The GREEN Fairy Book - online children's book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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thing and another she was an immense time trotting to and fro, and all the while she now and again bade the prince have patience. "When at last he stood within the little hut he saw with despair that it was a picture of poverty, and that not a crumb of anything eatable was to be seen, and when he explained to the old woman that he was dying of hunger and fatigue, she only answered tran­quilly that he must have patience. However, she pres­ently showed him a bundle of straw on which he could sleep.
"But what can I have to eat?" cried Prince Vivien sharply.
"Wait a little, wait a little,'* she replied. "If you will only have patience I am just going out into the garden to gather some peas. We will shell them at our leisure, then I will light a fire and cook them, and when they are thoroughly done we can enjoy them peaceably. There is no hurry."
"I shall have died of starvation by the time all that is done," said the prince ruefully.
"Patience, patience," said the old woman, looking at him with her slow, gentle smile. "I can't be hurried. 'All things come at last to him who waits.' You must have heard that often."
Prince Vivien was wild with aggravation, but there was nothing to be clone.
"Come, then," said the old woman. "You shall hold the lamp to light me while I pick the peas."
The prince in his haste snatched it up so quickly that it went out, and it took him a long time to light it again with two little bits of glowing charcoal which he had to dig out from the pile of ashes upon the hearth. At last the peas were gathered and shelled and the fire lighted, but then they had to be carefully counted, since the old woman declared that she would cook fifty-four, and no more. In vain did the prince represent to her that he was famished—that fifty-four peas would go no way toward satisfying his hunger—that a few peas, more or less, surely could not matter. It was quite useless. In the end he had to count out the fifty-four, and worse than that, be­cause he dropped one or two in his hurry he had to begin again from the very first, to be sure the number was com­plete. As soon as they were cooked the old dame \ook a
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