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Once Upon A Time there was once a happy king. Great or small, maid or man, every one was happy in his kingdom, everyone was joyful and glad.

 

Once this monarch saw a vision. In his dream there hung from the ceiling in his house a fox suspended by the tail. He awoke, he could not see what the dream signified. He assembled his

viziers, but they also could not divine what this dream presaged.

 

Then he said: Assemble all my kingdom together, perhaps some one may interpret it.’ On the third day all the people of his kingdom assembled in the king’s palace. Among others came a poor peasant.

 

In one place he had to travel along a footpath. The path on both sides was shut in by rocky mountains. When the peasant arrived there, he saw a serpent lying on the path, stretching its neck and putting out its tongue.

 

When the peasant went near, the serpent called out: ‘Good day, where art thou going, peasant?’ The peasant told what was the matter. The serpent said:

‘Do not fear him, give me thy word that what the king gives, thou wilt share with me, and I will

teach thee.’

The peasant rejoiced, gave his word, and swore, saying: ‘I will bring thee all that the king presents to me if thou wilt aid me in this matter.’

The serpent said: ‘I shall divide it in halves, half will be thine; when thou seest the king, say: “The fox meant this, that in the kingdom there is cunning, hypocrisy, and treachery.”‘

 

The peasant went, he approached the king, and told even what the serpent had taught. The king was very much pleased, and gave great presents. The peasant did not return by that way, so

that he might not share with the serpent, but went by another path.

 

Some time passed by, the king saw another vision: in his dream a naked sword hung suspended from the roof. The king this time sent a man quickly for the peasant, and asked him to come.

The peasant was very uneasy in mind. There was nothing for it, the peasant went by the same footpath as before.

 

He came to that place where he saw the serpent before, but now he saw the serpent there no more. He cried out: ‘O serpent, come here one moment, I need thee.’

He ceased not until the serpent came. It said: ‘What dost thou want? what distresses thee?’ The

peasant answered: ‘Thus and thus is the matter, and I should like some aid.’ The serpent replied: ‘Go, tell the king that the naked sword means war–now enemies are intriguing within and without; he must prepare for battle and attack.’

 

The peasant thanked the serpent and went. He came and told the king even as the serpent had commanded. The king was pleased, he began to prepare for war, and gave the peasant great

presents. Now the peasant went by that path where the serpent was waiting. The serpent said: ‘Now give me the half thou hast promised.’

 

The peasant replied: ‘Half, certainly not! I shall give thee a black stone and a burning cinder.’ He drew out his sword and pursued it. The serpent retreated into a hole, but the peasant followed it, and cut off its tail with his sword.

 

Some time passed, and the king again saw a vision. In this vision a slain sheep was hanging from the roof. The king sent a man quickly for the peasant. The peasant was now very much

afraid. And he said: ‘How can I approach the king?’ Formerly the serpent had taught him, but now it could no longer do this; for its goodness he had wounded it with the sword.Nevertheless, he went by that footpath. When he came to the place where the serpent had been, he cried out: ‘O serpent, come here one moment, I want to ask thee something.’

 

The serpent came. The man told his grief. The serpent said: ‘If thou givest me half of what the king gives thee, I shall tell thee.’

He promised and swore. The serpent said: ‘This is a sign that now everywhere peace falls on all, the people are become like quiet, gentle sheep.’

 

The peasant thanked it, and went his way. When he came to the king, he spoke as the serpent had instructed him. The king was exceedingly pleased, and gave him greater presents. The peasant returned by the way where the serpent was waiting. He came to the serpent, divided everything he had received from the king, and said: ‘Thou hast been patient with me, and now I will give thee even what was given me before by the king.’

He humbly asked forgiveness for his former offences. The serpent said: ‘Be not grieved nor troubled; it certainly was not thy fault. The first time, when all the people were entirely deceitful, and there was treachery and hypocrisy in the land, thou too wert a deceiver, for, in spite of thy promise, thou wentest home by another way. The second time, when there was war everywhere, quarrels and assassination, thou, too, didst quarrel with me, and cut off my tail. But now, when peace and love have fallen on all, thou bringest the gifts, and sharest all with me. Go, brother, may the peace of God rest with thee! I do not want thy wealth.’ And the serpent went away and cast itself into its hole.

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/georgian-folk-tales_p23332619.htm

 

Georgian Folk Tales

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An excerpt from “Myths and Folklore of Ireland”

Once upon a time, it was the custom with Fin MacCumhail and the Fenians of Erin, when a stranger from any part of the world came to their castle, not to ask him a question for a year and a day.
On a time, a champion came to Fin and his men, and remained with them. He was not at all pleasant or agreeable.

At last Fin and his men took counsel together; they were much annoyed because their guest was so dull and morose, never saying a word, always silent.

While discussing what kind of man he was, Diarmuid Duivne offered to try him; so one evening when they were eating together, Diarmuid came and snatched from his mouth the hind-quarter of a bullock, which he was picking.

Diarmuid pulled at one part of the quarter, – pulled with all his strength, but only took the part that he seized, while the other kept the part he held. All laughed; the stranger laughed too, as heartily as any. It was the first laugh they had heard from him.
The strange champion saw all their feats of arms and practised with them, till the year and a day were over. Then he said to Fin and his men:
“I have spent a pleasant year in your company; you gave me good treatment, and the least I can do now is to give you a feast at my own castle.”

No one had asked what his name was up to that time. Fin now asked his name. He answered:
“My name is Fear Dubh, of Alba.”

Fin accepted the invitation; and they appointed the day for the feast, which was to be in Erin, since Fear Dubh did not wish to trouble them to go to Alban. He took leave of his host and started for home.

When the day for the feast came, Fin and the chief men of the Fenians of Erin set out for the castle of Fear Dubh.
They went, a glen at a step, a hill at a leap, and thirty-two miles at a running leap, till they came to the grand castle where the feast was to be given.

They went in; everything was ready, seats at the table, and every man’s name at his seat in the same order as at Fin’s castle. Diarmuid, who was always very sportive, – fond of hunting, and paying court to women, was not with them; he had gone to the mountains with his dogs.

All sat down, except Conan Maol MacMorna (never a man spoke well of him); no seat was ready for him, for he used to lie on the flat of his back on the floor, at Fin’s castle.

When all were seated the door of the castle closed of itself. Fin then asked the man nearest the door, to rise and open it. The man tried to rise; he pulled this way and that, over and hither, but he couldn’t get up. Then the next man tried, and the next, and so on, till the turn came to Fin himself, who tried in vain.

Now, whenever Fin and his men were in trouble and great danger it was their custom to raise a cry of distress (a voice of howling), heard all over Erin. Then all men knew that they were in peril of death; for they never raised this cry except in the last extremity.
Fin’s son, Fialan, who was three years old and in the cradle, heard the cry, was roused, and jumped up.

“Get me a sword! “ said he to the nurse. “My father and his men are in distress; I must go to aid them.”
“What could you do, poor little child.”
Fialan looked around, saw an old rusty sword-blade laid aside for ages. He took it down, gave it a snap; it sprang up so as to hit his arm, and all the rust dropped off; the blade was pure as shining silver.

“This will do,” said he; and then he set out towards the place where he heard the cry, going a glen at a step, a hill at a leap, and thirty-two miles at a running leap, till he came to the door of the castle, and cried out.
Fin answered from inside, “Is that you, my child?”
“It is,” said Fialan.
“Why did you come?”
“I heard your cry, and how could I stay at home, hearing the cry of my father and the Fenians of Erin!”
“Oh, my child, you cannot help us much.”

Fialan struck the door powerfully with his sword, but no use. Then, one of the men inside asked Fin to chew his thumb, to know what was keeping them in, and why they were bound.
Fin chewed his thumb, from skin to blood, from blood to bone, from bone to marrow, and discovered that Fear Dubh had built the castle by magic, and that he was coming himself with a great force to cut the head off each one of them. (These men from Alba had always a grudge against the champions of Erin.)

Said Fin to Fialan: “Do you go now, and stand at the ford near the castle, and meet Fear Dubh.”

Fialan went and stood in the middle of the ford. He wasn’t long there when he saw Fear Dubh coming with a great army.
“Leave the ford, my child,” said Fear Dubh, who knew him at once. “I have not come to harm your father. I spent a pleasant year at his castle. I’ve only come to show him honour.”

“I know why you have come,” answered Fialan. You’ve come to destroy my father and all his men, and I’ll not leave this ford while I can hold it.”

“Leave the ford; I don’t want to harm your father, I want to do him honour. If you don’t let us pass my men will kill you,” said Fear Dubh.

“I will not let you pass so long as I ‘m alive before you,” said Fialan.

The men faced him; and if they did Fialan kept his place, and a battle commenced, the like of which was never seen before that day. Fialan went through the army as a hawk through a flock of sparrows on a March morning, till he killed every man except Fear Dubh. Fear Dubh told him again to leave the ford, he didn’t want to harm his father.

“Oh!” said Fialan, “I know well what you want.”
“If you don’t leave that place I’ll make you leave it” said Fear Dubh. Then they closed in combat; and such a combat was never seen before between any two warriors. They made springs to rise through the centre of hard gray rocks, cows to cast their calves whether they had them or not. All the horses of the country were racing about and neighing in dread and fear, and all created things were terrified at the sound and clamour of the fight till the weapons of Fear Dubh went to pieces in the struggle, and Fialan made two halves of his own sword.

Now they closed in wrestling. In the first round Fialan put Fear Dubh to his knees in the hard bottom of the river; the second round he put him to his hips, and the third, to his shoulders.
“Now,” said he, “I have you,” giving him a stroke of the half of his sword, which cut the head off him.

Then Fialan went to the door of the castle and told his father what he had done.

Fin chewed his thumb again, and knew what other danger was coming. “My son,” said he to Fialan, “Fear Dubh has a younger brother more powerful than he was; that brother is coming against us now with greater forces than those which you have destroyed.”

As soon as Fialan heard these words he hurried to the ford, and waited till the second army came up. He destroyed this army as he had the other, and closed with the second brother in a fight fiercer and more terrible than the first; but at last he thrust him to his armpits in the hard bottom of the river and cut off his head.
Then he went to the castle, and told his father what he had done. A third time Fin chewed his thumb, and said: “My son, a third army more to be dreaded than the other two is coming now to destroy us, and at the head of it is the youngest brother of Fear Dubh, the most desperate and powerful of the three.”

Again Fialan rushed off to the ford; and, though the work was greater than before, he left not a man of the army alive. Then he closed with the youngest brother of Fear Dubh, and if the first and second battles were terrible this was more terrible by far; but at last he planted the youngest brother up to his armpits in the hard bottom of the river, and swept the head off him.

Now, after the heat and struggle of combat Fialan was in such a rage that he lost his mind from fury, not having any one to fight against; and if the whole world had been there before him he would have gone through it and conquered it all.

But having no one to face him he rushed along the river-bank, tearing the flesh from his own body. Never had such madness been seen in any created being before that day.

Diarmuid came now and knocked at the door of the castle, having the dog Bran with him, and asked Fin what had caused him to raise the cry of distress.

“Oh, Diarmuid,” said Fin, “we are all fastened in here to be killed. Fialan has destroyed three armies and Fear Dubh with his two brothers. He is raging now along the bank of the river; you must not go near him, for he would tear you limb from limb. At this moment he wouldn’t spare me, his own father; but after a while he will cease from raging and die down; then you can go. The mother of Fear Dubh is coming, and will soon be at the ford. She is more violent, more venomous, more to be dreaded, a greater warrior than her sons. The chief weapon she has are the nails on her fingers; each nail is seven perches long, of the hardest steel on earth. She is coming in the air at this moment with the speed of a hawk, and she has a kŭŕan (a small vessel), with liquor in it, which has such power that if she puts three drops of it on the mouths of her sons they will rise up as well as ever; and if she brings them to life there is nothing to save us.

Go to the ford; she will be hovering over the corpses of the three armies to know can she find her sons, and as soon as she sees them she will dart down and give them the liquor. You must rise with a mighty bound upon her, dash the kŭŕan out of her hand and spill the liquor.

“If you can kill her save her blood, for nothing in the world can free us from this place and open the door of the castle but the blood of the old hag. I’m in dread you’ll not succeed, for she is far more terrible than all her sons together. Go now; Fialan is dying away, and the old woman is coming; make no delay.”

Diarmuid hurried to the ford, stood watching a while; then he saw high in the air something no larger than a hawk. As it came nearer and nearer he saw it was the old woman. She hovered high in the air over the ford. At last she saw her sons, and was swooping down, when Diarmuid rose with a bound into the air and struck the vial a league out of her hand.

The old hag gave a shriek that was heard to the eastern world, and screamed: “Who has dared to interfere with me or my sons?”
“I,” answered Diarmuid; “and you’ll not go further till I do to you what has been done to your sons.”

The fight began; and if there ever was a fight, before or since, it could not he more terrible than this one; but great as was the power of Diarmuid he never could have conquered but for Bran the dog.

The old woman with her nails stripped the skin and flesh from Diarmuid almost to the vitals. But Bran tore the skin and flesh off the old woman’s back from her head to her heels.
From the dint of blood-loss and fighting, Diarmuid was growing faint. Despair came on him, and he was on the point of giving way, when a little robin flew near to him, and sitting on a bush, spoke, saying:

“Oh, Diarmuid, take strength; rise and sweep the head off the old hag, or Fin and the Fenians of Erin are no more.”
Diarmuid took courage, and with his last strength made one great effort, swept the head off the old hag and caught her blood in a vessel. He rubbed some on his own wounds, – they were cured; then he cured Bran.

Straightway he took the blood to the castle, rubbed drops of it on the door, which opened, and he went in.
All laughed with joy at the rescue. He freed Fin and his men by rubbing the blood on the chairs; hut when he came as far as Conan Maol the blood gave out.

All were going away. “Why should you leave me here after you;” cried Conan Maol, “I would rather die at once than stay here for a lingering death. Why don’t you, Oscar, and you, Gol MacMorna, come and tear me out of this place; anyhow you’ll be able to drag the arms out of me and kill me at once; better that than leave me to die alone.”
Oscar and Gol took each a hand, braced their feet against his feet, put forth all their strength and brought him standing; but if they did, he left all the skin and much of the flesh from the back of his head to his heels on the floor behind him. He was covered with blood, and by all accounts was in a terrible condition, bleeding and wounded.

Now there were sheep grazing near the castle. The Fenians ran out, killed and skinned the largest and best of the flock, and clapped the fresh skin on Conan’s back; and such was the healing power in the sheep, and the wound very fresh, that Conan’s back healed, and he marched home with the rest of the men, and soon got well; and if he did, they sheared off his back wool enough every year to make a pair of stockings for each one of the Fenians of Erin, and for Fin himself.

And that was a great thing to do and useful, for wool was scarce in Erin in those days. Fin and his men lived pleasantly and joyously for some time; and if they didn’t, may we.
——————
URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/myths-and-folklore-of-ireland_p23332640.htm
ISBN: 978-1-907256-08-0

There was once a peasant who daily left his wife and children in the valley to take his sheep up the mountain to pasture; and as he watched his flock grazing on the mountain-side, he often had opportunity to use his cross-bow and bring down a chamois, whose flesh would furnish his larder with food for many a day.
While pursuing a fine animal one day he saw it disappear behind a boulder, and when he came to the spot, he was amazed to see a doorway in the neighbouring glacier, for in the excitement of the pursuit he had climbed higher and higher, until he was now on top of the mountain, where glittered the everlasting snow.

The shepherd boldly passed through the open door, and soon found himself in a wonderful jewelled cave hung with stalactites, in the centre of which stood a beautiful woman, clad in silvery robes, and attended by a host of lovely maidens crowned with Alpine roses. In his surprise, the shepherd sank to his knees, and as in a dream heard the queenly central figure bid him choose anything he saw to carry away with him. Although dazzled by the glow of the precious stones around him, the shepherd’s eyes constantly reverted to a little nosegay of blue flowers which the gracious apparition held in her hand, and he now timidly proffered a request that it might become his. Smiling with pleasure, Holda, for it was she, gave it to him, telling him he had chosen wisely and would live as long as the flowers did not droop and fade. Then, giving the shepherd a measure of seed which she told him to sow in his field, the goddess bade him begone; and as the thunder pealed and the earth shook, the poor man found himself out upon the mountain-side once more, and slowly wended his way home to his wife, to whom he told his adventure and showed the lovely blue flowers and the measure of seed.

The woman reproached her husband bitterly for not having brought some of the precious stones which he so glowingly described, instead of the blossoms and seed; nevertheless the man proceeded to sow the latter, and he found to his surprise that the measure supplied seed enough for several acres.

Soon the little green shoots began to appear, and one moonlight night, while the peasant was gazing upon them, as was his wont, for he felt a curious attraction to the field which he had sown, and often lingered there wondering what kind of grain would be produced, he saw a misty form hover above the field, with hands outstretched as if in blessing. At last the field blossomed, and countless little blue flowers opened their calyxes to the golden sun. When the flowers had withered and the seed was ripe, Holda came once more to teach the peasant and his wife how to harvest the flax—for such it was—and from it to spin, weave, and bleach linen. As the people of the neighbourhood willingly purchased both linen and flax-seed, the peasant and his wife soon grew very rich indeed, and while he ploughed, sowed, and harvested, she spun, wove, and bleached the linen. The man lived to a good old age, and saw his grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow up around him. All this time his carefully treasured bouquet had remained fresh as when he first brought it home, but one day he saw that during the night the flowers had drooped and were dying.

Knowing what this portended, and that he too must die, the peasant climbed the mountain once more to the glacier, and found again the doorway for which he had often vainly searched. He entered the icy portal, and was never seen or heard of again, for, according to the legend, the goddess took him under her care, and bade him live in her cave, where his every wish was gratified.
——————-
From MYTHS OF THE NORSEMEN
ISBN 978-1-907256-65-3
URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/myths-of-the-norsemen_p23332642.htm

Frigga at the Spinning Wheel

TWO women quarrelled, and one of them went out secretly at night and dug a deep pit in the middle of the path leading from her enemy’s house to the village well.

Early next morning, when all were going to the well for water with jars balanced on their heads, this woman fell into the pit and cried loudly for help.

Her friends ran to her and, seizing her by the hair, began to pull her out  of the pit. To their surprise, her hair stretched as they pulled, and by the time she was safely on the path, her hair was as long as a man’s arm.

This made her very much ashamed, and she ran away and hid herself.

But after a while she realized that her long hair was beautiful, and then  she felt very proud and scorned all the short-haired women, jeering at them. When they saw this, they were consumed with jealousy, and began to be ashamed of their short hair. “We have men’s hair,” they said to one another. “How beautiful it would be to have long hair!”

So one by one they jumped into the pit, and their friends pulled them out by the hair.

And in this way they, and all women after them, had long hair.

————————-

From: YORUBA LEGENDS

ISBN: 978-1-907256-33-2

http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_yor.html

A percentage of the profit from the sale of this book will be donated to the SOS Children’s Village in Asiakwa, Ghana

Yoruba Legends 1929 M I Ogumefu

 

ONCE upon a time, a tiger was caught in a trap. He tried in vain to get out through the bars, and rolled and bit with rage and grief when he failed.

 

By chance a poor Brahman came by.

 

“Let me out of this cage, oh pious one!” cried the tiger.

 

“Nay, my friend,” replied the Brahman mildly, “you would probably eat me if I did.”

 

“Not at all!” swore the tiger with many oaths; “on the contrary, I should be forever grateful, and serve you as a slave!”

 

Now when the tiger sobbed and sighed and wept and swore, the pious Brahman’s heart softened, and at last he consented to open the door of the cage. Out popped the tiger, and, seizing the poor man, cried, “What a fool you are! What is to prevent my eating you now, for after being cooped up so long I am just terribly hungry!”

 

THE TIGER, THE BRAHMAN AND THE JACKAL from “Indian Fairy Tales”

 

In vain the Brahman pleaded for his life; the most he could gain was a promise to abide by the decision of the first three things he chose to question as to the justice of the tiger’s action.

 

So the Brahman first asked a papal- tree what it thought of the matter, but the papal-tree replied coldly, “What have you to complain about? Don’t I give shade and shelter to everyone who passes by, and don’t they in return tear down my branches to feed their cattle? Don’t whimper–be a man!”

 

Then the Brahman, sad at heart, went further afield till he saw a buffalo turning a well-wheel; but he fared no better from it, for it answered, “You are a fool to expect gratitude! Look at me! Whilst I gave milk they fed me on cotton-seed and oil-cake, but now I am dry they yoke me here, and give me refuse as fodder!”

 

The Brahman, still more sad, asked the road to give him its opinion.

 

“My dear sir,” said the road, “how foolish you are to expect anything else! Here am I, useful to everybody, yet all, rich and poor, great and small, trample on me as they go past, giving me nothing but the ashes of their pipes and the husks of their grain!”

 

On this the Brahman turned back sorrowfully, and on the way he met a jackal, who called out, “Why, what’s the matter, Mr. Brahman? You look as miserable as a fish out of water!”

 

The Brahman told him all that had occurred. “How very confusing!” said the jackal, when the recital was ended; “would you mind telling me over again, for everything has got so mixed up?”

 

The Brahman told it all over again, but the jackal shook his head in a distracted sort of way, and still could not understand.

 

“It’s very odd,” said he, sadly, “but it all seems to go in at one ear and out at the other! I will go to the place where it all happened, and then perhaps I shall be able to give a judgment.”

 

So they returned to the cage, by which the tiger was waiting for the Brahman, and sharpening his teeth and claws;

 

“You’ve been away a long time!” growled the savage beast, “but now let us begin our dinner.”

 

“Our dinner!” thought the wretched Brahman, as his knees knocked together with fright; “what a remarkably delicate way of putting it!”

 

“Give me five minutes, my lord!” he pleaded, “in order that I may explain matters to the jackal here, who is somewhat slow in his wits.”

 

The tiger consented, and the Brahman began the whole story over again, not missing a single detail, and spinning as long a yarn as possible.

 

“Oh, my poor brain! oh, my poor brain!” cried the jackal, wringing its paws. “Let me see! how did it all begin? You were in the cage, and the tiger came walking by–”

 

“Pooh!” interrupted the tiger, “what a fool you are! I was in the cage.”

 

“Of course! ” cried the jackal, pretending to tremble with fright; “yes! I was in the cage–no I wasn’t–dear! dear! where are my wits? Let me see–the tiger was in the Brahman, and the cage came walking by–no, that’s not it, either! Well, don’t mind me, but begin your dinner, for I shall never understand!”

 

“Yes, you shall!” returned the tiger, in a rage at the jackal’s stupidity; “I’ll make you understand! Look here–I am the tiger–”

 

“Yes, my lord! ”

 

“And that is the Brahman–”

 

“Yes, my lord!”

 

“And that is the cage–”

 

“Yes, my lord!”

 

“And I was in the cage–do you understand?”

 

“Yes–no – Please, my lord–”

 

“Well? ” cried the tiger impatiently.

 

“Please, my lord!–how did you get in?”

 

“How!–why in the usual way, of course!”

 

“Oh, dear me!–my head is beginning to whirl again! Please don’t be angry, my lord, but what is the usual way?”

 

At this the tiger lost patience, and, jumping into the cage, cried, “This way! Now do you understand how it was?”

 

“Perfectly! ” grinned the jackal, as he dexterously shut the door, “and if you will permit me to say so, I think matters will remain as they were!”

 

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From: INDIAN FAIRY TALES

ISBN: 978-1-907256-23-3

http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_ift.html

 

A percentage of the profit from the sale of this book will be donated to CHIRSTCHURCH EARTHQUAKE APPEAL

 

Indian Fairy Tales (joseph jacobs 1912)

 

 

A tale of self-sacrifice and selflessness.

 

I

 

Odin, the Allfather, sat one day on his high air-throne, and looking around him, far and wide, saw three fierce monsters. They were the children of the mischievous fire-god Loki, and Odin began to feel anxious, for they had grown so fast and were getting so strong that he feared they might do harm to the sacred city of Asgard. The wise father knew Loki had given strength to these dreadful creatures, and he saw that all this danger had come upon the Æsir from Loki’s wickedness.

 

One of these monsters was a huge serpent, that Odin sent down into the ocean, where he grew so fast that his body was coiled around the whole world, and his tail grew into his own mouth. He was called the Midgard serpent.

 

The second monster was sent to Niflheim, the home of darkness, and shut up there.

 

The third, a fierce wolf, named Fenrir, was brought to Asgard, where Odin hoped he might be tamed by living among the Æsir, and seeing their good deeds, and hearing their kind words; but he grew more and more fierce, until only one of all the gods dared to feed him. This was the brave god, Tyr. He was a war-god, like Thor, and is sometimes called the Sword-god. Tyr was loved by all because he was so true and faithful.

 

Each day the dreadful wolf grew larger and stronger, till all at once, before the Æsir thought about it, he had become a very dangerous beast.

 

Father Odin always looked troubled when he saw Fenrir, the wolf, come to get his evening meal of meat from Tyr’s hand, and at last one night, after the wolf had gone growling away to his lair, Odin called a meeting of the Æsir. He told them of his fears, saying they must find some plan for guarding themselves and their home against this monster. They could not slay him, for no one must ever be killed, and no blood must be shed, within the walls of the sacred city.

 

Thor was the first to speak: “Do not fear, Father Odin, for by to-morrow night we shall have Fenrir so safely bound that he cannot do us any harm. I will make a mighty chain, with the help of my hammer, Miölnir, and with it we will bind him fast!”

 

When the Æsir heard these words of Thor, they were glad, and all went home rejoicing—all save the Allfather, who was still troubled, for he well knew the danger, and feared that even the mighty Thor would find this task too much for him. But Thor seized his hammer, and strode off to his forge. There he worked the whole night long, and all through Asgard were heard the blows of Miölnir and the roaring of the bellows.

 

The next night, when the Æsir were gathered together, Thor brought forth his new-made chain, to test it. In came Fenrir, the wolf, and everyone was surprised to see how willingly he let himself be bound with the chain. When Thor had riveted the last links together, the gods smiled, and began to praise him for his wonderful work; but all at once the wolf gave one bound forward, broke the great chain, and walked off to his lair as if nothing had happened.

 

Thor was much disappointed, still he did not lose courage. He said to the Æsir that he would make another chain, yet stronger. Again he set to work, and for three nights and three days the great Thor worked at his forge without resting.

 

While he worked his friends did not forget him. They came and looked on while he was busy, and, as they watched the mighty hammer falling with quick blows upon the metal, they talked to Thor or sang noble songs to cheer him; sometimes they brought him food and drink. One visitor, who was no friend, fierce Fenrir, the wolf, sometimes put his nose in at the door for a moment, and watched Thor at work; then, as he went away, Thor heard a strange sound like a wicked laugh.

 

At last the chain was finished, and Thor dragged it to the place of meeting. It was so heavy that even the mighty Thor could hardly lift it, or drag it as far as Odin’s palace of Gladsheim. This time Fenrir was not so willing to be bound; but the gods coaxed him, and talked of his great strength, and told him they were sure he would easily break this chain also. After a while he agreed to let them put it around his neck.

 

This time Thor was sure the chain would hold firm, for never before had such a strong one been made. But soon, with a great shake and a fierce bound, the wolf broke away, and went off to his lair, snarling and showing his wicked teeth, while the broken chain lay on the ground.

 

Sadly the Æsir came together that night in Odin’s palace, and this time Thor was not the first to speak; he sat apart and was silent.

 

First spoke Frey, the god of summer and king of the fairies. “Hearken to me, O lords of Asgard!” he said. “I have not won a brave name in battle, like the noble Tyr, neither have I done such mighty deeds as the great Thor and others of our heroes. Instead of fighting giants and monsters, I have spent most of my life in the woods, among the flowers, listening for hours to the birds. Many things have I watched, some perhaps that my brothers thought too small to be worthy of notice. I have learned many lessons, and the greatest of them all is to know how much power there is in little things, and to see how often the work, done quietly, and hidden from the eyes of men, is the finest and the most wonderful. Since we cannot make a chain strong enough to bind Fenrir, let us go to the little dwarfs, who work in silence and in darkness, and ask them to make us a chain!”

 

The Allfather’s troubled face grew brighter as he heard Frey speak, and he bade him send a messenger quickly to the dwarfs, to order a chain made as soon as possible.

Thor Chaining Fenrir from Asgard Stories - Children's tales from Norse Mythology

Thor Chaining Fenrir

 

II

 

So Frey went out, leaving the Æsir in their trouble, and came to his own lovely home, Alfheim. There everything was bright and peaceful, and the little elves were busy and happy. Frey found a trusty messenger, and sent him with all speed to the dwarfs underground, to order the new chain, and to return as soon as he could bring it. The faithful servant found the funny little dwarf workmen all busy in their dark rock chambers, far down inside the earth, while at one side, in a lighter place, sat their king. The messenger bowed before him, and told him his errand.

 

The dwarfs were a wicked race, but they were afraid of Odin, for they had not forgotten the talk he once had with them, when he sent them down to work in darkness underground, and since that time they never had dared disobey him. The dwarf king said it would take two days and two nights to make the chain, but it would be so strong that no one could break it.

 

While the busy dwarfs were at work, the messenger looked about at the many wonderful things: the great central fire which burns always in the middle of the earth, watched and fed with coal by the dwarfs; above this, the beds of coal, and bright precious diamonds, which the dwarfs took from the ashes of the fire. In another place he watched them putting gold and silver, tin and copper, into the cracks in the rocks, and he drank of the pure, underground water, which gives the Midgard people fresh springs.

 

After two days this messenger returned to the dwarf king. The king, holding out in his hand a fine, small chain, said to the messenger: “This may seem to you to be small and weak; but it is a most wonderful piece of work, for we have used in it all the strongest stuff we could find. It is made of six kinds of things: the noise made by the footfall of cats, the roots of stones, the beards of women, the voice of fishes, the spittle of birds, the sinews of bears. This chain can never be broken; and if you can once put it on Fenrir, he will never be able to throw it off.”

 

Odin’s messenger was glad to hear this, so he thanked the dwarf king, and promising him a large reward, he went on his way back to Asgard, where the Æsir were longing for his return, and were all rejoiced to see him with the magic chain.

 

Now Father Odin feared that Fenrir would not let them bind him a third time, so he proposed they should all take a holiday, and go out to a beautiful lake to the north of Asgard, where they would have games and trials of strength. The other gods were pleased with this plan, and all set out in Frey’s wonderful ship, which was large enough to hold all the Æsir with their horses, and yet could be folded up small enough to go in one’s pocket.

 

They landed on a lovely island in the lake, and after the races and games were over, Frey brought out the little chain, and asked them all to try to break it. Thor and Tyr tried in vain; then Thor said, “I do not believe anyone but Fenrir can break it.”

 

Now the wolf did not want to be bound again; but he was very proud of his strength, and, for fear of being called a coward, said at last he would let them do it, if he might hold the right hand of one of the Æsir in his mouth while they bound him, as a sign that the gods did not mean to play any tricks.

 

When the gods heard this, they looked at each other, and all but one of them drew back. Only the brave, good Tyr stepping forward, quietly put his hand into Fenrir’s mouth. The other gods then put the chain around the beast, and fastened it to a great rock. The fierce creature gave a leap to free himself, but the more he struggled the tighter grew the chain. The Æsir gathered about him in joy to see this, but their hearts were filled with sorrow when they saw that their noble Tyr had lost his right hand; the dreadful wolf had shut his teeth together in his rage, when he found he could not get free.

 

Thus the brave Tyr dared to risk danger for the sake of saving others, and gave up even his right hand to gain peace and happiness for Asgard.

 

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From: ASGARD STORIES

ISBN: 978-1-907256-XX-X

http://www.abelapublishing.com/asgard.html

 

A percentage of the profits will be donated to UNICEF

 

Asgard Stories - Children's tales from Norse Mythology

 

 

There was an old man with a multitude of children. He had an underground cave in the forest. He said, ‘Make me a honey-cake, for I will go and earn something.’ He went into the forest, and found a well. By the well was a table. He laid the cake on the table. The crows came and ate it. He slept by the well. He arose and saw the flies eating the crumbs. He struck a blow and killed a hundred flies. He wrote that he had killed a hundred souls with one blow. And he lay down and slept.

 

A dragon came with a buffalo’s skin to draw water. He saw what was written on the table, that he had killed a hundred souls. When he saw the old man, he feared. The old man awoke, and he too feared.

 

The dragon said, ‘Let’s become brothers.’

 

And they swore that they would be Brothers of the Cross. The dragon drew water. ‘Come with me, brother, to my palace.’

 

They went along a footpath, the old man first. When the dragon panted, he drove the old man forward; when he drew in his breath, he pulled him back. The dragon said, ‘Brother, why do you sometimes run forward and sometimes come back?’

 

‘I am thinking whether to kill you.’

 

‘Stay, brother, I will go first and you behind; maybe you will change your mind.’

 

They came to a cherry-tree. ‘Here, brother, have some cherries.’

 

The dragon climbed up, and the old man was eating below. The dragon said, ‘Come up, they’re better here.’

The deluded dragon from “Gypsy Folk Tales Book One – Illustrated Edition”

The old man said, ‘No, they aren’t, for the birds have defiled them.’

 

‘Catch hold of this bough.’

 

The old man did so. The dragon let go of it, and jerked the old man up, and he fell on a hare and caught it.

 

The dragon said, ‘What’s the matter, brother? Was the bough too strong for you?’

 

‘I sprang of my own accord, and caught this hare. I hadn’t time to run round, so up I sprang.’

 

The dragon came down and went home. The old man said, ‘Would you like a present, sister-in-law?’ [seemingly offering the hare to the dragon’s wife].

 

‘Thanks, brother-in-law.’

 

The dragon said to her aside, ‘Don’t say a word to him, else he’ll kill us, for he has killed a hundred souls with one blow.’ He sent him to fetch water: ‘Go for water, brother.’

 

He took the spade and the buffalo’s hide, dragged it after him, and went to the well, and was digging all round the well.

 

The dragon went to him. ‘What are you doing, brother?’

 

‘I am digging the whole well to carry it home.’

 

‘Don’t destroy the spring; I’ll draw the water myself.’

 

The dragon drew the water, and took the old man by the hand, and led him home. He sent him to the forest to fetch a tree. He stripped off bark, and made himself a rope, and bound the trees.

 

The dragon came. ‘What are you doing, brother?’

 

‘I am going to take the whole forest and carry it home.’

 

‘Don’t destroy my forest, brother. I’ll carry it myself.’ The dragon took a tree on his shoulders, and went home.

 

He said to his wife, ‘What shall we do, wife, for he will kill us if we anger him?’

 

She said, ‘Take uncle’s big club, and hit him on the head.’

 

The old man heard. He slept of a night on a bench. And he took the beetle, put it on the bench, dressed it up in his coat, and put his cap on the top of it. And he lay down under the bench. The dragon took the club, and felt the cap, and struck with the club. The old man arose, removed the beetle, put it under the bench, and lay down on the bench. He scratched his head. ‘God will punish you, brother, and your household, for a flea has bitten me on the head.’

 

‘There! do you hear, wife? I hit him on the head with the club, and he says a mere flea has bitten him. What shall we do with him, wife?’

 

Give him a sackful of money to go away.’

 

‘What will you take to go, brother? I’ll give you a sackful of money.’

 

‘Give it me.’

 

He gave it. ‘Take it, brother, and be gone.’

 

‘I brought my present myself; do you carry yours yourself.’

 

The dragon took it on his shoulders and carried it. They drew near to the underground cavern. The old man said, ‘Stay here, brother, whilst I go home and tie up the dogs, else they’ll wholly devour you.’ The old man went home to his children, and made them wooden knives, and told them to say when they saw the dragon, ‘Mother, father’s bringing a dragon; we’ll eat his flesh.’

 

The dragon heard them, and flung down the sack, and fled. And he met a fox.

 

‘Where are you flying to, dragon?’

 

‘The old man will kill me.’

 

‘Fear not; come along with me. I’ll kill him, he’s so weak.’

 

The children came outside and cried, ‘Mother, the fox is bringing us the dragon skin he owes us, to cover the cave with.’

 

The dragon took to flight, and caught the fox, and dashed him to the earth; and the fox died. The old man went to the town, and got a cart, and put the money in it. Then he went to the town, and built himself houses, and bought himself oxen and cows.

 

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From: GYPSY FOLK TALES BOOK ONE – Illustrated Edition

ISBN: 978-1-907256-XX-X

http://www.abelapublishing.com/gypsytales1-ill.html

 

A percentage of the profits will be donated to THE RELIEF FUND for ROMANIA

 

Gypsy Folk Tales Book One - Illustrated Edition

 

 

Not long ago, or perchance very long ago, I do not know for sure, there lived in a village, some place in Russia, a peasant—a moujik. And this peasant was a stubborn and a quick-tempered fellow, and his name was Dimian.

 

He was harsh by nature, this Dimian, and wanted everything to go his own way. If anyone talked or acted against him, Dimian’s fists were soon prepared for answer.

 

Sometimes, for instance, he would invite one of his neighbors and treat his guest with fine things to eat and to drink. And the neighbor in order to maintain the old custom would pretend to refuse. Dimian would at once begin the dispute:

 

“Thou must obey thy host!”

 

Once it happened that a shrewd fellow called on him. Our moujik Dimian covered the table with the very best he had and rejoiced over the good time he foresaw.

 

The fellow guest speedily ate everything up. Dimian was rather amazed, but brought out his kaftan.

 

“Take off thy sheepskin,” said he to the guest; “put on my new kaftan.”

 

In proposing it he thought within himself:

 

“I will bet that this time he will not dare accept; then I will teach him a lesson.”

 

But the fellow quickly put on the new kaftan, tightened it with the belt, shook his curly head and answered:

 

“Have my thanks, uncle, for thy gift. How could I dare not take it? Why, one must obey his host’s bidding.”

 

Dimian’s temper was rising, and he wanted at any rate to have his own way. But what to do? He hastened to the stable, brought out his best horse, and said to his guest:

 

“Thou art welcome to all my belongings,” and within himself he thought, “He certainly will refuse this time, and then my turn will come.”

 

But the fellow did not refuse, and smilingly answered:

 

“In thy house thou art the ruler,” and quickly he jumped on the horse’s back and shouted to Dimian, the peasant:

 

“Farewell, master! no one pushed thee into the trap but thyself,” and with these words the fellow was off.

 

Dimian looked after him and shook his head.

Dimian the Peasant from Folk Tales from the Russian

“Well, I struck a snag,” said he.

 

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From: FOLK TALES FROM THE RUSSIAN

ISBN: 978-1-907256-XX-X

http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_ftftr.html

 

A percentage of the profits will be donated to UNICEF.

 

Folk Tales from the Russian

 

 

ONCE upon a time there was an Ox named Big Red. He had a younger brother named Little Red. These two brothers did all the carting on a large farm.

The Ox who envied the pig from Jataka Tales

Now the farmer had an only daughter and she was soon to be married. Her mother gave orders that the Pig should be fattened for the wedding feast.

Little Red noticed that the Pig was fed on choice food. He said to his brother, “How is it, Big Red, that you and I are given only straw and grass to eat, while we do all the hard work on the farm? That lazy Pig does nothing but eat the choice food the farmer gives him.”

Said his brother, “My dear Little Red, envy him not. That little Pig is eating the food of death! He is being fattened for the wedding feast. Eat your straw and grass and be content and live long.”

Not long afterwards the fattened Pig was killed and cooked for the wedding feast.

The Ox who envied the pig from Jataka Tales

Then Big Red said, “Did you see, Little Red, what became of the Pig after all his fine feeding?”

“Yes,” said the little brother, “we can go on eating plain food for years, but the poor little Pig ate the food of death and now he is dead. His feed was good while it lasted, but it did not last long.”

 

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From: JATAKA TALES

ISBN: 978-1-907256-20-2

http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_jt.html

 

A percentage of the profits will be donated to UNICEF.

 

Jataka Tales (1912)

 

 

Some years rolled by and still Bar Shalmon thought of his native land. One day the princess found him weeping quietly.

 

“Why art thou sad, husband mine?” she asked. “Dost thou no longer love me, and am I not beautiful now?”

 

“No, it is not that,” he said, but for a long time he refused to say more. At last he confessed that he had an intense longing to see his home again.

 

“But thou art bound to me by an oath,” said the princess.

 

“I know,” replied Bar Shalmon, “and I shall not break it. Permit me to visit my home for a brief while, and I will return and prove myself more devoted to thee than ever.”

 

On these conditions, the princess agreed that he should take leave for a whole year. A big, black demon flew swiftly with him to his native city.

 

No sooner had Bar Shalmon placed his feet on the ground than he determined not to return to the land of Ergetz.

 

“Tell thy royal mistress,” he said to the demon, “that I shall never return to her.”

 

He tore his clothes to make himself look poor, but his wife was overjoyed to see him. She had mourned him as dead. He did not tell of his adventures, but merely said he had been ship-wrecked and had worked his way back as a poor sailor. He was delighted to be among human beings again, to hear his own language and to see solid buildings that did not appear and disappear just when they pleased, and as the days passed he began to think his adventures in fairyland were but a dream.

 

Meanwhile, the princess waited patiently until the year was ended.

 

Then she sent the big, black demon to bring Bar Shalmon back.

 

Bar Shalmon met the messenger one night when walking alone in his garden.

 

“I have come to take thee back,” said the demon.

 

Bar Shalmon was startled. He had forgotten that the year was up. He felt that he was lost, but as the demon did not seize him by force, he saw that there was a possibility of escape.

 

“Return and tell thy mistress I refuse,” he said.

 

“I will take thee by force,” said the demon. “Thou canst not,” Bar Shalmon said, “for I am the son-in-law of the king.”

 

The demon was helpless and returned to Ergetz alone.

 

King Ashmedai was very angry, but the princess counselled patience.

 

“I will devise means to bring my husband back,” she said. “I will send other messengers.”

 

Thus it was that Bar Shalmon found a troupe of beautiful fairies in the garden the next evening.

 

They tried their utmost to induce him to return with them, but he would not listen. Every day different messengers came–big, ugly demons who threatened, pretty fairies who tried to coax him, and troublesome sprites and goblins who only annoyed him. Bar Shalmon could not move without encountering messengers from the princess in all manner of queer places. Nobody else could see them, and often he was heard talking to invisible people. His friends began to regard him as strange in his behavior.

 

King Ashmedai grew angrier every day, and he threatened to go for Bar Shalmon himself.

 

“Nay, I will go,” said the princess; “it will be impossible for my husband to resist me.”

 

She selected a large number of attendants, and the swift flight of the princess and her retinue through the air caused a violent storm to rage over the lands they crossed. Like a thick black cloud they swooped down on the land where Bar Shalmon dwelt, and their weird cries seemed like the wild shrieking of a mighty hurricane. Down they swept in a tremendous storm such as the city had never known. Then, as quickly as it came, the storm ceased, and the people who had fled into their houses, ventured forth again.

 

The little son of Bar Shalmon went out into the garden, but quickly rushed back into the house.

 

“Father, come forth and see,” he cried. “The garden is full of strange creatures brought by the storm. All manner of creeping, crawling things have invaded the garden–lizards, toads, and myriads of insects. The trees, the shrubs, the paths are covered, and some shine in the twilight like tiny lanterns.”

 

Bar Shalmon went out into the garden, but he did not see toads and lizards. What he beheld was a vast array of demons and goblins and sprites, and in a rose-bush the princess, his wife, shining like a star, surrounded by her attendant fairies. She stretched forth her arms to him.

 

“Husband mine,” she pleaded, “I have come to implore thee to return to the land of Ergetz with me. Sadly have I missed thee; long have I waited for thy coming, and difficult has it been to appease my father’s anger. Come, husband mine, return with me; a great welcome awaits thee.”

 

“I will not return,” said Bar Shalmon.

 

“Kill him, kill him,” shrieked the demons, and they surrounded him, gesticulating fiercely. “Nay, harm him not,” commanded the princess.

 

“Think well, Bar Shalmon, ere you answer again. The sun has set and night is upon us. Think well, until sunrise. Come to me, return, and all shall be well. Refuse, and thou shalt be dealt with as thou hast merited. Think well before the sunrise.”

 

“And what will happen at sunrise, if I refuse?” asked Bar Shalmon.

 

“Thou shalt see,” returned the princess. “Bethink thee well, and remember, I await thee here until the sunrise.”

 

“I have answered; I defy thee,” said Bar Shalmon, and he went indoors.

 

Night passed with strange, mournful music in the garden, and the sun rose in its glory and spread its golden beams over the city. And with the coming of the light, more strange sounds woke the people of the city. A wondrous sight met their gaze in the market place. It was filled with hundreds upon hundreds of the queerest creatures they had ever seen, goblins and brownies, demons and fairies. Dainty little elves ran about the square to the delight of the children, and quaint sprites clambered up the lampposts and squatted on the gables of the council house. On the steps of that building was a glittering array of fairies and attendant genii, and in their midst stood the princess, a dazzling vision, radiant as the dawn.

 

The mayor of the city knew not what to do. He put on his chain of office and made a long speech of welcome to the princess.

 

“Thank you for your cordial welcome,” said the princess, in reply, “and you the mayor,. and ye the good people of this city of mortals, hearken unto me. I am the princess of the Fairyland of Ergetz where my father, Ashmedai, rules as king. There is one among ye who is my husband.”

 

“Who is he?” the crowd asked in astonishment.

 

“Bar Shalmon is his name,” replied the princess, “and to him am I bound by vows that may not be broken.”

 

“’Tis false,” cried Bar Shalmon from the crowd.

 

“’Tis true. Behold our son,” answered the princess, and there stepped forward a dainty elfin boy whose face was the image of Bar Shalmon.

 

“I ask of you mortals of the city,” the princess continued, “but one thing, justice–that same justice which we in the land of Ergetz did give unto Bar Shalmon when, after breaking his oath unto his father, he set sail for a foreign land and was delivered into our hands. We spared his life; we granted his petition for a new trial. I but ask that ye should grant me the same petition. Hear me in your Court of Justice.”

 

“Thy request is but reasonable, princess,” said the mayor. “It shall not be said that strangers here are refused justice. Bar Shalmon, follow me.”

 

He led the way into the Chamber of Justice, and the magistrates of the city heard all that the princess and her witnesses, among whom was the rabbi, and also all that Bar Shalmon, had to say.

 

“’Tis plain,” said the mayor, delivering judgment, “that her royal highness, the princess of the Fairyland of Ergetz, has spoken that which is true. But Bar Shalmon has in this city wife and child to whom he is bound by ties that may not be broken. Bar Shalmon must divorce the princess and return unto her the dowry received by him on their marriage.”

 

“If such be your law, I am content,” said the princess.

 

“What sayest thou, Bar Shalmon?” asked the mayor.

 

“Oh! I’m content,” he answered gruffly. “I agree to anything that will rid me of the demon princess.”

 

The princess flushed crimson with shame and rage at these cruel words.

 

“These words I have not deserved,” she exclaimed, proudly. “I have loved thee, and have been faithful unto thee, Bar Shalmon. I accept the decree of your laws and shall return to the land of Ergetz a widow. I ask not for your pity. I ask but for that which is my right, one last kiss.”

 

“Very well,” said Bar Shalmon, still more gruffly, “anything to have done with thee.”

 

The princess stepped proudly forward to him and kissed him on the lips.

 

Bar Shalmon turned deadly pale and would have fallen had not his friends caught him.

 

“Take thy punishment for all thy sins,” cried the princess, haughtily, “for thy broken vows and thy false promises–thy perjury to thy God, to thy father, to my father and to me.”

 

As she spoke Bar Shalmon fell dead at her feet. At a sign from the princess, her retinue of fairies and demons flew out of the building and up into the air with their royal mistress in their midst and vanished.

 

 

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From: JEWISH FAIRY TALES AND LEGENDS

ISBN: 978-1-907256-14-1

http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_jftl.html

 

A percentage of the profits will be donated to the CHRISTCHURCH EARTHQUAKE APPEAL.

 

Jewish Fairy Tales and Legends

 

 

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