“The White Snake”
There once was a very wise king. It seemed nothing could happen within his kingdom without him soon hearing about it. He had the odd custom of after dinner – once all the dishes had been cleared and everyone left – a trusted servant would bring him a covered dish. Nobody knew what was under the dish, because he waited until after the servant left to uncover it.
One day the servant became curious and took the dish to his room. After locking the doors he uncovered it and saw a white snake. Curious, he cut off a small piece and ate it. At once he was able to understand the speech of animals.
Shortly afterwards, the queen lost a ring. Even though this servant was trusted to bring the king his covered snake, it was thought that he had stolen it. The king told him that if he didn’t find the guilty party within a day, he would be found guilty.
The servant went out and sat by the water to think. He overheard some ducks talking about what they had done, and one mentioned eating a ring. So the servant grabbed the duck and took it to the cook.
When the duck was killed, the ring was found and the servant vindicated. To make up for it, the king suggested making him part of the royal household. Instead, the servant just wished for a horse and some money so he could go see the world.
One day in his travels, he came to a pool and saw three fishes tangled in the rushes. He set them back in the water and they called out that they would remember him.
Later he heard the ant king complaining about men with their heavy beasts stepping on his kind. So the man took his horse to the side, and the ant king called out that he would be remembered.
On he traveled until he came to some ravens throwing their young out of the nest to live on their own. But the young ravens said that they couldn’t fend for themselves and would starve. So the man killed his horse so that the young ravens could eat. They said that they would remember him.
The man walked into a town where he learned that the princess was seeking a husband. To win her hand the man would have to do a difficult task and if he failed he would die. Many had already died, but she was so beautiful that the man went ahead.
He was taken to the seashore and the king threw a ring into the waves. He told the man that if he did not return with it, he would be thrown back in to drown. Everyone left, and the man wondered what to do. But then the three fish came swimming by, one with a mussel. When the man opened the mussel, there was the ring.
The man returned to the king, but instead of being married – for the princess didn’t like him – she gave him a new task. She threw ten sacks of millet seed in the garden, and asked that he pick them all up before morning. The man sat down and figured he was a dead man. But in the morning he saw that the ant king had led his people to clean up the millet seeds.
The princess still didn’t want to marry him, so she set him the task of getting her an apple from the tree of life. The man wondered through three kingdoms, but had no luck in finding the tree. One night he sat down under a tree and a golden apple was dropped into his hands. The three ravens – grown big on horsemeat – had heard of his task and had flown to the end of the earth where the tree stood and got an apple for him.
He took the apple to the princess, and they each ate half, fell in love and lived a long, happy life.
So, it was love.
Where was this covered dish kept? Was it made up every day? If so, by who?
Ah yes, there’s a snake on this plate. Let me taste it.
Eat a snake, understand animals. Makes sense. ??
So the servant ate of the snake once and was forever able to understand animals, but the king has to eat it every day?
Did the horse have nothing to say about being killed to feed ravens?
That night in the garden did none of the ants talk so that he man could hear what they were doing? Do ants work in silence?
Why is this called “The White Snake” and not … “Sometimes killing your horse will benefit you in the end?”