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