The Wondrous Story of Ivan Golik and the Serpents
The prince could not refrain from looking at her, so fair was she, and now she seemed fairer than ever. Then they sat down and ate, and when the meal was over the serpent said, “Well, prince, after dinner I’ll bring all my daughters into the courtyard, and if you can find out the youngest, you may be happy together.”
So after dinner the serpent bade his daughters go and dress themselves, but the prince took counsel of Ivan Golik. Ivan whistled, and immediately the gnat came flying up. He told the gnat all about it, and the gnat said, “Thou didst help me, so now I will help thee. When the serpent brings out his daughters, let the prince keep his eyes open, for I will fly on her head. Let him walk round them once, and I will fly round them too. Let him walk round them a second time, and I will fly round them twice also. Let him walk round them a third time, and then I’ll settle on her nose, and she will not be able to endure my bite, but will strike at me with her right hand.” And with these words the gnat flew off into the house.
Soon afterward the serpent sent for the prince. He went, and there in the courtyard stood the twenty-one daughters. They were as like as peas, their faces, their hair, and their raiment were exactly the same. He looked and looked, but could not tell one from the other. He walked round them the first time, but there was no sign of the gnat. He walked round them the second time, and the gnat came and lit upon her head. Henceforth he never took his eyes off the gnat, and when he had begun to walk round the twenty-one daughters for the third time, the gnat sat on the nose of the youngest, and began to bite her. She brushed it off with her right hand, whereupon the prince said, “She is mine!” and led her to the serpent.
The serpent was amazed, but said, “Since thou hast found out thy bride, we’ll wed thee to-day, and all be merry together.”
So they made them merry, and that very evening the young couple got their bridal crowns. And they feasted and fired guns, and what else did they not do?