The GREEN Fairy Book - online children's book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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as before and seated himself beside the Ante-player, who wasn't the least startled at his appearance, but chatted away to him as if he had known him all his life. But he didn't find his companion very communicative. At last they came to the game, and as usual the little man let his piece fall on the ground. The flute-player was good-naturedly just going to pick it up, when he perceived that the little dwarf was in the act of springing on his back. Then he turned round sharply, and seizing the little creature by his beard, he gave him such a shaking that he tore his beard out and the dwarf sank groaning to the ground.
But as soon as the youth had the beard in his hands he felt so strong that he was fit .for anything, and he per­ceived all sorts of things in the castle that he had not noticed before; but, on the other hand, all strength seemed to have gone from the little man. He whined and sobbed out: "Give, oh, give me my beard again, and I will instruct you in all the magic art that surrounds this castle and will help you to carry off the hidden treasure, which will make you rich and happy forever."
But the cunning flute-player replied: "I will give you back your beard, but you must first help me as you have promised to do. Till you have done so, I don't let your beard out of my hands."
Then the old man found himself obliged to fulfill his promise, though he had had no intention of doing so, and had only desired to get his beard back. He made the youth follow him through dark secret passages, under­ground vaults, and gray rocks till at last they came to an open field, which looked as if it belonged to a more beau-tiful world than ours. Then they came to a stream of rushing water; but the little man drew out a wand and touched the waves, whereupon the waters parted and stood still, and the two crossed the river with dry feet. And how beautiful everything on the other side was! Lovely green paths leading through woods and fields covered with flowers, birds with gold and silver feathers singing on the trees, lovely butterflies and glittering beetles fluttered and crawled about, and dear little beasts hid in the bushes and hedges. The sky above them was not blue, but like rays of pure gold, and the stars looked twice their usual size and far more brilliant than on our earth.
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