The Fleetfooted Princess

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

n a certain kingdom there lived a princess, and so beautiful was she that her fame spread throughout the whole wide world. From all sides, from the south and the north, the east and the west, wooers came to plead for her hand, and at the gate of the royal palace horsemen of noble birth mounted on their best chargers appeared again and again. But matchmaking was not so easy a matter for them as it is in our day when a suitor need fear nothing even if he spends the morning going round to seven different houses asking for the hands of seven different maids. The young men who wanted to marry the beautiful princess had to be very brave indeed. For the princess had feet that were as light and fleet as the wind and she vowed to her father that she would only marry a man who was her match in this and more, being able not only to overtake but to outdistance her. Now, this would not have been so bad had the princess not added another condition to this, and that was that any suitor she beat in a race be put to death at once.

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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 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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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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