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The Three Citrons

Then he said to his father, "Sir, unless I have a wife as white and red as this cheese, it is all over with me; so now resolve, if you wish to see me alive and well, to give me all I require to go through the world in search of a beauty exactly like this cheese, or else I shall end my life and die by inches."

When the King heard this mad resolution, he thought the house was falling about his ears; his colour came and went, but as soon as he recovered himself and could speak, he said, "My son, the life of my soul, the core of my heart, the prop of my old age, what mad-brained fancy has made you take leave of your senses? Have you lost your wits? You want either all or nothing: first you wish not to marry, on purpose to deprive me of an heir, and now you are impatient to drive me out of the world. Whither, O whither would you go wandering about, wasting your life? And why leave your house, your hearth, your home? You know not what toils and peril he brings on himself who goes rambling and roving. Let this whim pass, my son; be sensible, and do not wish to see my life worn out, this house fall to the ground, my household go to ruin."

But these and other words went in at one ear and out at the other, and were all cast upon the sea; and the poor King, seeing that his son was as immovable as a rook upon a belfry, gave him a handful of dollars and two or three servants; and bidding him farewell, he felt as if his soul was torn out of his body. Then weeping bitterly, he went to a balcony, and followed his son with his eyes until he was lost to sight.

The Prince departed, leaving his unhappy father to his grief, and hastened on his way through fields and woods, over mountain and valley, hill and plain, visiting various countries, and mixing with various peoples, and always with his eyes wide awake to see whether he could find the object of his desire. At the end of several months he arrived at the coast of France, where, leaving his servants at a hospital with sore feet, he embarked alone in a Genoese boat, and set out towards the Straits of Gibraltar.

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