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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The Royal Herd-Boy

An Estonian folktale, this version is taken from The Hero of Esthonia, compiled by W. F. Kirby and published in 1895.

Once upon a time there lived a king who was so mild and good to his subjects that there was no one who did not bless him, and pray to the Heavenly Father to grant him a long life.

The king had lived happily with his wife for many years, but as yet no child had blessed his marriage. Great was the rejoicing of the king and all his subjects when at length the queen brought a fair child into the world. But their happiness was short-lived, for three days after the birth of the prince, the mother closed her eyes for ever, leaving her child an orphan and her husband a widower. The king mourned grievously for the loss of his dear consort, and his subjects mourned with him, and there was not a cheerful face to be seen anywhere. Three years afterwards the king married again, in deference to the wishes of his subjects, but he was unfortunate in his second choice.

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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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The Hedgehog and His Bride

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

Once upon a time there was an old man who made a living by making and selling brooms.

One day he went to the forest for switches. All of a sudden who should appear out of nowhere but a hedgehog. Back and forth he scurried and never left the old man’s side. The old man sat down to have a bite to eat, and the hedgehog bustled about at his feet, now picking up a bread crumb, now licking a drop of milk from his boot. The old man took a liking to the little animal, and, putting him in his cap, brought him home.

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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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