The Kind Woodcutter

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

Once in times long past a woodcutter went to the forest to chop some wood. He came up to a birch-tree and waved his axe and the birch-tree spoke up in a human voice and said:

“Do not kill me, woodcutter! I am young and have many children. What will they do without me?”

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The Sun Princess and the Prince

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

Long, long ago, beyond the nine mountains and the nine forests, there lived a king and a queen. A son was born to them, and they loved him to distraction. When he grew up, the prince had plenty of puffs and cream to eat, and he wore clothing spun out of silver and gold. At his bidding, as if out of thin air, servants in braided coats and grooms in bright caftans appeared, and snow-white wolfhounds followed him about and never took their eyes off him. And as for his father and mother, they would have caught the sun itself in a sieve and brought it to him if only they could. But the young prince was always gloomy. He would send away his servants and chase away his dogs, walk sadly about in the palace garden and complain of his lot.

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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.

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The Two Horses

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

Once upon a time there lived a lord’s horse and a peasant’s horse, and the two of them were great friends. Whenever they met they would talk and never have their fill of talking. But one day the lord’s horse came out with something that badly hurt his friend’s feelings.

“Unlike me, you are a horse of common breed,” said he. “I am always harnessed to a coach mounted on springs, and you, to a wagon or else a harrow. I am fed on nothing but barley, and you, mostly on straw. Just you look at me! See how slender and beautiful are my legs and how spotless my hoofs! Yours are all caked with mud. My neck is as arched and graceful as a swan’s and yours is stiff and thick. My skin shines like silk and yours drips with sweat. I have a white star on my forehead and you have none. Which of us is more handsome – you or me?”

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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.

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