Page:The Grateful Dead.djvu/72

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
The Grateful Dead.

Jestingly the latter proposes that they divide the wife, and, after blindfolding the husband, shakes her three times, when three dead snakes come out of her. Thereupon he disappears.

Like Armenian and Gypsy, this variant has the ghost cut off the head of the monster (here three snakes) that possesses the maiden. The actual division of the woman as it appears in those tales occurs here as a mere jest, which is the case with most of the European versions.[1]

Servian III. has a more romantic character. The daughter of an emperor had been married thirteen times, but each of her bridegrooms had died on the wedding night. A certain prince, who had fallen in love with her through a dream, set out for her castle. On the way he paid the debts of a poor man, whose corpse was held by creditors, and buried him. Soon after, he was met by a man who became his servant, and won a castle for him by a wonderful adventure. After the wedding this man killed the snakes that came out of the bride, and also caused her to disgorge three snake eggs by threatening her with his drawn sword. He then disappeared.

This variant shows traces of foreign substance in the dream and the winning of the castle by the unrevealed companion. Possibly the latter trait unites it with the combined type of which The Water of Life is one of the elements. It will be noticed that the division of the property and of the woman is not brought into question, though the sword is used somewhat incongruously for the removal of the last traces of the heroine's snaky infestation. Thus, by an evident change in structure,

  1. Hippe is in error, however, when he says (p. 178) that the division is everywhere modified in the European variants. See Russian II., IV., V. and VI., Bulgarian, and Esthonian II. Moreover, I believe that Hippe's theory puts the cart before the horse—that the actual division is not so ancient a trait as it seems. See pp. 74, 75 below.