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Girl in a Paper Dress

Why did my father have to take a wife? He didn't want one. But here she is, with her nasty daughter. They torment me constantly. Now in the middle of winter, when the snow has piled high as the windows, my stepmother is ordering me to wear a paper dress and go out to...

Bullied Husband

I'm thinner than my wife, and not as strong, and she used to beat me black and blue. But the day came when I could no longer endure the abuse. On that day, I was out in the fields, and I caught a crane in my net. The crane spoke and said, “If you let me go free, I...

Child Who Came From An Egg

On my tenth birthday, my nurse showed me a little basket that was hidden between the sheets of my cradle. It had egg shells in it. She said that my mother wanted me to know a secret. I didn’t remember my mother. She died when I was only two. The old nurse told me a...

Clay Doll

An old man with a beard longer than himself made me. He put clay into a mold and made a doll as large as life. When he was finished, he bored a hole into my breast and put a piece of bread inside, followed by a poisonous snake. Then he took the blood of a girl named...

Bullied Brother

My mother told me and my sister that the river brought us to her when we were babies. We were lying in a crystal cradle. Father took us home and brought us up with eight other children. Our foster parents love us, but our brothers and sisters don’t. The boys are...

Honey Pot

He was a sweet boy who had been terribly abused. He wanted to die, and who could blame him? He reached for me, thinking that I contained poison. But I did not. I was full of honey. He ate the honey and said to himself, "Folks say death is bitter, but it tastes very...

Fault-Finding Shoemaker

No, that's not right. You don't do it that way! Are you going to tell me those stitches are EVEN? Oh, and I suppose the cow flies over the moon. Did you measure that heel? No, you didn't. Look, it's higher than the other. And the shoe's too long. You dolt! You want to...

Not-So-Stupid Hans

My brothers think I'm stupid, but I know the difference between a good man and a bad one. That little elf who came to the door was nothing but trouble. He asked for bread, and when I gave it to him, he let the bread fall to the ground. Then he ordered me to pick it...

Bad-Mouthed Girl

When the creepy little man came up out of the heather and asked me what I was doing pulling the heather off his roof, I threatened him with my stick. He asked for some of my dinner. "I'll give you dinner!" I shouted. "I'll give you a whack with my stick. How about...

Iron-Fisted King

I rule with an Iron Fist. I sit on a black throne in a black, curtained hall. The courtiers are all dressed in black because they are mourning the people I put to death. An intruder has been brought before me. He says he is a king. I demand to know what he is doing in...

Troll Boss

I live in a bank in the middle of the wild forest and I hold power over men and beasts. When a man comes looking for employment, I put him in charge of feeding all the animals in the forest. Then I have some sport with him. I lock the beasts in the stable, turn the...

Cinderwench

My stepsisters have taken my room and now I live in a drafty garret, and I sleep on a straw bed. My stepmother calls me Cinderwench and so do her daughters, although the youngest, who is not quite as mean, calls me Cinderella. I haven’t eaten much for days. I’m not...

Beaten-Up Irishman

Some thanks I get! After three horrific nights in the castle, I broke the spell on the princess, and woke everybody up. Many of the men had been asleep for over a decade. I gave them a meal, filled their pockets with silver and gold, and watched them leave. When I...

Sister Who Leads Her Brother Away from Danger

The beatings got so bad, and we had become so hungry that one day my brother said, "The dog under the table is better off than we are. God pity us, if our mother only knew! Come, let us go forth together into the wide world." We walked the whole day over meadows,...

Cinderella’s Eldest Step-sister

We decided to shove her out right away. We weren't going to be pushed around by our new stepsister. I began the conversation after our first meal in the parlor. Mother had gone out. "Is this stupid goose going to sit in the parlor with us?" I asked, turning to my...

Twin Sister

Our stepmother hates me and my twin brother. She beats us and drives us out of the house. We don't dare tell our father how cruel she is. Father wouldn't believe us, and besides, he needs her to look after the house. She was very kind to us this morning. She said,...

An Ordinary Ass

I'm not precious, okay? Diamonds and rubies don't fall out of my mouth when you say the word, "bricklebrit." I'm just an ordinary working mule. I don't get special treatment in the landlord's stable. Nobody feeds me the best oats and hay. When Antonio mistook me for...

Masella the Disgusted Mother

I have six pretty daughters, all upright as fir trees, and one son who is a complete idiot. Not a day goes by when I don't have to say, "Antonio, what are you doing, you useless creature?" He's the stupidest kid you can imagine. Yesterday, I broke down and gave him...

Working Witch-Maiden

The reason our handsome guest finds a coin under his pillow every morning is that he has swallowed a bird's heart. My mother, who is a witch, wants me to get it from him. She says we have more right to it than he does. I hate the jobs she makes me do! How am I going...

Nun

After I left the cloister, I met up with a couple of fellows who had lost their way. We traveled together through the forest and came to an old, abandoned castle. We decided to make it our own kind of home. I agreed to look after the house while the other two went out...