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Underwater Magician Who Catches a King

Oh, I get such a kick out of fishing! Today, I looked up from under the well and saw the cup moving on the water. Ha! Somebody has come to the well for a drink, I thought! I swam up under the cup and yanked it away from the hand. Again it reached for the cup. Again I...

Armless African Maiden

After my mother died, every time my father looked at me, he wept. He said he looked so much like my mother. I hoped that his grief would pass, but it made me anxious. I became thin. I asked him why he cried, and he told me again how much I looked like my mother. He...

Water King Who Demands a Princess

My son WILL marry Princess Martha, make no mistake about it. I'm WATER.  I ALWAYS GET MY WAY! Fetch my messenger! You know the one I mean. He's bigger than a nail, and his beard is a foot and a half long. He'll tell her that if she doesn't show up, I'll kill all her...

Fire Witch

I know what's going on. The king's daughter who is in my power is helping the drummer boy who has come to release her. That's why he's been able to do all my tasks. Well, this time I intend to throw him into the fire. If he's afraid of fire, it will consume him. Of...

Maiden Who Meets a Dark Stranger

One night, a stranger came riding to our castle. He asked if my brother and I would give him lodging for the night. We granted his request, and the man joined us for supper. He was certainly entertaining. He told amusing stories and my brother liked him so much that...

Iron-Fisted King

I rule with an Iron Fist. I sit on a black throne in a black, curtained hall. The courtiers are all dressed in black because they are mourning the people I put to death. An intruder has been brought before me. He says he is a king. I demand to know what he is doing in...

Woman Who Wanted Something for Herself

My father made me work hard, and the one thing I wanted for myself—a sprig of rosemary—would not be pulled out of the ground. The harder I pulled, the more the plant resisted, but I was not about to be beaten. I tore it out of the ground, and then a lot of things...

King Frost

Silent weeping. That's what caught my attention. Breath in the crisp air. Something to freeze. She was sitting by the fir-tree. Crisp, crackle! I lit beside her. "Do you know who I am?" "All hail to you, great king," said she. Her voice shivered. "Are you warm,...

Rat in the Tunnel

Who comes through my tunnel? A one-legged soldier in a paper boat! I get into his face. "Have you got a passport? Out with it!" He grips his gun and stares ahead. No fear? I'll show him my teeth. Then he'll pay the toll. A strong current pushes him through. "Hold...

Demon Wind

At the crack of midnight, I flew out of the snuff box and spoke to the one-legged toy soldier who was staring at the paper dancer in front of the castle. "Don't look at things that aren't intended for the likes of you!" I shouted. Then I knocked him over so their eyes...

King Who Orders the Spindles Burnt

I will not allow the thirteenth wise woman to change the fate of my child. Nothing will happen on her fifteenth birthday. She will not prick her finger on a spindle and fall asleep for a hundred years! I will not have any of the queen's women meddling in my daughter's...

Devil Rebuffed

I waited three years for the fruit to ripen. Now I've come to pluck my little apple. The girl stands in the barn, in the center of a chalk circle. I can't get at her. She's too clean. "Don't let her wash," I tell her father. "I have no power over her if she's washed....

Fisherman’s Wife

So here we are, livin' in a pig-stye, and my husband comes home and tells me he caught a fish. Well, it's about time! Where is it? "Oh, I let him go," says he. "You did what? You haven't caught any fish for days! You mean to starve us?" "It was a Flounder," he says....

Magician of the Lamp

Once I get ahold of the lamp, I will be all-powerful! All I have to do is find a boy who's fool enough to go down into the earth and get it for me. Oh, I've got a bright idea. A very bright idea! I'll approach that little boy, Aladdin, and I'll pretend to be his uncle...

Sleeping Dragon

Now that I've captured the flower queen's daughter, I can sleep in peace. Everything's under control. In a year's time, I'll wake and throw my weight around, just to remind everyone who's in charge. Then I'll go back to sleep for another year. In time, people will...

Wizard King

I don't like that my wife goes in secret to visit her fairy godmother. Wizard kings have a standing feud with fairy queens who insist on conducting themselves in secret. When I want something, I go out and get it. I turn myself into an eagle and soar over the country....

Red the Robber

We hide in the trees along mountain paths and wait for rich travelers to pass. They think of us as savage beasts who live in mountain caves and holes in the ground. We go by the names of colors—Blue, Grey, Red and so on. There's twelve of us, including our chief, who...

Witch’s Son Bensiabel

My mother, who is a witch, kidnapped a girl named Prunella, and she grew up into a very beautiful young woman. I know, because I am the witch's son. Prunella has never seen me, though. One day my mother told Prunella to take a basket to the well and bring it back. She...

Cypress Brother

Two cypress trees were planted in front of our house when my twin brother and I were conceived. When he went off to find his fortune, he told me that if one of the cypresses withers, he would be in trouble. Well, it withered, and immediately I went to find him. I...

Scioravante the Gold-Headed Magician

Ha! The little mare has given me the slip, but now I'm back! I'm on the roof of the palace. I can see her in her room, combing her long hair. She thinks that she can hide from me, but even if she barricades herself behind seven iron doors, I'll get to her. I have the...

Working Witch-Maiden

The reason our handsome guest finds a coin under his pillow every morning is that he has swallowed a bird's heart. My mother, who is a witch, wants me to get it from him. She says we have more right to it than he does. I hate the jobs she makes me do! How am I going...

Princess of the Golden Roof

The merchant took me onto his boat and showed me all the fabulous golden wares that he had made for me. I was so dazzled that I did not notice the ship sail until we were on the high seas! I would rather die than be carried away by a merchant. Yet he seized my hand...

King’s Evil Advisor

Listen, your Majesty. You're a king. You want to marry that resistant shepherdess? Keep her in prison and feed her bread and water. Then see if she continues to refuse you. If she does, have her head cut off. You've got to start teaching people to respect and obey...

Prince Not So Darling

I have all the power in the world, but I still can't get my way!! To hell with this "ring of truth" that pricks my finger whenever I do a bad thing. I want to marry that shepherdess, with or without her consent! And if she continues to refuse me, I'll cut off her head...

Betraying Waiting Maid

Ha! The princess doesn't see that she has lost the precious handkerchief that holds her mother's blood. I watch it go tumbling downstream. Now I have her in my power! "Don't even think about getting back up on your high horse," I tell her. "Your horse is mine. And...

Wicked Fairy Ragotte

I have drawn the prince down into a pit of fire. Ha! He used to turn his face from me. He couldn't meet my ugliness. Well, now, he must look at me. Look hard! I appear to him in the smoke, on the arm of a beautiful slave. Ha, I see the admiration in his eyes when he...

Fluffy Ball

I'm a fluffy ball containing nine kinds of poison (mixed with salt and witchcraft) which means I'll pack a deadly punch. The poor girl who is fleeing with her lover won't know what's hit her. I'll knock her off her high horse and into the river. When she comes to,...

Straw King

I figure that my best chance of getting her to spin straw into gold was to threaten her with death. Isn't necessity the mother of invention? I heard her weeping behind the door. I felt no sympathy. I thought, well that's what you get for having a boastful father....

Troll Hag

When I got into power and married the king, I put a spell on his little son. The boy's name was Ring. I turned him into a dog and he would stay a dog. He could never break the spell. Another prince named Ring would have to befriend him and allow him to sleep at his...