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Matsu the Nurse

My named is Matsu, which, in the speech of my country, means the Pine Tree. And, as the pine tree, I am strong and evergreen; unchanging and enduring. I served in the house of Idé, and my charge was Fugiwaka, the son of the samurai and his wife. His father Idé had...

Girl-Fish

One day, when I was sitting by the river with my father’s net, I caught a fish. It spoke to me and said that if I didn't throw it back into the river, something dreadful would happen to me. I ignored it and brought it home. When I told my mother what had happened, she...

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...

Wounded Soldier

I was making my way toward the city when I met an old woman on the road. She noticed that I was badly wounded and asked me where I was going. “I really don’t know myself,” I said. I had heard about the kings’ twelve daughters, and how they had been wearing out their...

Princess Coming Out of Isolation

When the green knight stopped coming to the castle, I became frantic. What happened to my love? Surely he did not give his heart to another. Yet, what could I know, isolated on that lonely island? It was the only place where I could live safely, out of the reach of my...

Maiden Betrothed to a Lindworm

I did not want to marry the lindworm! He had eaten his two other brides! I did nothing to deserve being wed to such a monster. I ran to my mother's grave and I prayed earnestly for her help. Then I became very peaceful and fell asleep. When the sun woke me in the...

Simpleton with a Big Dream

I could never please my old mother. My brothers did. They were always buying her fine clothes that made her look really smart. Me, I just got in her way. I was too slow, too stupid. She had no patience for me. When the king decreed that he would marry his daughter to...

True Princess

I have not publicly declared myself to be a true princess. I simply feel everything, and believe me, that is not easy. I know that the prince has become dangerously dispirited. He has been looking for me, but I have avoided public places. I have not gone anywhere I...

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...

Star Princess

I was born with a star on my forehead, and my father lavished his affection on me. My mother was more restrained. She loved me, but not the way my father did. One day when a great washing was taking place, I noticed twelve shirts among the linens. They were too small...

Swan Sister

When my six brothers shake off their swan feathers, I am so glad to see them! But there isn't much time. They will only be in their human forms for a quarter of an hour. "If you wish to free us, you must sew us six shirts from starwort," they say. "For seven years you...

Prince in Search of Flowers

I searched the world over for the daughter of the flower queen. After a year, my horse died of exhaustion. I didn't bother to find another horse. I went on looking, on foot. I came to the hut of an old man. He said to go down the road for a year. I did, and I came to...

Brother Who Gets to the Bottom of It

My two older brothers fell asleep but I did not. I stayed awake through the night, and I saw the hawk that has been breaking through the church window. I shot it in the wing. It fell right here, and under this great stone an abyss has opened up. I wonder what is down...

Unlooked-for Prince

There was no family in the whole kingdom happier than ours, or so it seemed. Then one day I met a little old man as he was hunting in a lonely part of the woods. “How are you, my unlooked-for Prince?” he said. “You have kept us waiting a good long time!” “And who are...

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...

Blindfolded Cobbler

I open my stall early today and get myself a prime spot near the gates of town. Then a beautiful young woman approaches me. A vision! She puts a piece of gold in my hand and tells me to take my needle and thread and follow her. I assume she has some stitchwork for me...

Beauty

"Here is the rose you asked for," said my father, giving me the flower. "Little do you know the cost." I soon discovered the cost. My father had taken it from the garden of a beast who wanted one of his daughters in exchange. If none of us would go, then Father must...

Vizier

What burns me is not that the upstart has built a castle more splendid than the Sultan's. It's that he has left a window for the Sultan to finish. He mocks my master! He will never match the splendor! Where did he get such magic? There's a demon at work underneath...

24th Suitor

At last I found the beauty of the world! She had been locked into a remote room of a castle that stood beyond the farthest reaches of the world. But she was not beautiful. She was a bleary-eyed, grey skinned, withering old woman. "This is not my form," she said....

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...