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349 The Serpent and the Gypsy 149. In olden times, there existed this one village, and a serpent took to flying to this village to devour people. He ate them all up, and there remained but one peasant. So then this gypsy came there, and the whole thing took place late one evening. Wherever he looked in—it was empty! He finally came to the last little hut. There sat the last peasant, weeping. “Greetings, my good man!” “Why have you come here, gypsy? Likely life has become a bore to you?” “What do you mean?” “Well, this serpent has taken to flying here and eating up the people. He’s eaten them all and left me until morning, and tomorrow he’ll come flying in here and devour me.And it won’t be so good for you either. He’ll eat two at once!” “Oh, maybe he’ll choke. Let me spend the night with you, and we’ll see about tomorrow. We’ll see what sort of serpent this is that comes flying here.” So they spent the night. In the morning, a fierce storm suddenly blew up. The hut shook, and the serpent flew in.“Aha,” he said,“here’s a bonus! I left one peasant and have found two. Here’s something to breakfast on.”“So you’ll really eat?” asked the gypsy. “Of course, I’ll eat!” “You’re deluded, you devil’s spawn! You’ll choke!” “What do you mean, are you perhaps stronger than I am?” “And how! Why, you yourself know that I have more strength than you.” “Well, let’s test it. Let’s see who’s stronger.” “Let’s.” The serpent fetched a millstone.“Watch, gypsy! I’ll smash this millstone with one hand.”“Fine, I’ll watch.” The serpent took the stone in his fist and squeezed it so tightly that it was turned into fine sand. Sparks showered down!“That’s marvelous,” said the gypsy.“Now squeeze a stone so that water flows out of it. See how I squeeze this.” On the table there 350 h The Serpent and the Gypsy lay a sack of curd. The gypsy grabbed it and squeezed. Whey flowed out and down onto the ground.“True, your hand is stronger than mine. Now let’s see who can whistle louder.”“Well, whistle then.” The serpent whistled such that all the leaves fell off the trees.“You whistle well, Brother, but still not better than I. Beforehand tie up your eyes; otherwise, when I whistle, they’ll pop right out of your forehead!” The serpent believed him and tied up his eyes with a kerchief.“Well, whistle then!” The gypsy took a club and whistled that serpent on the head, and the serpent let out a yell at the top of his lungs: “Enough, enough, gypsy! Don’t whistle any more. From that one time I’ve practically lost the sight in my eyes!” “As you know, I’m really very likely to whistle once or twice more.” “No, you don’t need to, I won’t quarrel with you anymore. Let’s become brothers instead. You be the senior brother, and I’ll be the younger one.” “So be it.” “Well, Brother,” said the serpent,“go on then. In the steppe a herd of oxen is grazing. Choose the fattest one, take it by the tail, and drag it in for dinner.” There was nothing to be done, so the gypsy set off into the steppe. He saw a large herd of oxen grazing, and he thought of catching them and tying their tails together. The serpent waited and waited, couldn’t wait any longer, and ran off himself: “Why are you so long?” “Just hold on a little. I’ve tied up about fifty head, and I’ll bring them all home at once so that there’ll be enough for a whole month.” “Oh, you! We’ve no time to waste. One will be enough.” So, then the serpent grabbed the very fattest ox by the tail, skinned it, tossed the meat on his shoulders, and dragged it home.“What do you mean, Brother, I tied so many head up together, are you really going to leave it at that?”“Oh, stop it.” So they came to the hut and put on two kettles of beef, but there was no water.“Here’s an ox skin for you,” the serpent said to the gypsy.“Go fill it with water...


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