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The Little Soldier
start of story
When the Princess arrived, they shook him, and beat him, and screamed at him, but it was all no good.
Neither man nor horse woke till the coach was seen vanishing away in the distance.
Then John put spurs to his horse, calling with all his might 'Stop! stop!'
But the coach drove on as before,
and though the little soldier rode after it for a day and a night, he never got one step nearer.
Thus they left many villages and towns behind them, till they came to the sea itself.
Here John thought that at last the coach must stop, but,
wonder of wonders! it went straight on, and rolled over the water as easily as it had done over the land.
John's horse, which had carried him so well, sank down from fatigue,
and the little soldier sat sadly on the shore,
watching the coach which was fast disappearing on the horizon.
However, he soon plucked up his spirits again, and walked along the beach to try and find a boat in which he could sail after the Princess. But no boat was there,
and at last, tired and hungry, he sat down to rest on the steps of a fisherman's hut.
In the hut was a young girl who was mending a net.
She invited John to come in, and set before him some wine and fried fish,
John ate and drank and felt comforted, and he told his adventures to the little fisher-girl. But though she was very pretty, with a skin as white as a gull's breast,
for which her neighbours gave her the name of the Seagull,
he did not think about her at all, for he was dreaming of the green eyes of the Princess.