The GREEN Fairy Book - online children's book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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THE ENCHANTED SNAKE.
187
and demand an audience of the king, and tell him a snake wishes to marry his daughter."
Cola-Mattheo, who was rather a simpleton, went as he was desired to the king, and having obtained an audience he said: "Your majesty, I have often heard that people lose nothing by asking, so I have come to inform you that a snake wants to marry your daughter, and I'd be glad to know if you are willing to mate a dove with a serpent."
The king, who saw at once that the man was a fool, said, in order to get quit of him: "Go home and tell your frend the snake that if he can turn this palace into ivory, inlaid with gold and silver, before to-morrow at noon, I will let him marry my daughter." And with a hearty laugh he dismissed the peasant.
When Cola-Mattheo brought this answer back to the snake the little creature didn't seem the least put out, but said: "To-morrow morning, before sunrise, you must go to the wood and gather a bunch of green herbs, and then rub the threshold of the palace with them, and you'll see what will happen."
Cola-Mattheo, who was, as I have said before, a great simpleton, made no reply; but before sunrise next morn­ing he went to the wood and gathered a bunch of St. John's wort and rosemary and such-like herbs, and rubbed them, as he had been told, on the floor of the palace. Hardly had he done so than the walls immediately turned into ivory, so richly inlaid with gold and silver that they dazzled the eyes of all beholders. The king, when he rose and saw "the miracle that had been performed, was beside himself with amazement, and didn't know what in the world he was to do.
But when Cola-Mattheo .came next day and, in the name of the snake, demanded the hand of the princess, the king replied: "Don't be in such a hurry. If the snake really wants to marry my daughter, he must do some more things first, and one of these is to turn all the paths and walls of my garden into pure gold before noon to-morrow."
When tha snake was told of this new condition he re­plied : "To-morrow morning early you must go and collect all the odds and ends of rubbish you can find in the streets, and then take them and throw them on the paths and walls of the garden, and you'll see then if we won't be more than a match for the old king."
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