The Grey Fairy Book
Once there was a woman who had no children, and this made her very unhappy. So she
spoke one day to the Sunball, saying: 'Dear Sunball, send me only a little girl now, and
when she is twelve years old you may take her back again.'
So soon after this the Sunball sent her a little girl, whom the woman called Letiko, and
watched over with great care till she was twelve years old. Soon after that, while Letiko
was away one day gathering herbs, the Sunball came to her, and said: 'Letiko, when you
go home, tell your mother that she must bethink herself of what she promised me.'
Then Letiko went straight home, and said to her mother: 'While I was gathering herbs a
fine tall gentleman came to me and charged me to tell you that you should remember
what you promised him.'
When the woman heard that she was sore afraid, and immediately shut all the doors and
windows of the house, stopped up all the chinks and holes, and kept Letiko hidden away,
that the Sunball should not come and take her away. But she forgot to close up the
keyhole, and through it the Sunball sent a ray into the house, which took hold of the little
girl and carried her away to him.
One day, the Sunball having sent her to the straw shed to fetch straw, the girl sat down on
the piles of straw and bemoaned herself, saying: 'As sighs this straw under my feet so
sighs my heart after my mother.'
And this caused her to be so long away that the Sunball asked her, when she came back:
'Eh, Letiko, where have you been so long?'
She answered: 'My slippers are too big, and I could not go faster.'
Then the Sunball made the slippers shorter.
Another time he sent her to fetch water, and when she came to the spring, she sat down
and lamented, saying: 'As flows the water even so flows my heart with longing for my
Thus she again remained so long away that the Sunball asked her: 'Eh, Letiko, why have
you remained so long away?'
And she answered: 'My petticoat is too long and hinders me in walking.'
Then the Sunball cut her petticoat to make it shorter.