The Crimson Fairy Book - online children's book

A Classic fairy tale collection for children by Andrew Lang

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'Into the wide world, good father, or out of it, where ever my feet may chance to carry me.'
'Why out of it?' said Peter. 'What has the world been doing to you?'
'It has done nothing to me, nor I to it,' he replied. 'Nevertheless there is not anything left in it for me.'
Father Peter did his best to cheer the young man up, and invited him to sup with him at the first inn they came to, thinking that perhaps hunger and poverty were causing the stranger's trouble. But when good food was set before him he seemed to forget to eat. So Peter perceived that what ailed his guest was sorrow of heart, and asked him kindly to tell him his story.
'Where is the good, father?' said he. 'You can give me neither help nor comfort.'
'Who knows?' answered Master Peter. 'I might be able to do something for you. Often enough in life help comes to us from the most unexpected quarter.'
The young man, thus encouraged, began his tale.
'I am,' said he, 'a crossbow-man in the service of a noble count, in whose castle I was brought up. Not long ago my master went on a journey, and brought back with him, amongst other treasures, the portrait of a fair maiden so sweet and lovely that I lost my heart at first sight of it, and could think of nothing but how I might seek her out and marry her. The count had told me her name, and where she lived, but laughed at my love, and absolutely refused to give me leave to go in search of her, so I was forced to run away from the castle by night. I soon reached the little town where the maiden dwelt; but there fresh difficulties awaited me. She lived under the care of her mother, who was so severe that she was never allowed to look out of the window, or set her foot outside the door alone, and how to make friends with her I did not know. But at last I dressed myself as an old woman, and knocked boldly at her door. The lovely maiden herself opened it, and so charmed me that I came near forgetting my disguise; but I soon recovered my wits, and begged her to work a fine table-cloth for me, for she is reported to be the best needlewoman in all the country round. Now I was free to go and see her often under the presence of seeing how the
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