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Trusty John

She soon breathed again and came to herself; but the young King had watched the proceeding, and not knowing why Trusty John had acted as he did, he flew into a passion, and cried: "Throw him into prison." On the following morning sentence was passed on Trusty John, and he was condemned to be hanged. As he stood on the gallows he said: "Every one doomed to death has the right to speak once before he dies; and I too have that privilege?" "Yes," said the King, "it shall be granted to you." So Trusty John spoke: "I am unjustly condemned, for I have always been faithful to you"; and he proceeded to relate how he had heard the ravens' conversation on the sea, and how he had to do all he did in order to save his master. Then the King cried: "Oh! my most trusty John, pardon! pardon! Take him down." But as he uttered the last word Trusty John had fallen lifeless to the ground, and was a stone.

The King and Queen were in despair, and the King spake: "Ah! how ill have I rewarded such great fidelity!" and made them lift up the stone image and place it in his bedroom near his bed. As often as he looked at it he wept and said: "Oh! if I could only restore you to life, my most trusty John!" After a time the Queen gave birth to twins, two small sons, who throve and grew, and were a constant joy to her. One day when the Queen was at church, and the two children sat and played with their father, he gazed again full of grief on the stone statue, and sighing, wailed: "Oh, if I could only restore you to life, my most trusty John!" Suddenly the stone began to speak, and said: "Yes, you can restore me to life again if you are prepared to sacrifice what you hold most dear." And the King cried out: "All I have in the world will I give up for your sake." The stone continued: "If you cut off with your own hand the heads of your two children, and smear me with their blood, I shall come back to life." The King was aghast when he heard that he had himself to put his children to death; but when he thought of Trusty John's fidelity, and how he had even died for him, he drew his sword, and with his own hand cut the heads off his children.

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