In fairy tales, you’re bound to come across some magical creatures. Some may be benevolent talking animals like birds, foxes, and what not. Some may be cursed princes and princesses who don’t appear as ideal mates (because most of us aren’t into bestiality). Some may be creatures. And if they’re dragons, ogres, or giants, they’re antagonists who want to kill or eat you. Anyway, in this installment, I give you another 10 forgotten fairy tales. First, we have a Russian tale about a bold knight, apples of youth, and water of life. Second, are 3 Grimm stories about a lamb and fish, a glass coffin, and a golden bird. Third, we come to a Finnish tale of a magic birch tree. Then, we come to a Romanian story of a golden stag followed by a Norwegian tale about a bushy bride, an Irish Cinderella story, a savvy French princess, and an Estonian story of a princess coming from an egg.
121. The Bold Knight, the Apples of Youth, and the Water of Life
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Alexander Afanasyev in Narodnye russkie skazki.
Best Known Version: The Afanasyev version, obviously.
Synopsis: An old king with failing sight hears of a garden with apples that could restore youth and water that could restore his eyesight. His oldest son sets out and comes to a pillar saying that on one road, his horse would be full but he’d go hungry, on the second he’ll lose his life, and on the third, he’d be full but his horse hungry. He takes the third and comes to a house where a widow welcomes him and offers him to spend the night with her daughter Dunia. He accepts and Dunia makes him fall into the cellar. The second son sets out and meets the same fate. Finally, despite his dad’s reluctance, the youngest son sets out. Though widow gives him the same offer, but says he must freshen up at the bath house first. Dunia leads him to it. The young prince beats her until she reveals his brothers. He frees them but the men are ashamed to return home. The youngest prince rides on and finds a pretty maiden weaving. She can’t direct him to the garden but sends him to her second sister instead. The second sister asks to leave his horse with her and send him to the third sister with a 2-winged horse. The third sister gives the prince a 4-winged horse and tells him to ensure that it jumps over the garden’s wall in a single bound or it makes bells ring and wake the witch guarding it. He tries obeying her, but the horse’s hoof just grazes the wall despite the sound being too soft to wake the witch. But in the morning, she chases after the prince on her 6-winged horse, only catching him when he’s near his own land and didn’t fear her. She curses him, saying nothing will save him from his brothers.
The prince finds his brothers sleeping and naps by them. They steal his apples and throw him over a cliff, falling to a dark kingdom. There, a dragon demands a beautiful maiden every year. This year, the lot falls on the princess. The knight says he’d save her if the king promises to do as he asks. The king not only agrees but also offers to marry him to the princess as well. They go where the dragon’s approaching and he falls asleep, telling the princess to wake him. The dragon arrives, she can’t wake the knight and begins to cry. A tear falls on his face waking him. He cuts off the dragon’s heads, puts them under a rock, and throws his body in the sea. Unfortunately, another man sneaks up behind the knight and cuts off his head and threatens to kill the princess if she didn’t say he killed the dragon. The king arranges the marriage, but the princess goes to sea with the fishermen. Each time they catch a fish, she has them throw it back. But finally, their nets catch the knight’s body and head, which she puts together with the water of life. He comforts her and sends her home, assuring he’ll come and make her situation right. When he comes to the king, he asks whether the alleged dragon slayer could find the dragon’s heads. The impostor can’t but the knight could. The knight then asks if he could return to his own country, not to marry the princess, but she doesn’t want to leave his side. She knows of a spoonbill that could carry them, as long as you feed it. They go off with a full ox but it wasn’t enough so the princess has to cut off part of her thigh. The bird carries them all the way and even comments on the last meat’s sweetness. She shows what she’s done and the bird spits the piece right out. The knight uses the water of life to restore the princess’ thigh. He goes back to his dad and tells him what his brothers have done. The brothers jump in a river while the knight marries the princess.
Other Versions: N/A
Why Forgotten: The fact the widow procures her daughter to visiting young men might have something to do with it. Also, a male protagonist uses Jack Bauer interrogation techniques on that daughter. Not to mention, features a lot of decapitation, some body mutilation, and suicide.
122. The Lambkin and the Little Fish
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version, naturally.
Synopsis: A brother and sister have a stepmother who hates them. One day, they’re playing a counting-out game by a pool. Their stepmother turns the boy into a fish and the girl into a lamb. The guests come. The stepmother orders the cook to serve the lamb. The lamb and fish lament their fates to each other. The cook serves another animal and gives the lamb to the girl’s former nurse. Suspecting who the lamb is, she brings it to a wise woman who pronounces a blessing over the lamb and fish restoring their human forms. She then gives them a hut in the woods where the kids live happily ever after.
Other Versions: N/A
Why Forgotten: The kids are turned into a fish and lamb with the lamb on the menu.
123. The Wonderful Birch
From: Finland and Russia
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Andrew Lang in The Red Fairy Book. It’s a Russian version of Cinderella with shapeshifting. Also, it has a magic tree instead of a fairy godmother while the wicked stepmother is a real witch.
Best Known Version: The Lang version, of course.
Synopsis: A peasant woman meets a witch who threatens to transform her if she does something. She doesn’t do it but gets turned into a sheep anyway. The witch then assumes the peasant woman’s form and returns to her husband. After a time, she him a daughter she pampers while mistreating her stepdaughter by the peasant’s sheep-wife. The witch-stepmother orders her husband to slaughter the sheep before it runs away. He agrees, but the stepdaughter runs to the sheep crying. Her mom tells her not to eat anything from her body and bury her bones. She does and a birch tree grows on the grave. One day, a king gives a festival inviting everyone. The witch sends off her husband with her younger daughter, throws a potful of barleycorns in the hearth, and tells the older stepdaughter that if she doesn’t pick the barleycorns from ashes, it’ll be worse for her. The birch tells her to strike the hearth with one of her branches which sorts them, and then magically bathes and dresses her. It then tells her to go to the fields and whistle, for a horse, partly gold, partly silver, and the third partly something more precious will appear to take her to the castle. The girl then goes to the festival. The prince falls in love with her and has her sit beside him. But the witch’s daughter gnaws bones under the table. Thinking she’s a dog, the prince gives her such a kick, breaking her arm. He has the door latch smeared with tar, which catches the stepdaughter’s copper ring when she leaves. When the witch returns home, she tells her stepdaughter that the prince has fallen in love with her daughter and carries her about, only he had dropped her and broke her arm.
The king holds another festival. The witch tries keeping her stepdaughter busy by throwing hemp-seed on the hearth. But with the birch’s aid, the stepdaughter goes to the festival as before. This time, the prince breaks the witch daughter’s leg. Again, he has the doorpost smeared with tar catching the stepdaughter’s silver circlet. The king holds a third festival. The witch tries keeping the stepdaughter busy by throwing milk on the hearth. But with the birch’s aid, the stepdaughter goes to the festival as before. This time, the prince kicks out the witch daughter’s eye. One again, he has the doorpost smeared with tar, catching one of the stepdaughter’s gold slippers. With the ring, circlet, and slipper, the prince sets out to discover who the maiden is. When he’s about to try them on the stepdaughter, the witch intervenes and gets them on her daughter. The prince takes both the daughter and stepdaughter. When they come to the river, the stepdaughter whispers to the prince not to rob her of her silver and gold. He throws the witch’s daughter over the river to serve as a bridge. The prince and the stepdaughter cross it and he takes her for his bride. They next visit the magical birch tree and receive treasures and gifts. While stretching as a bridge in her grief, the younger sister wishes that a hollow stalk grow out of her navel so her mom would recognize her. Immediately, a golden stalk grows out of the bridge.
In time, the older stepsister gives birth to a son while the prince’s dad dies. Hearing of this and believing the princess is her daughter, the witch goes to the castle. But on the way, she sees a golden stalk and is about to cut it until her daughter cries out not to cut out her navel and that she’s a bridge. The witch hurries to the castle and turns the older stepdaughter into a reindeer while her daughter replaces her. An old woman tells the young king that his wife’s in the forest in the shape of a reindeer and that the woman beside him is the witch’s daughter he once abused. He asks how he could get her back. The widow tells him to take their son into the forest. When she goes for the child, the witch objects. But the king insists on the widow taking the baby. In the forest, the widow sings to the reindeer, which comes and suckles the child and tells the woman to bring it again the next day. The next day, the witch objects again, but the widow takes the kid to the reindeer as before. The child becomes quite cute and his dad asks the widow if it’s possible for his wife could regain her human shape. Though she doesn’t know, the widow tells him to go into the forest and when the reindeer throws off her skin, he’s to burn it while she’s searching for his wife’s head. All this is done and the reindeer assumes her human form. But not wanting to appear naked, he turns into a spinning wheel, a washing-vat, and spindle. Her husband destroys all of it until she becomes human again. On their return to the castle, the king orders a huge fire made under a bath with tar and its approached covered with brown and blue cloth. He then invites the witch’s daughter to take a bath. She and her mom, in stepping over the cloth, fall a depth of 3 fathoms into the fire and tar to their death with the witch cursing all mankind.
Other Versions: In the Lang version, after the stepdaughter returns to human form and after being asked that she won’t be eaten up, the witch and her daughter run away and grow to a ripe old age if they didn’t stop. The prince, the older stepdaughter, and their son live happily ever after.
Why Forgotten: Let’s just say the prince doesn’t treat the witch’s daughter very well at all. Also, the prince lures the witch and her daughter into fire and tar pit where they suffer a most horrifying death.
124. The Golden Stag
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Petre Ispirescu in Legende sau basmele românilor.
Best Known Version: The Ispirescu version naturally.
Synopsis: An old woman tells her husband to lose the kids from his first marriage, a son and a daughter. The first time, the boy’s playing in the ashes and the children come back. But the old man succeeds the second time. They can’t find water anywhere until they come to fox tracks where water’s welling. But the sister warns her brother that drinking it will turn him into a fox. At the bear’s tracks, she warns him again. And though she warns him once more at the stag’s tracks, the brother is too thirsty and drinks. He turns into a golden stag and carries off his sister in cradle in his antlers, makes a nest for her up a tree where she grows up. One day, a prince sees her and falls in love and promises a fortune to whoever wooed that girl for him. An old woman sees the golden stag and doesn’t know how to address it. So she lures the girl down by pretending to be foolish with her cook fire and carries her off to the prince. When the stag follows, the sister claims he’s her brother and the prince gives him a fine stable with plenty to eat. Everyone’s happy except a gypsy girl who had previously been the prince’s favorite. She lures the sister into the forest where she falls asleep before dressing up as the prince’s wife and disguising her face. But the stag’s not fooled. The prince and his followers retrieve the girl and has the gypsy girl stoned to death.
Other Versions: N/A
Why Forgotten: Not sure why. Perhaps the bad depiction of a gypsy and her being stoned to death.
125. The Glass Coffin
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version, of course.
Synopsis: A tailor’s apprentice becomes lost in a forest. When night falls, he sees a shining light and follows it to a hut. An old man lives there, and after the tailor begs, allows him to stay for the night. The next morning, the tailor wakes up and witnesses a fight between a great stag and a bull. After the stag wins, it bounds up to him and carries him off in its antlers before setting him down near a stone wall and pushing him against a door within it, which opens. Inside the door, he’s told to stand on a stone which would bring him good fortune. He does and it sinks down into a great hall, where a voice directs him to a glass chest containing a beautiful maiden asking him to open it and free her, which he does. The maiden then tells her story. A daughter of a rich count, she was raised by her brother after her parents died. One day, a traveler stays over and tries using his magic to get her in the night and asks her to marry him. But she finds his magical ways repellent and rejects him. In revenge, the magician turns her brother into a stag, imprisons her in a coffin, and enchants all the lands around them. The tailor and the maiden emerge from the enchanted hall and find that the stag has been transformed back into her brother. The bull he had killed had been the magician. The tailor and the maiden marry.
Other Versions: Included in Andrew Lang’s The Green Fairy Book as The Crystal Coffin.
Why Forgotten: Not sure why.
126. The Golden Bird
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version, naturally.
Synopsis: Every year, a king’s apple tree is robbed of one golden apple during the night. He sets his gardener’s sons to watch. The first 2 fall asleep but youngest sees that the thief is a golden bird. He tries shooting it, but knocks a feather off. The feather is so valuable that the king declares he must have it. He sends the gardener’s sons to capture the priceless golden bird. They each meet a talking fox who gives them advice for their quest: to choose the bad inn over a brightly lit and merry one. The first 2 sons ignore the advice, and in the pleasant in, they abandon their quest. But the third son obeys the fox who advises him to take the bird in its wooden cage from the castle where it lives, instead of putting it into the golden cage next to it. But he disobeys and the golden bird rouses the castle, resulting in his capture. He’s sent after a golden horse as a condition for sparing his life. The fox advises him to use the leather saddle over a golden one, but he fails again. He’s then sent after the princess in the golden castle. The fox advises him not to let her say goodbye to her parents, but the gardener’s son fails. And her dad orders him to remove a hill as the price of his life.
The fox removes it. Then, as they set out, he advises the new prince how to keep all the things he’s won. It then asks the prince to shoot it and cut off its head. When the prince refuses, it warns against buying gallows’ flesh and sitting on the edge of rivers. Later, he finds that his carousing and sinful brothers are to be hanged on the gallows and he buys their liberty. When they find out what he’s done, the push him in the water while he’s sitting on the river’s edge. Next, they take his things and the princess and take them to their dad. However, the bird, the horse, and the princess all grieve for the youngest son so the fox rescues him. When he returns to his dad’s castle dressed in beggar clothes, the bird, the horse, and the princess all recognize him as the man who won them. His brothers are put to death and he marries the princess. Finally, the third son cuts off the fox’s head and feet at its request. He’s revealed to be a man, the princess’ brother.
Other Versions: Included in Andrew Lang’s The Green Fairy Book. Has a French version collected by Paul Sébillot as The Golden Blackbird and a French-Canadian version collected by Marius Barbeau as The Golden Phoenix.
Why Forgotten: Not sure why. Maybe because it treats the princess as a prize to be won for some reason.
127. Bushy Bride
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Asbjørnsen and Moe.
Best Known Version: The Asbjørnsen and Moe version, obviously.
Synopsis: A widower with a son and daughter marries a widow with a daughter. The stepmother mistreats the kids until the boy leaves home. One day, the stepmother sends the stepdaughter to the pool for water, 3 heads pop up to demand, in turn, that she wash, brush, and kiss them. When she does this, they talk among themselves and decree that she would be the most beautiful woman in the world, while gold would drop from her hair when she brushes it and from her mouth while she speaks. When the stepsister sees this, she wants to go as well. But she’s rude to the 3 heads and they decree that her nose will be 4 ells long, she would sport snout 3 ells long and a pine bush from her forehead, and ashes would drop as she speaks. Meanwhile, the stepson works as a groom for the king. Every day, he takes out a picture of his sister and prays for her. The other grooms tell the king who insists on seeing and declaring that no woman could be so beautiful and resolves to marry her. The brother comes to fetch her. The stepmother and her daughter come as well. At sea, her brother calls down as the journey goes on, and the stepmother persuades the sister to throw overboard the casket and a dog her mom had left her before jumping in herself.
Not surprisingly, the king is outraged by the sight of the stepsister, thinking she was his promised bride. Though he keeps his word and marry her, he throws the brother into a snake pit. At the same time, a lovely woman comes into the kitchen who produces gold every time she brushes her hair and sings of the Bushy Bride’s wickedness. And she says she’ll come twice more. A kitchen maid tells the king, but the Bushy Bride sings him to sleep the next night. On the third night, he sends 2 men to keep him awake but they can’t do so. When the woman turns to leave, saying she’ll never come again, they put a knife in his hand and guide it to cut her finger. This frees her and wakes the king who takes her brother from the snake pit virtually unscathed and throws in the stepmother and the Bushy Bride. He then marries the true bride.
Other Versions: N/A
Why Forgotten: Guess throwing people in a snake pit might have something to do with it.
128. Fair, Brown, and Trembling
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Jeremiah Curtain in Myths and Folklore of Ireland and Joseph Jacobs in Celtic Fairy Tales. Basically, Irish Cinderella.
Best Known Version: Guess the Jacobs version.
Synopsis: King Hugh Cùrucha has 3 daughters: Fair, Brown, and Trembling. Since Trembling is the prettiest, her older sisters make her stay home, for fear she would marry before them. After 7 years, the son of the king of Emania falls in love with Fair. A henwife tells trembling that she go to church. When she objects on account of having no suitable dress, the henwife gives her one, a horse, a honey-finger, and a honey-bird and tells her to leave as soon as Mass is done. She obeys and gets away before any man comes near her. After 2 more times, the son of the king of Emania forgets about Fair for the woman who comes to church and runs after her, managing to get her shoe when she rides off. The prince looks for the woman whose foot the shoe fits. Although the other king’s sons warn him that he’d have to fight for her. They search all over and when they come to the house, they insist on trying Trembling as well. The prince at once says that she’s the woman. Trembling goes off and reappears in her church clothes and everyone else agrees. The other princes fight for her, but the hero prince defeats them all while the Irish king’s son declare that they won’t fight one of their own. The prince and Trembling marry and have a son. Her husband sends for Fair to help her. One day, when they walk along the seashore, Fair pushes Trembling in. A whale swallows her and Fair passes herself off as her sister. But the prince puts a sword in bed between them, declaring if she was his wife, it would grow warm. If not, it would grow cold. In the morning, it’s cold.
A cowherd witnesses Fair push Trembling and sees the whale swallow her. The next day, he sees the whale spit her back up. She tells him that the whale would swallow and spit her out 3 times and she can’t leave the beach. Unless her husband rescues her by shooting the whale in a spot on its back, she wouldn’t go free. Her sister gives the cowherd that makes him forget the first time, but on the second, he tells the prince. The prince shoots the whale. They send word to her dad who says they can execute Fair if they want to. They tell him he can do as he pleased. So the king abandons the oldest sister on the sea in a barrel, with provisions. Their next child is a daughter who they marry off to the cowherd.
Other Versions: N/A
Why Forgotten: Perhaps leaving someone in a barrel at sea has something to do with it.
129. Finette Cendron
Earliest Appearance: Written by Madame d’Aulnoy. It’s basically Cinderella meets Game of Thrones.
Best Known Version: Well, the d’Aulnoy version, of course.
Synopsis: A king and queen lose their kingdom and have to sell everything they bring with them until they are poor. The queen resolves to make nets with which the king can use to catch birds and fish to support themselves. As for the 3 daughters, they’re useless. So the king should take them somewhere and leave them. The youngest, Finette, hears this and goes to her fairy godmother. She gets tired on the way and sits down to cry. A jennet appears before her and she begs it to carry her to her fairy godmother who gives her a ball of thread that, if she tie it to the house door, would lead her back and a bag of gold and silver dresses.
The next day, their mom leads them off and urges them to sleep in the meadow. Then she leaves. Though her sisters treat her like shit, Finette wakes them. The sisters promise her many things if she would lead them and they make their way back. The mom pretends she left to get something else. The sisters blame Finette, give her nothing they promised, and beat her. The queen resolves to lead them away even further so Finette visits her fairy godmother again, who instructs her to bring a sack of ashes and use it to make footprints. But she shouldn’t bring her sisters back and would never see her fairy godmother again if she does. The queen leads them off. The older sisters bewail their fate and Finette pities them. The king and queen plot a third time. The middle sister suggests they should create a trail of peas. But Finette brings her jewelry and clothing instead. When the queen abandons them, the pigeons eat the peas and they can’t go home again. Finette finds an acorn and refuses to let them eat it. Instead, they plant it. They eat cabbage and lettuce. The acorn grows into a tree which Finette climbs it. One day, her sisters look into her bag and find her jewelry, which they steal and put stones in their place. After this, Finette eventually sees a dazzling castle from a tree. Her sisters steal her jewelry and clothes which they replace with rags when they go to it. A hideous old woman tells them it’s an ogre’s castle and that she’ll let them live a few days. They try to flee but she catches them. The ogre returns and she hides them so she could eat the girls herself. He smells them and she persuades him to keep them and look after the castle so she could devour the sisters while he’s gone. While they’re at work, Finette tricks the ogre into an oven and burns him into cinders. She then persuades the ogress that if she let them dress and do their hair, she’d soon find a noble husband. While doing her own hair, she cuts off the ogre’s head.
The older sisters dress themselves in the castle’s treasures so they could find husbands, go off and show themselves off in the nearest town, and threaten to beat Finette if she doesn’t keep the castle perfect. They return with tales of dancing with a prince and keep going and leaving her behind. One day, Finette finds an old key that proves gold that opens a chest full of beautiful clothes. When the sisters leave, she dresses herself and follows them to the ball, calling herself Cendron and everyone pays court to her. This goes on for many days while the chest always produces new clothes. But once day, Finette leaves in a hurry since she had to get back to her sisters, leaving behind a red velvet slipper embroidered with pearls. The king’s oldest son finds it and falls ill and no doctor can cure him. Because he had fallen in love whose shoe it was. So they order all the women to appear and try it on. Her sisters go but Finette doesn’t know the way. She dresses herself and finds a jennet at her door again. She rides past her ungrateful sisters, splashing them with mud. When she puts on the slipper, the prince wants to marry her. But Finette insists the king (who conquered her parents’ kingdom) restore he parents’ former domain to them first. He agrees. She marries off her sisters and sends them back to the jennet with gifts for her fairy godmother.
Other Versions: N/A
Why Forgotten: Finette burning one ogre and decapitating another sure won’t earn a place among the Disney Princess canon. Game of Thrones, maybe.
130. The Child Who Came From an Egg
Earliest Appearance: Collected by collected by Dr. Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald in Eestirahwa Ennemuistesed jutud.
Best Known Version: The one in Andrew Lang’s The Violet Fairy Book.
Synopsis: A queen tells an old woman 2 griefs. First, her husband is at war. Second, they don’t have any kids. She gives her a basket with an egg and instructs the queen to put it some place warm. 3 months later, it would and let out a doll, which the queen is supposed to leave alone and it would become a baby girl. She’d even have a baby of her own, and she is supposed to put the girl with him and show them to the king. After that, the queen could raise her son by herself but entrust a daughter to a nurse. Furthermore, she must invite the old woman to the christening by throwing a wild goose feather up in the air. The queen obeys exactly. When the baptism arrives, a dazzlingly beautiful woman comes in a cream-colored carriage, and is dressed like the sun who decrees that the girl be named Dotterine. The kids grow up. Dotterine’s nurse loves her, but knows that a beautiful woman leans over her. She confides this to the queen and they decide to keep it secret. Unfortunately, when the twins are 2, the queen takes ill, confides the basket to the nurse for when Dotterine is 10, and dies.
Due to his ambition, the king remarries and his new wife hates the twins. One day, the stepmother beats Dotterine that she runs away to cry. She discovers a basket. Thinking she might find something that might amuse her, she only finds a feather that she throws out the window. A beautiful woman appears and reveals herself as the girl’s godmother. She talks to Dotterine, tells her how to use the basket to feed herself, and says that she only needs to throw a goose wing out the window to summon her. That time would come when the city is besieged and the beautiful woman carries Dotterine away. Meanwhile the king and his men get captured, the stepmother gets speared, and the prince miraculously escapes in confusion.
The lady disguises Dotterine as a peasant. The girl uses the basket to feed herself but takes a service peasant job for shelter. One day, a lady sees her and takes her into service. She hears the prince had raised an army and threw out the usurper who took the city, but the king had died in captivity. The new king holds a ball to choose his wife. Her godmother tells her to prepare her mistresses. But once they’re gone look into the basket. She finds all she needs and goes to the ball. All the women claim she’s the lost princess. At midnight, a dark cloud blinds them and Dotterine’s godmother appears. She tells the king that Dotterine isn’t related to him by birth but a princess from a neighboring kingdom entrusted to his mom to raise to protect her from an evil wizard. She vanishes and so does the basket. But Dotterine lives happily ever after with the king.
Other Versions: N/A
Why Forgotten: Contains some variant of incest. But it’s okay, since they’re not exactly blood relatives, but it’s kind of a cop-out.
Trivia: Also called, “The Egg-Born Princess.”