From Tales from the Italian and Spanish, Vol. III, Stories of Humor and Adventure, The Review of Reviews Co.; New York; 1920; pp. 241-243.241
CURRADO GIANFILIAZZI, as most of you have both known and seen, was always esteemed a gallant and worthy citizen, delighting much in hounds and hawks, not to mention his other excellences, as no way relating to our present purpose. Having taken a crane one day with his hawk, and finding it to be young and fat, he sent it home to his cook, Chichibio, who was a Venetian, with orders to prepare it for supper. The cook, a poor simple fellow, trussed and spitted it, and when it was nearly roasted and began to smell pretty well, it chanced that a woman of the neighborhood, called Brunetta, with whom he was much enamored, came into the kitchen, and being taken with the high savor, earnestly begged of him to give her a leg. He replied, very merrily, singing all the time:
“Madam Brunetta, you shall have no leg from me.”
Nettled at this, she retorted: “As I hope to live, if you do not give it me, you need never expect any favor more from me.”
The dispute was carried to a great height between them, and to quiet her, at last, he was forced to give her one of the legs. Accordingly the crane was served up at supper with only one leg, Currado having a friend along with him. Currado wondered at this, and, sending for the cook, demanded what was become of the other leg. He very foolishly replied, and without the least thought:
“Cranes have only one leg, sir.”
“What the devil does the man talk of?” cried Currado, in great wrath. “Only one leg! Rascal, dost think I never saw a crane before?”
Chichibio still persisted in his denial: “Believe me, sir, 242 it is as I say, and I will prove it to you whenever you please, upon living cranes.”
“Well,” said Currado, who did not chose to have any more words then out of regard to his friend, “as thou undertakest to show me a thing which I never saw or heard of before, I am content to make proof thereof tomorrow morning; but by all the saints, if I find it otherwise, I will make thee remember it the longest day thou hast to live.”
There was an end to the matter for the night, and the next morning Currado, whose passion would scarcely suffer him to get any rest, rose betimes, ordered his horses, and took Chichibio along with him towards a river, where he used early in the morning to see plenty of cranes.
“We shall soon see,” said he, “whether you spoke truth, or not, last night.”
Chichibio, finding his master’s wrath not at all abated, and that he was now to make good his random words, rode on first with all the fear imaginable: gladly would he have made his escape, but he saw no possible means: and he was continually looking about him, expecting everything that appeared to be a crane with two legs. But being come near to the river, he chanced to see, before anybody else, a number of cranes, each standing upon one leg, as they are used to do when they are sleeping; whereupon, showing them quickly to his master, he said:
“Now, sir, yourself may see that I spoke nothing but truth, when I said that cranes have only one leg: look at those yonder, if you please.”
Currado, beholding the cranes, replied: “Yes, sirrah! but stay awhile and I will show thee they have two.” Then, riding up to them, he cried out, “Shoo! shoo!” which made them set down the other foot, and after taking a step or two, they all flew away. Currado then turned to him, and said:
“Well, thou lying knave, art thou now convinced that they have two legs?”
Chichibio, quite at his wit’s end, and scarcely knowing 243 whether he was on his head or his heels, suddenly made answer:
“Yes, sir; but you did not shout out, ‘Shoo! shoo!’ to that crane last night, as you have done to these; if you had, it would have put down the other leg, as these did now.”
This pleased Currado so much that, turning all wrath into mirth and laughter, he said:
“Chichibio, thou sayest right, I should have done so indeed.”
By this sudden and comical answer, Chichibio escaped a sound drubbing, and made peace with his master.
* Elf.Ed. — This is taken from William Keating Kelly’s revised translation, in 1855, of the Decameron, or Ten Days Entertainment, which was a modernized translation by Edward du Bois of the 19th century translation by Richard Balguy. For another English translation of this story by another anonymous translator, here on Elfinspell, go [here].