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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...

Prince with Animal Friends

The relationship that my two brothers and I have with the animals started one day when we went out hunting. We had gone some way through a thick wood when we came upon a grey wolf and her three cubs. Just as we went to shoot, the wolf said, “Don't shoot me, and I will...

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...

Owl’s Wife

My sister and I had gone seeking food because there was scarcely anything to eat in our town. After walking a long way, we made our beds and fell asleep. We slept a long time because we were tired and weak. When we looked up, we saw a great eagle and an owl watching...

Lion Mother

A man came along through the woods, and we sprang out of the bushes. I roared loudly and bounded toward him. I meant to eat him but he and stooped and spread a cloth on the ground. The cloth was woven by the little people, and it is revered by us all. My mate and I...

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...

Kind Sister

I have learned that no matter what world you find yourself in, whether you are on earth or in the underworld, you must be kind. Not for your own sake, but for the sake of other creatures. Oh, do not think for a moment that one creature is lower than another. A cat is...

Gille Mairteau the Fox

I watched him journey over the hills. I watched him ford the rivers and cross a wide plain. He couldn't find the blue falcon. The sky grew dark, and all the birds sought their nests, but Ian Direach had none of his own. He lay down under some bushes until sleep came...

Ian, the Soldier’s Son

With the help of my friend the raven, I killed the three giants who had held the maidens hostage. Then the raven told me how to get the ladies down from the high rock where the giants lived. The raven only asked for tobacco by way of thanks. I wanted to give him all...

Long-Bearded Man

The witch who cast a spell on me turned me into an old man with a long white beard. The spell would not break unless I met a girl who loved animals as much as she loved human beings. The witch was certain that I would never meet such a person. But there you are, sweet...

Maiden Who Loves Animals

When I came to the hut in the woods, I was very upset because I had not found my father. I had gone out to bring him food, and now he would have nothing to eat. The windows of the cottage were lit up, so I knocked on the door, and a rough voice cried, "Come in." I...

Stupid Hans Who Finds the Griffin

All my life I've been told I'm stupid. Why? Because I'm honest and I trust people. My brothers don't believe you can trust anyone, but that has never been my experience. Everywhere I go, I tell the truth, and everywhere I go, I meet somebody who is kind, or requires...

Gift Horse

If ever there was a gift horse, it's me. I'm waiting in a castle for Ferdinand, who has just celebrated his fourteenth birthday. Imagine his surprise when he sees a white horse standing in a castle, a castle to which he alone has the keys. Imagine his surprise when he...

Prince Who Releases the Fish

Taking the chance that I might be able to cure my father's blindness, I gathered a crew and we set sail. The physician gave us a hundred days to catch the Golden-Headed Fish, and for a hundred days we caught nothing. On the eleventh hour of the hundredth day, I cast...

Holy Man in the Desert

I sit in the desert, in the shadow of a great rock. From time to time, a person who is lost will find me in the wilderness. Just the other day, a young man approached me. A fine-looking man, but completely bald. He said he wanted to marry the sultan's daughter but...

Bloody Knife

My blade shines brightly as long as everything is going well for the ones who keep me. However, if something happens to any one of them, my blade will run with blood. I am not just made of steel, you see. If my relations suffer, I bleed. The Bloody Knife in The Water...

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...

White Dove on the Holy Man’s Shoulder

"That's him! That's him!" we cried when the young man stepped into the church. Me and my mate flew to him and sat on his shoulders. A great silence fell on the room, like the silence of snow. When the priests found their tongues, they asked the young man if he would...

Youth Who Speaks with Wild Dogs

The lord of the castle permits me to stay overnight in the old tower, but he warns me that it is full of wild dogs. They bark without stopping, and will devour a man in the wee hours. I have no fear of dogs because I know their language. I ask the lord of the castle...

Fisherman Who Catches a Flounder

I go out fishing in the sea every day, and I don't catch much of anything. Then today, when I was sitting in the boat with my rod, the line suddenly caught. It went down, down, down, and I drew it up, up, up. I had a Flounder on my line! I landed him in the boat, and...

Tree of Life

The ravens know where I am. The Sun and the Moon know where I am. But humans do not know where to look for me. Once a young man set off to find me so that he could bring one of my golden apples to the princess he loved. He wandered through three kingdoms, but he could...

The Prince’s Fairy Godmother

The prince came to me with a pendant that bore the tiny portrait of a beautiful maiden. He wanted to know where she had gone, so I consulted my books. I was disheartened to discover that she had been taken by the prince's own father. He is a renowned wizard who likes...

Kisa the Cat

I belong to the queen, and I sit proudly by her side when she drives out in her fine glass coach. She tells me that I am happier than she is, because I have a kitten and she has no one to love but me. I happen to know a fairy who dwells in the forest, and I'll go and...

Wounded Giant

We come up to the surface of the earth for our wedding games and dances, but then we go down again for our feasts. How do we return to the world below? Well, at midnight, one of the giants will pull up a plant by its roots, and then all the giants and giantesses will...

Ferko’s Wolf

I ran up to my dear friend Ferko who had healed my injured leg. He was sitting on the stump of a tree, all by himself. "If I can help you in any way, say the word," I said. Ferko not only needed me. He needed all the wolves to come to his aid. Not a problem. I told...

Apple Queen

I became pregnant, not by my husband, but by an apple that an old woman gave me. After eating it, I threw the rind out the window. It was eaten by a horse who gave birth to a foal. My son and his speaking horse have grown up together, and who knows? Together they...

Ring Seeker

I set out in search of King Solomon's ring because it was our only hope of destroying the dragon who was consuming the whole world. I walked toward the sunrise because I knew that all the old wisdom comes from the East. After travelling for a few years, I met a famous...

Sister of Rose-Red

While I am more of an inside sort of person, my sister Rose-Red loves to run about the fields, pick flowers, and catch butterflies. When we go into the woods together to gather berries, no harm ever comes to us. The little hare eats the cabbage from our hands and the...

Snow-White Rose Tree

I bear white roses. My sister, who grows beside me, bears red ones. We stand in a garden before a poor cottage where a widow lives with her two daughters. They are as old as we are, and one is named Snow-White, the other, Rose-Red. They are the sweetest and best...

Pot of Pinks

When Felicia's parents died, her brother Bruno inherited the house and all its possessions except for a silver ring and myself, a humble pot of pink flowers. He wouldn't even share his food with Felicia. He ate an egg for supper and threw her the shell. “There, that...

Footless Princess

When I became lost in the forest, I was seized by a giant. He cut off my feet and then he left me to bleed to death. I would have died there, but then my sister Kisa the Cat came along, and she returned my feet to me. In so doing, she performed an act of kindness that...