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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Andrew Lang > Fairy tale "The Tale of a Youth Who Set Out to Learn what Fear Was"

The Tale of a Youth Who Set Out to Learn what Fear Was

"I simply can't shudder," he said, "and it's clear I sha'n't learn it in a lifetime here."

Then a man entered, of more than ordinary size and of a very fearful appearance; but he was old and had a white beard. "Oh! you miserable creature, now you will soon know what it is to shudder," he cried, "for you must die." "Not so quickly," answered the youth. "If I am to die, you must catch me first." "I shall soon lay hold of you," spoke the monster. "Gently, gently, don't boast too much, I'm as strong as you, and stronger too." "We'll soon see," said the old man; "if you are stronger than I then I'll let you off; come, let's have a try." Then he led him through some dark passages to a forge, and grasping an axe he drove one of the anvils with a blow into the earth. "I can do better than that," cried the youth, and went to the other anvil. The old man drew near him in order to watch closely, and his white beard hung right down. The youth seized the axe, cleft the anvil open, and jammed in the old man's beard. "Now I have you," said the youth; "this time it's your turn to die." Then he seized an iron rod and belabored the old man till he, whimpering, begged him to leave off, and he would give him great riches. The youth drew out the axe and let him go. The old man led him back to the castle and showed him in a cellar three chests of gold. "One of these," said he, "belongs to the poor, one to the King, and the third is yours." At that moment twelve struck, and the spirit vanished, leaving the youth alone in the dark. "I'll surely be able to find a way out," said he, and groping about he at length found his way back to the room, and fell asleep at his fire. The next morning the King came, and said: "Well, now you've surely learned to shudder?" "No," he answered; "what can it be? My dead cousin was here, and an old bearded man came, who showed me heaps of money down below there, but what shuddering is no one has told me." Then the King spoke: "You have freed the castle from its curse, and you shall marry my daughter.

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