The Crimson Fairy Book - online children's book

A Classic fairy tale collection for children by Andrew Lang

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'What do you call that?' asked the youth. And the herdsman looked and saw the traces of a fire, which seemed to have sprung up from under the earth.
'Wonder upon wonder,' he exclaimed, 'so you really did speak the truth after all! Well, I cannot reproach you, though I shall have to pay heavily to my royal master for the value of that ox. But come, let us go home! I will never set you to herd cattle again, henceforward I will give you something easier to do.'
'I have thought of exactly the thing for you,' said the herdsman as they walked along, ' and it is so simple that you cannot make a mistake. Just make me ten scythes, one for every man, for I want the grass mown in one of my meadows to-morrow.'
At these words the youth's heart sank, for he had never been trained either as a smith or a joiner. However, he dared not say no, but smiled and nodded.
Slowly and sadly he went to bed, but he could not sleep, for wondering how the scythes were to be made. All the skill and cunning he had shown before was of no use to him now, and after thinking about the scythes for many hours, there seemed only one way open to him. So, listening to make sure that all was still, he stole away to his parents, and told them the whole story. When they had heard everything, they hid him where no one could find him.
Time passed away, and the young man stayed at home doing all his parents bade him, and showing himself very different from what he had been before he went out to see the world; but one day he said to his father that he should like to marry, and have a house of his own.
'When I served the king's chief herdsman,' added he, 'I saw his daughter, and I am resolved to try if I cannot win her for my wife.'
'It will cost you your life, if you do,' answered the father, shaking his head.
'Well, I will do my best,' replied his son; 'but first give me the sword which hangs over your bed!'
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