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

The old king

One had on it:

"For a good boy."

It was an invitation from the Old King and was worded as follows:

Audience with His Majesty, 10-11.

Amusements Varied.

Supper and Dancing, 12.

Crying forbidden.

Old King.

"Good-bye, I will come to see you again very soon," said Walter, and he drove up the mountain in fine style.

It was now getting quite dark; for he had stayed longer than he was aware of in the little hut; the firs stood black and deep on either hand; he would have been frightened perhaps, but he was tired; he closed his eyes and played at being asleep in his little bed at home. When he opened his eyes again, he saw bright lights flitting through the gloomy fir-trees like so many luminous butterflies. One flew towards him, and settled on the side of his cart, and he saw that it was a lovely elf with a crown of gold on his head. "King Oberon himself," thought Walter, and the elf answered, as all fairies do, to his thought:

"Yes I am Oberon, King of the fairies," he said in a voice in a high key like the hum of insects. "I have come to look at you, it is so long since I have spoken to a mortal child. Mortals care no longer for us; they like true stories—that is stories about their own stupid little lives; 'fairies do not exist,' they say, Ha, ha, ha! we pinch their silly little toes, and send them bad dreams, and hide their toys, and blot their copy-books, and then we do not exist, Ha, ha, ha!"

"But I care very much," said Walter eagerly. "O won't you come home with me and live with me always and sleep in my bed, you beautiful little Elf-man." And he put out his hand to catch the fairy as a child might grasp at a butterfly. But—puff!—he was off like a seed of the thistledown, and a peal of fairy laughter sounded in his ears. Then all was still and dark again.

Suddenly a sound of bells broke the stillness ling, lang, ding dong. These were the foxgloves, and the balsams popped like tiny pistols, and from the tall mosses came sudden explosions and the scattering of illuminated spores.

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