The GREEN Fairy Book - online children's book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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246
THE GREEN FAIRY BOOK.
interminable games of chess, and not until he was nearly dying of weariness did they, slowly and ceremoniously as before, conduct him to his sleeping apartment.
The hope of consulting the oracle woke him very early the next morning, and his first demand was to be allowed to present himself before it, but without replying his attendants conducted him to a huge marble bath, very shallow at one end and quite deep at the other, and gave him to understand that he was to go into it. The prince, nothing loth, was for springing at once into deep water, but he was gently but forcibly held back and only allowed to stand where it was about an inch deep, and he was nearly wild with impatience when he found that this proc­ess was to be repeated every day in spite of all he could say or do, the water rising higher and higher by inches, so that for sixty days he had to live in perpetual silence, ceremoniously conducted to and fro, supping all his meals through the long reed and looking on at innumerable games of chess, the game of all others which he detested most.
But at last the water rose as high as his chin, and his bath was complete. And that day the slaves in their black robes, and each having a large bat perched upon his head, marched in slow procession with the prince in their midst, chanting a melancholy song, to the iron gate that led into a kind of temple. At the sound of their chanting another band of slaves appeared and took possession of the un­happy Vivien.
They looked to him exactly like the ones he had left, except that they moved more slowly still, and each one held a raven upon his wrist, and their harsh croakings reechoed through the dismal place. Holding the prince by the arms, not so much to do him honor as to restrain his impatience, they proceeded by slow degrees np the steps of the temple, and when they at last reached the top he thought his long waiting must be at an end. But, on the contrary, after slowly enshrouding him in a long black robe like their own, they led him into the temple itself, wher* he was forced to witness numbers of lengthy rites and ceremonies.
By this time Vivien's active impatience had subsided into passive weariness and his yawns were continual and scandalous, but nobody heeded him. He stared hopelessly
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