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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...

Birch Tree at the Crossroads

I stand with two other birch trees at the crossing of three roads. One day three princes came along with their bows and arrows. The eldest took an arrow and shot it into my trunk. Turning to his brothers he said, “Let's each mark one of these trees before we go our...

Wounded Soldier

I was making my way toward the city when I met an old woman on the road. She noticed that I was badly wounded and asked me where I was going. “I really don’t know myself,” I said. I had heard about the kings’ twelve daughters, and how they had been wearing out their...

Tailor Caught on the Horns

When I heard the commotion, I rushed out of the hut where I had spent the night. A huge stag was confronting a bull, and they were engaged in a violent struggle. They rushed at each other with such rage that the ground shook with their trampling and the air resounded...

Crossroads

I am a crossroads in a great forest. Both my footpaths lead to the capital. One will take seven days and the other will take two days, but there are no signs to tell you which is which. How does one prepare? A shoemaker and a tailor paused to discuss the matter. The...

Destiny

Catherine had come of age. She was sitting in her room in her father's well-appointed house when I flew in with my wheel of fortune. "Catherine," I said. "Which would you rather have? A happy youth or a happy old age?" After some consideration she said, "Give me a...

Feather King

My two elder sons are clever and self-assured, but my third is a different sort of chap altogether. Very good-hearted, but simple. I'm not sure which of my sons is meant to be king. I'll throw three feathers to the wind and let the wind decide. See which way the wind...

Tiny in the Big World

The marsh, the river, the meadow, the whole world was too big for me! When winter came I wandered into a cornfield that had been harvested. Only the dry, bare stubble stuck out of the frozen ground, and the stalks were like a forest to me. I was so cold I thought for...

Simpleton at the Threshold

My brothers left me at the crossroads and I continued on my own to search for the wonderful vine. It was stolen from my father, and he cannot stop weeping over its loss. When I stopped to have something to eat, a lame fox came along and said he was hungry. I had very...

Militza in the Apple Tree

I fell into the arms of the king's son Iwanich. He was awake when I arrived, so I could not hold onto my swan shape. Oh, I did love him and I wanted to cling to him, but it was time to leave. I was under the power of a witch who had put me far out of the reach of any...

Benjamin

Being the youngest, my brothers elected me to keep house while they went out to hunt. They shot hares, wild deer, pigeons, and whatever else they found to eat. It was my job to dress the game and serve it up for dinner. Ten years passed, and then one evening, before...

Hansel Lost in the Forest

I wasn't worried about being abandoned in the forest by our parents. I said to Gretel, "Just wait until the moon rises, and then we will see the crumbs of bread I've strewn about, all along the path. They will show us our way home." When the moon came out, we went...

Buried Soldier-King

There is nothing I can do. I have been buried in a vault with my dead wife. Seated on the floor, I lean against her coffin. There are four candles burning on the table beside her, four loaves of bread, and four bottles of wine. When the provisions run out, I will die....

Old Man on the Road

From the time I was a lad, my grandfather has been telling me stories about the princess who sleeps in the enchanted castle. Many men have lost their lives trying to break through the thorn forest to reach her. They have all died trying. The castle is under a curse,...