GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES - online book

130 Fairy Stories Adapted & Arranged for young people

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other: "The only thing for us to do is to separate ; " and to this the other agreed. Then they divided the animals so that each had one lion, one bear, one wolf, one fox, and one hare. When the time came to say farewell, they promised to live in brotherly love till death, stuck the knife that their foster father had given them in a tree, and then one turned to the east, and the other to the west.
The youngest, whose steps we will follow first, soon arrived at a large town, in which the houses were all covered with black crape. He went to an inn, and asked the landlord if he could give shelter to his animals. The landlord pointed out a stable for them, and their master led them in, and shut the door.
But in the wall of the stable was a hole, and the hare slipped through easily and fetched a cabbage for herself. The fox fol­lowed, and came back with a hen; and as soon as he had eaten it, he went for the cock, also. The wolf, the bear, and the lion, however, were too large to get through the hole. Then the land­lord had a cow killed and brought in for them, or they would have starved.
The hunter was just going out to see if his animals were being cared for, when he asked the landlord why the houses were so hung with mourning crape.
" Because." he replied, "to-morrowmorning our king's daughter will die."
"Is she seriously ill, then?" asked the hunter.
" No," he answered ; " she is in excellent health, still she must die."
" What is the cause of this ?" said the young man.
Then the landlord explained.
" Outside the town," he said, " is a high mountain, in which dwells a dragon, who every year demands a young maiden to be given up to him, otherwise he will destroy the whole country. He has already devoured all the young maidens in the town, and there are none remaining but the king's daughter. Not even for her is any favour shown, and to-morrow she must be delivered up to him."
" Why do you not kill the dragon?" exclaimed the young hunter.
" Ah !" replied the landlord, " many young knights have sought to do so, and lost their lives in the attempt. The king has even promised his daughter in marriage towhoeverwill destroy the dragon, and also that he shall be heir to his throne."