The Crimson Fairy Book - online children's book

A Classic fairy tale collection for children by Andrew Lang

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the sea. When the enemy has sailed off, I can draw it up to the top again.'
'That is very clever of you,' answered the king; 'and what does Simon the fifth do?'
'My work, your Majesty, is mere smith's work. Order me to build a smithy and I will make you a cross-bow, but from which neither the eagle in the sky nor the wild beast in the forest is safe. The bolt hits whatever the eye sees.'
'That sounds very useful,' said the king. 'And now, Simon the sixth, tell me your trade.'
'Sire, it is so simple I am almost ashamed to mention it. If my brother hits any creature I catch it quicker than any dog can. If it falls into the water I pick it up out of the greatest depths, and if it is in a dark forest I can find it even at midnight.'
The king was much pleased with the trades and talk of the six brothers, and said: 'Thank you, good people; your father did well to teach you all these things. Now follow me to the town, as I want to see what you can do. I need such people as you about me; but when harvest time comes I will send you home with royal presents.'
The brothers bowed and said: 'As the king wills.' Suddenly the king remembered that he had not questioned the seventh Simon, so he turned to him and said: 'Why are you silent? What is your handicraft?'
And the seventh Simon answered: 'I have no handicraft, O king; I have learnt nothing. I could not manage it. And if I do know how to do anything it is not what might properly be called a real trade--it is rather a sort of performance; but it is one which no one--not the king himself--must watch me doing, and I doubt whether this performance of mine would please your Majesty.'
'Come, come,' cried the king; 'I will have no excuses, what is this trade?'
'First, sire, give me your royal word that you will not kill me when I have told you. Then you shall hear.'
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