A Treasury of Forgotten Fairy Tales: Part 25- The Adventures of Covan, the Brown-Haired to The Glass Mountain

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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

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The European fairy tale, The Adventures of Covan, the Brown-Haired is about a young man who searches for his lost siblings. He works for an old man herding cows and you won’t believe the greener pastures he comes to.

From: Europe
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
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Not sure why.
Trivia: N/A

242. The Story of Bensurdatu

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The Italian fairy tale, The Story of Bensuratu is about a royal servant who searches for 3 abducted princesses. While 2 are kept by giants, the youngest by a 7-headed servant.

From: Italy
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.

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The Italian fairy tale, The Story of Bensuratu is about a royal servant who searches for 3 abducted princesses. While 2 are kept by giants, the youngest by a 7-headed servant.

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
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Features decapitation.
Trivia: N/A

243. Rushen Coatie

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Called the Scottish Cinderella, Rushen Coatie is of a princess who’s abused by her stepmom and sent out to work in a coat of rushes. Often short on food, a calf offers her more sustenance.

From: Scotland
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.

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After leaving as shoe at the church, the prince has almost every girl in the kingdom to try it on. When he gets to her house, the stepsisters mutilate her toes. But Rushen Coatie’s feet perfectly slip in.

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
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Features body mutilation.
Trivia: N/A

244. The Enchanted Watch
From: France
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
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: The fact the hero wishes his wife, her house, and the island it’s on to drown is especially harsh.
Trivia: N/A

245. The Greek Princess and the Young Gardener

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The Greek Princess and the Young Gardener is an Irish fairy tale of a gardener’s son is sent to find a thieving bird that’s stealing golden apples. On his way he befriends a fox.

From: Ireland
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.

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When the gardener’s son sent to to retrieve the Greek princess for the King of Morocco, the Greek king allows him to take her after clearing heaps of clay and not let her go near that king.

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
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Not exactly sure why.
Trivia: N/A

246. Penta of the Chopped-Off Hands

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Penta of the Chopped-Off Hands is an Italian fairy tale of a princess who doesn’t want to play the Lannister twins with her king brother. So she gets her hands chopped off.

From: Italy
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
Adaptations: 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

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The Italian fairy tale, Biancabella and the Snake pertains to a girl born with a snake around her neck. But unlike in a lot of stories, the snake is her sister and friend.

From: Italy
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.

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The snake tells Biancabella to bring out 2 buckets of milk and rosewater to bathe in. these actions make her more beautiful as her hair sheds jewels and hands drop 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.

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After Biancabella’s driven out by her stepmom-in-law, a family takes her in. But Samaritina doesn’t show up until she thinks about killing herself, and then she transforms 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.

Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Features body mutilation like hand cutting and eye gouging and someone gets thrown into a furnace.
Trivia: N/A

248. The Magic Swan Geese

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The Magic Swan Geese is a Russian fairy tale of a girl whose brother gets abducted by the geese. She goes into a dream world where she sees an oven, an apple tree, and a river of milk.

 

From: Russia
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.

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Soon the girl reaches Baba Yaga’s house where she spins flax from leaves. Before a mouse asks for porridge in exchange in instructions to escape with her brother to safety.

 

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Implications of cannibalism.
Trivia: N/A

249. The Young Slave
From: Italy
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
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Features slavery and attempted suicide.
Trivia: N/A

250. The Glass Mountain

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The Glass Mountain is a Polish fairy tale of such mountain with a golden castle and a tree sprouting golden apples. He who picks one can get in the castle and win the princess inside.

From: Poland
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.

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Many knights try to get into the golden castle but none prevailed and end up dead. Until a school boy kills a lynx and uses its claws for crampons and takes on an eagle, too.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Not sure why.
Trivia: N/A

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A Treasury of Forgotten Fairy Tales: Part 24- The Sleeping Prince to The Sharp Grey Sheep

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When it comes to European fairy tales, we often imagine them taking place in medieval times for some reason. Yet, as you see in Disney movies, it’s doesn’t always have to be the case. After all, their version of The Little Mermaid features a steamboat. Also, the Princess and the Frog takes place in New Orleans during the 1920s. Still, whenever you see a fairy tale adaptation, it’s usually at a time when there’s no electricity or modern medicine. Anyway, in this installment, I give you another 10 forgotten fairy tales. First, we have a Greek tale of a sleeping prince followed by a Hungarian story of a woman who springs forth from a bulrush. Second, we come to 2 Scottish tales about a weirdly named prince and a horned sheep. Third, are French stories about a bee and an orange tree and an enchanted canary. After that, we have a Norwegian story of a girl with a special fairy godmother along with an Italian tale about a myrtle and European story of a hazel-nut kid. And finally, we got an Irish story about a guy and his animal friends.

231. The Sleeping Prince

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The Greek fairy tale, The Sleeping Prince follows a princess who’s fated to marry a dead man. She then takes an eagle to go to his palace and sit with him for a certain amount of time to win him over.

From: Greece
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Georgios A. Megas in Folktales of Greece.
Best Known Version: The Megas version, naturally.
Synopsis: A widowed king has only his daughter and must go to war. The princess promises to stay with her nurse while he’s gone. One day, an eagle comes by and says the princess will marry a dead man and returns the next day. She tells her nurse and her nurse instructs her to take the eagle to take her to him. When it comes the third day, the princess requests just that and it brings her to the palace where a prince sleeps like the dead. Nearby is a paper saying that whoever has pity on him must watch him for 3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days, 3 hours, and 3 half-hours without sleeping. And then, when he sneezes, she must bless him and identify herself as the one who watched. He and the whole castle will wake and he’ll marry that woman. She watches for 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days. She then hears someone offering to hire maids, and the princess takes one for company. The maid persuades her to sleep, the prince sneezes, and the maid claims him. She then tells him to let the princess to sleep and when she wakes up, sets her to tend geese. And since the prince’s dad isn’t around, he becomes king.

The king has to go to war. He asks the queen what she wants. She asks for a golden crown. The king then asks the goose girl and she requests for the millstone of patiences, the hangman’s rope, and the butcher’s knife. And if he doesn’t bring them, his ship will neither go backward or forward. He forgets them and the ship doesn’t move. An old man asks if the king promised anything so he buys the goose girl’s items. He gives his wife the crown and the other things to the goose girl. That evening, he goes down to her room. She tells her story to the things and asks them what she should do. The butcher’s knife tells her to stab herself. The rope recommends she hang herself. However, the millstone advises her to have patience. The princess then asks for the rope again and goes to hang herself. Fortunately, the king breaks in and saves her, declaring she’s his wife and that he’d hang the other with the rope. She tells him only to send her away. They go to her dad for his blessing.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Negatively portrays lower-class people as opportunists. Also features a suicide attempt.
Trivia: Has nothing to do with the play that inspired The Prince and the Showgirl.

232. Lovely Ilonka

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Lovely Ilonka is a Hungarian fairy tale of a beautiful woman who springs out of bulrush once a prince gives her water. Unfortunately, a swineherd’s daughter has other ideas.

From: Hungary
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Andrew Lang in his The Crimson Fairy Book.
Best Known Version: The Lang version, obviously.
Synopsis: A prince wants to marry but his dad tells him to wait, saying he can’t until he wins the golden sword he carries. One day, the prince meets an old woman and asks about her 3 bulrushes. She asks he stay the night. In the morning, she summons all the world’s crows but they don’t hear. The prince then meets an old man who also has him stay the night. In the morning, all the ravens don’t hear. The prince next meets another old woman who tells him it’s well that he greeted her or he’d have suffered a horrible death. The next morning, she summons magpies. And a crippled magpie leads the prince to a great wall behind which are 3 bulrushes. He starts taking them home, but one breaks open. A lovely maiden flies out asking for water and flies out when he has none. He splits the second, the same thing happens. However, the prince takes great care of the third by not splitting it until reaching the well. With the water, she stays, and they agree to marry.

The prince takes the maiden to his dad’s country, where he leaves her with a swineherd while he goes to get a carriage. The swineherd throws her into a well and dresses his daughter in her clothes. Though the prince is distressed, he brings back the swineherd’s daughter, marries her, and upon receiving a crown, becomes king. One day, the king sends a coachman to the well where Ilonka had been drowned. He sees a white duck before it vanishes and a dirty woman appears before him. She gets a place in the castle as a housemaid. While not working, she spins with her distaff and spindle spinning on their own and she’s never out of flax to spin. The queen (who’s the swineherd’s daughter) wants the distaff, but Ilonka will only sell it for a night in the king’s bedroom. The queen agrees but gives her husband a sleeping draught. Ilonka speaks to the king but he doesn’t respond. She thinks he’s ashamed of her. The queen wants the spindle, Ilonka tries again, but again the king sleeps. The third time, the queen makes the same agreement for the flax, but the king’s 2 servants warn him so he refuses everything. When Ilonka appears to him, he hears her. He has the swineherd and the queen hung and marries Ilonka.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Features drowning and hanging.
Trivia: N/A

233. Nix Nought Nothing

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The Scottish fairy tale, Nix Nought Nothing is about a prince who’s given over to a giant in exchange for his aid to his dad. He then meets his daughter who has magical powers.

From: Scotland and England
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Andrew Lang. Though his version makes it unclear how the giant’s daughter thwarts and eventually kills her dad during the chase. Also Nix Nought Nothing is already given a head start even before the giant’s pursuit even begins. So there’s no mention of a curse or any cause for slumber. In addition, the gardener’s wife and daughter are merely deceived by the giant’s daughter’s reflection and too bonny to draw water. While the giant’s daughter learns from the gardener of Nix Nought Nothing’s betrothal to the king’s daughter who’s also his sister. Thus, a promise for him to marry a maiden who wakes him up is lacking. Bears similarities to Jason and Medea.

Best Known Version: The Joseph Jacobs version in his English Fairy Tales.
Synopsis: A queen gives birth to a son while the king is away. Not wanting to christen him until his dad returns, she names him Nix Nought Nothing until that time. However, the king’s gone for a very long time that Nix Nought Nothing grows into a boy. As the king journeys home, a giant offers to help him over a river in return for “Nix Nought Nothing.” Not knowing he has a son by that name, the king agrees. However, upon learning what he had done, the king tries giving the giant the hen-wife’s son, and then the gardener’s son. But both boys betray their origins and the giant kills them. In the end, the royal couple have to give the prince to the giant. Now the giant has a daughter. She and the prince grow very fond of each other. When the prince is grown and the giant sends him to clean the stables, the giant’s daughter summons animals to do it for him. When the giant sends him to empty a lake, she summons fish to drink it. When the giant commands the prince to bring down a bird’s nest from a tall tree without breaking any eggs, his daughter cuts off her fingers and toes to make a stairway. But one egg breaks during that adventure. So the prince and the giant’s daughter decide to flee. The giant chases after them. The girl has Nix Nought Nothing throw down her comb, which becomes a brier. Then her hair dagger, which becomes a razor hedge. She next dashes a magic flask, producing a wave drowning the giant.

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After they kill the giants, the Nix Nought Nothing and the giant’s daughter. Unfortunately, the hen wife curses the prince and he falls asleep and the giant’s daughter grows tired.

 

 

The giant’s daughter is too weary to go on and sends Nix Nought Nothing ahead of her to the king’s castle. But the hen-wife whose son had died curses him and he falls into a deep sleep as soon as he arrives. The king and queen still don’t recognize their grown son. So the king promises whichever maiden can wake the sleeping man shall marry him. Finally the giant’s daughter arrives to the castle, climbing a tree over a well to watch the prince. But when her reflection falls on the water’s surface, the gardener’s daughter coming to fetch water mistakes the image for her own. She decides she’s pretty enough to be a contender to marry the sleeping stranger. After learning about a counteracting spell to ward off the prince’s sleepiness for as long as she wants from the hen-wife, the gardener’s daughter succeeds in waking him long enough to secure his marriage promise. Meanwhile, while doing his own water chore, the gardener discovers the giant’s daughter up in the tree and brings her inside his house, breaking the news that his daughter’s set to marry the stranger and shows her Nix Nought Nothing.

The giant’s daughter sings her imploring charm for her sleeping beloved to awaken, recalling all she had done for him. But it’s to no avail. Then she calls him Nix Nought Nothing, revealing to the king and queen that he’s their own son. They make the gardener’s daughter remove the spell, executes the hen-wife, and marries Nix Nought Nothing to the giant’s daughter.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Features body mutilation, drowning, Also features a relationship between a guy and the giant (which might remind you of Hagrid’s parents. Then again the giants in this tale might be more like Loki in Thor or in Norse mythology. Since despite him being a frost giant, Loki’s always depicted as a normal sized man.)
Trivia: N/A

234. The Bee and the Orange Tree

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The French fairy tale, The Bee and the Orange Tree is about a princess who’s given to ogres. She meets a prince and decides to run away from him. And that’s where the fun comes in.

From: France
Earliest Appearance: Written by Madame d’Aulnoy.
Best Known Version: Guess the d’Aulnoy version, I suppose.
Synopsis: After many childless years, a king and queen have a daughter named Aimee. Unfortunately, a ship she’s on wrecks. But as fate would have it, she drifts ashore in her cradle. An ogre couple find her. And instead of eating her, the ogress decides to raise her, thinking she’d make a good wife for her son when she grows up. She then summons a deer from the woods to nurse the baby. After 15 years, the king and queen give up hope of finding the princess. So the king tells his brother to send his best son to be heir to the throne. The brother chooses the second son. Meanwhile Aimee grows up among the ogres. A little ogre falls in love with her, but the thought of marrying him revolts her. She regularly walks along the shore after storms, protecting things swept ashore from the ogres. One day, she finds and saves a man who just happens to be her cousin. Although neither know the truth or even speak each other’s language. Somehow she manages to understand that he has to hide in a cave. After some time hiding and feeding him, Aimee wishes to show her friendship by giving him the locket she wore. It has her name on it, leading the prince to deduce from her looks that she’s indeed his cousin, the princess Aimee.

The little ogre decides it’s time for him and the princess to marry. Horror-struck Aimee flees to the prince. When she returns, she injures her foot on a thorn and can no longer walk. The prince wonders why she doesn’t come. And when he tries to find her, he’s captured. Now every night, the ogres put on golden crowns before going to bed. The princess sneaks in that night, takes the little ogre’s crown from his head, and puts it on the prince’s. The ogre wakes up, seizes on the sleeping little ogre who no longer has a crown, and eats him. Again the next night, Aimee steals another ogre’s crown to place on the prince’s head. This time, the ogress eats the crownless ogre. The princess remembers the magic wand the ogress uses to summon the deer. With it, she gives herself the power to speak the prince’s language. He tells her who she is. So the princess decides to steal the ogres’ camel so they could safely ride away. She uses a wand to enchant a bean and hide their escape. It speaks when the ogress asks anything. However, the ogress finally realizes they fled. The ogre uses his 7-league boots to follow.

When the ogre catches up, the princes turns herself into a boatwoman, the prince into a boat, and the camel into a lake: to confuse the ogre. He finds nothing. But when he returns, the ogress tells him how they’ve been transformed with her stolen magic wand. So he sets out to find them again. This time Aimee turns herself into a dwarf, the prince into a portrait, and the camel into a pillar. When the ogre reaches his her, she tells an elaborate story about how the prince fought in a tournament in honor of the lady in the picture. This time the ogress comes after them. The princess turns the prince into an orange tree, herself into a bee, and the camel into a box. The princess stings the ogress and drives her off. But some travelers carry off the wand. Without it, the princess can’t change the group back into their prior forms.

A princess named Linda walks into the woods where the orange tree stands. Linda tries to have the tree transplanted in her gardens. Aimee stings her out of jealousy. The prince and princess fight but soon reconcile. When Linda tries again, Aimee stings her. Linda tries arming herself with a branch. But once she does, blood flows from the tree. Aimee goes fetching balm for the wound. A fairy visits the princess and when she detects the enchantment, the fairy restores the prince. He tells his story and she restores Aimee as well, before bringing them to their parents, where they marry.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Features cannibalism, inter-family homicide, and first cousin romance.
Trivia: N/A

235. The Enchanted Canary

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The French fairy tale, The Bee and the Orange Tree is about a princess who’s given to ogres. She meets a prince and decides to run away from him. And that’s where the fun comes in.

From: France
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Charles Deulin in Contes du roi Cambrinus as “Désiré d’Amour.”
Best Known Version: The one collected by Andrew Lang in his The Red Fairy Book.
Synopsis: The fattest lord in Flanders dearly loves his son. One day, the young man tells his dad he doesn’t find Flanders women attractive. Nor does he wish to marry a woman who’s pink and white since he doesn’t find them beautiful either. They then receive a basket of oranges, which they’ve never seen before and eat them. The son dreams of an orchard with trees of such “golden apples,” which hold a golden-skinned princess. He sets out to find and marry her. At night, he stops at a little hut, where an old man tells him that in a nearby forest, there’s a park, which holds a castle. A witch lives there. One he arrives, the young man must oil the hinges, feed a loaf of bread to the dog, give a brush to the baking woman, and take the rope out of the well. Then he should get 3 oranges and return without touching them until he reaches water. Then, each one would be a princess and he could marry whichever one he loves. But once he makes his choice, he must never leave her.

The young man obeys. He hears a witch calling after him, to the things to kill him. But the rope refuses since he keeps it from rotting and so on with the others. But once he escapes, he can’t find water so he opens the oranges in hopes of juice. A canary flies out and off to find water. Despite himself, he tries a second, and the same thing happens. But he falls unconscious until nighttime revives him. He reaches a stream where he opens the third. When the third canary flies out, he gives it water. It becomes a beautiful princess. The young man brings her back, but he refuses to take her to the castle afoot. So he goes ahead to get a carriage and horses. While he’s gone, she hears a noise and climbs a tree for fear it’s a wolf. However, it’s an ugly maidservant who sees the princess’ reflection in the pool and takes it as her own. Thus, she thinks herself too pretty to carry water. She’s sent back twice. But the third time, the maidservant realizes the reflection is someone else’s. She speaks to the princess and tells her story. Sticking a pin to her head, the maidservant transforms the princess back into a canary. When the young man returns, she tells him that she’d been turned into this. The young man blames himself.

At the wedding feast, the canary appears in the kitchen window and enchants whoever’s cooking the goose so that it burns each time. The third time, the scullion catches it and is about to wring its neck when the lord comes down to see what happened. Thinking the canary’s lovely, the lord strokes it, making him find the pin. He pulls it out and the princess is unenchanted. The maidservant is condemned to death but the princess obtains her a pardon so she goes back to her regular job. The young man and the princess marry.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Not sure why.
Trivia: N/A

236. The Lassie and Her Godmother

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In the Norwegian fairy tale, The Lassie and Her Godmother, a beautiful lady takes in poor little girl and treats her kindly. Until the girl disobeys and doesn’t apologize for it.

From: Norway
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe in Norske Folkeeventyr.
Best Known Version: The Asbjørnsen and Moe version, of course.
Synopsis: A poor couple has a baby girl. They want the baby christened but can’t afford the parson’s fees. At last, the dad finds a beautiful lady offering to get the child christened, but also saying she’ll keep her as her own kid afterwards. The dad speaks to his wife about it. She refuses. But when the beautiful lady makes the same offer the next day, his wife agrees they should accept if they can’t find anyone else. The child’s christened and the lady takes her home and treats her kindly. When the girl’s old enough to know right from wrong, the lady leaves forbidding her to go into certain rooms. The girl looks into one and a star springs out. Her foster mom is pissed but at her pleading, lets the girl stay. The next time the foster mom goes away, the girl opens the second door, and a moon springs out. Again, the girl appeases the angry foster mom. But the third time, when the girl lets out the sun, the foster mom insists she has to leave. Furthermore, she could either speak and be ugly or be beautiful and mute. The girl takes the pretty option. She then wanders the woods until nightfall when she climbs a tree over water and sleeps there. Several female servants sent from the castle to fetch water see her reflection, think it’s their own, and decide they’re too pretty for fetching water. Finally, the prince goes himself, realizes she’s there, and coaxes her down to be his queen. His mom objects, arguing she can’t speak and might be a witch. Nevertheless, he marries her.

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After her foster mom drives her out, the girl lives in the forest as a pretty mute. Soon a prince comes by, falls for her, and takes her to his castle.

When the princess is about to have her first child, the prince sets watch about her. But they all fall asleep. So the foster mom comes, takes the baby, and smears the princess’ mouth with blood, saying she’d be sorry as she had been when the girl let out that star. Everyone thinks she killed and ate the child. And the prince’s mom would have her burned if her son didn’t plead for his wife. The same thing happens the second time, though the watch is twice as long. The foster mom decrees that the girl would be as sorry as she was when the girl let out the moon. The third time, the watch is 3 times as long. The foster mom decrees that she’d be as sorry as she was when the girl let out the sun. And the prince can’t save her. But when they’re leading the princess to the fire, the foster mom appears with the kids, restoring them to their parents, saying the girl had been sufficiently punished. She also reveals herself to be the Virgin Mary and restores her speech. Thereafter, everyone lives happily and even the queen grows to love her young daughter-in-law.

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Each time the princess has a child, her foster mom takes it away and tries to get her to repent. Eventually, she’s almost burned at the stake until the foster mom says she’s been punished enough and reveals herself as the Virgin Mary.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Look, I know being disobedient out of curiosity is one thing. But it’s nothing worth kidnapping children and smearing their mom’s mouth with blood over it. Good God. Also, having her being the Virgin Mary makes it even worse. Seriously, having the Virgin Mary kidnap kids is like seeing Daenerys ride on Drogon to commit genocide on King’s Landing.
Trivia: N/A

237. The Myrtle

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The Myrtle is an Italian fairy tale of a flower that turns into a beautiful woman. Unfortunately, 6 wicked women tear her to pieces.

From: Italy
Earliest Appearance: Written by Giambattista Basile in his 1634 work, the Pentamerone.
Best Known Version: The Basile version, naturally.
Synopsis: A woman wishes for a child, even a sprig of myrtle. She gives birth to such a sprig. She and her husband put it in a pot and tend it. A prince sees it, takes a fancy to it, and finally persuades the woman to sell it to him. He keeps it in his room and takes great care of it. One night, a woman comes to his bed, and comes every night thereafter before vanishing the next morning. After a week, the prince ties her hair to his arm. In the morning, she confesses to being the myrtle and they pledge their love. After some time, he has to hunt a wild boar, and asks her to become a myrtle again while he’s gone. She tells him to attach a bell to her and ring it when he wants her back. While the prince is away, 7 wicked women find their way in and ring the bell. Seeing the woman, all but the youngest tear her to pieces. In despair, the chamberlain puts the pieces back into a pot. The myrtle sprouts again. When the prince returns and rings the bell, she doesn’t reappear. He sees the ruin and despairs. Seeing it, the woman reappears from the sprouts. With his dad’s leave, the prince marries her. At the wedding, he asks what’s the suitable punishment for anyone who’d tear his bride to pieces. Many punishments are suggested. The 7 women claim the criminal should be buried alive. The prince agrees and has 6 of them buried in the dungeon. While he marries the youngest sister to the chamberlain.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: The heroine is literally torn to pieces and 6 women are buried alive.
Trivia: N/A

238. The Hazel-Nut Child
From: Central and Eastern Europe
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Polish-German scholar Heinrich von Wlislocki in Märchen Und Sagen Der Bukowinaer Und Siebenbûrger Armenier.
Best Known Version: The Andrew Lang version in his The Yellow Fairy Book.
Synopsis: A childless couple prays for a child, though he were no bigger than a hazelnut. Then they have such a son. He never grows but he’s really smart. When the boy’s 15, he says he wants to be a messenger. His mom sends him to get a comb from his aunt. He climbs on a horse that a man’s riding by, poking and pinching it until it gallops to the village. There he gets the comb and takes another horse the same way. This convinces his mom. One day, the dad leaves him in the fields with a horse while he goes back home. A robber tries stealing the horse. The hazel-nut child jumps on the horse and pricks it until it ignores the robber and gallops home. The robber’s jailed. When he’s 20, the hazel-nut child leaves home, promising to return when he’s rich. He climbs on a stork as they’re flying south. In Africa, he amuses the king who gives him a large diamond. The hazel-nut child takes it with him when the storks fly north with him. So he and his parents are rich thereafter.

Other Versions: Included in Ruth Manning-Sanders’ A Book of Dwarfs.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: There doesn’t seem to be much of a plot.
Trivia: N/A

239. Jack and His Comrades

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Jack and His Comrades is an Irish fairy tale of a young man who befriends 4 animals including a donkey, a dog, a cat, and a chicken. They later thwart a bunch of robbers.

From: Ireland
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Patrick Kennedy in his Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celts.
Best Known Version: The Joseph Jacobs version in his Celtic Fairy Tales.
Synopsis: Jack tells his mom he’ll seek his fortune. His mom offers him half a hen and half a cake with her blessing or whole of both and without. He asks for the halves of both and receives wholes of both with her blessing (because you can’t divide a live chicken). On his way, Jack meets Neddy the Donkey in a bog and helps it out. Coley the Dog runs up to him for protection with a pot tied to its tail and crowd hunting it. The donkey bellows and scares them off. Jack unties the pot and shares his meal with the dog while the donkey eats thistles. Half-starved Tom the Cat comes by and Jack gives it a bone with meat. In the evening, they rescue a rooster from a fox. They go to sleep in the woods. Claiming to see dawn, the rooster crows. Jack realizes it’s a candle in a house. They spy a look inside and discover it to be a robbers’ den. With the donkey placing its fore-hoofs on the window sill, the animals stack one on top of another and make noise. Then at Jack’s deceptive call to raise the pistols and fire, the animals smash all the windows, frightening the robbers into bolting the house and riding far out into the woods. Jack and the animals enter the house, enjoy a meal, and go to sleep. After awhile, the robber captain sorely misses the loot he left behind. So he sneaks back inside the house in the dark. Only to receive, cat scratches, a dog bite, a rooster pecking, and a great kick from the donkey in the stable outside. Since he can’t see anything in the dark, the captain weaves a fancifully horrid account of what happened, adding that not all the plaster in Enniscorthy could heal the wounds and cuts he received. The other robbers lose all motivation of trying to recover their loot.

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When they reach an abandoned house, the animals stack on top on each other to look in. And when the time is right, they strike.

The next day, Jack and his comrades resolve to return the gold to its owner and journey to the Lord of Dunlavin’s manor. A crooked porter halts Jack at the door. Jack and the rest know from the thieves’ conversation the night before that this porter’s in league with them and complicit in the crime. The rooster sarcastically remarks and plainly accuses the porter providing the thieves safe passage through his master’s house door. The porter’s face turns red. The Lord of Dunlavin witnesses an interchange, who, addressing his porter by name (which is Barney), prods him to answer the charge. The porter replies, “sure I didn’t open the door to the six robbers,” thus betraying his own familiarity with the perpetrators. Jack announces that, no matter, since he arrives with the stolen gold and silver and requests dinner and lodging for the long ride from Athsalach. The grateful lord declares he’ll provide comfort for the rest of their days, appointing Jack as his steward who brings his mom to live at the castle, and eventually marries his lordship’s daughter.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Not sure why.
Trivia: N/A

240. The Sharp Grey Sheep
From: Scotland
Earliest Appearance: Collected by John Francis Campbell in his Popular Tales of the West Highlands.
Best Known Version: The Campbell version, naturally.
Synopsis: A king and queen have a daughter. But the queen dies and the king marries another. The stepmother is cruel to the princess and sends her to watch the sheep while not giving her enough food to survive. A sharp (horned) gray sheep brings her food to help her. Knowing that she couldn’t be getting enough food to survive goes to a henwife who sends her daughter to spy. The princess tells the henwife’s daughter to set her head on her knee and she’ll dress her hair. The henwife’s daughter sleeps and the sheep comes to help her. Yet, she has an eye on the back of her head that’s not asleep so she watches through it and tells her mom. On learning that the sheep’s helping her stepdaughter, the stepmother orders it killed. The sheep tells the princess to gather her bones and hooves in the hide and it will return to her. The princess does but forgets the little hooves so the sheep is lame but keeps her fed.

A prince sees the princess and asks about her. The henwife’s daughter tells her mom and the henwife warns the queen. Thus, the queen brings her stepdaughter home to work around the house and sends her own daughter to tend the sheep. One day, when the stepdaughter walks outside, the prince gives her a pair of golden boots. He wants to see her at church, but the stepmother won’t let her go. So she goes secretly, sits where the prince could see her, and leaves quickly before her stepmother could spy her there. However, the princess loses her shoe in the mud and the prince declares he’ll marry whomever the shoe fits. The queen gets her daughter’s foot to fit by cutting off her toes. But a bird points out the blood to the prince. The prince finally finds the princess and marries her.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: A girl has an eye on the back of her head. Also features body mutilation.
Trivia: N/A

 

A Treasury of Forgotten Fairy Tales: Part 23- The Magician’s Horse to The Fish and the Ring

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You might notice a lot of these tales consist of parents who abandon their children. Modern parents might see this as deeply unthinkable. However, in historical times, this wouldn’t be as unusual as you think. For one, is a stigma against out-of-wedlock pregnancies that resulted in “doorstop babies” and orphanages full of kids since being a mom who’s never been married would basically screw a woman up for life. Another reason has to do with the fact people lived in times of rampant war, disease, and famine, which is even sadder. This can put any family into poverty and starvation. Anyway, in this installment, I give you another 10 forgotten fairy tales for your reading pleasure. First, we have a Greek tale of a magician’s horse followed by an Italian story of a prince and a savage man. Second, we come to a couple French tales of a noble son and his magical bird and 3 May peaches. Third, are Grimm stories about a griffin, an old woman in the woods, and a devil with 3 golden hairs. Then we got a Romanian tale of a runaway boy and his giant friend followed by an Eastern European story of 3 wonderful beggars and a golden ring in a fish.

221. The Magician’s Horse

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The Magician’s Horse is a Greek fairy tale about a young man who gets lost in the woods and ends up at a magician’s house. After working for him for awhile, a horse tells him to steal it and set his owner’s home ablaze.Enter a caption

From: Greece
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Andrew Lang in his The Grey Fairy Book.
Best Known Version: The Lang version, obviously.
Synopsis: 3 princes go hunting and the youngest gets lost. He comes to a great hall and eats there. He then finds an old man asking him who he is. The prince tells how he got lost and offers to enter his service. The old man sets him to keep the stove lit, to fetch firewood in the forest, and to take care of the black horse in the stables. Unbeknownst to the prince, the man is a magician and the fire is his power source. One day, the prince nearly lets the fire go out and the old man storms in. Freaked out, the prince immediately throws another log in and nurses it back.

The horse tells the prince to saddle and bridle it, to use an ointment that would make his hair like gold, and to pile all the wood he could on the fire. The last task sets the hall on fire. The horse then tells the prince to take a mirror, brush, and riding whip before riding off on it. The magician chases on a roan horse, but the princes throws down a mirror. The horse cuts its feet on it and the magician has to go back to put new shoes on him before chasing the prince again. The horse and the prince throw the brush on the ground producing a thick forest. So the magician has to go back for an ax to cut through it. But then he chases the prince again. The prince throws down the whip which becomes a river. When the magician crosses it, it puts out his magic fire and kills him.

The horse tells the prince to strike the ground with a willow wand. A door opens, making a hall where the horse stays, but he sends the prince through the fields to take service with a king. The prince wears a scarf hiding his golden hair. He works as a gardener and every day, he brings half of his food to the horse. One day, the horse tells the prince that the king’s 3 daughters will choose their husbands: a great number of lords will gather and they will throw their diamond apples into the air. The man at whose feet stopped would be the bridegroom. He should be in the nearby garden, and the youngest’s would roll to him. He should take it up at once.

The prince does. The scarf slips a little. The princess sees his hair and falls in love at once. Though reluctant, the king lets them marry. Soon after, the king has to go to war. He gives the prince a broken-down nag. The prince goes to the black horse, giving him arms and armor, and he rides it to battle, which he wins. But he flees before anyone could see him. Twice more, the prince goes to war. But the third time, he’s wounded, and the king binds his wound with his son-in-law’s own handkerchief. The princess recognizes it and reveals it to her dad. There’s great rejoicing and the king gives the prince half his kingdom.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: A horse instructs a prince to commit arson.
Trivia: N/A

222. Guerrino and the Savage Man
From: Italy
Earliest Appearance: Written by Giovanni Francesco Straparola in The Facetious Nights of Straparola.
Best Known Version: The Straparola version, naturally.
Synopsis: King Filippomaria has an only son Guerrino. One day while hunting, the king captures a wild man. Imprisoning him, he gives the keys to the queen. He sets out hunting again. Guerrino wants to see the wild man. The wild man steals an arrow he carries and promises to give it back if Guerrino frees him. Guerrino does so and warns him to flee. The wild man tells him he would and leaves. Little does Guerrino know the wild man had once been a handsome youth who despaired over a lady’s love and so takes to the wild. The queen wakes up and questions everyone. Guerrino tells her that no one would be punished but him, because he did it. The queen takes 2 faithful servants, gives them money, and sends Guerrino away. The king returns and finds the wild man had gone. The queen tells her husband Guerrino had done it and that she sent their son away, pissing the king off even more that she should think he’d hold his son in less regard than the wild man. He searches for him and doesn’t find him.

The servants agree to kill Guerrino, but they can’t agree how to divide the loot. While they still haven’t settled, a fine young man greets them and invites and asks to come with them. Guerrino agrees. This is the same wild man. The guy met a cranky fairy who laughed at the sight of him and so been cured. However, she transformed him, endowed him with magical powers, and gave him a magic horse. They come to a town named Irlanda, where King Zifroi rules. He has 2 beautiful daughters named Potentiana and Eleuteria. Guerrino takes lodgings. The young man wants to go on, but Guerrino persuades him to stay. At the time, a wild horse and mare attack the lands, ruining crops and killing beasts, men, and women. The 2 servants tell the king that Guerrino had boasted that he could kill these horses. The king summons him and promises to reward him if he does it. When Guerrino hesitates, the king threatens to execute him. The young man tells the prince to get a blacksmith’s services from the king, and then have the blacksmith make enormous horseshoes for his magic horse. Then he has Guerrino ride the horse until he meets the wild horse, at which point, he should dismount, free the horse, and climb a tree. Guerrino does this. The horses fight, and the wild horse is defeated. The king is pleased, but the servants are pissed over their failure. They say that Guerrino boasted likewise of the wild mare. The king sends him to defeat it as well, which he does as he has the magic horse.

The night afterwards, a noise wakes Guerrino up. He finds a wasp in a honey pot and sets it free. The king summons him, says he has to reward him, and offers him one of his daughters. That is, if Guerrino can tell beneath their veils which is the golden-haired Potentiana and which is the silver-silver haired Eleuteria. Guess wrong, he faces execution. Guerrino goes back to his lodgings where the young man tells him that the wasp will fly around Potentiana 3 times, and she’ll drive it off 3 times at night. Then he should identify her. Guerrino says he doesn’t know how he could reward him for his favors. The young man confesses that he’s the wild man, so he’s but returning what Guerrino did for him, and his name is Rubinetto. Guerrino goes to the palace, where white veils entirely cover the princesses. The king tells him to make a choice, but Guerrino insists on the full time. The wasp buzzes about Potentiana and she drives it off. Guerrino says she’s Potentiana and they marry. Rubinetto marries Eleuteria. Guerrino’s parents hear of him and he returns to them with his wife, where they live in happiness.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: King sends a hit out on his son for something that’s entirely forgivable.
Trivia: N/A

223. Georgic and Merlin
From: France
Earliest Appearance: Collected by François Cadic in his La Paroisse bretonne.
Best Known Version: The Cadic version, obviously.
Synopsis: In the woods near a rich lord’s castle, a mysterious bird sings. Fascinated, the lord has it captured. It stops singing, but he threatens to kill anyone who frees it. One day, it pleads with the lord’s son, Georgic who frees it. It tells him to call on it, Merlin if in need and flies off. Georgic’s mom fears her husband will kill their son. A salt-vendor offers to take her son away, and Georgic’s mom pays him to do it. He takes the money and at the next castle, offers the boy as a shepherd, despite threatening warnings of wolves. When the salt-vendor goes to say goodbye, Georgic demands money. When It’s refused, he calls on the bird. It appears and an invisible hand wielding club strikes the man until he pays up. Georgic then calls on the bird to give him a whistle to summon the wolves and muzzles them to keep them from biting, and so he keeps the sheep safe. In the same region, there’s a 7-headed dragon that has to receive a maiden every year. This year, the lot falls for Georgic’s boss’ daughter, who fearfully cries. When she’s sent, Georgic asks the bird for a horse, sword, and a black cloak. He takes her on his horse and carries her to the place, where he calls on the dragon. It declares not being hungry that day, so she has to come the next, and leaves. Georgic carries her back, but the girl is too upset to recognize him. But she cuts a piece from his cloak. She goes back the next day, but this time, Georgic wears a gray cloak, but the events go the same as before. The third day, Georgic wears a purple cloak. He stops and borrows a long iron fork a man’s been using on the stove. He uses it to drag the dragon from its lair and cuts of its heads with a sword. Georgic then cuts off its tongues, and the daughter cuts off a piece of this cloak a well.

A coal miner claims to have killed the dragon. The daughter says the dragon slayer had cut out the tongues, while the coal miner claims to have eaten them. The lord holds a great feast. The daughter sees Georgic in his black cloak with a hole as she had cut it before he vanishes. The lord has a second banquet, at which Georgic wearing the gray cloak with the hole as she had cut. The lord asks whether he’s the one who rescued his daughter. He says he might be. At the third banquet, Georgic makes a grand entrance. The daughter recognizes him by the hole and they marry.

Soon after, the lord falls ill. A wizard says he can be cured with a piece of orange from an orange tree in the Armenian Sea, water from the Fountain of Life, and some bread and wine from the Yellow Queen. Georgic has 2 brothers-in-law jealous of them who set out and become lost. Georgic also sets out. In the woods, he meets a hermit who gives him a magic wand to lead him. It would take him to an orange tree, where he should cut the orange into 4 parts, one of which he should take away. Then he’d reach the Fountain of Life, but he should go to the Yellow Queen’s castle first, taking some wine and bread, along with a lance, calling out it’s for his father-in-law’s health. He’d then find a stag, which he should ride to the Fountain. If the lion guarding wakes up, Georgic should kill it with a lance. He retrieves things this way. Georgic meets his brothers-in-law along the way, trading some of what he has for the ear and wedding ring of one and a toe of the other. The hermit warns him that he’d have to give what he had taken back to the Yellow Queen after a month. He doesn’t warn them. When the Yellow Queen comes, the hermit’s gone, and his brothers-in-law are beaten for having it. They have to run to Georgic for help, which he gives.

Other Versions: Many French variants feature a wild man instead of a bird. But in either form, he’s always called Merlin.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: The hero has a guy beat up for money which seems similar to what loansharks do. Also features body mutilation.
Trivia: May or may not have a connection to the Merlin of Arthurian legend.

224. The Three May Peaches
From: France
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Paul Delarue.
Best Known Version: The Delarue version, naturally.
Synopsis: An Ardenne king has a beautiful but sick daughter. A doctor declares that the 3 finest May peaches would save her. But then she’ll have to marry within a week or else fall sick again. Many men come with peaches, but none save the princess. A woman has 3 sons. The oldest sets out with their orchard’s finest peaches. He meets an old woman asking what he has. He claims rabbit dung and she that so it is. When he gets to the castle, that’s what he carries. The second brother sets out, tells the old woman he’s carrying horse dung, and again finds that’s what he carries. The youngest, who’s short and seen as an idiot, persuades his mom to let him try as well, and tells the old woman he’s carrying peaches to cure the princess. She says so it is as well as gives him a silver whistle. When he gets to the castle, eating the peaches revives the princess.

However, the king doesn’t want such a puny son-in-law. So he tells the boy to herd 100 rabbits without losing one for 4 days. The rabbits scatter the first day, but the boy uses the whistle to bring them back. The second day, the king sends the princess to get one, which the boy would trade for a kiss. When the princess has it and reaches the castle gates, the boy uses the whistle and it comes back. The next day, the king sends the queen to get one. But the boy would only trade one if she turns 3 somersaults. When she does, the king locks the bunny in a room. But the boy uses his whistle and it comes back through the window. The fourth day, the king goes himself. The boy would only trade if the king kiss the donkey’s ass. When the king gets the rabbit, he has it killed, skinned and put in a casserole. But when the boy uses his whistle, it jumps out of the dish, back into its skin and back to him. Then the king says that the boy fill 3 sacks with truths. He says the princess kissed him for a rabbit, which fills the first sack. He goes on saying the queen did somesaults for a rabbit, filling the second sack. After that, the king stops the boy and lets him marry the princess.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: The fact the protagonist has the royals do embarrassing stuff for bunnies might have something to do with it. Also, you don’t want to see a jumping rabbit without its skin.
Trivia: N/A

225. The Griffin

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The Grimm fairy tale, The Griffin is about a young man who wins over a princess and is tasked with getting a griffin’s tail feather. Along the way, he hears 3 requests from 2 lords and a giant. 

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version, naturally.
Synopsis: A king’s daughter is sick. It’s foretold she’ll recover by eating an apple. The king declares whoever brings it to cure her will marry her. A peasant with 3 sons, sends the oldest Uele with a basket of apples. He meets a little iron man asking him what’s in it. Uele says, “Frog’s legs.” The man says so it is. When he reaches the king, the basket contains frog’s legs. The king drives him out. The peasant sends his second son Seame, who answers “Hog’s bristles,” makes the same discovery, and receives the same reception. The youngest son, Hans, who’s considered a fool, begs to go, too until his dad lets him. When he meets the iron man, Hans says the basket contains apples for the princess to eat and make herself well. The iron man says it’s so. The basket holds apples that when he reaches the castle, the princess is cured.

However, the king refuses to let them marry until he has an amphibious boat. Hans goes home to his dad who sends Uele to make such a ship. The iron man comes to him asking what he’s making. When Uele says, “Wooden bowls,” that’s what he makes. Seame suffers the same fate. But when Hans tells the iron man that he’s making an amphibious ship, he makes such a boat. The king then sets Hans to watch 100 hares all day in a meadow. He does so without losing any. The king sends a maid to beg for one of them, for guests. Hans refuses but says he’ll give one to the king’s daughter. The iron man gives him a whistle that would summon any hare back. Hans gives the princess a hare before whistling it back.

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When Hans reaches the griffin’s house, he meets his wife. He tells her his story and request. She gets to work.

The king next sends Hans to fetch a griffin tail feather. On his way, a castle lord asks Hans to ask the griffin where his lost keys to his money chest are. Another lord requests the guy ask on how to cure his ill daughter. While a giant request Hans ask the Griffin why he has to carry people over a lake. At the griffin’s castle, Hans meets the griffin’s wife, warning him that her husband would eat him. But at night, he can pull out a feather and she’ll get the answers for him. Hans does as she said. When he pulls the feather, the griffin wakes. The wife tells him a man had been here and gone away, but not after telling her some stories. She repeats them. The griffin says the key’s in the wood house under a log. Second, that a toad made a nest in the daughter’s hair, but she can be cured if they take her hair out. And finally, the giant only has to put someone down in the middle of the lake and he’ll be free. Hans leaves and tells the other lords and giant what he learned. They give him rich treasures. When he reaches the king, Hans claims the griffin gave them. The king sets out to get some. But he’s far from the first man to reach the giant who puts him down in the lake, where he drowns. Hans marries the princess and becomes king.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: A king drowns in a lake.
Trivia: N/A

226. Mogarzea and His Son

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The Romanian fairy tale, Mogarzea and His Son is about an orphan boy who befriends a giant. Let’s just say the story gets a bit weird from there.

From: Romania and Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Mite Kremnitz in her Rumänische Märchen.
Best Known Version: The one collected by Andrew Lang in his The Violet Fairy Book.
Synopsis: A dying mom and dad leave their son in a guardian’s care. But the guardian wastes the money so the son leaves him. On his way, he finds a giant and lies down beside him. The next morning, he claims to be his son born in the night. Because the giant doesn’t understand how reproduction and child development works, the boy looks after the giant’s sheep during the day. In the evening, he asks the giant to talk a bit about himself. His name is Mogarzea. He’s an emperor’s son (hopefully a giant emperor, given how Hagrid’s conception went down). And he’s on his way to Sweet Milk Lake to marry one of the fairies there when evil elves stole his soul. The boy keeps the sheep out of the elves’ meadows. But when playing the flute one day, one strays over while and the rest follow. When the boy tries driving them back elves appear. So he has to play the flute for them to dance. At night, they let him go but insist he come back the next day.

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Here we see Mogarzea and the boy meet with the fairies. The giant is supposed to marry one of them. But I’m not sure how such marriage would work out based on the illustration.

The next evening, the boy drops the flute and steps on it. He cries about it, telling the elves it’s made from a cherry tree’s heart. The elves offer another cherry tree. The boy chops the tree, tricks them into letting their fingers in, and pulls the ax out so they’re trapped. They tell him where to find Mogarzea’s soul and he brings it back to him. Then he and Mogarzea bring the tree with the elves back to Mogarzea’s dad’s court. There, the boy asks Mogarzea how to marry a fairy of Sweet Milk Lake. Mogarzea tells him. He goes to the lake and plays the flute. A fairy appears and dances. On the third day, he plucks a rose from her hair and doesn’t give it back, no matter how she pleads. So she marries him at the emperor’s court. But every year, they and their children go back to Sweet Milk Lake to bathe.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Well, how the hero traps the elves is kind of horrifying.
Trivia: N/A

227. The Old Woman in the Wood

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The Old Woman in the Wood is a Grimm fairy tale about a servant girl who’s lost in the woods. Until a dove guides her to a tree where she can sleep.

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version, of course.
Synopsis: A poor beautiful servant girl travels with the family she works for when robbers attack them. She hides behind a tree but no one else survives. She dreads her fate. A dove comes to her with a golden key, telling her to unlock the tree where she finds food. In the evening, the dove brings the girl to a tree with a bed. She lives like this for many days. When the dove asks her to do something, she agrees. It tells her to go to a house and let herself in. An old woman would greet her, but she shouldn’t answer. Rather the girl should open an inner door, which will reveal a room full of splendid things. But she must take a plain one. The old woman is quite angry but the girl doesn’t heed her. Then, when she can’t see the plain ring, she witnesses the old woman trying to carry off a bird cage. The girl takes it away from her. The cage contains a bird holding a ring in its beak. So she takes it outside and waits against a tree. 2 branches turn into arms around her as the tree turns into a handsome man who kisses her. He tells her the old woman’s a witch who turned him into a tree. And for 2 hours a day, he becomes a dove, and she had freed him. All of his attendants turn back from trees into humans as well. With the prince being a king’s son, they go to his dad’s kingdom and get married.

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After a while, the dove tells the girl to break in an old lady’s house and carry off a bird in a cage. Also, get the bird’s ring out of its mouth.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Well, it’s pretty weird.
Trivia: N/A

228. The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs

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The Devil with Three Golden Hairs is a Grimm fairy tale of a miller’s son who marries a princess. Unfortunately, the king has him get 3 golden hairs from the Devil in hopes he’ll die.

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version, naturally.
Synopsis: A poor woman gives birth to a son with a caul (where the amniotic sac is still intact at birth), which is interpreted to mean he’ll marry a king’s daughter at 14. Hearing of it, the wicked king visits the family and persuades to bring the boy back and raise him in the castle. Instead, he puts the boy in the box, which he throws in the water so that he won’t grow up and marry his daughter. But instead of sinking, the box drifts down to a mill, where it’s found by a miller and his wife. The 2 decide to raise the boy as their own.

14 years later, the king inadvertently stumbles upon the mill. Upon seeing the boy, the king asks the miller whether he’s his dad. The miller then explains his story of how he and his wife had come to raise the boy. Shocked, the king devises a way to rid himself of the boy once and for all. He gives the young man a sealed letter and instructs him to deliver it to the queen. Inside, the king commands that the boy be killed and buried once he arrives. On his way to deliver the letter, the boy seeks shelter at an old woman’s house for the night. Despite her warnings of robbers frequenting the house, the boy falls asleep, claiming he can’t walk any further. When bandits arrive, they read the letter and take pity on the boy. Without waking, they put a new letter in place, dictating the boy should marry the princess upon his arrival. When morning comes, they direct him to the castle and he goes on his way.

The wedding proceeds. When the king returns, he dispatches the boy to travel into Hell and return with 3 of the Devil’s golden hairs in yet another effort to get rid of his new son-in-law. The boy’s confronted by 3 questions on his journey, while he travels between 2 towns across the river. When passing through each, he’s asked his trade (“what he knows”). Twice, the boy responds, “I know everything.” He’s then asked why the first town’s well, which once sprang forth wine, but no longer dispenses even water. In the second town, he’s asked why a tree that once sprouted golden apples, no longer sprouts leaves. While being ferried across the river, the ferryman asks the boy why he must always row back and forth and isn’t free to do otherwise. To each question he replies, “You shall know that, only when I come back.”

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When the boy enters Hell, he finds the Devil’s grandma. He feeds her the riddles he hears and the request for 3 golden hairs. She tells him to hide and handles the situation.

The boy finds Hell’s entrance on the river’s other side. Upon entering, he only finds the Devil’s grandmother. He tells her what he wants, and she promises to help him how she can before turning him into an ant and hiding him in her clothing folds. The Devil returns and, despite smelling human flesh in the air, is convinced to sit down, eat, and drink. Once he’s done, he lays his head on his grandma’s lap and falls into a drunken sleep. She plucks 3 golden hairs from his head, causing him to wake up after hair pulled. Assuming the pain is part of his dreams, he recounts his visions to his granny: a dried up well in a town square with a toad underneath blocking the liquid flow, a tree that can’t sprout fruit or leaves because of a mouse gnawing at its root, and a ferryman who can be free by merely placing his oar in another man’s hands on the bank’s other side. The next morning, once the Devil leaves the dwelling again, the boy transforms into his former self. Thanking the old woman, he takes the 3 golden hairs and sets off for home. Once again, he passes the river and the 2 cities, disclosing the answers he overheard the Devil speak of during the night. Each town gives him a pair of donkeys laden with gold, which the boy brings back to the castle with him. Pleased by his son-in-law’s return with such wealth, the king allows him to live in peace with his wife. He then inquires on where the boy got his newfound wealth, hoping to get some for himself. The boy tells his father-in-law he found the gold across the river. The story ends with the king crossing the river with the ferryman, who hands him the oar upon reaching the side, condemning him to a life of ferrying travelers back and forth forever.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: N/A
Trivia: Might’ve influenced J. R. R. Tolkein’s The Tale of Beren and Lúthien though there are substantial differences.

229. The Story of the Three Wonderful Beggars

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The Story of the Three Wonderful Beggars is an Eastern European fairy tale of a merchant who’s trying to kidnap a boy named Vasillii since the 3 beggars who stayed in his stable decide to give their wealth to him.

From: Serbia and Russia
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Alexander Afanasyev in Narodnye russkie skazki as “Vasilii the Unlucky” in its Russian form. In this version, when Anastasia goes to see them, the beggars are grandly dressed. The Serpent King is known as Tsar Zmey and Vasilii receives jewels from the whale. The beginning of this story kind of runs like A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Best Known Version: The one collected by Andrew Lang in his The Violet Fairy Book.
Synopsis: A very rich and hard-hearted merchant named Mark (or Marko) has a daughter named Anastasia. One day, he’s about to set the dogs on 3 beggars, when Anastasia pleads with him. So he lets them stay in the stable loft. Anastasia goes to see them. The beggars decide to give Marko’s wealth to a newborn named Vasilii, a poor peasant’s seventh son in a neighboring village. She tells her dad. Marko goes and finds just such a boy had been born. The merchant offers to be the boy’s godfather and raise him, giving the poor dad a sum of money as well. When the boy’s dad agrees, the merchant throws the baby off the cliff. Other merchants pick up the child and bring him to Marko, who persuades them to leave the boy to him. He then puts the boy in a barrel (or an open boat), which he throws out to sea. The wooden craft floats to a monastery where an abbot takes him in. Many years later, Marko passes by and hears the story. He persuades the abbot that he wants to take him in, and that he’d give the monastery a large sum of money for it. The abbot and monks agree. Marko sends the boy to his wife with a letter prescribing he should be pushed into the soap-making cauldron at once.

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When the merchant gets the kid, he throws the baby off a cliff. Other merchants find him and bring him to Marko who eventually has him thrown to sea. Luckily, he ends up at a monastery.

Vasilii meets the 3 beggars along the way, who breathe on the letter. When he arrives, the letter calls for him to marry Anastasia at once. His wife obeys, and Marko comes home finding a letter in his own handwriting calling for it. So he sends his new son-in-law to collect rent from the Serpent King (Tsar Zmey). Vasilii meets an old oak, which asks if he can discover why it can’t fall, a ferryman asking why he’s bound to ferry people back and forth, and a whale being used as a bridge asking him if he can discover how long it will be bound to this task. At the castle, Vasilii meets a maiden who hides him and asks the Serpent King in serpent form, about a dream she had. He tells her the oak has to be pushed over, which would reveal treasure, the ferryman has to push the boat off with another person in it, and the whale has to vomit up the 12 ships it had swallowed without leave. Vasilii goes back, carefully not telling the whale and the ferryman anything until he already crosses. He then finds gold and silver under the oak. He returns to Marko, who sets out to make sure the next time, Vasili won’t be able to escape. But the ferryman pushes Marko off, and he’s ferrying people still.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Features attempted infanticide and child selling.
Trivia: N/A

230. The Fish and the Ring

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The English fairy tale, the Fish and the Ring revolves around a poor peasant girl who’s fated to marry a baron’s son. Unfortunately, his dad’s a magician who tries to throw her in the river. Luckily a fisherman and his wife raise her.

From: England
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Joseph Jacobs in his English Fairy Tales.
Best Known Version: I guess the Jacobs version.
Synopsis: A magician baron learns that his son’s fated to marry a poor peasant’s daughter. He goes to that peasant, and when learning that he can’t feed 6 children, offers to take the littlest one. He then throws her in the river. She floats to a fisherman’s house and the fisherman raises her. She grows into a great beauty. On a hunting trip years later, the baron sees the girl. His companion asks who’d she marry. To cast her horoscope, the baron asks the girl when she was born and she tells her story. He sends her to his brother, with a letter telling him to kill her. She falls among robbers, who alter the letter to say she should marry the son, and his brother holds the wedding at once. The baron comes and learns of it before taking his daughter-in-law to walk along the cliff. She begs for her life. He doesn’t push her in but he throws a golden ring into the sea and tells her that she should never show him or his son her face again without it. She goes and works in the kitchen. When the baron comes to dine at that house as she’s cooking fish, she finds a ring in it. The guests are so taken with the fish that they want to meet the cook and she goes with the ring. The baron realizes he can’t fight his fate and announces that she’s his son’s true bride before taking her back with him to his home, where she lives happily ever after with her husband.

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When the baron sends the girl with a letter to his brother, she falls in with robbers. Fortunately, the discover the letter as a hit on her and arrange it so she marries the baron’s son instead.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Features child selling and attempted infanticide.
Trivia: N/A