Told by Yang Xiu-gong.
This story is a variation on the "Beauty and the Beast" theme. Normally the Miao house consisted of a main living room with the cattle penned into a section at one end. Occasionally, in a larger house, there was a second partition forming another room at the opposite end, usually small, and having no window, very dark. It was to this room that the youngest daughter retired with the snake.
According to Miao custom when the bridegroom came to fetch his bride, he was expected to stay a few days before taking her away. Tradition required that the bride’s parents would do everything to delay the departure of their daughter, while the bridegroom, for his part, without being rude, did his best to get away. In this story the snake proposes that the matter be settled by a singing competition. The revelation that the snake knew about his in-laws’ intention to kill him on the night of his arrival, left his father-in-law too ashamed to raise any further objection to the departure of the couple.
The "walling ram" was a heavy wooden implement used for compacting the earth when building mud walls.
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