The Twelve Brothers, Twelve Black Ravens

A Lithuanian fairy tale, this version is from Tales of The Amber Sea, compiled and translated by Irina Zheleznova in 1974.

There was once a lord whose wife died and left him twelve sons and one daughter.

A little time passed by and the lord decided to marry again. His choice fell on a woman who was a witch. Said she to him:

“If you want me to marry you you must kill your sons, burn their bodies, wrap the ashes in paper and send them to me. But you can spare your daughter.”

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Wood of Tontla

An Estonian tale, this version is taken from the 1938 anthology Wonder Tales from Baltic Wizards by Frances Jenkins Olcott.

In ancient days there was a beautiful wood called the Wood of Tontla. No one dared venture into it. The boldest men, who chanced to be near it, told how under the thick trees strange, human-shaped creatures swarmed like ants in an ant hill.

It happened one night that a peasant going home from a feast, wandered into the forest. He saw strange things! Around a bright fire countless swarms of children and old women were gathered. Some sat on the ground, others danced on the green sward. One old woman had a broad shovel in her hand, with which from time to time she scattered the glowing ashes over the grass. Then the children with a shout would mount into air and like night-owls flap about in the rising smoke. Then they would come back to earth again. Other strange sights he saw, but because the peasant’s head was swimming, the village folk did not quite believe his tale.

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The White Deer

A Latvian fairy tale, this version was published in ‘Fairy Tales from the Soviet Union’ in 1986.

Once upon a time there were two brothers. They grew up together as strong as two oaks by the river. One day their father said to them, “Tell me what trade you would choose.”

His sons thought it over and then said, “We’d like to be carpenters. But we’d much rather be hunters and hunt geese and wild ducks.”

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The Washerwoman and The Count

A Lithuanian fairy tale, this version is from Tales of The Amber Sea, compiled and translated by Irina Zheleznova in 1974.

One day some washerwomen from a count’s estate were out on the lake rinsing their washing, and they began talking amongst themselves.

“I will only marry a man who is tall and has blue eyes,” said one.

“And I’ll only marry a man who is rich,” said another.

“I don’t care if I’m showered with gold and dressed in silks, I’ll never marry an old man and one I don’t love,” said the youngest and prettiest of them.

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The Brave Rooster

A Latvian fairy tale, this version is from Tales of The Amber Sea, compiled and translated by Irina Zheleznova in 1974.

Once upon a time there lived in a poor man. He had nothing to his name, not even a roof of his own over his head, and lived in a little bath-house which he rented from a lord. And of course that, as everyone knows, is no sort of life! For whenever the lord wanted a bath, be it winter or summer, out the poor man had to go into the street!

Now, the poor man had a rooster who did him for a son and a brother and a friend, too. To look at and talk to this rooster was his one pleasure in life.

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