The Blue Fairy Book - online childrens book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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224
THE WONDERFUL SHEEP
where you were—a cave, a wood, a fox-hole, a desert, would please you equally well. Do not think that you can deceive me; you fancy you are going to escape, but I assure you that you are going to stay here, and the first thing I shall give you to do will be to keep my sheep—they are very good company and speak quite as well as you do."
' As she spoke she advanced, and led me to this plain where we now stand, and showed me her flock, but I paid little attention to it, or to her; to tell the truth I was so lost in admiration of her beautiful slave that I forgot everything else, and the cruel Eagotte, perceiving this, turned upon her so furious and terrible a look that she fell lifeless to the ground.
' At this dreadful sight I drew my sword and rushed at Eagotte, and should certainly have cut off her head had she not by her magic arts chained me to the spot on which I stood; all my efforts to move were useless, and at last, when I threw myself down on the ground in despair, she said to me, with a scornful smile :
' " I intend to make you feel my power. It seems that you are a lion at present, I mean you to be a sheep."
' So saying, she touched me with her wand, and I became what you see. I did not lose the power of speech, or of feeling the misery of my present state.
'" For five years," she said, " you shall be a sheep, and lord of this pleasant land, while I, no longer able to see your face, which I loved so much, shall be better able to hate you as you deserve to be hated."
' She disappeared as she finished speaking, and if I had not been too unhappy to care about anything I should have been glad that she was gone.
' The talking sheep received me as their king, and told me that they, too, were unfortunate princes who had, in different ways, offended the revengeful fairy, and had been added to her flock for a certain number of years; some more, some less. From time to time, indeed, one regains his own proper form and goes back again to his place in the upper world; but the other beings whom you saw are the rivals or the enemies of Eagotte, whom she has imprisoned for a hundred years or so; though even they will go back at last. The young slave of whom I told you is one of these; I have seen her often, and it has been a great pleasure to me. She never speaks to me, and if I went nearer to her I know I should find her only a shadow, which would be very annoying. However,
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