The VIOLET FAIRY BOOK - full online book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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GOAT'S EARS OF THE EMPEROR TROJAN 53
So when the apprentice returned home, and the master inquired how he had got on with the emperor, the young man answered, ' Oh, very well, and he says I am to shave him every day, and he has given me these twelve ducats '; but he said nothing about the goat's ears of the emperor.
From this time the apprentice went regularly up to the palace, receiving each morning twelve ducats in pay­ment. But after a while, his secret, which he had care­fully kept, burnt within him, and he longed to tell it to somebody. His master saw there was something on his mind, and asked what it was. The youth replied that he had been tormenting himself for some months, and should never feel easy until some one shared his secret.
' Well, trust me,' said the master, ' I will keep it to myself; or, if you do not like to do that, confess it to your pastor, or go into some field outside the town and dig a hole, and, after you have dug it, kneel down and whisper your secret three times into the hole. Then put back the earth and come away.'
The apprentice thought that this seemed the best plan, and that very afternoon went to a meadow outside the town, dug a deep hole, then knelt and whispered to it three times over, ' The Emperor Trojan has goat's ears.' And as he said so a great burden seemed to roll off him, and he shovelled the earth carefully back and ran lightly home.
Weeks passed away, and there sprang up in the hole an elder tree which had three stems, all as straight as poplars. Some shepherds, tending their flocks near by, noticed the tree growing there, and one of them cut down a stem to make flutes of; but, directly he began to play, the flute would do nothing but sing: ' The Emperor Trojan has goat's ears.' Of course, it was not long before the whole town knew of this wonderful flute and what it said ; and, at last, the news reached the emperor in his palace. He instantly sent for the apprentice and said to him :
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