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.

Read more…


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

It happened once on a time, that while a Lady was visiting late, her Coachman stretched himself out in the coach and went to sleep. Near midnight a voice waked him, saying:

“Get up! Come with me to Kokenhusen. I will give you money.”

Read more…

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.

Read more…

Strakalas and Makalas

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

Strakalas and Makalas were neighbours. They got on well together and were friends from their earliest years. If one of them killed a pig or celebrated a christening he never forgot to invite the other. It was with good reason that the villagers said that if Strakalas were made king, Makalas would be sure to share his throne.

But what was bad was that the two friends were as stubborn as mules and rare braggarts to boot! Should Strakalas, without stopping to think, remark that in America cows had wings and flew like birds he’d never go back on it, no matter what you did, but keep repeating it till doomsday. And should Makalas declare that in Turkey drills and hammers grew in the fields he’d insist it was so even if you threatened to kill him for it.

Read more…

Wood of Tontla

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

In ancient days there was a beautiful wood called the Wood of Tontla. No one dared venture into it. The boldest men, who chanced to be near it, told how under the thick trees strange, human-shaped creatures swarmed like ants in an ant hill.

It happened one night that a peasant going home from a feast, wandered into the forest. He saw strange things! Around a bright fire countless swarms of children and old women were gathered. Some sat on the ground, others danced on the green sward. One old woman had a broad shovel in her hand, with which from time to time she scattered the glowing ashes over the grass. Then the children with a shout would mount into air and like night-owls flap about in the rising smoke. Then they would come back to earth again. Other strange sights he saw, but because the peasant’s head was swimming, the village folk did not quite believe his tale.

Read more…