Italian Popular Tales
by Thomas Crane
THERE was once a king who had three
sons. His eyes were diseased, and he called in a physician who said that
to cure them he needed a feather of the griffin. Then the kind said to
his sons, "He who finds this feather for me shall have my crown."
The youngest met an old man, who asked him what he was doing. He replied, "Papa is ill. To cure him a feather of the griffin in necessary. And papa has said that whoever finds the feather shall have his crown."
The old man said, "Well, here is some corn. When you reach a certain place, put it in your hat. The griffin will come and eat it. Seize him, pull out a feather, and carry it to papa."
The youth did so, and for fear that someone should steal it from him, he put it into his shoe, and started all joyful to carry it to his father. On his way he met his brothers, who asked him if he had found the feather. He said, "No," but his brothers did not believe him, and wanted to search him. They looked everywhere, but did not find it. Finally they looked in his shoe and got it. Then they killed the youngest brother and buried him, and took the feather to their father, saying that they had found it. The king healed his eyes with it.
A shepherd one day, while feeding his sheep, saw that his dog was always digging in the same place, and went to see what it was, and found a bone. He put it into his mouth, and saw that it sounded and said, "Shepherd, keep me in your mouth, hold me tight, and do not let me go! For a feather of the griffin, my brother has played the traitor, my brother has played the traitor."
One day the shepherd, with his whistle in his mouth, was passing by the king's palace, and the king heard him, and called him to see what it was. the shepherd told him the story, and how he had found it. The king put it to his mouth, and the whistle said, "Papa! Papa! Keep me in your mouth, hold me tight, and do not let me go. For a feather of the griffin, my brother has played the traitor, my brother has played the traitor."
Then the king put it in the mouth of the brother who had killed the youngest, and the whistle said, "Brother! Brother! Keep me in you mouth, hold me fast, and do not let me go. For a feather of the griffin, you have played the traitor, you have played the traitor."
Then the king understood the story and had his two sons put to death. And thus they killed their brother and afterwards were killed themselves.