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The Storyteller book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Some stories live foreverSage Singer is a baker. She wo.
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As a compromise, the King promises to give the Storyteller a gold crown for each story he tells for each day of the year - and to boil him if he fails. The Storyteller does well at first, but on the final day, he awakens and can think of no story. In a panic he roams the castle grounds, running into a magical beggar who turns him into a flea. At the end of the day when the king calls for his story, the Storyteller confesses he has no story, and instead tells the king the true tale of his adventures under the magic of the beggar that day.

This is the only episode where the Storyteller himself plays a major part in the story he tells. This episode was directed by Charles Sturridge. From an early German folk tale of the same name. A farmer 's wife drives her husband mad with her desperate measures to have a baby.

She says to him that she wants a child so badly, she would not care how he looked even if he were covered in quills like a hedgehog. That, of course, is what she gets: a baby covered in quills, as soft as feathers. His mother calls him 'Hans My Hedgehog' and she is the only one to love him; his father grows to hate him for shame. So eventually Hans leaves for a place where he cannot hurt anyone and where no-one can hurt him. Deep inside the forest, for many years Hans dwells with his animals for companions. One day a king gets lost in Hans' forest and hears a beautiful song being played on a bagpipe.

He follows the music and finds Hans' castle. When Hans helps him to escape the forest, the King promises that he will give to Hans the first thing to greet him at his castle - which the King secretly expects will be his dog. Instead, it turns out to be his beautiful daughter, the Princess of sweetness and cherry pie. Hans and the King have made a deal that in exactly one year and one day his prize the princess shall be his.

A year and one day later Hans returns to the castle. The princess says she knows what she must do. Hans asks her if she finds him ugly and she replies that he is not nearly as ugly as a broken promise. They are married, to the dismay of the entire kingdom. On their wedding night, the princess awaits her husband in bed. He comes into the chamber with his bagpipes and takes a seat by the fire and begins to play the same beautiful music that saved the king a year prior.

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The Princess is soothed by the music and dozes off. She wakes and finds a pelt of quills as soft as feathers on the ground before the fire. She sees her husband in the form of a handsome young man freeing the animals of the castle, to live with his friends in his forest castle. He knows she has seen him when he finds her slumbering on the discarded quills the following night.

He tells her that he is bewitched and only if she can keep his secret for one more night can he be freed and remain in the form of the handsome man. She agrees. The next morning at breakfast the Queen inquires why her daughter is so cheerful. The Princess tries to resist but as her mother pries she gives in and tells her that Hans is bewitched. The Queen says that the only way to reverse the spell is to fling the quills in the fire. That night when Hans sheds his quills, she obeys her mother and burns them. She hears his screams of pain as if he were aflame, and Hans runs from the castle.

The Princess has a blacksmith make her three pairs of solid iron shoes and slips away in search of her husband. She wears the shoes to nothing and moves on to the second pair, with still no sign of Hans. When she is donning the third pair of shoes, she finds a river and reclines by it, taking off the shoes and rubbing her sore feet. Catching sight of her reflection, she sees that her hair has grown white.

She weeps bitterly for her hair and her husband, forever lost. The next day she comes to a cottage , abandoned, covered in dust and cobwebs. Then comes the flapping of wings and she sees her husband whom she had so long searched for. He toasts a glass of wine to no-one, "to the beautiful woman who could not keep her promise. She tells him.

She tells him all of the perils that she has faced and how she has walked the world and worn through three pairs of iron shoes. Then she flings herself into his embrace and with her confession of love and loyalty , he transforms into the handsome man, the spell lifted by her fidelity and affection. The Storyteller states that he was given the final pair of the Princess' third pair of shoes which were worn down to nothing.

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The Storyteller

Based on the early German folk tale, The Six Swans. After the queen dies, an evil witch ensnares the King and turns his three sons into ravens to rid herself of her rivals. The Princess escapes and must stay silent for three years, three months, three weeks and three days in order to break the spell.

But after she meets a handsome Prince , this is suddenly not so easy for her stepmother has remarried and to the prince's father From an early German folk tale, this is a variant on Allerleirauh as well as containing elements of Donkeyskin and the Cinderella story recorded by the brothers Grimm.

There is a widowed king, who has three daughters. Two are as ugly and as bad as can be, but the third nicknamed Sapsorrow is as kind and as beautiful as her sisters are not. There is a ring belonging to the dead queen and a royal tradition that states that the girl whose finger fits the ring will become queen as decreed by law. Neither of the bad sisters wish their father to marry for fear that his bride will stand to inherit his title and riches.

In an effort to secure the royal wealth for their own they each try on the ring, though the ring becomes stuck on one of the sisters' fingers and Sapsorrow is forced to remove the ring. When Princess Sapsorrow slips on her dead mother's ring for safekeeping, she discovers, much to her own dismay, that the ring fits perfectly and the king against his own wishes must marry her, his own daughter, according to the law.

The princess attempts to stall the wedding by demanding three magnificent gowns: a gown as pale as the moon, a gown as sparkling as the stars, and a gown as golden as the sun. Once her father provides these, on the night of the wedding she takes the gowns and goes into hiding, disguising herself as a creature of fur and feathers known as Straggletag. She lives thus for years, working in the kitchen of a handsome but proud prince.

On the night of the ball, she discards her disguise and attends three different balls in one of her bridal gowns and captures the heart of the prince, leaving him naught but a single slipper as she runs off into the night. The prince scours the kingdom for the girl whose foot fits the slipper and agrees to marry Straggletag when hers is the foot it fits.

At this proclamation, her pets strip away her disguise for good and the two become happily wed. From an early German folk tale according to the creators of the series. A heartless giant , who once terrorized the land before being captured and imprisoned, is befriended by the young Prince Leo who, one night, sets him free. His older brothers go after the giant to capture him, but do not return, so Leo sets off to find the giant himself.

Once found, Leo decides to find the giant's heart, but this is no easy task - it sits in an egg in a duck in a well in a church in a lake in a mountain far away. No easy task indeed. Even when Prince Leo finds the heart and brings it to the giant, one of the brothers grabs the heart and squeezes it enough to kill the giant, whose dead body becomes a hill.

The Storyteller tells his dog that when Prince Leo became king, he retold the story where he states that he gave the heart back to the giant and that the giant never bothered the kingdom again. Based on an early German folk tale The True Bride. A troll had a daughter, but she left straight off. So the troll took another girl to replace her to wait on him hand and foot. Her name is Anja and she has no father or mother, making the troll her only "family". Setting her impossible tasks, then beating her with his "contradiction stick" when she invariably fails, the troll makes sure to make her life miserable, until she one day makes a wish.

Her wish is heard by a wondrous white lion called the Thought Lion who completes her impossible tasks for her. When the troll asks her to build him a palace, the Lion build it for her, and the troll falls to his death in a bottomless room. Anja lives happily in the castle. When she finds her true love in a Prince , he disappears one day, so Anja sets out to find him.

When she finally does, he turns out to be bewitched in the hands of the troll's evil daughter the Trollop. The episode was directed by Peter Smith. The Storyteller: Greek Myths is a four episode mini-series, which had a different storyteller Michael Gambon , but the same dog again performed and voiced by Brian Henson. This second series was first aired in , focused, as the title suggests, on Greek mythology , and took place in the Minotaur 's labyrinth which the new storyteller and his dog wander through looking for a way out. Anthony Minghella was credited as the series' creator. An Athenian storyteller and his dog take shelter in the labyrinth of Knossos.

There he recounts the story of the Minotaur confined to the maze by King Minos ten centuries earlier. King Aegeus had left his sword under a huge rock and told Aithra that when their son Theseus would grow up, he should move the rock to learn who his father was. Theseus grew up and became a brave young man. He managed to move the rock and took up his father's sword. His mother then told him the truth about his father's identity. Theseus decided to go to Athens, either by sea, which was the safe way or by land, following a dangerous path with thieves and bandits all the way.

Young, brave and ambitious, Theseus decided to go to Athens by land. After King Aegeus recognized the sword that Theseus is carrying, he knocked the poisoned drink out of his hand. Before the guards can arrest Medea, she teleports away while cursing Aegeus. Reclaiming his rightful place as the son of King Aegeus, Theseus insisted on traveling to Crete to kill the dreaded Minotaur.

He promised to his father Aegeus that he would put up a white sail on his journey back home if he was successful. Ariadne , Minos' daughter, fell in love with Theseus and helped him get out of the Labyrinth by giving him a ball of thread allowing him to retrace his path. Theseus killed the Minotaur. Theseus took Ariadne with him but on the return trip abandoned her on the island of Naxos. He also failed to fly white sails on his return journey, thus causing his father to throw himself into the Aegean sea which was since named after him. The episode was directed by John Madden. Discovering Perseus's existence, King Acrisius of Argos banished Perseus and his mother to a wooden chest cast into the sea.

They managed to escape death at sea where they are found by Diktys. After coming of age, the young hero vowed to bring back the head of the Gorgon Medusa in order to stop the evil King Polydectes from marrying his mother. He was given special weapons and armor by the gods to complete his task. He gained directions from Gracea and headed in the direction while encountering the Titan Atlas along the way.

Perseus used his weapons in order to slay Medusa. On the way back to King Polydectes, Perseus used Medusa's head to turn Atlas to stone where he became a mountain. Upon Perseus' return, King Polydectes did not believe that Perseus returned with the true head of Medusa. Perseus proves it to him by using Medusa's head to turn him to stone. Still, he could not escape the prophecy that he would one day kill his grandfather.

Orpheus , son of Calliope the muse fell in love with Eurydice the moment he set eyes on her. His love for her was so strong that when she perished from a poisoned snake bite when being chased by the satyr Aristaeus, Orpheus traveled down to the Underworld to plead to Hades for her return. To cross the River Styx, Orpheus used his music to charm Charon into taking him across. His music softened the heart of Hades' wife Persephone.

Hades decided to let them both return to the living world as long as Orpheus did not look back. As Orpheus was not certain that Eurydice was following him into the sunlight, he looked back, forgetting the condition, and lost her forever. Thus, he refused to play any music for the villagers, instead, hitting his lyre's strings with a rock over and over. The village's wild women knew that they had to end the awful noise, and so they killed him. The Storyteller tells the story of Daedalus and Icarus. Dombrowski brings her dead husband to our therapy group.

Dumbrowski shyly nods toward the urn she is holding. Herbie, meet Sage. I stand frozen, ducking my head so that my hair covers the left side of my face, like I usually do. Am I supposed to say hello? Shake his handle? I know this better than anyone. Today, our facilitator, Marge, has asked us to bring in mementos.

We were supposed to bring a memory. I step away as they start to argue and head for the bathroom down the hall. Staring into the mirror, I pull my hair back from my face. The scar is silver now, ruched, rippling my cheek and my brow like the neck of a silk purse. But people notice. Even though the injury has faded, I still see it the way it was right after the accident: raw and red, a jagged lightning bolt splitting the symmetry of my face. As I leave the bathroom, I nearly mow down an old man. I am taller than him - tall enough to see the pink of his scalp through the hurricane whorl of his white hair.

He has yet to say a single word during a session. Now, I do. The bakery. He comes in often with his dog, a little dachshund, and he orders a fresh roll with butter and a black coffee. He spends hours writing in a little black notebook, while his dog sleeps at his feet. The awkward silence grows between us like yeasted dough. You have been coming a long time. Weber muses. One Easter, when she heard the priest say He is risen she had a vision. It was a fair-weather shrine; business dropped off dramatically during New England winters. The only catch was that she had no idea how to bake.

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I started baking when I was twenty years old and my father died unexpectedly. I was at college, and went home for the funeral, only to return and find nothing the same. I stared at the words on textbooks as if they had been written in a language I could not read. I missed one exam, then another. I stopped turning in papers. It reminded me of Sunday mornings as a kid, when I would awaken to the scent of fresh bagels and bialys, crafted by my father.

Or so I thought, until I started to sneak into the residential college dining hall kitchen and bake bread every night. I left the loaves like abandoned babies on the thresholds of the offices of professors I admired, of the dorm rooms of boys with smiles so beautiful that they stunned me into awkward silence.

I left a finial rail of sourdough rolls on a lectern podium and slipped a boule into the oversized purse of the cafeteria lady who pressed plates of pancakes and bacon at me, telling me I was too skinny. On the day my academic advisor told me that I was failing three of my four classes, I had nothing to say in my defense; but I gave her a honey baguette seeded with anise, the bitter and the sweet. My mother arrived unexpectedly one day. She took up residence in my dorm room and micromanaged my life, from making sure I was fed to walking me to class to quizzing me on my homework readings.

I wound up being on the five-year-plan, but I did graduate. My mother stood up and whistled through her teeth when I crossed the stage to get my diploma. And then everything went to hell. And so afterward, with my eye still bloodshot and the Frankenstein monster stitches curving around my temple and cheek like the seam of a baseball, I gave my mother the same advice she had given me.

It took almost six months, one bodily system shutting down after another. I sat by her side in the hospital every day, and at night went home to rest. Instead, I started once again to bake — my go-to therapy. I brought artisan loaves to her doctors. I made pretzels for the nurses. For my mother, I made her favorite — cinnamon rolls, thick with icing. I made them daily, but she never managed a bite.

It was Marge, the facilitator of the grief group, who suggested I get a job, to help me forge some kind of routine. Fake it until you make it, she said. I had been shy before; now I was reclusive. She is already picturing the plant it will become. I imagine she thought the same, meeting me.

When your workday begins at 5 PM and lasts through dawn, you hear each click of the minute hand on the clock over the stove, you see movements in the shadows. You do not recognize the echo of your own voice; you begin to think you are the only person left alive on earth. The world just feels different for those of us who come alive after dark.

Most days this means I get about six hours of sleep before I return to Our Daily Bread to start all over again, but being a baker means accepting a fringe existence, one I welcome whole-heartedly. The people I see are convenience store clerks, Dunkin Donuts drive-through cashiers, nurses switching shifts. And Mary, who close up the bakery shortly after I arrive. She locks me in, like the princess in Rumplestilskin, not to count grain but to transform it before morning into the quick breads and yeasted loaves that fill the shelves and glass counters.

I am already well into making the one hundred pounds of product I make every night by the time I hear Mary start to close up. The one lone customer is Mr. Weber, from my grief group, and his tiny dog. Mary sits with him, a cup of tea in her hands. He struggles to get to his feet when he sees me and does an awkward little bow. His dachshund comes closer on its leash to lick at a spot of flour of my pants. Animals never stare. Weber slips the loop of the leash over his wrist and stands. I enjoy the company. After all, I have plenty to do.

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But it has started to pour, now, a torrential sheet of rain. Weber is either walking home or waiting for the bus. He nods in gratitude and sits down again. As he cups his hands around the coffee mug, Eva stretches out over his left foot and closes her eyes. But instead of staying with Mr. Weber, I follow Mary into the back room where she keeps her biker rain gear.

It was three days before I heard that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. The worst he could do is talk you to death. I watch her open the rear door of the bakery. She ducks at the onslaught of driving rain and waves without looking back. I close the door behind her and lock it.

I have a hundred loaves to shape; bagels to boil; bialys to fill. I do, but I check my watch. My timer will go off in three minutes, then I will have to go back into the kitchen. Weber replies. His words sound as if he is biting them off a string: precise, clipped. My gaze locks on his. Certainly Mr. My grandma is always talking about how at her age, her friends are dropping like flies. I imagine for Mr. Weber, the same is true. From the kitchen comes the sound of the timer buzzing; it wakes up Eva, who begins to bark. Almost simultaneously there is a sweep of approaching lights through the glass windows of the bakery as the Advance Transit bus slows at its corner stop.

His face softens. Call me Josef. I notice that Mr. Weber — Josef — has left behind the little black book he is always writing in when he sits here. It is banded with elastic. I grab it and run into the storm. I step right into a gigantic puddle, which soaks my clog. I hold up the black book and walk toward him. He looks startled. This is just a place to keep all my thoughts. They get away from me, otherwise.

The driver of the Advanced Transit bus honks twice. We both turn in the direction of the noise. In a town the size of Westerbrook, which was derived of Yankee Mayflower stock, being Jewish made my sisters and I anomalies, as different from our classmates as if our skin happened to be bright blue. I went to Hebrew school because my sisters did, but when the time came to be bat mitvahed, I begged to drop out. I used to sit at Friday night services listening to the cantor sing in Hebrew and wondered why Jewish music was full of minor chords. My parents did, however, fast on Yom Kippur and refused to have a Christmas tree.

To me, it seemed they were following an abridged version of Judaism, so who were they to tell me how and what to believe? I said this to my parents when I was lobbying to not have a bat mitzvah. My father got very quiet. Then he sent me to my room without supper, which was truly shocking because in our household, we were encouraged to state our opinions, no matter how controversial.

It was my mother who sneaked upstairs with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for me. I have a problem going to Hebrew School. This was a seemingly random observation. She had been born in Poland and still had an accent that made it sound like she was always singing. And yes, Grandma Minka wore sweaters, even when it was ninety degrees out, but she also wore too much blush and leopard prints. It took me a moment to realize what my mother was telling me.

How had I made it to age twelve without knowing this? Why would my parents have hidden this information from me? We had studied the Holocaust in social studies class. It was hard to imagine the textbook pictures of living skeletons matching the plump woman who always smelled like lilacs, who never missed her weekly hair appointment, who kept brightly colored canes in every room of her house so that she always had easy access to one. She was not part of history.

She was just my grandma. But your father, he started going. I think it was his way of processing what happened to her. Here I was, trying desperately to shed my religion so I could blend in, and it turned out being Jewish was truly in my blood; that I was the descendant of a Holocaust survivor. Frustrated, angry, and selfish, I threw myself backward against my pillows. It has nothing to do with me. If she had been in a concentration camp during World War II, she must have been a completely different person at the time.

The picture book was of Cinderella, but she must have been thinking of something else, because her tale was about a dark forest and monsters; a trail of oats and grain. I kept reaching for it, pulling at her sweater. At one point, the wool rode up just far enough for me to be distracted by the faded blue numbers on her inner forearm. I had memorized my telephone number the previous year in preschool, so that if I got lost, the police could call home.

The Four Truths of the Storyteller

The next day, when Josef Weber comes into the bakery at , I bring out a small bag of homemade dog biscuits for Eva, and a loaf of bread for him. You can smell it, when an artisanal bread comes out of the oven: the earthy, dark scent, as if you are in the thick of the woods. I glance with pride at the variegated crumb.

We chat — about the weather, about Eva, about my favorite recipes. We chat, as Mary closes up the bakery around us. We chat, even as I dart back and forth into the kitchen to answer the call of various timers. There are even moments during our conversation that when I forget to disguise the pitted side of my face by ducking my head or letting my hair fall in front of it.

But Josef, he is either too polite or too embarrassed to mention it. Or maybe, just maybe, there are other things about me he finds more interesting. His hand shakes as he reaches for his mug of coffee. The pocked drawstring of skin flapping the corner of my right eye. The silver hatchmarks cutting through my eyebrow. The way my mouth tugs upward, because of the way my cheekbone healed. The bald notch at my scalp that no longer grows hair, that my bangs are brushed to carefully cover.

The face of a monster. Maybe because loneliness is a mirror; and recognizes itself. My hand falls away, letting the curtain of my hair cover my scars again. I just wish it were that easy to camouflage the ones inside me. To his credit, Josef does not gasp or recoil. Steadily, he meets my gaze. He lives at the end of small cul-de-sac, and I am parked at the curb trying to concoct a reason that I might be dropping by when he knocks on the window of my car.

She dances around his feet in circles. I consider telling him that it is a coincidence, that I took a wrong turn. Or that I have a friend who lives nearby. But instead, I wind up speaking the truth. His home is not decorated the way I would have expected. There are chintz couches with lace doilies on the back, photographs on top of a dusty mantel, a collection of Hummel figurines on a shelf.

For fifty-one very good years and one not-so-good. This must have been the reason he started coming to grief group, I realize. He takes the teabag from his mug and carefully wraps a noose around it on the bowl of the spoon. In fifty years, I never once forgot, but she never gave me the benefit of the doubt. Drove me crazy. Now, I would give anything to hear her remind me again. I felt like the biggest loser on earth. And now I realize how lucky I was. He shakes his head. My gaze lands on a chess set on a sideboard behind Josef. The pieces are all carefully carved: pawns shaped like tiny unicorns, rooks fashioned into centaurs, a set of Pegasus knights.

I stare with even more admiration at the chessboard, with its seamless inlay of cherry and maple squares; at the tiny jeweled eyes of the mermaid. I pick up the vampire and run my finger over the smooth, slick skull of the creature. Marta had no patience for the game. I look up at him.

Josef becomes a regular at Our Daily Bread, and I spend hours at his house, learning chess. He teaches me to control the center of the board. To not give up any pieces unless absolutely necessary, and how to assign arbitrary point values to each knight and bishop and rook and pawn so that I can make those decisions. As we play, Josef asks me questions.


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Was my mother a redhead, like me? Did my father ever miss the restaurant industry, once he went into industrial sales? Did either of them ever get a chance to taste some of my recipes? It feels less like a wound; more like a poultice. Two weeks later, Josef and I carpool to our next grief group meeting. We sit beside each other, and it is as if we have a subtle telepathy between us as the other group members speak.

Sometimes he catches my gaze and hides a smile, sometimes I roll my eyes at him. We are suddenly partners in crime. Today we are talking about what happens to us after we die. In Heaven and Hell people sit at banquet tables filled with amazing food, but no one can bend their elbows. I assume Josef will ignore her question, or shake his head, like usual. But to my surprise, he speaks. And everything is over. His blunt words settle like a shroud over the rest of us. I find him waiting in the hallway of the church. As if it were this easy. Everyone is both of these at once. As if his words have heat behind them, my scar burns.

I wonder if this has been my problem all along: not being able to dissect the two. I have come to the only viable conclusion: Josef is lying comatose in his bed.