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By Robert Elsie

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10. The Stirrup Moor Once upon a time there was a king who owned a mare. It was his own personal mare and no one else was allowed to ride it. The mare had never had a foal. Nor did the king have any children. One day, he saddled the mare and rode out to find a potion so that his wife could bear children and the mare could have a foal. On his way, the king met an old man who asked him where he was going. ” The old man said, “Here, take this apple. Go home and peel it, and give the apple to the queen and the peelings to the mare.

So the old woman took the daughter back to her father without saying a word. The king then sent his second eldest daughter, but she came back just as the first one had because she could not live with the horrible skull either. When the third daughter saw that her two sisters had returned home, she went to her father and said, “Father, send me to live with the skull. ” “My dear daughter,” replied the king, “you are the pet of the family and you are willing to marry the skull? Do you want to throw your whole life away?

No,” insisted the youth, “I want one of the wives. ” The king could not bring himself to give one of his wives up and said to the shepherd, “Let us wait for a moment. Before we decide, we’ll go through the rooms and see how they are decorated. ” So they got up and visited all the rooms. The Stirrup Moor had put the oven on and by the time they had gone through all the palace, it was very hot indeed. When they had seen all the rooms, the youth said, “Now, let’s have a look at the kitchen,” and they entered the kitchen where the oven was.

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Albanian folktales and legends by Robert Elsie

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