Page:The Grateful Dead.djvu/76

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The Grateful Dead.

goes abroad to escape this fate. There he sees the corpse of a debtor hanging nailed to a church wall, and insulted by the passers-by. He expends all but nine silver kopecks in rescuing the body, and turns homeward. He is joined by a companion, who makes the money last three days, and on the fourth arranges for him to marry the three-horned daughter of a king. On the wedding night the helper brings the hero fresh-cut twigs. By beating the maiden with these her blood is purified, the horns drop off, and she becomes very beautiful.

No new material is here introduced; but the handling is considerably changed, and the narrative abridged. The woman in the case is three-horned instead of possessed by snakes, nor is there any hint of harm to the bridegroom. A reminiscence of the division of the woman, though not of the dowry, appears in the beating which the ghostly companion gives her, whereby she is freed from her horns and made cry beautiful. The variant appears to be weakened by frequent retelling.

Rumanian I. is more striking, since it has undergone both revision and addition. The only daughter of an emperor wears out twelve pairs of slippers every night, until her father offers her hand and the heirship of the kingdom to any man who can explain this extraordinary and costly habit. Many men of high birth and low make the attempt unsuccessfully. Meanwhile, a certain peasant, whose servant had died when his year of service was but half ended, had placed the body in a chest under the roof in revenge for his disappointment. The new servant had discovered this, and had given the corpse the rites due the dead, as far as permitted by his master. When he departs at the end of his year of service, the dead man comes from the earth, thanks him, and proposes that they swear on the cross to be brothers. So they do, and go on together till they come to an iron wood. The vampire breaks off a twig, and casts it to