The VIOLET FAIRY BOOK - full online book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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30 THE THREE WONDERFUL BEGGARS
stands the old oak. Is it to stand much longer on the earth?'"
Vassili went on further. He came to a river and got into the ferryboat. The old ferryman asked : ' Are you going far, my friend?'
' I am going to the Serpent King.'
' Then think of me and say to the king: " For thirty years the ferryman has rowed to and fro. Will the tired old man have to row much longer? " '
' Very well,' said Vassili; ' I '11 ask him.'
And he walked on. In time he came to a narrow strait of the sea and across it lay a great whale over whose back people walked and drove as if it had been a bridge or a road. As he stepped on it the whale said, ' Do tell me where you are going.'
' I am going to the Serpent King.'
And the whale begged : ' Think of me and say to the king : '' The poor whale has been lying three years across the strait, and men and horses have nearly trampled his back into his ribs. Is he to lie there much longer? " '
' I will remember,' said Vassili, and he went on.
He walked, and walked, and walked, till he came to a great green meadow. In the meadow stood a large and splendid castle. Its white marble walls sparkled in the light, the roof was covered with mother o' pearl, which shone like a rainbow, and the sun glowed like fire on the crystal windows. Vassili walked in, and went from one room to another astonished at all the splendour he saw.
When he reached the last room of all, he found a beautiful girl sitting on a bed.
As soon as she saw him she said: ' Oh, Vassili, what brings you to this accursed place? '
Vassili told her why he had come, and all he had seen and heard on the way.
The girl said : ' You have not been sent here to collect rents, but for your own destruction, and that the serpent, may devour you.'
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