When it comes to fairy tales, rewards could either be a royal or high born marriage, treasure, or both. Either way, a hero will have to do some impossible task or defeat the ferocious creature in the way. Of course, a high marriage would usually mean living in a castle and potentially ruling after the old man dies. While treasure means you’ll never have work again in your life. Anyway, in this installment, I bring you another 10 forgotten fairy tales. First, is a European tale of giants’ treasures. Second, is a Grimm story on a queen bee followed by Russian tales on an evil wizard who can’t be killed and a hairy man. Third, is a Hungarian story of a gold bearded man. Then we come to a Norwegian tale of a young man trying to steal from a troll. After that, we have 2 Italian stories on a guy name Thirteenth and a girl sold with pears. Next is a Danish tale of a guy who runs into a witch and gets homicidal. And finally, we have a French story of lost children.
211. The Three Treasures of the Giants
From: Eastern Europe
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Louis Léger in Contes Populaires Slaves.
Best Known Version: The Andrew Lang version in his The Orange Fairy Book.
Synopsis: A man has 3 sons. When he’s dying, he tells the oldest he’d inherit, but he must be kind to his mom and younger brothers. He then gives the older 2 brothers more advice before telling the youngest son that while he’s not clever, he’s got a kind heart and should follow it. After the old man dies, the sons set out to seek their fortune. The older 2 want to leave the youngest behind. But their mom says there’s nothing for him there. The older 2 carry great sacks of food, the youngest nothing, causing the older 2 growing so angry for having to carry the weight. The youngest rebukes them claiming not wanting to burden their mom, when they take all her food. They share with him. At night, they eat on their own. The woodcutter’s family share with the youngest so he eats better than his brothers. They set out to lose him in the woods and find a castle. Despite being empty of people, it has a room filled with copper coins, another with silver, and a third with gold. The 2 older brothers empty their sacks and fill them up. When the youngest eats the food they dropped, they drive him home and return to their mom with the money.
The youngest goes to the castle and makes a bag of his jacket to take some gold. The giants return and catch him, offering to spare the guy if he guards their treasures, and give him a table to feed himself at, which if he knocks on it, it would give him a feast. One day, the youngest brother grows tired of guarding and goes off, taking the table. He finds a hermit and gives him a feast. The hermit offers to trade the table for a trumpet that would bring him an army if he blows it. The youngest son agrees. But when he goes on his way, he regrets it, blows the trumpet, and has the soldiers take back the table. He goes on and finds another hermit. After another feast, the hermit offers him a bag containing as many castles as he liked. He agrees, but again, has the soldiers take back the table. Going back home, the youngest son stays with his brothers for a time, and the secret leaks out. The king borrows the table, and tries substituting a false one. The youngest son uses the trumpet and the king offers to give him back the table and let him marry the princess. He agrees. When he produces a castle to live in, the king says he’s old and weak and makes him king. The youngest son lives to be old and happy, but his descendants are too proud to look after the treasure and are so overcome.
Other Versions: Included in Ruth Manning-Sanders’ A Book of Giants as “King Johnny.” In her version, the hermits arrive and demand the table. Because they both can’t take it to their hermitages, the princess proposes they remain at the castle and eat there every day. This makes the son feel guilty so he goes back and offers it to the giants, who tell him they don’t want it, because it makes food for men.
Why Forgotten: Not sure why.
212. The Queen Bee
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version, naturally.
Synopsis: 2 princes go out seeking their fortunes, but fall into disorderly ways. The third and youngest son, Simpleton, goes out looking for them, but they mock him. They travel on. Simpleton prevents his brothers from destroying an ant hill, killing some ducks, and suffocating a beehive with smoke. They then come to a castle with stone horses in the stable, and no sign of anyone. They look through the castle, finding a room with a little gray man, who shows them to dinner. In the morning, he shows the oldest son a stone table, which has 3 tasks written. Whoever performs them, frees the castle. The first task is to collect the princess’ 1000 pearls, scattered in the woods. Whoever tries and fails turns into stone. The 2 older brothers try and fail. However, the youngest has the ants collect the pearls. The second task is to fetch the princess’ bedroom key from the lake, which the ducks do for him. The third task is to pick out the youngest princess from the 3 sleeping princesses who look exactly alike. The only difference being the oldest ate sugar before they slept, the second a little syrup, and the youngest a little honey. The queen bee picks out the youngest. This wakes the castle and restores those who’ve been turned into stone. The youngest prince marries the youngest princess while his 2 older brothers marry the others.
Other Versions: N/A
Why Forgotten: Not sure why.
213. The Death of Koschei the Deathless
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Alexander Afanasyev in Narodnye russkie skazki
Best Known Version: The Andrew Lang version in his The Red Fairy Book.
Synopsis: Tsarevitch Ivan has 3 sisters. The oldest is Princess Marya. The second is Princess Olga. And the youngest is Princess Anna. After his parents die and his sisters marry 3 wizards, he leaves home looking for his sisters. He meets a beautiful warrior princess Marya Morevna whom he marries. After a while, she announces that she’s going to war and tells Ivan not to open the dungeon door of their castle home while she’s away. Overcome by his curiosity on what the dungeon holds, Ivan opens it soon after she leaves and finds Koschei, who’s chained and emaciated. Koschei asks Ivan for some water. Ivan brings it to him. After drinking 12 buckets of water, Koschei’s powers return to him that he tears his chains and disappears. Soon Ivan finds out that Koschei’s taken Marya Morevna away and chases him. When he gets him for the first time, Koschei tells Ivan to let him go, but Ivan doesn’t give him. So the wizard kills Ivan, puts his remains in a barrel, and throws it out to sea. Fortunately, Ivan’s brothers-in-law are powerful wizards who can transform into birds of prey. So they revive him. Then they tell him that Koschei has a magic horse and that he should go to Baba Yaga to get one, too. Or else he can’t defeat Koschei. After Ivan stands Baba Yaga’s test and gets the horse, he fights with Koschei, kills him, and burns his body. Marya Morevna returns to Ivan, and they celebrate victory with his sisters and their husbands.
Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: Adapted into a novel by Peter Morwood as Prince Ivan and one by Catherynne M. Valentine called Deathless. Retold by Gene Wolfe.
Why Forgotten: A wizard kills the hero, puts his remains in a barrel, and throws it out to sea.
Trivia: Also called “Marya Morevna.”
214. The Gold-Bearded Man
Earliest Appearance: Collected in Ungarische Mahrchen.
Best Known Version: The Andrew Lang version in his The Crimson Fairy Book.
Synopsis: A dying king asks his queen never to remarry, but instead to devote the rest of her life to caring for their only son. She promises to do as requested. But soon after her husband dies, the queen remarries and has her new husband made king instead of her son. Unfortunately, the stepfather’s a wicked guy who very cruelly abuses his stepson. By the castle, there’s a brook of milk rather than water, which has plenty for everyone. But the new king forbids anyone to take any. The guards notice a gold-bearded man taking buckets of milk in the morning before strangely vanishing. The king comes to see. He wonders if he could capture such a man and many attempts fail. But one day, an old soldier tells him to leave bread, bacon, and drugged wine for the man. Since he’d eat, drink, and fall asleep. Then they could catch him. The plan succeeds and the king puts the man in a cage After a month passes, the king has to go to war. He tells his stepson to feed the man but not free him, or he’ll meet a terrible fate.
The prince accidentally shoots an arrow into the cage. The gold-bearded man refuses to give it back unless he free him. After much pleading, the prince is convinced. The gold-bearded man promises to repay him a thousand-fold and vanishes. The prince decides that running away can’t be more dangerous than staying and leaves. As he goes along, he meets a wood dove. He’s on the verge of shooting it when it implores him not to because its 2 children could starve. The prince spares it and the dove says because of his act of mercy, it will find a way to repay him. The prince continues on, eventually meeting a duck and later a stork. The same thing happens both times as had with the wood dove.
The prince then meets with 2 soldiers and they travel together looking for work. A king hires the soldiers as coachmen and the prince as his companion. The jealous soldiers tell him the prince claimed that if he was made the king’s steward, he can ensure that no grain’s lost in the king’s store. If he set the prince to separate the wheat and barley, it would show what his boasting is worth. The king has 2 enormous sacks mixed and orders the prince to separate them. The wood dove, who’s just happens to be king of the wood doves, has his fellow doves sort them. The king appoints the prince as his steward.
This makes the soldiers more envious. They then tell the king that the prince claimed if he was in charge of the royal treasures, he’d ensure that none were lost. If the king has a ring from the princess’ finger thrown in the stream, it would show what his boasting is worth. The king does so. And the duck, who’s the king of ducks, has his ducks find it. The king appoints him in charge of the treasures. The soldiers next claim the prince knows of a child who can speak every language and play every musical instrument. The king thinks this is magic, which he’s tried learning, and orders the prince to produce the child as a third task or be dragged to death. The stork brings the child to him. The king marries the prince to his daughter and asks how he pulled that off. The prince tells him and the king has the 2 soldiers driven off with whips.
Other Versions: N/A
Why Forgotten: Not sure why. Maybe having soldiers being driven off with whips.
215. Boots and the Troll
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe in Norwegian Folktales.
Best Known Version: The Asbjørnsen and Moe version, obviously.
Synopsis: An old man burns in hell. His 3 sons set out to seek their fortune. The older 2 want nothing to do with the youngest son, whom they say is fit for nothing but sitting and poking about the ashes. The youngest brings a kneading-trough, the only thing their parents left behind, which his brothers hadn’t bothered with. While his brothers got places under the coachman and gardener at the royal castle, he gets one in the kitchen. The youngest does so much better than older brothers do that they become jealous. They tell the coachman their younger brother said he could get a troll’s 7 silver ducks for the king, which he long wanted. The coachman tells the king. The king insists the youngest do the deed. The youngest demands, wheat and rye, rows over the lake to in the kneading trough to the troll’s place, and lures the ducks to the trough using the grain.
The 2 older brothers then tell the coachman, their younger brother could steal the troll’s bed-quilt. Again, the coachman tells the king. The youngest brother demands 3 days.
When he sees the bed-quilt hung out in the air, he steals it. This time, the king makes the youngest his body servant. The 2 older brothers tell the coachman their younger claims he could steal the troll’s golden harp that cheered everyone who heard it. Again, the coachman tells the king. The youngest brother says he needs 6 days to think. Then he rows over with a nail, birch-pin, and a taper-end. He lets the troll see him. It seizes him at once and puts him in a pen to fatten him up. One day, the youngest brother sticks out the nail instead of his finger, then the birch-pin, and finally the taper-end, at which point they conclude, he’s not fat enough.
The troll goes off asking his guests to come. His daughter goes to slaughter the youth. The young man tells her the knife isn’t sharp enough, sharpens it, and suggests testing it on one of her braids. When testing, the young man cuts off her head before roasting half of her and boiling the other as the troll said he should be cooked. He next sits in a corner dressed in her clothes. The troll eats his daughter and asks if he doesn’t want any. The youth claims he’s too sad. The trolls tells him to get a harp and where it is. The youth takes it and sets off in the kneading trough again. The troll shouts after him, and the youth tells him that he ate his own daughter. This makes the troll bursts, and the youth takes his gold and silver. With these, he wins the princess’ hand in marriage and half the kingdom. His brothers are killed by boulders when they go up a mountain.
Other Versions: N/A
Why Forgotten: Features decapitation and cannibalism. Also, a troll bursts and 2 guys get crushed.
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Thomas Frederick Crane in Italian Popular Tales.
Best Known Version: The Crane version, obviously.
Synopsis: A mom with 13 sons motivates them to become fast runners, by arranging a nightly competition. This night it’s the first one reaching home will enjoy the soup made from herbs their dad gathered. The youngest son, Thirteenth, always wins, attracting his brothers’ envy as a result that they try getting rid of him. One day, the king promises a prize of gold for the hero managing to steal a nearby giant’s blanket. The brothers approach the king telling him that Thirteenth boasts being able to perform the feat. The king asks that Thirteenth be brought to him and demands he do what he bragged about. Despite not pretending to be a monster slayer, Thirteenth protests but to no avail. He has no choice but to go to the giant’s house. The monster is out. But his wife’s at home.
Thirteenth sneaks inside and hides under the bed. At night, the giant returns, eats his dinner, and goes to bed, telling his wife he smells a human and wants to eat it. The giantess thinks he’s stupid since she doesn’t see any humans around. During the night, Thirteenth pulls the blanket trying to steal it, but the giant stirs. He mews like a cat, and the giant’s calmed so he goes back to sleep. Thirteenth then quickly seizes the blanket and runs out. The giant wakes up again, and hears the thief’s steps. After some time, the king issues another reward if someone would bring him the giant’s horse. Thirteenth presents himself and asks for a silk ladder and a bag of cakes. At night, he approaches the giant’s stable. The horse neighs seeing him, but Thirteenth calms it by offering it cake, and manages to ride it all the way to the king.
Then the king declares that he wants the giant’s bolster. Thirteenth protests. Since the bolster’s full of bells, making it impossible to steal it and sneak away unnoticed. The king insists and Thirteenth departs. He creeps under the ogre’s bed, waiting for the giant couple to retire. When the couple’s asleep at midnight, Thirteenth stretches out his hand for the bolster. But the bell chimes waking up the giant. The giant’s wife believes the wind stirred them, and the giant seemingly agrees before going back to sleep. In reality, the giant’s just pretending since he now feels it’s time to catch the burglar. When Thirteenth stretches out his hand for the bolster again, he seizes his arm. To punish Thirteenth for his 3 crimes, the giant imprisons him in a barrel, fattening him up in order to eat him. Every few days, the ogre feels Thirteenth’s finger to measure the fattening process. The boy is steadily getting fatter, and Thirteenth realizes his finger will soon reveal he’s fat enough for the giant’s dinner. He thus presents a mouse tail instead of his own finger for the giant, who can’t tell, an believes the boy isn’t ready for slaughter. A few days later, the giant wants to measure again and this time, Thirteenth uses a spindle to the same end. By the end of the month, Thirteenth can’t find anything else to use as a substitute as his finger so he has no choice but to stick it out. Satisfied the boy’s fat enough, the giant calls his wife to prepare him for dinner, while he invites their relatives for the feast.
While heating the stove, the giantess releases Thirteenth from the barrel, asking him to help her prepare a lamb for dinner. Understanding he’s the lamb, Thirteenth tricks the giantess to fall into the oven. When she’s cooked, Thirteenth carves her and serves her legs as a meal, places her upper body on the bed, with strings attached to her head and hands, covered under a blanket. When the relatives arrive, the giant finds the table ready and goes into the bedroom to invite his wife for dinner. Thirteenth answers no by pulling the strings. But one relative comes looking for them and notices something not right with the giantess. Thirteenth escapes from under the bed, manages to steal the bolster, and reach the king. The king wants Thirteenth to complete his exploits by bringing the giant himself. Thirteenth orders a very strong chest, disguises himself as a monk, and sets off to the giant’s. He pretends to be a man hunting for the evil Thirteenth to capture him in the chest. The monk asks the giant to test the chest’s strength and tricks him into capture. He brings the giant to the king who imprisons him and rewards Thirteenth half the kingdom.
Other Versions: N/A
Why Forgotten: Features cannibalism and dismemberment.
217. Esben and the Witch
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Andrew Lang in his The Pink Fairy Book.
Best Known Version: The Lang version, obviously.
Synopsis: A farmer has 12 sons. His youngest, Esben is little while his brothers are big and strong. One day, the brothers persuade their dad to let them seek their fortunes. The dad gives them each horses and money. Esben decides to go, too. But his dad refuses to aid him. He takes a stick and whittles at it so it’s whiter than his brothers’ horses and rides off on it. The 11 brothers come to a house where a woman not only invites them to stay for the night, they can each have one of her daughters. They’re pleased. Esben comes up behind them and sneaks about. That night, he and his brothers change caps with the girls. At midnight, the woman (who’s a witch), comes with a knife and cuts her 11 daughters’ throats, because of the night caps. Esben wakes his brothers and they all flee. The brothers leave Esben with their horses.
The brothers take service with the king as stable boys. When Esben arrives, no one gives him a place, but he manages to get his food with one thing or another. His brothers don’t stand to attention for Sir Red, whom everyone in the castle hates but the king likes. Sir Red decides to revenge himself by saying they claim they could get a dove with a silver feather and a golden one. The king demands it of them. Esben tells them to get him some peas, then he recites a charm to his stick, and it flies him back to the witch’s. He notices she has such a dove before spreading the peas and catching it. The witch sees him too late to catch him, but they exchange taunts. Pissed, Sir Red says they claim they could get the magical boar with gold and silver bristles for the king. Esben makes them get a bag of malt, and using it, catches the witch’s boar. The king’s pleased with that. Although Esben’s brothers don’t even thank him. Sir Red says they claim they could get the lamp that could shine over 7 kingdoms. In this task, Esben has to sneak inside the witch’s house and hide. The witch calls out to her daughter to make her porridge and add no salt. So Esben pours salt into it. The house has no water, so the daughter asks her mom for the lamp to fetch more. Esben then pushes her into the well and she drowns, and he runs off with the lamp.
After the king receives it, Sir Red makes the claim about a coverlet that sounds when touched. Esben tries stealing it, but it sounds and the witch catches him. But the last and youngest daughter takes a liking for him, and together they twice trick her mom into having him live in captivity. Eventually, when the witch has to go to a coven meeting, Esben pushes the final girl in the oven. After all her daughters have been killed, the returning witch is so pissed that she bursts into small flint pieces. Esben’s brothers are already in prison and set to be executed. But the king frees them. Esben tells him about Sir Red. The king hangs him and rewards the brothers with gold and silver. They return home, telling their dad how Esben saved them.
Other Versions: Included in Ruth Manning-Sanders A Book of Witches and A Choice of Magic.
Why Forgotten: Includes mass child murder, drowning, and pushing a girl into the oven.
218. The Little Girl Sold with Pears
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Italo Calvino in his Italian Folktales.
Best Known Version: The Calvino version, naturally.
Synopsis: A man has to pay rent to the king with 4 baskets of pears. One year, his trees only yield 3 ½ baskets of fruit so he puts his youngest daughter in the basket to fill it up. When the baskets arrive at the castle, the royal servants find the girl by the pears she eats and they set her to work as a servant. As the girl grows up, she and the prince fall in love, causing the maid servants to grow envious. The maids tell the king that the girl boasts that she could steal the witch’s (or ogress’) treasure. The king insists that she do it. On her journey, the girl goes by passing an apple tree, a peach tree, and a pear tree where she sleeps. The next morning, a little old woman is under the tree who gives her grease, bread, and millet. The girl goes on giving millet to 3 women at a bakery, sweeping out the ovens with her hair, throwing the bread to some mastiffs, crossing a red river with a charm the little old lady also gave her, and greasing the hinges of the witch’s house. She then takes the treasure chest. The chest begins to speak, but the door refuses to slam on her, the river to drown her, the dogs to eat her, and the women at the bakery to bake her. Curious, the girl opens the chest and a golden hen ad her chicks escape (or musical instruments that play on their own), but the little old woman tells her to put them back. The prince tells her to ask for the coal chest in the cellar as a reward. When the girl asks for it and it’s brought up, the prince is hiding inside so they marry.
Other Versions: Included in Ruth Manning-Sanders’ A Book of Ogres and Trolls as “The Girl in the Basket.” In her version, the servants tell the king that the girl boasts of doing all the laundry. With the prince’s aid, she’s able to do it. Also, when tasked to steal the ogress’ treasure, the prince tells the girl what to do and gives her the stuff. And he tells her to put the treasure back in.
Why Forgotten: Features human trafficking.
219. The Lost Children
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Antoinette Bon in Revue des traditions populaires.
Best Known Version: The Bon version, obviously.
Synopsis: A very stingy couple named Jacques and Toinon have 2 children: a 12-year-old son named Jean and an 8-year-old daughter named Jeannette. Naturally, the children suffer from their parents’ cheapness. Until one day, their folks decide to lose them in the forest with Toinon taking them and leaving them there. At first, they try finding her before searching for a way out. Jean climbs a tree and sees a white house and a red house. They go to the red one. The woman there lets them in but tells them to be quiet or her husband would eat them, because he’s the Devil. She hides them. But her husband can spell them because they’re Christians. He beats his wife and puts Jean in a barn to fatten him up before eating him, making Jeannette bring him food. But since the Devil’s too fat to get into the barn, he orders Jeannette to bring Jean’s finger tip to test how fat he is. Jeannette brings him a rat’s tail.
The third time, the Devil notices the trick and pulls Jean out. He makes a sawhorse to lay Jean out and bleed before going for a walk. Jeannette and Jean pretend not to understand how he’s to be put on the sawhorse. The Devil’s wife shows them. Jean ties her on and cuts her throat. They take the Devil’s gold and silver and flee in his carriage. The Devil chases them. On the way, he meets various people including a laborer, a shepherd, a beadle, and some laundresses, asking whether they’ve seen the children. The first time he does, they each mishear him, but then tell him they hadn’t save one laundress, telling him to cross the river. The Devil can’t cross it. So one laundress offers to cut her hair to let him cross on it. But when he’s in the middle, she drops it so he drowns. The children get home and take care of their parents despite what they’ve done.
Other Versions: N/A
Why Forgotten: Features domestic abuse and grisly murder along with attempted cannibalism.
220. The Hairy Man
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Andrew Lang in his The Crimson Fairy Book.
Best Known Version: The Lang version, of course.
Synopsis: 2 ricks of a king’s rapeseed fields are found burned every night. Finally, a shepherd with dogs keeps watch, and catches the “Hairy Man” responsible. The king puts him in a cage. The Hairy Man pleads with the king’s son so earnestly that the prince frees him. For this, the king orders his son be taken into the forest, killed, and his liver and lungs brought back as proof. The man who takes him can’t do it so he kills an old sick dog instead. The boy wanders into the forest until he finds a cottage where an old man (who’s once the same Hairy Man) lives. The prince stays there for 7 years working hard like a peasant, but never complaining till he’s old enough to travel on. Before leaving, the Hairy Man gives the boy a golden apple (magically containing a golden staff and a golden-maned horse), a silver apple (containing a silver staff and a hussar cavalry), and a copper apple (containing a copper staff and an army of foot soldiers). The boy uses the first apple and embarks on his journey, finally pledging his service to a distant king.
One day, the king (who only has a small army) is threatened by another very powerful king. The boy uses his second apple to make reinforcements for his king. The youngest princess gives the prince a ring and he carries it along with half of a handkerchief his sister gave him into battle. The prince’s men destroys the enemy so thoroughly that only 2 live and are deliberately permitted to escape as messengers to the powerful king who sent them. The prince falls in love with the youngest princess and gives her the copper apple. The princess has already discovered who he really is after having his room searched, which turned up the half handkerchief. When the king learns his champion is a prince as well as a brave and honorable hero, he’s more than happy to let him marry his youngest daughter.
Other Versions: N/A
Why Forgotten: A king puts out a hit on his son and asks the guy to rip out his organs.