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Cold Lady

One winter evening, I put my seven children to bed and tucked them in warmly. Then I went to join my husband in the next room. The charcoal glowed in the hibachi and all the doors of the house were tightly shut, for it was bitterly cold outside, and the first big...

Lady of the Morning Dew

When the Festival of Bon arrived, the time of returning souls, the good folk of Yedo took lanterns and visited the graves of their loved ones. They would bring us food and flowers to care for us. On the night of the thirteenth day of the seventh month, my beloved...

Old Woman Who Was Saved by a Gazelle

The wonderful gazelle killed a seven-headed snake and freed the slaves imprisoned in this house. Even my master the sultan owes his riches to the gazelle. Because of the gazelle, he married the sultan's daughter. But when he became a rich sultan, he forgot the...

Old Man Who is Swept Away

My son is a powerful leader and an excellent hunter, which is why I was surprised that he came home empty-handed. “I have not returned empty-handed,” he said. “Have I ever done that? No, I brought back enough meat to feed us for many moons. I was tired, though. I left...

Old Man on His Deathbed

The beginning of my son's life was the end of mine. I had hardly anything to give to him. We lived in a small hut on the edge of a plain. I had worked hard all my life, and when I became deathly ill, I asked my wife to summon my son to my bedside. "Come hither," I...

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...

Frog Who Wears a Rose Leaf Crown

I live in a tent, on an island, in a pond in the middle of a magnificent garden. My skin is as green as grass, and I wear a rose leaf on my head instead of a crown. I may look like a frog, but I know who I am, and I am not a frog. I am a princess, and the lion who...

Devil Who Claims a Soul

According to popular opinion, the Devil (oui, c'est moi) steals souls, but permit me to change your impression. I merely claim the souls that are already mine. Take, for instance, the innkeeper. I have been keeping an eye on him for some time. I employed three...

Constellation of Stars

We were consulted when the boy was born, and then everybody knew that the prince's life would come to an end at the age of sixteen. On his sixteenth birthday, the lad disappeared while hunting in the forest. The men searched the woods, but soon gave up, believing that...

Nurse with A Brass Pot

In the beginning (you wouldn't know it now, because I am very rich) I was very poor. One day, when I had only a handful of flour left in the larder, and no money to buy any more, nor any hope of earning anything, I carried my little brass pot down to the river. I...

Peter Bull

I was born as a bull calf and I was very much loved by the peasant and his wife. They believed that I was wise, and that I understood everything they said to me. I was gentle and playful, and they grew so fond of me that they named me Peter Bull and sent me to the...

Urashimataro

I do not know where I belong anymore. My parents, my children, their children, are dead. I have seen their graves and with my own fingers I have felt their names crumbling away under the moss. Where is my home? Not on the land. Not beneath. I open the jeweled box that...

Dove of Heaven

Our beloved queen is imprisoned in a high tower—sealed in from the sun and the moon. The king has walled her in for seven years, without meat or drink. Walls built by kings don't keep us out! We visit her twice a day, and we bring her food from heaven. Many more than...

Liberated Queen

I woke in the garden and I saw blood on my apron where my child had been. The king was standing over me, blocking the sun. He was convinced that I had deliberately allowed my baby to be taken by wild beasts. He walled me into a high tower. I have not seen the sun or...

Fatima the Holy Woman

God told me that I would die today, and so I will. I am not afraid. While I am still in prayer, a wicked man enters my cell. He claps a dagger to my breast and orders me to rise. On pain of death he tells me to undress and give him my clothes. He colors his face to...

Good Giant

My wife and I took in the little lad who calls himself Ring. We loved him for a while, but we were nearing the end of our lives. The time came when it was necessary to take Ring off the island. He wanted to bring our Dog Snati with him, which surprised me. We kept...

Clock

Beauty had gone home and the Beast had fallen gravely ill. Beauty's sisters could care less that she had come home, but her father and brothers begged her to stay. She felt an urgency to leave but she didn’t act on it. Every morning when she rose she meant to say...

Burning Skull

Shadows live here. They swallow the light of candles, torches, and ordinary flames. Vasilisa holds me high over all the shadows in the room. I stare them down. My light burns them. They scuttle like roaches, but I see where they hide. All night I see them. I see them...

King Sheep

I waited and waited in the forest for Miranda to return to me. But she did not come. At last I set off to the palace. At the door, I asked for Miranda. The people who came out said they had heard about the King of Sheep, and Miranda did not want to come back to me. I...

Dying Emperor

I am cold and pale and the halls of the palace are silent. I am dying slowly...too slowly. The monotony is deadening. If only someone would sing to me! Music would drive away the doom that weighs on my chest. Even the moonlight streaming through the window is silent....

Old Goat Woman

I'm an old widow living in a small village and I haven't any children or relations of any kind. I have my goats, that's all, and I make my living selling their milk. I am strong. I must be strong because if I am too ill to look after my goats, I will have no means at...

The Queen Who Loves the Fairies

I was very close to my son, and when I became ill, I brought him into my confidence. I advised him that if ever he were to undertake something large, he must consult his fairy godmother. Until then I had kept her whereabouts a secret, because my husband is a wizard,...

Dying Indian Father

Before I die, I can see everything as clearly as if my wife and children were all lit up by the full moon. I tell my wife that after eight moons have passed, she will die and follow me to the Isle of the Blessed. I tell my two older children to look after their little...

The Wooden Wife

I came back to life because my husband would not be comforted after my death. He made a life-sized doll in my image, and every night when he came home, he talked to her. So wood turned to flesh, but I warned him not to touch me until we had returned to our people. If...

Lonely Husband

When she stopped hunting with me, life became hard. When I hunted alone, I never had any luck. Then she fell ill and died, and I was left alone in an empty house, far away from our people. Her absence became so unbearable that I made a wooden doll in her image. The...

Niece of the Bereft Husband

Uncle told us a strange story. He said that when they had gone out to the camp, his wife had turned into a doll. He took us to the site where they had camped, and, to our amazement, we saw a life-sized doll lying under the skins. At first we couldn't believe it. We...

Guest at the Fiery Feast

The king married a snow-daughter who could not stand the heat. She had a fire-brother who could not stand the cold. The king made an underground house of ice for his queen, and he had a huge oven built for the fire-brother so he could live comfortably. One day, the...

Old Mother Goat

Before leaving the house to go and get food, I called my seven kids together. I said, "Children dear, I am going into the woods. Be on your guard for the wolf. If he gets in, he will eat up all of you all, even your skin and hair. The villain often disguises himself,...

Youngest Kid

When the wolf came in through the door, all seven of us kids scattered. We hid everywhere we could find. I got into the clock-case, and it was the one place the wolf didn't look. By the time my mother came home, the wolf had eaten everyone but me. I whimpered from the...

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....

Healing Serpent

The king has been locked in the burial vault with his dead wife. He tries to stretch out his days. He eats his provisions slowly. Every day, a bite of bread, a sip of wine. We serpents hear him moaning in grief and pain as death draws near. Then we devise a plan. My...

Falada, the Speaking Horse

I was decapitated for speaking out, but that didn't stop me from speaking my mind. In fact, when my head was nailed to the bridge, I became quite the public speaker! I watch the queen's daughter come and go. I remind her, over and over, that she lost her power because...

Godson of Death

I am the youngest son of thirteen, and Death is my godfather. He was there at my christening, and my father says that he promised to make me rich and famous. I did not meet him when I was a child, and then one day, when I had grown up, he appeared to me on the road....

Inuit Brother

When my brother and I were hunting for seals, a skeleton woman approached us. She approached us, clattering over the ice. She wanted to speak to us. We were scared out of our wits, and ran home to our father like little children. The old man was amazed, and now he's...

Skull in the Window

After she had put her sisters' dismembered limbs back together, she prepared for her wedding to Fitcher, the evil sorcerer who had butchered them. She went out and invited all the wizard's friends, and when she came back to the house, she found me on the floor. I...