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Bull Protector

I was the father she didn’t have. Her human father, the king, thought of nothing but war and put his daughter at the mercy of an evil queen. She left the princess to starve, and so I provided for her. When the queen found out about me, she became dead-set on putting...

Mother of a Boy Who Can’t Learn

After my husband died, I was very poor, and I had only one child, my little boy Hassebu. When it was time for him to learn to read, I sent him to school. He did not learn to read in school, and so he was put into a shop to learn how to make clothes. But he did not...

Hans Who Discovers the Underworld

One day, in the dead of winter, I set forth to another village, but I was caught in a blizzard and lost my way. I found shelter behind a thick juniper tree and pulled my sheepskin coat around me. I tried to sleep, and I had just drifted off when I felt a tapping on my...

Song of the Ballad-Singer

Walking along the road, the wandering ballad-singer came upon a girl with a black bowl over her head. "Oh, girl with the black bowl over your head, why do you sit weeping by the roadside?" he asked. “I weep because the world is hard," she said. "I am hungry and tired....

Jewel Princess of the Sea

A wonderful prince had come to the Sea King's palace and my father went out to welcome him. He was known as Prince Fire Fade, Child of the Heaven’s Sun Height. The king led him into the palace and I soon fell in love with the august prince who had come from the sky....

Wizard of a Man

The Tsar kept me under lock and key for years, and do you know why? Because I am a wizard of a man, yes indeed! A mere peasant made me of copper, with iron hands and a steel head. I am virtually indestructible. One day a boy walked past my prison grate. I recognized...

Princess with an Enchanted Knife

A young man came to speak to my father, the emperor. He asked for my hand, and said that he would only marry a girl with royal blood running in her veins. I watched him from behind the curtain and I thought I had never seen any man more handsome. My father gave him a...

Horse Resurrected

The Emperor buried me when he was young, and forgot all about me. But his old nurse didn't. When the Emperor's third son Petru went looking for a truly good horse, she told him to go and fetch a scrap from my old reins. She sprinkled them with incense, and instructed...

Childless Queen Who is Given an Egg

I hid my unhappiness from my husband, but when he was not with me, I often wept. I didn’t seem able to conceive. One day, when the king had gone to war, I couldn't bear being in the castle. The air was suffocating me. I went out, wandered in the garden, and came to a...

Old Speaking Horse

When the young man came into the stable, he passed rows and rows of fine horses with their names written in gold above their stalls. He stumbled by aimlessly, and I heard him talking to himself. "How can I find the princess Bella-Flor when I have never even seen her?...

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...

Beggar Godfather

A rich man I once knew became poor, and when he was poor, he and his wife had a little boy. Since nobody was willing to stand as a godfather for the child, the man set off to look for one in a neighboring village. On the way he met me, standing by the road. I asked...

Witch-Maiden Sister

My two sisters and I sat around a table in our underwater palace and raised our shell cups to make a toast. One of my sisters drank to the health of a youth who wasn't the least perturbed when she, in the form of a corpse, had tried to grab him from the grave. The...

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...

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...

Old Man of the Mountain

I told the sister and her three brothers that they would complete their temple to Beauty if they went up the mountain and brought back three things: a pitcher filled with the Water of Life, a branch from the Tree of Eternal Beauty, and a talking bird. The eldest...

Dove of Heaven

Our beloved queen is imprisoned in a high tower—sealed in from the sun and the moon. The king has walled her in for seven years, without meat or drink. Walls built by kings don't keep us out! We visit her twice a day, and we bring her food from heaven. Many more than...

Devil’s Grandmother

A young fellow came to the door. He smelled like a living man, but he didn't have the smell of fear on him. No fear at all. I asked him what sort of business he had with us. He said he wanted three golden hairs from the devil's head, or else he'd lose his wife....

Red Tulip

I have had three awakenings. First, there was the crack of my husk when the kernel burst, deep in the earth. I grew and grew, stretching my neck out through the soil. Then there was the crack of the light, the first ray of the sun. Finally there was the third crack,...

Lively-Stepping Soldier

After I got out of the army, I retained the habit of marching when I walked. Left-right! Left-right! It made me feel alive, marching down the road with my knapsack on my back and my sword at my side. Things have changed a bit since then. I've been put behind bars, and...

Vasilisa the Girl

I lead an idle life, thanks to my doll. My mother gave her to me before she died. She told me to give the doll something to eat. Then I could tell her all my troubles, and she would give me advice. I have had many troubles because my stepsisters hate me and put me to...

Naked Elves

We came to the cobbler's house and found his last pieces of leather, cut exquisitely. We were inspired! So we stitched, sewed, and hammered them into a pair of perfect shoes. The next night, there were two sets of shoes to finish, and the work doubled, and after that,...

Astonished Cobbler

Times had become so lean that I could no longer afford the leather to make shoes. I had only enough material to make one last pair. That night, I cut out the shoes, intending to stitch them in the morning, and I went to bed. I had done everything I could as well as I...

Nurse of the Confined Princess

The king is so terrified that something will happen to his daughter that he refuses to let her leave the palace. He keeps her shut in her rooms like she's some kind of prisoner. Of course I understand how bitterly she hates her confinement. I've listened to her...

Udea

I approached the terrifying man-eater who crouched before the fire. "Peace be with you, grandfather," I said, and then I asked him for a burning coal. I had to ask. I had no choice. My own fire had gone out. "Do you want a big lump or a little lump?" he asked. "Why,...

A Drop of Princely Blood

I'm one drop of a prince's blood. He left three of us on a stool that stood beside a sleeping giant. Our job was to speak to the giant and keep him from waking so the prince could get away. Every time the giant woke, we reassured him that everything was okay. The pot...

Queen of the Woods

When I met the pretty shepherdess alone in the woods, I asked her if she feared the robbers. "No," she answered. "I have nothing for them to steal." "Ah, but you have a heart," I said. "What would you do if that were stolen?" She didn't know what I meant. Her heart...

Hands

We were once lords and ladies but now we're just hands. That's all you see. Our bodies have been invisible ever since our dear mistress was turned into a cat. Still, we do our best to serve, here in the castle, hidden in the Forest of Gloom. Someone has sounded the...

Frisk the Dog

The princess isn't interested in me or my master, even though he's very handsome and I'm very frisky! She's only interested in retrieving a ring from the river. The prince can't fathom how to find the ring in the swift current, but I tell him not to despair. He's too...

Father Who Stands Up for His Child

"The emperor is wearing no clothes!" my child cried. It was too late to muzzle her, and besides, she was right. "Listen to the innocent child!" I shouted. The crowd fell silent long enough to hear her say it again. "He hasn't got anything on!" Soon we were all...

Old Toad

When the princess told us that she had set out to find her long-lost prince, we toads rejoiced. We had been waiting a long time for her to arrive! We gave her supplies for the long journey ahead. May she be reunited with her long-lost prince, and may the kings...

Sharp-Sighted Raven

We ravens are sharp-sighted so it's not as if we didn't see what happened to Ferko. His older brothers took out both his eyes, broke his legs, and left him to starve in the forest. He's crawled up here to die on the grass under the shade of the gallows where my friend...

Crow Princess

I spend my nights in a ruined castle, where I live alone in the only habitable room. Terrible things happen at night, but I have promised not to scream or give any indication that I am terrified. Strange beings come down the passage and into the room. They set a huge...

Electing Eagle

The town is preparing for an election, and all the people have gathered in the marketplace. At the appointed hour, I am released from my cage, and it is my job to appoint the new ruler by lighting on his shoulder. I need only circle once over the heads of the crowd...

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...

North Wind

When the young girl approached my dwelling, riding on the South Wind, they felt my cold gusts long before they aririved. “What do you want?” I roared from afar, freezing them with my blasts. The South Wind said: “It is I, and this is she who is meant to be with the...

Long the Tall Man

Long is my name. Pleased to make your acquaintance. Me and my friends, Broad and Quickeye, we're off to help the prince free his lady-love. Where is she? Well, she's been locked up in an iron castle by an evil wizard. I can get us out of the woods, that's not a...

Sharp-Sighted Sorceress

The princess is looking for the eyes of her true love. I can see where they are. They've been eaten by dogs. I can see where the dogs live, and I know what I must give to the dogs to make them cough the eyes up. I will go straight away. Her lover Janni is a good...

Old Woman of the Lake

One day, a young woman came to the river's edge, holding a baby. She was crying, and I was moved to appear to her from out of the place where the river meets the lake. I asked her why she was crying, and she said that her husband and mother-in-law wanted her to drown...

Good Magician

One doesn't often meet a man weeping in the underworld. When I asked him why he was weeping, he said he wanted to return to earth. I told him that I would carry him back to the surface on my own back if he would protect my children at night. I explained that a...

Servant Henry

When the king was changed into a frog, three iron bands formed around my heart to keep it from bursting with grief. One morning I woke before dawn and hastened to prepare the coach. I felt compelled to drive it to a nearby castle. When I came to the door and...

Healing Serpent

The king has been locked in the burial vault with his dead wife. He tries to stretch out his days. He eats his provisions slowly. Every day, a bite of bread, a sip of wine. We serpents hear him moaning in grief and pain as death draws near. Then we devise a plan. My...

Little Hazel Tree

When I was just a twig, I brushed against a man's hat, and his hat fell off. He got off his horse, came to the tree, broke me, and put me in his pocket. He carried me to his home and gave me to his daughter, who planted me by her mother's grave. She visited me three...

Girl Who Fell into a Well

My shuttle fell into the well and there was nothing to do but go after it. So I jumped in. I fell and fell. I don't remember hitting bottom. When I came to my senses, I was in a flowery meadow where everything spoke. I walked along and came to an oven full of baked...

Red-Cap’s Grandmother

After that fiasco with the wolf, I truly regretted giving my granddaughter that little red velvet cap. It suited her, though, and she continues to wear it. She won't wear anything else. When she came for a visit the other day, I asked her, "Aren't you afraid of...

Old Woman in the Robbers’ Hut

Such a handsome lad he was, oh...there was something about him...what's the word? Special. That's it. He'd gotten lost in the woods and he found our little hut. I told him he couldn't stay here—we're all robbers—and the men would kill him. The fellow was bone tired,...