THE LILAC FAIRY BOOK - online childrens book

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

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' If my father loses that game, and you win it,' said she, ' accept nothing for your prize but the shaggy young horse with the stick saddle.'
' I will do that,' answered the king, and he went.
' Does your bride please you ? ' asked the Gruagach, who was standing at his own door.
' Ah ! does she not!' answered the king quickly. ' Otherwise I should be hard indeed to please. But will you play a game to-day ? '
' I will,' replied the Gruagach, and they played, and sometimes it seemed as if one would win, and sometimes the other, but in the end the king was the winner.
' What is the prize that you will choose ? ' asked the Gruagach.
' The shaggy young horse with the stick saddle,' answered the king, but he noticed that the Gruagach held his peace, and his brow was dark as he led out the horse from the stable. Rough was its mane and dull was its skin, but the king cared nothing for that, and throwing his leg over the stick saddle, rode away like the wind.
On the third morning the king got up as usual before dawn, and as soon as he had eaten food he prepared to go out, when his wife stopped him. ' I would rather,' she said, ' that you did not go to play with the Gruagach, for though twice you have won yet some day he will win, and then he will put trouble upon you.'
' Oh ! I must have one more game,' cried the king ; ' just this one.' And he went off to the house of the Gruagach.
Joy filled the heart of the Gruagach when he saw him coming, and without waiting to talk they played their game. Somehow or other, the king's strength and skill had departed from him, and soon the Gruagach was the victor.
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