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 Chico and the Crane


Once upon a time . . in the city of Florence lived Mr Corrado, a nobleman
famous for his love of hunting and for his banquets. One day, his falcon
caught a beautiful crane, which Mr Corrado handed to the cook and told him to
roast to perfection.
The bird was almost done when a pretty young peasant girl entered the
kitchen to visit the cook. When she sniffed the savoury smell of roasting, the
girl persuaded Chico to give her one of the bird's legs. In due course, the
crane was carried to the nobleman's table and Mr Corrado summoned the cook to
explain what had happened to the missing leg. To his question, the unfortunate
cook replied:
"Sire! Cranes have only one leg!"
"What? One leg?" exclaimed Mr Corrado. "Do you think I've never seen a
crane before?" But Chico insisted that these birds had only one leg: "If I had
a live bird here, I'd show you!" However, the nobleman had no desire to argue
in front of his guests, but he told the cook:
"Very well. We'll go and see tomorrow morning, but woe betide you if it's
not true."
At sunrise, Mr Corrado, angrier than ever, gave the order to saddle the
horses. "Now we'll see who's telling lies," he said grimly. Chico would
gladly have fled in fear, but he did not dare. However, as they approached the
river, the cook spotted a flock of cranes, fast asleep. Of course, they were
all standing on one leg, as they do when resting. "Sire! Sire!" Chico cried.
"Look, I was right. They have only one leg."
"Indeed!" snorted Mr Corrado. "I'll show you!" And so saying, he clapped
his hands and gave a shout. At the sudden sound, the cranes uncurled the other
leg and flapped away.
"There you are, you scoundrel," growled the nobleman. "You see they have
two legs!" To which Chico quickly retorted, "But Sire, if you had clapped and
shouted at table yesterday, then the bird would have uncurled its other leg!"
At such a clever reply, Mr Corrado's anger turned to amusement. "Yes,
Chico, you're right. I should have done just that!" And he clapped the cook's
shoulder, as they parted friends.

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