The Wise Counsellor

An Estonian fairytale, this version is from Tales of TheĀ Amber Sea, compiled and translated by Irina Zheleznova in 1974.

One day a poor youth was walking along a road. Feeling tired he sat down on the grass by a large stone to rest and have a bite to eat. After he had eaten he stretched himelf out on the ground and fell asleep.

In his sleep he had a strange dream: he seemed to hear a squeaky little voice piping something in his ear. But the piping did not stop when he woke. By the sound of it he judged that it came from under the stone if not from somewhere within it.

The youth put his ear to the stone and found that that was where the piping was indeed coming from!

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Poor Man and Never-Enough

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

Once on a time, a poor man went into the woods to the riverbank. He chopped down a tree, chop! chop! As he chopped, crick! crack! the axehead fell from its handle, splash! into the deep water of the river.

The poor man cried out, “Oh-o-o-o-o! My axe! A-a-a-a-a-a-a! Who will fish it out for me? My poor little axe!”

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Mannikin Long Beard

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

In a certain village there was once a Land owner who had a wife. Though married long years, they had no child. Both of them grieved very much over this.

At last, however, the wife had a little son, whom she named Martin. The mother loved the child very much. He grew up to be so strong that no one could overcome him. When he was twenty years old, he felt a great longing to journey through the world, and begged his Father to have a smith make him a strong iron staff. Except for that, he did not want anything.

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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 Headless Dwarfs

An Estonian fairy tale, this version was published in the Violet Fairy Book by Andrew Lang, in 1901.

There was once a minister who spent his whole time in trying to find a servant who would undertake to ring the church bells at midnight, in addition to all his other duties.

Of course it was not everyone who cared to get up in the middle of the night, when he had been working hard all day; still, a good many had agreed to do it. But the strange thing was that no sooner had the servant set forth to perform his task than he disappeared, as if the earth had swallowed him up. No bells were rung, and no ringer ever came back. The minister did his best to keep the matter secret, but it leaked out for all that, and the end of it was that no one would enter his service. Indeed, there were even those who whispered that the minister himself had murdered the missing men!

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