Elinas, King of Albania, to divert his grief for the death of his wife, amused himself
with hunting. One day, at the chase, he went to a fountain to quench his thirst. As he
approached it he heard the voice of a woman singing, and on coming to it he found there
the beautiful fay Pressina.
After some time the fay bestowed her hand upon him, on the condition that he should
never visit her at the time of her lying-in. She had three daughters at a birth: Melusina,
Melior, and Palatina. Nathas, the king's song by a former wife, hastened to convey the
joyful tidings to his father, who, without reflection, flew to the chamber of the queen,
and entered as she was bathing her daughters. Pressina, on seeing him, cried out that he
had broken his word, and she must depart. And taking up her three daughters, she
She retired to the Lost Island, so called because it was only by chance any, even those
who had repeatedly visited it, could find it. Here she reared her children, taking them
every morning to a high mountain, whence Albania might be seen, and telling them that but
for their father's breach of promise they might have lived happily in the distant land
which they beheld.
When they were fifteen years of age, Melusina asked her mother particularly of what
their father had been guilty. On being informed of it, she conceived the design of being
revenged on him. Engaging her sisters to join in her plans, they set out for Albania.
Arrived there, they took the king and all his wealth, and, by a charm, enclosed him in a
high mountain, called Brandelois. On telling their mother what they had done, she, to
punish them for the unnatural action, condemned Melusina to become every Saturday a
serpent, from the waist downwards, till she should meet a man who would marry her under
the condition of never seeing her on a Saturday, and should keep his promise. She
influenced other judgements on her two sisters, less severe in proportion to their guilt.
Melusina now went roaming through the world in search of the man who was to deliver
her. She passed through the Black Forest, and that of Ardennes, and at last she arrived in
the forest of Colombiers, in Poitou, where all the fays of the neighborhood came before
her, telling her they had been waiting for her to reign in that place.
Raymond having accidentally killed the count, his uncle, by the glancing aside of his
boar-spear, was wandering by night in the forest of Colombiers. He arrived at a fountain
that rose at the foot of a high rock. This fountain was called by the people the Fountain
of Thirst, or the Fountain of the Fays, on account of the many marvelous things which had
happened at it.
At the time, when Raymond arrived at the fountain, three ladies were diverting
themselves there by the light of the moon, the principal of which was Melusina. Her beauty
and her amiable manners quickly won his love. She soothed him, concealed the deed he had
done, and married him, he promising on his oath never to desire to see her on a Saturday.
She assured him that a breach of his oath would forever deprive him of her whom he so much
loved, and be followed by the unhappiness of both for life. Out of her great wealth she
built for him, in the neighborhood of the Fountain of Thirst, where he first saw her, the
castle of Lusignan. She also built La Rochelle, Cloitre Malliers, Mersent, and other
But destiny, that would have Melusina single, was incensed against her. The marriage
was made unhappy by the deformity of the children born of one that was enchanted. But
still Raymond's love for the beauty that ravished both heart and eyes remained unshaken.
Destiny renewed her attacks. Raymond's cousin had excited him to jealousy and to secret
concealment, by malicious suggestions of the purport of the Saturday retirement of the
countess. He hid himself; and then saw how the lovely form of Melusina ended below in a
snake, gray and sky-blue, mixed with white. But it was not horror that seized him at the
sight, it was infinite anguish at the reflection that through his breach of faith he might
lose his lovely wife forever.
Yet this misfortune had not speedily come on him, were it not that his son, Geoffroi
with the Tooth [a boar's tusk projected from his mouth], had burned his brother Freimund,
who would stay in the abbey of Malliers, with the abbot and a hundred monks. At which the
afflicted father, Count Raymond, when his wife Melusina was entering his closet to comfort
him, broke out into these words against her, before all the courtiers who attended her,
"Out of my sight, thou pernicious snake and odious serpent! thou contaminator of my
Melusina's former anxiety was now verified, and the evil that had lain so long in
ambush had now fearfully sprung on him and her. At these reproaches she fainted away; and
when at length she revived, full of the profoundest grief, she declared to him that she
must now depart from him, and, in obedience to a decree of destiny, fleet about the earth
in pain and suffering, as a specter, until the day of doom; and that only when one of her
race was to die at Lusignan would she become visible.
Her words at parting were these, "But one thing will I say unto thee before I
part, that thou, and those who for more than a hundred years shall succeed thee, shall
know that whenever I am seen to hover over the fair castle of Lusignan, then will it be
certain that in that very year the castle will get a new lord; and though people may not
perceive me in the air, yet they will see me by the Fountain of Thirst; and thus shall it
be so long as the castle stand in honor and flourishing - especially on the Friday before
the lord of the castle shall die."
Immediately, with wailing and loud lamentation, she left the castle of Lusignan, and
has ever since existed as a specter of the night.
Raymond died as a hermit on Monserrat.
Thomas Keightley: The Fairy Mythology. Illustrative of the Romance and
Superstition of Various Countries. London 1850, p. 480 ff. (Nixe, Frankreich)