The GREEN Fairy Book - online children's book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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the water in the moat, were all of the same somber hue as the walls and towers. Upon the gate hung a huge bell, upon which was written in red letters:
"Mortal, if thou art curious to know thy fate, strike this bell and submit to what shall befall thee."
The prince, without the smallest hesitation, snatched up a great stone and hammered vigorously upon the bell, which gave forth a deep and terrible sound, the gate flew open and closed again with a thundering clang the moment the prince had passed through it, while from every tower and battlement rose a wheeling, screaming crowd of bats which darkened the whole sky with their multitudes. Any one but Prince Vivien would have been terrified by such an uncanny sight, but he strode stoutly forward till he reached the second gate, which was opened to him by sixty black slaves covered from head to foot in long mantles.
He wished to speak to them, but soon discovered that they spoke an utterly unknown language and did not seem to understand a word he said. This was a great aggrava­tion to the prince, who was not accustomed to keep his ideas to himself, and he positively found himself wishing for his old friend Patience. He had to follow his guides in silence, and they led him into a magnificent hall. The floor was of ebony, the walls of jet, and all the hangings were of black velvet, but the prince looked round it in vain for something to eat, and then made signs that ho was hungry. In the same manner he was respectfully given to understand that he must wait, and after several hours the sixty hooded and shrouded figures reappeared and conducted him with great ceremony, and also very, very slowly, to a banqueting hall, where they all placed themselves* at a long table. The dishes were arranged down the center of it, and with his usual impetuosity the prince seized the one that stood in front of him to draw it nearer, but soon found that it was firmly fixed in its place. Then he looked at his solemn and lugubrious neighbors, and saw that each one was supplied with along hollow reed through which he slowly sucked up his por­tion, and the prince was obliged to do the same, though he found it a frightfully tedious process. After supper they returned as they had come to the ebony room, where he was compelled to* look on while his companions played
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