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The Prince & the Wild Man


When the king heard this, he summoned the disguised prince before him and said, "I hear that you can do wonders: that you are able to drive savage beasts out like cattle to find their own food in the forest, and you can bring them back safely at night into their cages. Therefore, I order you this morning to drive all my bears into the forest, and bring them all back again this evening. If you don't do this, your head will pay for it; so beware!"

The unlucky prince answered, "I am not able to such a thing, so your Majesty might as well cut off my head right now."

But the king would not listen to him, only saying, "We will wait until evening; then I shall surely have your head cut off unless you bring all my bears back safely to their cages."

Nothing the poor prince could say would change the king's order. The bears' cages were opened, the great beasts wildly lunged out, and quickly they scattered into the forest and disappeared among the trees.

The prince followed them into the forest. He tried to follow the tracks of a few of the bears, but soon all of the tracks were lost in the leaves and he could not find even one. Finally, realizing the hopelessness of the situation, he sat down on a fallen tree. Thinking over his hard fortunes, he wept bitterly, for he saw no other prospect before him than to lose his head that night.

As he sat in despair, a creature in form like a man, but covered all over with thick hair, came out of a neighboring thicket, and asked him why he was crying. The prince told him all that had happened to him, and as all the bears had run away he expected to be beheaded when he returned without them that night. Finishing his story, the prince examined the kindly, large creature before him.

"You resemble someone I met before," he said.

"Of course," said the creature. "I am the wild man trapped by your father whom you set free from your father's dungeon.

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