One of my favourite fairy tales ever

! This post was written long ago. What you're reading is not necessarily how I feel about things in 2017. This blog was started by an 18-year-old in 2001. Please, keep that in mind before you freak out.

I did NOT write this - I only did a quick translation/synopsis because I think it's a beautiful story. One year ago, I told Lisa - the person I spoke to for a while until she disappeared without trace - that Šuma Striborova, by Croatian writer Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić was one of the most beautiful things ever written. So...here's a rough synopsis....written in a more coloquial way.

A guy goes into a forest, sits on a rock and a snake approaches him. He doesn't know that the forest is under a spell and he says: "Oh my, what a pretty snake, I could almost take it home!" He doesn't know that the snake is actually a young woman who was turned into a snake and who needed to hear something like that to be a human again. And she also perfectly knows he'll set her free and she thinks: "Oh, nice, a fool who will help me!" and then she turns back into a girl, but a girl with a snake's tongue, because she thought a bad thing. The guy is not really smart and he thinks he found himself a bride.

He goes back home to his old mother who tells him: "Dear son, you picked a beautiful girl, but...I think she was originally a snake!" The guy wonders how come his mother knows and he gets angry. And the three of them start living together, but the girl is...horrible. She eats too much, she's rude, she's downright horrible. And she keeps on trying to get rid of her mother in law.

So, she sends the old woman to bring snow from the top of a mountain so she could wash her face with it. The old woman says it's not possible to get up there and the girl recommends her to take a goat with her. The woman is going to ask God for help on her way but she changes her mind and thinks: "If my son was really a bad person, God would let me know." The next day, the cruel girl wants the old woman to bring a carp from a hole in the ice on the lake. The old woman says the ice will break underneath her and the girl responds: "The carp will be happy if you go down with it." However, once again, the old woman survives and comes back with a carp....because a seagull dropped a fish before her.

On the third day, the old woman gets to sew back something on her son's shirt, the girl tells her not to do it. The old woman goes in front of the house in the cold and cries...and she sees a young girl in ripped clothes coming to her. The young girl asks her if she'd buy matches. Old woman says she has no money, yet she can sew back the girl's sleeve, because her shoulder peeking out of the hole in the clothes was already turning blue. And they agree on that, and the girl is really happy she's not that cold anymore. She gives some matches to the old woman and goes away.

The next day, the greedy girl and her husband go for a visit and demand hot water when they're back. Once they're gone, the old woman lights a match and a bunch of dwarves suddenly come out. She asks them for help. One of them, a particulary smart one called Malik Tintilić, tells her to put crow eggs under a hen and make everyone see the daughter in law is a snake, because once they're hatched, she'll chase them.

So, at some point, the greedy girl invites the whole village to see the hen and chicks, as they're hatched. And once little crows crawled from under the hen's body, she's embarrassed in front of the whole village as she gets her snake-tongue out and starts chasing them. Women are scared and they take their children home. However, the son doesn't take the warning. He claims his mother is a witch to have crow eggs at that time of the year and chases her away of the house. The moment she got out, there was no more light in the house. The son realises he's wrong, but he tells his wife that they should "go after the mother and see how she'll freeze to death".

The old woman was walking in snow until she came to an open field and then she got so cold that she had to light her matches again. The dwarves came out and she asked them for help and explained how their trick with the eggs had gone wrong. They have no other idea than to take her to the forest, to their leader, Stribor, who's simply got to know what to do. The dwarves bring a huge deer and twelve squirrels. The old woman jumps on a deer, the dwarves jump on squirrels and they head into the night. They head to the same forest the son found his bride in...and the son and the bride are still following them.

At some point, they arrive in front of an enormous mullberry...so enormous that it contains seven golden castles and the eighth thing it contains is a little village with a silver fence. In front of the biggest castle, there's Stribor, on a chair, wearing a red anorak. The dwarves urge him to help the old woman who was totally ruined by the snake-in-law. He says: "Don't be afraid, your daughter-in-law will live in evilness and come back here at some point, she was set free too early. Now look at the village with silver fence!" The old woman looks at the village and recognises the village she was born in, and sees people celebrating and dancing. Bells are ringing, flags are being hung, everyone is happy. Stribor tells her to get inside, clap her hands twice...and she would come back to her youth and live her life again.

She goes in, is tempted to clap but then she says that she'll have to refuse the offer because she'd rather remain in all her trouble and know she has a son, than go back and forget all the trouble and have everything in the world. She goes in, is tempted to clap but then she says that she'll have to refuse the offer because she'd rather remain in all her trouble and know she has a son, than go back and forget all the trouble and have everything in the world.

At that point, the ground is shaking...as it turns out the forest was once cursed and that it would remain cursed until a person who loves their trouble more than all the happiness in the world comes in. The castles and the village disappear, so do Stribor and the dwarves...the greedy girl squeaks, turns into a snake again and disappears. The son and the woman remain alone in the middle of the forest. He falls down on his knees, begging his mother and God to forgive him. God forgave him and the mother never hated him, either way.

They go back home and the son marries the poor girl who was selling the matches. They lead a happy life and sometimes, Malik Tintilić would come to light their fire in cold winter nights.

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