Page:The Grateful Dead.djvu/69

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53
The Poison Maiden.

but is closely allied to it. There were two brothers, one good and the other stingy. The former expended in benevolence all his wealth, save a hundred rubles, while the latter grew richer and richer. A poor man borrowed a hundred rubles from the miser, calling St. George as witness that he would pay; but he died in debt. The rich brother came to the widow, and said that he would get his money from St. George if not from the dead man. He pulled down an image of the saint from the wall, dug up the corpse, and spat upon them both. At this juncture the good brother came by, and gave his last hundred rubles to put the matter right. He then went to a large city, where the king's daughter had eaten all the deacons who watched with her dead body. So when volunteers were called for to stay with her, the hero offered to undertake the task at the advice of an old man, who promised to pray for his safety on condition of receiving half his winnings. He received payment in advance from the king, and divided with the old man, by whom he was given a sanctified coal, a taper, a cross, and a scapulary, together with advice how to act. So he entered the chapel, lighted his taper, closed his eyes, made the sign of the cross, and enclosed himself in a circle marked with the coal near the head of the bier. At cockcrow the vampire came out all blue and grinning; but, though she yelled horribly, she could not touch the man in the circle, who put the cross in the coffin. At the second cockcrow she tried to get into the coffin, and unavailingly begged him to take out the cross. At the third cockcrow he put the scapulary on her, whereupon she rose and thanked him, promising to be his wife and servant. So in the morning the hero married her and received the kingdom from her father. To their chamber that night came the old man, and recalled the agreement to divide. He cut the lady into halves, minced her flesh on the table, and blew on the bits, whereupon she came