The Orphan Boy and The Hell-Hounds

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 poor labourer and his wife, who dragged on a wretched existence from day to day. They had three children, but only the youngest survived. He was a boy of nine years old when he buried first his father and then his mother, and he had no other resource than to beg his bread from door to door. A year afterwards he happened to come to the house of a rich farmer just when they wanted a herdboy. The farmer himself was not such a bad man to deal with, but his wife had control of everything, and she was a regular brute. It may easily be imagined how much the poor orphan boy suffered. The blows that he received daily were three times more than sufficient, but he never got enough bread to eat. But as the orphan had nothing better to look forward to, he was forced to endure his misery.

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The Magician’s Horse

A Lithuanian fairy tale, this version was published in the Grey Fairy Book by Andrew Lang, in 1905.

Once upon a time, there was a king who had three sons. Now it happened that one day the three princes went out hunting in a large forest at some distance from their father’s palace, and the youngest prince lost his way, so his brothers had to return home without him.

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The Underground Workers

An Estonian fairy tale, this version was published in the Violet Fairy Book by Andrew Lang, in 1901.

On a bitter night somewhere between Christmas and the New Year, a man set out to walk to the neighbouring village. It was not many miles off, but the snow was so thick that there were no roads, or walls, or hedges left to guide him, and very soon he lost his way altogether, and was glad to get shelter from the wind behind a thick juniper tree. Here he resolved to spend the night, thinking that when the sun rose he would be able to see his path again.

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Little White Horse

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

There was once a man who had three sons, two were clever, but the youngest was simple. The Father bought each of them two horses.

One day they heard that something was eating up their barley. The first night, the Father sent the eldest son to the field to watch the barley. But he fell asleep and saw nothing.

And the next day, when he came home and his Father asked, “Now what have you seen?” he said, “Nothing.”

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The Forbidden Knot

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

It was a bad year for the fishing vllage. The catches had been poor ever since autumn, and by spring the larders were empty. Fish is to the fisherman what grain is to the peasant. When there is no fish, the whole village goes hungry.

The fishermen gathered together and racked their brains. What could they do? It was too early in the year to go out to sea, but to stay at home would mean certain ruin.

So they thought and thought, then resolved to try their luck.

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