Stories About Snakes(called
paddocks in this version)
There was once a little child whose mother gave her every afternoon
a small bowl of milk and bread, and the child seated herself in the yard with it. But when
she began to eat, a paddock came creeping out of a crevice in the wall, dipped its little
head in the dish, and ate with her. The child took pleasure in this, and when she was
sitting there with her little dish and the paddock did not come at once, she cried,
paddock, paddock, come swiftly hither come, thou tiny thing, thou shalt have thy crumbs of
bread, thou shalt refresh thyself with milk.
Then the paddock came in haste, and enjoyed its food. It even showed
gratitude, for it brought the child all kinds of pretty things from its hidden treasures,
bright stones, pearls, and golden playthings. The paddock, however, drank only the milk,
and left the bread-crumbs alone. Then one day the child took its little spoon and struck
the paddock gently on its head, and said, eat the bread-crumbs as well, little thing. The
mother, who was standing in the kitchen, heard the child talking to someone, and when she
saw that she was striking a paddock with her spoon, ran out with a log of wood, and killed
the good little creature.
From that time forth, a change came over the child. As long as the
paddock had eaten with her, she had grown tall and strong, but now she lost her pretty
rosy cheeks and wasted away. It was not long before the funeral bird began to cry in the
night, and the redbreast to collect little branches and leaves for a funeral wreath and
soon afterwards the child lay on her bier.
II An orphan child was sitting by the town walls spinning, when she
saw a paddock coming out of a hole low down in the wall. Swiftly she spread out beside it
one of the blue silk handkerchiefs for which paddocks have such a strong liking, and which
are the only things they will creep on. As soon as the paddock saw it, it went back, then
returned, bringing with it a small golden crown, laid it on the handkerchief, and then
went away again. The girl took up the crown, which glittered and was of delicate golden
filagree work. It was not long before the paddock came back for the second time, but when
it did not see the crown any more, it crept up to the wall, and in its grief smote its
little head against it as long as it had strength to do so, until at last it lay there
dead. If the girl had but left the crown where it was, the paddock would certainly have
brought still more of its treasures out of the hole.
III The paddock cries, huhu, huhu. The child says, come out. The
paddock comes out, whereupon the child inquires about her little sister, have you not seen
little red-stockings. The paddock says, no, I have not. Have you. Huhu, huhu, huhu.