GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES - online book

130 Fairy Stories Adapted & Arranged for young people

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IRON BANS.
455
after a search all over the castle and the grounds, they found that he was gone also.
The king sent messengers in every direction, but all to no pur­pose, and then they rightly guessed that he had been taken away by the wild man, and the whole castle was thrown into deep sorrow.
When the wild man reached the dark wood, he lifted the boy from his shoulder, and, placing him on his feet, said, " You will never see your father and mother again; but I will take care of you, because you set me free, and I have some gratitude and pity. If you do all I tell you, I will make you very happy, and I have more gold, and richer treasures than any one in the whole world." He then made the boy a nice bed in the moss, where he slept peace­fully all night
The next morning, the man led him to a well, and said, " See how bright and golden this water is. and yet it is as pure as crys­tal. Now you must sit here, and take particular care that nothing falls into it, otherwise it will be disturbed. In the evening I will come and see if you have followed my instructions."
The boy seated himself on the brink of the well, and saw that many gold fish, and golden snakes, were swimming about in the water, and was very careful to let nothing fall in. While he thus sat, his finger began to ache so terribly, that he could not help putting just the tip into the water, to cool it. He pulled it out again very quickly, and oh, how surprised he was to find it covered with gold! In great trouble, he tried to wipe it off, but without success.
In the evening came Irai Hans, as he called himself, and, when he saw the boy, he said, "What is the matter with the well?"
" Nothing, nothing," he answered, holding his finger behind his back, that Iron Hans might not see it.
But the man said, " You have dipped your finger in the water. This time it does not matter, you may go : but be careful in future not to let anything fall in, or even touch the water."
The boy went to the well early the next morning, to watch, as before. The finger was again painful, and to avoid touching the water, he raised his hands above his head, and in so doing, un­luckily a hair fell into the water of the well. He took it quickly out, but it was already covered with gold.
When Iron Hans came in the evening, he knew at once what