Narrator: Papa Giovanni was tired. Very tired.
A drought the previous summer had destroyed most of his crops,
leaving very little to eat, let alone sell. Yet somehow his family
had kept food on the table through the cold winter. Papa Giovanni
and his eldest son, Marco, had worked odd jobs in town. His wife,
Marcella, had awakened at five o'clock every morning to gather
eggs and milk the cows. His second son, Nico, had delivered fresh
milk and eggs to neighbors. His daughter, Francesca, had tutored
children. Everyone had pitched in. Now it was spring. But the
rolling hills of Tuscany were not covered with lush green grass
and budding trees. They were brown. Looking at the parched earth
and sniffing the dusty air, Papa Giovanni made a decision. That
evening as the family ate a meager dinner of plain pasta, Papa
Giovanni gazed sadly at their tired faces and said,
Papa Giovanni: We don't have enough money to
buy seeds. And even if we did, we don't have enough water to grow
weeds. I'm sorry to say that this farm can no longer support our
Narrator: He turned to Marco.
Papa Giovanni: Marco, you are my oldest son.
I must ask you to leave home and make your way in the world. When
you get a job, please send some money home until we get some rain.
Marco: I'll do my best, Papa.
Narrator: Marco replied dutifully. The next
morning Marco hugged his family good-bye and started off down
the road with a spring in his step and hope in his heart.
Narrator: He was big and strong. He knew that
his hardworking parents had done all they could for him. Now it
was his turn to help them. He walked until he came to a green
valley. A stream rushed beside fields green with sprouting corn
and wheat. Marco noticed a large farmhouse. A sign at the gate
read "Help Wanted."
Marco: This farm seems to be prosperous.
Narrator: thought Marco.
Marco: I'll try my luck here.
Narrator: He walked up the path to the front
door and knocked. It wasn't long before a beady-eyed farmer opened
Farmer: What do you want?
Narrator: he asked.
Marco: I'm looking for work.
Narrator: answered Marco.
Marco: Is the job still open?
Farmer: Yes. Our field hand just quit. It isn't
easy finding reliable help.
Narrator: the farmer replied grimly.
Marco: You don't have to worry about me.
Narrator: said Marco.
Marco: I am strong as an ox and won't quit until
the job is done.
Farmer: You look strong enough,
Narrator: replied the farmer,
Farmer: but you must prove you're not a quitter.
If you leave before the crops are harvested, you won't get a single
lira. If you stay, I'll give you ten million lira-more than most
workers make in five years.
Narrator: To Marco this job seemed almost too
good to be true. If he stayed on the job until harvest, he would
make enough money to buy his family a new farm.
Marco: It's a deal!
Narrator: he said.
Narrator: Marco worked hard all summer weeding,
watering, and fertilizing the crops and caring for the livestock.
His room was comfortable, and he was given plenty of food and
drink each day. He didn't see much of the farmer, but didn't think
much of it. The only thing on Marco's mind was all the money he
would receive after the crops were harvested.
But when harvest time came, things changed. Marco was served
bread and water at breakfast, instead of ham and eggs. When Marco
sat down in the field to eat lunch, the farmer rode up on a horse,
cracked his whip, and shouted,
Farmer: Get back to work, you sluggard. I should
have known better than to hire you.
Narrator: Marco was confused.
Marco: What are you talking about? I've worked
hard all morning in the hot sun. I just stopped for lunch.
Narrator: The farmer cracked his whip again,
knocking Marco's bread out of his hand.
Farmer: There's no time for lunch. Get back
Narrator: Burning with silent anger, Marco brushed
the breadcrumbs from his pants, wiped his brow, and went back
to picking corn.
Narrator: That night no pasta and wine sat on
Marco's dinner table-just a slice of bread and a glass of water.
At four o'clock the next morning, a loud knocking at the door
Farmer: Why are you still sleeping when you
should be out in the field picking corn? If I'd known you were
so lazy, I never would have hired you.
Narrator: Marco grumbled as he dressed in the
dark. No bread waited on the breakfast table-just a pitcher of
water. He drank some and splashed the rest on his face to wake
himself up. Then, tired and hungry, he walked slowly out to the
fields. Marco worked hard all morning. When the sun was directly
overhead, he started walking back to the farmhouse for lunch.
Up rode the farmer on his horse, cracking his whip in the air.
Farmer: Get back to work, you weakling!
Narrator: shouted the farmer. Marco held his
Marco: Don't worry; I'll go back to work as
soon as I've had some lunch.
Narrator: But the farmer kept goading him.
Farmer: What kind of terrible parents would
raise a good-for-nothing like you?
Marco: That does it!
Narrator: flashed Marco.
Marco: When you insult my family, you go too
far. I've put up with a lot of abuse, but I won't stand for it
any longer. I quit!
Narrator: The farmer started to laugh.
Farmer: I knew you were a quitter the moment
I laid eyes on you. Since you've quit before the crops are harvested,
you won't get paid. Pick up your belongings and get off my property.
Narrator: Marco trudged homeward with the farmer's
cruel laughter ringing in his ears. He kept thinking about all
the money he would have earned if he had finished harvesting the
crops. He had left home with hope in his heart, but now he only
had tears in his eyes.
Papa Giovanni was looking out the window when Marco turned up
the path. He noticed Marco's stooped shoulders and slow stride.
He greeted his son with an embrace. Marco sobbed softly as he
sank into his father's welcoming arms. After supper the family
crowded around Marco, and he told his sad story. Francesca was
the first to comment.
Francesca: You almost made it, Marco. Don't
feel bad. That stingy crook took advantage of you. He worked you
hard all summer, then tricked you into quitting.
Papa Giovanni: I'm proud of you.
Narrator: said Papa Giovanni.
Papa Giovanni: You showed great restraint and
only lost your temper when the farmer insulted your family. Now
we know where ten million lira may be earned. Next year Nico can
go back there and get it for us.
Nico: I can't wait until spring, Papa.
Narrator: agreed Nico. Papa Giovanni's family
survived the winter as they had the previous year. By early spring,
Nico was itching to get even with the cruel farmer. As Nico set
off down the road one morning, Marco yelled,
Marco: Remember, Nico, don't lose your temper-no
matter what the buzzard says.
Nico: Don't worry, Marco. I'll be back with
the money this fall.
Narrator: Nico yelled back cheerfully. Although
Nico was not as big as his brother Marco, he was a very hard worker.
Walking briskly down the road, Nico arrived at the stingy farmer's
door before dark. The farmer told Nico he needed a reliable worker
who would not quit before the crops were harvested. He offered
Nico ten million lira if he would work all summer, but no pay
if he quit.
Nico: It's a deal.
Narrator: said Nico with a smile. He knew what
to expect. He would hold his temper no matter what. Summer went
smoothly for Nico, as it had for Marco. He worked hard, ate well,
and was left alone. But when harvest time drew near, the cruel
farmer began to harass Nico. On the first harvest day, he rapped
on Nico's door at four in the morning.
Farmer: There's no time for breakfast today.
So get going, you worthless mutt.
Narrator: Nico grumbled, but controlled his
temper. He knew that the war of nerves had begun. The farmer said,
Farmer: Don't bother coming in for lunch. I'll
bring you something to eat.
Narrator: But when the sun was directly overhead,
the farmer did not show up. In fact, he didn't show up until five
in the afternoon. He carried a bucket of dirty water.
Farmer: Here's your lunch, you louse.
Narrator: Nico stared at the cruel farmer but
didn't say a word. He just kept working. The farmer went back
to the farmhouse. The next morning Nico awoke with a cold shock.
The farmer had dumped a bucket of icy water on him.
Farmer: You forgot your lunch.
Narrator: he sneered.
Farmer: Today I want you to get an early start.
I won't have you dawdling like the lazy bum who worked here last
Narrator: Still half asleep, Nico spoke without
Nico: How dare you talk about my brother that
way? He was the best worker you ever had, you miserable miser.
Narrator: The farmer just sneered.
Farmer: You take after your lazy brother and
your stupid parents.
Narrator: Lying in bed drenched with cold water,
Nico lost his temper.
Nico: That does it! You are more cruel and stingy
than I ever thought possible. I quit!
Narrator: Realizing what he had said, Nico came
to his senses.
Nico: I'm sorry I said that, sir. I lost my
temper. Please, let me keep my job.
Narrator: But the cruel farmer was laughing
so loudly, he didn't hear Nico's apology.
Farmer: I knew you were a quitter from the moment
I met you. Now get off my property. And don't expect any pay for
Narrator: Nico got dressed in the dark and left,
grieving because the stingy farmer had outsmarted him just as
he had outsmarted Marco. On the long walk home, he kept thinking
of how close he had come to earning ten million lira for his needy
family. That night, his sister Francesca comforted him.
Francesca: Don't torture yourself, Nico. You
almost pulled it off. Now, if I can learn from your experience,
I think we'll have that ten million lira in our hands by next
Narrator: Papa Giovanni couldn't believe his
Papa Giovanni: Forget it, Francesca. Your brothers
worked hard for two summers and didn't make a single lira. That
farmer is a smart crook. Try your luck elsewhere.
Francesca: But Papa, I won't make the same mistakes
my brothers made. I'll figure out a new way to separate that crook
from his cash.
Narrator: Francesca had made up her mind and
no one could change it. All winter she thought about how to outwit
the farmer. When the first buds of spring appeared on the trees,
she said good-bye to her family and walked down the road to seek
Nico: Remember to keep your temper.
Narrator: yelled Nico.
Francesca: Don't worry about me, Nico.
Narrator: Francesca called out.
Francesca: I can handle that old buzzard.
Narrator: When she saw a "Help Wanted" sign
in front of a prosperous-looking farmhouse, she knew she had come
to the right place. She was all smiles as the farmer told her
how hard it was to find reliable workers. She said,
Francesca: Don't worry about me; I won't quit.
In fact, if I lose my temper, you don't have to pay me.
Narrator: The stingy farmer could not believe
his good fortune. Another goose had landed in his pond, and she
was making it easy for him to pluck her feathers.
Francesca: Of course,
Narrator: continued Francesca,
Francesca: If I stay until crops are harvested,
I'll expect a big reward.
Narrator: said the farmer.
Farmer: If you don't quit, I will pay you ten
Francesca: And if you lose your temper…,
Narrator: continued Francesca.
Farmer: I won't lose my temper.
Narrator: snapped the farmer.
Francesca: But if you should,
Narrator: Francesca persisted,
Francesca: then the money would be mine. Do
Farmer: Of course.
Narrator: said the farmer. He showed her to
her room and said,
Farmer: I want to see you bright and early tomorrow.
There is lots of work to do.
Narrator: Francesca smiled.
Francesca: Whatever you say boss!
Narrator: At daybreak the next morning, Francesca
knocked on the farmer's bedroom door.
Francesca: You said you wanted to see me bright
and early. Well, here I am. What would you like me to do?
Narrator: The farmer cursed under his breath.
Farmer: Clean out the stables.
Narrator: he barked.
Farmer: And when you're done, mow and water
Francesca: Whatever you say boss!
Narrator: Francesca sang out as the farmer pulled
the covers over his head. Soon he awakened again by a terrible
noise. He jumped out of bed, pulled on his clothes, and ran out
into the yard. All the horses and cows were on the lawn just outside
the farmer's bedroom window.
Farmer: What's the meaning of this?
Narrator: he demanded.
Francesca: I did just what you said, boss. I
cleaned all the horses and cows out of the stables. They are now
mowing and watering the lawn.
Farmer: That's not what I meant, you nincompoop!
Narrator: he sputtered.
Francesca: Temper, temper.
Narrator: warned Francesca. Remembering the
agreement, the stingy farmer barked,
Farmer: Go to the chicken coop and collect the
eggs. Then feed the pigs.
Francesca: Whatever you say boss.
Narrator: Francesca sang out as she picked up
a basket and headed for the chicken coop. Later the farmer dropped
by the chicken coop and the pigpen to see how Francesca was doing.
But he couldn't find her. Then he heard a ruckus in the farmhouse.
He couldn't believe his eyes when he looked into the dining room.
Francesca had put plates on the floor for the pigs and was serving
them savory omelets.
Farmer: What are you doing?
Narrator: blustered the farmer.
Francesca: I'm doing exactly what you told me,
boss. I gathered the eggs and now I'm feeding the pigs.
Farmer: You're crazy!
Narrator: he shrieked.
Francesca: You'd better watch your fiery temper.
Narrator: she warned.
Francesca: One day it will get you in trouble.
Narrator: Smiling, she continued to feed the
pigs. The angry farmer stomped out of the dining room, afraid
that he would lose all control. Francesca followed him.
Francesca: The pigs have finished their meal,
boss. Now what do you want me to do?
Narrator: she asked.
Farmer: Get those confounded pigs out of the
dining room and sell them before I lose my temper.
Narrator: barked the angry farmer, trying to
get rid of the nettlesome girl for a while.
Francesca: Whatever you say, boss.
Narrator: Francesca sang out as she headed for
the dining room. The farm was an hour from town by foot, so the
farmer was surprised to see Francesca back in fifteen minutes
without the pigs.
Farmer: Have you sold the pigs already?
Narrator: he inquired.
Francesca: You told me to sell the pigs before
you lost your temper. I figured you were going to lose your temper
any minute, so I sold them as fast as I could.
Narrator: she explained.
Farmer: And what did get for them?
Francesca: Well, on the road I met a man who
asked me where I was going with the pigs. When I said I was taking
them to market, he offered to buy them. 'How much will you pay?'
Jack: I have something worth far more than money.
Francesca: he said. 'What?' I asked.
Jack: Magic beans.
Francesca: he answered.
Jack: You may have heard of me. My name is Jack.
Francesca: Well, of course I'd heard of Jack
and his magic beans. You've heard of Jack, haven't you?
Farmer: Enough of this nonsense.
Narrator: said the farmer.
Farmer: How much money did he pay you for the
Francesca: Money? He gave me five magic beans,
which are worth a lot more than money. See? Here they are. Now
I'll just plant them in your garden, and soon they'll grow as
high as the sky.
Farmer: Magic beans! You sold my pigs for five
Francesca: Not only beans. Do you think I'm
a fool? Your pigs are worth more than that.
Narrator: The farmer, whose face had turned
red with anger, breathed a sigh of relief.
Farmer: How much did he pay you?
Francesca: Well, he didn't exactly pay me any
money. You see, in addition to the five beans, Jack also sang
Farmer: Wait a minute!
Narrator: exploded the farmer.
Farmer: Are you telling me that you sold my
pigs to this fellow Jack for five magic beans and a song?
Francesca: Yes, but it's not just any song.
It's a special song about pigs. Here's how it goes:
This little piggy went to market.
This little piggy stayed home.
This little piggy had roast beef.
This little piggy had none.
And this little piggy-
Narrator: Francesca never did finish her song.
The angry farmer screamed,
Farmer: Basta! Basta! Basta! Enough
already. You're driving me crazy. I want you to leave this farm
and never come back again.
Francesca: I'm going to miss you and your fiery
Narrator: Francesca said sweetly.
Francesca: However, the ten million lira you
promised me will ease my sorrow.
Narrator: The farmer ran into his house and
soon returned with the money.
Farmer: Take the money, but leave at once!
Narrator: he said bitterly.
Francesca: Thank you.
Narrator: she said politely.
Francesca: In just a few days I have earned
the money it took you years to accumulate by cheating my brothers
and who knows how many others. When people hear about this, you
won't be able to find any more free labor. You'll soon find out
what it's like to do an honest day's work-and I don't think you'll
like it. I think you are a quitter. And when you decide to quit
farming, get in touch with me. Now I've got the money to buy this
farm, and a hardworking family to make it prosper.
Narrator: Francesca returned home with a smile
on her face and joy in her heart. Her entire family met her at
the gate, and they all burst into cheers when they saw how much
money she had in her purse.
Marco and Nico: Now we can start over!
Narrator: shouted Marco and Nico.
Papa Giovanni: We can buy a new farm where the
corn grows as high as a horse's ears; a farm with a deep well
and plenty of water.
Narrator: said Papa Giovanni.
Francesca: I know of a beautiful farm that just
might be for sale.
Narrator: said Francesca.