The Grey Fairy Book - online childrens book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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' Dear me, how lucky!' said the fox. ' I know what has become of it. Follow me !' So they went on till they came to the gate of a large garden.
' You will find here the vine that you are seeking, but it will not be at all easy to get it. You must listen care­fully to what I am going to say. Before you reach the vine you will have to pass twelve outposts, each con­sisting of two guards. If you see these guards looking straight at you, go on without fear, for they are asleep. But if their eyes are shut then beware, for they are wide awake. If you once get to the vine, you will find two shovels, one of wood and the other of iron. Be sure not to take the iron one; it will make a noise and rouse the guards, and then you are lost.'
The young man got safely through the garden without any adventures till he came to the vine which yielded a tun of wine an hour. But he thought he should find it impossible to dig the hard earth with only a wooden shovel, so picked up the iron one instead. The noise it made soon awakened the guards. They seized the poor simpleton and carried him to their master.
'Why do you try to steal my vine?' demanded he; ' and how did you manage to get past the guards?'
' The vine is not yours; it belongs to my father, and if you will not give it to me now, I will return and get it somehow.'
' You shall have the vine if you will bring me in exchange an apple off the golden apple-tree that flowers every twenty-four hours, and bears fruit of gold.' So saying, he gave orders that the simpleton should be released, and this done, the youth hurried off to consult the fox.
' Now you see,' observed the fox, ' this comes of not following my advice. However, I will help you to get the golden apple. It grows in a garden that you will easily recognise from my description. Near the apple-tree are two poles, one of gold, the other of wood.
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