The Grey Fairy Book - online childrens book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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sands and thousands of birds were eating up the grain, and in the middle of them sat the little sparrow. When he saw his old enemy, the carter cried out: ' Oh! what an unlucky fellow I am !'
' Not unlucky enough yet,' answered the sparrow, ' for, mark my words, carter, your cruel conduct will cost you your life;' and with these words she flew into the air.
The carter was much depressed by the loss of all his worldly goods, and sat down at the fire plotting vengeance on the sparrow, while the little bird sat on the window ledge and sang in mocking tones : ' Yes, carter, your cruel conduct will cost you your life.'
Then the carter seized his axe and threw it at the sparrow, but he only broke the window panes, and did not do the bird a bit of harm. She hopped in through the broken window and, perching on the mantelpiece, she called out: ' Yes, carter, it will cost you your life.'
The carter, quite beside himself with rage, flew at the sparrow again with his axe, but the little creature always eluded his blows, and he only succeeded in destroying all his furniture. At last, however, he managed to catch the bird in his hands. Then his wife called out: ' Shall I wring her neck? '
' Certainly not,'replied her husband, ' that would be far too easy a death for her; she must die in a far crueller fashion than that. I will eat her alive; ' and he suited the action to his words. But the sparrow fluttered nnd struggled inside him till she got up into the man's mouth, and then she popped out her head and said: ; Yes, carter, it will cost you your life.'
The carter handed bis wife the axe, and said: ' Wife, kill the bird in my mouth dead.'
The woman struck with all her might, but she missed the bird and hit the carter right on the top of his head, so that he fell down dead. But the sparrow escaped out of his mouth and flew away into the air.
[From the German, Kletke.] 14
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