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A Vietnamese folktale

In the mountains overlooking the Red River Valley it is told of a good family with two fine daughters who seemed always to be doing their duties; yet one day, by and by, while returning home, they stopped to eat some figs and that evening felt very strange. In time, both sisters gave birth, one to a worm and one to a snail. The midwives fled the house, screaming, "Demons! Demons!" Everybody in the village, including the sisters themselves, shared the same fear and believed the worm and the snail to be actual demons! So they all ran away, leaving the worm and the snail to wander about the abandoned village on their own, and this they did for many lonely years. Eventually, after crossing paths a number of times, the two creatures decide to live together to ease their loneliness, and they become husband and wife. And it is soon after this that one night an incredible rainstorm flies over the village, with howling winds and raindrops that seemed to circle round their house. The next day, the snail sees a handsome man in the house. She asks him who he is, and his reply surprises her: "I am your husband." And he drops his shriveled worm skin on the floor. Later that same day the man sees a beautiful woman enter the courtyard. "My wife is not at home," he calls to her. The woman holds out a snail shell and replies, "Yes she is, for I am she." They stare at each other, bemused and pleased, and figure that there was something about the eerie storm of the previous night that has transformed them into people. And life goes on and they do their chores and farm the land. The fields are fertile and the crops grow strong and plentifully. While working together at the harvest one morning they hear two crows gabbing about local conditions, decrying the dry fields and failed crops of the next village over. The husband and wife decide to help these people out, to share their abundance with them. So they journey forth, and when they arrive they are discovered to be the very snail and the very worm whom the people of this village fled from some years ago now transformed into ordinary people like themselves! ! The end result is that the villagers-in-exile, as it were, move back home and share in the abundance, and all is peachy from there on out.

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