The Three Snake-Leaves
Man marries princess, is buried alive with her. He saves her with 3 leaves. She kills him, leaves save him, woman is punished
Once upon a time there was a poor man who could no longer feed his only son. The son said: "Dear father, you are so miserable, I am a burden to you, I would rather go away myself and see how I earn my bread. Then the father gave him his blessing and took leave of him with great sadness. At that time the king of a powerful empire was at war. The youth took service with him and went with him into the field. And when he came before the enemy, a battle was fought, and there was great danger, and rained blue beans, that his comrades fell down on every side. And when the leader also stayed, the rest wanted to flee, but the youth stepped out and spoke courage to them, shouting, "we will not let our fatherland perish." Then the others followed him, and he entered and struck the enemy. The king, hearing that he alone had to thank him for the victory, raised him above all others, gave him great treasures and made him the first in his kingdom.
The king had a daughter who was very beautiful, but she was also very strange. She had made a vow not to take anyone as her lord and husband who would not promise, if she died first, to be buried alive with her. "If he loves me dearly," she said, "what use is life to him?" Against this she would do a like, and if he died first, enter the grave with him. This strange vow had so far frightened off all suitors, but the youth was so taken in by her beauty that he paid no attention to anything, but asked for her from her father. "Do you also," said the king, "know what you must promise?". "I must go with her to the grave," he answered, "if I outlive her, but my love is so great that I am heedless of the danger." Then the king consented, and the wedding was celebrated with great splendor.
Now they lived happily and joyfully together for some time, when it happened that the young queen fell into a serious illness, and no physician could help her. And when she lay dead, the young king remembered what he had promised, and he dreaded to lie down alive in the grave, but there was no way out: the king had all the gates manned with guards and it was not possible to escape the fate. When the day came for the body to be buried in the royal vault, he was led down with it, and then the gate was locked and sealed.
Next to the coffin stood a table, on it four lights, four loaves of bread and four bottles of wine. As soon as this supply ran out, he had to pine away. Now he sat there full of pain and sorrow, ate only one bite of bread every day, drank only one sip of wine, and yet saw how death was getting closer and closer. As he stared, he saw a snake crawl out of the corner of the vault and approach the corpse. And thinking it was coming to gnaw at it, he drew his sword and said, "As long as I live, you shall not touch it," and cut it into three pieces. About a while a second snake crawled out of the corner, but when it saw the other lying dead and in pieces, it went back, soon came again and had three green leaves in its mouth. Then she took the three pieces from the snake, put them together as they belonged together, and put one of the leaves on each wound. Immediately the separated parts joined together, the snake stirred and came to life again, and both hurried away with each other. The leaves remained on the ground. The unfortunate man, who had witnessed everything, wondered whether the miraculous power of the leaves, which had brought the snake back to life, could also help a human being. So he picked up the leaves and put one of them on the dead woman's mouth and the other two on her eyes. And no sooner was it done than the blood moved in the veins, rose into the pale face and reddened it again. Then she drew breath, opened her eyes, and said, "alas, God, where am I?" "Thou art with me, dear wife," he answered, and told her how all had come and he had restored her to life. Then he handed her some wine and bread, and when she had regained her strength, she rose and they went to the door, knocking and calling so loudly that the guards heard and reported it to the king. The king himself came down and opened the door, where he found them both fresh and healthy, and rejoiced with them that all hardship was now over. But the young king took the three snake leaves with him, gave them to a servant and said: "Keep them for me carefully and carry them with you at all times, who knows in what trouble they can still help us.
However, after she had been brought back to life, a change occurred in the woman: it was as if all love for her husband had left her heart. When, after some time, he wanted to make a trip to his old father across the sea and they boarded a ship, she forgot the great love and loyalty he had shown her and with which he had saved her from death, and took an evil inclination toward the skipper. And once, when the young king was lying there sleeping, she called the skipper over and grabbed the sleeping one by the head, and the skipper had to grab him by the feet, and so they threw him down into the sea. When the deed was done, she said to him: "Now let us go home and say that he died on the way. I will already so exalt and praise you to my father that he will marry me to you and make you heir to his crown." But the faithful servant, who had witnessed everything, unnoticed, made a small ship loose from the big one, sat down in it, sailed after his master, and let the traitors go away. He fished the dead man up again, and with the help of the three snake leaves which he carried with him and placed on his eyes and mouth, he happily brought him back to life.
They both rowed with all their might day and night, and their little ship flew along so fast that they reached the old king earlier than the other. He was astonished when he saw them coming alone and asked what they had encountered. When he heard his daughter's wickedness, he said, "I cannot believe that she has acted so badly, but the truth will soon come out," and told them both to go into a hidden chamber and keep themselves secret from everyone. Soon after, the great ship came, and the wicked woman appeared before her father with a sorrowful countenance. He said, "why do you return alone? Where is your husband?" "Ah, dear father," she answered, "I am returning home in great sorrow; my husband suddenly fell ill and died during the voyage, and if the good skipper had not succored me, I should have been in a bad way; he was present at his death and can tell you all about it." The king said, "I will bring the dead man back to life," and opened the chamber, and bade the two go out. The wife, when she saw her husband, was thunderstruck, sank on her knees and begged for mercy. The king said, "there is no mercy, he was ready to die with you and gave you back your life, but you killed him in his sleep, and shall receive your deserved reward." Then she and her accomplice were put into a perforated ship and driven out to sea, where they soon sank in the waves.