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Brother Brightboots

I was sitting on an old tree stump when the soldier approached. He had nothing--not a penny to his name--but he had the most charming and fearless spirit. He shook my hand and stretched himself out on the grass by my side. "I see you've got good boots, well blacked,"...

Mother of a Thief

My son has become a thief. Not an ordinary thief, mind you, but a master-thief. Oh, I wept when I first found out, but then he said that he never steals from the poor. He gives to the poor, and he only takes superfluous things from the rich. Nor will he steal anything...

Griffin’s Wife

Not a single Christian has ever dared to approach my husband the Griffin. But then one day this fellow comes to the door, and when I ask him what he wants, he tells me everything that's brought him here to the other side. He wants a feather from the Griffin's tail so...

Earthworkers

The king's youngest daughter is our princess, and we serve her. When she comes into the forest and summons us: "Earthworkers, come out!" we appear from under every root and stone. When she asks for help, we ask no questions. If she wants the forest cut down and the...

Witch-Maiden Sister

My two sisters and I sat around a table in our underwater palace and raised our shell cups to make a toast. One of my sisters drank to the health of a youth who wasn't the least perturbed when she, in the form of a corpse, had tried to grab him from the grave. The...

Queen of Snakes

What's this? She calls us with bowls of milk and sugar and then she stands blocking the door. "Oh, Queen of Snakes," she cries, "Give me back my husband!" "Husssband? Hussssband?" I thrust my head into her face. She repeats her plea, and I must say, I am impressed by...

Preserving Water

I have been used to preserve the Old Fairy's remaining eye and tooth—ugh! Such foul work! Why have I been turned to such a purpose when the Old Fairy does nothing with her powers but torment the innocent? Now I am only too happy to break free from the crystal jars,...

Nightingale

No, please, your Majesty, do not tie your golden slipper around my neck to commend me for my performance. The tears that I see in your eyes when I am singing are the only reward I would ever wish to receive! Do you not understand the weight of your praise around my...

Little Hazel Tree

When I was just a twig, I brushed against a man's hat, and his hat fell off. He got off his horse, came to the tree, broke me, and put me in his pocket. He carried me to his home and gave me to his daughter, who planted me by her mother's grave. She visited me three...

Surrendering King

I gave him every impossible task I could think of, and he accomplished every one. How did he do it? I'll be damned if I know how he made a flying ship, or how he fetched healing water from the ends of the earth. How did he eat and drink so much? How did he survive a...

Old Grasscutter

I have no relations. I live alone in a little mud hut, outside of town, and I make my living by cutting grass in the jungle. Then I sell it as fodder for horses. I am a simple old man, and I save one halfpenny every day because I need very little food and clothing. In...

Forest Witch

I have tried to teach many boys how to acquire the gifts of the good spirits, but none of them will fast long enough to do any great good in the world. This boy, however, is different! He fasted thirty days, and then he told me that he still had not fasted long...

Much-Loved Prince

After I was born, the fairies gathered around my cradle, and they said that it was written in the Books of Fate that I should die by a crocodile, a serpent, or a dog. Nothing could save me, they said. Well, I have met all three and I am still here. Why? I will tell...

Owl at the Abyss

The old man had no means to entertain the royal party that was making its way to his camp, and, in his shame, he went to a gorge in the middle of the night. I could see from my post that the good man intended to kill himself. It would be a great loss. His goodness...

Doctor’s Servant

My master, a very great doctor, sent me to a peasant's hut with a bottle of medicine for a young girl who is gravely ill. I have dropped it somewhere on the way here, and now the poor child has no hope. I'm standing in the house, feeling miserable, when we hear a...

Ugly Old Woman

I never met such a happy man! He came boldly into the forest, whistling, and oh, he had the merriest, lightest gait. "Good day," I said, and I asked for something to eat. After he gave me the contents of his pockets, I gave him the contents of my own—that is, the...

Dragon’s Book

I am the fiery dragon's most prized possession. I hold the names of all the men he has captured. It looks like he'll have to erase the last three entries, though. Those soldiers have learned the answers to his riddles, and they're about to become free men. I envy...

Crab Princess

It was the strangest wedding ceremony you could possibly imagine. Picture me, a princess, making my vows to a Crab who sat on a golden cushion wearing a golden robe! On our wedding night, he told me that he is a Man by night, a Crab by day, and an Eagle whenever he...

Gallery of Mirrors

Make no mistake about it—we mirrors have one duty, and one duty only. We are here to ensure that there is nothing amiss in the appearance of the princess. No stain on her satin dress, no golden hair out of place, and not one petal withered on her garland of flowers....

Mirrors of the Beast

We line all the walls of one of the great rooms in the palace of a prince who has been made to appear as a beast. Needless to say, he rarely enters this room, although he did once, recently, to hang a bracelet on the chandelier. When Beauty enters, she admires herself...