With the ring almost always in her finger, princess Mara became rather too quiet and pensive.  She suddenly boycotted all social gatherings and no longer went out to swim with the virgins of Mayomi.  Her mother called her to herself a number of times to tell her there was no need to live a solitary life because of the gold ring.  But all she said were to no avail.  When the princess started living so much on her own, her brother as well became worried.  One evening, however, six weeks after she was given the ring, the princess was sitting in her room hearing her maid read her a story.

'All these hours you have been reading me stories.' She said to her.  'Now keep the book aside.  I will tell you a story.'

The maid closed the book and placed it on a nearby table.

'Have you ever heard any story about the terrible serpent?'

There was a knock on the door before the maid could answer her question.  So she i

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