SIDEBAR: CHAPTER ONE
ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS...
"A KING!" my little readers will immediately say.
No, children, you're wrong. Once upon a time there was a piece of wood.
It wasn't anything valuable, just a simple piece of wood that you might find on a wood pile, of the sort that you put in woodstoves and fireplaces in the winter to heat your rooms.
I don't know how it happened, but the fact of the matter is that one fine day this piece of wood turned up in the workshop of an old carpenter, whose name was Master Antonio, although everyone called him Master Cherry on account of the tip of his nose, which was always shiny and purplish, like a ripe cherry.
As soon as Master Cherry saw that piece of wood he grew quite cheerful, and rubbing his hands with happiness, he mumbled under his breath:
"This wood has turned up just at the right moment; I think I'll use it to make a table leg."
No sooner said than done: he got his sharpened ax and prepared to remove the bark and whittle down the wood. But just as he was about to strike the first blow he stopped, with his arm hanging in the air, because he heard a tiny, thin little voice that said beseechingly: "Don't hit me so hard!"