January 18, 2024

#08-377: The Three Snake-Leaves

(from a German wiki)

Note: The Grimms published over 200 stories--most of which we never hear about, even though some, like this one, are really great!

Get Ready: What do you think of a lover who puts unfair conditions on his or her partner?

"The Three Snake-Leaves" is a lesser-known story from the Brothers Grimm.

Once there was a poor man who fell on hard times, so his only son set out to make his own way in the world. He joined the army of a mighty King and distinguished himself as a leader in a great battle.

As a reward for his service, the King gave him great treasures, and made him the top man in the kingdom.

The King's daughter was beautiful but very strange: She had vowed to marry no man unless he were willing to be buried alive with her if she predeceased him. Why would he want to continue to live, she asked, if he truly loved her? She in turn would do the same if he died first--or so she said.

Such a condition naturally frightened away all suitors. But our young man was undaunted, and they were wed with great pomp.

They lived happily enough until one day the Princess was struck ill and died. The young man kept his promise and entered the tomb with her, with enough food and wine to last a few days.

As he sat in the vault, a snake came out of a hole in the wall and approached the body, and the youth quickly cut it in three with his dagger. Soon another snake appeared with three leaves in its mouth. It lay one leaf on each section of its slain comrade, who was made whole, and the two slithered out of the vault again, leaving the leaves behind.

Thinking quickly, the young man picked up the leaves and put one on each eye of the dead Princess, and one on her mouth. It worked! And she came slowly back to life.

The young man gave the leaves to a faithful servant, saying to keep them in case they were needed again.

The couple later voyaged across the sea to visit the young man's aged father. But the Princess had lost all her love for the young man, and plotted against him with the boat's skipper. While he was sleeping, together they threw him into the sea.

But the servant also jumped in, and with the leaves revied his young master. Together, they reached the King before the Princess and the skipper and told the King all that had happened. When the girl and the skipper arrived, the King had them placed in a leaky boat and pushed out to sea, where the boat soon sank, and they drowned.


Practice: Match the term to its definition:

Term Definition
  1. dagger
  2. distinguished (himself)
  3. leaky
  4. pomp
  5. predeceased
  6. revived
  7. skipper
  8. slithered
  9. undaunted
  10. vault
  1. crawled like a snake
  2. a large underground room
  3. like a small sword
  4. set (oneself) apart from the rest
  5. captain of a boat or ship
  6. not afraid
  7. full of holes
  8. died before someone
  9. splendid-looking ceremony
  10. brought back to life

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for January 18, 2024

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. c; 2. d; 3. g; 4. i; 5. h; 6. j; 7. e; 8. a; 9. f; 10. b