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The witch in the stone boat.

From The Junior Classics Vol.1 by William Ptten

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THERE was once a king and queen, and they had a son called Sigurd, who was very strong and active and good-looking. When the king came to be bowed down with the weight of years he spoke to his son, and said that now it was time for him to look out for a fitting match for himself, for he did not know how long he might last now, and he would like to see him married before he died. Sigurd was not averse to this and asked his father where he thought it best to look for a wife. The king answered that in a certain country there was a king who had a beautiful daughter, and he thought it would be most desirable if Sigurd could get her. So the two parted, and Sigurd prepared for the journey and went to where his father had directed him.

He came to the king and asked his daughters hand, which was readily granted him, but only on the condition that he should remain there as long as he could, for the king himself was not strong and not very able to govern his kingdom. Sigurd accepted this condition, but added that he would have to get leave to go home again to his own country when he heard news of his father's death. After that Sigurd married the princess and helped his father-in-law to govern the kingdom. He and the princess loved each other dearly, and after a year a son came to them, who was two years old when word came to Sigurd that his father was dead. Sigurd now prepared to return home with his wife and child and went on board ship to go by sea.

They had sailed for several days, when the breeze suddenly fell and there came a dead calm at a time when they needed only one day's voyage to reach home. Sigurd and his queen were one day on deck when most of the others on the ship had fallen asleep. There they sat and talked for a while, and had their little son along with them. After a time Sigurd became so heavy with sleep that he could no longer keep awake, so he went below and lay down, leaving the queen alone on the deck playing with her son. A good while after Sigurd had gone below the queen saw something black on the sea which seemed to be coming nearer. As it approached she could make out that it was a boat and could see the figure of some one sitting in it and rowing it.


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