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Ama Terassu, Goddess of the Sun

I fled to a rock cavern after my brother, Susa the Impetuous, came to the High Heavens and wrecked havoc, tangling me in the threads of my loom. I went inside and rolled a rock in front of the cave's mouth. All went dark outside. In the cavern, bright light streamed...

Catskin

My father had a great deal of land, and he had wanted a son to take possession of it. Instead, my mother gave him a girl. Me. My mother would say, "Oh, look, she's so bonny, bonny as can be!" But he wouldn't even look at me. He said, "Let me never see her face." When...

Goblin Pursuers

The old man ordered us to fly after the fugitives who were escaping the underworld. The young couple were crossing a great plain and we could see them clearly, running hand in hand with a red light flashing around them. Suddenly though, we couldn’t see them. They...

Abused Girl Who Enters the Enchanted Wood

I tried to be good. I was quiet and only wanted to live in peace, but my stepmother would never allow peace. She beat and cuffed to me from morning till night, and, since she had the approval of my father, there was no remedy. I suffered her abuse for two years, and...

Woodcutter in an Enchanted Forest

When the King of Sweden gave orders to cut down the haunted wood, no man had courage enough to carry them out. But I wasn't afraid. I took my axe and went into the Tontlawald. I struck a tree, and my blow was followed by a stream of blood and shrieks as if a human...

Andras Baine

When I came to the village in the mountains, it was midwinter in Lapland, yet the villagers had heard of my strength. The town bailiff soon made it known that he wanted to compete with me. He fancied himself the strongest, fastest man in the land, and he couldn't wait...

Makoma the Hero

The head of the giant rose out of the river. His long moustaches trailed up and down the channel as far as the eye could see. He said his name was Chin-debou-Mau-giri. He told me that he is the one who makes the fever-mist that hangs over the water. With it, he binds...

Kindly Old Robber Woman

You won't believe me when I tell you this, but here's how I got free of them robbers. Two men came to the door lookin' for food, an' I said, I says: "You can't come in here, there's robbers living here and they'll be home for their supper any minute." Didn't stop the...

Mother Who Escapes With Her Son

My son Hans and I had been held by robbers from the time he was small, and I was so proud of Hans when he stood up to them. He was only ten years old, but he had a strong club and the robbers were drunk. The captain punched him so hard he fell to the floor, but then...

Iron John with a Golden Ball

One day when I was eight years old, I was playing in the courtyard with my golden ball when it rolled away from me and into the cage of the wild man. I asked him to give it back, but he wouldn’t, not until I had unlocked his prison door. I refused at first, but when...

Queen Who Beheads the King

I had been put in a castle far away, on the other side of sea filled with giants and birds who would peck out the eyes of anyone who dared to sail through their territory. The king's outrider, a handsome lad named Ferdinand, came for me. He fed the giants, and they...

Servant Girl

I was in the carriage with the family when the robbers attacked. They sprang out of the thicket, and killed everyone but me. I ran and ran and now I'm alone in the woods, without any food or shelter. What will I do? I can't find my way back to the road, and even if I...

Allerleirauh

I slept in the hollow of an old tree in the wild forest. I was warm because I was covered from head to foot in every living animal's fur. I never wanted to come out of the safety of those furs. I never wanted to shine again. I would happily live the rest of my days,...

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...

Geirlaug Forgotten

When our stepmother came after us, I turned myself into a whale and my beloved friend Grethari, into my fin. Our stepmother turned herself into a shark and we battled in the sea until the water ran red with blood. After a mighty struggle, we killed the shark and she...

Esben the Fool

I'm not a big fellow like my eleven brothers. I'm just a little guy. My brothers work in the fields and the forest with my father, while I stay home with my mother. My father is getting old and weak now, and my brothers are biting at the bit to go and seek their...

Catherine Reconsidering Her Destiny

No matter where I go or how hard I try to please my employers, Destiny always finds me. Just when I've put everything in order, she flies in, tears up the house, and leaves everything in pieces. I run away in shame. Now I work for a lady who has asked me to climb a...

Trapper Lad

I have had to live by my wits. When I first left home, my older brother tried to trap me. He tied me to a tree and left me there to die. When a shepherd came along, I told him that I had been tied to the tree so that it would straighten my crooked back. He said he had...

Prince with the Speaking Horse

I was lost my way the forest, and after five days of wandering, I came to a stately palace in a large open space. The atmosphere was silent, without a trace of human life, and the door was open. I went in and wandered through the deserted rooms without seeing a living...

A Window in the Beast’s Castle

I'm not a window to the outside world, though I may look like a window. I'm sealed off to the outside. I'm simply a window of entertainment, made for no other purpose than to amuse and distract a lonely girl. There are seven of us in all in the entertainment room. We...

A Drop of Princely Blood

I'm one drop of a prince's blood. He left three of us on a stool that stood beside a sleeping giant. Our job was to speak to the giant and keep him from waking so the prince could get away. Every time the giant woke, we reassured him that everything was okay. The pot...

Deserting Soldier

Me and my two buddies have been hiding in the cornfield for two days and we're starving to death. If we venture out, it's certain death. The army is still camped here, and we'll be hanged. On the other hand, if we stay here, we'll starve. Now we're asking ourselves,...

Sick-At-Heart Girl

A few years ago, my mother took me and my brother to live in a town where there is no death. We lived well for some time, but then my mother began getting terrible headaches. When I came home today, I was told that that my mother had been killed by the town butcher!...

Nurse of the Confined Princess

The king is so terrified that something will happen to his daughter that he refuses to let her leave the palace. He keeps her shut in her rooms like she's some kind of prisoner. Of course I understand how bitterly she hates her confinement. I've listened to her...

King of Bello Puojo

My dearest, most beloved daughter married the worst, most devilish magician you could possibly imagine. He shut her up in a stable, can you believe it? I finally have her back, thanks to a cooper who hid her in a barrel. Now she has run into the hall as white as a...

Hare with the Power of Wishes

Well, I didn't know I had the power of wishes! I was just driven by the necessity of finding food, you see, because my grandmother and I had nothing to eat. I spread out my net in the water, and when I went back the next morning, the net was swarming with fish! To...

Mermaid’s Prince

When I was sixteen, I hadn't seen anything of the world beyond the palace walls. Then one day, my mother and father called me to them, and my father told me a marvelous story about the time before I was born. He and his crew had been shipwrecked in a storm, and just...

Black Girl

From the time I was little, I did not accept my mother's instruction. She was always trying to force me to obey her will. I pretended to agree with her. I did everything she told me to do. I learned all her magic tricks, and then I used them to disappear. She still...

Escape Artist

It is easy to appeal to the sympathies of tender-hearted men. When the prince came into the room, I used one of my best illusions. I fastened myself to the ceiling by chains, and hung above a boiling cauldron of pitch. I begged the young fellow to throw water on me to...

Very, Very Old Woman Among Robbers

Before the robbers come home, I go down into the cellar. I stay there, quiet as a mouse. I have learned not to make a sound, or move, lest they think I am listening. I cannot begin to tell you what I have heard. Suffice it to say that the robbers like the taste of a...

Roland Fiddling

We fled the village, me and my sweetheart, but first I said, "Take the witch's magic wand!" It's a good thing she did, because the witch soon came after us in her seven league boots. I turned myself into a lake, and my sweetheart turned into a duck. The witch went...

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,...

Rat Driver

I am very familiar with cages, and there I was, trapped again, only this time with two surly prisoners. They were certain we were going to starve, but I had been around this block before. "No, no, we'll be freed soon enough," I said. "You'll see." Then, sure enough,...

Nightingale Rejected

What a silly prince! I sang for him, happily. I sang for him as if all the melodies in the world were shut up in my throat. He loved me! But love is a terrible, terrible thing. Because he loved me, he made me a gift to the princess he adored. He took his most valuable...

Dschemila

My cousin Dschemil and I were fleeing the ogre and his dog, but we had the means of throwing obstacles in his way. "They are close upon us!" I cried to my cousin. "Throw the pin!" He threw it behind him, and a dense thicket of thorns sprang up in front of the ogre. I...

Lively-Stepping Soldier

After I got out of the army, I retained the habit of marching when I walked. Left-right! Left-right! It made me feel alive, marching down the road with my knapsack on my back and my sword at my side. Things have changed a bit since then. I've been put behind bars, and...