This is a gem from a great book, A Field Guide to the Little People by Nancy Arrowsmith with George Morse. It’s one of the most useful books for anyone interested in folklore as it details the little folk, their behaviour, and where they can be found. This is my favourite one, the Barabao, which is a far cry from the rural English critters, and I suspect it may turn up at Berlusconi’s Bunga Bunga parties, if they exist.
The Barabao is a city MASSARIOL, worldly and waggish. Women never fail to fascinate him. He loves to change into a thread, creep in between their breasts and then squeal in triumph, ‘I’m a titty-toucher! I’m a titty-toucher!’ when the woman looks down to see where the voice is coming from, the Barabao is already gone, maming even more insulting remarks from another bosom. A few minutes later he can be seen trailing the week’s wash through the streets or stealing bread from the baker.
The Barabao’s curiosity is unbounded. He slips into bedrooms through the keyhole, lifting the covers to spy ion lovers. He also hides in chamber-pots to peek at those above him. Not even the gondoliers can escape him. He impersonates people and then refuses to pay for the gondola ride, saying, ‘Rickety-tickety tack, tomorrow I’ll pay you back’ He runs away laughing and clapping his hands.
Identification: The Barabao is usually two or three feet high but can change into any shape or form. He has a red cap, wears elegant red clothes, and is quite fat.
Habitat: The Barabao lives only in Venice.
A poor Venetian was on his way to work one night when he heard a crying sound. Lying inside an open door he found a small baby, shivering from the cold. He took pity on the child and carried him home. His wife lost no time in nursing the baby, dressing him in warm clothes and putting him to sleep in her son’s cradle.
When her husband returned from work, he went to the cradle but to his surprise found nothing there. He searched all over the house, and then looked up and down the street, where he caught a glimpse of a red-dressed little man rubbing his hands together and laughing madly: ‘She even gave me milk! Ha, ha, ha. The fool! Ha, ha! She took the Barabao into her house!”
So, women, keep your chests well covered next time you’re in Venice. Just in case.