The Crimson Fairy Book - online children's book

A Classic fairy tale collection for children by Andrew Lang

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Full of hope the young prince started on his way, but no sooner was he outside the city walls than a hare sprang out of the bushes and ran before him, till they reached the mill. As before, the animal dashed in through the open door, but this time he was not followed by the prince. Wiser than his brothers, the young man turned away, saying to himself: 'There are as good hares in the forest as any that have come out of it, and when I have caught them, I can come back and look for you.'
For many hours he rode up and down the mountain, but saw nothing, and at last, tired of waiting, he went back to the mill. Here he found an old woman sitting, whom he greeted pleasantly.
'Good morning to you, little mother,' he said; and the old woman answered: 'Good morning, my son.'
'Tell me, little mother,' went on the prince, 'where shall I find my hare?'
'My son,' replied the old woman, 'that was no hare, but a dragon who has led many men hither, and then has eaten them all.' At these words the prince's heart grew heavy, and he cried, 'Then my brothers must have come here, and have been eaten by the dragon!'
'You have guessed right,' answered the old woman; 'and I can give you no better counsel than to go home at once, before the same fate overtakes you.'
'Will you not come with me out of this dreadful place?' said the young man.
'He took me prisoner, too,' answered she, 'and I cannot shake off his chains.'
'Then listen to me,' cried the prince. 'When the dragon comes back, ask him where he always goes when he leaves here, and what makes him so strong; and when you have coaxed the secret from him, tell me the next time I come.'
So the prince went home, and the old woman remained in the mill, and as soon as the dragon returned she said to him:
'Where have you been all this time--you must have travelled far?'
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