GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES - online book

130 Fairy Stories Adapted & Arranged for young people

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three brothers walked on till they came to a castle where in the stables stood horses of pure stone. They went all over the rooms and through the castle'till they reached a door to which were three locks. The centre of this door was glass, through which one could see into the room. They looked, and saw a very old man sitting at a table. They called to him more than once, but he did not hear till they called a third time. Then he rose up, opened the three locks, and came out. Even then he uttered not a word, but led them to a richly prepared table, and after they had eaten and drank as much as they wished, he allowed them to remain all night, and sleep in his own chamber.
The next morning the gray old man came to the eldest brother, made signs to him to follow, and led him to a stone table, on which were engraved three sentences, the first in the following words :
" In the wood under the moss are scattered the pearls of the king's daughter; they are a thousand in number, and whoever can find them all in one day before the sun goes down will release the castle from its enchantment; but if he should search and not suc­ceed before sunset, he will be turned into stone."
The eldest brother read these words, and determined to try. He searched for the whole day, but when the hour of sunset arrived, he had only found a hundred pearls, and, according to the writing on the table, he was turned into stone.
Notwithstanding this, the second brother made an attempt, and began his task in the evening, so that he searched all night; but with very little more success than his brother. By sunset next day he had found only two hundred pearls; he was, therefore, turned into stone.
At last came the turn of the simpleton to seek amongst the moss; but he had no confidence in himself, and he was so miser­able at having to find the pearls, that he went quite reluctantly, and when he reached the place, sat down on a stone and wept As he sat there weeping, he saw coming towards him the ant king, whose kingdom and life he had saved, with five thousand of his ants, and it was not long before they had found all the pearls, and piled them up in a large heap. Then they went home, scarcely waiting for his thanks; they had only intended to show their gratitude. The poor simpleton was quite overjoyed ; but on returning to the castle, he found the second task awaiting him. It was to fetch the