The Pink Fairy Book
The Bird 'Grip'
It happened once that a king, who had a great kingdom and three sons, became blind, and
no human skill or art could restore to him his sight. At last there came to the palace an old
woman, who told him that in the whole world there was only one thing that could give
him back his sight, and that was to get the bird Grip; his song would open the King's
When the king's eldest son heard this he offered to bring the bird Grip, which was kept in
a cage by a king in another country, and carefully guarded as his greatest treasure. The
blind king was greatly rejoiced at his son's resolve, fitted him out in the best way he
could, and let him go. When the prince had ridden some distance he came to an inn, in
which there were many guests, all of whom were merry, and drank and sang and played
at dice. This joyous life pleased the prince so well that he stayed in the inn, took part in
the playing and drinking, and forgot both his blind father and the bird Grip.
Meanwhile the king waited with both hope and anxiety for his son's return, but as time
went on and nothing was heard of him, the second prince asked leave to go in search of
his brother, as well as to bring the bird Grip. The king granted his request, and fitted him
out in the finest fashion. But when the prince came to the inn and found his brother
among his merry companions, he also remained there and forgot both the bird Grip and
his blind father.
When the king noticed that neither of his sons returned, although a long time had passed
since the second one set out, he was greatly distressed, for not only had he lost all hope of
getting back his sight, but he had also lost his two eldest sons. The youngest now came to
him, and offered to go in search of his brothers and to bring the bird Grip; he was quite
certain that he would succeed in this. The king was unwilling to risk his third son on such
an errand, but he begged so long that his father had at last to consent. This prince also
was fitted out in the finest manner, like his brothers, and so rode away.
He also turned into the same inn as his brothers, and when these saw him they assailed
him with many entreaties to remain with them and share their merry life. But he answered
that now, when he had found them, his next task was to get the bird Grip, for which his
blind father was longing, and so he had not a single hour to spare with them in the inn.
He then said farewell to his brothers, and rode on to find another inn in which to pass the
night. When he had ridden a long way, and it began to grow dark, he came to a house
which lay deep in the forest. Here he was received in a very friendly manner by the host,
who put his horse into the stable, and led the prince himself into the guest-chamber,
where he ordered a maid-servant to lay the cloth and set down the supper. It was now
dark, and while the girl was laying the cloth and setting down the dishes, and the prince
had begun to appease his hunger, he heard the most piteous shrieks and cries from the
next room. He sprang up from the table and asked the girl what those cries were, and
whether he had fallen into a den of robbers. The girl answered that these shrieks were
heard every night, but it was no living being who uttered them; it was a dead man, who
life the host had taken because he could not pay for the meals he had had in the inn. The
host further refused to bury the dead man, as he had left nothing to pay the expenses of
the funeral, and every night he went and scourged the dead body of his victim.