The Girl And The Snake

: The Swedish Fairy Book

Once upon a time there was a girl who was to go to the wood and drive

the cattle home; but she did not find the herd, and losing her way

instead, came to a great hill. It had gates and doors and she went in.

There stood a table covered with all sorts of good things to eat. And

there stood a bed as well, and in the bed lay a great snake. The snake

said to the girl: "Sit down, if you choose! Eat, if you choose! Come

ie down in the bed, if you choose! But if you do not choose, then

do not do so." So the girl did nothing at all. At last the snake said:

"Some people are coming now who want you to dance with them. But do

not go along with them." Straightway people arrived who wanted to

dance with the girl; but she would hear nothing of it. Then they began

to eat and drink; but the girl left the hill and went home. The

following day she again went to the wood to look for the cattle, did

not find them, lost her way again, and came to the same hill. This

time she also entered, and found everything as it had been the first

time, the well-spread table and the bed with the snake in it. And the

snake said to her, as before: "Sit down, if you choose! Eat, if you

choose! Come, and lie down in the bed if you choose! But if you do not

choose, then do not do so! Now a great many more people are coming who

will want to dance with you, but do not go with them." The snake had

scarcely concluded before a great many people arrived, who began to

dance, eat and drink; but the girl did not keep them company, instead

she left the hill and went home.

On the third day when she once more went to the wood, everything

happened exactly as on the first and second day. The snake invited her

to eat and drink, and this time she did so, with a hearty appetite.

Then the snake told her to lie down beside him and the girl obeyed.

Then the snake said: "Put your arm about me!" She did so. "And now

kiss me," said the snake, "but if you are afraid, put your apron

between us." The girl did so, and in a moment the snake was turned

into a marvellously handsome youth, who was really a prince, bewitched

in the form of a snake by magic spells, and now delivered by the

girl's courage. Then both of them went away and there was nothing

further heard of them.


"The Girl and the Snake" (From Soedermanland. From the mss.

collection of the metallurgist Gustav Erikson, communicated to

Dr. v. Sydow-Lund) shows distinctive Scandinavian features;

though it falls short of the richness and depth of the

celebrated Danish fairy-tale "King Dragon," whose germ idea is

the same.