GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES - online book

130 Fairy Stories Adapted & Arranged for young people

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Every one pitied the handsome youth, who was required to per­form such a difficult task. He went back to the sea, and while standing mournfully on the shore, he saw three fish swimming about, and they proved to be none other than those whose lives he had saved. One of them held a mussel in its mouth, and swim­ming to the shore laid it on the strand at the young man's feet. He took up the mussel and opened it, and there lay the gold ring. Full of joy he carried it to the king, and expected that the promised reward would be granted him.
But the king's proud daughter said disdainfully, " that she un­derstood her suitor was not so well born as herself, and therefore he must have another difficult task to perform before she could consent to marry him." So she went out herself into the garden and scattered ten sacks full of grain over the grass. Then she called her lover and showed him what she had done, saying, " These grains must all be separated from the grass before the sun rises to-morrow morning, not the smallest grain must be over­looked."
She left him after these words, and the poor young man seated himself in the garden and thought that for him to perform such a task as this would be impossible. So he sat still in sorrowful ex­pectation that the break of day would be the hour of his death. But when the first sunbeam fell in the garden, he saw with surprise the ten sacks of grain standing quite full near each other, and not the smallest grain left behind in the grass.
The ant-king had arrived during the night with thousands from his ant kingdom, and the grateful creatures had with great industry picked up every tiny grain, and filled the sacks.
At sunrise, the king's daughter came herself into the garden and saw with wonder that the young man had in every way performed the allotted task. But she could not even now conquer the pride of her heart, and therefore she said, " It is true he has accomplished two difficult tasks, but I require one more: he shall be my husband when he brings me an apple from the tree of life."
The young man knew not even where this wonderful tree grew, but he was determined to make an effort to find it, so he set out to walk as far as his legs could carry him, but he had very little hope of success. He had travelled day after day through three kingdoms without success, when one evening he wandered into a