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The Folktale Project

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Who says you're too old for a good fairy tale? Reading original versions of folktales and fairy tales from around the world every Monday through Friday, this podcast is for everyone who has a love of the mystery that surrounds us and the ways we try to explain it.

Who says you're too old for a good fairy tale? Reading original versions of folktales and fairy tales from around the world every Monday through Friday, this podcast is for everyone who has a love of the mystery that surrounds us and the ways we try to explain it.
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Who says you're too old for a good fairy tale? Reading original versions of folktales and fairy tales from around the world every Monday through Friday, this podcast is for everyone who has a love of the mystery that surrounds us and the ways we try to explain it.




Maid Maleen

There was once a King who had a son who asked in marriage the daughter of a mighty King; she was called Maid Maleen, and was very beautiful. As her father wished to give her to another, the prince was rejected; but as they both loved each other with all their hearts, they would not give each other up, and Maid Maleen said to her father, “I can and will take no other for my husband.” Then the King flew into a passion, and ordered a dark tower to be built, into which no ray of sunlight or...

Duration: 00:14:19

The Voice of Death

Once upon a time there lived a man whose one wish and prayer was to get rich. Day and night he thought of nothing else, and at last his prayers were granted, and he became very wealthy. Now being so rich, and having so much to lose, he felt that it would be a terrible thing to die and leave all his possessions behind; so he made up his mind to set out in search of a land where there was no death. He got ready for his journey, took leave of his wife, and started. Whenever he came to a new...

Duration: 00:08:35

Iktomi and the Coyote

Afar off upon a large level land, a summer sun was shining bright. Here and there over the rolling green were tall bunches of coarse gray weeds. Iktomi in his fringed buckskins walked alone across the prairie with a black bare head glossy in the sunlight. He walked through the grass without following any well-worn footpath. From one large bunch of coarse weeds to another he wound his way about the great plain. He lifted his foot lightly and placed it gently forward like a wildcat prowling...

Duration: 00:08:06

The Quest of Cleverness

Once long ago, there lived a king who had a stupid son. His father sent him to school for many years hoping that he might learn something there. His teachers all gave him up as hopelessly stupid, and with one accord they said, “It is no use trying to teach this lad out of books. It is just a waste of our valuable time.” At length the king called together all the wisest men of his kingdom to consult with them as to the best way to make the prince wise and clever. They talked the matter over...

Duration: 00:07:22

The Drop Star

A little maid of three years was missing from her home on the Genesee. She had gone to gather water-lilies and did not return. Her mother, almost crazed with grief, searched for days, weeks, months, before she could resign herself to the thought that her little one—Kayutah, the Drop Star, the Indians called her—had indeed been drowned. Years went by. The woman’s home was secure against pillage, for it was no longer the one house of a white family in that region, and the Indians had retired...

Duration: 00:05:13

The Watcher of White Island

The isles of Shoals, a little archipelago of wind and wave-swept rocks that may be seen on clear days from the New Hampshire coast, have been the scene of some mishaps and some crimes. On Boone Island, where the Nottingham galley went down one hundred and fifty years ago, the survivors turned cannibals to escape starvation, while Haley’s Island is peopled by shipwrecked Spanish ghosts that hail vessels and beg for passage back to their country. The pirate Teach, or Blackbeard, used to put...

Duration: 00:03:48

How Night Came

Years and years ago, at the very beginning of time, when the world had just been made, there was no night. It was day all the time. No one had ever heard of sunrise or sunset, starlight or moonbeams. There were no night birds, nor night beasts, nor night flowers. There were no lengthening shadows, nor soft night air, heavy with perfume. In those days the daughter of the Great Sea Serpent, who dwelt in the depths of the seas, married one of the sons of the great earth race known as Man. She...

Duration: 00:08:19

The Milkmaid and Her Pail

Patty the Milkmaid was going to market carrying her milk in a Pail on her head. As she went along she began calculating what she would do with the money she would get for the milk.

Duration: 00:02:18

Condemned to The Noose

Ralph Sutherland, who, early in the last century, occupied a stone house a mile from Leeds, in the Catskills, was a man of morose and violent disposition, whose servant, a Scotch girl, was virtually a slave, inasmuch as she was bound to work for him without pay until she had refunded to him her passage-money to this country. Becoming weary of bondage and of the tempers of her master, the girl ran away. The man set off in a raging chase, and she had not gone far before Sutherland overtook...

Duration: 00:05:29

The Fox as Herder

Once upon a time there was a wife who would go out to look for a herder. Then she met a bear. “Where are you off to?” said the bear. “Oh, I’m going out to find a herder,” said the wife. “Don’t you want me as herder?” asked the bear. “Well, yes, but only if you can call the animals,” said the wife.

Duration: 00:04:24

The Golden Mountain

ONCE upon a time a merchant's son had too much fun spending money, and the day came when he saw himself ruined; he had nothing to eat, nothing to drink. He took a shovel and went to the market place to see if perchance somebody would hire him as a worker. A rich, proud merchant, worth many, many thousands, came along in a gilded carriage. All the fellows at the market place, as soon as they perceived him, rushed away and hid themselves in the corners. Only one remained, and this one was...

Duration: 00:10:43

The Master of Magic

The Story of a Boy who Learned His Lessons in School Once upon a time there lived a man who had three sons. The two older ones worked in the fields, but the youngest one went to school. He learned how to read and write and do sums and make drawings. At last he even learned magic. The two elder brothers complained to their father about him one day. Their hearts were bitter against him. “It is not fair, father,” they said. “We work hard every day in the fields and bring home money to...

Duration: 00:06:19

The Lion in Love

A Lion once fell in love with a beautiful maiden and proposed marriage to her parents. The old people did not know what to say. They did not like to give their daughter to the Lion, yet they did not wish to enrage the King of Beasts.

Duration: 00:02:34

Iktomi and The Ducks

Iktomi is a spider fairy. He wears brown deerskin leggins with long soft fringes on either side, and tiny beaded moccasins on his feet. His long black hair is parted in the middle and wrapped with red, red bands. Each round braid hangs over a small brown ear and falls forward over his shoulders. He even paints his funny face with red and yellow, and draws big black rings around his eyes. He wears a deerskin jacket, with bright colored beads sewed tightly on it. Iktomi dresses like a real...

Duration: 00:13:20

Peter Rugg, The Missing Man

The idea of long wandering as a penalty, symbolized in “The Wandering Jew,” “The Flying Dutchman,” and the character of Kundry, in “Parsifal,” has application in the legend of Peter Rugg. This strange man, who lived in Middle Street, Boston, with his wife and daughter, was esteemed, as a person of probity and good manners except in his swearing fits, for he was subject to outbursts of passion, when he would kick his way through doors instead of opening them, bite tenpenny nails in two, and...

Duration: 00:05:00

The Little Sister of The Giants

Once upon a time there was a little girl who was very beautiful. Her eyes were like the eyes of the gazelle; her hair hid in its soft waves the deep shadows of the night; her smile was like the sunrise. Each year as she grew older, she grew also more and more beautiful. Her name was Angelita. The little girl’s mother was dead, and her father, the image-maker, had married a second time. The step-mother was a woman who was renowned in the city for her great beauty. As her little...

Duration: 00:14:46


The cataract of Niagara (properly pronounced Nee-ah-gah-rah), or Oniahgarah, is as fatal as it is fascinating, beautiful, sublime, and the casualties occurring there justify the tradition that “the Thundering Water asks two victims every year.” It was reputed, before white men looked for the first time on these falls—and what thumping yarns they told about them!—that two lives were lost here annually, and this average has been kept up by men and women who fall into the flood through...

Duration: 00:06:12

Fresh Figs

Long ago there lived a little maid who fell ill. Her father was very rich and he did everything he could for her. One day she said: “If I only had some fresh figs I’m sure I’d feel better.” Now it was in the month of January. It would be many long months before the fresh figs would be ripe. The rich man was greatly worried. Not even his fortune could ripen the figs, as he well knew.

Duration: 00:07:36

The Wolf and The Lamb

Once upon a time a Wolf was lapping at a spring on a hillside, when, looking up, what should he see but a Lamb just beginning to drink a little lower down. “There’s my supper,” thought he, “if only I can find some excuse to seize it.”

Duration: 00:02:51

The Giant's Pupil

Many years ago, there lived a little boy whose name was Manoel. His father and mother were so very poor that they could not afford to send him to school. Because he did not go to school, he played all day in the fields on the edge of the forest where the giant lived. One day Manoel met the giant. The giant lived all alone in the forest, so he was very lonely and wished he had a little boy like Manoel. He loved little Manoel as soon as he saw him, and after that they were together every...

Duration: 00:07:52

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