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Girl Who Shades Her Beauty

My father lost his wealth, and he was so disappointed in himself that he became ill and died. My mother and I spent months grieving, unable to take pleasure in anything. Then one morning my mother looked at me in a strange way, as if she had seen me for the first...

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...

Catskin

My father had a great deal of land, and he had wanted a son to take possession of it. Instead, my mother gave him a girl. Me. My mother would say, "Oh, look, she's so bonny, bonny as can be!" But he wouldn't even look at me. He said, "Let me never see her face." When...

Armless African Maiden

After my mother died, every time my father looked at me, he wept. He said he looked so much like my mother. I hoped that his grief would pass, but it made me anxious. I became thin. I asked him why he cried, and he told me again how much I looked like my mother. He...

Honest Little Jack

I left home with a sore heart. I would have stayed with my mother after my father died, but she didn't want me. She said there wasn't enough work for me to do in the house. My brothers Martin and Michael took everything she had in her larder, but they didn't want me...

Maiden in the Dark

The drummer has taken my linen shift! My sisters have flown from the lake, and I am stranded here. I have to follow him. But I’m naked! I’ll keep myself hidden, but what else can I do? Without my linen I have no wings to fly back to the castle. I follow him home and...

Allerleirauh

I slept in the hollow of an old tree in the wild forest. I was warm because I was covered from head to foot in every living animal's fur. I never wanted to come out of the safety of those furs. I never wanted to shine again. I would happily live the rest of my days,...

Man Made of Gold

My twin brother and I are both made of gold. When we decided to travel the world, and we arrived in town, we were so jeered by the villagers that my brother turned back home. I went forth to a great forest, and the people who lived near it said, "Don't go in there...

Maiden About to Be Eaten

I am chained to a rock in the middle of a torrent, waiting for a seven-headed serpent to get hungry. When he does, he'll eat me. Who could possibly save me? No one from my country. The serpent has already eaten all the men and most of the women in this land. My...

Briar Rose in the Tower

On my fifteenth birthday, the king and the queen were not at home. They had left me in the castle, quite alone! I ran round to look into all sorts of places that had been forbidden to me. I looked into bed-chambers and rooms. I peered into closets and under...

Footless Princess

When I became lost in the forest, I was seized by a giant. He cut off my feet and then he left me to bleed to death. I would have died there, but then my sister Kisa the Cat came along, and she returned my feet to me. In so doing, she performed an act of kindness that...

Handless Maiden

When I came into the house and I saw our sudden wealth, I knew it must have come at a price. Right away, my father told me what he had done. He had promised me to the Devil, in writing. In three years the Devil would come to claim me. My father never stops weeping...

Old Mother Goat

Before leaving the house to go and get food, I called my seven kids together. I said, "Children dear, I am going into the woods. Be on your guard for the wolf. If he gets in, he will eat up all of you all, even your skin and hair. The villain often disguises himself,...

Hazelnut Child

My mother is a worrier. She doesn't think that anything could possibly become of me. I am so little. But I know what I'm meant to be. And I know how to get around. Of course I don't use my own feet. I use the horse's feet. I get up under the saddle and prick the horse...

Child Left to the Wolves

My sister went into the woods and she never came back. Something must have eaten her. Where am I going to get more food? Now I've gone into the woods and I've eaten all the nuts I can find. The snow is coming, and, oh, I'm so cold! The wolves are howling, and I'm...

Maiden Hiding in a Pot

The ogre has smelled me hiding in the pot that stands before his castle. He's telling me to come out. He will do me no harm. How can that be? He's a man-eating ogre! I stay silent. Then he says, "Come out, I tell you. Your life is quite safe. If you are an old man,...

Lake

Listen to me. It's the Lake speaking. If you want to avoid being eaten by the Serpent King of this island, here's what you must do. Take off your clothes and spread them on the path that leads from the water to the lord's castle. It pleases the king to glide over...

Lost Hunting King

I had forgotten everything in the chase. By the time I came to my senses I realized that I was alone in the woods. I'd lost the whole hunting party. I had no food, no supplies, and no knowledge of how to fend for myself. Evening approached and I looked around but...

Captured Unicorn

I meant to skewer the little man to a tree but instead I skewered myself. When he cut off my horn, I lost my power, and now am I being led, by a cord, to the king. The Captured Unicorn in The Brave Little Tailor, Blue Fairy Book. Illustration by Kay Nielsen.

Donkey

The king has put me in a wonderful stall and people are always coming along to admire it. When they see me, they wonder why he keeps such an ordinary-looking donkey in such a fine place. My long, drooping ears are my only unique feature. Do you want to know why the...