The Crimson Fairy Book - online children's book

A Classic fairy tale collection for children by Andrew Lang

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Unseen he stole out when twilight fell, and for many days he wandered over mountains and through forests and valleys without knowing where he was going or what he should do. He had only the berries for food, when, one morning, he saw a wood-pigeon sitting on a bough. In an instant he had fitted an arrow to his bow, and was taking aim at the bird, thinking what a good meal he would make off him, when his weapon fell to the ground at the sound of the pigeon's voice:
'Do not shoot, I implore you, noble prince! I have two little sons at home, and they will die of hunger if I am not there to bring them food.'
And the young prince had pity, and unstrung his bow.
'Oh, prince, I will repay your deed of mercy, said the grateful wood-pigeon.
'Poor thing! how can you repay me?' asked the prince.
'You have forgotten,' answered the wood-pigeon, 'the proverb that runs, "mountain and mountain can never meet, but one living creature can always come across another."' The boy laughed at this speech and went his way.
By-and-by he reached the edge of a lake, and flying towards some rushes which grew near the shore he beheld a wild duck. Now, in the days that the king, his father, was alive, and he had everything to eat he could possibly wish for, the prince always had wild duck for his birthday dinner, so he quickly fitted an arrow to his bow and took a careful aim.
'Do not shoot, I pray you, noble prince!' cried the wild duck; 'I have two little sons at home; they will die of hunger if I am not there to bring them food.'
And the prince had pity, and let fall his arrow and unstrung his bow.
'Oh, prince! I will repay your deed of mercy,' exclaimed the grateful wild duck.
'You poor thing! how can you repay me?' asked the prince.
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