The GREEN Fairy Book - online children's book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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332
THE GREEN FAIRY BOOR.
The prisoner's life was to be spared only on condition that within three days he should obtain possession of the golden mermaid, whom hitherto no mortal had ever approached.
Very depressed by his dangerous and difficult task, the prince left his gloomy prison; but, to his great joy, he met his friend the wolf before he had gone many miles on his journey. The cunning creature pretended he knew nothing of what had happened to the prince, and asked him how he fared with the horse. The prince told him all about his misadventure and the condition on which the emperor had promised to spare his life. Then the wolf reminded him that he had twice got him out of prison, and that if he would only trust in him and do exactly as he told him, he would certainly succeed in this last undertaking. Thereupon they bent their steps toward the sea, which stretched out before them as far as their eyes could see, all the waves dancing and glittering in the bright sunshine. "Now," continued the wolf, "I am go­ing to turn myself into a boat full of the most beautiful silken merchandise, and you must jump boldly into the boat and steer with my tail in your hand right out into the open sea. You will soon come upon the golden mer­maid. Whatever you do, don't follow her if she calls you, but on the contrary say to her, 'The buyer comes to the seller, not the seller to the buyer.' After which you must steer toward the land, and she will follow you, for she won't be able to resist the beautiful wares you have on board your ship."
The prince promised faithfully to do all he had been told, whereupon the wolf changed himself into a ship full of most exquisite silks, of every shade and color imagi­nable. The astonished prince stepped into the boat, and holding the wolf's tail in his hand he steered boldly out into the open sea, where the sun was gilding the blue waves with its golden rays. Soon he saw the golden mer­maid swimming near the ship, beckoning and calling to him to follow her; but, mindful of the wolf's warning, he told her in a loud voice that if she wished to buy any­thing she must come to him. With these words he turned his magic ship round and steered back toward the land. Th e mermaid called out to him to stand still, but he re­fused to listen to her and never paused till he reached the sand of the shore. Here he stopped and waited for the mermaid, who had swum after him.
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