The Crimson Fairy Book - online children's book

A Classic fairy tale collection for children by Andrew Lang

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'That is good news indeed,' answered she; but it did not seem to make any difference to her, and the next morning she was weeping and wailing as loudly as ever.
'Dear mother,' said her son in despair, 'if you will not tell me what is the cause of all this misery I shall leave home and wander far through the world.'
'Ah, my son, my son,' cried the queen, 'it is the thought that I must part from you which causes me such grief; for before you were born we vowed a vow to St. James that when your eighteenth birthday was passed you should make a pilgrimage to his shrine, and very soon you will be eighteen, and I shall lose you. And for a whole year my eyes will never be gladdened by the sight of you, for the shrine is far away.'
'Will it take no longer than that to reach it?' said he. 'Oh, don't be so wretched; it is only dead people who never return. As long as I am alive you may be sure I will come back to you.'
After this manner he comforted his mother, and on his eighteenth birthday his best horse was led to the door of the palace, and he took leave of the queen in these words, 'Dear mother, farewell, and by the help of fate I shall return to you as soon as I can.'
The queen burst into tears and wept sore; then amidst her sobs she drew three apples from her pocket and held them out, saying, 'My son, take these apples and give heed unto my words. You will need a companion in the long journey on which you are going. If you come across a young man who pleases you beg him to accompany you, and when you get to an inn invite him to have dinner with you. After you have eaten cut one of these apples in two unequal parts, and ask him to take one. If he takes the larger bit, then part from him, for he is no true friend to you. But if he takes the smaller bit treat him as your brother, and share with him all you have.' Then she kissed her son once more, and blessed him, and let him go.
The young man rode a long way without meeting a single creature, but at last he saw a youth in the distance about the same age as himself, and he spurred his horse till he came up with the stranger, who stopped and asked:
'Where are you going, my fine fellow?'
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