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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/348

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Székely Tales.

that he possessed was a rope, and with this he went into the wood, intending to hang himself.

While he was wandering sadly in the huge wood, he heard a sound of piteous lamentation; he goes towards it, and then he sees a little tiny snake writhing about on the top of a tree-trunk, which was on fire, but it was unable to escape, for it was surrounded by flames and red-hot embers, and it would be killed if it went near them.

"But", said the poor lad to himself, "I won't let this unreasoning animal die an innocent death, though I have determined to die myself." With that he went up to the burning trunk, stretched out a good firm bough, and lifted the little snakelet down on it.

Ha! how profusely the poor little snake thanked him! And it would not leave its life-preserver any peace until he accompanied it to its father's home, and allowed him also to thank him for his kindness.

"God bless you", thought the lad, "it will prolong my life a little, at all events."

For, words are words, but the poor lad was afraid of death. He therefore accompanied the little snakelet to his father's home. They went slowly on until they reached a large cave. It was here that the young snake's father lived, and he was the very King of the Snakes himself. Eh! behold a wonder! the King of the Snakes was just as big as a hay-fork, and in his head there shone such a large diamond that the poor lad almost lost the sight of his eyes when he stepped in. There lay the King of the Snakes in the middle of the cave, and when the lad stepped in he fixed his great eyes upon him.

"Well", thought the lad, "I shall have no need to hang myself, for this snake will gobble me up at once."

But when the aged king knew that the poor lad had preserved his son's life, his countenance changed at once, and he said to the lad: "God bless you, you poor boy, for saving my son's life. In return I will make you fortunate all your life, and your descendants fortunate too; only I