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King Who is Left Alone

What am I to do? My wife, the mother of my sons, has been taken away by Koschei the Deathless. My two elder sons have gone off to search for her and they haven't returned. And now my youngest, Ivan, is asking for my blessing to go on his own search. How can I give it...

Princess Engaged to a Spellbound Snake

Everyone was terrified for me because I had been promised to a snake. But I couldn't wait to meet him. The moment he slithered into the garden, I loved him. He wound around me and kissed me, and then I followed him to a room in the castle. As soon as I had shut the...

King Lost in the Woods

I had lost myself in the forest. I couldn’t find my way home. Three times, a stranger came along and offered to show me the way out if I would give him the first thing that came out to greet me when I returned. The first couple of times he made his offer, I thought,...

Prince Who Loves a Pea-Hen

I have fallen in love with a pea-hen! I met her when I was keeping watch because every night my father’s golden apple trees were getting stripped of their fruit. I woke at midnight and saw nine golden pea-hens land in the tree. The ninth hen fluttered to the ground...

King With a Slipper

When I was out hunting a boar one day, I ran down a hill in my sandals and caught a thorn in my foot. The thorn festered and my foot became so swollen and sore than I couldn't put any weight on it. I heard about an illustrious physician, and I summoned him to my...

Grandmother Wolf

Where had my grandson gone? I searched for him everywhere. While I was searching, I went to Mink’s cottage to buy some sea urchins’ eggs. As soon as I got inside, I saw the wolf skin which I guessed belonged to my grandson. “I knew he was dead – I knew it! I knew it!”...

Mother of an Exiled Princess

Every morning I awake in pain and sorrow. Why, you ask? I had three daughters, the youngest of whom was so beautiful that the whole world looked on her as a wonder. She had a heart as pure as white snow, skin as rosy as an apple-blossom, and hair as radiant as...

Ian the Privileged Prince

I was much loved by my mother and father, and I grew up tall and strong and handsome. I learned to run and shoot, and I could swim and dive better than any lad my age in the isles of the west. I knew how to sail, I sang with the harp, and I liked nothing better than...

Knight of Grianaig

My three daughters were as beautiful as they were kind, and much loved by people throughout the isles of the West. Then one day, as they sat on the rocks on the edge of the sea, dipping their feet in the water, a great beast arose from under the waves and swept them...

Lover of the Lost Princess

There was a great crevasse in the king's glass mountain, and he declared that anyone who could cross it without falling into the void would be able to marry his daughter. Well, I loved his daughter already, and I was prepared to do anything for her. When the time came...

Lime-Tree

The hapless maiden sat at my foot and waited for her true love to return. He had gone into the world to get his father's blessing. I doubted that he would ever find his way back. The sun set and rose again, set and rose, and rose again. On the fourth day, the maiden...

Queen Mother of the Raven

My baby daughter was fidgety and noisy and I could not quiet her. She wanted to be in my arms, and every time I put her down, she cried. Finally, I became impatient with her. I went to the window, and when I saw the ravens flying around the palace, I said, "I wish you...

Giant Who Loses His Inheritance

I'll admit it. Little men have quick wits and giants aren't too swift. Me and my two brothers had inherited a sword that cuts off many heads at once, a cloak that makes a person invisible, and a pair of boots that will transport a person anywhere he wants to go. We...

Tired Old Griffin

I live by the Red Sea, and I've had a peaceful life over the last couple of centuries. Recently, however, my peace has been disturbed by a battle that has been raging between a lion and a dragon. They are royals, of course. The lion is a prince, and the dragon is a...

Lion Prince

During the day I took my rest under a tree in the forest and listened to the lark sing. No one in the world was dearer to me than the lark. Then one day, a man and his servant came along. They saw the lark sitting at the top of the tree, and the man told his servant...

Curious Wife of the Fisherman

My husband was supposed to keep the source of our wealth a secret, but I simply couldn't be kept in the dark. I had to know where it came from! He told me that he had caught a golden fish, and, in exchange for his liberty, the fish gave him a fine castle with an...

Milkmaid Queen

Our little empire is even smaller than Petaldo's parents' kingdom. It's really only a dairy farm, but we are very happy. Every day, I go to the dairy, and, in addition to making my cheeses, I make a little barley cake and a tiny cream cheese. Then I put them under the...

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 Loses Her Child

We tried to have a child for years, and at last we were blessed with a little boy. One day, at the height of a most intoxicating summer, when my son was sleeping in the garden in his golden cradle, and the king and I were absorbed in planning his future, a dark shadow...

Old Friend of Sparrow

I am an old man with a hard-hearted wife, and she's only gotten meaner over the years. I try to ignore her. I light my pipe and go sit out on the porch. I listen to birdsong and tune my ears to something else other than her scolding tongue. Now she's done something I...

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...

Queen Who Wants to Keep Her Child

My husband has shut me in a tower with my baby girl so that she will not be taken by the fairies. I promised her to them, and now the fairies are furious. I have betrayed them! They've unleashed a dragon and it's ripping through countryside and eating everyone. The...

Dove of Peace

When the dwarves put the princess in the crystal coffin, the forest fell silent, and it has been silent ever since. First, the Owl came and watched over her. Then the Raven came and watched. When the Raven's time ended, I came and settled on the shoulder of the dwarf...

Grey Woman

We only have one eye between the three of us, and we're passing it back and forth. "Sister, what do you see? Do you see the old times long back?" I grope for the eye in her hand. "No sister," she says. "Well, come on, then, give me the eye and let me see." "I gave it...

Hunting Friend of Prince Ring

We were chasing a peculiar deer with a ring on its horns, and Prince Ring was determined to catch it. We chased it all day, until our horses began to founder beneath us. At last the prince's horse gave way, and a darkness fell upon us that was so black we could no...

Tom Thumb’s Mother

My husband thinks that we should leave our little boys in the forest when they're out tying fagots tomorrow. I can't do it! Yet, we're so desperately poor. Not one of them is old enough to earn a living. The youngest is puny, and he hardly ever speaks a word. When he...

Witch Who Beheads Her Own Daughter

Last night I took an axe and chopped off the head of my stepdaughter while she was sleeping. I thought, 'Ha, now there will be no more fuss about who gets all the pretty things. My daughter will get them all!' This morning, I called upstairs for my girl. She was late...

A Lock of Fairy’s Hair

When the princess grew up, she was betrothed to a prince who lived a long way away. Before she set off on her journey, her mother packed up many costly things for her: jewels, gold, silver, trinkets, and fine dresses. She also gave her a waiting-maid to ride with her...

Scolded King

I had been napping below the ship deck when I was suddenly woken by the sound of my little son crying. He could not be comforted. My wife was standing over me, holding him and scolding me for leaving her alone on the deck while the crew slept. She had every right to...

Black Bull of Norroway

"Now, my Lady, you wait here," I told her. It was a dark glen and not a place she was used to. Not like the castles where we had stayed with my relations. There was more I needed to tell my new wife. "Sit yourself on that stone," I said. "And don't move a hand or a...

Sorrowful, Dying King

I cannot recover from the death of my wife. I lie in bed, laboring for breath, wheezing under the great weight on my chest. What is this? A bird with brilliant plumage is fluttering at my window. She's lighting on the lintel. Her feathers are sky-blue and gold, and...

Flower-Wreathed Princess

I leave home, riding on the back of a white wolf. When we stop to rest in the forest, he asks me, "What would your father do if this forest belonged to him?" "He would cut down the trees and turn it into a beautiful park and gardens, and he and his courtiers would...

Mother of the Sunchild

The Sunball gave me a daughter on the condition that after twelve years, he would have her back. But I wouldn't let him have her! I shut all the doors and windows of my house, and I stopped up all the chinks and holes. I kept Letiko hidden away where the Sunball...

Prunella’s Mother

I had a daughter, but she disappeared. She was only seven! I was waiting for her to come back from school, and she never came home. My sweet little girl, Prunella, that's what I called her because she always came home with a plum she had picked from a tree.... She'll...

Wife of Theodorus

My husband Theodorus should have been the happiest man in the world. He had everything he could wish for: wealth, a beautiful wife, (if you don't mind me saying), and a wonderful son. We loved him dearly and we took great pleasure in living by the sea. But poor...

Moon Over the Spring

I watch from the sky as the old night-owl flies to the window of the mountain hut. He cries, "Uhu!" three times to summon the old woman's daughter. She steps out into the night air and walks over the meadows and into the valley. She comes to a spring with three old...

Poor Miller

I used to have more money than I knew what to do with. But sorrow comes like a thief in the night, and all of a sudden, I lost everything. I couldn't even call the mill my own. One morning when I went down to the pond, a nixy rose out of water. She called me by name...

Sun Ball

I have seen many things, and some of them are very dark, but the little princess was my joy. Her beauty astonished me every time I shone on her. She had a favorite toy, a golden ball, the spitting image of me. But then one day, her golden ball disappeared. It was...

Grieving Shepherdess

I watch my sheep in the meadow. I try not to remember the old days when I was blissfully married to the best of all men. I try not to remember the siren's grip on him and the flood that divided us. Tonight, another shepherd has taken out his flute. He is playing the...

Seal Woman

He has taken my pelt so I must marry him or freeze to death. I will go to that cold place. I will raise the children and assume the role of a domesticated person. But I will return to the wild one day. And the wild will return to me. The Seal Woman in Sealskin, from...

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...

Woman Who Loses Everything

I begged him not to go, but he had to leave me. But it was too late! He had trusted me to keep his secret. But I had betrayed him. I shed light on him before he was ready to be seen. And all because of my mother’s suspicions! "Where will I find you?" I cried. He said...

Raging Dame Gothel

I separated the child from the evils of the world. I gave her everything! And how does she thank me, wretched girl? She lets a man into the tower. Haaah! The worm's gotten into the apple. She's no good to me. I chopped off her hair and cast her away to the desert. Now...

Merchant Father

I can tell you firsthand that the wealthiest merchant can lose his fortune overnight, and fall into the direst poverty! My house burned to the ground quite suddenly. My six sons and six daughters fortunately survived the fire, but all the splendid furniture, the...

Blind Prince

For years I wandered in the wilderness, a blind man, eating roots and berries. I wept for the loss of my wife. I should have taken her away sooner. I should have protected her. Where had she gone? What had happened to her? I was blind in every way. I had been...

Beauty’s Father

I have lost everything. I have even lost hope. I spent a miserable night crouched in the hollow of a tree while the storm raged around me. The howling wolves kept me awake all night, not to mention the howling voices in my mind. I have nothing to give my children....

Handless Maiden’s Mother

"Why does she have to leave, husband? We have the money to support her for the rest of her life. She doesn't need to go off into the wild forest! How well will she fare, with no hands? You brought this evil upon her, you must fix it!" My husband sits at the table,...