The Brothers Grimm – Stories About Snakes

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There was once a little child whose mother gave her every
afternoon a small bowl of milk and bread, and the child seated
herself in the yard with it. But when she began to eat,
a paddock came creeping out of a crevice in the wall, dipped its
little head in the dish, and ate with her. The child took pleasure
in this, and when she was sitting there with her little dish and
the paddock did not come at once, she cried,
paddock, paddock, come swiftly
hither come, thou tiny thing,
thou shalt have thy crumbs of bread,
thou shalt refresh thyself with milk.

Then the paddock came in haste, and enjoyed its food. It even
showed gratitude, for it brought the child all kinds of pretty
things from its hidden treasures, bright stones, pearls, and golden
playthings. The paddock, however, drank only the milk, and left
the bread-crumbs alone. Then one day the child took its little
spoon and struck the paddock gently on its head, and said, eat the
bread-crumbs as well, little thing. The mother, who was standing
in the kitchen, heard the child talking to someone, and when she
saw that she was striking a paddock with her spoon, ran out with
a log of wood, and killed the good little creature.

From that time forth, a change came over the child. As long as
the paddock had eaten with her, she had grown tall and strong, but
now she lost her pretty rosy cheeks and wasted away. It was not
long before the funeral bird began to cry in the night, and the
redbreast to collect little branches and leaves for a funeral
wreath and soon afterwards the child lay on her bier.

II
An orphan child was sitting by the town walls spinning, when she
saw a paddock coming out of a hole low down in the wall. Swiftly
she spread out beside it one of the blue silk handkerchiefs for
which paddocks have such a strong liking, and which are the only
things they will creep on. As soon as the paddock saw it, it
went back, then returned, bringing with it a small golden crown,
laid it on the handkerchief, and then went away again. The girl took
up the crown, which glittered and was of delicate golden filagree
work. It was not long before the paddock came back for the second
time, but when it did not see the crown any more, it crept up
to the wall, and in its grief smote its little head against it
as long as it had strength to do so, until at last it lay there
dead. If the girl had but left the crown where it was, the paddock
would certainly have brought still more of its treasures out of
the hole.

III
The paddock cries, huhu, huhu. The child says, come out. The
paddock comes out, whereupon the child inquires about her little
sister, have you not seen little red-stockings. The paddock says,
no, I have not. Have you. Huhu, huhu, huhu.

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