The GREEN Fairy Book - online children's book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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On this Jack my Hedgehog stepped down from his tree and said he would undertake to show the king his way home if the king on his part would give him his written promise to let him have whatever first met him on his return.
The king thought to himself, "That's easy enough to promise. The creature won't understand a word about it, so I can just write what I choose."
So he took pen and ink and wrote something, and when he had done Jack my Hedgehog pointed out the way and the king got safely home.
Now, when the king's daughter saw her father return­ing in the distance she was so delighted that she ran to meet him and threw herself into his arms. Then the king remembered Jack my Hedgehog, and he told his daughter how he had been obliged to give a written promise to be­stow whatever he first met when he got home on an ex­traordinary creature which had shown him the way. The creature, said he, rode on a cock as though it had been a horse, and it made lovely music, but as it certainly could not read he had just written that he would not give it anything at all. At this the princess was quite pleased, and said how cleverly her father had managed, for that of course nothing would induce her to have gone off with Jack my Hedgehog.
Meantime Jack minded his asses and pigs, sat aloft in his tree, played his bagpipe, and was always merry and cheery. After a time it so happened that another king, having lost his way, passed by with his servants and escorts, wondering how he could find his way home, for the forest was very vast. He too heard the music and told one of his men to find out whence it came. The man came under the tree, and looking up to the top, there he saw Jack my Hedgehog astride on the cock.
The servant asked Jack what he was doing up there. "I'm minding my pigs and donkeys; but what do vou want?" was the reply. Then the servant told him they had lost their way and wanted some one to show it them. Down came Jack my Hedgehog with his cock, and told the old king he would show him the right way if he would solemnly promise to give him the first thing he met in front of his royal castle.
The king said "Yes," and gave Jack a written promise to that effect.
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