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Snow-White Fire-Red

There was once a king and queen who had no son, even though they were trying hard to have one. At last they promised that if they had a son or a daughter, they would maintain two fountains for seven years: one running wine, the other oil. After this vow the queen gave birth to a handsome boy.

As soon as the child was born, the two fountains were built, and everybody went and took oil and wine. At the end of seven years the fountains began to dry up. An ogress, wishing to collect the drops that still fell from the fountain, went there with a sponge and pitcher. She sopped up the drops with the sponge and then squeezed it in the pitcher.

After she had worked so hard to fill this pitcher, the little son of the king, who was playing ball, from caprice threw a ball and broke the pitcher.

When the old woman saw this, she said: "Listen. I can do nothing to you, for you are the king's son; but I can curse you in this way: May you be unable to marry until you find Snow-white-fire-red!"

The clever child took a piece of paper and wrote down the old woman's words, put it away in a drawer, and said nothing about it.

When he was eighteen the king and queen wished him to marry. Then he remembered the old woman's curse, took the piece of paper and said: "Ah! if I don't find Snow-white-fire-red I cannot marry!"

When it seemed fit, he took leave of his father and mother, and began his journey entirely alone. Months passed without meeting anyone. One evening when he felt tired and discouraged, night overtook him in a plain. In the middle of it was a large house.

At daybreak he saw an ogress coming, frightfully tall and stout, and she cried, "Snow-white-fire-red, lower your tresses for me to climb up!"

When the prince heard this he took heart, and said: "There she is!"

Snow-white-fire-red lowered her strong and long tresses and the ogress climbed up by them. Next day the ogress climbed them down again. When the prince saw her leave, he came from under the tree where he had hidden himself, and cried, "Snow-white-fire-red, lower your tresses for me to climb up!"

She believed it was her mother - for she called the ogress mother - and lowered her braided hair. The prince climbed boldly up. When he was up, he said: "Dear one, how I have toiled to find you!" And he told her of the old woman's curse when he was seven years old.

Snow-white-fire-red gave him some refreshments, and then said: "You see, if the ogress returns and finds you here, she will eat you. Hide yourself."

The ogress returned, and the prince hid himself.

After the ogress had eaten, the girl gave her wine to drink, so much that it made her drunk. Then she said: "I wonder what would I have do to get away from here?"

The drunk ogress had became loose-tongued, and spoke out, "You must enchant everything that there is here, so that I shall lose time. I shall call, and instead of you the chair, the cupboard and the chest of drawers will answer for you. When you don't appear, I will climb up and get it. You must take the seven balls of yarn that I have laid away. When I come and don't find you, I'll pursue you. When you see yourself pursued, throw down the first ball, and then the others. I shall always overtake you until you throw down the last ball."

The girl understood all that she said, and remembered it. Next day the ogress went out, and Snow-white-fire-red and the prince did what they had to do. She went about the whole house, saying: "Table, you answer if my mother comes; chairs, answer if my mother comes; chest of drawers, answer if my mother comes;" and so she enchanted the whole house. Then she and the prince departed in such a hurry that they seemed to fly.

When the ogress returned, she called: "Snow-white-fire-red, let down your tresses that I may climb up!"

The table answered: "Come, come, mother!"

She waited a while, and when no one appeared to draw her up, she called again: "Snow-white-fire-red, lower your tresses for me to climb up!"

The chair answered: "Come, come, mother!"

She waited a while, but no one appeared; then she called again, and the chest of drawers answered: "Come, come, mother!"

Meanwhile the lovers were fleeing. When there was nothing left to answer, the ogress got a ladder and climbed up. When she saw that the girl and the balls of yarn were gone, she cried: "I must have said too much when I was drunk last night!" Then she hastened after the fugitives, following their scent.

They saw her afar off, and when she saw them, she cried: "Snow-white-fire-red, turn around so that I can see you."

The girl did not, for she knew she would be enchanted if she did.

When the ogress had nearly overtaken them, Snow-white-fire-red threw down the first ball, and suddenly there arose a lofty mountain. The ogress was not disturbed; she climbed up and down and almost overtook the two again.Then Snow-white-fire-red, seeing her near at hand, threw down the second ball, and there suddenly appeared a plain covered with razors and knives. The ogress, all cut and torn, followed after the lovers, dripping with blood.

When Snow-white-fire-red saw her near again, she threw down the third ball, and there arose a terrible river. The ogress threw herself into the river and continued her pursuit, although she was half dead. Then another ball, and there appeared a fountain of vipers, and many other things.

At last, dying and worn out, the ogress stopped and cursed Snow-white-fire-red, saying: "At the first kiss that the queen gives her son, may the prince forget you!" Then the ogress could stand it no longer, and died in great anguish.

The lovers continued their journey, and came to a town near where the prince lived. He said to Snow-white-fire-red: "Remain here, dear, for you have no clothes to wear that my family will love. I will go and get what you need, and then I can show you to my father and mother."

She agreed, and remained.

When the queen saw her son, she threw herself on him to kiss him. "Mother," he said, "I have made a vow not to allow myself to be kissed. And now I have something other to do . . . ," he said, but fell asleep when standing, completely exhausted.

The poor mother was shocked, but while he was asleep she kissed him anyway, for she was aching to kiss her darling son. From that moment he forgot all about Snow-white-fire-red.

The girl had been left in a street without knowing where she was. An old woman met her, and saw the girl weeping. "What's the matter?"

"I don't know where I am!"

"Well, don't despair; come with me." And she took her to her house.

The young girl was deft with her hands, and could work wonders. She made things and the old woman sold them, and so they both could lived on the earnings. One day the maiden said to the old woman that she wanted two bits of old cloth from the palace for some work she had to do. The old woman went to the palace and asked for the bits till at last she got them. Now the old woman had two doves, a male and a female, and Snow-white-fire-red dressed the doves so prettily with these bits of cloth that all who saw them marvelled.

The young girl took these doves in her hands and instructed them well: "You are to play the prince and Snow-white-fire-red together. The king is at the table, eating; fly and tell of all that the prince and Snow-white-fire-red have undergone."

While the king, queen, prince, and many others were at the table, the beautiful doves flew in and alighted on the table. "How beautiful they are!" And all were greatly pleased. Then the dove that represented Snow-white-fire-red began cooing: "Do you remember when you were young how your father promised a fountain of oil and one of wine for your birth?" The other dove answered: "Yes, I remember."

"Do you remember the old woman whose pitcher of oil you broke? Do you remember?"

"Yes, I remember."

"Do you remember the curse she pronounced on you, – that you could not marry until you found Snow-white-fire-red?"

"I remember," answered the other dove. In short, the first dove recalled all that had passed, and finally said: "Do you remember how you had the ogress at your heels, and how she cursed you, saying that at your mother's first kiss you should forget Snow-white-fire-red?"

When the dove came to the kiss, the prince remembered everything, and the king and queen were astounded at hearing the doves speak.

When they had ended their talk, the doves made a low bow and flew away. The prince cried: "Ho, there! ho, there! See where those doves go! see where they go!" The servants looked and saw the doves alight on a country house. The prince hastened and entered it, and found Snow-white-fire-red. When he saw her he threw his arms around her, exclaiming: "Oh, how much you have suffered for me!"

Straightway they dressed her beautifully and led her to the palace. When the queen saw her there, she said: "What a beauty!" Things were soon settled and the lovers were married.



There was once a father who had thirteen sons, and the youngest of them was named Thirteenth. The father had hard work to support his children, but made what he could, gathering herbs. The mother, to make the children quick, said to them: "The one who comes home first shall have herb soup." Thirteenth always returned the first, and the soup always fell to his share. Therefore his brothers hated him and sought to get rid of him.

The king had it proclaimed in the city that he who was bold enough to go and steal the ogre's coverlet should receive a measure of gold. Thirteenth's brothers went to the king and said: "Majesty, we have a brother, named Thirteenth, and he is confident that he can do that and other things too."

The king said: "Bring him to me at once."

They brought Thirteenth, who said: "How is it possible to steal the ogre's coverlet? If he sees me he will eat me!"

"No matter, you must go," said the king. "I know you are bold, and you have to do this act of bravery."

Thirteenth took his leave and went to the house of the ogre, who was away. The ogress was in the kitchen. Thirteenth entered quietly and hid himself under the bed. At night the ogre returned. He ate his supper and went to bed, saying as he did so:

"I smell the smell of human flesh;
Where I see it I will swallow it!"

The ogress answered: "Be still; no one has entered here."

The ogre began to snore, and Thirteenth pulled the coverlet a little. The ogre awoke and cried: "What is that?" Thirteenth began to mew like a cat. The ogress said: "Scat! scat!" and clapped her hands, and then fell asleep again with the ogre. Then Thirteenth gave a hard pull, seized the coverlet and ran away. The ogre heard him running, recognized him in the dark, and said: "I know you! You are Thirteenth, without doubt!"

After a time the king proclaimed something else: whoever would steal the ogre's horse and bring it to the king should get a measure of gold. Thirteenth again presented himself and asked for a silk ladder and a bag of cakes. With these things he left, and went at night to the ogre's farm, climbed up to the roof and then down into the stable without being heard.

The horse neighed on seeing him, but he offered it a cake, saying: "Do you see how sweet it is? If you will come with me, my master will give you these always." Then he gave it another, saying: "Let me mount you and see how we go." So he mounted it, kept feeding it with cakes, and brought it to the king's stable.

The king soon proclaimed that he would give a measure of gold to whoever would bring him the ogre's pillow. Thirteenth said to the king: "Sire, how is that possible? The pillow is full of little bells, and the ogre awakens at a breath."

"I know nothing about it," said the king, "but I wish it at any cost."

Thirteenth soon was on his way, and went and crept under the ogre's bed. At midnight he stretched out his hand very softly, but the little bells all sounded.

"What is that?" said the ogre.

"Nothing," answered the ogress; "perhaps it is the wind that makes them ring."

But the ogre had become suspicious; he pretended to sleep, but kept his ears open. And when Thirteenth stretched out his hand again, the ogre put out his arm and seized him. "Now you are caught! Just wait; I will make you cry for your first trick, for your second, and for your third."

After this he put Thirteenth in a barrel and began to feed him on raisins and figs. After a time he said: "Stick out your finger, little Thirteenth, so that I can see whether you are fat."

Thirteenth had found a mouse's tail lying in the barrel, and stuck that out.

"But how thin you are!" said the ogre; "and besides, you don't smell well! Eat, take the raisins and figs, and get fat soon!"

After some days the ogre told him again to put out his finger, and Thirteenth stuck out a spindle. "What? Are you still lean? Eat, eat, and get fat soon."

At the end of a month Thirteenth had nothing more to stick out, and had toto show his finger. The ogre cried out in joy: "He is fat, he is fat!" The ogress hastened to the spot: "Quick, my ogress, heat the oven three nights and three days, for I'm going to invite our relatives, and we'll make a fine banquet of Thirteenth."

The ogress heated the oven three days and nights, then let Thirteenth out of the barrel, and said to him: "Come here, Thirteenth; we have got to put the lamb in the oven."

Thirteenth caught her meaning; and when he approached the oven, he said: "Ah, but what is that black thing in the corner of the oven?"

The ogress stooped down a little, but saw nothing.

"Stoop down again," said Thirteenth, "so that you can see it."

When she stooped down again, Thirteenth seized her by the feet and threw her into the oven and then closed the oven door. When she was cooked, he took her out carefully, cut her in two, divided her legs into pieces, and put them on the table, and placed her trunk with her head and arms in the bed under the sheet, and tied a string to the chin and another to the back of her head.

When the ogre came home with his guests, he found the dishes on the table. Then he went to his wife's bed and asked: "Wife, do you want to dine?"

Thirteenth pulled the string, and the ogress shook her head.

"Are you, tired?"

And Thirteenth, who was hidden under the bed, pulled the other string and made her nod.

Now it happened that one of her relatives moved something and saw that the ogress was dead, and only half of her was there. She cried in a loud voice: "Treason! treason!" and all hastened to the bed. In the middle of the confusion Thirteenth escaped from under the bed and ran away to the king with the bolster and the ogre's most valuable things.

After this, the king said to Thirteenth: "Listen, Thirteenth. To complete the valiant task I have ordered you, I wish you to bring me the ogre himself, in person, alive and well."

"How can I, sire?" said Thirteenth. Then he roused himself, and added: "I see how, now!" Then he had a very strong chest made, and disguised himself as a monk, with a long, false beard, and went to the ogre's house, and called out to him: "Can you tell where Thirteenth is found, so I can shut him up in this chest?"

At these words the ogre drew near and said: "I, too, would like to help you against that wretch of an assassin. You don't know what he has done to me." And he began to tell his story.

"But what shall we do?" said the pretended monk. "I don't know Thirteenth. Do you know him?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then tell me if this chest will hold you. I guess if it will hold you, it will hold him."

"Oh, good, let me try it!" said the ogre and got into the chest. Then Thirteenth shut the chest and said: "Look carefully and see whether there is any hole in the chest."

"There is none."

"And let us see whether it shuts well, and is heavy to carry."

Meanwhile Thirteenth shut and nailed up the chest and carried it in a hurry to a wagon he had placed nearby, put the chest on the wagon and set off for the city.

When the ogre cried, "Enough, now!" Thirteenth hurried even more, laughing aloud.

When they reached the king, the king had an iron chain attached to the ogre's hands and feet, and the people in the kingdom felt safer. The king gave Thirteenth all the riches and treasures he could bestow on him, and always wished him at his side as a man of the highest valour.


The Stepmother

There was once a husband and a wife who had two children, a son and a daughter. The wife died, and the husband married a woman who had a daughter who was blind on one eye.

The husband was a farmer, and went to work in a field. The stepmother hated her husband's children, and to get rid of them she baked some bread, and sent it by them to her husband, but directed them to a wrong field so that they might get lost.

When the children reached a mountain they began to call their father, but no one answered. Now the girl had strange knowledge, and when they came to a spring and the brother wanted to drink, she said to him: "Do not drink of this fountain, or you will become a donkey."

Afterwards they found another spring, and the brother wanted to drink; but his sister said to him: "Do not drink of it, or you will become a calf." The boy would drink, however, and became a calf with golden horns.

They continued their journey, and came to the sea-shore, where there was a handsome villa. It belonged to the prince. When the prince got sight of the young girl and noticed how beautiful she was, he married her. Afterwards he asked her what there was about the little calf, and she answered: "I am fond of him because I have brought him up."

When the two children disappeared, their father, torn by grief, had gone out into the woods to try and take his mind off the torment. He wandered away and gatheredfennel as he walked. At last he arrived at the villa where his daughter lived after she had married the prince. She looked out of the window and recognised him, and called to him: "Come up here." He came, and she asked: "Don't you recognise me?"

"No, I don't."

Then she said: "I'm your daughter I came by chance to this villa, and the king's son was here and married me."

The father was greatly consoled at finding his daughter alive and well married.

"Now, father," she said, "empty this sack of fennel, for I will fill it with gold for you." Then she asked him to bring his wife and the daughter with the blind eye, for she did not suspect that her stepmother had tried to get rid of her and her brother, who had become a calf.

The father returned home with his bag full of money. His wife asked in terror: "Who gave you this money?"

He answered: "I have found my daughter! She is the prince's wife, and she filled this bag with money!"

Instead of being happy she was angry at hearing that her stepdaughter was still alive. However, she said, "I will go and take my daughter with us."

So they went, the husband, the wife, and the one-eyed daughter. They came to the husband's daughter, who received her stepmother very kindly. While the father was off in a wood gathering herbs and when she was alone for a while with her stepmother, the unsuspecting princess told her that the king was away and that she was alone in the house. The stepmother seized her at once and threw her from a window into the sea.

What did the stepmother do then? She took her blind daughter and dressed her in the other's clothes, and said to her: "When the king comes and finds you here weeping, say to him: 'The little calf has blinded me with his horn, and I have only one eye!'" Then the stepmother returned to her own house and made her husband go with her.

The prince came and found the one-eyed girl in bed weeping, and said to her: "Why are you weeping?"

"The little calf struck me with his horn and put out one of my eyes."

The king cried at once: "Go call the butcher to kill the calf?"

When the calf heard that he was to be killed, he went out on the balcony and called to his sister in the sea:

"Oh! sister, the water is heated for me,
And the knives are sharpened."

The sister answered from the sea:

"Oh! brother, I cannot help you,
A shark attacks me right now."

When the king heard how the calf and his sister spoke with each other, he looked out of the window, and saw his wife in the sea. At once he summoned two sailors and had them take her out and bring her up and restore her. Then he brought the blind girl and her mother to justice. They were sentenced to death.

After the husband was told what the two had done, he left the farm where he now was haunted by bad memories and went to live with his daughter, the calf with the golden horns and the prince.

"Isn't there anyone who can rescue me?" moed the calf. Maybe there was.



Water and Salt

Once on a time there was a king with three daughters. When these three daughters were at table one day, their father said, "Come now, let us see which of you three loves me the most."

The oldest said, "Papa, I love you as much as my eyes."

The second answered, "I love you as much as my heart."

The youngest said, "I love you as much as water and salt."

The king heard her with amazement, "Do you value me like water and salt? Quick! Call the executioners, for I will have her killed immediately."

The other sisters privately gave the executioners a little dog, and told them to kill it and rend one of the youngest sister's garments, but to leave her in a cave. This they did, and brought back to the king the dog's tongue and the rent garment, saying, "Here is her tongue and garment."

The king gave them a reward.

The unfortunate princess was found in the forest by a wizard, who took her to his house opposite a king's castle. Here the king's son saw her and fell desperately in love with her, and the match was soon agreed upon. Then the wizard came and said, "Invite three kings for the wedding, your father the first. Order the servants to pass water and salt to all the guests except your father."

Now let us return to the father of this young girl: The longer he lived the more his love for her increased, and he was sick of grief. When he received the invitation he said, "And how can I go when I feel this tormenting love for the daughter I had killed?" And he would not go. Then he thought, "But this king will be offended if I do not go, and will declare war against me some time."

Therefore he accepted and went. On the the evening he arrived the prince and the princess were married, and the next day they had a banquet. The prince gave orders, "No salt and water to that king."

They sat down at table, and the young queen was near her father, but he did not eat. His daughter said, "Why don't you eat? Does not the food please you?"

"It looks very fine."

"Why don't you eat then?"

"I don't feel very well."

The bride and groom helped him to some bits of meat, but the king did not want it, and chewed his food over and over again like a goat (as if he could eat it without salt!). When they finished eating they began to tell stories, and the king told them about his daughter. She asked him if he could still recognize her, and stepping out of the room put on the same dress she wore when he sent her away to be killed. "You wanted me to be killed because I told you I loved you as much as salt and water. Now you have seen what it is to eat without salt and water."

Her father could not say a word, but embraced her and begged her pardon. They remained happy and contented, and here we are with nothing.

[Crane, retold]


The Bucket

There was once a mother who had two daughters: one was bad and the other was very good. But the mother loved the bad one more than the good one. She said one day to the bad one: "Go and draw a bucket of water." The bad one did not want to go, and so she would not obey her mother. The good daughter, however, said: "I'ill go and draw it."

She went to draw the water, abut the bucket fell down the well. She said: "If I go home now without the bucket, who knows what my mother will do to me?" So she climbed down the well. At the bottom she found a narrow passage, with a door.

She knocked at the door. "Have you found a cord and bucket?"

There was a saint there. He answered: "No, child."

She continued her way and found another door. "Have you found a cord and bucket?"

"No!" That was the devil. He answered her angrily because she was a good girl, so he did not say: "No, child."

She knocked at another door. "Have you found a cord and bucket?"

Mother Nil was there. She answered: "Yes, child. Listen. It would please me if you stay here while I am away. I have my little son here, and your tasks will be to give him his soup, and also sweep and put the house in order. Then, when I come home I will give you your bucket."

Mother Nil went away, and the good girl put the house in order, gave the child his broth, swept the house. While she was sweeping, she found coral and other beautiful things instead of dirt. She put the things aside to give Mother Nil when she returned.

When Mother Nil came back, she asked: "Have you done all I told you to do?"

The girl answered: "Yes, but I have kept these things here; I found them on the ground, and it is not dirt."

"Very well; keep them for yourself. Would you like a dress of white cotton, or one of silk?" The girl answered: "A cotton dress."

Regardless of that, Mother Nil gave her the silk dress.

"Do you wish a brass thimble, or a silver one?"

"A brass one."

"No, take the silver thimble. Here is the bucket and your cord. When you reach the end of this passage, look up in the air."

The girl did so, and a beautiful star fell on her brow.

She went home, and her mother ran to meet her to scold her for being away so long and was about to strike her, when she saw the star on her brow. The star shone and was beautiful to see.

Her mother asked: "Where have you been until now? Who put that thing on your forehead?"

The girl answered: "I don't know what there is there."

Her mother tried to wash it away, but instead of disappearing, it shone more beautiful than ever. Then the girl told what had happened to her, and the other sister wished to go there, too. She went, and did the same as her sister. She let the bucket fall, climbed down, and knocked at the saint's door. "Have you found a cord and bucket?" "No, child." She knocked at the next door. "Have you found a cord and bucket?" The devil answered: "No, I haven't found them; but come here, child, come here."

But when she heard that he had not found her bucket, she said: "No, I won't go in." At last she knocked at Mother Nil's door. "Have you found a cord and bucket?"

Mother Nil said that she had. "I am going away: If you will give my son his broth, and then you sweep, I will give you your bucket when I return."

Instead of giving the broth to the child, the bad girl ate it herself. "Oh!" she said, "how good it was!" She swept and found a great deal of dirt. "Oh, poor me! My sister found so many pretty things!"

Mother Nil returned. "Have you done what I told you?"

"A little of it."

"Do you wish the brass or silver thimble?"

"Oh! I want the silver one!" She gave her the brass one.

"Do you want the cotton dress or the silk dress?"

"Give me the silk dress."

She gave her the cotton dress, adding, "Here is your bucket and cord. When you are out of here, look up into the air."

When she was out she looked up into the air and there fell on her forehead a big wart that soiled her whole face. She went home in a rage to weep and scold her sister because she had had the star while she had that wart on her face. Her mother began to wash her face and rub it; but the wart would not go away so easily.

Then the mother said: "I think Mother Nil has done this to show me that I loved the bad girl and neglected the good one."




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