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The Enchanted Knife story

short story for intermediate-high int young readers. not my own material. no copyright is claimed.
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  The Enchanted Knife Andrew LangOnce upon a time there lived a young man who vowed that he would never marry any girl who had not royal  blood in her veins. One day he plucked up all his courage and went to the palace to ask the emperor for his daughter. The emperor was not much pleased at the thought of such a match for his only child, but being very  polite, he only said! ery well, my son, if you can win the princess you shall have her, and the conditions are these. #n eight days youmust manage to tame and bring to me three horses that have never felt a master. The first is pure white, the second a fo$y%red with a black head, the third coal black with a white head and feet. And besides that, you must also bring as a present to the empress, my wife, as much gold as the three horses can carry.!The young man listened in dismay to these words, but with an effort he thanked the emperor for his kindness andleft the palace, wondering how he was to fulfill the task allotted to him. Luckily for him, the emperor!s daughter had overheard everything her father had said, and peeping through a curtain had seen the youth, and thought him handsomer than anyone she had ever beheld.&o returning hastily to her own room, she wrote him a letter which she gave to a trusty servant to deliver,  begging her wooer to come to her rooms early the ne$t day, and to undertake nothing without her advice, if he ever wished her to be his wife.That night, when her father was asleep, she crept softly into his chamber and took out an enchanted knife from the chest where he kept his treasures, and hid it carefully in a safe place before she went to bed.The sun had hardly risen the following morning when the princess!s nurse brought the young man to her apartments. 'either spoke for some minutes, but stood holding each other!s hands for (oy, till at last they both cried out that nothing but death should part them. Then the maiden said!Take my horse, and ride straight through the wood towards the sunset till you come to a hill with three peaks. )hen you get there, turn first to the right and then to the left, and you will find yourself in a sun meadow, where many horses are feeding. Out of these you must pick out the three described to you by my father. #f they prove shy, and refuse to let you get near them, draw out your knife, and let the sun shine on it so that the whole meadow is lit up by its rays, and the horses will then approach you of their own accord, and will let you lead them away. )hen you have them safely, look about till you see a cypress tree, whose roots are of brass, whose  boughs are of silver, and whose leaves are of gold. *o to it, and cut away the roots with your knife, and you will come to countless bags of gold. Load the horses with all they can carry, and return to my father, and tell him that you have done your task, and can claim me for your wife.!The princess had finished all she had to say, and now it depended on the young man to do his part. +e hid the knife in the folds of his girdle, mounted his horse, and rode off in search of the meadow. This he found without much difficulty, but the horses were all so shy that they galloped away directly he approached them. Then he drew his knife, and held it up towards the sun, and directly there shone such a glory that the whole meadow was  bathed in it. rom all sides the horses rushed pressing round, and each one that passed him fell on its knees to do him honor.-ut he only chose from them all the three that the emperor had described. These he secured by a silken rope to his own horse, and then looked about for the cypress tree. #t was standing by itself in one corner, and in a moment he was beside it, tearing away the earth with his knife. eeper and deeper he dug, till far down, below the roots of brass, his knife struck upon the buried treasure, which lay heaped up in bags all around. )ith a great effort he lifted them from their hiding place, and laid them one by one on his horses! backs, and when they could carry no more he led them back to the emperor. And when the emperor saw him, he wondered, but never guessedhow it was the young man had been too clever for him, till the betrothal ceremony was over. Then he asked his newly made son%in%law what dowry he would re/uire with his bride. To which the bridegroom made answer, !'oble emperor0 All # desire is that # may have your daughter for my wife, and en(oy for ever the use of your enchanted knife.!  Through the Looking *lass &end this page to somebody 1rint this pageLE)#& 2A33OLL T+3O4*+ T+E LOOK#'* *LA&& by LE)#& 2A33OLL 2+A1TE3 5 Looking%*lass house One thing was certain, that the )+#TE kitten had had nothing to do with it %% it was the black kitten!s fault entirely. or the white kitten had been having its face washed by the old cat for the last /uarter of an hour 6and  bearing it pretty well, considering78 so you see that it 2O4L'!T have had any hand in the mischief. The way inah washed her children!s faces was this first she held the poor thing down by its ear with one  paw, and then with the other paw she rubbed its face all over, the wrong way, beginning at the nose and (ust now, as # said, she was hard at work on the white kitten, which was lying /uite still and trying to purr %% no doubtfeeling that it was all meant for its good. -ut the black kitten had been finished with earlier in the afternoon, and so, while Alice was sitting curled up ina corner of the great arm%chair, half talking to herself and half asleep, the kitten had been having a grand game of romps with the ball of worsted Alice had been trying to wind up, and had been rolling it up and down till it had all come undone again8 and there it was, spread over the hearth%rug, all knots and tangles, with the kitten runningafter its own tail in the middle. 9Oh, you wicked little thing0! cried Alice, catching up the kitten, and giving it a little kiss to make it understand that it was in disgrace. 93eally, inah ought to have taught you better manners0 :ou O4*+T, inah, you know you ought0! she added, looking reproachfully at the old cat, and speaking in as cross a voice as she could manage %% and then she scrambled back into the arm%chair, taking the kitten and the worsted with her, and  began winding up the ball again. -ut she didn!t get on very fast, as she was talking all the time, sometimes to the kitten, and sometimes to herself. Kitty sat very demurely on her knee, pretending to watch the progress of the winding, and now and then putting out one paw and gently touching the ball, as if it would be glad to help, if it might. 9o you know what to%morrow is, Kitty;! Alice began. 9:ou!d have guessed if you!d been up in the window with me %% only inah was making you tidy, so you couldn!t. # was watching the boys getting in stick for the  bonfire %% and it wants plenty of sticks, Kitty0 Only it got so cold, and it snowed so, they had to leave off. 'ever mind, Kitty, we!ll go and see the bonfire to%morrow.! +ere Alice wound two or three turns of the worsted round the kitten!s neck, (ust to see how it would look this led to a scramble, in which the ball rolled down upon the floor, and yards and yards of it got unwound again. 9o you know, # was so angry, Kitty,! Alice went on as soon as they were comfortably settled again, 9when # saw all the mischief you had been doing, # was very nearly opening the window, and putting you out into the snow0 And you!d have deserved it, you little mischievous darling0 )hat have you got to say for yourself; 'ow don!t interrupt me0! she went on, holding up one finger. 9#!m going to tell you all your faults. 'umber one you s/ueaked twice while inah was washing your face this morning. 'ow you can!t deny it, Kitty # heard you0 )hat that you say;! 6pretending that the kitten was speaking.7 9+er paw went into your eye; )ell, that!s :O43 fault, for keeping your eyes open %% if you!d shut them tight up, it wouldn!t have happened. 'ow don!t make any more e$cuses, but listen0 'umber two you pulled &nowdrop away by the tail (ust as # had put down the saucer of milk before her0 )hat, you were thirsty, were you;   +ow do you know she wasn!t thirsty too; 'ow for number three you unwound every bit of the worsted while # wasn!t looking0 9That!s three faults, Kitty, and you!ve not been punished for any of them yet. :ou know #!m saving up all your  punishments for )ednesday week %% &uppose they had saved up all <: punishments0! she went on, talking moreto herself than the kitten. 9)hat )O4L they do at the end of a year; # should be sent to prison, # suppose, when the day came. Or %% let me see %% suppose each punishment was to be going without a dinner then, when the miserable day came, # should have to go without fifty dinners at once0 )ell, # shouldn!t mind T+AT much0 #!d far rather go without them than eat them0 9o you hear the snow against the window%panes, Kitty; +ow nice and soft it sounds0 =ust as if some one was kissing the window all over outside. # wonder if the snow LO E& the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently; And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white /uilt8 and perhaps it says, >*o to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.> And when they wake up in the summer, Kitty, they dress themselves all in green, and dance about %% whenever the wind blows %% oh, that!s very pretty0! cried Alice, dropping the ball of worsted to clap her hands. 9And # do so )#&+ it was true0 #!m sure the woods look sleepy in the autumn, when the leaves are getting brown. 9Kitty, can you play chess; 'ow, don!t smile, my dear, #!m asking it seriously. -ecause, when we were playing (ust now, you watched (ust as if you understood it and when # said >2heck0> you purred0 )ell, it )A& a nice check, Kitty, and really # might have won, if it hadn!t been for that nasty Knight, that came wiggling down among my pieces. Kitty, dear, let!s pretend %% ! And here # wish # could tell you half the things Alice used to say,  beginning with her favourite phrase 9Let!s pretend.! &he had had /uite a long argument with her sister only the day before %% all because Alice had begun with 9Let!s pretend we!re kings and /ueens8! and her sister, who liked  being very e$act, had argued that they couldn!t, because there were only two of them, and Alice had been reduced at last to say, 9)ell, :O4 can be one of them then, and #!LL be all the rest.> And once she had really frightened her old nurse by shouting suddenly in her ear, 9'urse0 o let!s pretend that #!m a hungry hyaena, and you!re a bone.! -ut this is taking us away from Alice!s speech to the kitten. 9Let!s pretend that you!re the 3ed ?ueen, Kitty0 o you know, # think if you sat up and folded your arms, you!d look e$actly like her. 'ow do try, there!s a dear0! And Alice got the 3ed ?ueen off the table, and set it up before the kitten as a model for it to imitate however, the thing didn!t succeed, principally, Alice said, because the kitten wouldn!t fold its arms properly. &o, to punish it, she held it up to the Looking%glass, that it might see how sulky it was %% 9and if you!re not good directly,! she added, 9#!ll put you through into Looking%glass +ouse. +ow would you like T+AT;! 9'ow, if you!ll only attend, Kitty, and not talk so much, #!ll tell you all my ideas about Looking%glass +ouse. irst, there!s the room you can see through the glass %% that!s (ust the same as our drawing room, only the things go the other way. # can see all of it when # get upon a chair %% all but the bit behind the fireplace. Oh0 # do so wish# could see T+AT bit0 # want so much to know whether they!ve a fire in the winter you never 2A' tell, you know, unless our fire smokes, and then smoke comes up in that room too %% but that may be only pretence, (ust tomake it look as if they had a fire. )ell then, the books are something like our books, only the words go the wrong way8 # know that, because #!ve held up one of our books to the glass, and then they hold up one in the other room. 9+ow would you like to live in Looking%glass +ouse, Kitty; # wonder if they!d give you milk in there; 1erhaps Looking%glass milk isn!t good to drink %% -ut oh, Kitty0 now we come to the passage. :ou can (ust see a little 1EE1 of the passage in Looking%glass +ouse, if you leave the door of our drawing%room wide open and it!svery like our passage as far as you can see, only you know it may be /uite different on beyond. Oh, Kitty0 how nice it would be if we could only get through into Looking% glass +ouse0 #!m sure it!s got, oh0 such beautiful things in it0 Let!s pretend there!s a way of getting through into it, somehow, Kitty. Let!s pretend the glass has got all soft like gau@e, so that we can get through. )hy, it!s turning into a sort of mist now, # declare0 #t!ll be easy enough to get through %% ! &he was up on the chimney%piece while she said this, though she hardly knew how she had got there. And certainly the glass )A& beginning to melt away, (ust like a bright silvery mist.   #n another moment Alice was through the glass, and had (umped lightly down into the Looking%glass room. The very first thing she did was to look whether there was a fire in the fireplace, and she was /uite pleased to find that there was a real one, bla@ing away as brightly as the one she had left behind. 9&o # shall be as warm hereas # was in the old room,! thought Alice 9warmer, in fact, because there!ll be no one here to scold me away from the fire. Oh, what fun it!ll be, when they see me through the glass in here, and can!t get at me0! Then she began looking about, and noticed that what could be seen from the old room was /uite common and uninteresting, but that all the rest was a different as possible. or instance, the pictures on the wall ne$t the fire seemed to be all alive, and the very clock on the chimney%piece 6you know you can only see the back of it in the Looking%glass7 had got the face of a little old man, and grinned at her. 9They don!t keep this room so tidy as the other,! Alice thought to herself, as she noticed several of the chessmen down in the hearth among the cinders but in another moment, with a little 9Oh0! of surprise, she was down on her hands and knees watching them. The chessmen were walking about, two and two0 9+ere are the 3ed King and the 3ed ?ueen,! Alice said 6in a whisper, for fear of frightening them7, 9and there are the )hite King and the )hite ?ueen sitting on the edge of the shovel %% and here are two castles walking armin arm %% # don!t think they can hear me,! she went on, as she put her head closer down, 9and #!m nearly sure they can!t see me. # feel somehow as if # were invisible %% ! +ere something began s/ueaking on the table behind Alice, and made her turn her head (ust in time to see one of the )hite 1awns roll over and begin kicking she watched it with great curiosity to see what would happen ne$t. 9#t is the voice of my child0! the )hite ?ueen cried out as she rushed past the King, so violently that she knocked him over among the cinders. 9<y precious Lily0 <y imperial kitten0! and she began scrambling wildly up the side of the fender. 9#mperial fiddlestick0! said the King, rubbing his nose, which had been hurt by the fall. +e had a right to be a L#TTLE annoyed with the ?ueen, for he was covered with ashes from head to foot. Alice was very an$ious to be of use, and, as the poor little Lily was nearly screaming herself into a fit, she hastily picked up the ?ueen and set her on the table by the side of her noisy little daughter. The ?ueen gasped, and sat down the rapid (ourney through the air had /uite taken away her breath and for a minute or two she could do nothing but hug the little Lily in silence. As soon as she had recovered her breath a little, she called out to the )hite King, who was sitting sulkily among the ashes, 9<ind the volcano0! 9)hat volcano;! said the King, looking up an$iously into the fire, as if he thought that was the most likely  place to find one. 9-lew %% me %% up,! panted the ?ueen, who was still a little out of breath. 9<ind you come up %% the regular way %% don!t get blown up0! Alice watched the )hite King as he slowly struggled up from bar to bar, till at last she said, 9)hy, you!ll be hours and hours getting to the table, at that rate. #!d far better help you, hadn!t #;! -ut the King took no notice of the /uestion it was /uite clear that he could neither hear her nor see her. &o Alice picked him up very gently, and lifted him across more slowly than she had lifted the ?ueen, that she mightn!t take his breath away but, before she put him on the table, she thought she might as well dust him a little, he was so covered with ashes. &he said afterwards that she had never seen in all her life such a face as the King made, when he found himself held in the air by an invisible hand, and being dusted he was far too much astonished to cry out, but his eyes andhis mouth went on getting larger and larger, and rounder and rounder, till her hand shook so with laughing that she nearly let him drop upon the floor.
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