he manage to get pears in midwinter?' asked the king.
'Oh, he has everything he wants,' replied the fox; 'he is richer even than you are, your
'Then what can I send him in return for his pears?' said the king.
'Nothing, your Majesty, or you would hurt his feelings,' answered the fox.
'Well, tell him how heartily I thank him, and how much I shall enjoy them.' And the fox