The Grey Fairy Book - online childrens book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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There was once upon a time a thief, who, being out of a job, was wandering by himself up and down the sea­shore. As he walked he passed a man who was standing still, looking at the waves.
' I wonder,' said the thief, addressing the stranger, ' if you have ever seen a stone swimming?'
' Most certainly I have,' replied the other man, ' and, what is more, I saw the same stone jump out of the wrater and fly through the air.'
' This is capital,' replied the thief. 'You and I must go into partnership. We shall certainly make our for­tunes. Let us start together for the palace of the king of the neighbouring country. When we get there, I will go into his presence alone, and will tell him the most startling thing I can invent. Then you must follow and back up my lie.'
Having agreed to do this, they set out on their travels. After several days' journeying, they reached the town where the king's palace was, and here they parted for a few hours, while the thief sought an interview with the king, and begged his majesty to give him a glass of beer.
'That is impossible,' said the king, 'as this year there has been a failure of all the crops, and of the hops and the vines; so we have neither wine nor beer in the whole kingdom.'
' How extraordinary! ' answered the thief. ' I have just come from a country where the crops were so fine
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