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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Little White Dog

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

Once on a time there was a girl who lived with a bad-tempered woman. The woman treated her meanly. The girl tried to do everything she was told to do, but could never satisfy the woman.

One day she had to go to the well to fetch water without wetting the bucket. The poor girl shed hot tears. Just then a Little White Dog, as if called by magic, came running up out of the ground.

“If you will take me for your bridegroom,”, said he, “I will provide water in your dry bucket.”

The girl promised.

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