Deception

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This story tells of a princess who decrees that any man she marries must go with her to her grave to lie with her there. She marries, then dies while her husband is still alive. True to his word he goes with her to her burial and lies with her in the ground. One night, as he is nearing his own death, he is visited by a snake possessing unusual powers....

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Deception

  1. 2. Many centuries ago, there was a quaint town called Evergreen for it was always green and the people who lived there, lived the most pleasurable lives; or so it seemed.
  2. 3. Unlike the other residents of Evergreen an old man by the name of Mr Eldrege didn’t have an enjoyable life; his life was quiet the opposite. In fact life had got so bad for him that he was no longer able to feed his only son any longer; so his son Lucas said, “My dear father, everything goes badly with you, and I am a burden to you; I would rather go away and try to earn my own living.” So Mr Eldrege gave him his blessing, and said goodbye to his only son with great sorrow.
  3. 4. At that time the King of a powerful empire was at war, and Lucas who had taken service under him, went with him out to fight. When he came in sight of the enemy, battle was given and he was in great peril, and the arrows flew so fast that his comrades fell around him on all sides. And when the leader was killed the rest would have taken flight; but Lucas, stepping forward, spoke to them courageously, exclaiming, “We will not let our homeland be ruined!” Then the others followed him, and pressed on so furiously, that they annihilated the enemy.
  4. 5. As soon as the King heard that he had to thank Lucas for the victory, he raised him above all others, gave him great treasures, and made him first in the kingdom. As soon as the King heard that he had to thank Lucas for the victory, he raised him above all others, gave him great treasures, and made him first in the kingdom.
  5. 6. Now the King had a daughter called Lily who was very beautiful, but she was also very whimsical. She had made a vow to take no one as her husband who did not promise to let himself be buried alive with her if she died first. “If he loves me with all his heart,” said she, “of what use will life be to him afterwards?” At the same time she was prepared to do the same thing, and if her husband should die first to descend with him to the grave. This vow had hitherto frightened away all wooers, but Lucas was so taken with her beauty that he waited for nothing, but immediately asked her father for her hand in marriage.
  6. 7. “ Do you know,” said the King, “what you must promise?” “I must go with her into the grave,” Lucas replied, “if I outlive her; but my love is so great that I don’t mind the danger.” Then the King consented, and the wedding was celebrated with great splendour. For a long time they lived happily and contented with one another, until it happened that the young Queen fell grievously sick, so that no physician could cure her.
  7. 8. When she died Lucas remembered his forced promise, and shuttered at the thought of laying himself alive in the grave; but there was no escape, for the Kind had set watchers at all the doors, and it was not possible to avoid his fate. When the day came that the body should be laid in the royal vault, he was led away with it, and the door closed and locked behind him. Near the coffin stood a table, upon it four lights, four loaves of bread, and four bottles of wine: as soon as this supply came to an end he must die of hunger. Full of bitterness and sorrow, he sat down, eating each day but a little morsel of bread, and taking but one draught of wine: everyday he saw death approaching nearer and nearer.
  8. 9. Whilst he sat gazing before him he saw a snake creeping out of the corner of the vault, which approached Lily’s dead body. Thinking that it came to feed on the body, he drew his sword and exclaiming, “So long as I live you shall not touch her!” he cut it in three pieces. After a while another snake crawled out of the corner; but when it saw the other lying dead it went back, and returned soon with three poppies in its mouth. Then it took the three pieces of the snake, and, laying them together so as to join, it put one poppy on each wound. As soon as the divided parts were joined the snake moved and was alive again, and both snakes hastened away together.                                                                                                                                                                                      
  9. 10. The three poppies remained lying on the ground and, a desire came into the mind of the unhappy man who had been watching all this, to know if the wondrous power of the poppies which had brought the snake to life again, could not likewise be of service to a human being. So he picked up the plants, and laid one on the mouth of the corpse of his wife, and the other two on her eyes; and he had scarcely done so when the blood circulated again in the veins, mounting into the pale countenance, flushed it with colour. The three poppies remained lying on the ground and, a desire came into the mind of the unhappy man who had been watching all this, to know if the wondrous power of the poppies which had brought the snake to life again, could not likewise be of service to a human being. So he picked up the plants, and laid one on the mouth of the corpse of his wife, and the other two on her eyes; and he had scarcely done so when the blood circulated again in the veins, mounting into the pale countenance, flushed it with colour.
  10. 11. Then she drew her breath, opened her eyes, and said, “Ah, where am I?” “You are with me, my dear Lily,” he replied, and told her how everything had happened, and how he had brought her to life. Then he helped her to some wine and bread; and, when her strength had returned, she raised herself up, and they went to the door, and knocked and shouted so loudly, that the watchers heard them and told the King. The King came down himself and opened the door, and there found them both alive and well, and he rejoiced with them that their trouble had passed away. But Lucas took away the three tiny green plants, and gave them to his servant, saying “Preserve them carefully for me, and carry them with you at all times. Who knows in what necessity they may not help us?”
  11. 12. A change, however, had come over Lily after she was restored to life, and it was as if all love for Lucas had passed out of her heart. And when, some little time after, Lucas wished to make a voyage over the sea to his old father, and they had gone on board the ship, she forgot the great love and fidelity which Lucas had shown, and which had been the means of rescuing her from death, and disclosed a wicked plan to the Skipper. When Lucas lay asleep, Lily called up the Skipper and seized the sleeper by the head, and the skipper took him by the feet, they threw Lucas into the sea. And as soon as the evil deed was done she said to the Skipper, “Now let us return home, and say he died on the voyage. I will so praise who and commend you to my father that he shall give you to me in marriage, and you shall sit as his heir.”
  12. 13. But the faithful servant, who had seen all they had did, unseen by them, let loose a little boat from the ship, and getting in it himself, rowed after his master, and let the betrayers sail away. He fished Lucas’s dead body up, and, by the help of the three poppies, which he carried with him, be brought Lucas happily to life again. Then they both away with all their strength day and night, and their little boat gilded on so fast that they arrived before the others at the old King’s palace.
  13. 14. The King marvelled to see them return alone, and asked what had happened. When he heard of the wickedness of his daughter, he said, “I can scarcely believe that Lily has done such evil; but the truth will soon come to light.” Then he bade them both go into a secret chamber, and keep themselves private from everybody.
  14. 15. Soon afterwards the great vessel came sailing in, and the godless wife appeared before her father with a sorrowful countenance. “Why have you returned alone?” he asked. “Where is your husband?” “Alas! Dear father,” Lily replied, “I return home with great grief, for Lucas fell suddenly ill during the voyage and died; and if the good Skipper had not given me his assistance it would have gone terribly with me; he was present at Lucas’s death, and can tell you about it.” The Kind said, “I will bring the dead to life,” and opening the chamber, he bade Lucas and his servant both to come forth. As soon as Lily saw Lucas she was struck as if by lightning, and, falling on her knees, she begged for mercy. But the Kind answered, “For you there is no mercy. He was ready to die with you, and gave you life again; but you have conspired against him in his sleep, and so you shall receive your due reward.”
  15. 16. Then Lily was put, with her companion in crime, on board a ship pierced with holes, and drawn out into the sea; and they soon sank beneath the waves.
  16. 17. The End

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