Finally, we come to the conclusion. It took me about 2-3 months to compile this series and I did as good a job as I could. And I hope you enjoyed them. Still, it took me a very long time to do these posts that I posted 5 of these at a time. Anyway, in this final installment, I give you another 10 forgotten fairy tales. First, is a European story of brown-haired boy trying to find his siblings. Second, are Italian tales about a courageous royal servant, a girl with chopped off hands, a girl with a magical snake, and a young slave. Third, is a Scottish story of a girl who wears a coat of rushes followed by a French tale of an enchanted watch. After that, we come to an Irish story about a gardener and a princess. Then is a Russian tale of magic swan geese. And finally, our last fairy tale is a Polish yarn of a glass mountain.
241. The Adventures of Covan, the Brown-Haired
Earliest Appearance: Translated by Dr. MacLeod Clarke.
Best Known Version: The Andrew Lang version in his The Orange Fairy Book.
Synopsis: A goat herder and his wife have 3 sons and a daughter. One day, the daughter vanishes while tending the kids. The kids come home but they can’t find her. The oldest son Ardan declares he’ll set out in search of his sister. His mom reproves him for not asking his dad first. But since he made a vow, she makes him a large cake and a little one and asks which one he wants: the big one without her blessing or the small one with it. Ardan chooses the large cake. When a raven asks for some, he refuses it. Then he comes to an old man in a cottage with a young woman combing her golden hair. The old man offers to let him watch his cows for a year. The young woman warns against it, but he rudely disregards her advice and takes service anyway.
The old man tells Ardan to follow the cows that know good pasture, and never leave them. But during the first day, he watches the cows, he sees a golden rooster and a silver hen and lets them distract him along with a gold staff and a silver one. When Ardan brings them back, the cows give now milk, only water. The old man turns him into stone. Then second son Ruais sets out in the same way, and suffers the same fate.
Finally, the brown-haired and youngest Covan asks to leave to go after his siblings. His dad gives him his blessing. And Covan takes the smaller cake and gives some to the raven. When he comes to the cottage and thanks the young maiden for her advice though he doesn’t take it. He follows the cows when they come to pasture. There he hears music and listens to it. A boy runs to him claiming his cows are in the corn. Covan says he can drive them out in the time it takes to come to him. Then the boy returns claiming the dogs are worrying the cows. Covan says he can’t drive the dogs in the time it takes to reach him. The cows go on. They go through a barren pasture with a fat mare and foal, a lush pasture with a starving mare and foal, and a lake with 2 boats. One with happy youths going to the land of the sun. The other with grim shapes going to the land of night. The cows go on and it grows so dark that Covan can’t see the cows. The Dog of Maol-Mor, whom he heard of, bids him to stay the night. He does. The next morning, the dog is grateful because he took what’s offered and didn’t mock him. So he says Covan can call on him for aid. The next day, the cows end up on a barren plain. The raven offers him hospitality and he takes it. The raven is grateful he did and didn’t mock it and says he can call on him for aid. The day after that, the cows wind up by a river. The famous otter Dora-Donn offers Covan his hospitality. He takes it. And the otter offers to come to his aid.
The cows return and they have milk instead of water. The old man is pleased and wants to know what Covan would like as a reward. Covan just wants to know how he could get his siblings back. The old man warns him that it would be hard, but tells him where to get a white-footed roe with deer antlers, a green duck with a gold neck, and a silver-skinned salmon with red gills. If Covan brings them to him, he can get his siblings back. The dog helps him catch the roe. The raven aids him with the duck. And the otter helps him get the salmon. The old man gives Covan back his sister and restores his brothers though they’ll be fated to wander forever for their idle and unfaithful ways. Covan then asks the old man’s name. He claims to be the Spirit of the Age.
Other Versions: N/A
Why Forgotten: Not sure why.
242. The Story of Bensurdatu
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Laura Gonzenbach in Sicilianische Märchen.
Best Known Version: The Andrew Lang version in his The Grey Fairy Book.
Synopsis: A king and queen have 3 daughters and do anything to make them happy. One day, the princesses ask to go on a picnic and so they do. When they’re done eating, the princesses wander about the garden. But when they step across a fence, a dark cloud envelopes them. After a time, the king and queen call for their daughters and then search for them when the girls don’t answer their calls. The king proclaims that whoever brings the princesses back could marry one and will become the next king. 2 generals set out in search. But once they spend all their money without finding the princesses, they’re forced to work as servants to repay an innkeeper for the food and drink he had given them. A royal servant, Bensurdatu sets out despite the king’s unwillingness to lose a faithful hand along with his daughters and generals. He finds an inn with the generals and pays their debt. The 3 travel together. They find a house in the wilderness, where they beg for a place to stay for the night. The old woman there tells them that the princesses were abducted by a thick cloud, that 2 are giants’ prisoners, and the third’s kept by a 7-headed serpent, all at the river’s bottom. The generals want to return to the king but Bensurdatu is firm.
They go on until they reach the river. The older general insists on going first due to seniority. They lower him on a rope and give him a bell to ring when he wants to be pulled back. He quickly loses the courage and rings it. The second fares the same. Then they lower Bensurdatu. He comes to a hall where a giant sleeps and the princess stands before them. She has him hide and tells the giant that he didn’t smell a man when he stirred from his sleep. She then has Bensurdatu cut off the giant’s head. The princess gives Bensurdatu a golden crown. She shows him to the next giant’s door, where Bensurdatu kills him like he killed the first and the second princess also gives him a golden crown. He goes on to the 7-headed serpent, which he has to kill when it’s still awake. But he takes off its heads. Bensuradatu has the princesses lifted up. Fearing the generals’ treachery, the youngest wants him to go before her. But he refuses. She pledges to marry no one else but him. The generals don’t lower the rope for him and threaten the princesses into making them claim that they’ve rescued them. Believing the lie, the king agrees to marry the oldest 2 to the generals.
One morning, Bensurdatu notices a purse. When he takes it down, it asks what demands he has for his rescue. He has it bring him to the surface and gives him a ship. He sails to the king’s city. The king wants to marry him to his youngest daughter, but she refuses. He asks if she’d say the same if he’s Bensurdatu. She says nothing, and Bensurdatu tells his story. The king exiles the generals and marries him to the youngest princess.
Other Versions: N/A
Why Forgotten: Features decapitation.
243. Rushen Coatie
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Joseph Jacobs in his More English Fairy Tales.
Best Known Version: The Jacobs version, naturally.
Synopsis: A queen dies. On her deathbed, she tells her daughter that a red calf will come to her and she can ask it for help. The king remarries a widow with 3 daughters. The stepmother and stepsisters mistreat her, giving her only a coat made out of rushes to wear (calling her Rushen Coatie) and little food. A red calf comes to her. When she asks for food, it tells her to pull it from its ears. The stepmother sends one of her daughters to spy on Rushen Coatie, and the girl discovers the calf. The stepmother fakes sick and tells the king she needs the red calf’s sweetbread. The king has it slaughtered. But the dead calf tells Rushen Coatie to bury its body. She does, save the shankbone, which she can’t find.
At Yuletide, the stepmother and stepsisters jeer at Rushen Coatie for wanting to go to church and send her to make dinner. But the red calf limps into the kitchen. It gives her clothes to wear and tells her a charm to cook the dinner. At church, the young prince falls in love with her. She goes twice more. The third time, the prince sets a watch to stop her, but she jumps over it and a glass shoe falls to the ground. The prince declares he’ll marry the woman whose foot the shoe fits. One of Rushen Coatie’s stepsisters hacks off part of her foot to do it, but the blood gives it away. Then no one fails to try save Rushen Coatie, so the prince insists she try it. The shoe fits and they marry.
Other Versions: N/A
Why Forgotten: Features body mutilation.
244. The Enchanted Watch
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Paul Sébillot.
Best Known Version: The Andrew Lang version in The Green Fairy Book.
Synopsis: A rich man’s 2 oldest sons go out and see the world for 3 years apiece before coming back. The foolish youngest son also wants to go, and his dad finally lets him, expecting not to see him again. On the way, he sees men about to kill a dog and asks them to give it to him instead. He acquires a cat and snake the same way. The snake brings the young man to the king of snakes, telling him how he’d have to explain his absence, but then the king wants to reward the son. The snake tells him to ask for a watch which whenever he rubs it, will give him whatever he wants. The young man goes home. Because he wears the same dirty clothes he set out in, his dad flies into a rage. A few days later, the young man uses the watch to make a house and invite his dad to a feast. Then he invites the king and the princess. The king is impressed by the son’s conjured marvels to entertain them, and marries the princess to him. Soon because he’s an idiot, his wife gets fed up with him. She soon learns of the watch, steals it, and flees.
The son sets out with the dog and cat. They see an island with a house where the princess had fled and conjured up the house to live in. The dog swims to it with the cat on its back. The cat steals it and carries it back in its mouth. The dog asks how far it is to land, and the cat finally answers with the watch falling from its mouth. The cat catches a fish and frees it only when it promises to bring back the watch. It does so and they restore the watch to the son. He wishes for the princess, her house, and the island to drown in the sea, and goes back home.
Other Versions: N/A
Why Forgotten: The fact the hero wishes his wife, her house, and the island it’s on to drown is especially harsh.
245. The Greek Princess and the Young Gardener
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Patrick Kennedy in Fireside Stories of Ireland.
Best Known Version: The Joseph Jacobs version in his More Celtic Fairy Tales.
Synopsis: A king with a daughter grows old and sick. But the doctors find the best medicine for him are apples from his own orchard. One night, he sees a bird stealing them. He blames the gardener for neglecting it. The gardener promises that his own sons, the land’s best archers, will stop the thieving bird. The oldest son comes to the garden the first night, but falls asleep. The king sees the thieving bird again. Though he shouts, the boy doesn’t wake quickly enough. The same thing happens with the second son. But the third night, the youngest son stays awake and shoots off a feather, thus scaring the bird away. The king greatly admires it and declares his daughter will marry whoever brings him the bird. The gardener’s oldest son sets out to do it. When the fox comes begging for some of his lunch, he shoots an arrow at him. There are 2 inns to stay in: one merry, and one quiet. The son chooses the merrier one and never comes out again. Soon after, the second son sets out and ends up the same.
Finally, the youngest son sets out. He shares his lunch with the fox and out of respect, the fox warns him against the merry inn with dancing, and to stay at the quiet inn. The youngest follows the fox’s advice and stays at the latter inn. The next day, the fox tells him the bird is at the King of Spain’s castle and carries him there. Then it says he can go in and carry out the bird and its cage. He goes in, but with the bird he sees 3 golden apples and a golden cage. He goes to put the bird in the cage. It wakes and the boy’s captured. The king gives him one chance to save his life: to steal the King of Morocco’s bay filly. The son comes out. The fox carries him to that castle but warns him not to let the horse touch anything except the ground. The son goes in and sees a golden saddle. When he puts it on the filly, it squeals and again he’s caught. The king gives him one chance to save his life and get the filly: if he brings him Princess Golden Locks, the Greek king’s daughter.
The fox carries the son to that castle, warning him how to answer when asked for a favor. He finds the princess and wakes her, asks to take her with him, and promises to free her from the King of Morocco. She asks to say goodbye to her dad. He refuses. She asks to kiss him instead, the boy agrees. But that wakes up the king. He says if the boy remove a great clay heap that’s enchanted so that for every shovel thrown away, 2 come back, he‘ll believe the boy can keep his daughter away from the Moroccan king. The boy tries but the heap grows larger. The fox tells him to eat and rest. He confesses his failure to the king and princess. And the princess hopes he doesn’t fail. Despite lamenting being alone, the king lets the boy take his daughter as a witch’s keeping her brother captive. The fox carries them to the King of Morocco, and the boy asks to shake hands with the princess before leaving. When the king agrees, he carries her off on the bay filly. Then he leaves the bay filly with the King of Spain, leaving the princess with the fox. But when that king gives him the bird and the golden apples, he strokes the horse as a fine beast. When he’s done, he rides away with both the horse and the bird.
They rescue his begging brothers, and the fox asks the boy to cut off his head and tail. The boy can’t do it. So his oldest brother does it for him. The fox becomes the prince, the princess’ brother. He marries the king’s daughter. While the gardener’s son marries his sister.
Other Versions: N/A
Why Forgotten: Not exactly sure why.
246. Penta of the Chopped-Off Hands
Earliest Appearance: Written by Giambattista Basile in his 1634 work, the Pentamerone. This is more on the level of Game of Thrones than Disney.
Best Known Version: The Basile version, naturally.
Synopsis: A king loses his wife and falls in love with his sister, Penta. He implores her to marry him. When she refuses and he keeps pressuring her, she asks what attracts him. The king praises her beauty, but most highly, her hands. She tricks the slave into cutting her hands. The king puts her in a chest and has her thrown into the sea. The Terraverde king sees the chest and rescues her, making her his queen’s lady-in-waiting. Shortly thereafter, the queen falls ill and asks her husband to marry Penta. He agrees, she dies, and he marries Penta. Some time later, the king has to go on a journey. While he’s gone, Penta gives birth to a baby. The king’s servants send a message. But the ship’s thrown by a storm on the shore where the fisherman rescued Penta. Nuccia gets the captain drunk and substitutes the letter saying she had given birth to a puppy. The king receives the message and sends back a letter that the queen shouldn’t be distressed. Since heaven determines these events. But Nuccia replaces the letter ordering the queen and her son to be burned. His councilors conclude he had gone mad and send Penta and her son away. She travels to a kingdom ruled by a magician, who gives her shelter and promises to reward whoever can tell him the most miserable story.
The king returns home, hears all the stories, and concludes Nuccia caused the problems. He goes to her home and has her burned. He hears of the magician’s offer from Penta’s brother (you know the guy whose unhealthy infatuation with his sister started this whole mess) and is sure he can win the prize. They both go. Penta’s brother recounts his own wickedness and how he threw his own sister into the sea. The magician shows them Penta and her son, declaring her husband had suffered the most miserably. So that Penta and her husband will be his heirs.
Other Versions: N/A
Why Forgotten: Uh, a girl gets her hands cut off as seen in the title. Also features incest.
Trivia: Also known as “The Girl with Maimed Hands.”
247. Biancabella and the Snake
Earliest Appearance: Written by Giovanni Francesco Straparola in The Facetious Nights of Straparola.
Best Known Version: The Straparola version, obviously.
Synopsis: A marquis has no kids. One day, his wife sleeps in the garden and a grass snake slithers up into her womb. Soon afterwards, she gets pregnant and gives birth to a girl with a snake wrapped around her neck. The midwives obviously freak out. But the snake slithers off into a garden without harming anyone. The girl’s named Biancabella. When she’s 10, the snake speaks to her in the garden, telling her she’s her sister Samaritana and if Biancabella obeys her, she’ll be happy and miserable if she doesn’t. The snake orders she bring out 2 buckets: one of milk and one of rosewater. When Biancabella returns to the house, she’s distressed so her mom asks what makes her so sad. Biancabella asks for the buckets, which her mom gives her, and she carries them to the garden. The snake then has Biancabella bathe in the buckets. She becomes even more beautiful. When her hair’s combs, it sheds jewels. And when her hands are washed, they shed flowers.
Naturally, this attracts many suitors (hopefully after she hits puberty). Her dad agrees to marry her to Ferrandino, King of Naples. After the wedding, Biancabella Calls on Samaritina, but the snake doesn’t come to her. Biancabella realizes she must’ve disobeyed her and grieves for the snake, but leaves with her husband. Ferrandino’s stepmother, who wanted to marry him to one of her ugly daughters, is pissed. Sometime later, Ferrandino has to go to war. While he’s gone, his stepmother orders her servants to take Biancabella away and kill her, bringing back proof of death. They take her away, and while they don’t kill her, they gouge out her eyes and cut off her hands. The stepmother gives word that her own daughters had died, and that the queen miscarried and fell ill. Then, she puts her own daughter in Biancabella’s bed. When he returns, Ferrandino is greatly distressed. Biancabella calls out to Samaritina and she still doesn’t come. An old man brings her to his home. His wife rebukes him because she had doubtlessly been punished for some crime. But he insists. Biancabella asks one of his 3 daughters to comb her hair. The old woman doesn’t want her daughter to be a servant, but the girl obeys and jewels come out of Biancabella’s hair. The family is generally pleased because she saved them from poverty. After a time, Biancabella asks the old man to bring her back to where she’d been found. And there, she calls on Samaritina until she finally thinks about committing suicide. Samaritina appears to stop her and Biancabella appeals for forgiveness. Samaritina restores her eyes and hands before transforming into a woman.
After a time, the old man and woman, the sisters, and the daughters go to Naples where Samaritina magically builds a house for them. Ferrandino sees the women and they tell him they’ve been exiled and had come here to live. He brings the women to court, including his stepmother to the castle, where Samaritina tells a servant to sing Biancabella’s story without including names. Then she asks what would be a fitting punishment. Thinking to evade notice, the stepmother says she should be cast into a red hot furnace. Samaritina tells the king the truth. Ferrandino orders his stepmother thrown into the furnace, marries off the old man’s daughters, and lives happily with Biancabella until he dies and his son succeeds him.
Other Versions: Italo Calvino has a variant called, “The Snake.” In his variant, the girl is a peasant and youngest of 3. The snake protects her after she’s the first not to panic at its sight. The snake’s gifts are that she’d cry pearls and silver, laugh pomegranate seeds, and wash her hands to get fish (the last being the gift saving her family from hunger). Her envious sisters lock her in an attic. But the girl sees the prince there and laugh. As a result, a pomegranate tree springs up from one seed. When only she can pick the pomegranates, the prince decides to marry her. Her sisters attempt the same substitution in the Straparola tale. But at the time of the wedding, the oldest sister marries him instead. The snake has to trick the sisters into giving back the eyes and hands as the price for the figs and peaches when the pregnant oldest sister craves them. The oldest sister gives birth to a scorpion. The king nevertheless has a ball where the youngest sister goes and reveals all.
Why Forgotten: Features body mutilation like hand cutting and eye gouging and someone gets thrown into a furnace.
248. The Magic Swan Geese
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Alexander Afanasyev in Narodnye russkie skazki.
Best Known Version: The Afanasyev version, naturally.
Synopsis: A couple has a daughter and a son. They leave their daughter in charge of her younger brother. But one day, she loses track of him and the magic swan geese snatch him away. The daughter chases after them and comes upon an oven offering to tell her if she eats its rye buns. She scorns them, saying that she doesn’t even eat wheat buns. She also scorns similar offers from an apple tree and a river of milk. She comes across a little hut built on a hen’s foot, in which she finds Baba Yaga with her brother. Baba Yaga sends her to spin flax and leaves. A mouse scurries out saying it will tell the girl what she needs to know if she gives it porridge. She does. And the mouse tells her that Baba Yaga is heating a bath house to steam her, then she’ll cook her. The mouse takes over the girl’s spinning while the girl takes her brother and flees. Baba Yaga sends the swan geese after her. The girl begs the river for aid and it insists she drink some of it first. She does and the milk river shelters her. When she runs on, the swan geese follow again. The same thing happens with the apple tree and the oven, before reaching home safely.
Other Versions: N/A
Why Forgotten: Implications of cannibalism.
249. The Young Slave
Earliest Appearance: Written by Giambattista Basile in his 1634 work, the Pentamerone.
Best Known Version: The Basile version, naturally.
Synopsis: Girls compete to jump over a rose bush. At last, the baron’s sister Cila does so but she knocks off a rose petal. To pretend she cleared it entirely, she swallows the petal and becomes pregnant. She bears a daughter, names her Lisa, and gives her to the fairies to raise. The fairies give her gifts but one twists her ankle and curses Lisa to die at 7. Because her mom forgot a comb in her hair while combing it (what the fuck?). This happens and the grieving mom puts her in 7 crystal coffins and inters her in a room. Her health fails. Before she dies, she gives her brother the room’s key and make him promise not to open it. The baron obeys but he marries. While he’s on a hunting trip one day, the baroness opens the door. Jealous of the girl’s beauty, she pulls her by the hair, knocking out the comb and bringing her back to life. The woman beats her and makes her a slave, telling her husband that her aunt has sent her a slave and warned her that stern measures are necessary with this perverse slave.
The baron goes to a fair and asks everyone what they want. Lisa asks for a doll, a knife, and a pumice stone before cursing him into not being able to cross the river if he doesn’t. He forgets them. But the river swells, reminding him. Lisa takes them to the kitchen and tells her story to the doll, threatens to sharpen the knife on the stone and kill herself if the doll doesn’t answer. The doll does. After several days of this, the baron hears this and eavesdrops. When the girl begins to sharpen her knife, he breaks into the kitchen and takes it from her. He then puts Lisa in a relative’s care, where she regains her health and beauty. He next brings her to his house, dismisses his wife back to her relatives, and in due course, marries off his niece.
Other Versions: N/A
Why Forgotten: Features slavery and attempted suicide.
250. The Glass Mountain
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Hermann Kletke.
Best Known Version: The Andrew Lang version in his The Yellow Fairy Book.
Synopsis: A tree with golden apples grows on a glass mountain. Picking an apple will let one into a golden castle where an enchanted princess lives. Many knights try and fail, so many bodies lay around the mountain. A golden armored knight tries. One day, he makes it halfway and calmly goes down again. The second day, the tries for the top and is steadily climbing when an eagle attacks him. He and his horse fall to their deaths. A schoolboy kills a lynx and climbs with his claws attached to his feet and hands. Tired, he rests on the slope. The eagle assumes he’s carrion and flies down to eat him. The boy grabs it. Trying to shake the kid off, the eagle carries him the rest of the way. The boy cuts off the eagle’s feet and falls into an apple tree. The golden apple peels cure his wounds. The boy picks more to let him into the castle. He marries the princess. The eagle’s blood restores the lives of everyone who died trying to climb the mountain.
Other Versions: N/A
Why Forgotten: Not sure why.