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Merchant Father of Drunken Son

My youngest son wanted to sail a ship to foreign lands but he was an idle boy who spent most of his time in alehouses and taverns. He kept begging me to go, insisting that he would earn his living by his wits. "You'll spend everything on drink and come home without...

Princess Who Is Exiled Because of Salt

My father wanted me to flatter him by telling him how much I loved him. I said, "I look upon you as salt in my food." That didn't go over too well! He got really angry and banished me. Since I had no skills, I dressed myself in rags and went looking for menial work. I...

Seagull

I met John after he had returned from the war. I was mending my net in my hut when I heard him come up to the house and sit on the steps. I invited him in, poured him some wine, and cooked him some fried fish. He told me how he'd nearly been beaten to death in a...

Ugly Duckling

I had gone through many trials through the winter. I had suffered loneliness and the frigid cold, but nothing and no one was crueler to me than my own kind. It was very difficult for me to forget the old mother duck who said, "Have you ever seen anything quite as ugly...

Devil at Hell’s Door

No, no! Whatever you do, don't let him in! I bolted the doors of hell and ran as quickly as I could to the highest devil. I said, "There's a fellow outside with a magic knapsack who wants to come in, but don't let him in, because if you do, he'll wish the whole of...

Saint Peter

Every now and then you encounter a chap who breaks all the rules and still gets into heaven. When Brother Lustig came to heaven's door, I opened it and he recognized me at once. We had been friends on earth. We had met on the road, and I had given him my magic...

Wife Who Wants to Clean the House

Stupid bird! Why must my husband keep her? That sparrow should have been a meal for ravens! Instead, my silly husband saved her life and took her home. Now he lets her fly around the house and soil all the window sills. Does he clean up after her? No, that's up to me!...

Cold-Blooded Stepmother

I didn't ask to raise my husband's daughter. I've got my own, and that's all I need. I can't stand the way the girl fawns. I wish she'd stop trying to please me. She's never going to be my own flesh and blood. And for the sake of God, stop crying! I've had it. I'll...

Guilty Father

I gave in to my wife's demands. I could give you all sorts of excuses. I could say there was no point arguing with her. I could say that she forced me. Or that I was prepared to do anything to have peace in the house. But nothing will excuse me for doing what I did. I...

Ashamed Father

I have two sons, and one is very clever. I'd rather not talk about the other. Why? Because he shames me, if you must know. He has no fear and his only wish is to know what fear is! What sort of fool goes looking for fear? Besides, how will that make him a living? How...

Twin Sister

Our stepmother hates me and my twin brother. She beats us and drives us out of the house. We don't dare tell our father how cruel she is. Father wouldn't believe us, and besides, he needs her to look after the house. She was very kind to us this morning. She said,...

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...

Disgusted Princess

When that odious little frog tried to force his way into my bed, he crossed the line. I picked him up and slammed him against the wall with all my might! He fell to the floor, and the next thing I knew, a prince stood before me. The spell had broken, and it would not...

Deserted Mastermaid

I sat by the seashore and waited for the prince to return. Waited. And waited. When I knew he wasn't coming back, I walked on and came to a little hut which stood all alone in the woods. I knocked, and an ill-tempered, malicious old troll came to the door. I asked if...

Unrecognized Cinder Girl

When my father asked my stepsisters what they wanted from the fair, they showered him with compliments and requests for jewels and fancy dresses. His eyes almost slid past me. "And you, Cinderella, what will you have?" Cinderella! Had he forgotten my name? Did he...

Waggoner

I let an orphan boy run beside my wagon on my way into the city. He was very pleased that he didn't have to pay for his passage. He trotted alongside the horses and talked my ear off, eager to see London. He had heard that the streets were paved with gold, and he...

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....

Princess Miranda

I was taught to be true-hearted and to speak the truth. Why is it that my father is so offended by me now? He came home after years of fighting his neighbors and seemed to be looking for another fight. I couldn't please him. I couldn't give him the answers he wanted....

King Thrushbeard

In all my life, I have never met such a deliciously haughty princess. She is beautiful beyond measure, and so, of course, no suitor will ever measure up. We were lined up before her, in a row, while she, like a general, inspected the ranks. This was one too fat. "The...

King Sheep

I waited and waited in the forest for Miranda to return to me. But she did not come. At last I set off to the palace. At the door, I asked for Miranda. The people who came out said they had heard about the King of Sheep, and Miranda did not want to come back to me. I...

Baba Yaga Giving the Burning Skull

The girl stands there watching me, dumb as a post. I command her. "Speak to me!" "I'd like to ask you something," she says. "Fine. Go ahead, but not every question has a good answer. If you know too much you will soon grow old." She asks about my horsemen. I tell her...

Princess on the Glass Hill

Ah, he's a handsome youth in his copper armor. I hope he makes it to the top of the glass mountain. I just might marry him. Yes, I think I would! He is more attractive every moment! What is he doing? Why is he turning around? Doesn't he find me attractive? Well, have...

Rose-Tree

I grew on the grave of the prince's father, and I bloomed once every five years. Everyone looked forward to my blooming, for, though I bore but a single rose, its scent was so sweet that it would make you forget all your troubles. One day, the prince dug me up. I had...

Crab Prince

I meet my twelve friends in an underground palace, and we dine together at a long table. Then we raise a glass, and we each make a toast to the health of our mothers and fathers. When I raise my glass, I make a different kind of toast. A health to my dearest lady....

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...

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...

Swineherd Prince

I smeared my face with mud and I went to the palace where I worked as a swineherd. On my time off, I made toys for the princess. She had rejected the natural things I had offered her as a prince. So as a swineherd I made her artificial things, trinkets, and she...

Bobino

My father, who is a rich merchant, sent me off to learn from a great master who could teach me foreign languages. I spent quite a few years with him, and now I've returned home. My father is not proud of me. He's furious because I've learned the language of the birds...

Lady Cockchafer

I brushed my pretty feelers and looked at the creature my brother had caught. Yuk. He wanted to marry her, the idiot! How could he possibly be attracted to her? She had no feelers at all! And only two legs! She looked like a human—the worst! Horrible! All the lady...

Befuddled Prince

I was hunting in the woods when I saw a bear hiding in the shrubs. I called my dogs to attack it and they ran into the bush, yipping and yelping. Then I heard a voice cry, "Call off your dogs or they will kill me! What harm have I ever done to you?" I was so startled...

Princess Cannetella

I refused the best-looking men in the kingdom. It was the little things that offended me. One let food fall from his mouth. Another couldn't get his coat on right. To stop my father from trying to make me a match, I told him that I never meant to marry unless he could...

Masella the Disgusted Mother

I have six pretty daughters, all upright as fir trees, and one son who is a complete idiot. Not a day goes by when I don't have to say, "Antonio, what are you doing, you useless creature?" He's the stupidest kid you can imagine. Yesterday, I broke down and gave him...

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...