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The Prince & the Wild Man

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"But you speak like a gentleman," said the prince in wonder, "and besides, how did you ever find me here?"

"Never mind that," said the wild man, "You freed me, and I will free you." He gave the prince a little bell and said, "When you wish the bears to return, just ring it gently, and they will all come back and follow you quietly into their cages." Having said this he went away.

When the sun began to go down, the prince rang the little bell gently. To his great joy, all the bears came dancing awkwardly round him, and let him lead them back to the gardens, following him like a flock of sheep. Pleased with his success, he took out a flute and played a litte tune as he walked before them. And so he was able to fasten them up again into their dens without the least trouble.

Everyone at court was astonished at this. The false servant was especially astonished, though he concealed his surprise. He said to the king, "Your Majesty sees now that I told you the truth. I am quite sure the man can manage your wolves just as well as the bears, if you only threaten him as before."

Thereupon, the next morning the king called the poor prince, and ordered him to lead out the wolves that day to find their own food in the forest and to bring them back to their cages by nightfall. "Unless you do this," said his Majesty as before, "you will surely lose your head."

The prince pleaded vainly the impossibility of doing such a thing, but the king would not listen, saying only, "You may as well try, for whether you fail or simply refuse to obey me, you will certainly lose your head."

So the prince was obliged to open the cages of the wolves, and the moment he did this, each and every wolf sprang past him into the thickets just as the bears had done. He then followed the tracks but in vain, then he went and sat down to bewail his ill-luck.

While he sat thus in misery, the wild man came out of the woods and asked him, just as he had done the day before, why he was crying.

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