The Bear Who Married a Peasant’s Daughter

A Latvian 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 an old peasant. He was not badly off except that his wife had died leaving him alone with their only daughter.

Now, all of the peasant’s kin, not counting some in-laws, lived far away from him, and one day making up his mind to pay them a visit, he left his daughter at home by herself and drove away.

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The Headless Dwarfs

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

There was once a minister who spent his whole time in trying to find a servant who would undertake to ring the church bells at midnight, in addition to all his other duties.

Of course it was not everyone who cared to get up in the middle of the night, when he had been working hard all day; still, a good many had agreed to do it. But the strange thing was that no sooner had the servant set forth to perform his task than he disappeared, as if the earth had swallowed him up. No bells were rung, and no ringer ever came back. The minister did his best to keep the matter secret, but it leaked out for all that, and the end of it was that no one would enter his service. Indeed, there were even those who whispered that the minister himself had murdered the missing men!

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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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Mannikin Long Beard

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

In a certain village there was once a Land owner who had a wife. Though married long years, they had no child. Both of them grieved very much over this.

At last, however, the wife had a little son, whom she named Martin. The mother loved the child very much. He grew up to be so strong that no one could overcome him. When he was twenty years old, he felt a great longing to journey through the world, and begged his Father to have a smith make him a strong iron staff. Except for that, he did not want anything.

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Tiidu the Piper

An Estonian fairy tale, this version was published in the Crimson Fairy Book by Andrew Lang, in 1903.

Once upon a time there lived a poor man who had more children than bread to feed them with. However, they were strong and willing, and soon learned to make themselves of use to their father and mother, and when they were old enough they went out to service, and everyone was very glad to get them for servants, for they worked hard and were always cheerful. Out of all the ten or eleven, there was only one who gave his parents any trouble, and this was a big lazy boy whose name was Tiidu. Neither scoldings nor beatings nor kind words had any effect on him, and the older he grew the idler he got. He spent his winters crouching close to a warm stove, and his summers asleep under a shady tree; and if he was not doing either of these things he was playing tunes on his flute.

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