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Main > German folktales > Fairy tale "Fastrada"

Fastrada

Three days afterwards, as the Kaiser again sat at dinner, he was surprised at the appearance of the serpent, which this time glided into the hall unnoticed and unannounced.

"What does this mean?" thought the king.

The reptile approached the table, and raising itself on its tail, dropped from its mouth, into an empty plate which stood beside the monarch, a precious diamond. Then, again abasing itself before him, the crawling creature glided out of the hall as it had entered, and was speedily lost to view. This diamond the monarch caused to be set in a costly chased ring of the richest gold; and he then presented the trinket to his fair wife, the much-beloved Fastrada.

Now this stone had the virtue of attraction, and whoso received it from another, so long as they wore it, received also the intensest love of that individual. It was thus with Fastrada, for no sooner did she place the ring on her finger than the attachment of Charlemagne, great before, no longer knew any bounds. In fact his love was more like madness than any sane passion. But though this talisman had full power over love, it had no power over death; and the mighty monarch was soon to experience that nothing may avert the fiat of destiny.

Charlemagne and his beloved bride returned to Germany, and, at Ingelheim palace, Fastrada died. The Kaiser was inconsolable. He would not listen to the voice of friendship, and he sorrowed in silence over the dead body of his once beautiful bride. Even when decay had commenced, when the remains, late so lovely, were now loathsome to look on, he could not be induced to leave the corpse for a moment, or to quit the chamber of death in which it lay. The court were all astounded. They knew not what to make of the matter. At length Turpin, Archbishop of Rheims, approached the corpse, and being made aware of the cause, by some supernatural communication contrived to engage the emperor's attention while he removed the charm. The magic ring was found by him in the mouth of the dead empress, concealed beneath her tongue.

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