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White Bear Who Comes for His Princess

I gave the princess the golden wreath on the condition that she would come away with me. And so, after three days, on a Thursday, I walked out of the forest to go and get her. The king had his whole army standing guard round the castle, but no soldier could stand...

Princess Who Lives with the White Bear

The white bear carried me to his castle which was very grand and made my father's castle look quite poor. I would live happily, the bear promised, and I would have nothing else to do but to tend the fire and see that it never went out. The bear went away by day, but...

Magpie of Heaven

The Weaving Maiden was such a dutiful worker, she would never leave her loom. Her father said, "You should go out and have some fun!" She said, “Sorrow, age-long sorrow, shall come upon the Weaving Maiden when she leaves her loom." Her father put no stock in old...

Lady of the Morning Dew

When the Festival of Bon arrived, the time of returning souls, the good folk of Yedo took lanterns and visited the graves of their loved ones. They would bring us food and flowers to care for us. On the night of the thirteenth day of the seventh month, my beloved...

Young Fool Who Makes a Wise Wish

I begged my brothers to let me go with them when they set out to see the world, but they would have nothing of it. We’d all been given a wish, and we were told to make sure it was our best wish. My two elder brothers wished that every time they put their hands in...

Hiku Goes to Find His Lost Love

She tried to prevent me from leaving. She begged me. She locked the doors of the house. She wailed and wept. But my mother had warned me not to stay long with the people by the sea. I had already fallen in love with the hula dancing, the drums and songs, the joyful,...

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...

Princess Under the Control of a Dragon

I received a message that a young man had come to the gate. The gatekeeper wouldn't let him enter the town. I went down to see who had arrived, and, to my amazement, there stood the only man I have ever loved! I took his hand, drew him to the palace, and in a few...

Princess Who Wears a Magic Ring

I was walking with my attendants in the rose garden when a gold ring fell at my feet. “Why, here is a ring!” I cried. “Where could it have come from?” I picked it up and put it on my finger. It fit me as though it had been made for me. Just at that moment my father...

King Who Loses His Wife

Perhaps I tried too hard to please my neighbors. I was too kind. I created false expectations, rivalries and the jealousies. The long and the short is, I was always at war. Shortly after I married, I lost a hard battle and we had to retreat behind the walls of my...

Desert Tower Princess

I do not know what came over me, but when the emperor appeared at court, I loved him instantly. He was my eldest sister's suitor, so of course, I hid my feelings. But the emperor did not. He made it very clear that he preferred me. My father (who has an unnatural...

Ram Singh

I found the entrance to the old well, and I went down a flight of stairs that descended into darkness. They were broad, white slabs of alabaster, gleaming in the shadows. Even the sound of my bare feet on the stone echoed in that lonely place, and when one of my water...

Ring of the Lady in Red

She wore me on her finger over the course of many years. He had forgotten her, but still she wore me. Then one day, she took me off and put me in the pocket of her red dress. She wore that red dress to her lover's wedding feast. That night, the spell that had been on...

Sultan’s Daughter at Her Wedding Feast

I did not wish to marry the son of the vizier, or, rather, I did not think it possible to marry anyone other than the man my father had chosen for me. For that reason, I hardly let my heart fly to the young man I saw resting under a tree when I went riding by with my...

Prince Enslaved by a Witch

I could never have done the witch's tasks without the help of the white dove. When she lit on my shoulder, I caressed her white feathers and kissed her little red beak. In that moment, a beautiful young woman stood before me. My kiss had freed her from the witch's...

Buried Soldier-King

There is nothing I can do. I have been buried in a vault with my dead wife. Seated on the floor, I lean against her coffin. There are four candles burning on the table beside her, four loaves of bread, and four bottles of wine. When the provisions run out, I will die....

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...

Militza in the Apple Tree

I fell into the arms of the king's son Iwanich. He was awake when I arrived, so I could not hold onto my swan shape. Oh, I did love him and I wanted to cling to him, but it was time to leave. I was under the power of a witch who had put me far out of the reach of any...

Princess Who Marries a Head

After all the miraculous acts that the old woman's son performed, my father and I agreed to meet him. Perhaps I would marry him after all. The old woman came into the palace, and what do you think she carried with her? Her son's head on a silver platter! I laughed,...

A Village Storyteller

I love to tell the story of the gnome Rubezahl. He did everything he could to win the affection of a princess, but he could not force her to stay with him. With all his power and magic, the king of the gnomes could not change the heart of a woman. He was left in the...

Shape-Changing Princess

I am the youngest of twelve sisters, and we are the daughters of King Kostiei, king of the Underworld. Our favorite thing to do is to go to the seashore at sunset, change our shapes into geese, swim in the water, and fly in the dusk. When we leave our dresses on the...

Goat King

Yesterday, my page and I were hunting in the forest when we became lost. After night fell, we noticed a distant light and followed it to the door of a cave. We knocked, and the door was opened by a stately woman who was pleased to give us lodging. The cave was truly a...

Bear Princess

The last time we danced together, I was wearing a dress woven out of star-light and studded with gems. We had such a dance! But I wouldn't say a word to him. At the end of the evening, he slipped a ring on my finger, and then he tried to follow my carriage home. He...

White Wolf

Last night, a woman came to my door. She sat outside and told her story. I crept to the door and listened. She said she had fallen in love fell with a prince who was a wolf by day and a man by night. Then a servant threw his wolf-skin into the fire, and he disappeared...

All-Seeing Sun

When my darling girl comes to see me, she has already come a long way. She has consulted the Wind, the Moon, and the Stars. They have given her the means to walk through the heavens. She asks me if I have seen her beloved white wolf. Yes, I have seen him, I say...

Invisible Prince

When I was born and my future was foretold, my parents were so upset by my life of perilous adventures that a Fairy comforted them by giving me a little pebble. Whenever I put the pebble in my mouth, I would become invisible. I met many ordeals and escaped the worst...

Prince of Gnomes

I have gone down into my underground palace to look into my three great mirrors. They are known as the Cabinets of the Years, and they reflect the past, the present, and the future. My question is: Did she ever love me? Does she love me now? Will she love me in the...

Man of Her Dreams

It's no use appearing to Beauty in her dreams. The more she loves the handsome man who appears in her dreams, the less she loves me. And why should she love me? I'm a beast. Why can’t she see underneath the surface? Why do I love such a superficial girl? Why can’t she...

Alfonso

Julia is weeping because she afraid that I will be seduced by the siren I've heard in the woods. In her upset, she goes and takes a seashell from a treasure box. Then she sings into it in her pure, beautiful voice. She gives the shell to me and tells me to put it to...

Hippo

One day, the most beautiful princess came up the river in a barge. She and several servants built a small home on an island in the middle of the river. It was a very lonely place for her to be. Nobody ever came up this part of the river. Every day, she would come and...

Toy Soldier

I am one of twenty-five tin soldiers. We are all brothers, born of the same old tin spoon. We shoulder our muskets and look straight ahead, splendid in our red and blue uniforms. We all look exactly alike. I am the only one who is different. I was the last to be cast...

Paper Dancer

I do pirouettes on the table in front of a cardboard castle while little boys play with their toy soldiers on the floor. The castle has little windows, and I can see inside them when the breeze spins me round. In front of the castle, cardboard trees gaze at their...