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The Enchanted Snake

There was once upon a time a poor woman who would have given all she possessed for a child, but she hadn't one.

Now it happened one day that her husband went to the wood to collect brushwood, and when he had brought it home, he discovered a pretty little snake among the twigs.

When Sabatella, for that was the name of the peasant's wife, saw the little beast, she sighed deeply and said, 'Even the snakes have their brood; I alone am unfortunate and have no children.' No sooner had she said these words than, to her intense surprise, the little snake looked up into her face and spoke: 'Since you have no children, be a mother to me instead, and I promise you will never repent it, for I will love you as if I were your own son.'

At first Sabatella was frightened to death at hearing a snake speak, but plucking up her courage, she replied, 'If it weren't for any other reason than your kindly thought, I would agree to what you say, and I will love you and look after you like a mother.'

So she gave the snake a little hole in the house for its bed, fed it with all the nicest food she could think of, and seemed as if she never could show it enough kindness. Day by day it grew bigger and fatter, and at last one morning it said to Cola-Mattheo, the peasant, whom it always regarded as its father, 'Dear papa, I am now of a suitable age and wish to marry.'

'I'm quite agreeable,' answered Mattheo, 'and I'll do my best to find another snake like yourself and arrange a match between you.'

'Why, if you do that,' replied the snake, 'we shall be no better than the vipers and reptiles, and that's not what I want at all. No; I'd much prefer to marry the King's daughter; therefore I pray you go without further delay, and demand an audience of the King, and tell him a snake wishes to marry his daughter.'

Cola-Mattheo, who was rather a simpleton, went as he was desired to the King, and having obtained an audience, he said, 'Your Majesty, I have often heard that people lose nothing by asking, so I have come to inform you that a snake wants to marry your daughter, and I'd be glad to know if you are willing to mate a dove with a serpent?

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