GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES - online book

130 Fairy Stories Adapted & Arranged for young people

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THE KING OF THE BIRDS.              553
voice, " I am king, I am king !" The other birds, therefore, call him in mockery the hedge-king*
No one, however, was more pleased at not having to obey the hedge-king than the lark. The moment she caught a sight of the sun, she would rise in the air to a great height, singing, " Ah, where is that beauty ?—that is a beauty !—beauty, beauty !—ah, where is that beauty ?''-
There was once a man and his wife who had only one child, and they lived in a far-away, pleasant valley, quite alone. It happened one day that the mother went into the wood to gather fir twigs, and she took her little son, Hans, with her. It was in the spring­time, and the boy, who was about two years old, ran about the wood, and plucked the many-coloured flowers in all the happiness of childhood. Suddenly there sprang out upon them from the bushes two robbers, they seized the mother and the child, and carried them away into the depths of the forest, in which from year to year no human being ever penetrated. In vain the poor woman en­treated the robbers to let her and her child go. They had hearts of stone, and would not listen to her prayers and entreaties, but led them both away by force.
After dragging them through dust and thorn bushes for nearly two hours they came to a rock in which there was a door, and the robber knocked. It was very quickly opened, and after passing through a long dark passage, they came into a large cave, which was lighted by a fire burning on the hearth. On the sides of the cave hung swords and daggers, and other murderous imple­ments, which glittered in the fire-light, and in the middle stood a black table, at which sat four other robbers gambling, and one of these was the robber chief.
He came forward when he saw the woman, addressed her kindly, and told her to be at peace and without anxiety, for that no one should hurt her in his cave. All he required her to do was to take care of the housekeeping for them, and, if everything was kept in order, her position would not be so bad after all.
* Zaime-konig, the German for wren and hedge-sparrow.