The Grey Fairy Book - online childrens book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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Once on a time there was a rich merchant, who had an only son called Bobino. Now, as the boy was clever, and had a great desire for knowledge, his father sent him to be under a master, from whom he thought he would learn to speak all sorts of foreign languages. After some years with this master, Bobino returned to his home.
One evening;, as he and his father were walking in the garden, the sparrows in the trees above their heads began such a twittering, that they found it impossible to hear each other speak. This annoyed the merchant very much, so, to soothe him, Bobino said: 'Would you like me to explain to you what the sparrows are saying to each other?'
The merchant looked at his son in astonishment, and answered: ' What can you mean? How can you ex­plain what the sparrows say ? Do you consider yourself a soothsayer or a magician ? '
' I am neither a soothsayer nor a magician,' answered Bobino; ' but my master taught me the language of all the animals.'
' Alas! for my good money!' exclaimed the mer­chant. ' The master has certainly mistaken my intention. Of course I meant you to learn the languages that human beings talk, and not the language of animals.'
' Have patience,' answered the son. ' My master thought it best to begin with the language of animals, and later to learn the languages of human beings.'
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