How a Raven Wooed a Tomtit

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

Once there was a Raven who fell in love with a Tomtit and badly wanted to marry her. Now, for her part, the Tomtit liked the Raven, too, so she invited him to her house and began regaling him with food and drink.

“Why are you so small?” the Raven asked.

“I’m not yet fully grown,” the Tomtit replied.

“You’re not?” the Raven said, pleased. “Then that means you’ll grow bigger, doesn’t it?”

“Of course!” the Tomtit said. “How could it be otherwise?”

They ate and they drank, and the Tomtit felt so bored that she could not keep back a yawn.

“Tell me something interesting,” said she to the Raven. “if you don’t, I’ll fall asleep.”

“I know many interesting things,” said the Raven. “There is a village beyond the forest. My uncle flew there once and saw a bean stalk there. So tall was this bean stalk that a snail could crawl up it to the very clouds and hide there from the heat.”

“That’s nothing!” said the Tomtit. “The year before last I saw a bean stalk so tall that a cricket climbed up it to the sky and lighted his pipe at the sun.”

The Raven thought hard. He wanted very much to think of something interesting.

“I’ve just remembered something!” said he. “Three years ago such a strong wind rose in this same village beyond the forest that the people there grew accustomed to crawling on all fours. Half a year passed before they went back to walking in the old way again.”

“That’s nothing!” the Tomtit said. “Five years ago the wind was even stronger. So fast did the arms of the windmills turn that you could hardly see them.”

The Raven thought hard again. He was very eager indeed to think of something still more interesting.

“I’ve just remembered something!” said he. “Ten years ago the frost was so fierce that all the spruce trees in teh forest cracked from top to bottom.”

“That’s nothing!” said the Tomtit, standing her ground. “Twelve years ago when I bade my third brood of fledgelings goodbye the frost was even fiercer. Why, the women’s hands froze to the dough they were kneading, and the pots on the stoves boiled at one end and were covered with ice at the other.”

The Raven looked toubled.

“Anything might have happened in the old days,” he brought out at last with a sigh. And saying that he would be right back, he left the house and flew away.

He did not know if there had ever been a bean stalk as tall as the Tomtit had said or a frost as fierce, but surely his bride was too old for him if she had seen the for her own self!

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