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Main > German folktales > Fairy tale "The old king"

The old king

The next day was his birthday, and what do you think he had as a present? Why the very same cart and horse that had carried him to the castle, big enough to ride in. But he never told anyone—even his mother—the whole story of his adventures. Perhaps he did not remember them clearly himself; for the fairies protect their secrets well, and draw in sleep the veil of forgetfulness over much that we have seen in our dreams.

And did Walter become a great poet? He is a friend of mine, so I can tell you. The world has not heard of him as yet. He tells me that he often hears a little voice near him, singing, singing; sometimes he can distinguish the words and the melodies. They make him feel sad at times, he says, with longing for a world that is more beautiful than ours, but oftener they make him feel exhilarated and happy.

He thinks that he knows many secret things that would make the world happier if he could only get people to believe them. But these secrets are not about high explosives or torpedoes or aeroplanes, or motor-cars that can do the distance between Paris and Berlin at the very shortest record. They are secrets that can only be breathed in music and poetry.

Be on the look-out for him, children; for the songs he sings will be full of wonder, like Kubla Khan, and the melodies will be those of fairyland. Did he not hear them himself on the Old King's Mountain, when he attended the Midsummer fête of the fairies?

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