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The Ogre's Feather

ONCE UPON A TIME there was a king who was deathly ill. His court physicians had tried everything, but nothing worked; they all shook their heads and said his only chance was to get a magic feather from the Ogre that lived in the mountains. But getting a feather from the Ogre would not be easy, since he was a monster that knew almost everything and ate all humans who crossed his path. Still, there were those who tried because the Ogre's feathers could cure all ills.

The only reason people even knew about the Ogre's feathers is that once in a while one of them fell to the ground and was discovered by some lucky villager. But there was no time to wait for that.

"I would gladly get a feather from the Ogre for you," one of the court advisers assured the king, "but with my wife and eight children at home, I'm really not free to try." Another said, "Certainly I wish I could do it, truly, but with my aging mother to take care of, I must sadly decline."

One by one, each officer at court offered one reason or excuse why he could not attempt the journey.

"I'll go," said one of the court attendants in the back of the room.

All heads spun around. "I have no family that depends on me," said the court attendant. "I'm honored to serve my king."

The others clapped his back with admiration and relief.

"Very well," the king mumbled. "But be quick about it."

That afternoon the court officers led the young man outside the castle. They showed him the road he needed to take to get to the mountain where the Ogre lived. "Do you see that mountaintop?" said one. "When you get closer, you'll see that the mountain actually has seven small peaks. At the furthest of the seven is the one where you'll find the Ogre's cave. I would go myself, as you know, if I could." (The others murmured, "as would I," and "surely, surely, I would.") "Anyway, good luck to you." They all spun around and walked very quickly back to the castle.

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