After a year’s work, my employer rewarded me by giving me a choice between a sack of silver and a sack of sand. I took the bag of sand. I don’t know why. I thought there must be some kind of magic to it.
I went on my way and came into a gloomy wood. In the middle of the forest, there was a meadow, and, in the middle of the meadow, there was a fire, and, in the middle of the fire, there was a maiden. She was more beautiful than anyone I’d ever seen. She wasn’t burning in the flames, but she couldn’t get out of them.
She said, “Martin, if you would win happiness, spare my life. Extinguish the flames with your sand.”
I did, and she turned into a Serpent. She coiled herself around my neck and said, “Do not be afraid of me, Martin. I love you, and I will go with you through the world.”
Martin in the Gloomy Wood in The Magic Ring, Yellow Fairy Book. Illustration by H.J. Ford.