Encore: 'The Hat, The Horn, And The Purse'

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(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

Think about something you own that you truly value.

It needn’t be fancy or sparkly or shiny. It could be as plain as an old teddy bear, or a favorite book.

Sometimes, the things we cherish most are the simplest things.

In today’s story, a father gives his three sons some seemingly simple heirlooms. But the magic they contain inside leads to one wild adventure!

Our story is called “The Hat, The Horn, and the Purse.” Versions of this tale come from Italy, and people have been telling it for years and years and years.

Voices in this episode include: Thom Whaley, Jacob Yeh, Jason McCool, Jefferson A. Russell, Sarah Marshall and Bobby Moynihan. You grown-ups may recognize Bobby Moynihan from his work on "Saturday Night Live." He stars in the new reboot of the 1980s animated series, “Duck Tales.”

Story adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir and Eric Shimelonis. Original composition and sound design by Eric Shimelonis. Circle Round's artist is Sabina Hahn.

ADULTS! Print out this picture so everyone can color while listening. We’re also keeping an album, so share your picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, and tag it with #CircleRound. We'd love to see it! To access all the coloring pages for past episodes click HERE. Our resident artist is Sabina Hahn and you can learn more about her HERE.

Things To Think About After Listening

What’s something you hope to do once you set out into the world?

Maybe there’s a problem you want to solve or something you want to learn more about or other ways you hope to make the world a better place.

Find a grown-up, maybe the one listening with you right now, and talk with them about one or two things you might want to do someday. There’s no right or wrong answer and of course, nothing is set in stone. We never know where the road may lead us, as Luca discovered in today’s story!

Story Transcript

NARRATOR: Giovanni was the proud father of three sons. As they grew up, he did all he could to teach them to be honest, hard-working and generous.

When the brothers were old enough to set out on their own, Giovanni decided to send each of them off with a special gift. He called them over to his easy chair by the fire, and placed his hand on the shoulder of his oldest son, Lorenzo.

GIOVANNI: Lorenzo, the gift I offer you today is this hat.

NARRATOR: Lorenzo took the hat from his father’s weathered hands. He noticed the hat was threadbare, tattered, and full of holes.

LORENZO: Oh, thank you father! I will treasure this hat forever.

GIOVANNI: You’re such a considerate boy, but listen: this is not just a tattered old hat. There’s magic in it: put it on your head, and you become invisible! Go anywhere you want, and as long as you’re wearing this hat, no one will see you.

NARRATOR: Lorenzo put the hat on his head, and just like that, he disappeared! Moments later, he re-appeared, clutching the hat in his hands.

LORENZO: It’s true! The hat made me invisible! Now you see me, now you don’t! Ha ha! (laughs)

NARRATOR: Giovanni smiled. Then he turned to his second son, Matteo.

GIOVANNI: Matteo, I present you with this horn.

NARRATOR: The horn was dented and tarnished, but Matteo was grateful nevertheless.

MATTEO: Oh, thank you, father! I’ve always wanted to learn to play an instrument!

GIOVANNI: That’s good to hear, but listen: this instrument isn’t fit for making music. However, if you blow this horn and make a wish, whatever you wished for will be yours!

NARRATOR: Matteo brought the horn to his lips and blew. Seconds later, a platter appeared on the table. It was piled high with pasta.

MATTEO: Wow! That’s amazing! I was just thinking about how hungry I was!

NARRATOR: Again, Giovanni smiled. Then, he turned his gaze to his youngest son, Luca.

GIOVANNI: Luca, my gift to you is this coin purse.

NARRATOR: Luca looked at the shabby purse. It was covered with stains, and its zipper was broken. Still, he was grateful.

LUCA: Oh, thank you father! I will work hard to fill this purse with savings!

GIOVANNI: I know you’ll work hard, my son, but this purse will ensure that you never go hungry. Every time you put your finger inside, you will find a silver coin. Just reach inside, and you’ll have the money you need.

NARRATOR: Luca poked one finger inside the purse and sure enough, he found a silver coin. Then another. And another.

LUCA: Oh my goodness! Thank you, Papa!

NARRATOR: Giovanni smiled at each of his sons, and asked them to put their hands in his.

GIOVANNI: Lorenzo, Matteo, Luca — you three are brothers. And you always will be. Though I’ve given each one of you a particular gift, I want you to share these gifts with one another whenever you can.

LORENZO: Of course, Papa!

MATTEO: You know we will.

LUCA: We promise!

NARRATOR: After hugs and kisses all around, the three brothers stepped outside and went their separate ways. Lorenzo was setting out to be an artist. Matteo dreamt of becoming a doctor. And the youngest brother? Luca? Well, he wasn’t yet sure.

But one thing Luca was sure of was how much he loved telling stories. At lunch one afternoon, Luca was sitting in a café, telling his waiter the story of the coin purse.

LUCA: Then I stuck one finger inside the purse, because my hand was too big to fit. And I found a coin inside. And then another and another and another and another and…

NARRATOR: Luca felt a tap on his shoulder. Looking up, he saw the man in charge of guarding the grand mansion at the edge of the city.

GUARD: [clears his throat] Luca! Hey, Luca!

LUCA: Oh, hi! Sorry, sir — I was so busy telling my story that…

GUARD: I know, I know. We’ve all heard your story by now … including the Duchess!

NARRATOR: The Duchess was the owner of the grand mansion. Rumor had it she owned more ornate furniture and priceless art than a queen. Some people said her dining room had enough golden plates and silver spoons to feed an army!

But everyone in the city knew the Duchess was a greedy woman, and a stingy one. Even though she had space to host hundreds of guests, she hadn’t invited anyone over in years.

So you can imagine Luca’s surprise when the guard said this:

GUARD: Luca, the Duchess would like you to come for tea.

LUCA: (shocked) For tea?! Me?! Really?!

GUARD: Really! She’d like you to come over now.

(lowering his guard, and maybe his voice a bit) And, uh, between you and me, you know how demanding she is, so I wouldn’t waste any time.

NARRATOR: Luca jumped up, smoothed his hair and tucked in his shirt. He put his hand in his pocket to feel for his magic coin purse, then followed the guard to the Duchess’s mansion.

Inside the living room, Luca marveled at the cushy red-velvet sofas, and the lacy curtains. When the Duchess breezed into the room, she looked Luca up and down.

DUCHESS: Hmmm, definitely not what I was expecting.

LUCA: (nervously) Excuse me?

DUCHESS: Well, I heard my guard telling my cook and butler all about your special purse – the one that produces coin after coin after coin. I guess I expected you to be fancier. There’s no way that purse of yours could actually work.

LUCA: Oh, but it does work! It really does! It amazes me every time I use it!

NARRATOR: The duchess snapped her fingers, and the butler brought in a silver tray. On it was a deck of playing cards. The duchess snatched up the cards before shooing the butler away.

DUCHESS: (rudely) You. Scram!

NARRATOR: The duchess looked at Luca and fanned out the deck of cards in her hands.

DUCHESS: Tell me, Luca. Are you a betting man?

NARRATOR: Luca was sheepish in his reply.

LUCA: Well, no, Duchess. My father taught me that gambling is --

DUCHESS: (interrupting) Oh, just sit down. We’re going to play some cards!

NARRATOR: The Duchess insisted they play for money. She kept raising the stakes higher and higher. And every time she did, Luca used his purse to produce more and more silver coins.

DUCHESS: So, it really does work – this coin purse of yours! I can hardly believe it. May I take a look?

LUCA: Of course, Duchess! Here – just be gentle with it. It’s from my papa , you know, so it’s really rather special --

NARRATOR: But before Luca could utter another word, the Duchess snatched the coin purse right out of his hand!

DUCHESS: Ha ha! The coin purse! It is mine!

Guard! Escort this man from the house at once!

NARRATOR: Next thing Luca knew, the Duchess’s guard was leading him outside, toward the tall stone wall that surrounded the mansion.

GUARD: (actually sorry) Sorry, little man. If I had my way, you’d get to stay. But what the Duchess says, goes.

NARRATOR: Once the big iron gate clanked shut behind Luca, he slumped down onto the street, his head in his hands.

LUCA: What have I done? Papa trusted me with that coin purse, and now it’s gone. I must get it back from the Duchess. But how?

NARRATOR: What would you do if you were Luca? How would you get the purse back from the Duchess? We’ll find out what happens after a quick break.


NARRATOR: Welcome back to Circle Round. I’m Rebecca Sheir. Today, our story is called “The Hat, The Horn, and the Purse.”

When we left off, Luca was wondering how he’d get his magical coin purse back from the greedy Duchess. As he sat with his head in hands, he suddenly had an idea!

LUCA: (light-bulb moment) My brothers! Lorenzo and Matteo! Of course!

NARRATOR: Luca made his way to the home of his brother Lorenzo, who was working as an artist. It was sunset, and Lorenzo was standing at his easel, working hard to capture the blazing reds, yellows and pinks of the western sky.

LUCA: Ciao, Lorenzo!

LORENZO: Luca! How are you?

LUCA: Actually, you know the hat Papa gave you? The one that makes you instantly disappear? I need to borrow it. I’m in trouble.

LORENZO: Trouble? Oh no. What happened, Luca?

LUCA: It’s nothing, really. I made a mistake and I need to fix it. I promise you’ll get your hat back.

LORENZO: Promise?

LUCA: Promise!

LORENZO: Okay. Well, father did always teach us to share, so here it is. Good luck, Luca!

NARRATOR: With Lorenzo’s hat in his hand, Luca sprinted back to the big wall surrounding the Duchess’s mansion. He slipped on the hat and immediately became invisible to the human eye.

He climbed over the wall and leapt into the garden. It was dark outside, but the air was warm and one of the Duchess’s windows was wide open. Luca dove through the window and found himself in the Duchess’s dining room. And there was the Duchess, eating a bowl of soup at her long table.

DUCHESS: (calling out/complaining to the kitchen) Cook? This soup is too salty! And too cold! (grumbling to herself) Ugh. Could it be any harder to find good help these days?

NARRATOR: The Duchess was dining all alone — but not for long!

LUCA: (to himself) Oh, she’s gonna love this!

NARRATOR: Still invisible, Luca lunged toward the table and grabbed the Duchess’s bowl of soup. He lifted it to his lips and drank it all down in one big slurp!

DUCHESS: What is going on here?! How is my soup disappearing?

NARRATOR: The Duchess dropped her spoon with a clatter as Luca began to speak.

LUCA: Duchess, it is I: Luca! Your favorite card-playing partner! I figured I had every right to take your soup. After all, you took my coin purse!

NARRATOR: Luca thought the Duchess would immediately apologize. Instead, she laughed.

DUCHESS: (dismissive laugh) Oh, you silly young man! You bragged about that coin purse to everyone in town! Of course it was bound to be taken!

(as if she’s having a change of heart) Listen, I’m happy to give it back. But how can I be sure it’s really you? I can’t even see you!

NARRATOR: Without missing a beat, Luca pulled off the hat.

LUCA: Now you see me! And now, you will give me my coin purse!

DUCHESS: I do see you! And I will give you your purse. But first: tell me! How did you do that remarkable trick?

NARRATOR: Remember: Luca couldn’t resist sharing a good story.

So he began telling the Duchess all about his brother’s magic hat.

LUCA: My father gave each one of us brothers a special gift. And my oldest brother, Lorenzo, got this hat. It may look threadbare and torn, but it’s actually magic! All you have to do is put on this hat, and you’re instantly invisible!

DUCHESS: Amazing! I must see it for myself!

NARRATOR: Before Luca knew what was happening, the Duchess had seized the hat, pulled it over her head, and become invisible!

DUCHESS: (overjoyed laughter) Now that coin purse and the hat are mine! Guard! Take this young man away at once!

NARRATOR: So, once again, the Guard escorted Luca past the big, iron gate.

GUARD: I’m sorry to do this to you, little man. Don’t tell the Duchess, but I like you.

Still: a job’s a job.

NARRATOR: As the guard went back to the mansion, Luca fought to hold back tears.

LUCA: (close to tears) This is unbelievable! First I lose my coin purse to the Duchess, and now, Lorenzo’s hat! This is no good. There must be a solution. Think, Luca, think!

NARRATOR: So he did. And suddenly…

LUCA: Aha!

NARRATOR: …he knew what he would do!

By this time, it was very late, but Luca suspected his brother, Matteo, would be wide awake at the university library, where he was studying for his medical school exams. Luca dashed to the university and scurried over to the desk where Matteo was hunched over his books.

LUCA: (talking a bit lower, since he’s in a library) Matteo! Hey, Matteo!

MATTEO: (talking a bit lower) Luca, what are you doing here? And so late at night?

LUCA: I need your help, Matteo. Can you lend me the horn Papa gave you? Just for one night, then I’ll bring it right back.

MATTEO: ’m happy to help, little brother. Here — take it. And be careful!

NARRATOR: Luca gripped the rusty horn in his hand and rushed back to the Duchess’s mansion.

LUCA: Okay, now that I’m here, maybe a few elephants would get her attention?

NARRATOR: Luca brought the horn to his lips and blew out one long note. Suddenly, a herd of massive, gray elephants appeared – just as he’d wished!

LUCA: Listen, my friends. I need you to make some noise. A lot of noise!

NARRATOR: The elephants lifted their trunks and began to trumpet loudly. By now, it was the middle of the night, so the noise instantly jolted the Duchess from her slumber. She sprung from her plush feather bed and scampered to the window.

DUCHESS: (calling down to the garden) What is going on out there?!

NARRATOR: Luca smiled. He patted one of the elephants on its side.

LUCA: Oh, it’s just me and my friends. Give us the coin purse, and the hat, or we’ll charge ahead and knock down your house!

DUCHESS: Knock down my house!? My big, beautiful house!? There’s no need. Come inside, and I’ll give you what you ask.

NARRATOR: Luca marched proudly through the front door. The Duchess was waiting for him downstairs.

DUCHESS: Luca, you’ve done it again. I am absolutely astounded! Astonished! Overwhelmed! Tell me: however did you summon those elephants to my house?!

NARRATOR: Well, as we now know so well, Luca was always up for telling a tale.

So, he began regaling the Duchess with the story of the horn.

LUCA: (under Narrator’s dialogue above) My father gave my brother this trusty horn. It may look dented and rusty, but it’s oh so much more! You just make a wish, and blow one note and whatever you wish for will appear! You know: elephants, coin purses, hats.

DUCHESS: Okay, okay. I know what you want. But first, I have to try this horn myself!

NARRATOR: Luca was about to protest, but it had been a long day, and he was tuckered out. Before he knew what was happening, the Duchess had yanked the horn from his hands! She brought it to her lips and ordered twenty-five monkeys to escort Luca out of the house.

DUCHESS: Go ahead, monkeys! Take him away! Go!

NARRATOR: Chattering and grunting, the monkeys lifted Luca up, carried him outside, and dropped him in the Duchess’s massive garden in a far-off corner, that was overgrown and tangled with weeds.

Hopelessly worn-out, Luca fell asleep.

When he woke the next morning, he was ravenous! Luca glanced around the weedy, forgotten corner of the Duchess’s garden and noticed a tiny tree growing amidst the brambles.

LUCA: Mmmm. Figs!

NARRATOR: Luca bolted toward the tree and gobbled up fig after fig. But before he knew it…

LUCA: (gasps)

NARRATOR: …he felt a tickling sensation in his nose.

LUCA: What? Oh my gosh! Huh? Yikes! What in the world?

NARRATOR: You see, the more figs Luca gobbled up, the longer his nose became! It was now long as a trombone, but his belly felt empty as a kettle drum! Seeking something else to eat, Luca noticed a small cherry tree hidden amongst the weeds. He plucked a bunch of bright, red cherries and popped them into his mouth. As he chewed them, he was astonished to see his nose get smaller and smaller until it was back to its original size!

LUCA: Wow. So figs make your nose grow, and cherries make it shrink...

A-ha! I think I know how to get back Papa’s gifts!

NARRATOR: Luca found an old basket someone had thrown away, and filled it with figs from the tree. Then he stuffed his pockets with cherries. Next, he gathered up some dirt and smudged it on his face, so that it looked like a beard and mustache!

He strutted over to the Duchess’s front door and gave it a hard knock. The guard answered.

GUARD: (opening the door) Yes? May I help you?

NARRATOR: Thanks to Luca’s fake facial hair, the guard had no idea who he was!

LUCA: (putting on a different voice, and/or accent) Good morning, good morning! I’ve come to see if you’d like to buy some figs. They’re the juiciest, sweetest figs you’ve ever tasted!

GUARD: They’re that good, huh? You know what? We work so darn hard around here, we deserve a little treat. Sure — we’ll buy your figs!

NARRATOR: Luca collected the guard’s money and returned to the garden to hide. That morning, everyone in the Duchess’s mansion feasted on figs: the butler, the cook, the guard and, yes, the Duchess herself!

So can you guess what happened? That’s right: everyone’s nose grew and grew. And the Duchess’s nose grew longer than anybody else’s!

DUCHESS: Agggghhhh! Call a doctor! Call all the doctors! Someone must figure out how to heal my long, long nose!

NARRATOR: Through the open windows of the Duchess’s mansion, Luca could hear her shrieking.

LUCA: (to himself) Oh, I’ll heal your long, long nose, alright, Duchess. And your big, big greed!

NARRATOR: Once again, Luca knocked at the Duchess’s door. Once again, the guard answered – only his nose was so long, it stuck out of the doorway long before the rest of him did!

GUARD: (opening the door, guarded) Yes…?

LUCA: (doing the same fake voice) Well, I understand a mysterious illness has struck your household. Everyone seems to be growing big noses?

GUARD: Why, yes! Can you help us?

LUCA: It just so happens I can! I have just the cure for you!

NARRATOR: The guard led Luca inside. Luca saw that every servant in the house was bumping into sofas and tables and walls – even each other! Their noses were so long, they could barely see where they were going!

One by one, Luca fed them a handful of cherries. As soon as they’d swallowed the fruit, their noses shrank back to their regular size! Relieved, they all gathered round to thank him.

LUCA: (accidentally in his real voice) You’re welcome!

(changing to his different voice) I mean ... you’re welcome!

NARRATOR: Uh-oh, Luca thought. Did the servants realize who he really was? His heart began to race. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw the guard wink at him.

GUARD: Don’t you worry, little man. Your secret is safe with us!

NARRATOR: Just then, the Duchess came running in — her giant nose bumping the walls and knocking down paintings and light sconces.

DUCHESS: What’s going on here? Who is this strange man!

GUARD: This “strange man,” Duchess, is a genius! He’s cured us of our long noses!

NARRATOR: The Duchess’s eyes darted around the room. They landed on Luca, whom she didn’t recognize, thanks to his false beard and mustache.

DUCHESS: Oh yeah? And exactly how did you cure everyone?

GUARD: Well, you see, he gave us this special fruit –

DUCHESS: I wasn’t talking to you. I was talking to this young man here.

NARRATOR: The guard bowed his head. The cook and butler gave him a sympathetic pat on the back.

LUCA: Look, my lady, I can see you are upset. But no need to yell! I come bearing a magical fruit! It has very special powers.

DUCHESS: Oh, “special powers,” eh? Do you think you’re the only one with special powers around here?

NARRATOR: The Duchess scurried to her room. When she came back, she was flailing her arms, waving the horn and hat and coin purse in Luca’s disguised face.

DUCHESS: You want to hear about “special powers?!" You should see these wonders! Look here: a horn that will bring you anything you like! And a hat that makes you disappear! And a coin purse that will give you endless amounts of money!

NARRATOR: Luca smiled when he saw his father’s gifts.

LUCA: I see, I see. But would you trade all of those magical wonders for a magical fruit?

DUCHESS: (scoffs) Are you kidding? I’m not going to trade anything! I’m a duchess, and I get what I want. Give me that fruit this instant!

NARRATOR: The butler, cook and guard could hardly believe their eyes. They knew the duchess was demanding. But even now, with her nose stretching halfway across the room, she refused to give an inch! The guard couldn’t help but speak up.

GUARD: Uh, Duchess? Forgive me if I’m speaking out of turn, but you may want to reconsider.

NARRATOR: The other servants nodded in agreement. The Duchess’s face turned so red, it was practically purple!

DUCHESS: Me?! Reconsider?! Never! Now: Give! Me! That! Fruit!

NARRATOR: The Duchess tried lunging at Luca, but before she could reach him, the butler seized the coin purse, the cook grabbed the hat, and the guard yanked the horn. They tossed the items into Luca’s hands.

GUARD: Way to go, little man! Now, run!

NARRATOR: And he did. Luca ran as fast as his legs would take him, through the front door, past the iron gate and out into the city.

As soon as he got home, he knew exactly what he would do. He opened an old notebook, sharpened a pencil and began to write. His oldest brother had found his path as an artist, his other brother was on his way to becoming a doctor and now Luca would be an author, telling his stories for all the world to read and hear.

Rebecca Sheir Host, Circle Round
Rebecca Sheir is the host "Circle Round," WBUR's kids storytelling podcast.



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