THE OLIVE FAIRY BOOK - online childrens book

A Collection of Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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252
THE SNAKE PRINCE
the old woman had first found the snake in her brass pot. There the prince drew rein and said sadly: ' Do you still insist that I should tell you my secret ?' And the princess answered ' Yes.' ' If I do,' answered the prince, ' remember that you will regret it all your life.' But the princess only replied ' Tell me ! '
' Then,' said the prince, ' know that I am the son of the king of a far country, but by enchantment I was turned into a snake.'
The word ' snake ' was hardly out of his lips when he disappeared, and the princess heard a rustle and saw a ripple on the water ; and in the faint moonlight she beheld a snake swimming into the river. Soon it disappeared and she was left alone. In vain she waited with beating heart for something to happen, and for the prince to come back to her. Nothing happened and no one came ; only the wind mourned through the trees on the river bank, and the night birds cried, and a jackal howled in the dis­tance, and the river flowed black and silent beneath her.
In the morning they found her, weeping and dis­hevelled, on the river bank ; but no word could they learn from her or from anyone as to the fate of her husband. At her wish they built on the river bank a little house of black stone ; and there she lived in mourning, with a few servants and guards to watch over her.
A long, long time passed by, and still the princess lived in mourning for her prince, and saw no one, and went nowhere away from her house on the river bank and the garden that surrounded it. One morning, when she woke up, she found a stain of fresh mud upon the carpet. She sent for the guards, who watched outside the house day and night, and asked them who had entered her room while she was asleep. They declared that no one could have entered, for they kept such careful watch that not even a bird could fly in without their knowledge; but none of them could explain the stain of mud. The next morning, again, the princess
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