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Age Rating 8 Plus.

King of the fishes.

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When George awoke and saw the dead body and found the princess there no longer he did not know what to make of it but thought that she did not wish to marry a fisherman's son. So he mounted his horse, and with his faithful hound went on seeking further adventures through the world, and did not come that way again till a year had passed, when he rode into Middlegard again and alighted at the same inn where he had stopped before. "How now, hostess," he cried, "last time I was here the city was all in mourning but now everything is agog with glee; trumpets are blaring, lads and lasses are dancing round the trees, and every house has flags and banners flowing from its windows. What is happening?" "Know you not, sir," said the hostess, "that our princess marries to-morrow?" "Why, last time," he said, "she was going to be devoured by the Dragon with Seven Heads." "Nay, but he was slain by the king's marshal who weds the princess to-morrow as a reward for his bravery, and every one that wishes may join the wedding feast to-night in the king's castle."



That night George went up to the king's castle and took his place at the table not far off from where sat the king with the princess on one side of him and the marshal on the other; and after the banquet the king called upon the marshal once more to tell how he had slain the Dragon with the Seven Heads. And the marshal told a long tale of how he had cut off the seven heads of the dragon, and at the finish he ordered his squire to bring in a platter on which were the seven heads. Then up rose George and spoke to the king and said, "And pray, my lord, how does it happen that the dragon's heads had no tongues?" And the king said, "That I know not; let us look and see." And the jaws of the dragon's heads were opened, and behold there were no tongues in them. Then the king asked the marshal, "Know you aught of this?" And the marshal had nothing to say. And the princess looked up and saw her champion again. Then George took out from his doublet the seven tongues of the dragon, and it was found that they fitted. "What is the meaning of this, sir," said the king. Then George told the story of how he had slain the dragon and fallen asleep in the princess's lap and had awoke and found her gone. And the princess, when asked by her father, could not but tell of the treachery of the marshal. "Away with him," cried out the king, "let his head be taken off and his tongue be taken out, and let his place be taken by this young stranger."



So George and the princess were married and lived happily, till one night, looking out of the window of the castle where they lived, George saw in the distance another castle with windows all lit up and shining like fire. And he asked the princess, his wife, what that castle might be. "Go not near that, George," said the princess, "for I have always heard that none who enters that castle ever comes out again." The next morning George went with horse and hound to seek the castle; and when he got near it he found at the gate an old dame with but one eye; and he asked her to open the gate, and she said she would but that it was a custom of the castle that who ever entered had to drink a glass of wine before doing so; and she offered him a goblet full of wine; but when he had drunk it he and his horse and his dog were all turned into stone.



Just at the very moment when George was turned to stone Albert, who had heard nothing of him, saw George's rose in the garden close up and turn the colour of marble; then he knew that something had happened to his brother, and he had out his horse and his dog and rode off to find out what had been George's fate. And he rode, and he rode, till he came to Middlegard, and as soon as he reached the gate the guard of the gate said, "Your highness, the princess has been in great anxiety about you; she will be so happy to know that you have returned safe." Albert said nothing, but followed the guard until he came to the princess's chamber, and she ran to him and embraced him and cried out, "Oh, George, I am so delighted that you have come back safe." "Why should I not," said Albert. "Because I feared that you had gone to that castle with flaming windows, from which nobody ever returns alive," said the princess. Then Albert guessed what had happened to George, and he soon made an excuse and went off again to seek the castle which the princess had pointed out from the window. When Albert got there he found the same old dame sitting by the gate, and asked if he might go in and see the castle.



She said again that none might enter the castle unless they had taken a glass of wine and brought out the goblet of wine once more. Albert was about to drink it up when his faithful dog jumped up and spilt the wine, which he began to lap up, and as soon as he had drunk a little of it his body turned to marble, just by the side of another stone which looked exactly the same. Then Albert guessed what had happened, and descending from his horse he took out his sword and threatened the old witch that he would kill her unless she restored his brother to his proper shape. In fear and trembling the old dame muttered something over the four stones in front of the castle, and George and his horse and his hound and Albert's dog became alive again as they were before. Then George and Albert rode back to the princess who, when she saw them both so much alike, could not tell which was which; then she remembered and went up to Albert and parted his hair on his forehead and saw there the star, and said, "This is my George"; but then George parted his own hair, and she saw the same star there. At last Albert told her all that had happened, and she knew her own husband again. And soon after the king died, and George ruled in his place, and Albert married one of the neighbouring princesses.

       



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