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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Andrew Lang > Fairy tale "The Three Snake-Leaves"

The Three Snake-Leaves

There was once a poor man who could no longer afford to keep his only son at home. So the son said to him, 'Dear father, you are so poor that I am only a burden to you; I would rather go out into the world and see if I can earn my own living.' The father gave him his blessing and took leave of him with much sorrow. About this time the King of a very powerful kingdom was carrying on a war; the youth therefore took service under him and went on the campaign. When they came before the enemy, a battle took place, there was some hot fighting, and it rained bullets so thickly that his comrades fell around him on all sides. And when their leader fell too the rest wished to take to flight; but the youth stepped forward and encouraged them and called out, 'We must not let our country be ruined!' Then others followed him, and he pressed on and defeated the enemy. When the King heard that he had to thank him alone for the victory, he raised him higher than anyone else in rank, gave him great treasures and made him the first in the kingdom.

The King had a daughter who was very beautiful, but she was also very capricious. She had made a vow to marry no one who would not promise her that if she died first, he would allow himself to be buried alive with her. 'If he loves me truly,' she used to say, 'what use would life be to him then?' At the same time she was willing to do the same, and if he died first to be buried with him. This curious vow had up to this time frightened away all suitors, but the young man was so captivated by her beauty, that he hesitated at nothing and asked her hand of her father. 'Do you know,' asked the King, 'what you have to promise?' 'I shall have to go into her grave with her,' he answered, 'if I outlive her, but my love is so great that I do not think of the risk.' So the King consented, and the wedding was celebrated with great splendour.

Now, they lived for a long time very happily with one another, but then it came to pass that the young Queen fell seriously ill, and no doctor could save her.

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