Forgot your password?  

Resources for students & teachers

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 306 pages of information about Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know.

Locking the door behind her, she descended a few steps into the cellar, and crossing it, unlocked another door into a dark, narrow passage.  She locked this also behind her, and descended a few more steps.  If any one had followed the witch-princess, he would have heard her unlock exactly one hundred doors, and descend a few steps after unlocking each.  When she had unlocked the last, she entered a vast cave, the roof of which was supported by huge natural pillars of rock.  Now this roof was the under side of the bottom of the lake.

She then untwined the snake from her body, and held it by the tail high above her.  The hideous creature stretched up its head towards the roof of the cavern, which it was just able to reach.  It then began to move its head backwards and forwards, with a slow oscillating motion, as if looking for something.  At the same moment the witch began to walk round and round the cavern, coming nearer to the centre every circuit; while the head of the snake described the same path over the roof that she did over the floor, for she kept holding it up.  And still it kept slowly osculating.  Round and round the cavern they went, ever lessening the circuit, till at last the snake made a sudden dart, and clung to the roof with its mouth.

“That’s right, my beauty!” cried the princess; “drain it dry.”

She let it go, left it hanging, and sat down on a great stone, with her black cat, which had followed her all round the cave, by her side.  Then she began to knit and mutter awful words.  The snake hung like a huge leech, sucking at the stone; the cat stood with his back arched, and his tail like a piece of cable, looking up at the snake; and the old woman sat and knitted and muttered.  Seven days and seven nights they remained thus; when suddenly the serpent dropped from the roof as if exhausted, and shrivelled up till it was again like a piece of dried seaweed.  The witch started to her feet, picked it up, put it in her pocket, and looked up at the roof.  One drop of water was trembling on the spot where the snake had been sucking.  As soon as she saw that, she turned and fled, followed by her cat.  Shutting the door in a terrible hurry, she locked it, and having muttered some frightful words, sped to the next, which also she locked and muttered over; and so with all the hundred doors, till she arrived in her own cellar.  Then she sat down on the floor ready to faint, but listening with malicious delight to the rushing of the water, which she could hear distinctly through all the hundred doors.

But this was not enough.  Now that she had tasted revenge, she lost her patience.  Without further measures, the lake would be too long in disappearing.  So the next night, with the last shred of the dying old moon rising, she took some of the water in which she had revived the snake, put it in a bottle, and set out, accompanied by her cat.  Before morning she had made the entire circuit of the lake, muttering

Follow Us on Facebook