The White Snake
The servant stood still listening to them. They were talking of where they had been waddling about all the morning, and of the good food they had found, but one of them remarked rather sadly, 'There's something lying very heavy on my stomach, for in my haste I've swallowed a ring, which was lying just under the Queen's window.'
No sooner did the servant hear this than he seized the duck by the neck, carried it off to the kitchen, and said to the cook, 'Suppose you kill this duck; you see she's nice and fat.'
'Yes, indeed,' said the cook, weighing the duck in his hand, 'she certainly has spared no pains to stuff herself well, and must have been waiting for the spit for some time.' So he chopped off her head, and when she was opened there was the Queen's ring in her stomach.
It was easy enough now for the servant to prove his innocence, and the King, feeling he had done him an injustice, and anxious to make some amends, desired him to ask any favour he chose, and promised to give him the highest post at Court he could wish for.
The servant, however, declined everything, and only begged for a horse and some money to enable him to travel, as he was anxious to see something of the world.
When his request was granted, he set off on his journey, and in the course of it he one day came to a large pond, on the edge of which he noticed three fishes which had got entangled in the reeds and were gasping for water. Though fish are generally supposed to be quite mute, he heard them grieving aloud at the prospect of dying in this wretched manner. Having a very kind heart he dismounted and soon set the prisoners free, and in the water once more. They flapped with joy, and stretching up their heads cried to him: 'We will remember, and reward you for saving us.'
He rode further, and after a while he thought he heard a voice in the sand under his feet. He paused to listen, and heard the King of the Ants complaining: 'If only men with their awkward beasts would keep clear of us!