GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES - online book

130 Fairy Stories Adapted & Arranged for young people

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" And what is your request?" he asked.
"You have taught us to hunt, and to earn our living," they replied, " and we want to go out in the world and seek our for­tune. Will you give us permission to do so ?"
The good old man replied joyfully, "You speak like brave hunters; what you desire is my own wish. Go when you will, you will be sure to succeed." Then they ate and drank together joyfully.
When the appointed day came, the hunter presented each of them with a new rifle and a dog, and allowed them to take as much as they would from his store of the gold pieces. He accom­panied them for some distance on the way, and before saying fare­well, he gave them each a white penknife, and said : " If at any time you should get separated from each other, the knife must be placed cross-ways in a tree, one side of the blade turning east, the other west, pointing out the road rtvhich each should take. If one should die, the blade will rust on one side; but as long as he lives, it will remain bright." After saying this, he wished the bro­thers farewell, and they started on their way.
After travelling for some time they came to an immense forest, so large that it was impossible to cross it in one day. They stayed there" all night, and ate what they had in their game-bags ; but for two days they walked on through the forest without finding themselves any nearer the end.
By this time they had nothing left to eat, so one said to the
other: "We must shoot something, for this hunger is not to be
endured." So he loaded his gun, and looked about him. Presently
an old hare came running by ; but as he raised his rifle, the hare
" Dearest hunters, let me live; I will to you my young ones give."
Then she sprang up into the bushes, and brought out two young ones, and laid them before the hunters. The little animals were so full of tricks, and played about so prettily, that the hunters had not the heart to kill them ; they kept them, therefore, alive, and the little animals soon learned to follow them about like dogs.
By-and-by a fox appeared, and they were about to shoot him* but he cried, also—
"Dearest hunters, let me live, And I will you my young ones give.*