By: Elizabeth Flynn

Folklore is an important element of Italian culture and there are many stories that are passed from one generation to the next. One of these is the mysterious tale of ‘The Cock’s Stone’.

In the city of Black-Grotto, there was a man called Minecco who was so poor that all he owned was a cock he had reared on only breadcrumbs. One day, he was so hungry that he decided to sell the cock. At the market, he struck a deal with two magicians and sold the cock for half a crown. Minecco was told to take the cock to the home of the magicians and they would pay him the money there.

The three men left for the magicians’ home together and Minecco could hear them whispering together. The first magician was telling his friend that he could not believe how lucky they were to have the cock and that it would bring them good fortune. He believed the cock had a valuable stone within him that they could have set in a ring and sell for a fortune. The second magician agreed and began to plan how he could spend the money.
When Minecco heard this, he decided he wanted this fortune for himself. He ran back home and killed his cock. Just as the magicians had predicted, there was a stone inside the creature. Minecco set the stone in a brass ring and wished that he was younger. Instantly, he showed signs of returning to his youth; his limbs were stronger, his blood flowed faster, his missing teeth returned and his wrinkles disappeared.

As his first wish was so successful, he decided to try his luck with a second wish. This time, he wished to marry the King’s daughter and live in a splendid palace. A magnificent palace immediately appeared before his eyes. The magicians heard of Minecco’s good luck and plotted to steal the ring to bring themselves good fortune.
Minecco was once married but his wife had died leaving him alone with their daughter, Pentella. The magician’s planned to get at Minecco through Pentella, so they made her a dancing, clockwork doll. The duo dressed as merchants and visited the house. When Pentella opened the door, they said she could have the doll in exchange for a favor. They wanted to take Minecco’s ring so they could make a replica. They would then return the ring and give Pentella the doll.

Pentella persuaded her father to lend her the ring by saying it would distract her sad heart. The magicians returned the next day and she gave the magicians the ring as promised. The magicians vanished into thin air leaving Pentella stood alone.

At this moment, the newly youthful Minecco was standing before the ring. At the same time, the magicians had reached a wood and destroyed the spell that had made Minecco youthful. Instantly, Minecco returned to his former disheveled appearance in full view of the King. The King was disgusted at the state of this miserable beggar and ordered for his banishment from the palace.

Minecco returned home and asked his daughter for the ring. He then discovered the trickery of the magicians. He vowed to find the magicians and seek revenge. Minecco threw on a cloak, fastened his sandals and began his pursuit of the conmen. He walked until he reached the Kingdom of the Deep-Hole, a place inhabited by mice. Minecco was mistaken for a cat spy and led before King Nibbler. Minecco told him his woes and King Nibbler felt great pity for the poor man.

The King summoned the mice elders and they were supportive of Minecco. For their kindness, Minecco asked two of the mice if they would accompany him on his search and help him to retrieve the ring. In return, he would give them as much cheese and salt meat as they wanted. Minecco and the mice set out across the seas and mountains.

When they arrived at Hook-Castle, the mice asked Minecco to hide under some trees. They waited until the magicians were asleep before entering the castle. One of the mice nibbled at the finger of the magician that was wearing the ring. Feeling discomfort, the magician woke and removed the ring from his finger and the mouse popped it into his mouth.

The mice returned the ring to Minecco, who promptly made a wish for the magicians to turn into donkeys. He loaded one with cheese and bacon while using the second donkey for his ride back to Deep-Hole.
Once he had thanked the mice and their King for their assistance, he returned home looking more youthful than ever before. He was received with affection by both the King and his daughter, Pentalla. Minecco lived a happy and fulfilled life with his daughter and never once removed the ring again. 

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