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Girl Who Shades Her Beauty

My father lost his wealth, and he was so disappointed in himself that he became ill and died. My mother and I spent months grieving, unable to take pleasure in anything. Then one morning my mother looked at me in a strange way, as if she had seen me for the first...

Boy Who Offends a Customer

When I was twelve, I would sit with my mother in her market stall where we sold herbs, vegetables, and baskets of fruit. I would cry, "This way, gentlemen! See these lovely cabbages and these fresh herbs! Early apples, ladies! Early pears and apricots, and all cheap....

Rai-Taro, Son of Thunder

In the cool of the evening, my father and I walked upon the ramparts of the Castle of Cloud as we often did. My father was a great and mighty god of Thunder and all the Elements. From the ramparts we viewed the doings of men upon the Land of Reed Plains. North and...

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...

Covan Who Receives His Mother’s Blessing

Before I went on my way, my mother made me a small cake and a large cake, and she gave me a choice. I could have the small cake with her blessing, or the large cake without it. It would appear that she would rather have her sons starve with her blessing than eat well...

Honest Little Jack

I left home with a sore heart. I would have stayed with my mother after my father died, but she didn't want me. She said there wasn't enough work for me to do in the house. My brothers Martin and Michael took everything she had in her larder, but they didn't want me...

Seeker of the Silent Princess

I was the son of a pasha in Turkey, and an only child. I played with a golden ball that I would throw against the walls of the summer house and catch when it dropped. One day, I saw an old woman coming to draw water from the well, and I threw my ball at her pitcher....

Dena the Oil-Seller

I was poor, but worse than poor, I couldn't keep any money in my pockets. I had borrowed from a banker who was charging me interest, and my debt had tripled. Business was bad, I couldn't sell my oil, and I couldn't pay the banker. He kept coming round to my house...

King Who Rides to the Forbidden Mountain

My five older brothers could not help themselves. When they took the throne, they were compelled to hunt in the forests of the forbidden mountain. Nobody who goes there ever returns. Now I am king, I have that same compulsion, in spite of all the reasonable arguments...

Dorani’s Invisible Husband

The gardener asked me why I was looking so sad, and I told him the reason. "My wife Dorani is as lovely as the stars, but she won't speak to me. Every night she leaves me, and goes back to her father's house." The old gardener gave me six small packets of powder and...

Queen Who Helps Her Son Escape

When our son returned from his long sea voyage, he told us that he had caught the Golden-Headed Fish whose blood would cure his father's blindness. However, there was no time left to bring the fish home. The physician who knew how to make the salve would be gone. So...

Hans the Mermaid’s Son

I've been in service long enough. I'm tired of doing menial work for little men who are trying to kill me. I'll take my gold and silver back to my father the smith. And then I'll say farewell to mortal men and return to my mother in the sea. Hans the Mermaid's Son in...

Basmus the Smith

There are things I tell people, and there are things I don't tell. I tell people I got lost in a fog at sea. I don't tell people that I spent those three days with a mermaid, and that she's responsible for the fortune that keeps washing up on my shore. The other day,...

Gerda’s Red Shoes

Gerda had lost her friend Kay. He had disappeared. "Kay is dead and gone," she said to the sun. But the sun said, "I don't believe it." The sparrows didn't believe it, either. That's when Gerda came to get us, her brand-new red shoes. She put us on her feet, walked us...

Sea Turtle

When I was very little, the fisherman saved my life, and put me back in the sea. Now I am large enough to carry him on my back, into my world. Behold, Urashimataro, the palace of the sea god! If you are astonished by the beauty of the glittering walls, wait until you...

Daughter Who Follows a Spirit

I had been lost in the forest for nine days when I came upon an iron stove. I wondered how it came to be so far away from everything. Then a voice issued from it, and asked me, “From whence do you come, and whither do you you?” I said, “I have lost my father’s...

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...

Naked Elves

We came to the cobbler's house and found his last pieces of leather, cut exquisitely. We were inspired! So we stitched, sewed, and hammered them into a pair of perfect shoes. The next night, there were two sets of shoes to finish, and the work doubled, and after that,...

Girl Who Fell into a Well

My shuttle fell into the well and there was nothing to do but go after it. So I jumped in. I fell and fell. I don't remember hitting bottom. When I came to my senses, I was in a flowery meadow where everything spoke. I walked along and came to an oven full of baked...

Far-Seeing Fairy Godmother

I watch the princess ride away into the star-lit desert on a snow-white donkey. She's looking for a four-leafed herb that grows on the point of a rocky ridge. It's the only thing that will save her husband's life. I told her where to find it, but she cannot know the...

Daughter in Iron Rings

My father and mother told my brother and me not to drink the milk of the sacred tree, but my brother insisted that I bring him some. If I refused to do it, he would not drive the cattle to the grass. What was I to do? I could not allow the cattle to starve! So I went...

Rubezahl, King of Gnomes

On my first journey to the surface of the green earth, the hills were covered in thick forests through which wild animals roamed. I amused myself by rolling great rocks down desolate valleys, chasing grey wolves, and hearing the thunder echo through the hills. The...

Fortunatus

My father had a great fortune but he didn’t value it. By the time I reached the age of ten, he had squandered his wealth. I didn’t get any education. When I was ready to leave home, I had no trade, and my father confessed that he had failed me. I should have been out...

Concerned Mother

Thank heaven our sons are old enough to look out for themselves, because we haven't got a loaf of bread left in the house! It is time they set off on their own. I am concerned about my youngest, though, because he has such a tender heart. How will such a dear,...

Widow Among Widows

Before our sons go off in the world, we make them cakes. They can have half a cake with their mother's blessing, or a whole cake with our curse. It's up to them. The size of the cake is determined by the quantity of water our sons can bring back from the well, in a...

Black Bear

Oh, how I love those girls! We spent all winter playing by the hearth and they became quite at ease with me. I let them maul me and pull my fur and beat me with their switches. When I growled, they only laughed. Sometimes I had to plead for my life, saying: Snow-white...

Well-Bred Prince

My father isn't ready to give the throne to any of his three sons. Instead he sends us away on quests for things that are impossible to find. I don't protest. It's a waste of breath. And besides, I'm far too well-bred. The funny thing is, I enjoyed the quests. My...

Donkey Princess

My father wanted to marry me and I absolutely refused! I consulted my fairy godmother and she advised me to ask him for impossible things. But he gave me everything I asked for. The only way out of the awful predicament was to ask my father for a fur coat made from...