The BROWN FAIRY BOOK - online childrens book

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

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This was so unexpected that the prince's arm fell helplessly to his side at the sound, and he stood motion­less.
But the magpie in the tree, who, like all the rest of his family, was not happy unless he could be for ever chatter­ing, began to repeat the message the princess had taught him ; and as soon as he understood it, Prince Ratibor's heart was filled with joy. All his gloom and misery van­ished in a moment, and he anxiously questioned the welcome messenger as to the fate of the princess.
But the magpie knew no more than the lesson he had learnt, so he soon fluttered away ; while the prince hurried back to his castle to gather together a troop of horsemen, full of courage for whatever might befall.
The princess meanwhile was craftily pursuing her plan of escape. She left off treating the gnome with coldness and indifference ; indeed, there was a look in her eyes which encouraged him to hope that she might some day return his love, and the idea pleased him mightily. The next day, as soon as the sun rose, she made her appearance decked as a bride, in the wonderful robes and jewels which the fond gnome had prepared for her. Her golden hair was braided and crowned with myrtle blossoms, and her flowing veil sparkled with gems. In these magnificent garments she went to meet the gnome upon the great terrace.
' Loveliest of maidens,' he stammered, bowing low before her, ' let me gaze into your dear eyes, and read in them that you will no longer refuse my love, but will make me the happiest being the sun shines upon.'
So saying he would have drawn aside her veil; but the princess only held it more closely about her.
' Your constancy has overcome me,' she said ; ' I can no longer oppose your wishes. But believe my words, and suffer this veil still to hide my blushes and tears.'
' Why tears, beloved one ? ' cried the gnome anxiously; ' every tear of yours falls upon my heart like a drop of
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