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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Andrew Lang > Fairy tale "The Wonderful Birch"

The Wonderful Birch

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 the 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 the child the whole day long; but at nightfall it had to follow the herd, and said to the widow woman:

`Bring me the child to-morrow, and again the following day; after that I must wander with the herd far away to other lands.'

The following morning the widow woman went back to the castle to fetch the child. The witch interfered, of course, but the Prince said:

`Take it, and carry it about in the open air; the boy is quieter at night, to be sure, when he has been in the wood all day.

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