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Herein are 25 famous stories from The Greek, German, English, Spanish Scandinavian, Danish, French, Russian, Bohemian, Italian and other sources. These stories are further brought to life by 24 full colour plates

The myths and legends gathered here have appealed and will continue to appeal to every age. Nowhere in the realm of fiction are there stories to compare with those which took form centuries ago when the human race was in its childhood—stories so intimately connected with the life and history and religion of the great peoples of antiquity that they have become an integral part of our own civilization. These are a heritage of wealth to every child that is born into the world. Myths and legends like:
Prometheus The Friend Of Man, The Labors Of Hercules, The Gorgon’s Head, The Golden Fleece, The Cyclops, The Sack Of Troy, Beowulf And Grendel, The Good King Arthur and many, many more.

This volume is sure to keep you and your young ones enchanted for hours, if not because of the content, then because of their quality.

Format: eBook – Mobi/Kindle, ePub, PDF

Download Link: https://folklore-fairy-tales-myths-legends-and-other-stories.stores.streetlib.com/en/anon-e-mouse/myths-and-legends-of-all-nations-25-illustrated-myths-legends-and-stories-for-children/

MYTHS AND LEGENDS of all nations

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There was once an old king who was so wise that he was able to understand the speech of all the animals in the world. This is how it happened. An old woman came to him one day bringing him a snake in a basket.

“If you have this snake cooked,” she told him, “and eat it as you would a fish, then you will be able to understand the birds of the air, the beasts of the earth, and the fishes of the sea.”

The king was delighted. He made the old wise woman a handsome present and at once ordered his cook, a youth named Yirik, to prepare the “fish” for dinner.

“But understand, Yirik,” he said severely, “you’re to cook this ‘fish,’ not eat it! You’re not to taste one morsel of it! If you do, you forfeit your head!”

Yirik thought this a strange order.

“What kind of a cook am I,” he said to himself, “that I’m not to sample my own cooking?”

When he opened the basket and saw the “fish,” he was further mystified.

“Um,” he murmured, “it looks like a snake to me.”

He put it on the fire and, when it was broiled to a turn, he ate a morsel. It had a fine flavor. He was about to take a second bite when suddenly he heard a little voice that buzzed in his ear these words:

“Give us some, too! Give us some, too!”

He looked around to see who was speaking but there was no one in the kitchen. Only some flies were buzzing about.

Just then outside a hissing voice called out:

“Where shall we go? Where shall we go?”

A higher voice answered:

“To the miller’s barley field! To the miller’s barley field!”

Yirik looked out the window and saw a gander with a flock of geese.

“Oho!” he said to himself, shaking his head. “Now I understand! Now I know what kind of ‘fish’ this is! Now I know why the poor cook was not to take a bite!”

He slipped another morsel into his mouth, garnished the “fish” carefully on a platter, and carried it to the king.

After dinner the king ordered his horse and told Yirik to come with him for a ride. The king rode on ahead and Yirik followed.

As they cantered across a green meadow, Yirik’s horse began to prance and neigh.

 

The Horses began to prance and neigh

 

 

“Ho! Ho!” he said. “I feel so light that I could jump over a mountain!”

“So could I,” the king’s horse said, “but I have to remember the old bag of bones that is perched on my back. If I were to jump he’d tumble off and break his neck.”

“And a good thing, too!” said Yirik’s horse. “Why not? Then instead of such an old bag of bones you’d get a young man to ride you like Yirik.”

Yirik almost burst out laughing as he listened to the horses’ talk, but he suppressed his merriment lest the king should know that he had eaten some of the magic snake.

Now of course the king, too, understood what the horses were saying. He glanced apprehensively at Yirik and it seemed to him that Yirik was grinning.

“What are you laughing at, Yirik?”

“Me?” Yirik said. “I’m not laughing. I was just thinking of something funny.”

“Um,” said the king.

His suspicions against Yirik were aroused. Moreover he was afraid to trust himself to his horse any longer. So he turned back to the palace at once.

There he ordered Yirik to pour him out a goblet of wine.

“And I warn you,” he said, “that you forfeit your head if you pour a drop too much or too little.”

Yirik carefully tilted a great tankard and began filling a goblet. As he poured a bird suddenly flew into the window pursued by another bird. The first bird had in its beak three golden hairs.

“Give them to me! Give them to me! They’re mine!” screamed the second bird.

“I won’t! I won’t! They’re mine!” the first bird answered. “I picked them up!”

“Yes, but I saw them first!” the other cried. “I saw them fall as the maiden sat and combed her golden tresses. Give me two of them and I’ll let you keep the third.”

“No! No! No! I won’t let you have one of them!”

The second bird darted angrily at the first and after a struggle succeeded in capturing one of the golden hairs. One hair dropped to the marble floor, making as it struck a musical tinkle, and the first bird escaped still holding in its bill a single hair.

In his excitement over the struggle, Yirik overflowed the goblet.

“Ha! Ha!” said the king. “See what you’ve done! You forfeit your head! However, I’ll suspend sentence on condition that you find this golden-haired maiden and bring her to me for a wife.”

Poor Yirik didn’t know who the maiden was nor where she lived. But what could he say? If he wanted to keep his head, he must undertake the quest. So he saddled his horse and started off at random.

His road led him through a forest. Here he came upon a bush under which some shepherds had kindled a fire. Sparks were falling on an anthill nearby and the ants in great excitement were running hither and thither with their eggs.

“Yirik!” they cried. “Help! Help, or we shall all be burned to death, we and our young ones in the eggs!”

Yirik instantly dismounted, cut down the burning bush, and put out the fire.

“Thank you, Yirik, thank you!” the ants said. “Your kindness to us this day will not go unrewarded. If ever you are in trouble, think of us and we will help you.”

As Yirik rode on through the forest, he came upon two fledgling ravens lying by the path.

“Help us, Yirik, help us!” they cawed. “Our father and mother have thrown us out of the nest in yonder tall fir tree to fend for ourselves. We are young and helpless and not yet able to fly. Give us some meat to eat or we shall perish with hunger.”

The sight of the helpless fledglings touched Yirik to pity. He dismounted instantly, drew his sword, and killed his horse. Then he fed the starving birds the meat they needed.

“Thank you, Yirik, thank you!” the little ravens croaked. “You have saved our lives this day. Your kindness will not go unrewarded. If ever you are in trouble, think of us and we will help you.”

Yirik left the young ravens and pushed on afoot. The path through the forest was long and wearisome. It led out finally on the seashore.

On the beach two fishermen were quarreling over a big fish with golden scales that lay gasping on the sand.

“It’s mine, I tell you!” one of the men was shouting. “It was caught in my net, so of course it’s mine!”

To this the other one shouted back:

“But your net would never have caught a fish if you hadn’t been out in my boat and if I hadn’t helped you!”

“Give me this one,” the first man said, “and I’ll let you have the next one.”

“No! You take the next one!” the other said. “This one’s mine!”

So they kept on arguing to no purpose until Yirik went up to them and said:

“Let me decide this for you. Suppose you sell me the fish and then divide the money.”

He offered them all the money the king had given him for his journey. The fishermen, delighted at the offer, at once agreed. Yirik handed them over the money and then, taking the gasping fish in his hand, he threw it back into the sea.

When the fish had caught its breath, it rose on a wave and called out to Yirik:

“Thank you, Yirik, thank you. You have saved my life this day. Your kindness will not go unrewarded. If ever you are in trouble, think of me and I will help you.”

With that the golden fish flicked its tail and disappeared in the water.

“Where are you going, Yirik?” the fishermen asked.

“I’m going in quest of a golden-haired maiden whom my master, the king, wished to make his wife.”

“He must mean the Princess Zlatovlaska,” the fishermen said to each other.

“The Princess Zlatovlaska?” Yirik repeated. “Who is she?”

“She’s the golden-haired daughter of the King of the Crystal Palace. Do you see the faint outlines of an island over yonder? That’s where she lives. The king has twelve daughters but Zlatovlaska alone has golden hair. Each morning at dawn a wonderful glow spreads over land and sea. That’s Zlatovlaska combing her golden hair.”

The fishermen conferred apart for a moment and then said:

“Yirik, you settled our dispute for us and now in return we’ll row you over to the island.”

So they rowed Yirik over to the Island of the Crystal Palace and left him there with the warning that the king would probably try to palm off on him one of the dark-haired princesses.

Yirik at once presented himself at the palace, got an audience with the king, and declared his mission.

“H’m,” the king said. “So your master desires the hand of my daughter, the Princess Zlatovlaska, eh? H’m, h’m. Well, I see no objection to your master as a son-in-law, but of course before I entrust the princess into your hands you must prove yourself worthy. I tell you what I’ll do: I’ll give you three tasks to perform. Be ready for the first one tomorrow.”

Early the next day the king said to Yirik:

“My daughter, Zlatovlaska, had a precious necklace of pearls. She was walking in the meadow over yonder when the string broke and the pearls rolled away in the tall grasses. Now your first task is to gather up every last one of those pearls and hand them to me before sundown.”

Yirik went to the meadow and when he saw how broad it was and how thickly covered with tall grasses his heart sank for he realized that he could never search over the whole of it in one day. However, he got down on his hands and knees and began to hunt.

Midday came and he had not yet found a single pearl.

“Oh dear,” he thought to himself in despair, “if only my ants were here, they could help me!”

He had no sooner spoken than a million little voices answered:

“We are here and we’re here to help you!”

And sure enough there they were, the very ants that he supposed were far away!

“What do you want us to do?” they asked.

“Find me all the pearls that are scattered in this meadow. I can’t find one of them.”

Instantly the ants scurried hither and thither and soon they began bringing him the pearls one by one. Yirik strung them together until the necklace seemed complete.

“Are there any more?” he asked.

He was about to tie the string together when a lame ant, whose foot had been burned in the fire, hobbled up, crying:

“Wait, Yirik, don’t tie the string yet! Here’s the last pearl!”

Yirik thanked the ants for their help and at sundown carried the string of pearls to the king. The king counted the pearls and, to his surprise, found that not one was missing.

“You’ve done this well,” he said. “Tomorrow I’ll give you your second task.”

The next day when Yirik presented himself, the king said:

“While my daughter, Zlatovlaska, was bathing in the sea, a golden ring slipped from her finger and disappeared. Your task is to find me this ring before sundown.”

Yirik went down to the seashore and as he walked along the beach his heart grew heavy as he realized the difficulty of the task before him. The sea was clear but so deep that he couldn’t even see the bottom. How then could he find the ring?

“Oh dear,” he said aloud, “if only the golden fish were here! It could help me.”

“I am here,” a voice said, “and I’m here to help you.”

And there was the golden fish on the crest of a wave, gleaming like a flash of fire!

“What do you want me to do?” it said.

“Find me a golden ring that lies somewhere on the bottom of the sea.”

“Ah, a golden ring? A moment ago I met a pike,” the fish said, “that had just such a golden ring. Wait for me here and I’ll go find the pike.”

In a few moments the golden fish returned with the pike and sure enough it was Zlatovlaska’s ring that the pike was carrying.

That evening at sundown the king acknowledged that Yirik had accomplished his second task.

The next day the king said:

“I could never allow my daughter, Zlatovlaska, the Golden-Haired, to go to the kingdom of your master unless she carried with her two flasks, one filled with the Water of Life, the other with the Water of Death. So today for a third task I set you this: to bring the princess a flask of the Water of Life and a flask of the Water of Death.”

Yirik had no idea which way to turn. He had heard of the Waters of Life and Death, but all he knew about them was that their springs were far away beyond the Red Sea. He left the Crystal Palace and walked off aimlessly until his feet had carried him of themselves into a dark forest.

“If only those young ravens were here,” he said aloud, “they could help me!”

Instantly he heard a loud, “Caw! Caw!” and two ravens flew down to him, saying:

“We are here! We are here to help you! What do you want us to do?”

“I have to bring the king a flask of the Water of Life and a flask of the Water of Death and I don’t know where the springs are. Do you know?”

“Yes, we know,” the ravens said. “Wait here and we’ll soon fetch you water from both springs.”

They flew off and in a short time returned, each bearing a gourd of the precious water.

Yirik thanked the ravens and carefully filled his two flasks.

As he was leaving the forest, he came upon a great spider web. An ugly spider sat in the middle of it sucking a fly. Yirik took a drop of the Water of Death and flicked it on the spider. The spider doubled up dead and fell to the ground like a ripe cherry.

Then Yirik sprinkled a drop of Living Water on the fly. The fly instantly revived, pulled itself out of the web, and flew about happy and free once again.

“Thank you, Yirik,” it buzzed, “thank you for bringing me back to life. You won’t be sorry. Just wait and you’ll soon see that I’ll reward you!”

When Yirik returned to the palace and presented the two flasks, the king said:

“But one thing yet remains. You may take Zlatovlaska, the Golden-Haired, but you must yourself pick her out from among the twelve sisters.”

The king led Yirik into a great hall. The twelve princesses were seated about a table, beautiful maidens all and each looking much like the others. Yirik could not tell which was Zlatovlaska, the Golden-Haired, for each princess wore a long heavy white veil so draped over her head and shoulders that it completely covered her hair.

“Here are my twelve daughters,” the king said. “One of them is Zlatovlaska, the Golden-Haired. Pick her out and you may lead her at once to your master. If you fail to pick her out, then you must depart without her.”

In dismay Yirik looked from sister to sister. There was nothing to show him which was Zlatovlaska, the Golden-Haired. How was he to find out?

Suddenly he heard a buzzing in his ear and a little voice whispered:

“Courage, Yirik, courage! I’ll help you!”

He turned his head quickly and there was the fly he had rescued from the spider.

“Walk slowly by each princess,” the fly said, “and I’ll tell you when you come to Zlatovlaska, the Golden-Haired.”

Yirik did as the fly ordered. He stopped a moment before the first princess until the fly buzzed:

“Not that one! Not that one!”

He went on to the next princess and again the fly buzzed:

“Not that one! Not that one!”

So he went on from princess to princess until at last the fly buzzed out:

“Yes, that one! That one!”

So Yirik remained standing where he was and said to the king:

“This, I think, is Zlatovlaska, the Golden-Haired.”

“You have guessed right,” the king said.

At that Zlatovlaska removed the white veil from her head and her lovely hair tumbled down to her feet like a golden cascade. It shimmered and glowed like the sun in the early morning when he peeps over the mountain top. Yirik stared until the brightness dimmed his sight.

The king immediately prepared Zlatovlaska, the Golden-Haired, for her journey. He gave her the two precious flasks of water; he arranged a fitting escort; and then with his blessing he sent her forth under Yirik’s care.

Yirik conducted her safely to his master.

When the old king saw the lovely princess that Yirik had found for him, his eyes blinked with satisfaction, he capered about like a spring lamb, and he ordered that immediate preparations be made for the wedding. He was most grateful to Yirik and thanked him again and again.

“My dear boy,” he said, “I had expected to have you hanged for your disobedience and let the ravens pick your bones. But now, to show you how grateful I am for the beautiful bride you have found me, I’m not going to have you hanged at all. Instead, I shall have you beheaded and then given a decent burial.”

The execution took place at once in order to be out of the way before the wedding.

“It’s a great pity he had to die,” the king said as the executioner cut off Yirik’s head. “He has certainly been a faithful servant.”

Zlatovlaska, the Golden-Haired, asked if she might have his severed head and body. The king who was too madly in love to refuse her anything said: “Yes.”

So Zlatovlaska took the body and the head and put them together. Then she sprinkled them with the Water of Death. Instantly the wound closed and soon it healed so completely that there wasn’t even a scar left.

Yirik lay there lifeless but looking merely as if he were asleep. Zlatovlaska sprinkled him with the Water of Life and immediately his dead limbs stirred. Then he opened his eyes and sat up. Life poured through his veins and he sprang to his feet younger, fresher, handsomer than before.

The old king was filled with envy.

“I, too,” he cried, “wish to be made young and handsome!”

He commanded the executioner to cut off his head and he told Zlatovlaska to sprinkle him afterwards with the Water of Life.

The executioner did as he was told. Then Zlatovlaska sprinkled the old king’s head and body with the Water of Life. Nothing happened. Zlatovlaska kept on sprinkling the Water of Life until there was no more left.

“Do you know,” the princess said to Yirik, “I believe I should have used the Water of Death first.”

So now she sprinkled the body and head with the Water of Death and, sure enough, they grew together at once. But of course there was no life in them. And of course there was no possible way of putting life into them because the Water of Life was all gone. So the old king remained dead.

“This will never do,” the people said. “We must have a king. And with the wedding feast and everything prepared we simply must have a wedding, too. If Zlatovlaska, the Golden-Haired, cannot marry the old king, she’ll have to marry someone else. Now who shall it be?”

Someone suggested Yirik because he was young and handsome and because, like the old king, he could understand the birds and the beasts.

“Yirik!” the people cried. “Let Yirik be our king!”

And Zlatovlaska, the Golden-Haired, who had long since fallen in love with handsome Yirik, consented to have the wedding at once in order that the feast already prepared might not be wasted.

So Yirik and Zlatovlaska, the Golden-Haired, were married and they ruled so well and they lived so happily that to this day when people say of some one: “He’s as happy as a king,” they are thinking of King Yirik, and when they say of some one: “She’s as beautiful as a queen,” they are thinking of Zlatovlaska, the Golden-Haired.

——-

 

From: THE SHOEMAKER’s APRON – 20 Czech and Slovak Folk Tales

 

Paperback: http://abelapublishing.com/the-shoemakers-apron–20-czech-and-slovak-folk-tales_p25032987.htm

 

eBook: http://abelapublishing.com/the-shoemakers-apron–20-czech-and-slovak-folk-tales_p24975669.htm £0.25, US$0.50, C$0.50, €0.30, A$0.50

Cover-w-persp

ONCE upon a time there was a mother who had three daughters. There was to be a market in the next town, and she said she would go to it. She asked the daughters what she should bring them back. Two of them named a great number of things; she must buy all of them, they said. You know the sort of women, and the sort of things they would want. Well, when they had asked for more than enough, the mother asked the third daughter:
“And you, don’t you want anything?” “No, I don’t want anything; but, if you like, you can bring me three roses, please.”
If she wanted no more than that, her mother was ready to bring them.
When the mother knew all she wanted, she went off to market. She bought all she could, piled it all on her back, and started for home. But she was overtaken by nightfall, and the poor mother completely lost her way and could go no farther. She wandered through the forest till she was quite worn out, and at last she came to a palace, though she had never before heard of any palace there. There was a large garden full of roses, so beautiful that no painter alive could paint them, and all the roses were smiling at her. So she remembered her youngest daughter, who had wished for just such roses. She had forgotten it entirely till then. Surely that was because she was so old! Now she thought: “There are plenty of roses here, so I will take these three.”

So she went into the garden and took the roses. At once a basilisk came and demanded her daughter in exchange for the roses. The mother was terrified and wanted to throw the flowers away. But the basilisk said that wouldn’t be any use, and he threatened to tear her to pieces. So she had to promise him her daughter. There was no help for it, and so she went home.

She took the three roses to her daughter and said: “Here are the roses, but I had to pay dearly for them. You must go to yonder castle in payment for them, and I don’t even know whether you will ever come back.”

You must go yonder to the palace

You must go yonder to the palace

 

But Mary seemed as though she didn’t mind at all, and she said she would go. So the mother took her to the castle. There was everything she wanted there. Soon the basilisk appeared and told Mary that she must nurse him in her lap for three hours every day. There was no way out, do it she must, and so the basilisk came and she nursed him for three hours. Then he went out, but he came next day and the day after that. On the third day he brought a sword and told poor Mary to cut his head off.
She protested that she wasn’t used to doing things like that, and do it she could not. But the basilisk said in a rage that, if that was so, he would tear her to pieces. As there was no choice, she went up to him and cut his head off. And as the basilisk’s head rolled on the ground, there came forth from his body a long serpent, hissing horribly. He asked her to cut his head off again. Mary did not hesitate this time, but cut his head off at once.

The serpent (by the way, he held the golden keys of that palace in his mouth) was immediately changed into a beautiful youth, and he said in a pleasant voice: “This castle belongs to me, and, as you have delivered me, there is no help for it: I must marry you.”
So there was a great wedding, the castle was full of their attendants, and they all had to play and dance. But the floor was of paper, so I fell through it, and here I am now.

From: The Key of Gold – 23 Czech folk tales
URL: http://abelapublishing.com/the-key-of-gold–23-czech-folk-tales_p24894512.htm

Currently available in ePub, Mobi/Kindle and PDF eBook formats
Paperback out during the week of 6 Jan 2014

THERE was once a happy king. Great or small, maid or man, everyone 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 someone 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.

* * * * * * *

From: Georgian Folk Tales

ISBN: 978-1-907256-12-7

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/Georgian.html

The Serpent and the Peasant

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

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

 

 

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