The king is uncommonly wise. No secret can be hidden from him. He seems to be able to glean information from the very air.

He also has a strange custom. Every day after dinner, when the table is cleared, and no one else is present, I bring him one more dish. I do not know what is under the cover, and I have not dared to look.

Tonight, however, I can no longer contain my curiosity. When I come out of the king’s room, I carry the dish to my own quarters. I lock the door and lift the cover. A white snake is lying on the dish. I cut a little bit off and put it in my mouth, and no sooner have I swallowed it than I hear the whispering of voices outside my window. The sparrows, all clustered together, are speaking to one another of all the things they have seen in the fields and the woods. I understand everything that all the animals are saying!

The Servant Who Uncovers the King’s Secret in The White Snake, Grimms. Illustration by Arthur Rackham.

white snake