Page:The Grateful Dead.djvu/71

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55
The Poison Maiden.

heroine, though it certainly is independent. The vital difference between the two is the absence of any helping friend in the story of the vampire. Because of the lack of this figure it seems improbable that the tale was compounded with The Grateful Dead without the intermediary stage in which The Poison Maiden appears. I regard the vampire as usurping the place of the possessed maiden, and the two Russian variants as a secondary growth. Given the normal form of the compound as it appears in Russian II, for instance, there would be no difficulty in substituting an even more gruesome figure for that of the heroine there depicted, and in making the hero's danger lie in a prenuptial attack on her part.

The three Servian tales, which fall in this section, differ widely in their characteristics. The first of them, Servian II.[1] is the most nearly normal. Vlatko goes into the world to trade, but pays all his money to free from debt a corpse, which creditors are digging up in order to vent their spite upon it. He returns home, and is sent out again by his parents, receiving a greater sum of money and, from his mother, an apple by means of which he can tell the intentions of anyone who desires his friendship by the way.[2] He is joined by a man, who cuts the apple into two exact halves, and so is accepted as a friend. After Vlatko has prospered in trade, the friend proposes that he marry the emperor's daughter, with whom ninety-nine men have already died on the wedding night. Arrangements are made, and the friend keeps watch in the bridal chamber. During the night he cuts off the heads of three snakes, which come from the lady's mouth. Sometime afterwards all three set out for Vlatko's home; and on the way the hero divides his property with his friend.

  1. See Hippe, pp. 145 f.
  2. For the test of friendship with an apple, see Köhler's notes in Gonzenbach, Sicil. Märchen, ii. 259 f., and in Arch. f. slav. Phil. v. 44 ff.