The BROWN FAIRY BOOK - online childrens book

A Collection of Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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' Bring the best wine you have got, and two glasses, good mother,' he said as he entered, ' and if you are fond of fish there is enough here to feed the house. Only there is no need to chatter about it all over the place. You understand ? Eh ? ' And without waiting for an answer he whispered to the basket: ' Little basket, little basket, do your duty.' The innkeeper and his wife thought that their customer had gone suddenly mad, and watched him closely, ready to spring on him if he became violent; but both instinctively jumped backwards, nearly into the fire, as rolls and fishes of every kind came tumbling out of the basket, covering the tables and chairs and the floor, and even overflowing into the street.
' Be quick, be quick, and pick them up,' cried the man. ' And if these are not enough, there are plenty more to be had for the asking.'
The innkeeper and his wife did not need telling twice. Down they went on their knees and gathered up every­thing they could lay hands on. But busy though they seemed, they found time to whisper to each other:
' If we can only get hold of that basket it will make our fortune ! '
So they began by inviting Father Grumbler to sit down to the table, and brought out the best wine in the cellar, hoping it might loosen his tongue. But Father Grumbler was wiser than they gave him credit for, and though they tried in all manner of ways to find out who had given him the basket, he put them off, and kept his secret to himself. Unluckily, though he did not speak, he did drink, and it was not long before he fell fast asleep. Then the woman fetched from her kitchen a basket, so like the magic one that no one, without looking very closely, could tell the difference, and placed it in Father Grumbler's hand, while she hid the other carefully away.
It was dinner time when the man awoke, and, jumping up hastily, he set out for home, where he found all the children gathered round a basin of thin soup, and push-
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