The Little Pear Girl
Once upon a time, a peasant worked hard to make a living from his land. Every year his pear tree produced four basketfuls of fruit which had to be given to the king, a greedy ruler who grew rich at the expense of the poor.
One year, part of the pear harvest went bad and the peasant was able to pick only three and a half baskets of fruit. The poor man was beside himself with fear, for the king refused to take less than four basketfuls, and the peasant would be cruelly punished.
All he could do was put his youngest daughter into one of the baskets and cover her
with a layer of pears, so that the basket looked full. The king's servants took away the four baskets without ever noticing the trick, and the little girl found herself all alone in the pantry, under the pears.
One day, the cook went into the pantry and discovered her. Nobody could understand where on earth she had come from, and not knowing what to do with her, it was decided she should become a maid in the castle. Folk called her Violetta, for her eyes reminded them of the colour of violets.
Violetta was a pretty girl, sweet and generous. One day, as she was watering the flowers in the royal gardens, she met the king's son, a youth of her own age, and the two became friends. The other maids, jealous of Violetta's beauty and of the affection many people in the castle felt for the girl, did everything they could to get her into trouble, by spreading nasty rumours about her. One day, the king sent for her and said severely:
"I'm told you boast of being able to steal the witches' treasure trove. Is that true?"
Violetta said 'no,' but the king refused to believe her and drove her out of his kingdom.
"You may return only when you have laid hands on the treasure," he said. All