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


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


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


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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


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.”


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


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.


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


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.


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


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