GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES - online book

130 Fairy Stories Adapted & Arranged for young people

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THE THREE TRADES.                  471
ment till old age came upon them. At last, one of them was taken ill and died, and the other two grieved so greatly that they did not long survive him; and, as they had lived together in love and harmony, so, after their death, they were buried in the same
grave.
A king, who was at war with a neighbouring country, had a large number of soldiers; but he paid them so badly that they could scarcely manage to live. At last, three of them determined to run away on the first opportunity. " J£ we are caught, we shall be hung on the gallows, Avithout mercy,5' said one who was fearful.
"Nonsense," replied another; "do you see that great corn-field in the distance ? We can hide ourselves safely there; the army will not dare to pass through a field of standing corn; besides, they are to march to-morrow morning."
The others agreed to follow this advice, so the three soldiers deserted that night, and hid themselves in the standing corn. They had made a mistake, however, about the movements'of the army, for it still remained encamped near to the corn-field in which they had concealed themselves.
For two days and nights they were obliged to remain there, not daring to move, till they were nearly starved, and death appeared inevitable. Then said one of them, "What is the use of our de≠serting, if we are to die of hunger ? We may as well give ourselves up at once.'5
At this moment a great dragon appeared in the air above them, and, gradually sinking down to the place where they lay, asked them why they were concealing themselves.
"We are three soldiers who have deserted," was the reply, "be≠cause our pay was so small; but now, we must die of hunger, for if we return we shall be hanged on the gallows."
"Will you serve me for seven years?" said the dragon. "I will carry you safely through the army, and no one shall see you."
" We have no choice," they replied, "and must therefore accent your Droposal,"