The Yellow Fairy Book HTML version

The Seven-Headed Serpent
Once upon a time there was a king who determined to take a long voyage. He
assembled his fleet and all the seamen, and set out. They went straight on night
and day, until they came to an island which was covered with large trees, and
under every tree lay a lion. As soon as the King had landed his men, the lions all
rose up together and tried to devour them. After a long battle they managed to
overcome the wild beasts, but the greater number of the men were killed. Those
who remained alive now went on through the forest and found on the other side
of it a beautiful garden, in which all the plants of the world flourished together.
There were also in the garden three springs: the first flowed with silver, the
second with gold, and the third with pearls. The men unbuckled their knapsacks
and filled them with those precious things. In the middle of the garden they found
a large lake, and when they reached the edge of it the Lake began to speak, and
said to them, 'What men are you, and what brings you here? Are you come to
visit our king?' But they were too much frightened to answer.
Then the Lake said, 'You do well to be afraid, for it is at your peril that you are
come hither. Our king, who has seven heads, is now asleep, but in a few minutes
he will wake up and come to me to take his bath! Woe to anyone who meets him
in the garden, for it is impossible to escape from him. This is what you must do if
you wish to save your lives. Take off your clothes and spread them on the path
which leads from here to the castle. The King will then glide over something soft,
which he likes very much, and he will be so pleased with that that he will not
devour you. He will give you some punishment, but then he will let you go.'
The men did as the Lake advised them, and waited for a time. At noon the earth
began to quake, and opened in many places, and out of the openings appeared
lions, tigers, and other wild beasts, which surrounded the castle, and thousands
and thousands of beasts came out of the castle following their king, the Seven-
headed Serpent. The Serpent glided over the clothes which were spread for him,