The BROWN FAIRY BOOK - online childrens book

A Collection of Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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THE MERMAID AND THE BOY 171
I must go now,' said the bear, pulling the sleepy prince on to his feet; ' but first you shall cut off the tip of my ear, and when you are in any danger just wish yourself a bear and you will become one. One good turn deserves another, you know.' And the boy did as he was bid, and he and the bear bade each other farewell.
' I wonder how it feels to be a bear,' thought he to himself when he had walked a little way ; and he took out the tip from the breast of his coat and wished hard that he might become a bear. The next moment his body stretched out and thick black fur covered him all over. As before, his hands were changed into paws, but when he tried to switch his tail he found to his disgust that it would not go any distance. ' Why it is hardly worth calling a tail!' said he. For the rest of the day he remained a bear and continued his journey, but as evening came on the bear-skin, which had been so useful when plunging through brambles in the forest, felt rather heavy, and he wished himself a boy again. He was too much exhausted to take the trouble of cutting any fern or seeking for moss, but just threw himself down under a tree, when exactly above his head he heard a great buzzing as a bumble-bee alighted on a honeysuckle branch. ' What are you doing here ? ' asked the bee in a cross voice ; ' at your age you ought to be safe at home.'
' I am running away from the mermaid,' replied the boy; but the bee, like the lion and the bear, was one of those people who never listen to the answers to their questions, and only said: ' I am hungry. Give me something to eat.'
The boy took his last loaf and flask out of his knap­sack and laid them on the ground, and they had supper together. ' Well, now I am going to sleep,' observed the bee when the last crumb was gone, ' but as you are not very big I can make room for you beside me,' and he curled up his wings, and tucked in his legs, and he and the prince both slept soundly till morning. Then the bee
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