The Crimson Fairy Book - online children's book

A Classic fairy tale collection for children by Andrew Lang

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'It is not near,' was the answer. 'The journey would take ten years, and we do not know the way. And even if we did, what use would that be? The princess is no bride for you.'
'How dare you say so?' cried the king angrily.
'Your Majesty must pardon us; but just think for a moment. Should you send an envoy to the island he will take ten years to get there and ten more to return--twenty years in all. Will not the princess have grown old in that time and have lost all her beauty?'
The king reflected gravely. Then he thanked the merchants, gave them leave to trade in his country without paying any duties, and dismissed them.
After they were gone the king remained deep in thought. He felt puzzled and anxious; so he decided to ride into the country to distract his mind, and sent for his huntsmen and falconers. The huntsmen blew their horns, the falconers took their hawks on their wrists, and off they all set out across country till they came to a green hedge. On the other side of the hedge stretched a great field of maize as far as the eye could reach, and the yellow ears swayed to and fro in the gentle breeze like a rippling sea of gold.
The king drew rein and admired the field. 'Upon my word,' said he, 'whoever dug and planted it must be good workmen. If all the fields in my kingdom were as well cared for as this, there would be more bread than my people could eat.' And he wished to know to whom the field belonged.
Off rushed all his followers at once to do his bidding, and found a nice, tidy farmhouse, in front of which sat seven peasants, lunching on rye bread and drinking water. They wore red shirts bound with gold braid, and were so much alike that one could hardly tell one from another.
The messengers asked: 'Who owns this field of golden maize?' And the seven brothers answered: 'The field is ours.'
'And who are you?'
'We are King Archidej's labourers.'
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