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EAST OF THE SUN AND WEST OF THE MOON
OLD TALES FROM THE NORTH
ILLUSTRATED BY KAY NIELSEN
NEW YORK GEORGE H DORAN COMPANY
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A folk-tale, in its primitive plainness of word and entire absence of complexity in thought, is peculiarly sensitive and susceptible to the touch of stranger hands; and he who has been able to acquaint himself with the Norske Folkeeventyr of Asbjoernsen and Moe (from which these stories are selected), has an advantage over the reader of an English rendering. Of this advantage Mr. Kay Nielsen has fully availed himself: and the exquisite bizarrerie of his drawings aptly expresses the innermost significance of the old-world, old-wives' fables. For to term these legends, Nursery Tales, would be to curtail them, by nine-tenths, of their interest. They are the romances of the childhood of Nations: they are the never-failing springs of sentiment, of sensation, of heroic example, from which primeval peoples drank their fill at will.
The quaintness, the tenderness, the grotesque yet realistic intermingling of actuality with supernaturalism, by which the original Norske Folkeeventyr are characterised, will make an appeal to all, as represented in the pictures of Kay Nielsen. And these imperishable traditions, whose bases are among the very roots of all antiquity, are here reincarnated in line and colour, to the delight of all who ever knew or now shall know them.
Permission to reprint the Stories in this book, which originally appeared in Sir G. W. Dasent's "Popular Tales from the Norse," has been obtained from Messrs. George Routledge & Sons, Ltd. THE THREE PRINCESSES IN THE BLUE MOUNTAIN is printed by arrangement with Messrs. David Nutt; and PRINCE LINDWORM is newly translated for this volume.
PAGE EAST OF THE SUN AND WEST OF THE MOON 9 THE BLUE BELT 29 PRINCE LINDWORM 53 THE LASSIE AND HER GODMOTHER 65 THE HUSBAND WHO WAS TO MIND THE HOUSE 75 THE LAD WHO WENT TO THE NORTH WIND 79 THE THREE PRINCESSES OF WHITELAND 85 SORIA MORIA CASTLE 97 THE GIANT WHO HAD NO HEART IN HIS BODY 117 THE PRINCESS ON THE GLASS HILL 131 THE WIDOW'S SON 149 THE THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF 167 THE THREE PRINCESSES IN THE BLUE MOUNTAIN 171 THE CAT ON THE DOVREFELL 200 ONE'S OWN CHILDREN ARE ALWAYS PRETTIEST 203
EAST OF THE SUN AND WEST OF THE MOON Page "Well, mind and hold tight by my shaggy coat, and then there's nothing to fear," said the Bear, so she rode a long, long way 9 "Tell me the way, then," she said, "and I'll search you out" 16 And then she lay on a little green patch in the midst of the gloomy thick wood 24 The North Wind goes over the sea 32 And flitted away as far as they could from the Castle that lay East of the Sun and West of the Moon 40
THE BLUE BELT
The Lad in the Bear's skin, and the King of Arabia's daughter 48
She saw the Lindworm for the first time, as he came in and stood by her side 56
THE LASSIE AND HER GODMOTHER
She could not help setting the door a little ajar, just to peep in, when—Pop! out flew the Moon 64 Then he coaxed her down and took her home 72 "Here are your children; now you shall have them again. I am the Virgin Mary" 80 He too saw the image in the water; but he looked up at once, and became aware of the lovely Lassie who sate there up in the tree FRONTISPIECE
THE THREE PRINCESSES OF WHITELAND
"You'll come to three Princesses, whom you will see standing in the earth up to their necks, with only their heads out" 88 So the man gave him a pair of snow shoes 96 The King went into the Castle, and at first his Queen didn't know him, he was so wan and thin, through wandering so far and being so woeful 104
THE GIANT WHO HAD NO HEART IN HIS BODY
The six brothers riding out to woo 112 "On that island stands a church; in that church is a well; in that well swims a duck" 120 He took a long, long farewell of the Princess, and when he got out of the Giant's door, there stood the Wolf waiting for him 128
THE WIDOW'S SON
When he had walked a day or so, a strange man met him. "Whither away?" asked the man 136 But still the Horse begged him to look behind him 144 And this time she whisked off the wig; and there lay the lad, so lovely, and white and red, just as the Princess had seen him in the morning sun 152 The Lad in the Battle 160
THE THREE PRINCESSES IN THE BLUE MOUNTAIN
Just as they bent down to take the rose a big dense snowdrift came and carried them away 168 The Troll was quite willing, and before long he fell asleep and began snoring 176 As soon as they tugged at the rope, the Captain and the Lieutenant pulled up the Princesses, the one after the other 184 No sooner had he whistled than he heard a whizzing and a whirring from all quarters, and such a large flock of birds swept down that they blackened all the field in which they settled 192
EAST OF THE SUN AND WEST OF THE MOON
Once on a time there was a poor husbandman who had so many children that he hadn't much of either food or clothing to give them. Pretty children they all were, but the prettiest was the youngest daughter, who was so lovely there was no end to her loveliness.
So one day, 'twas on a Thursday evening late at the fall of the year, the weather was so wild and rough outside, and it was so cruelly dark, and rain fell and wind blew, till the walls of the cottage shook again. There they all sat round the fire, busy with this thing and that. But just then, all at once something gave three taps on the window-pane. Then the father went out to see what was the matter; and, when he got out of doors, what should he see but a great big White Bear.
"Good-evening to you!" said the White Bear.
"The same to you!" said the man.
"Will you give me your youngest daughter? If you will, I'll make you as rich as you are now poor," said the Bear.
Well, the man would not be at all sorry to be so rich; but still he thought he must have a bit of a talk with his daughter first; so he went in and told them how there was a great White Bear waiting outside, who had given his word to make them so rich if he could only have the youngest daughter.
The lassie said "No!" outright. Nothing could get her to say anything else; so the man went out and settled it with the White Bear that he should come again the next Thursday evening and get an answer. Meantime he talked his daughter over, and kept on telling her of all the riches they would get, and how well off she would be herself; and so at last she thought better of it, and washed and mended her rags, made herself as smart as she could, and was ready to start. I can't say her packing gave her much trouble.
Next Thursday evening came the White Bear to fetch her, and she got upon his back with her bundle, and off they went. So, when they had gone a bit of the way, the White Bear said:
"Are you afraid?"
"No," she wasn't.
"Well! mind and hold tight by my shaggy coat, and then there's nothing to fear," said the Bear.
So she rode a long, long way, till they came to a great steep hill. There, on the face of it, the White Bear gave a knock, and a door opened, and they came into a castle where there were many rooms all lit up; rooms gleaming with silver and gold; and there, too, was a table ready laid, and it was all as grand as grand could be. Then the White Bear gave her a silver bell; and when she wanted anything, she was only to ring it, and she would get it at once.
Well, after she had eaten and drunk, and evening wore on, she got sleepy after her journey, and thought she would like to go to bed, so she rang the bell; and she had scarce taken hold of it before she came into a chamber where there was a bed made, as fair and white as any one would wish to sleep in, with silken pillows and curtains and gold fringe. All that was in the room was gold or silver; but when she had gone to bed and put out the light, a man came and laid himself alongside her. That was the White Bear, who threw off his beast shape at night; but she never saw him, for he always came after she had put out the light, and before the day dawned he was up and off again. So things went on happily for a while, but at last she began to get silent and sorrowful; for there she went about all day alone, and she longed to go home to see her father and mother and brothers and sisters. So one day, when the White Bear asked what it was that she lacked, she said it was so dull and lonely there, and how she longed to go home to see her father and mother and brothers and sisters, and that was why she was so sad and sorrowful, because she couldn't get to them.
"Well, well!" said the Bear, "perhaps there's a cure for all this; but you must promise me one thing, not to talk alone with your mother, but only when the rest are by to hear; for she'll take you by the hand and try to lead you into a room alone to talk; but you must mind and not do that, else you'll bring bad luck on both of us."
So one Sunday the White Bear came and said, now they could set off to see her father and mother. Well, off they started, she sitting on his back; and they went far and long. At last they came to a grand house, and there her brothers and sisters were running about out of doors at play, and everything was so pretty, 'twas a joy to see.
"This is where your father and mother live now," said the White Bear; "but don't forget what I told you, else you'll make us both unlucky."
"No! bless her, she'd not forget;"—and when she had reached the house, the White Bear turned right about and left her.
Then, when she went in to see her father and mother, there was such joy, there was no end to it. None of them thought they could thank her enough for all she had done for them. Now, they had everything they wished, as good as good could be, and they all wanted to know how she got on where she lived.
Well, she said, it was very good to live where she did; she had all she wished. What she said beside I don't know, but I don't think any of them had the right end of the stick, or that they got much out of her. But so, in the afternoon, after they had done dinner, all happened as the White Bear had said. Her mother wanted to talk with her alone in her bedroom; but she minded what the White Bear had said, and wouldn't go upstairs.
"Oh! what we have to talk about will keep!" she said, and put her mother off. But, somehow or other, her mother got round her at last, and she had to tell her the whole story. So she said, how every night when she had gone to bed a man came and lay down beside her as soon as she had put out the light; and how she never saw him, because he was always up and away before the morning dawned; and how she went about woeful and sorrowing, for she thought she should so like to see him; and how all day long she walked about there alone; and how dull and dreary and lonesome it was.
"My!" said her mother; "it may well be a Troll you slept with! But now I'll teach you a lesson how to set eyes on him. I'll give you a bit of candle, which you can carry home in your bosom; just light that while he is asleep, but take care not to drop the tallow on him."
Yes! she took the candle and hid it in her bosom, and as night drew on, the White Bear came and fetched her away.
But when they had gone a bit of the way, the White Bear asked if all hadn't happened as he had said.
"Well, she couldn't say it hadn't."
"Now, mind," said he, "if you have listened to your mother's advice, you have brought bad luck on us both, and then, all that has passed between us will be as nothing."
"No," she said, "she hadn't listened to her mother's advice."
So when she reached home, and had gone to bed, it was the old story over again. There came a man and lay down beside her; but at dead of night, when she heard he slept, she got up and struck a light, lit the candle, and let the light shine on him, and so she saw that he was the loveliest Prince one ever set eyes on, and she fell so deep in love with him on the spot, that she thought she couldn't live if she didn't give him a kiss there and then. And so she did; but as she kissed him, she dropped three hot drops of tallow on his shirt, and he woke up.
"What have you done?" he cried; "now you have made us both unlucky, for had you held out only this one year, I had been freed. For I have a step-mother who has bewitched me, so that I am a White Bear by day, and a Man by night. But now all ties are snapt between us; now I must set off from you to her. She lives in a Castle which stands East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and there, too, is a Princess, with a nose three ells long, and she's the wife I must have now."
She wept and took it ill, but there was no help for it; go he must.
Then she asked if she mightn't go with him.
No, she mightn't.
"Tell me the way, then," she said, "and I'll search you out; that surely I may get leave to do."
"Yes," she might do that, he said; "but there was no way to that place. It lay East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and thither she'd never find her way."
So next morning, when she woke up, both Prince and castle were gone, and then she lay on a little green patch, in the midst of the gloomy thick wood, and by her side lay the same bundle of rags she had brought with her from her old home.
So when she had rubbed the sleep out of her eyes, and wept till she was tired, she set out on her way, and walked many, many days, till she came to a lofty crag. Under it sat an old hag, and played with a gold apple which she tossed about. Her the lassie asked if she knew the way to the Prince, who lived with his step-mother in the Castle, that lay East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and who was to marry the Princess with a nose three ells long.
"How did you come to know about him?" asked the old hag; "but maybe you are the lassie who ought to have had him?"
Yes, she was.
"So, so; it's you, is it?" said the old hag. "Well, all I know about him is, that he lives in the castle that lies East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and thither you'll come, late or never; but still you may have the loan of my horse, and on him you can ride to my next neighbour. Maybe she'll be able to tell you; and when you get there, just give the horse a switch under the left ear, and beg him to be off home; and, stay, this gold apple you may take with you."
So she got upon the horse, and rode a long, long time, till she came to another crag, under which sat another old hag, with a gold carding-comb. Her the lassie asked if she knew the way to the castle that lay East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and she answered, like the first old hag, that she knew nothing about it, except it was east of the sun and west of the moon.
"And thither you'll come, late or never, but you shall have the loan of my horse to my next neighbour; maybe she'll tell you all about it; and when you get there, just switch the horse under the left ear, and beg him to be off home."
And this old hag gave her the golden carding-comb; it might be she'd find some use for it, she said. So the lassie got up on the horse, and rode a far, far way, and a weary time; and so at last she came to another great crag, under which sat another old hag, spinning with a golden spinning-wheel. Her, too, she asked if she knew the way to the Prince, and where the castle was that lay East of the Sun and West of the Moon. So it was the same thing over again.
"Maybe it's you who ought to have had the Prince?" said the old hag.
Yes, it was.
But she, too, didn't know the way a bit better than the other two. "East of the sun and west of the moon it was," she knew—that was all.
"And thither you'll come, late or never; but I'll lend you my horse, and then I think you'd best ride to the East Wind and ask him; maybe he knows those parts, and can blow you thither. But when you get to him, you need only give the horse a switch under the left ear, and he'll trot home of himself."
And so, too, she gave her the gold spinning-wheel. "Maybe you'll find a use for it," said the old hag.
Then on she rode many many days, a weary time, before she got to the East Wind's house, but at last she did reach it, and then she asked the East Wind if he could tell her the way to the Prince who dwelt east of the sun and west of the moon. Yes, the East Wind had often heard tell of it, the Prince and the castle, but he couldn't tell the way, for he had never blown so far.
"But, if you will, I'll go with you to my brother the West Wind, maybe he knows, for he's much stronger. So, if you will just get on my back, I'll carry you thither."
Yes, she got on his back, and I should just think they went briskly along.
So when they got there, they went into the West Wind's house, and the East Wind said the lassie he had brought was the one who ought to have had the Prince who lived in the castle East of the Sun and West of the Moon; and so she had set out to seek him, and how he had come with her, and would be glad to know if the West Wind knew how to get to the castle.
"Nay," said the West Wind, "so far I've never blown; but if you will, I'll go with you to our brother the South Wind, for he's much stronger than either of us, and he has flapped his wings far and wide. Maybe he'll tell you. You can get on my back, and I'll carry you to him."
Yes! she got on his back, and so they travelled to the South Wind, and weren't so very long on the way, I should think.
When they got there, the West Wind asked him if he could tell her the way to the castle that lay East of the Sun and West of the Moon, for it was she who ought to have had the Prince who lived there.
"You don't say so! That's she, is it?" said the South Wind.
"Well, I have blustered about in most places in my time, but so far have I never blown; but if you will, I'll take you to my brother the North Wind; he is the oldest and strongest of the whole lot of us, and if he don't know where it is, you'll never find any one in the world to tell you. You can get on my back, and I'll carry you thither."
Yes! she got on his back, and away he went from his house at a fine rate. And this time, too, she wasn't long on her way.
So when they got to the North Wind's house, he was so wild and cross, cold puffs came from him a long way off.
"BLAST YOU BOTH, WHAT DO YOU WANT?" he roared out to them ever so far off, so that it struck them with an icy shiver.
"Well," said the South Wind, "you needn't be so foul-mouthed, for here I am, your brother, the South Wind, and here is the lassie who ought to have had the Prince who dwells in the castle that lies East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and now she wants to ask you if you ever were there, and can tell her the way, for she would be so glad to find him again."
"YES, I KNOW WELL ENOUGH WHERE IT IS," said the North Wind; "once in my life I blew an aspen-leaf thither, but, I was so tired I couldn't blow a puff for ever so many days, after. But if you really wish to go thither, and aren't afraid to come along with me, I'll take you on my back and see if I can blow you thither."
Yes! with all her heart; she must and would get thither if it were possible in any way; and as for fear, however madly he went, she wouldn't be at all afraid.
"Very well, then," said the North Wind, "but you must sleep here to-night, for we must have the whole day before us, if we're to get thither at all."
Early next morning the North Wind woke her, and puffed himself up, and blew himself out, and made himself so stout and big, 'twas gruesome to look at him; and so off they went high up through the air, as if they would never stop till they got to the world's end.
Down here below there was such a storm; it threw down long tracts of wood and many houses, and when it swept over the great sea, ships foundered by hundreds.
So they tore on and on—no one can believe how far they went—and all the while they still went over the sea, and the North Wind got more and more weary, and so out of breath he could scarce bring out a puff, and his wings drooped and drooped, till at last he sunk so low that the crests of the waves dashed over his heels.
"Are you afraid?" said the North Wind.
"No!" she wasn't.
But they weren't very far from land; and the North Wind had still so much strength left in him that he managed to throw her up on the shore under the windows of the castle which lay East of the Sun and West of the Moon; but then he was so weak and worn out, he had to stay there and rest many days before he could get home again.
Next morning the lassie sat down under the castle window, and began to play with the gold apple; and the first person she saw was the Long-nose who was to have the Prince.
"What do you want for your gold apple, you lassie?" said the Long-nose, and threw up the window.
"It's not for sale, for gold or money," said the lassie.
"If it's not for sale for gold or money, what is it that you will sell it for? You may name your own price," said the Princess.
"Well! if I may get to the Prince, who lives here, and be with him to-night, you shall have it," said the lassie whom the North Wind had brought.
Yes! she might; that could be done. So the Princess got the gold apple; but when the lassie came up to the Prince's bed-room at night he was fast asleep; she called him and shook him, and between whiles she wept sore; but all she could do she couldn't wake him up. Next morning, as soon as day broke, came the Princess with the long nose, and drove her out again.
So in the daytime she sat down under the castle windows and began to card with her carding-comb, and the same thing happened. The Princess asked what she wanted for it; and she said it wasn't for sale for gold or money, but if she might get leave to go up to the Prince and be with him that night, the Princess should have it. But when she went up she found him fast asleep again, and all she called, and all she shook, and wept, and prayed, she couldn't get life into him; and as soon as the first gray peep of day came, then came the Princess with the long nose, and chased her out again.
So, in the daytime, the lassie sat down outside under the castle window, and began to spin with her golden spinning-wheel, and that, too, the Princess with the long nose wanted to have. So she threw up the window and asked what she wanted for it. The lassie said, as she had said twice before, it wasn't for sale for gold or money; but if she might go up to the Prince who was there, and be with him alone that night, she might have it.
Yes! she might do that and welcome. But now you must know there were some Christian folk who had been carried off thither, and as they sat in their room, which was next the Prince, they had heard how a woman had been in there, and wept and prayed, and called to him two nights running, and they told that to the Prince.
That evening, when the Princess came with her sleepy drink, the Prince made as if he drank, but threw it over his shoulder, for he could guess it was a sleepy drink. So, when the lassie came in, she found the Prince wide awake; and then she told him the whole story how she had come thither.
"Ah," said the Prince, "you've just come in the very nick of time, for to-morrow is to be our wedding-day; but now I won't have the Long-nose, and you are the only woman in the world who can set me free. I'll say I want to see what my wife is fit for, and beg her to wash the shirt which has the three spots of tallow on it; she'll say yes, for she doesn't know 'tis you who put them there; but that's a work only for Christian folk, and not for such a pack of Trolls, and so I'll say that I won't have any other for my bride than the woman who can wash them out, and ask you to do it."
So there was great joy and love between them all that night. But next day, when the wedding was to be, the Prince said:
"First of all, I'd like to see what my bride is fit for."
"Yes!" said the step-mother, with all her heart.
"Well," said the Prince, "I've got a fine shirt which I'd like for my wedding shirt, but somehow or other it has got three spots of tallow on it, which I must have washed out; and I have sworn never to take any other bride than the woman who's able to do that. If she can't, she's not worth having."
Well, that was no great thing they said, so they agreed, and she with the long-nose began to wash away as hard as she could, but the more she rubbed and scrubbed, the bigger the spots grew.
"Ah!" said the old hag, her mother, "you can't wash; let me try."
But she hadn't long taken the shirt in hand before it got far worse than ever, and with all her rubbing, and wringing, and scrubbing, the spots grew bigger and blacker, and the darker and uglier was the shirt.
Then all the other Trolls began to wash, but the longer it lasted, the blacker and uglier the shirt grew, till at last it was as black all over as if it had been up the chimney.
"Ah!" said the Prince, "you're none of you worth a straw; you can't wash. Why there, outside, sits a beggar lassie, I'll be bound she knows how to wash better than the whole lot of you. COME IN, LASSIE!" he shouted.
Well, in she came.
"Can you wash this shirt clean, lassie you?" said he.
"I don't know," she said, "but I think I can."
And almost before she had taken it and dipped it in the water, it was as white as driven snow, and whiter still.
"Yes; you are the lassie for me," said the Prince.
At that the old hag flew into such a rage, she burst on the spot, and the Princess with the long nose after her, and the whole pack of Trolls after her—at least I've never heard a word about them since.
As for the Prince and Princess, they set free all the poor Christian folk who had been carried off and shut up there; and they took with them all the silver and gold, and flitted away as far as they could from the Castle that lay East of the Sun and West of the Moon.
THE BLUE BELT
Once on a time there was an old beggar-woman, who had gone out to beg. She had a little lad with her, and when she had got her bag full she struck across the hills towards her own home. So when they had gone a bit up the hill-side, they came upon a little Blue Belt which lay where two paths met, and the lad asked his mother's leave to pick it up.
"No," said she, "maybe there's witchcraft in it;" and so with threats she forced him to follow her. But when they had gone a bit further, the lad said he must turn aside a moment out of the road; and meanwhile his mother sat down on a tree-stump. But the lad was a long time gone, for as soon as he got so far into the wood that the old dame could not see him, he ran off to where the Belt lay, took it up, tied it round his waist, and lo! he felt as strong as if he could lift the whole hill. When he got back, the old dame was in a great rage, and wanted to know what he had been doing all that while. "You don't care how much time you waste, and yet you know the night is drawing on, and we must cross the hill before it is dark!" So on they tramped; but when they had got about half-way, the old dame grew weary, and said she must rest under a bush.
"Dear mother," said the lad, "mayn't I just go up to the top of this high crag while you rest, and try if I can't see some sign of folk hereabouts?"
Yes! he might do that; so when he had got to the top he saw a light shining from the north. So he ran down and told his mother.
"We must get on, mother; we are near a house, for I see a bright light shining quite close to us in the north." Then she rose and shouldered her bag, and set off to see; but they hadn't gone far, before there stood a steep spur of the hill, right across their path.
"Just as I thought!" said the old dame, "now we can't go a step farther; a pretty bed we shall have here!"
But the lad took the bag under one arm, and his mother under the other, and ran straight up the steep crag with them.
"Now, don't you see? Don't you see that we are close to a house? Don't you see that bright light?"
But the old dame said those were no Christian folk, but Trolls, for she was at home in all that forest far and near, and knew there was not a living soul in it, until you were well over the ridge and had come down on the other side. But they went on, and in a little while they came to a great house which was all painted red.
"What's the good?" said the old dame. "We daren't go in, for here the Trolls live."
"Don't say so; we must go in. There must be men where the lights shine so," said the lad. So in he went, and his mother after him, but he had scarce opened the door before she swooned away, for there she saw a great stout man, at least twenty feet high, sitting on the bench.
"Good evening, grandfather!" said the lad.
"Well, here I've sat three hundred years," said the man who sat on the bench, "and no one has ever come and called me grandfather before." Then the lad sat down by the man's side, and began to talk to him as if they had been old friends.
"But what's come over your mother?" said the man, after they had chatted a while. "I think she swooned away; you had better look after her."
So the lad went and took hold of the old dame, and dragged her up the hall along the floor. That brought her to herself, and she kicked and scratched, and flung herself about, and at last sat down upon a heap of firewood in the corner; but she was so frightened that she scarce dared to look one in the face.
After a while, the lad asked if they could spend the night there.
"Yes, to be sure," said the man.
So they went on talking again, but the lad soon got hungry, and wanted to know if they could get food as well as lodging.
"Of course," said the man, "that might be got too." And after he had sat a while longer, he rose up and threw six loads of dry pitch-pine on the fire. This made the old hag still more afraid.
"Oh! now he's going to roast us alive," she said, in the corner where she sat.
And when the wood had burned down to glowing embers, up got the man and strode out of his house.
"Heaven bless and help us! what a stout heart you have got!" said the old dame. "Don't you see we have got amongst Trolls?"
"Stuff and nonsense!" said the lad; "no harm if we have."
In a little while, back came the man with an ox so fat and big, the lad had never seen its like, and he gave it one blow with his fist under the ear, and down it fell dead on the floor. When that was done, he took it up by all the four legs and laid it on the glowing embers, and turned it and twisted it about till it was burnt brown outside. After that, he went to a cupboard and took out a great silver dish, and laid the ox on it; and the dish was so big that none of the ox hung over on any side. This he put on the table, and then he went down into the cellar and fetched a cask of wine, knocked out the head, and put the cask on the table, together with two knives, which were each six feet long. When this was done he bade them go and sit down to supper and eat. So they went, the lad first and the old dame after, but she began to whimper and wail, and to wonder how she should ever use such knives. But her son seized one, and began to cut slices out of the thigh of the ox, which he placed before his mother. And when they had eaten a bit, he took up the cask with both hands, and lifted it down to the floor; then he told his mother to come and drink, but it was still so high she couldn't reach up to it; so he caught her up, and held her up to the edge of the cask while she drank; as for himself, he clambered up and hung down like a cat inside the cask while he drank. So when he had quenched his thirst, he took up the cask and put it back on the table, and thanked the man for the good meal, and told his mother to come and thank him too, and, a-feared though she was, she dared do nothing else but thank the man. Then the lad sat down again alongside the man and began to gossip, and after they had sat a while the man said:
"Well! I must just go and get a bit of supper too;" and so he went to the table and ate up the whole ox—hoofs, and horns, and all—and drained the cask to the last drop, and then went back and sat on the bench.
"As for beds," he said, "I don't know what's to be done. I've only got one bed and a cradle; but we could get on pretty well if you would sleep in the cradle, and then your mother might lie in the bed yonder."
"Thank you kindly, that'll do nicely," said the lad; and with that he pulled off his clothes and lay down in the cradle; but, to tell you the truth, it was quite as big as a four-poster. As for the old dame, she had to follow the man who showed her to bed, though she was out of her wits for fear.
"Well!" thought the lad to himself, "'twill never do to go to sleep yet. I'd best lie awake and listen how things go as the night wears on."
So, after a while, the man began to talk to the old dame, and at last he said:
"We two might live here so happily together, could we only be rid of this son of yours."
"But do you know how to settle him? Is that what you're thinking of?" said she.
"Nothing easier," said he; at any rate he would try. He would just say he wished the old dame would stay and keep house for him a day or two, and then he would take the lad out with him up the hill to quarry corner-stones, and roll down a great rock on him. All this the lad lay and listened to.
Next day the Troll—for it was a Troll as clear as day—asked if the old dame would stay and keep house for him a few days; and as the day went on he took a great iron crowbar, and asked the lad if he had a mind to go with him up the hill and quarry a few corner-stones. With all his heart, he said, and went with him; and so, after they had split a few stones, the Troll wanted him to go down below and look after cracks in the rock; and while he was doing this the Troll worked away, and wearied himself with his crowbar till he moved a whole crag out of its bed, which came rolling right down on the place where the lad was; but he held it up till he could get on one side, and then let it roll on.
"Oh!" said the lad to the Troll, "now I see what you mean to do with me. You want to crush me to death; so just go down yourself and look after the cracks and refts in the rock, and I'll stand up above."
The Troll did not dare to do otherwise than the lad bade him, and the end of it was that the lad rolled down a great rock, which fell upon the Troll and broke one of his thighs.
"Well! you are in a sad plight," said the lad, as he strode down, lifted up the rock, and set the man free. After that he had to put him on his back and carry him home; so he ran with him as fast as a horse, and shook him so that the Troll screamed and screeched as if a knife were run into him. And when he got home, they had to put the Troll to bed, and there he lay in a sad pickle.
When the night wore on, the Troll began to talk to the old dame again, and to wonder how ever they could be rid of the lad.
"Well," said the old dame, "if you can't hit on a plan to get rid of him, I'm sure I can't."
"Let me see," said the Troll; "I've got twelve lions in a garden; if they could only get hold of the lad, they'd soon tear him to pieces."
So the old dame said it would be easy enough to get him there. She would sham sick, and say she felt so poorly, nothing would do her any good but lion's milk. All that the lad lay and listened to; and when he got up in the morning his mother said she was worse than she looked, and she thought she should never be right again unless she could get some lion's milk.
"Then I'm afraid you'll be poorly a long time, mother," said the lad, "for I'm sure I don't know where any is to be got."
"Oh! if that be all," said the Troll, "there's no lack of lion's milk, if we only had the man to fetch it;" and then he went on to say how his brother had a garden with twelve lions in it, and how the lad might have the key if he had a mind to milk the lions. So the lad took the key and a milking pail, and strode off; and when he unlocked the gate and got into the garden, there stood all the twelve lions on their hind-paws, rampant and roaring at him. But the lad laid hold of the biggest, and led him about by the fore-paws, and dashed him against stocks and stones till there wasn't a bit of him left but the two paws. So when the rest saw that, they were so afraid that they crept up and lay at his feet like so many curs. After that they followed him about wherever he went, and when he got home, they lay down outside the house, with their fore-paws on the door sill.
"Now, mother, you'll soon be well," said the lad, when he went in, "for here is the lion's milk."
He had just milked a drop in the pail.
But the Troll, as he lay in bed, swore it was all a lie. He was sure the lad was not the man to milk lions.
When the lad heard that, he forced the Troll to get out of bed, threw open the door, and all the lions rose up and seized the Troll, and at last the lad had to make them leave their hold.
That night the Troll began to talk to the old dame again. "I'm sure I can't tell how to put this lad out of the way—he is so awfully strong; can't you think of some way?"
"No," said the old dame, "if you can't tell, I'm sure I can't."
"Well!" said the Troll, "I have two brothers in a castle; they are twelve times as strong as I am, and that's why I was turned out and had to put up with this farm. They hold that castle, and round it there is an orchard with apples in it, and whoever eats those apples sleeps for three days and three nights. If we could only get the lad to go for the fruit, he wouldn't be able to keep from tasting the apples, and as soon as ever he fell asleep my brothers would tear him in pieces."
The old dame said she would sham sick, and say she could never be herself again unless she tasted those apples; for she had set her heart on them.
All this the lad lay and listened to.
When the morning came the old dame was so poorly that she couldn't utter a word but groans and sighs. She was sure she should never be well again, unless she had some of those apples that grew in the orchard near the castle where the man's brothers lived; only she had no one to send for them.
Oh! the lad was ready to go that instant; but the eleven lions went with him. So when he came to the orchard, he climbed up into the apple tree and ate as many apples as he could, and he had scarce got down before he fell into a deep sleep; but the lions all lay round him in a ring. The third day came the Troll's brothers, but they did not come in man's shape. They came snorting like man-eating steeds, and wondered who it was that dared to be there, and said they would tear him to pieces, so small that there should not be a bit of him left. But up rose the lions and tore the Trolls into small pieces, so that the place looked as if a dung heap had been tossed about it; and when they had finished the Trolls they lay down again. The lad did not wake till late in the afternoon, and when he got on his knees and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, he began to wonder what had been going on, when he saw the marks of hoofs. But when he went towards the castle, a maiden looked out of a window who had seen all that had happened, and she said:
"You may thank your stars you weren't in that tussle, else you must have lost your life."
"What! I lose my life! No fear of that, I think," said the lad.
So she begged him to come in, that she might talk with him, for she hadn't seen a Christian soul ever since she came there. But when she opened the door the lions wanted to go in too, but she got so frightened that she began to scream, and so the lad let them lie outside. Then the two talked and talked, and the lad asked how it came that she, who was so lovely, could put up with those ugly Trolls. She never wished it, she said; 'twas quite against her will. They had seized her by force, and she was the King of Arabia's daughter. So they talked on, and at last she asked him what he would do; whether she should go back home, or whether he would have her to wife. Of course he would have her, and she shouldn't go home.
After that they went round the castle, and at last they came to a great hall, where the Trolls' two great swords hung high up on the wall.
"I wonder if you are man enough to wield one of these," said the Princess.
"Who? I?" said the lad. "'Twould be a pretty thing if I couldn't wield one of these."
With that he put two or three chairs one a-top of the other, jumped up, and touched the biggest sword with his finger tips, tossed it up in the air, and caught it again by the hilt; leapt down, and at the same time dealt such a blow with it on the floor that the whole hall shook. After he had thus got down, he thrust the sword under his arm and carried it about with him.
So, when they had lived a little while in the castle, the Princess thought she ought to go home to her parents, and let them know what had become of her; so they loaded a ship, and she set sail from the castle.
After she had gone, and the lad had wandered about a little, he called to mind that he had been sent out on an errand thither, and had come to fetch something for his mother's health; and though he said to himself, "After all the old dame was not so bad but she's all right by this time"—still he thought he ought to go and just see how she was. So he went and found both the man and his mother quite fresh and hearty.
"What wretches you are to live in this beggarly hut," said the lad. "Come with me up to my castle, and you shall see what a fine fellow I am."
Well! they were both ready to go, and on the way his mother talked to him, and asked how it was he had got so strong.
"If you must know it came of that blue belt which lay on the hill-side that time when you and I were out begging," said the lad.
"Have you got it still?" asked she.
"Yes"—he had. It was tied round his waist.
"Might she see it?"
"Yes"—she might; and with that he pulled open his waistcoat and shirt to show it to her.
Then she seized it with both hands, tore it off, and twisted it round her fist.
"Now," she cried, "what shall I do with such a wretch as you? I'll just give you one blow, and dash your brains out!"
"Far too good a death for such a scamp," said the Troll. "No! let's first burn out his eyes, and then turn him adrift in a little boat."
So they burned out his eyes and turned him adrift, in spite of his prayers and tears; but, as the boat drifted, the lions swam after, and at last they laid hold of it and dragged it ashore on an island, and placed the lad under a fir tree. They caught game for him, and they plucked the birds and made him a bed of down; but he was forced to eat his meat raw and he was blind. At last, one day the biggest lion was chasing a hare which was blind, for it ran straight over stock and stone, and the end was, it ran right up against a fir-stump and tumbled head over heels across the field right into a spring; but lo! when it came out of the spring it saw its way quite plain, and so saved its life.
"So, so!" thought the lion, and went and dragged the lad to the spring, and dipped him over head and ears in it. So, when he had got his sight again, he went down to the shore and made signs to the lions that they should all lie close together like a raft; then he stood upon their backs while they swam with him to the mainland. When he had reached the shore he went up into a birchen copse, and made the lions lie quiet. Then he stole up to the castle, like a thief, to see if he couldn't lay hands on his belt; and when he got to the door, he peeped through the keyhole, and there he saw his belt hanging up over a door in the kitchen. So he crept softly in across the floor, for there was no one there; but as soon as he had got hold of the belt, he began to kick and stamp about as though he were mad. Just then his mother came rushing out:
"Dear heart, my darling little boy! do give me the belt again," she said.
"Thank you kindly," said he. "Now you shall have the doom you passed on me," and he fulfilled it on the spot. When the old Troll heard that, he came in and begged and prayed so prettily that he might not be smitten to death.
"Well, you may live," said the lad, "but you shall undergo the same punishment you gave me;" and so he burned out the Troll's eyes, and turned him adrift on the sea in a little boat, but he had no lions to follow him.
Now the lad was all alone, and he went about longing and longing for the Princess; at last he could bear it no longer; he must set out to seek her, his heart was so bent on having her. So he loaded four ships and set sail for Arabia.
For some time they had fair wind and fine weather, but after that they lay wind-bound under a rocky island. So the sailors went ashore and strolled about to spend the time, and there they found a huge egg, almost as big as a little house. So they began to knock it about with large stones, but, after all, they couldn't crack the shell. Then the lad came up with his sword to see what all the noise was about, and when he saw the egg, he thought it a trifle to crack it; so he gave it one blow and the egg split, and out came a chicken as big as an elephant.
"Now we have done wrong," said the lad; "this can cost us all our lives;" and then he asked his sailors if they were men enough to sail to Arabia in four-and-twenty hours if they got a fine breeze. Yes! they were good to do that, they said, so they set sail with a fine breeze, and got to Arabia in three-and-twenty hours. As soon as they landed, the lad ordered all the sailors to go and bury themselves up to the eyes in a sandhill, so that they could barely see the ships. The lad and the captains climbed a high crag and sate down under a fir.
In a little while came a great bird flying with an island in its claws, and let it fall down on the fleet, and sunk every ship. After it had done that, it flew up to the sandhill and flapped its wings, so that the wind nearly took off the heads of the sailors, and it flew past the fir with such force that it turned the lad right about, but he was ready with his sword, and gave the bird one blow and brought it down dead.
After that he went to the town, where every one was glad because the King had got his daughter back; but now the King had hidden her away somewhere himself, and promised her hand as a reward to any one who could find her, and this though she was betrothed before. Now as the lad went along he met a man who had white bear-skins for sale, so he bought one of the hides and put it on; and one of the captains was to take an iron chain and lead him about, and so he went into the town and began to play pranks. At last the news came to the King's ears, that there never had been such fun in the town before, for here was a white bear that danced and cut capers just as it was bid. So a messenger came to say the bear must come to the castle at once, for the King wanted to see its tricks. So when it got to the castle every one was afraid, for such a beast they had never seen before; but the captain said there was no danger unless they laughed at it. They mustn't do that, else it would tear them to pieces. When the King heard that, he warned all the court not to laugh. But while the fun was going on, in came one of the King's maids, and began to laugh and make game of the bear, and the bear flew at her and tore her, so that there was scarce a rag of her left. Then all the court began to bewail, and the captain most of all.
"Stuff and nonsense," said the King; "she's only a maid, besides it's more my affair than yours."
When the show was over, it was late at night. "It's no good your going away, when it's so late," said the King. "The bear had best sleep here."
"Perhaps it might sleep in the ingle by the kitchen fire," said the captain.
"Nay," said the King, "it shall sleep up here, and it shall have pillows and cushions to sleep on." So a whole heap of pillows and cushions was brought, and the captain had a bed in a side room.
But at midnight the King came with a lamp in his hand and a big bunch of keys, and carried off the white bear. He passed along gallery after gallery through doors and rooms, up-stairs and down-stairs, till at last he came to a pier which ran out into the sea. Then the King began to pull and haul at posts and pins, this one up and that one down, till at last a little house floated up to the water's edge. There he kept his daughter, for she was so dear to him that he had hid her, so that no one could find her out. He left the white bear outside while he went in and told her how it had danced and played its pranks. She said she was afraid, and dared not look at it; but he talked her over, saying there was no danger if she only wouldn't laugh. So they brought the bear in, and locked the door, and it danced and played its tricks; but just when the fun was at its height, the Princess's maid began to laugh. Then the lad flew at her and tore her to bits, and the Princess began to cry and sob.
"Stuff and nonsense," cried the King; "all this fuss about a maid! I'll get you just as good a one again. But now I think the bear had best stay here till morning, for I don't care to have to go and lead it along all those galleries and stairs at this time of night."
"Well!" said the Princess, "if it sleeps here, I'm sure I won't."
But just then the bear curled himself up and lay down by the stove; and it was settled at last that the Princess should sleep there too, with a light burning. But as soon as the King had well gone, the white bear came and begged her to undo his collar. The Princess was so scared she almost swooned away; but she felt about till she found the collar, and she had scarce undone it before the bear pulled his head off. Then she knew him again, and was so glad there was no end to her joy, and she wanted to tell her father at once that her deliverer was come. But the lad would not hear of it; he would earn her once more, he said. So in the morning when they heard the King rattling at the posts outside, the lad drew on the hide and lay down by the stove.
"Well, has it lain still?" the king asked.
"I should think so," said the Princess; "it hasn't so much as turned or stretched itself once."
When they got up to the castle again, the captain took the bear and led it away, and then the lad threw off the hide, and went to a tailor and ordered clothes fit for a prince; and when they were fitted on he went to the King, and said he wanted to find the Princess.
"You're not the first who has wished the same thing," said the King, "but they have all lost their lives; for if any one who tries can't find her in four-and-twenty hours his life is forfeited."
Yes; the lad knew all that. Still he wished to try, and if he couldn't find her, 'twas his look-out. Now in the castle there was a band that played sweet tunes, and there were fair maids to dance with, and so the lad danced away.
When twelve hours were gone, the King said:
"I pity you with all my heart. You're so poor a hand at seeking; you will surely lose your life."
"Stuff!" said the lad; "while there's life there's hope! So long as there's breath in the body there's no fear; we have lots of time!" and so he went on dancing till there was only one hour left.
Then he said he would begin to search.
"It's no use now," said the King; "time's up."
"Light your lamp; out with your big bunch of keys," said the lad, "and follow me whither I wish to go. There is still a whole hour left."
So the lad went the same way which the King had led him the night before, and he bade the King unlock door after door till they came down to the pier which ran out into the sea.
"It's all no use, I tell you," said the King; "time's up, and this will only lead you right out into the sea."
"Still five minutes more," said the lad, as he pulled and pushed at the posts and pins, and the house floated up.
"Now the time is up," bawled the King; "come hither, headsman, and take off his head."
"Nay, nay!" said the lad; "stop a bit, there are still three minutes! Out with the key, and let me get into this house."
But there stood the King and fumbled with his keys, to draw out the time. At last he said he hadn't any key.
"Well, if you haven't, I have," said the lad, as he gave the door such a kick that it flew to splinters inwards on the floor.
At the door the Princess met him, and told her father this was her deliverer, on whom her heart was set. So she had him; and this was how the beggar boy came to marry the daughter of the King of Arabia.
Once upon a time, there was a fine young King who was married to the loveliest of Queens. They were exceedingly happy, all but for one thing—they had no children. And this often made them both sad, because the Queen wanted a dear little child to play with, and the King wanted an heir to the kingdom.
One day the Queen went out for a walk by herself, and she met an ugly old woman. The old woman was just like a witch: but she was a nice kind of witch, not the cantankerous sort. She said, "Why do you look so doleful, pretty lady?" "It's no use my telling you," answered the Queen, "nobody in the world can help me." "Oh, you never know," said the old woman. "Just you let me hear what your trouble is, and maybe I can put things right."
"My dear woman, how can you?" said the Queen: and she told her, "The King and I have no children: that's why I am so distressed." "Well, you needn't be," said the old witch. "I can set that right in a twinkling, if only you will do exactly as I tell you. Listen. To-night, at sunset, take a little drinking-cup with two ears" (that is, handles), "and put it bottom upwards on the ground in the north-west corner of your garden. Then go and lift it up to-morrow morning at sunrise, and you will find two roses underneath it, one red and one white. If you eat the red rose, a little boy will be born to you: if you eat the white rose, a little girl will be sent. But, whatever you do, you mustn't eat both the roses, or you'll be sorry,—that I warn you! Only one: remember that!" "Thank you a thousand times," said the Queen, "this is good news indeed!" And she wanted to give the old woman her gold ring; but the old woman wouldn't take it.
So the Queen went home and did as she had been told: and next morning at sunrise she stole out into the garden and lifted up the little drinking-cup. She was surprised, for indeed she had hardly expected to see anything. But there were the two roses underneath it, one red and one white. And now she was dreadfully puzzled, for she did not know which to choose. "If I choose the red one," she thought, "and I have a little boy, he may grow up and go to the wars and get killed. But if I choose the white one, and have a little girl, she will stay at home awhile with us, but later on she will get married and go away and leave us. So, whichever it is, we may be left with no child after all."
However, at last she decided on the white rose, and she ate it. And it tasted so sweet, that she took and ate the red one too: without ever remembering the old woman's solemn warning.
Some time after this, the King went away to the wars: and while he was still away, the Queen became the mother of twins. One was a lovely baby-boy, and the other was a Lindworm, or Serpent. She was terribly frightened when she saw the Lindworm, but he wriggled away out of the room, and nobody seemed to have seen him but herself: so that she thought it must have been a dream. The baby Prince was so beautiful and so healthy, the Queen was full of joy: and likewise, as you may suppose, was the King when he came home and found his son and heir. Not a word was said by anyone about the Lindworm: only the Queen thought about it now and then.
Many days and years passed by, and the baby grew up into a handsome young Prince, and it was time that he got married. The King sent him off to visit foreign kingdoms, in the Royal coach, with six white horses, to look for a Princess grand enough to be his wife. But at the very first cross-roads, the way was stopped by an enormous Lindworm, enough to frighten the bravest. He lay in the middle of the road with a great wide open mouth, and cried, "A bride for me before a bride for you!" Then the Prince made the coach turn round and try another road: but it was all no use. For, at the first cross-ways, there lay the Lindworm again, crying out, "A bride for me before a bride for you!" So the Prince had to turn back home again to the Castle, and give up his visits to the foreign kingdoms. And his mother, the Queen, had to confess that what the Lindworm said was true. For he was really the eldest of her twins: and so he ought to have a wedding first.
There seemed nothing for it but to find a bride for the Lindworm, if his younger brother, the Prince, were to be married at all. So the King wrote to a distant country, and asked for a Princess to marry his son (but, of course, he didn't say which son), and presently a Princess arrived. But she wasn't allowed to see her bridegroom until he stood by her side in the great hall and was married to her, and then, of course, it was too late for her to say she wouldn't have him. But next morning the Princess had disappeared. The Lindworm lay sleeping all alone: and it was quite plain that he had eaten her.
A little while after, the Prince decided that he might now go journeying again in search of a Princess. And off he drove in the Royal chariot with the six white horses. But at the first cross-ways, there lay the Lindworm, crying with his great wide open mouth, "A bride for me before a bride for you!" So the carriage tried another road, and the same thing happened, and they had to turn back again this time, just as formerly. And the King wrote to several foreign countries, to know if anyone would marry his son. At last another Princess arrived, this time from a very far distant land. And, of course, she was not allowed to see her future husband before the wedding took place,—and then, lo and behold! it was the Lindworm who stood at her side. And next morning the Princess had disappeared: and the Lindworm lay sleeping all alone; and it was quite clear that he had eaten her.
By and by the Prince started on his quest for the third time: and at the first cross-roads there lay the Lindworm with his great wide open mouth, demanding a bride as before. And the Prince went straight back to the castle, and told the King: "You must find another bride for my elder brother."
"I don't know where I am to find her," said the King, "I have already made enemies of two great Kings who sent their daughters here as brides: and I have no notion how I can obtain a third lady. People are beginning to say strange things, and I am sure no Princess will dare to come."
Now, down in a little cottage near a wood, there lived the King's shepherd, an old man with his only daughter. And the King came one day and said to him, "Will you give me your daughter to marry my son the Lindworm? And I will make you rich for the rest of your life."—"No, sire," said the shepherd, "that I cannot do. She is my only child, and I want her to take care of me when I am old. Besides, if the Lindworm would not spare two beautiful Princesses, he won't spare her either. He will just gobble her up: and she is much too good for such a fate."
But the King wouldn't take "No" for an answer: and at last the old man had to give in.
Well, when the old shepherd told his daughter that she was to be Prince Lindworm's bride, she was utterly in despair. She went out into the woods, crying and wringing her hands and bewailing her hard fate. And while she wandered to and fro, an old witch-woman suddenly appeared out of a big hollow oak-tree, and asked her, "Why do you look so doleful, pretty lass?" The shepherd-girl said, "It's no use my telling you, for nobody in the world can help me."—"Oh, you never know," said the old woman. "Just you let me hear what your trouble is, and maybe I can put things right."—"Ah, how can you?" said the girl, "For I am to be married to the King's eldest son, who is a Lindworm. He has already married two beautiful Princesses, and devoured them: and he will eat me too! No wonder I am distressed."
"Well, you needn't be," said the witch-woman. "All that can be set right in a twinkling: if only you will do exactly as I tell you." So the girl said she would.
"Listen, then," said the old woman. "After the marriage ceremony is over, and when it is time for you to retire to rest, you must ask to be dressed in ten snow-white shifts. And you must then ask for a tub full of lye," (that is, washing water prepared with wood-ashes) "and a tub full of fresh milk, and as many whips as a boy can carry in his arms,—and have all these brought into your bed-chamber. Then, when the Lindworm tells you to shed a shift, do you bid him slough a skin. And when all his skins are off, you must dip the whips in the lye and whip him; next, you must wash him in the fresh milk; and, lastly, you must take him and hold him in your arms, if it's only for one moment."
"The last is the worst notion—ugh!" said the shepherd's daughter, and she shuddered at the thought of holding the cold, slimy, scaly Lindworm.
"Do just as I have said, and all will go well," said the old woman. Then she disappeared again in the oak-tree.
When the wedding-day arrived, the girl was fetched in the Royal chariot with the six white horses, and taken to the castle to be decked as a bride. And she asked for ten snow-white shifts to be brought her, and the tub of lye, and the tub of milk, and as many whips as a boy could carry in his arms. The ladies and courtiers in the castle thought, of course, that this was some bit of peasant superstition, all rubbish and nonsense. But the King said, "Let her have whatever she asks for." She was then arrayed in the most wonderful robes, and looked the loveliest of brides. She was led to the hall where the wedding ceremony was to take place, and she saw the Lindworm for the first time as he came in and stood by her side. So they were married, and a great wedding-feast was held, a banquet fit for the son of a king.
When the feast was over, the bridegroom and bride were conducted to their apartment, with music, and torches, and a great procession. As soon as the door was shut, the Lindworm turned to her and said, "Fair maiden, shed a shift!" The shepherd's daughter answered him, "Prince Lindworm, slough a skin!"—"No one has ever dared tell me to do that before!" said he.—"But I command you to do it now!" said she. Then he began to moan and wriggle: and in a few minutes a long snake-skin lay upon the floor beside him. The girl drew off her first shift, and spread it on top of the skin.
The Lindworm said again to her, "Fair maiden, shed a shift."
The shepherd's daughter answered him, "Prince Lindworm, slough a skin."
"No one has ever dared tell me to do that before," said he.—"But I command you to do it now," said she. Then with groans and moans he cast off the second skin: and she covered it with her second shift. The Lindworm said for the third time, "Fair maiden, shed a shift." The shepherd's daughter answered him again, "Prince Lindworm, slough a skin."—"No one has ever dared tell me to do that before," said he, and his little eyes rolled furiously. But the girl was not afraid, and once more she commanded him to do as she bade.
And so this went on until nine Lindworm skins were lying on the floor, each of them covered with a snow-white shift. And there was nothing left of the Lindworm but a huge thick mass, most horrible to see. Then the girl seized the whips, dipped them in the lye, and whipped him as hard as ever she could. Next, she bathed him all over in the fresh milk. Lastly, she dragged him on to the bed and put her arms round him. And she fell fast asleep that very moment.
Next morning very early, the King and the courtiers came and peeped in through the keyhole. They wanted to know what had become of the girl, but none of them dared enter the room. However, in the end, growing bolder, they opened the door a tiny bit. And there they saw the girl, all fresh and rosy, and beside her lay—no Lindworm, but the handsomest prince that any one could wish to see.
The King ran out and fetched the Queen: and after that, there were such rejoicings in the castle as never were known before or since. The wedding took place all over again, much finer than the first, with festivals and banquets and merrymakings for days and weeks. No bride was ever so beloved by a King and Queen as this peasant maid from the shepherd's cottage. There was no end to their love and their kindness towards her: because, by her sense and her calmness and her courage, she had saved their son, Prince Lindworm.
THE LASSIE AND HER GODMOTHER
Once on a time a poor couple lived far, far away in a great wood. The wife was brought to bed, and had a pretty girl, but they were so poor they did not know how to get the babe christened, for they had no money to pay the parson's fees. So one day the father went out to see if he could find any one who was willing to stand for the child and pay the fees; but though he walked about the whole day from one house to another, and though all said they were willing enough to stand, no one thought himself bound to pay the fees. Now, when he was going home again, a lovely lady met him, dressed so fine, and she looked so thoroughly good and kind; she offered to get the babe christened, but after that, she said, she must keep it for her own. The husband answered, he must first ask his wife what she wished to do; but when he got home and told his story, the wife said, right out, "No!"
Next day the man went out again, but no one would stand if they had to pay the fees; and though he begged and prayed, he could get no help. And again as he went home, towards evening the same lovely lady met him, who looked so sweet and good, and she made him the same offer. So he told his wife again how he had fared, and this time she said, if he couldn't get any one to stand for his babe next day, they must just let the lady have her way, since she seemed so kind and good.
The third day, the man went about, but he couldn't get any one to stand; and so when, towards evening, he met the kind lady again, he gave his word she should have the babe if she would only get it christened at the font. So next morning she came to the place where the man lived, followed by two men to stand godfathers, took the babe and carried it to church, and there it was christened. After that she took it to her own house, and there the little girl lived with her several years, and her Foster-mother was always kind and friendly to her.
Now, when the Lassie had grown to be big enough to know right and wrong, her Foster-mother got ready to go on a journey.
"You have my leave," she said, "to go all over the house, except those rooms which I shew you;" and when she had said that, away she went.
But the Lassie could not forbear just to open one of the doors a little bit, when—POP! out flew a Star.
When her Foster-mother came back, she was very vexed to find that the star had flown out, and she got very angry with her Foster-daughter, and threatened to send her away; but the child cried and begged so hard that she got leave to stay.
Now, after a while, the Foster-mother had to go on another journey; and, before she went, she forbade the Lassie to go into those two rooms into which she had never been. She promised to beware; but when she was left alone, she began to think and to wonder what there could be in the second room, and at last she could not help setting the door a little ajar, just to peep in, when—POP! out flew the Moon.
When her Foster-mother came home and found the moon let out, she was very downcast, and said to the Lassie she must go away, she could not stay with her any longer. But the Lassie wept so bitterly, and prayed so heartily for forgiveness, that this time, too, she got leave to stay.
Some time after, the Foster-mother had to go away again, and she charged the Lassie, who by this time was half grown up, most earnestly that she mustn't try to go into, or to peep into, the third room. But when her Foster-mother had been gone some time, and the Lassie was weary of walking about alone, all at once she thought, "Dear me, what fun it would be just to peep a little into that third room." Then she thought she mustn't do it for her Foster-mother's sake; but when the bad thought came the second time she could hold out no longer; come what might, she must and would look into the room; so she just opened the door a tiny bit, when—POP! out flew the Sun.
But when her Foster-mother came back and saw that the sun had flown away, she was cut to the heart, and said, "Now, there was no help for it, the Lassie must and should go away; she couldn't hear of her staying any longer." Now the Lassie cried her eyes out, and begged and prayed so prettily; but it was all no good.
"Nay! but I must punish you!" said her Foster-mother; "but you may have your choice, either to be the loveliest woman in the world, and not to be able to speak, or to keep your speech, and to be the ugliest of all women; but away from me you must go."
And the Lassie said, "I would sooner be lovely." So she became all at once wondrous fair; but from that day forth she was dumb.
So, when she went away from her Foster-mother, she walked and wandered through a great, great wood; but the farther she went, the farther off the end seemed to be. So, when the evening came on, she clomb up into a tall tree, which grew over a spring, and there she made herself up to sleep that night. Close by lay a castle, and from that castle came early every morning a maid to draw water to make the Prince's tea, from the spring over which the Lassie was sitting. So the maid looked down into the spring, saw the lovely face in the water, and thought it was her own; then she flung away the pitcher, and ran home; and, when she got there, she tossed up her head and said, "If I'm so pretty, I'm far too good to go and fetch water."
So another maid had to go for the water, but the same thing happened to her; she went back and said she was far too pretty and too good to fetch water from the spring for the Prince. Then the Prince went himself, for he had a mind to see what all this could mean. So, when he reached the spring, he too saw the image in the water; but he looked up at once, and became aware of the lovely Lassie who sate there up in the tree. Then he coaxed her down and took her home; and at last made up his mind to have her for his queen, because she was so lovely; but his mother, who was still alive, was against it.
"She can't speak," she said, "and maybe she's a wicked witch."
But the Prince could not be content till he got her. So after they had lived together a while, the Lassie was to have a child, and when the child came to be born, the Prince set a strong watch about her; but at the birth one and all fell into a deep sleep, and her Foster-mother came, cut the babe on its little finger, and smeared the queen's mouth with the blood; and said:
"Now you shall be as grieved as I was when you let out the star;" and with these words she carried off the babe.
But when those who were on the watch woke, they thought the queen had eaten her own child, and the old queen was all for burning her alive, but the Prince was so fond of her that at last he begged her off, but he had hard work to set her free.
So the next time the young queen was to have a child, twice as strong a watch was set as the first time, but the same thing happened over again, only this time her Foster-mother said:
"Now you shall be as grieved as I was when you let the moon out."
And the queen begged and prayed, and wept; for when her Foster-mother was there, she could speak—but it was all no good.
And now the old queen said she must be burnt, but the Prince found means to beg her off. But when the third child was to be born, a watch was set three times as strong as the first, but just the same thing happened. Her Foster-mother came while the watch slept, took the babe, and cut its little finger, and smeared the queen's mouth with the blood, telling her now she should be as grieved as she had been when the Lassie let out the sun.
And now the Prince could not save her any longer. She must and should be burnt. But just as they were leading her to the stake, all at once they saw her Foster-mother, who came with all three children—two she led by the hand, and the third she had on her arm; and so she went up to the young queen and said:
"Here are your children; now you shall have them again. I am the Virgin Mary, and so grieved as you have been, so grieved was I when you let out sun, and moon, and star. Now you have been punished for what you did, and henceforth you shall have your speech."
How glad the Queen and Prince now were, all may easily think, but no one can tell. After that they were always happy; and from that day even the Prince's mother was very fond of the young queen.
THE HUSBAND WHO WAS TO MIND THE HOUSE
Once on a time there was a man, so surly and cross, he never thought his Wife did anything right in the house. So, one evening, in haymaking time, he came home, scolding and swearing, and showing his teeth and making a dust.
"Dear love, don't be so angry; there's a good man," said his goody; "to-morrow let's change our work. I'll go out with the mowers and mow, and you shall mind the house at home."
Yes! the Husband thought that would do very well. He was quite willing, he said.
So, early next morning, his goody took a scythe over her neck, and went out into the hayfield with the mowers, and began to mow; but the man was to mind the house, and do the work at home.
First of all, he wanted to churn the butter; but when he had churned a while, he got thirsty, and went down to the cellar to tap a barrel of ale. So, just when he had knocked in the bung, and was putting the tap into the cask, he heard overhead the pig come into the kitchen. Then off he ran up the cellar steps, with the tap in his hand, as fast as he could, to look after the pig, lest it should upset the churn; but when he got up, and saw the pig had already knocked the churn over, and stood there, routing and grunting amongst the cream which was running all over the floor, he got so wild with rage that he quite forgot the ale-barrel, and ran at the pig as hard as he could. He caught it, too, just as it ran out of doors, and gave it such a kick, that piggy lay for dead on the spot. Then all at once he remembered he had the tap in his hand; but when he got down to the cellar, every drop of ale had run out of the cask.
Then he went into the dairy and found enough cream left to fill the churn again, and so he began to churn, for butter they must have at dinner. When he had churned a bit, he remembered that their milking cow was still shut up in the byre, and hadn't had a bit to eat or a drop to drink all the morning, though the sun was high. Then all at once he thought 'twas too far to take her down to the meadow, so he'd just get her up on the house top—for the house, you must know, was thatched with sods, and a fine crop of grass was growing there. Now the house lay close up against a steep down, and he thought if he laid a plank across to the thatch at the back he'd easily get the cow up.
But still he couldn't leave the churn, for there was his little babe crawling about on the floor, and "if I leave it," he thought, "the child is safe to upset it." So he took the churn on his back, and went out with it; but then he thought he'd better first water the cow before he turned her out on the thatch; so he took up a bucket to draw water out of the well; but, as he stooped down at the well's brink, all the cream ran out of the churn over his shoulders, and so down into the well.
Now it was near dinner-time, and he hadn't even got the butter yet; so he thought he'd best boil the porridge, and filled the pot with water and hung it over the fire. When he had done that, he thought the cow might perhaps fall off the thatch and break her legs or her neck. So he got up on the house to tie her up. One end of the rope he made fast to the cow's neck and the other he slipped down the chimney and tied round his own thigh; and he had to make haste, for the water now began to boil in the pot, and he had still to grind the oatmeal.
So he began to grind away; but while he was hard at it, down fell the cow off the house-top after all, and as she fell, she dragged the man up the chimney by the rope. There he stuck fast; and as for the cow, she hung half-way down the wall, swinging between heaven and earth, for she could neither get down nor up.
And now the goody had waited seven lengths and seven breadths for her Husband to come and call them home to dinner; but never a call they had. At last she thought she'd waited long enough, and went home. But when she got there and saw the cow hanging in such an ugly place, she ran up and cut the rope in two with her scythe. But, as she did this, down came her Husband out of the chimney; and so, when his old dame came inside the kitchen, there she found him standing on his head in the porridge pot.
THE LAD WHO WENT TO THE NORTH WIND
Once on a time there was an old widow who had one son; and as she was poorly and weak, her son had to go up into the safe to fetch meal for cooking; but when he got outside the safe, and was just going down the steps, there came the North Wind puffing and blowing, caught up the meal, and so away with it through the air. Then the Lad went back into the safe for more; but when he came out again on the steps, if the North Wind didn't come again and carry off the meal with a puff: and, more than that, he did so the third time. At this the Lad got very angry; and as he thought it hard that the North Wind should behave so, he thought he'd just look him up, and ask him to give up his meal.
So off he went, but the way was long, and he walked and walked; but at last he came to the North Wind's house.
"Good day!" said the Lad, "and thank you for coming to see us yesterday."
"GOOD DAY!" answered the North Wind, for his voice was loud and gruff, "AND THANKS FOR COMING TO SEE ME. WHAT DO YOU WANT?"
"Oh!" answered the Lad, "I only wished to ask you to be so good as to let me have back that meal you took from me on the safe steps, for we haven't much to live on; and if you're to go on snapping up the morsel we have, there'll be nothing for it but to starve."
"I haven't got your meal," said the North Wind; "but if you are in such need, I'll give you a cloth which will get you everything you want, if you only say, 'Cloth, spread yourself, and serve up all kinds of good dishes!'"
With this the Lad was well content. But, as the way was so long he couldn't get home in one day, so he turned into an inn on the way; and when they were going to sit down to supper he laid the cloth on a table which stood in the corner, and said:
"Cloth, spread yourself, and serve up all kinds of good dishes."
He had scarce said so before the cloth did as it was bid; and all who stood by thought it a fine thing, but most of all the landlady. So, when all were fast asleep at dead of night, she took the Lad's cloth, and put another in its stead, just like the one he had got from the North Wind, but which couldn't so much as serve up a bit of dry bread.
So, when the Lad woke, he took his cloth and went off with it, and that day he got home to his mother.
"Now," said he, "I've been to the North Wind's house, and a good fellow he is, for he gave me this cloth, and when I only say to it, 'Cloth, spread yourself, and serve up all kinds of good dishes,' I get any sort of food I please."
"All very true, I daresay," said his mother; "but seeing is believing, and I shan't believe it till I see it."
So the Lad made haste, drew out a table, laid the cloth on it, and said:
"Cloth, spread yourself, and serve up all kinds of good dishes."
But never a bit of dry bread did the cloth serve up.
"Well," said the Lad "there's no help for it but to go to the North Wind again;" and away he went.
So he came to where the North Wind lived late in the afternoon.
"Good evening!" said the Lad.
"Good evening!" said the North Wind.
"I want my rights for that meal of ours which you took," said the Lad; "for, as for that cloth I got, it isn't worth a penny."
"I've got no meal," said the North Wind; "but yonder you have a ram which coins nothing but golden ducats as soon as you say to it: 'Ram, ram! make money!'"
So the Lad thought this a fine thing; but as it was too far to get home that day, he turned in for the night to the same inn where he had slept before.
Before he called for anything, he tried the truth of what the North Wind had said of the ram, and found it all right; but, when the landlord saw that, he thought it was a famous ram, and, when the Lad had fallen asleep, he took another which couldn't coin gold ducats, and changed the two.
Next morning off went the Lad; and when he got home to his mother, he said:
"After all, the North Wind is a jolly fellow; for now he has given me a ram which can coin golden ducats if I only say: 'Ram, ram! make money!'"
"All very true, I daresay," said his mother; "but I shan't believe any such stuff until I see the ducats made."
"Ram, ram! make money!" said the Lad; but if the ram made anything, it wasn't money.
So the Lad went back again to the North Wind, and blew him up, and said the ram was worth nothing, and he must have his rights for the meal.
"Well!" said the North Wind; "I've nothing else to give you but that old stick in the corner yonder; but its a stick of that kind that if you say: 'Stick, stick! lay on!' it lays on till you say: 'Stick, stick! now stop!'"
So, as the way was long, the Lad turned in this night too to the landlord; but as he could pretty well guess how things stood as to the cloth and the ram, he lay down at once on the bench and began to snore, as if he were asleep.
Now the landlord, who easily saw that the stick must be worth something, hunted up one which was like it, and when he heard the lad snore, was going to change the two; but, just as the landlord was about to take it, the Lad bawled out:
"Stick, stick! lay on!"
So the stick began to beat the landlord, till he jumped over chairs, and tables, and benches, and yelled and roared:
"Oh my! oh my! bid the stick be still, else it will beat me to death, and you shall have back both your cloth and your ram."
When the Lad thought the landlord had got enough, he said:
"Stick, stick! now stop!"
Then he took the cloth and put it into his pocket, and went home with his stick in his hand, leading the ram by a cord round its horns; and so he got his rights for the meal he had lost.
THE THREE PRINCESSES OF WHITELAND
Once on a time there was a fisherman who lived close by a palace, and fished for the King's table. One day when he was out fishing he just caught nothing. Do what he would—however he tried with bait and angle—there was never a sprat on his hook. But when the day was far spent a head bobbed up out of the water, and said:
"If I may have what your wife bears under her girdle, you shall catch fish enough."
So the man answered boldly, "Yes;" for he did not know that his wife was going to have a child. After that, as was like enough, he caught plenty of fish of all kinds. But when he got home at night and told his story, how he had got all that fish, his wife fell a-weeping and moaning, and was beside herself for the promise which her husband had made, for she said, "I bear a babe under my girdle."
Well, the story soon spread, and came up to the castle; and when the King heard the woman's grief and its cause, he sent down to say he would take care of the child, and see if he couldn't save it.
So the months went on and on, and when her time came the fisher's wife had a boy; so the king took it at once, and brought it up as his own son, until the lad grew up. Then he begged leave one day to go out fishing with his father; he had such a mind to go, he said. At first the King wouldn't hear of it, but at last the lad had his way, and went. So he and his father were out the whole day, and all went right and well till they landed at night. Then the lad remembered he had left his handkerchief, and went to look for it; but as soon as ever he got into the boat, it began to move off with him at such speed that the water roared under the bow, and all the lad could do in rowing against it with the oars was no use; so he went and went the whole night, and at last he came to a white strand, far far away.
There he went ashore, and when he had walked about a bit, an old, old man met him, with a long white beard.
"What's the name of this land?" asked the lad.
"Whiteland," said the man, who went on to ask the lad whence he came, and what he was going to do. So the lad told him all.
"Aye, aye!" said the man; "now when you have walked a little farther along the strand here, you'll come to three Princesses, whom you will see standing in the earth up to their necks, with only their heads out. Then the first—she is the eldest—will call out and beg you so prettily to come and help her; and the second will do the same; to neither of these shall you go; make haste past them, as if you neither saw nor heard anything. But the third you shall go to, and do what she asks. If you do this, you'll have good luck—that's all."
When the lad came to the first Princess, she called out to him, and begged him so prettily to come to her, but he passed on as though he saw her not. In the same way he passed by the second; but to the third he went straight up.
"If you'll do what I bid you," she said, "you may have which of us you please."
"Yes;" he was willing enough; so she told him how three Trolls had set them down in the earth there; but before they had lived in the castle up among the trees.