Fairy Tales and Stories

The Storyteller

The little boy stumbled through the forest. He was sure that wild animals were chasing him, and wanted to eat him. As he crashed through the undergrowth he suddenly emerged into a clearing. He looked around, fearing that he could hear animals, but all was quiet.

The little boy walked further into the clearing. He saw a small stool with a book on it.

He stopped, and looked around wondering who had left the stool, and the book there.

He walked over to the stool, and picked up the book to look at it. Without thinking, he sat down, and opened the book. He started to read aloud. The only sound in the clearing was the little boy’s voice.

He had forgotten about his earlier fear, and he had also stopped imagining that he could hear animals after him.
Once he had finished reading the story he put the book down, and he said to the clearing, “I’ll come back tomorrow to read again.”

The little boy left the clearing and reentered the forest. He wasn’t afraid anymore. It was if he had a new found confidence, and manner.

The next day he returned, and found a different book on the stool, and as before, he sat down, and started to read.

This went on for a week. After seven days animals started to come through the undergrowth, and entered the clearing. When they saw the boy, and heard his storytelling they would stop, find a place to sit down, and listen to him.

One day he heard a roar behind him, and the little boy turned around, coming face to face with a tiger. “Shhh!” he told the tiger, and gave it a smack across the nose.

The tiger was taken aback, but he did as he was told and he went to a tree. Then he too, sat and listened to the little boy.

This went on for many years, and some animals died never to return, while others grew old as the little boy did. One day, when the little boy was no more but a little old man he died as he was reading one of his stories.

The animals looked up, and listened to the silence.

Wild dogs howled, elephants trumpeted their calls, birds tweeted and chirped, monkeys chatted and tigers roared as one.

The tiger, who many years ago the little boy had smacked across the nose, carried the little boy, and laid him to rest under his tree.

The animals lined up to pay their respects to the little boy who had devoted his life to reading to the animals.

As they lined up they were watched by God, Buddha, Allah and Ganesha, standing off to the side, who had tears in their eyes, not because the little boy that had died, who now stood next to them, but because as each animal came to the body of the little boy, each animal would lay their head down on his chest, and shed tears over the boy’s body.

Finally a small baby elephant came, and laid his head, and trunk down on the little boy’s body, and his tears flowed over the little boy’s chest.

When the animals had left, there was an eerie silence over the clearing.

Many, many years passed until one day, a small girl come running through the bushes, with a frightened look on her face. She stopped, and looked around the clearing. She saw a small stool, and so she walked over to it, wondering who would leave such a thing here in the forest.

She sat down on the stool and looked down. She saw a box full of books.

The little boy smiled.

― Anthony T. Hincks

The Witch-Cat of the Ozarks

A drunken braggart accepted a dare to sleep in a house that had once been used by witches. At midnight, when he had finished his jug of whisky and was just beginning to fall asleep, an enormous cat suddenly appeared.

It howled and spat at him, so he shot at it with his hunting gun and, though it escaped, he was certain he had shot one of its paws clean off. At that moment a woman’s scream was heard in the distance, and just as the candle went out, the man saw a woman’s bare and bloody foot wriggling around on the table.

The following day he learned that a woman who lived nearby had accidentally shot her foot off and had died from loss of blood. It is said that she died howling and spitting like a cat.

Found at: Moggycats Cat Pages

The Juniper Tree

Long ago, at least two thousand years, there was a rich man who had a beautiful and pious wife, and they loved each other dearly. However, they had no children, though they wished very much to have some, and the woman prayed for them day and night, but they didn’t get any, and they didn’t get any.

In front of their house there was a courtyard where there stood a juniper tree. One day in winter the woman was standing beneath it, peeling herself an apple, and while she was thus peeling the apple, she cut her finger, and the blood fell into the snow.

“Oh,” said the woman. She sighed heavily, looked at the blood before her, and was most unhappy. “If only I had a child as red as blood and as white as snow.” And as she said that, she became quite contented, and felt sure that it was going to happen.

Then she went into the house, and a month went by, and the snow was gone. And two months, and everything was green. And three months, and all the flowers came out of the earth. And four months, and all the trees in the woods grew thicker, and the green branches were all entwined in one another, and the birds sang until the woods resounded and the blossoms fell from the trees. Then the fifth month passed, and she stood beneath the juniper tree, which smelled so sweet that her heart jumped for joy, and she fell on her knees and was beside herself. And when the sixth month was over, the fruit was thick and large, and then she was quite still. And after the seventh month she picked the juniper berries and ate them greedily.

Then she grew sick and sorrowful. Then the eighth month passed, and she called her husband to her, and cried, and said, “If I die, then bury me beneath the juniper tree.” Then she was quite comforted and happy until the next month was over, and then she had a child as white as snow and as red as blood, and when she saw it, she was so happy that she died.

Her husband buried her beneath the juniper tree, and he began to cry bitterly. After some time he was more at ease, and although he still cried, he could bear it. And some time later he took another wife.

He had a daughter by the second wife, but the first wife’s child was a little son, and he was as red as blood and as white as snow. When the woman looked at her daughter, she loved her very much, but then she looked at the little boy, and it pierced her heart, for she thought that he would always stand in her way, and she was always thinking how she could get the entire inheritance for her daughter.

And the Evil One filled her mind with this until she grew very angry with the little boy, and she pushed him from one corner to the other and slapped him here and cuffed him there, until the poor child was always afraid, for when he came home from school there was nowhere he could find any peace.

One day the woman had gone upstairs to her room, when her little daughter came up too, and said, “Mother, give me an apple.”

“Yes, my child,” said the woman, and gave her a beautiful apple out of the chest. The chest had a large heavy lid with a large sharp iron lock.

“Mother,” said the little daughter, “is brother not to have one too?”

This made the woman angry, but she said, “Yes, when he comes home from school.”

When from the window she saw him coming, it was as though the Evil One came over her, and she grabbed the apple and took it away from her daughter, saying, “You shall not have one before your brother.”

She threw the apple into the chest, and shut it. Then the little boy came in the door, and the Evil One made her say to him kindly, “My son, do you want an apple?” And she looked at him fiercely.

“Mother,” said the little boy, “how angry you look. Yes, give me an apple.”

Then it seemed to her as if she had to persuade him. “Come with me,” she said, opening the lid of the chest. “Take out an apple for yourself.” And while the little boy was leaning over, the Evil One prompted her, and crash! she slammed down the lid, and his head flew off, falling among the red apples.

Then fear overcame her, and she thought, “Maybe I can get out of this.” So she went upstairs to her room to her chest of drawers, and took a white scarf out of the top drawer, and set the head on the neck again, tying the scarf around it so that nothing could be seen. Then she set him on a chair in front of the door and put the apple in his hand.

After this Marlene came into the kitchen to her mother, who was standing by the fire with a pot of hot water before her which she was stirring around and around.

“Mother,” said Marlene, “brother is sitting at the door, and he looks totally white and has an apple in his hand. I asked him to give me the apple, but he did not answer me, and I was very frightened.”

“Go back to him,” said her mother, “and if he will not answer you, then box his ears.”

So Marlene went to him and said, “Brother, give me the apple.” But he was silent, so she gave him one on the ear, and his head fell off. Marlene was terrified, and began crying and screaming, and ran to her mother, and said, “Oh, mother, I have knocked my brother’s head off,” and she cried and cried and could not be comforted.

“Marlene,” said the mother, “what have you done? Be quiet and don’t let anyone know about it. It cannot be helped now. We will cook him into stew.”

Then the mother took the little boy and chopped him in pieces, put him into the pot, and cooked him into stew. But Marlene stood by crying and crying, and all her tears fell into the pot, and they did not need any salt.

Then the father came home, and sat down at the table and said, “Where is my son?” And the mother served up a large, large dish of stew, and Marlene cried and could not stop.

Then the father said again, “Where is my son?”

“Oh,” said the mother, “he has gone across the country to his mother’s great uncle. He will stay there awhile.”

“What is he doing there? He did not even say good-bye to me.”

“Oh, he wanted to go, and asked me if he could stay six weeks. He will be well taken care of there.”

“Oh,” said the man, “I am unhappy. It isn’t right. He should have said good-bye to me.” With that he began to eat, saying, “Marlene, why are you crying? Your brother will certainly come back.”

Then he said, “Wife, this food is delicious. Give me some more.” And the more he ate the more he wanted, and he said, “Give me some more. You two shall have none of it. It seems to me as if it were all mine.” And he ate and ate, throwing all the bones under the table, until he had finished it all.

Marlene went to her chest of drawers, took her best silk scarf from the bottom drawer, and gathered all the bones from beneath the table and tied them up in her silk scarf, then carried them outside the door, crying tears of blood.

She laid them down beneath the juniper tree on the green grass, and after she had put them there, she suddenly felt better and did not cry anymore.

Then the juniper tree began to move. The branches moved apart, then moved together again, just as if someone were rejoicing and clapping his hands. At the same time a mist seemed to rise from the tree, and in the center of this mist it burned like a fire, and a beautiful bird flew out of the fire singing magnificently, and it flew high into the air, and when it was gone, the juniper tree was just as it had been before, and the cloth with the bones was no longer there. Marlene, however, was as happy and contented as if her brother were still alive. And she went merrily into the house, sat down at the table, and ate.

Then the bird flew away and lit on a goldsmith’s house, and began to sing:

My mother, she killed me,
My father, he ate me,
My sister Marlene,
Gathered all my bones,
Tied them in a silken scarf,
Laid them beneath the juniper tree,
Tweet, tweet, what a beautiful bird am I.

The goldsmith was sitting in his workshop making a golden chain, when he heard the bird sitting on his roof and singing. The song seemed very beautiful to him. He stood up, but as he crossed the threshold he lost one of his slippers. However, he went right up the middle of the street with only one slipper and one sock on. He had his leather apron on, and in one hand he had a golden chain and in the other his tongs. The sun was shining brightly on the street.

He walked onward, then stood still and said to the bird, “Bird,” he said, “how beautifully you can sing. Sing that piece again for me.”

“No,” said the bird, “I do not sing twice for nothing. Give me the golden chain, and then I will sing it again for you.”

The goldsmith said, “Here is the golden chain for you. Now sing that song again for me.” Then the bird came and took the golden chain in his right claw, and went and sat in front of the goldsmith, and sang:

My mother, she killed me,
My father, he ate me,
My sister Marlene,
Gathered all my bones,
Tied them in a silken scarf,
Laid them beneath the juniper tree,
Tweet, tweet, what a beautiful bird am I.

Then the bird flew away to a shoemaker, and lit on his roof and sang:

My mother, she killed me,
My father, he ate me,
My sister Marlene,
Gathered all my bones,
Tied them in a silken scarf,
Laid them beneath the juniper tree,
Tweet, tweet, what a beautiful bird am I.

Hearing this, the shoemaker ran out of doors in his shirtsleeves, and looked up at his roof, and had to hold his hand in front of his eyes to keep the sun from blinding him. “Bird,” said he, “how beautifully you can sing.”

Then he called in at his door, “Wife, come outside. There is a bird here. Look at this bird. He certainly can sing.” Then he called his daughter and her children, and the journeyman, and the apprentice, and the maid, and they all came out into the street and looked at the bird and saw how beautiful he was, and what fine red and green feathers he had, and how his neck was like pure gold, and how his eyes shone like stars in his head.

“Bird,” said the shoemaker, “now sing that song again for me.”

“No,” said the bird, “I do not sing twice for nothing. You must give me something.”

“Wife,” said the man, “go into the shop. There is a pair of red shoes on the top shelf. Bring them down.” Then the wife went and brought the shoes.

“There, bird,” said the man, “now sing that piece again for me.” Then the bird came and took the shoes in his left claw, and flew back to the roof, and sang:

My mother, she killed me,
My father, he ate me,
My sister Marlene,
Gathered all my bones,
Tied them in a silken scarf,
Laid them beneath the juniper tree,
Tweet, tweet, what a beautiful bird am I.

When he had finished his song he flew away. In his right claw he had the chain and in his left one the shoes. He flew far away to a mill, and the mill went clickety-clack, clickety-clack, clickety-clack. In the mill sat twenty miller’s apprentices cutting a stone, and chiseling chip-chop, chip-chop, chip-chop. And the mill went clickety-clack, clickety-clack, clickety-clack.

Then the bird went and sat on a linden tree which stood in front of the mill, and sang:

My mother, she killed me,
Then one of them stopped working.

My father, he ate me,
Then two more stopped working and listened,

My sister Marlene,
Then four more stopped,

Gathered all my bones,
Tied them in a silken scarf,
Now only eight only were chiseling,

Laid them beneath
Now only five,

the juniper tree,
Now only one,

Tweet, tweet, what a beautiful bird am I.

Then the last one stopped also, and heard the last words. “Bird,” said he, “how beautifully you sing. Let me hear that too. Sing it once more for me.”

“No,” said the bird, “I do not sing twice for nothing. Give me the millstone, and then I will sing it again.”

“Yes,” he said, “if it belonged only to me, you should have it.”

“Yes,” said the others, “if he sings again he can have it.”

Then the bird came down, and the twenty millers took a beam and lifted the stone up. Yo-heave-ho! Yo-heave-ho! Yo-heave-ho!

The bird stuck his neck through the hole and put the stone on as if it were a collar, then flew to the tree again, and sang:

My mother, she killed me,
My father, he ate me,
My sister Marlene,
Gathered all my bones,
Tied them in a silken scarf,
Laid them beneath the juniper tree,
Tweet, tweet, what a beautiful bird am I.

When he was finished singing, he spread his wings, and in his right claw he had the chain, and in his left one the shoes, and around his neck the millstone. He flew far away to his father’s house.

In the room the father, the mother, and Marlene were sitting at the table.

The father said, “I feel so contented. I am so happy.”

“Not I,” said the mother, “I feel uneasy, just as if a bad storm were coming.”

But Marlene just sat and cried and cried.

Then the bird flew up, and as it seated itself on the roof, the father said, “Oh, I feel so truly happy, and the sun is shining so beautifully outside. I feel as if I were about to see some old acquaintance again.”

“Not I,” said the woman, “I am so afraid that my teeth are chattering, and I feel like I have fire in my veins.” And she tore open her bodice even more. Marlene sat in a corner crying. She held a handkerchief before her eyes and cried until it was wet clear through.

Then the bird seated itself on the juniper tree, and sang:

My mother, she killed me,

The mother stopped her ears and shut her eyes, not wanting to see or hear, but there was a roaring in her ears like the fiercest storm, and her eyes burned and flashed like lightning.

My father, he ate me,

“Oh, mother,” said the man, “that is a beautiful bird. He is singing so splendidly, and the sun is shining so warmly, and it smells like pure cinnamon.”

My sister Marlene,

Then Marlene laid her head on her knees and cried and cried, but the man said, “I am going out. I must see the bird up close.”

“Oh, don’t go,” said the woman, “I feel as if the whole house were shaking and on fire.”

But the man went out and looked at the bird.

Gathered all my bones,
Tied them in a silken scarf,
Laid them beneath the juniper tree,
Tweet, tweet, what a beautiful bird am I.

With this the bird dropped the golden chain, and it fell right around the man’s neck, so exactly around it that it fit beautifully. Then the man went in and said, “Just look what a beautiful bird that is, and what a beautiful golden chain he has given me, and how nice it looks.”

But the woman was terrified. She fell down on the floor in the room, and her cap fell off her head. Then the bird sang once more:

My mother killed me.

“I wish I were a thousand fathoms beneath the earth, so I would not have to hear that!”

My father, he ate me,

Then the woman fell down as if she were dead.

My sister Marlene,

“Oh,” said Marlene, “I too will go out and see if the bird will give me something.” Then she went out.

Gathered all my bones,
Tied them in a silken scarf,

He threw the shoes down to her.

Laid them beneath the juniper tree,
Tweet, tweet, what a beautiful bird am I.

Then she was contented and happy. She put on the new red shoes and danced and leaped into the house. “Oh,” she said, “I was so sad when I went out and now I am so contented. That is a splendid bird, he has given me a pair of red shoes.”

“No,” said the woman, jumping to her feet and with her hair standing up like flames of fire, “I feel as if the world were coming to an end. I too, will go out and see if it makes me feel better.”

And as she went out the door, crash! the bird threw the millstone on her head, and it crushed her to death.

The father and Marlene heard it and went out. Smoke, flames, and fire were rising from the place, and when that was over, the little brother was standing there, and he took his father and Marlene by the hand, and all three were very happy, and they went into the house, sat down at the table, and ate.

Story by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

An Improved Baba Yaga Story

From Old Peter’s Russian Tales by Arthur Ransome we have an improved version of the fairy tale about Baba Yaga and the Little Girl.

“Tell us about Baba Yaga,” begged Maroosia.

“Yes,” said Vanya, “please, grandfather, and about the little hut on hen’s legs.”

“Baba Yaga is a witch,” said old Peter; “a terrible old woman she is, but sometimes kind enough. You know it was she who told Prince Ivan how to win one of the daughters of the Tzar of the Sea, and that was the best daughter of the bunch, Vasilissa the Very Wise. But then Baba Yaga is usually bad, as in the case of Vasilissa the Very Beautiful, who was only saved from her iron teeth by the cleverness of her Magic Doll.”

“Tell us the story of the Magic Doll,” begged Maroosia.

“I will some day,” said old Peter.

“And has Baba Yaga really got iron teeth?” asked Vanya.

“Iron, like the poker and tongs,” said old Peter.

“What for?” said Maroosia.

“To eat up little Russian children,” said old Peter, “when she can get them. She usually only eats bad ones, because the good ones get away. She is bony all over, and her eyes flash, and she drives about in a mortar, beating it with a pestle, and sweeping up her tracks with a besom, so that you cannot tell which way she has gone.”

“And her hut?” said Vanya. He had often heard about it before, but he wanted to hear about it again.

“She lives in a little hut which stands on hen’s legs. Sometimes it faces the forest, sometimes it faces the path, and sometimes it walks solemnly about. But in some of the stories she lives in another kind of hut, with a railing of tall sticks, and a skull on each stick. And all night long fire glows in the skulls and fades as the dawn rises.”

“Now tell us one of the Baba Yaga stories,” said Maroosia.

“Please,” said Vanya.

“I will tell you how one little girl got away from her, and then, if ever she catches you, you will know exactly what to do.”

And old Peter put down his pipe and began:—

Baba Yaga and the Little Girl with the Kind Heart

Once upon a time there was a widowed old man who lived alone in a hut with his little daughter. Very merry they were together, and they used to smile at each other over a table just piled with bread and jam. Everything went well, until the old man took it into his head to marry again.

Yes, the old man became foolish in the years of his old age, and he took another wife. And so the poor little girl had a stepmother. And after that everything changed. There was no more bread and jam on the table, and no more playing bo-peep, first this side of the samovar and then that, as she sat with her father at tea.

It was worse than that, for she never did sit at tea. The stepmother said that everything that went wrong was the little girl’s fault. And the old man believed his new wife, and so there were no more kind words for his little daughter. Day after day the stepmother used to say that the little girl was too naughty to sit at table. And then she would throw her a crust and tell her to get out of the hut and go and eat it somewhere else.

And the poor little girl used to go away by herself into the shed in the yard, and wet the dry crust with her tears, and eat it all alone. Ah me! she often wept for the old days, and she often wept at the thought of the days that were to come.

Mostly she wept because she was all alone, until one day she found a little friend in the shed. She was hunched up in a corner of the shed, eating her crust and crying bitterly, when she heard a little noise. It was like this: scratch—scratch. It was just that, a little gray mouse who lived in a hole.

Out he came, his little pointed nose and his long whiskers, his little round ears and his bright eyes. Out came his little humpy body and his long tail. And then he sat up on his hind legs, and curled his tail twice round himself and looked at the little girl.

The little girl, who had a kind heart, forgot all her sorrows, and took a scrap of her crust and threw it to the little mouse. The mouseykin nibbled and nibbled, and there, it was gone, and he was looking for another. She gave him another bit, and presently that was gone, and  another and another, until there was no crust left for the little girl. Well, she didn’t mind that. You see, she was so happy seeing the little mouse nibbling and nibbling.

When the crust was done the mouseykin looks up at her with his little bright eyes, and “Thank you,” he says, in a little squeaky voice. “Thank you,” he says; “you are a kind little girl, and I am only a mouse, and I’ve eaten all your crust. But there is one thing I can do for you, and that is to tell you to take care. The old woman in the hut (and that was the cruel stepmother) is own sister to Baba Yaga, the bony-legged, the witch. So if ever she sends you on a message to your aunt, you come and tell me. For Baba Yaga would eat you soon enough with her iron teeth if you did not know what to do.”

“Oh, thank you,” said the little girl; and just then she heard the stepmother calling to her to come in and clean up the tea things, and tidy the house, and brush out the floor, and clean everybody’s boots.

So off she had to go.

When she went in she had a good look at her stepmother, and sure enough she had a long nose, and she was as bony as a fish with all the flesh picked off, and the little girl thought of Baba  Yaga and shivered, though she did not feel so bad when she remembered the mouseykin out there in the shed in the yard.

The very next morning it happened. The old man went off to pay a visit to some friends of his in the next village, just as I go off sometimes to see old Fedor, God be with him. And as soon as the old man was out of sight the wicked stepmother called the little girl.

“You are to go to-day to your dear little aunt in the forest,” says she, “and ask her for a needle and thread to mend a shirt.”

“But here is a needle and thread,” says the little girl.

“Hold your tongue,” says the stepmother, and she gnashes her teeth, and they make a noise like clattering tongs. “Hold your tongue,” she says. “Didn’t I tell you you are to go to-day to your dear little aunt to ask for a needle and thread to mend a shirt?”

“How shall I find her?” says the little girl, nearly ready to cry, for she knew that her aunt was Baba Yaga, the bony-legged, the witch.

The stepmother took hold of the little girl’s nose and pinched it.

“That is your nose,” she says. “Can you feel it?”

“Yes,” says the poor little girl.

“You must go along the road into the forest till you come to a fallen tree; then you must turn to your left, and then follow your nose and you will find her,” says the stepmother. “Now, be off with you, lazy one. Here is some food for you to eat by the way.” She gave the little girl a bundle wrapped up in a towel.

The little girl wanted to go into the shed to tell the mouseykin she was going to Baba Yaga, and to ask what she should do. But she looked back, and there was the stepmother at the door watching her. So she had to go straight on.

She walked along the road through the forest till she came to the fallen tree. Then she turned to the left. Her nose was still hurting where the stepmother had pinched it, so she knew she had to go straight ahead. She was just setting out when she heard a little noise under the fallen tree. “Scratch—scratch.”

And out jumped the little mouse, and sat up in the road in front of her.

“O mouseykin, mouseykin,” says the little girl, “my stepmother has sent me to her sister. And that is Baba Yaga, the bony-legged, the witch, and I do not know what to do.”

“It will not be difficult,” says the little mouse, “because of your kind heart. Take all the things you find in the road, and do with them what you like. Then you will escape from Baba Yaga, and everything will be well.”

“Are you hungry, mouseykin?” said the little girl

“I could nibble, I think,” says the little mouse.

The little girl unfastened the towel, and there was nothing in it but stones. That was what the stepmother had given the little girl to eat by the way.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” says the little girl. “There’s nothing for you to eat.”

“Isn’t there?” said mouseykin, and as she looked at them the little girl saw the stones turn to bread and jam. The little girl sat down on the fallen tree, and the little mouse sat beside her, and they ate bread and jam until they were not hungry any more.

“Keep the towel,” says the little mouse; “I think it will be useful. And remember what I said about the things you find on the way. And now good-bye,” says he.

“Good-bye,” says the little girl, and runs along.

As she was running along she found a nice new handkerchief lying in the road. She picked it up and took it with her. Then she found a little  bottle of oil. She picked it up and took it with her. Then she found some scraps of meat.

“Perhaps I’d better take them too,” she said; and she took them.

Then she found a gay blue ribbon, and she took that. Then she found a little loaf of good bread, and she took that too.

“I daresay somebody will like it,” she said.

And then she came to the hut of Baba Yaga, the bony-legged, the witch. There was a high fence round it with big gates. When she pushed them open they squeaked miserably, as if it hurt them to move. The little girl was sorry for them.

“How lucky,” she says, “that I picked up the bottle of oil!” and she poured the oil into the hinges of the gates.

Inside the railing was Baba Yaga’s hut, and it stood on hen’s legs and walked about the yard. And in the yard there was standing Baba Yaga’s servant, and she was crying bitterly because of the tasks Baba Yaga set her to do. She was crying bitterly and wiping her eyes on her petticoat.

“How lucky,” says the little girl, “that I picked up a handkerchief!” And she gave the handkerchief to Baba Yaga’s servant, who wiped her eyes on it and smiled through her tears.

Close by the hut was a huge dog, very thin, gnawing a dry crust.

“How lucky,” says the little girl, “that I picked up a loaf!” And she gave the loaf to the dog, and he gobbled it up and licked his lips.

The little girl went bravely up to the hut and knocked on the door.

“Come in,” says Baba Yaga.

The little girl went in, and there was Baba Yaga, the bony-legged, the witch, sitting weaving at a loom. In a corner of the hut was a thin black cat watching a mouse-hole.

“Good-day to you, auntie,” says the little girl, trying not to tremble.

“Good-day to you, niece,” says Baba Yaga.

“My stepmother has sent me to you to ask for a needle and thread to mend a shirt.”

“Very well,” says Baba Yaga, smiling, and showing her iron teeth. “You sit down here at the loom, and go on with my weaving, while I go and get you the needle and thread.”

The little girl sat down at the loom and began to weave.

Baba Yaga went out and called to her servant, “Go, make the bath hot and scrub my niece. Scrub her clean. I’ll make a dainty meal of her.”

The servant came in for the jug. The little  girl begged her, “Be not too quick in making the fire, and carry the water in a sieve.” The servant smiled, but said nothing, because she was afraid of Baba Yaga. But she took a very long time about getting the bath ready.

Baba Yaga came to the window and asked,—

“Are you weaving, little niece? Are you weaving, my pretty?”

“I am weaving, auntie,” says the little girl.

When Baba Yaga went away from the window, the little girl spoke to the thin black cat who was watching the mouse-hole.

“What are you doing, thin black cat?”

“Watching for a mouse,” says the thin black cat. “I haven’t had any dinner for three days.”

“How lucky,” says the little girl, “that I picked up the scraps of meat!” And she gave them to the thin black cat. The thin black cat gobbled them up, and said to the little girl,—

“Little girl, do you want to get out of this?”

“Catkin dear,” says the little girl, “I do want to get out of this, for Baba Yaga is going to eat me with her iron teeth.”

“Well,” says the cat, “I will help you.”

Just then Baba Yaga came to the window.

“Are you weaving, little niece?” she asked. “Are you weaving, my pretty?”

“I am weaving, auntie,” says the little girl, working away, while the loom went clickety clack, clickety clack.

Baba Yaga went away.

Says the thin black cat to the little girl: “You have a comb in your hair, and you have a towel. Take them and run for it while Baba Yaga is in the bath-house. When Baba Yaga chases after you, you must listen; and when she is close to you, throw away the towel, and it will turn into a big, wide river. It will take her a little time to get over that. But when she does, you must listen; and as soon as she is close to you throw away the comb, and it will sprout up into such a forest that she will never get through it at all.”

“But she’ll hear the loom stop,” says the little girl.

“I’ll see to that,” says the thin black cat.

The cat took the little girl’s place at the loom.

Clickety clack, clickety clack; the loom never stopped for a moment.

The little girl looked to see that Baba Yaga was in the bath-house, and then she jumped down from the little hut on hen’s legs, and ran to the gates as fast as her legs could flicker.

The big dog leapt up to tear her to pieces. Just as he was going to spring on her he saw who she was.

“Why, this is the little girl who gave me the loaf,” says he. “A good journey to you, little girl;” and he lay down again with his head between his paws.

When she came to the gates they opened quietly, quietly, without making any noise at all, because of the oil she had poured into their hinges.

Outside the gates there was a little birch tree that beat her in the eyes so that she could not go by.

“How lucky,” says the little girl, “that I picked up the ribbon!” And she tied up the birch tree with the pretty blue ribbon. And the birch tree was so pleased with the ribbon that it stood still, admiring itself, and let the little girl go by.

How she did run!

Meanwhile the thin black cat sat at the loom. Clickety clack, clickety clack, sang the loom; but you never saw such a tangle as the tangle made by the thin black cat.

And presently Baba Yaga came to the window.

“Are you weaving, little niece?” she asked. “Are you weaving, my pretty?”

“I am weaving, auntie,” says the thin black cat, tangling and tangling, while the loom went clickety clack, clickety clack.

“That’s not the voice of my little dinner,” says Baba Yaga, and she jumped into the hut, gnashing her iron teeth; and there was no little girl, but only the thin black cat, sitting at the loom, tangling and tangling the threads.

“Grr,” says Baba Yaga, and jumps for the cat, and begins banging it about. “Why didn’t you tear the little girl’s eyes out?”

“In all the years I have served you,” says the cat, “you have only given me one little bone; but the kind little girl gave me scraps of meat.”

Baba Yaga threw the cat into a corner, and went out into the yard.

“Why didn’t you squeak when she opened you?” she asked the gates.

“Why didn’t you tear her to pieces?” she asked the dog.

“Why didn’t you beat her in the face, and not let her go by?” she asked the birch tree.

“Why were you so long in getting the bath ready? If you had been quicker, she never would have got away,” said Baba Yaga to the servant.

And she rushed about the yard, beating them all, and scolding at the top of her voice.

Ah!” said the gates, “in all the years we have served you, you never even eased us with water; but the kind little girl poured good oil into our hinges.”

“Ah!” said the dog, “in all the years I’ve served you, you never threw me anything but burnt crusts; but the kind little girl gave me a good loaf.”

“Ah!” said the little birch tree, “in all the years I’ve served you, you never tied me up, even with thread; but the kind little girl tied me up with a gay blue ribbon.”

“Ah!” said the servant, “in all the years I’ve served you, you have never given me even a rag; but the kind little girl gave me a pretty handkerchief.”

Baba Yaga gnashed at them with her iron teeth. Then she jumped into the mortar and sat down. She drove it along with the pestle, and swept up her tracks with a besom, and flew off in pursuit of the little girl.

The little girl ran and ran. She put her ear to the ground and listened. Bang, bang, bangety bang! she could hear Baba Yaga beating the mortar with the pestle. Baba Yaga was quite close. There she was, beating with the pestle and sweeping with the besom, coming along the road.

There she was, beating with the pestle and sweeping with the besom.

As quickly as she could, the little girl took out the towel and threw it on the ground. And the towel grew bigger and bigger, and wetter and wetter, and there was a deep, broad river between Baba Yaga and the little girl.

The little girl turned and ran on. How she ran!

Baba Yaga came flying up in the mortar. But the mortar could not float in the river with Baba Yaga inside. She drove it in, but only got wet for her trouble. Tongs and pokers tumbling down a chimney are nothing to the noise she made as she gnashed her iron teeth. She turned home, and went flying back to the little hut on hen’s legs. Then she got together all her cattle and drove them to the river.

“Drink, drink!” she screamed at them; and the cattle drank up all the river to the last drop. And Baba Yaga, sitting in the mortar, drove it with the pestle, and swept up her tracks with the besom, and flew over the dry bed of the river and on in pursuit of the little girl.

The little girl put her ear to the ground and listened. Bang, bang, bangety bang! She could hear Baba Yaga beating the mortar with the pestle. Nearer and nearer came the noise, and there was Baba Yaga, beating with the pestle and sweeping with the besom, coming along the road close behind.

The little girl threw down the comb, and grew bigger and bigger, and its teeth sprouted up into a thick forest, thicker than this forest where we live—so thick that not even Baba Yaga could force her way through. And Baba Yaga, gnashing her teeth and screaming with rage and disappointment, turned round and drove away home to her little hut on hen’s legs.

The little girl ran on home. She was afraid to go in and see her stepmother, so she ran into the shed.

Scratch, scratch! Out came the little mouse.

“So you got away all right, my dear,” says the little mouse. “Now run in. Don’t be afraid. Your father is back, and you must tell him all about it.”

The little girl went into the house.

“Where have you been?” says her father; “and why are you so out of breath?”

The stepmother turned yellow when she saw her, and her eyes glowed, and her teeth ground together until they broke.

But the little girl was not afraid, and she went to her father and climbed on his knee, and told him everything just as it had happened. And when the old man knew that the stepmother had sent his little daughter to be eaten by Baba Yaga, he was so angry that he drove her out of the hut, and ever afterwards lived alone with the little girl. Much better it was for both of them.

“And the little mouse?” said Ivan.

“The little mouse,” said old Peter, “came and lived in the hut, and every day it used to sit up on the table and eat crumbs, and warm its paws on the little girl’s glass of tea.”

Baba Yaga and the Little Girl

Baba Yaga lived deep in the forest and scared passersby to death just by appearing to them. She then devoured Her victims, which is why Her picket fence was topped with skulls. Children’s stories about Baba Yaga tend to be quite similar. Here is a story about a little girl, her wicked stepmother, and Baba Yaga.

Once upon a time there was a man and woman who had an only daughter. When his wife died, the man took another. But the wicked stepmother took a dislike to the girl, beat her hard and wondered how to be rid of her forever. One day the father went off somewhere and the stepmother said to the girl, “Go to your aunt, to my sister, and ask her for a needle and thread to sew you a blouse.” The aunt was really Baba Yaga, the bony witch.

Now, the little girl was not stupid and she first went to her own aunt for advice. “Good morrow. Auntie,” she said. “Mother has sent me to her sister for a needle and thread to sew me a blouse. What should I do?”

The aunt told her what to do. “My dear niece,” she said. “You will find a birch-tree there that will lash your face; you must tie it with a ribbon. You will find gates that will creak and bang; you must pour oil on the hinges. You will find dogs that will try to rip you apart; you must throw them fresh rolls. You will find a cat that will try to scratch your eyes out; you must give her some ham.”

The little girl went off, walked and walked and finally came to the witch’s abode.

There stood a hut, and inside sat Baba Yaga, the bony witch, spinning. “Good day. Auntie,” said the little girl.

“Good day, dearie,” the witch replied.

“Mother sent me for a needle and thread to sew me a blouse,” said the girl.

“Very well,” Baba Yaga said. “Sit down and weave.”

The girl sat at the loom. then Baba Yaga went out and told her serving-maid, “Go and heat up the bath-house and give my niece a good wash; I want to eat her for breakfast.”

The serving-maid did as she was bid; and the poor little girl sat there half dead with fright, begging, “Oh, please, dear serving-maid, don’t bum the wood, pour water on instead, and carry the water in a sieve.” And she gave the maid a kerchief.

Meanwhile Baba Yaga was waiting; she went to the window and asked, “Are you weaving, dear niece? Are you weaving, my dear?”

“I’m weaving, Auntie,” the girl replied, “I’m weaving, my dear.”

When Baba Yaga moved away from the window, the little girl gave some ham to the cat and asked her whether there was any escape. At once the cat replied, “Here is a comb and towel. Take them and run away. Baba Yaga will chase you; put your ear to the ground and, when you hear her coming, throw down the towel?and a wide, wide river will appear. And if she crosses the river and starts to catch you up, put your ear to the ground again and, when you hear her coming close, throw down your comb and a dense forest will appear. She won’t be able to get through that.”

The little girl took the towel and comb and ran. As she ran from the house, the dogs tried to tear her to pieces, but she tossed them the fresh rolls and they let her pass. The gates tried to bang shut, but she poured some oil on the hinges, and they let her through. The birch-tree tried to lash her face, but she tied it with a ribbon, and it let her pass.

In the meantime, the cat sat down at the loom to weave?though, truth to tell, she tangled it all up instead. Now and then Baba Yaga would come to the window and call, “Are you weaving, dear niece? Are you weaving, my dear?” And the cat would answer in a low voice, “I’m weaving. Auntie. I’m weaving, my dear.”

The witch rushed into the hut and saw that the girl was gone. She gave the cat a good beating and scolded her for not scratching out the girl’s eyes. But the cat answered her, “I’ve served you for years, yet you’ve never even given me a bone, but she gave me some ham.”

Baba Yaga then turned on the dogs, the gates, the birch-tree and the serving-maid, and set to thrashing and scolding them all. But the dogs said to her, “We’ve served you for years, yet you’ve never even thrown us a burnt crust, but she gave us fresh rolls.”

And the gates said, “We’ve served you for years, yet you’ve never even poured water on our hinges, but she oiled them for us.”

And the birch-tree said, “I’ve served you for years, yet you’ve never even tied me up with thread, but she tied me with a ribbon.” And the serving-maid said, “I’ve served you for years, yet you’ve never even given me a rag, but she gave me a kerchief.”

From: Russian Fairy Tales

Baba Yaga and the Twins

Somewhere, I cannot tell you exactly where, but certainly in vast Russia, there lived a peasant with his wife and they had twins — a son and daughter. One day the wife died and the husband mourned over her very sincerely for a long time. One year passed, and two years, and even longer. But there is no order in a house without a woman, and a day came when the man thought, “If I marry again possibly it would turn out all right.” And so he did, and had children by his second wife.

The stepmother was envious of the stepson and daughter and began to use them hardly. She scolded them without any reason, sent them away from home as often as she wished, and gave them scarcely enough to eat. Finally she wanted to get rid of them altogether. Do you know what it means to allow a wicked thought to enter one’s heart?

The wicked thought grows all the time like a poisonous plant and slowly kills the good thoughts. A wicked feeling was growing in the stepmother’s heart, and she determined to send the children to the witch, thinking sure enough that they would never return.

“Dear children,” she said to the orphans, “go to my grandmother who lives in the forest in a hut on hen’s feet. You will do everything she wants you to, and she will give you sweet things to eat and you will be happy.”

The orphans started out. But instead of going to the witch, the sister, a bright little girl, took her brother by the hand and ran to their own old, old grandmother and told her all about their going to the forest.

“Oh, my poor darlings!” said the good old grandmother, pitying the children, “my heart aches for you, but it is not in my power to help you. You have to go not to a loving grandmother, but to a wicked witch. Now listen to me, my darlings,” she continued; “I will give you a hint: Be kind and good to every one; do not speak ill words to any one; do not despise helping the weakest, and always hope that for you, too, there will be the needed help.”

The good old grandmother gave the children some delicious fresh milk to drink and to each a big slice of ham. She also gave them some cookies—there are cookies everywhere—and when the children departed she stood looking after them a long, long time.

The obedient children arrived at the forest and, oh, wonder! there stood a hut, and what a curious one! It stood on tiny hen’s feet, and at the top was a rooster’s head. With their shrill, childish voices they called out loud: “Izboushka, Izboushka! turn thy back to the forest and thy front to us!”

The hut did as they commanded. The two orphans looked inside and saw the witch resting there, her head near the threshold, one foot in one corner, the other foot in another corner, and her knees quite close to the ridge pole.

“Fou, Fou, Fou!” exclaimed the witch; “I feel the Russian spirit.”

The children were afraid, and stood close, very close together, but in spite of their fear they said very politely: “Ho, grandmother, our stepmother sent us to thee to serve thee.”

“All right; I am not opposed to keeping you, children. If you satisfy all my wishes I shall reward you; if not, I shall eat you up.”

Without any delay the witch ordered the girl to spin the thread, and the boy, her brother, to carry water in a sieve to fill a big tub. The poor orphan girl wept at her spinning-wheel and wiped away her bitter tears. At once all around her appeared small mice squeaking and saying:

“Sweet girl, do not cry. Give us cookies and we will help thee.”

The little girl willingly did so.

“Now,”gratefully squeaked the mice, “go and find the black cat. He is very hungry; give him a slice of ham and he will help thee.”

The girl speedily went in search of the cat and saw her brother in great distress about the tub, so many times he had filled the sieve, yet the tub was still dry. The little birds passed, flying near by, and chirped to the children:

“Kind-hearted little children, give us some crumbs and we will advise you.”

The orphans gave the birds some crumbs and the grateful birds chirped again: “Some clay and water, children dear!”

Then away they flew through the air.

The children understood the hint, spat in the sieve, plastered it up with clay and rilled the tub in a very short time. Then they both returned to the hut and on the threshold met the black cat. They generously gave him some of the good ham which their good grandmother had given them, petted him and asked: “Dear Kitty-cat, black and pretty, tell us what to do in order to get away from thy mistress, the witch?”

“Well,” very seriously answered the cat, “I will give you a towel and a comb and then you must run away. When you hear the witch running after you, drop the towel behind your back and a large river will appear in place of the towel.

If you hear her once more, throw down the comb and in place of the comb there will appear a dark wood. This wood will protect you from the wicked witch, my mistress.”

Baba Yaga came home just then.

“Is it not wonderful?” she thought; “everything is exactly right.”

“Well,” she said to the children, “today you were brave and smart; let us see to-morrow. Your work will be more difficult and I hope I shall eat you up.”

The poor orphans went to bed, not to a warm bed prepared by loving hands, but on the straw in a cold corner. Nearly scared to death from fear, they lay there, afraid to talk, afraid even to breathe. The next morning the witch ordered all the linen to be woven and a large supply of firewood to be brought from the forest.

The children took the towel and comb and ran away as fast as their feet could possibly carry them. The dogs were after them, but they threw them the cookies that were left; the gates did not open themselves, but the children smoothed them with oil; the birch tree near the path almost scratched their eyes out, but the gentle girl fastened a pretty ribbon to it. So they went farther and farther and ran out of the dark forest into the wide, sunny fields.

The cat sat down by the loom and tore the thread to pieces, doing it with delight. Baba Yaga returned.

“Where are the children?” she shouted, and began to beat the cat. “Why hast thou let them go, thou treacherous cat? Why hast thou not scratched their faces?”

The cat answered: “Well, it was because I have served thee so many years and thou hast never given me a bite, while the dear children gave me some good ham.”

The witch scolded the dogs, the gates, and the birch tree near the path.

“Well,” barked the dogs, “thou certainly art our mistress, but thou hast never done us a favor, and the orphans were kind to us.”

The gates replied: “We were always ready to obey thee, but thou didst neglect us, and the dear children smoothed us with oil.”

“The children ran away as fast as their feet could possibly carry them.”

The birch tree lisped with its leaves, “Thou hast never put a simple thread over my branches and the little darlings adorned them with a pretty ribbon.”

Baba Yaga understood that there was no help and started to follow the children herself. In her great hurry she forgot to look for the towel and the comb, but jumped astride a broom and was off. The children heard her coming and threw the towel behind them. At once a river, wide and blue, appeared and watered the field. Baba Yaga hopped along the shore until she finally found a shallow place and crossed it.

Again the children heard her hurry after them and so they threw down the comb. This time a forest appeared, a dark and dusky forest in which the roots were interwoven, the branches matted together, and the tree-tops touching each other. The witch tried very hard to pass through, but in vain, and so, very, very angry, she returned home.

The orphans rushed to their father, told him all about their great distress, and thus concluded their pitiful story: “Ah, father dear, why dost thou love us less than our brothers and sisters?”

The father was touched and became angry. He sent the wicked stepmother away and lived a new life with his good children. From that time he watched over their happiness and never neglected them any more.

How do I know this story is true? Why, one was there who told me about it.

From:

Folk Tales From the Russian, by Verra Xenophontovna Kalamatiano de Blumenthal, (1903)

The Creation of The Moon

The man cut his throat and left his head there.
The others went to get it.
When they got there they put the head in a sack.

Farther on the head fell out onto the ground.
They put the head back in the sack.

Farther on the head fell out again.
Around the first sack they put a second one that
was thicker.
But the head fell out just the same.

It should be explained that they were taking the head
to show to the others.
They did not put the head back in the sack.
They left it in the middle of the road.
They went away.

They crossed the river.
But the head followed them.
They climbed up a tree full of fruit
to see whether it would go past.

The head stopped at the foot of the tree
and asked them for some fruit.
So the men shook the tree.
The head went to get the fruit.
Then it asked for some more.

So the men shook the tree
so that the fruit fell into the water.
The head said it couldn’t get the fruit from there.
So the men threw the fruit a long way
to make the head go a long way to get it so they could go.

While the head was getting the fruit
the men got down from the tree and went on.

The head came back and looked at the tree
and didn’t see anybody
so went on rolling down the road.

The men had stopped to wait
to see whether the head would follow them.
They saw the head come rolling.

They ran.
They got to their hut they told the others that the head
was rolling after them and to shut the door.

All the huts were closed tight.
When it got there the head commanded them to open the doors.
The owners would not open them because they were afraid.

So the head started to think what it would turn into.

If it turned into water they would drink it.
If it turned into earth they would walk on it.
If it turned into a house they would live in it.
If it turned into a steer they would kill it and eat it.
If it turned into a cow they would milk it.
If it turned into a bean they would cook it.
If it turned into the sun
When men were cold it would heat them.
If it turned into rain the grass would grow and the
animals would crop it.

So it thought, and it said, “I will turn into the moon.”
It called, “Open the doors, I want to get my things.”
They would not open them.

The head cried. It called out, “At least give me
my two balls of twine.”
They threw out the two balls of twine through a hole.
It took them and threw them into the sky.

It asked them to throw it a little stick too
to roll the thread around so it could climb up.

Then it said, “I can climb, I am going to the sky.”
It started to climb.

The men opened the doors right away.
The head went on climbing.
The men shouted, “You going to the sky, head?”
It didn’t answer.

As soon as it got to the Sun
it turned into the Moon.
Toward evening the Moon was white, it was beautiful.
And the men were surprised
to see that the head had turned into the Moon.

~Anonymous

The Story of King Frost

There was once upon a time a peasant-woman who had a daughter and a step-daughter. The daughter had her own way in everything, and whatever she did was right in her mother’s eyes; but the poor step-daughter had a hard time. Let her do what she would, she was always blamed, and got small thanks for all the trouble she took; nothing was right, everything wrong; and yet, if the truth were known, the girl was worth her weight in gold–she was so unselfish and good-hearted.

But her step-mother did not like her, and the poor girl’s days were spent in weeping; for it was impossible to live peacefully with the woman. The wicked shrew was determined to get rid of the girl by fair means or foul, and kept saying to her father: ‘Send her away, old man; send her away–anywhere so that my eyes sha’n’t be plagued any longer by the sight of her, or my ears tormented by the sound of her voice. Send her out into the fields, and let the cutting frost do for her.’

In vain did the poor old father weep and implore her pity; she was firm, and he dared not gainsay her. So he placed his daughter in a sledge, not even daring to give her a horse-cloth to keep herself warm with, and drove her out on to the bare, open fields, where he kissed her and left her, driving home as fast as he could, that he might not witness her miserable death.

Deserted by her father, the poor girl sat down under a fir-tree at the edge of the forest and began to weep silently. Suddenly she heard a faint sound: it was King Frost springing from tree to tree, and cracking his fingers as he went. At length he reached the fir-tree beneath which she was sitting, and with a crisp crackling sound he alighted beside her, and looked at her lovely face.

‘Well, maiden,’ he snapped out, ‘do you know who I am? I am King Frost, king of the red-noses.’

‘All hail to you, great King!’ answered the girl, in a gentle, trembling voice. ‘Have you come to take me?’

‘Are you warm, maiden?’ he replied.

‘Quite warm, King Frost,’ she answered, though she shivered as she spoke.

Then King Frost stooped down, and bent over the girl, and the crackling sound grew louder, and the air seemed to be full of knives and darts; and again he asked:

‘Maiden, are you warm? Are you warm, you beautiful girl?’

And though her breath was almost frozen on her lips, she whispered gently, ‘Quite warm, King Frost.’

Then King Frost gnashed his teeth, and cracked his fingers, and his eyes sparkled, and the crackling, crisp sound was louder than ever, and for the last time he asked her:

‘Maiden, are you still warm? Are you still warm, little love?’

And the poor girl was so stiff and numb that she could just gasp, ‘Still warm, O King!’

Now her gentle, courteous words and her uncomplaining ways touched King Frost, and he had pity on her, and he wrapped her up in furs, and covered her with blankets, and he fetched a great box, in which were beautiful jewels and a rich robe embroidered in gold and silver. And she put it on, and looked more lovely than ever, and King Frost stepped with her into his sledge, with six white horses.

In the meantime the wicked step-mother was waiting at home for news of the girl’s death, and preparing pancakes for the funeral feast. And she said to her husband: ‘Old man, you had better go out into the fields and find your daughter’s body and bury her.’ Just as the old man was leaving the house the little dog under the table began to bark, saying:

‘YOUR daughter shall live to be your delight; HER daughter shall die this very night.’

‘Hold your tongue, you foolish beast!’ scolded the woman. ‘There’s a pancake for you, but you must say: “HER daughter shall have much silver and gold; HIS daughter is frozen quite stiff and cold.” ‘

But the doggie ate up the pancake and barked, saying: ‘His daughter shall wear a crown on her head; Her daughter shall die unwooed, unwed.’

Then the old woman tried to coax the doggie with more pancakes and to terrify it with blows, but he barked on, always repeating the same words. And suddenly the door creaked and flew open, and a great heavy chest was pushed in, and behind it came the step-daughter, radiant and beautiful, in a dress all glittering with silver and gold.

For a moment the step-mother’s eyes were dazzled. Then she called to her husband: ‘Old man, yoke the horses at once into the sledge, and take my daughter to the same field and leave her on the same spot exactly; ‘and so the old man took the girl and left her beneath the same tree where he had parted from his daughter. In a few minutes King Frost came past, and, looking at the girl, he said:

‘Are you warm, maiden?’

‘What a blind old fool you must be to ask such a question!’ she answered angrily. ‘Can’t you see that my hands and feet are nearly frozen?’

Then King Frost sprang to and fro in front of her, questioning her, and getting only rude, rough words in reply, till at last he got very angry, and cracked his fingers, and gnashed his teeth, and froze her to death.

But in the hut her mother was waiting for her return, and as she grew impatient she said to her husband: ‘Get out the horses, old man, to go and fetch her home; but see that you are careful not to upset the sledge and lose the chest.’

But the doggie beneath the table began to bark, saying: ‘Your daughter is frozen quite stiff and cold, And shall never have a chest full of gold.’

‘Don’t tell such wicked lies!’ scolded the woman. ‘There’s a cake for you; now say: “HER daughter shall marry a mighty King.”

At that moment the door flew open, and she rushed out to meet her daughter, and as she took her frozen body in her arms she too was chilled to death.

Story by Andrew Lang from The Yellow Fairy Book

The King of the Cats

Here’s a great cat story from Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland, by Lady Francesca Speranza Wilde, published in 1887.

A most important personage in feline history is the King of the Cats. He may be in your house a common looking fellow enough, with no distinguishing mark of exalted rank about him, so that it is very difficult to verify his genuine claims to royalty. Therefore the best way is to cut off a tiny little bit of his ear. If he is really the royal personage, he will immediately speak out and declare who he is; and perhaps, at the same the, tell you some very disagreeable truths about yourself, not at all pleasant to have discussed by the house cat.

A man once, in a fit of passion, cut off the head of the domestic pussy, and threw it on the fire. On which the head exclaimed, in a fierce voice, “Go tell your wife that you have cut off the head of the King of the Cats; but wait! I shall come back and be avenged for this insult,” and the eyes of the cat glared at him horribly from the fire.

And so it happened; for that day year, while the master of the house was playing with a pet kitten, it suddenly flew at his throat and bit him so severely that he died soon after.

A story is current also, that one night an old woman was sitting up very late spinning, when a knocking came to the door. “Who is there?” she asked. No answer; but still the knocking went on. “‘Who is there?” she asked a second the. No answer; and the knocking continued. “Who is there?” she asked the third time, in a very angry passion.

Then there came a small voice–“Ah, Judy, agrah, let me in,–for I am cold and hungry; open the door, Judy, agrah, and let me sit by the fire, for the night is cold out here. Judy, agrah, let me in, let me in!”

The heart of Judy was touched, for she thought it was some small child that had lost its way, and she rose up from her spinning, and went and opened the door–when in walked a large black cat with a white breast, and two white kittens after her.

They all made over to the fire and began to warm and dry themselves, purring all the time very loudly; but Judy said never a word, only went on spinning.

Then the black cat spoke at last–“Judy, agrah, don’t stay up so late again, for the fairies wanted to hold a council here tonight, and to have some supper, but you have prevented them; so they were very angry and determined to kill you, and only for myself and my two daughters here you would be dead by this time. So take my advice, don’t interfere with the fairy hours again, for the night is theirs, and they hate to look on the face of a mortal when they are out for pleasure or business. So I ran on to tell you, and now give me a drink of milk, for I must be off.”

And after the milk was finished the cat stood up, and called her daughters to come away.

“Good-night, Judy, agrah,” she said. “You have been very civil to me, and I’ll not forget it to you. Good-night, good night.”

With that the black cat and the two kittens whisked up the chimney; but Judy looking down saw something glittering on the hearth, and taking it up she found it was a piece of silver, more than she ever could make in a month by her spinning, and she was glad in her heart, and never again sat up so late to interfere with the fairy hours, but the black cat and her daughters came no more again to the house.

Kwan Yin and the Swallows

“Kwan Yin is one of the most universally beloved of deities in the Buddhist tradition. Also known as Kuan Yin, Quan Yin, Quan’Am (Vietnam), Kannon (Japan), and Kanin (Bali), She is the embodiment of compassionate loving kindness. As the Bodhisattva of Compassion, She hears the cries of all beings.”

Kwan Yin and the Swallows
by Dharmadasa Karuna

The cloud blue crests of Jianshan Mountain leaned into the morning light. Flaxen rays reached into the window of a young woman sleeping on a bed of straw. Her hair was the color of the night sky, and lapped over her belly and hips. Her skin was the color of the sun. She awoke and walked outside. The nest of swallows on her windowsill was empty. It was the end of summer.

Her bare feet pressed into the fallen leaves on the ground. She entered the woods in search of a cluster of white flowers with purple stems. Mother seemed unsure of herself this week, and Dong Quai would calm her nerves. She closed her eyes and let the forest guide her. She found the flowers in the silence.

“Kwan Yin, where are you? Talking to your birds again?”

“Coming mother.” The young woman emerged from the woods. “I was gathering a tonic for our tea.”

“I have to go wash clothes at the river for Mrs. Lim. Save the tea for lunch. We’re having visitors.”

“Who mother?”

“Madam Hong and her son.”

“Why are they coming? We don’t need visitors.”

“The fortune teller said you were a good match for Madam Hong’s son.”

“Mother, you know I don’t want to marry.”

“You are a woman now, and while your hair still falls down your back and your breath is sweet, you must take a husband.”

“I’m going to enter the nunnery.”

“That is a child’s dream, Kwan Yin.”

Kwan Yin looked down and did not answer.

“We are poor Kwan Yin, and the Hongs are wealthy. They are an honorable family. Do you understand?”

“Mother, I…”

“You have never been with a man and….”

“I know it is my duty to care for you.”

“They are not all as kind as your father was. After you clean the house and cook the meals, they will make you cut wood, carry water, and milk the goat. Then you must lay with them every night. Your work is only done when you sleep.”

“Mother, I know. I know what I must do.”

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