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The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Conte \Conte\, n.; pl. Contes. [F.] A short narrative or tale, esp. one dealing with surprising or marvelous events. The conte (sic) is a tale something more than a sketch, it may be, and something less than a short story. . . . The "Canterbury Tales" are contes, most of them, if not all, and so are some of the "Tales of a Wayside Inn." --Brander Matthews. [Webster 1913 Suppl.]