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Fairies and Fairy Tales

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Lithuanian Fairy Tales 

The Lithuanian people have the least changed Indo-European language in Europe and so may have many of the original fairy tales in Europe. This is the first time many of these fairly tales have been translated into English.

Dummling and his white horse
The man and the fox
A good deed is always repaid with evil
The hedgehog who received the king’s daughter to wife

Article on Lithuanian Fairy Tales

Lithuanian Fairy Tales
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The man and the fox. 

Once when a man was plowing his fields at the edge of the forest a bear said from the bushes and growled: I’ll eat your oxen!
Then a fox came running up to the man saying: “What will you give me if I save your oxen?”
“I’ll bring a sack full of chickens,” the man promised.

After the fox had agreed to these terms he ran off into the woods. A moment later he came out of the woods from another direction and when running up to the man and said: “Man, man have you seen any bears hear, deer, wolves, and boars? The Lord makes up a bustle in the forest.”
“No,” the man replied.
“Eh, what is there in the bush?” The fox asked.
“It’s a stump,” replied the man. 
“The stump should be chopped with your ax,” the fox told the man as he ran off into the forest once more.
Now the bear called: “Man cut my head off with an ax!”
“You see, I’ve saved your ox from death just as I promised. Now keep your end of the bargain and bring me a bag full of chickens tomorrow,” the fox told the farmer.
The next morning the farmer brought a bag with two dogs hidden away inside of it instead of chickens. 
When she saw the bag the fox got excited thinking that it was filled with chickens as the man had promised.
“Let the chickens out so I can chase them!” the fox pleaded with her mouth drooling. 
So the man shook the dogs out of the bag who immediately began to chase the fox. Just as the fox started to dart down her hole the dogs grabbed hold of her tail and pulled her up out of the hole and tore her to pieces.

A good deed is always repaid with evil

A farmer went into the forest and found a dragon which had been trapped under a root.
“Please help me get out of here,” the dragon asked the man.
“What will you give me if I help you?” the farmer asked. 
“I’ll give you a good reward,” the dragon promised.
So the man helped the dragon escape.
“Thanks,” the dragon told the man, “but now I’m going to eat you.”
“You promised me a reward if I freed you!” the man exclaimed. 
“A good deed is always repaid with evil,” the dragon replied.
The man pleaded for his life saying: “let us go along the path together and ask the first three we encounter what should happen.”
At last the dragon consented and the man and he traveled down the path together. After some time they came to a dog.
“My dear dog, can you help us decide what should happen in a deal between us?” the farmer asked.
“What’s your deal?” the dog asked.
So the farmer explained how he’d found the dragon trapped under a root and how he’d freed the dragon only to have the dragon seek to eat him.
“When I was young I would help my master protect his flock with my sharp teeth,” the dog replied. “But as I got older and my teeth became worn my master chased me away, telling me that good deeds are always rewarded with bad!” So the dragon should devour you.
They continued on a ways until they came to a horse.
“My dear horse, can you help us decide what should happen in a deal between us?” the farmer asked.
“What’s your deal?” the horse asked.

So the farmer explained how he’d found the dragon trapped under a root and how he’d freed the dragon only to have the dragon seek to eat him.
“A good deed is always repaid with evil,” the horse replied.
They continued on until they met of fox.
“My fox dog, can you help us decide what should happen in a deal between us?” the farmer asked.
“What’s your deal?” the fox asked.
So the farmer explained how he’d found the dragon trapped under a root and how he’d freed the dragon only to have the dragon seek to eat him.
“What will you give me for my decision?” the fox asked.
“I’ll give thee a goose,” the farmer promised.
“Follow me,” the fox told them as he led them into the woods to where the dragon had been trapped. “Show me exactly what happened, please lie down as before,” the fox instructed the dragon.
The fox then helped the farmer knock the trunk of a tree onto the dragon trapping him in place. The farmer and the fox then made their way to the farmer’s home.  The farmer went into his home and told his wife what had happened while the fox waited outside.
“Fool!” his wife told him. “Take a gun out with you and shoot the fox for his fur.:
So the farmer took a goose in one hand and a rifle in the other and went outside to see the fox. The fox was so excited at the site of the goose that he didn’t notice the gun. Then when the farmer got close to the fox he shot him. As the fox was dying he groaned: “A good deed is always repaid with evil.”

The hedgehog who received the king’s daughter to wife

There once was a man who had no children. One day when he was out in the forest he found a young hedgehog and took it home to raise it as his child. One day the hedgehog said to him: “I would like to go into the forest with our sow to become a sow herd.”
“You can’t drive sow the way you would sheep,” the farmer replied. But the hedgehog was insistent so at last the old man agreed. 
So the hedgehog drove the sow into the forest and guarded and cared for it for three years. After a while the sow had some piglets, which he helped to raise so that those piglets had piglets of their own until at last the hedgehog had a great big herd of pigs.
One day a Officer had gotten lost while hunting in the forest when he saw the pigs acting as if they were being tended by a shepherd. Curious he wondered where the shepherd was aloud. 
“I’m the shepherd who tends these pigs,” the hedgehog told him from atop a spruce tree. 
“How do I get out of the woods,” the Officer asked the hedgehog.
“If you give me your daughters hand in marriage I will lead you out of the woods,” the hedgehog replied.
“If you lead me out of the woods you may marry my daughter,” the Officer agreed.
So the hedgehog led the officer out of the forest.
Another time there was a 
Another time there was a Königssphn who got lost while hunting in the forest and he too saw the pigs and wanted to know who their shepherd was, then he saw the hedgehog in the pine and asked him: “Where is the shepherd who tends the pigs?”
“I’m the shepherd,” the hedgehog responded. 
“Could you show me how to get out of the forest?” the prince asked.
“If you give me your daughters hand in marriage I will lead you out of the woods,” the hedgehog replied.
“If you lead me out of the woods you may marry my daughter,” the Prince agreed.
So the hedgehog led the Prince out of the forest.
The next day the king himself got lost while hunting in the forest, and he too asked the hedgehog to lead him out of the forest which the hedgehog did in return for his daughters hand in marriage. 
Soon after that the hedgehog drove the pigs home, and the old man saw that his adopted son had raised the pigs so well they’d become a great big herd. So big in fact that the barn where he kept the pigs did not have enough room for them so he had to put some of them in another stall and the old man rejoiced that the hedgehog had brought home so much pork. 
The hedgehog then rod to the office and asked for his daughters hand in marriage.
“Do you need anything else?” the officer asked.
“A pair of horses and a carriage full of money,” the hedgehog replied. 
So the officer gave the hedgehog the horses, the carriage and the money. The hedgehog then rode off with the officers daughter. On the way home told the girl: “This is up to you can go back to the father or you can come with me.”
The girl told him that she would rather go home to her father so the hedgehog let her return to her father.
The second wedding went precisely as the first but he managed to take the wealth from two weddings home.
The next day the hedgehog rode his cock to the third brides home and went before the king. 
“I’m here to marry your daughter,” the hedgehog told the King.
“What dowry do you need,” the king asked.
“Horses and a coach filled with money,” the hedgehog told the king.
So the dowry was provided and as the hedgehog rode away with the princess. And once more the hedgehog told the princess that she could return to her father if she wished, but she chose to stay with him. And so the hedgehog bought may fields, horses and oxen and hired maids, servants and hess; so the kings daughter and the hedgehog lived many years together in splendor.

Dummling and his white horse

There once was a man who had three sons, two were clever but the youngest was a simpleton. The man bought each of his sons two horses.
Some time later something came ate their barley during the night so the father sent the eldest son to see what had happened. But the eldest son fell asleep during his watch and so saw nothing. 
The  second night the second oldest went out to keep watch but he too fell asleep and saw nothing.
On the third night the Dummling went  out and sat on a stone to keep watch. Just at midnight he saw a white horse approaching. The horse was so white that it seemed to light up the night, and as it went to eat the barley the Dummling captured it. 
“Please, please, let me go,” the white horse begged. “If you do I’ll help you when you need it.”

Once upon a time the news came that the King wanted to give his daughter to the man who could jump with his horse from the court yard to his daughters room on the third story. Wanting to try to achieve this feat with the white horse the Dummling told his father he was going to gather mushrooms in the forest. Once he went out the Dummling threw his basked down and called out, “white horse.” And sure enough the white horse came running. And the Dummling crawled into one ear of the horse as a poor man and out the other dressed as a handsome portly squire. Then he rode to the castle and his horse jumped to the third floor where the princess lived.
Seeing that the Dummling had done this the princess gave him a gold ring. 
The dumbling then rode home, and returned to his normal self before dismissing his horse.
He then picked up his basket and filled it with sponges to make it appear that he’d gathered the wrong thing. When he got home and gave thse to the kitchen maid she called him a fool. But the Dummling didn’t care he went to the stove to examine his ring in the light. And when he looked at the ring it shone with such bright light that it made the whole room see to glow. But his family still called him a fool and worried that he might infect the whole house with some strange magic. 
Some time later the king sent out an invitation to the feast and the Dummlings father and two brothers went to the feast. Now the Dummling went out to give the guests a drink, and at last she came to the Dummling when she noticed the ring on his finger. 
“Why do you have that ring?” the pirncess asked him. 
And just then the ring began to glow with a bright light. The princess then took the husband by his hand and lead him over to her father and told him that this would be her husband. She then led him away, bathed him, dressed him in nice clothes, and lead him back to the feast to sit beside her. And the Dummling and the princess became husband and wife.

Selected and Currated Lithuanian Fairy Tales
What makes Lithuania so interesting is that its language retains many features of the Proto-Indo-European languages that have been lost in the other Indo-European languages. As part of this more isolated tradition the Lithuanian peoples were the last Indo-European nation to become Christianized, only doing so after a long crusade to force them to convert. Although most of their original belief system is lost as is usually the case some remnants may be found in their fairy tales. Certainly in reading them one gets the sense of a more rustic, nature centric and animistic people. The elements are clearly European and the fairies aren't so prominent as one sees in Celtic tales, but those stories likely have a strong pre-Indo-European substrate in them which explains the difference. 

The Twelve Brothers, Twelve Black Ravens
A facinating tale, which should seem familiar as there is a Grimm's brother version as well. In it a king marries a witch which turns his sons into ravens, and so their sister sets off to find them. This version however includes some fairly obvious deity, kind wizard, and fairy figures. Consider the sisters encounter with an old hermit in the forest;

Once, in a dense forest thicket, she came across a hermit. 
"Have you seen my brothers, the twelve black ravens? " asked she. 
"No," the hermit replied. "But I rule over the heavens, so spend the night in my cabin and in the morning I will command the clouds to come down and ask them about it. They are sure to have seen them! " 
On the following morning the hermit ordered all the clouds, white, grey and black, to come down to him, and when they did and had cloaked his cabin it became as dark inside as on the darkest night. 
The hermit stepped out on to the threshold. 
"Have you seen the Twelve Brothers, Twelve Black Ravens? " asked he.

The sister then continues on through the forest to the Hermits brother who asked the winds, and finally to the brother who asked the birds who then helped her get her brothers back.

The Swan Queen
Another very unique Lithuanian fairy tale about an old couple and a Swan Maiden. Where as most Swan Maiden tales involve a young man seeing the Swan Maiden in a remote area and then stealing their wings to force a marriage this fairy tale instead begins with a Swan Maiden helping an older couple;

Once upon a time there lived and old man and an old woman. Every morning they went out to clear a nearby forest of dry twigs and leaves, and the moment they left the house a white swan would come flying there. She would fold and put aside her wings, and, turning intoamaid, light the stove, cook the dinner, clean and wash everything and then fly away again. 

In this story the king falls in love with the Swan Maiden and takes her away after the clothes which allow her to turn into a swan have been burnt. However her father saves her by bringing her a new pair of wings. 

The Hedgehog and His Bride
The Hedgehog in this story is a wizard in his own right, commanding stables to clean themselves and fields to grow. As with most animals with such powers or humanity in European tales the Hedgehog is really a cursed human. In addition to the elements from the Germanic story "Hans My Hedgehog" this tale transitions into a tale in which the Princess must rescue the man who was turned into a Hedgehog.

Fairies, Fairy Tales, Fairy Books


Fairies, Fairy Tales, Fairy Books