The Clever Princess

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

A certain king had a daughter, and so clever was she that it frightened people to speak with her. She could stop anyone’s mouth and had only to utter a word for a man to be thrown into confusion and lose his powers of speech.

And so the king had it proclaimed far and wide that he would give his daughter in marriage to the one who got the better of her in an argument.

Young men, all seeking to marry the princess, flocked to the palace. They came in such numbers that the place was packed with them. No sooner did one leave than others appeared. But not a man among them could out-talk the princess who always held her own in every argument.

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The Fool Who Became King

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

In olden times, in the thick of a dark forest, there lived a man who had three sons. The father loved his two elder sons dearly but could not bear his youngest who was ill treated and called a fool by the whole family. No matter what he said or did, the others only laughed at him and insisted that they had never heard of anything so silly. If the elder brothers took a dislike to a piece of clothing he was made to wear it; if a dish was not to their liking he was forced to eat it. Whatever they asked for they got, but not so he who was never given anything he wanted. And if ever there was a household chore they hated doing they passed it on to him.

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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 Magic Mirror

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

Once upon a time, in years long past, there lived a king of great renown and very rich. He had more money and gems than ten kings taken together.

Because he was so rich the king took it into his head that he would never grow old. But this was not to be: old age comes to all, rich or poor. The king was much put out about this. How could such a thing be? Was there no difference between him and the last beggar in his kingdom? He was as rich as ten kings taken together, but his hair was turning white and falling out just the same.

“That is not the way things should be,” the king decided and he summoned his sons to his side.

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How an Old Man Waited for Death

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

There was once a farmer who had many children. Time passed and his sons and daughters were all married, and the oldest son and his wife waited for him to give them his farm. But the old man was still strong and had no wish to give up farming.

Still, he did have thoughts of death and knew that sooner or later the farm would pass into his son’s hands.

So off he went to see a sage and learn from him how many years of life were left to him.

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