Day 3, Tale #7 of Giambattista Basile’s “Il Pentamerone”
retold in narrative verse by Laura J. Bobrow
Corvetto was a jewel at court, a favorite of the king. Because of this the courtiers detested everything about him from his honest face down to his pleasant mien. In hidden corners nasty-minded nobles could be seen setting traps, concocting tales to bring him to a fall, but Corvetto was enchanted and evaded one and all. The lords discovered calumny could not impair his fame. “Perhaps,” they said, “with flattery we may achieve our aim. We’ll praise him to the king with such regard and with such charm that he’ll be set a task through which he’ll come to grievous harm.” A ghoul lived on a mountain where the sun could never reach, and in his stable lived a horse which had the gift of speech. “That brilliant horse,” they told the king, “by rights belongs to you. But who can brave the savage ghoul? Corvetto! That is who.” The king agreed. “Corvetto, if you love me, get that horse.” Corvetto knew the courtiers had set a trap, of course. He gained the mountain, saddled up the steed and rode him out. “Help! Help! Corvetto’s stealing me!” the horse began to shout.