The RED Fairy Book - online children's book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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130                      THE WONDERFUL BIRCH
' Spit, you wretch, on the blade of my knife ; bewitch my knife's blade for me, and I shall change you into a reindeer of the forest.'
' Are you there again to bring trouble upon me '? ' said the young woman.
She neither spat nor did anything else, but still the witch changed her into a reindeer, and smuggled her own daughter into her place as the Prince's wife. But now the child grew restless and cried, because it missed its mother's care. They took it to the court, and tried to pacify it in every conceivable way, but its crying never ceased.
' What makes the child so restless ? ' asked the Prince, and he went to a wise widow woman to ask her advice.
' Ay, ay, your own wife is not at home,' said the widow woman ; ' she is living like a reindeer in the wood; you have the witch's daughter for a wife now, and the witch herself for a mother-in-law.'
' Is there any way of getting my own wife back from the wood again ? ' asked the Prince.
' Give me the child,' answered the widow woman. ' I'll take it with me to-morrow when I go to drive the cows to the wood. I'll make a rustling among the birch leaves and a trembling among tlio aspens—perhaps the boy will grow quiet when he hears it.'
' Yes, take the child away, take it to the wood with you to quiet it,' said the Prince, and led the widow woman into the castle.
' How now ? you are going to send the child away to the wood ?' said the witch in a suspicious tone, and tried to interfere.
But the King's son stood firm by what he had commanded, and said:
' Carry the child about the wood; perhaps that will pacify it.'
So the widow woman took the child to the wood. She came to the edge of a marsh, and seeing a herd of reindeer there, she began all at once to sing—
' Little Bright-eyes, little Redskin, Come nurse the child you bore !
That bloodthirsty monster,
That man-eater grim, Shall nurse him, shall tend him no more.
They may threaten and force as they will,
He turns from her, shrinks from her still,'
and immediately the reindeer drew near, and nursed and tended
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