A Lord’s Promises

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

In a certain land there lived a lord who was a cheat and a swindler. He was always tricking his workmen and robbing them, and to one of them, a cheerful, highspirited youth, he had not paid his wages for three years on end.

Now, this young workman was walking along the river bank one day when he met a man coming toward him.

“Where are you coming from?” asked the workman.

“From where the road takes its beginning.”

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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.

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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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Poor Man and Never-Enough

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

Once on a time, a poor man went into the woods to the riverbank. He chopped down a tree, chop! chop! As he chopped, crick! crack! the axehead fell from its handle, splash! into the deep water of the river.

The poor man cried out, “Oh-o-o-o-o! My axe! A-a-a-a-a-a-a! Who will fish it out for me? My poor little axe!”

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What Witches Tell

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

In the Land where on Midsummer Night, the St. John’s Fires blaze up, and the girls dance at the Flower Feast, adorned with garlands of wheat-ears and blue cornflowers, in that Land, I say, Witches fly about at the midnight hour.

There were once two brothers, who wished to go out into the world to try their luck. They thrust the blades of their knives into the trunk of a mighty fir tree, and made this compact: Whichever one of them should return first, he was to look at the blade of the other’s knife. If bright, then his brother was alive.

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