Translation: Copyright FairyTaleChannel.org
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Around the year 1520 near Basel, Switzerland a man lived by the name of Leonhard, also known as Lienimann, a tailor’s son. He was a foolish and simple man, and words fell heavily over his lips for he stammered. Once this man Leonhard was once walking along the deep gorge called the Schlaufgewoelbe, or the underground corridor, which ran from Augst to Basel and he was able to go much further than it had ever been possible for a man to go. He told of both strange and horrifying things. For he told the story, and there are still people today who have heard from his own mouth, how he took with him a consecrated wax candle and lit it, and entered the cave squint-eyed, with the candle flickering before him. First, he came through an iron gate and then he entered an enormous vault, from which he reached an even larger arched chamber. Finally he walked through endlessly beautiful and cheerfully verdant gardens. But at the center stood a wonderful and sturdily constructed castle, or perhaps it was the hunting lodge of a prince. Inside there was a beautiful maiden with human form down to her navel. On her head she wore a crown of gold and her hair hung loosely over her shoulders. But instead of legs, she had the form of an ugly snake. The same maiden led the lad by the hand to an iron box, on which sat two black dogs barking, so that no one could approach the box. But the maiden quieted the dogs and bridled them so he could approach without any hindrance. Then, she removed a ring of keys, which she wore round her neck, opened the box and removed several pieces of silver and other brightly shining coins. From among these coins the maiden, with her peculiar gentleness, took not a few of these treasures and presented them to the young man. These he brought with him out of the gorge. Many years later he showed these treasures to all who asked. The maiden swore she sprang from a royal line and race, but had been cursed and transformed into a monster. Nothing could save her except being kissed three times by a youth, whose chastity was certain and spirit undefiled; then she could regain her prior shape and form. She would relinquish to her savior the entire treasure, which had been kept hidden at that place for so many years. The youth told how he had already kissed the maiden twice, but both times she had made such a frightful grimace, probably from the immense joy of unexpected redemption, that he became fearful and thought otherwise. She would surely tear to him to shreds and so he did not dare kiss her a third time but hastened away from that place. Afterward, it happened that he was taken away by persons of ill repute and spent his entire life in a whorehouse. Besmirched and imbruted, he could never again find the entrance to the Schlaufhoehle. And this often brought him to tears.
Interesting. I wonder why the snake maiden would tear him to shreads if he saved her? If that's really what her attitude was, I can't really blame Leonhard.
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