Once there was a poor man with a son. The man could not look after his son anymore, so the son said to him, ‘Dear father. Things are bad here, and you have to work hard to look after me. Let me leave, and I will look after myself.’
The father agreed, and said goodbye to his son.
At that time, the King was at war, so the young man went to war. He was strong and fast, and did good work. The King wanted to thank him for his work. So he gave him much money, and said that he could marry his daughter.
The problem was, the King’s daughter was very strange. She said that she would only marry someone if they made a promise.
‘If I die before you, and I am buried, you must be buried alive with me.’
When the young man asked her why this was, she said, ‘If you love me so much, you will not want to live afterwards. That is true love. Of course, if you die first, I will be buried alive with you.’
This strange promise had stopped everyone else from marrying her, but the young man thought she was so beautiful that he didn’t mind. Anyway, he had fought hard in the war, and he was probably going to die first.
So he made the promise, and the two were married. For a while, they lived happily together, but one day the new Queen got ill. She had a strange illness that nobody had seen before. The young man, now the King, called all the doctors in the country to see her, but none of them could help her.
Finally, she died, and the young King remembered his promise.
‘I don’t want to be buried alive!’ he said.
But he kept his promises, so he joined her in the mausoleum. He told all his men, ‘If I try to leave, stop me.’
So they took the King into the mausoleum and locked the door behind him.
Next to the Queen’s body there was a table with four loaves of bread and four bottles of wine. When these ran out, the King would die of hunger. So every day he ate just a little piece of bread and drank just a little bit of wine, but still every day he felt death come nearer.
One day, a snake came into the mausoleum. It went up to the Queen’s dead body. The King thought the snake wanted to eat her, so he took his sword and said, ‘You will not hurt her!’ and cut the snake into three pieces.
A few hours later another snake came in, and when it saw the dead snake, it left again. A few minutes later it came back with three green leaves in its mouth. It put one leaf on each piece of the snake. Suddenly, the three pieces of the snake joined together again, and the snake was alive. The two snakes ran away and left the King alone.