From: Tim Sheppard
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2018 10:14:27 +0100
At the top of every Gutenberg text you’ll find a lengthy passage explaining that it is out of copyright and in the public domain.
Just because you find a more recent book with it in doesn’t have any bearing on the story itself being out of copyright.
Don’t forget that books and lawyers will assert copyright over a book that seems to cover the whole story but in fact only covers the new creative additions – for instance the design of the cover, the typographical layout, the illustrations etc. Sometimes, with a facsimile reproduction, the only thing that is genuinely copyrightable is the copyright notice!
Copyright is over an individual _expression_ of art. I don’t remember whether Melisande is an old folktale, but if so, Nesbit only had copyright over her particular literary _expression_ of it and not over the folktale.
So… no permission needed in any case. Gutenberg are diligent in checking copyright, so their publication is a reliable guide.