The Lord Who Became a Blacksmith

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

Once a lord was journeying to a certain place on business. On the way his coach broke down. Luckily, there happened to be a smithy nearby, so the lord ordered the coach to be repaired without delay. That was all right with the blacksmith who went to work at once and was done before you could count to two. He asked a ruble in payment, and the lord gave it him, for he could not very well do anything else, but the sum seeming much too high to him, became very angry.

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The Sea Bride

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

Once upon a time there was a little house on the seashore, and in it lived a poor fisherman. All that his large family had to eat was the fish he caught in the sea.

Then it came to pass that for eight days in a row his nets caught nothing but mud and seaweed. They all went hungry. On the ninth day the fisherman went out to sea with the first rays of the sun. But on this day too his nets did not bring in a single fish. The poor man was in despair. How could he return home empty-handed to his starving children? And the sun was already low in the sky.

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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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How the Birds and Animals Dug a Bed for the Daugava

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

Long, long ago all the birds and animals got together to dig a bed for the river Daugava. They set to work, and the rabbit said that he would run ahead and show them where the river bed was to lie. This he did, but, like all rabbits, he ran in circles and zigzags, and that is why there are so many loops and turns to the Daugava.

Just behind the rabbit came the mole. He worked very hard and dug the first furrow, and he was richly rewarded for it, getting a coat of very soft and shiny black velvet that he wears to this day.

All the birds and animals did their bit. The only one who refused to come and help was the oriole.

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The Duckling with Golden Feathers

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

Once on a time two King’s children, a brother and a sister, lived with a hateful woman. She ill-treated the two children, though she loved her own daughter who was both dirty and ugly.

One day the two children said to each other, “Let us go away.”

So they went and went, till they reached a crossroad, and there they parted with many tears. The brother took with him a portrait of his sister to remember her by, and started on his way.

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