The Blue Fairy Book - online childrens book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

Home Main Menu Order Support About Search

Share page  

Previous Contents Next

90                  THE TALE OF A YOUTH WHO
carrier, and in the evening they reached an inn, where they were to spend the night. Then, just as he was entering the room, he said again, quite aloud: ' Oh ! if I could only shudder! if I could only shudder !' The landlord, who heard this, laughed and said: ' If that's what you're sighing for, you shall be given every opportunity here.' ' Oh ! hold your tongue !' said the landlord's wife ; ' so many people have paid for their curiosity with their lives, it were a thousand pities if those beautiful eyes were never again to behold daylight.' But the youth said: ' No matter how difficult, I insist on learning it; why, that's what I've set out to do.' He left the landlord no peace till he told him that in the neighbourhood stood a haunted castle, where one could easily learn to shudder if one only kept watch in it for three nights. The King had promised the man who dared to do this thing his daughter as wife, and she was the most beautiful maiden under the sun. There was also much treasure hid in the castle, guarded by evil spirits, which would then be free, and was sufficient to make a poor man more than rich. Many had already gone in, but so far none had ever come out again. So the youth went to the King and spoke: ' If I were allowed, I should much like to watch for three nights in the castle.' The King looked at him, and because he pleased him he said: ' You can ask for three things, none of them living, and those you may take with you into the castle.' Then he answered : ' Well, I shall beg for a fire, a turning lathe, and a carving bench with the knife attached.'
On the following day the King had everything put into the castle; and when night drew on the youth took up his position there, lit a bright fire in one of the rooms, placed the carving bench with the knife close to it, and sat himself down on the turning lathe. ' Oh ! if I could only shudder! ' he said; ' but I shan't learn it here either.' Towards midnight he wanted to make up the fire, and as he was blowing up a blaze he heard a shriek from a corner. ' Ou, miou ! how cold we are!' ' You fools !' he cried; ' why do you scream ? If you are cold, come and sit at the fire and warm yourselves.' And as he spoke two huge black cats sprang fiercely forwards and sat down, one on each side of him, and gazed wildly at him with their fiery eyes. After a time, when they had warmed themselves, they said: ' Friend, shall we play a little game of cards ?' ' Why not ? ' he replied; ' but first let me see your paws.' Then they stretched out their claws. ' Ha !' said he; ' what long nails you've got! Wait a minute : I must first cut them off.' Thereupon he seized them by the scruff of their
Previous Contents Next