Ivana’s parents, Ivan and Svetlana, were the poorest egg farmers in Polentia. They had but two hens, and the red one hadn’t laid in over a year. But Ivana was always happy. “Someday, I am going to be a princess,” she would say.
“What prince would marry you?” they asked.
“Oh, I’m not going to get married,” she would reply. “I’m going to be a princess on my own merits.” Continue reading →
Boyling and Girlchen were brother and sister, and lived with their mother Annalisa and wicked stepfather Kobold at the edge of the only bamboo forest in pre-industrial Bavaria. One night, as they lay awake in their tiny bed in the other room, unable to sleep for hunger, they heard their parents talking in the kitchen.
“We cannot make enough money cutting and selling bamboo,” said Kobold, who was in fact a goblin that had taken the form of a man. “We are all going to starve to death.”
“I assume you have some plan, or you wouldn’t have brought this up,” said Annalisa sharply. She had come to realize her new husband wasn’t very nice, and had taken to reading the tortuously complex pre-industrial Bavarian divorce laws when he wasn’t around. Continue reading →
There once dwelt, on an island in the middle of the ocean where no boats ever came, a sad King named Mirth. For when he was born, an old fairy with a Magic Eight Ball told his parents that love of him would one day bring sorrow to a lonely Queen. His parents, the King and the Queen of Pavendia, laughed this off. But when Mirth became King, he learned of the prophecy, and swore he would never be the cause of sorrow for any Queen, however lonely. Therefore he had himself banished. He entrusted the Kingdom to his brother, and had himself clapped in chains and rowed away. With him went fifty-two sheep, fifty-two packets of vegetable seeds, fifty-two books about philosophy and other arcane subjects, and a deck of cards.
Years passed. Mirth read every book he owned until the pages fell out, and played so many games of solitaire that the cards were worn white, and it was impossible to tell the King of Diamonds from the Deuce of Spades. Back in Pavendia, he was quickly forgotten, except by the manufacturers of playing cards, who still printed his likeness on the Jack of Hearts. Continue reading →
Once upon a time there was a woodcutter who had three somewhat ordinary-looking daughters. The eldest daughter liked to fish. Her mother said, “You will always be able to feed your family with the fish you catch.” The second daughter liked to make pots out of clay. Her mother said, “You will always be able to feed your family by selling your pots.” The youngest daughter liked to fly kites. Her mother said, “You will never feed your family; all you do is fly kites and climb trees to get them down.”
One day the woodcutter said to her daughters, “It is time you went out into the world to seek your fortunes. Here is some food for your journey.” To the eldest she gave half a cold chicken. To the second she gave half a wheel of cheese. To the youngest she gave half a crust of stale bread. Then she sent them out one at a time, a day apart. Continue reading →