Page:The Grateful Dead.djvu/67

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51
The Poison Maiden.

but it is overcome by the hero through his obedience to the advice of his servant. The latter cleanses the bride's body of the dragon brood and goes away. Here the opening has been modified, though not beyond recognition, since the rescued man is clearly enough the grateful dead.

Russian IV., taken like the preceding from a folkbook, differs from that in only minor points, though the ampler form in which I have found it makes it of more importance. The three sons of a czar go out in separate ships to see the world. The youngest, named Sila, rescues a swimming coffin, which his brothers have not heeded, and buries it on shore. There he leaves his companions, and goes on alone till joined by a man dressed in a shroud, who says that he is the rescued corpse and proposes that Sila win a certain Princess Truda as wife by his aid. The hero is dismayed when he sees the walls of her city decorated with the heads of countless former suitors, but he is told by his servant not to fear. On the bridal night he is counselled to keep silence, and, when his wife presses her hand on his breast, to beat her, as she is in league with a sixheaded dragon. Sila obeys, the dragon appears, and the servant cuts off two of its heads. Two more heads are cut off on the second night, and the remaining two on the third. The bride is not completely cleansed, however, till the end of a year, when the servant cuts her in two, burns the evil things that emerge from her body, and sprinkles her with living water to make her well again. He then disappears.

Here the grateful dead appears with perfect clearness, as he did not in Russian III. The course of events by which the lady is won does not differ materially from that of Russian II. Presumably III. would follow the same procedure, had we an adequate summary. III. and IV. are like I., and different from II., in omitting