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

The old king

Walter had often wished that he could see them at their sports.

Presently there was a scratching at the window, and in came a squirrel in a great hurry with a bag of nuts slung over his shoulder. He disturbed the great black cat who was asleep on the window-sill, and she bristled with rage, and swore at him; but he took no notice, and was off again in a jiffy, after having drunk a tiny little glass of milk which stood all ready for him on the table. The squirrels were very busy; for a great many nuts were required for the feast, and they had been turning out their store cupboards.

A little hare peeped shyly in at the door. "Hullo!" he said. "Fine doings at the castle to-night. I am carrying up a basket or so of Easter Eggs. They are sure to please the Old King," and off he went.

"Is he really the Easter Hare?" asked Walter; but no one answered his question.

The old woman smiled mysteriously. When Walter had finished his coffee, she said: "Now my little dear, you must be off as well, or you will be late at the castle. It is a great privilege for you to be invited; it is long since the Old King has sent for a mortal child."

"But did he send for me?" said Walter, astonished.

"Why of course, or how could you have got here alone," said the fairy. "But be very polite and answer nicely when spoken to, or the Old King might be angry, and when he is angry the whole mountain shakes, and I crouch and tremble in my little hut. But now let us see if I have not got something fine for you," so speaking she pulled out a sack of toys that stood in a dark corner and gave Walter a cart and horse. At first it was quite small; but when she set it on the floor, it grew and grew until it was large enough for a seven year's old boy to ride in. And O marvel, the wooden horse began to prance as if it were alive!

Walter sprang into the cart; the door of the hut stood wide open, and out he drove.

"Good-bye, good-bye," said the fairy of Fuchstanz. She gave him a bag of gingerbread nuts, beautifully ornamented, as the peasants in the Odenwald know how to make them.

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