Popular Tales from the Norse
Sir George Webbe Dasent
Part 4 out of 10
money she would have him, if not, he might go about his business.
Well, the Sheriff said he wasn't so badly off, and he would go home
and fetch the money, and when he came again at even, he had a bigger
sack even than the Attorney--it must have been at least a bushel and
a half, and put it down on the bench. So it was soon settled that he
was to have the Mastermaid, but they had scarce gone to bed before
the Mastermaid said she had forgotten to bring home the calf from the
meadow, so she must get up and drive him into the stall. Then the
Sheriff swore by all the powers that should never be, and, stout and
fat as he was, up he jumped as nimbly as a kitten.
'Well, only tell me when you've got hold of the calf's tail', said
'Now I have hold of it', said the Sheriff.
'God grant', said the Mastermaid, 'that you may hold the calf's tail,
and the calf's tail you, and that you may make a tour of the world
together till day dawns'.
Well you may just fancy how the Sheriff had to stretch his legs; away
they went, the calf and he, over high and low, across hill and dale,
and the more the Sheriff cursed and swore, the faster the calf ran
and jumped. At dawn of day the poor Sheriff was well nigh broken-
winded, and so glad was he to let go the calf's tail, that he forgot
his sack of money and everything else. As he was a great man, he went
a little slower than the Attorney and the Constable, but the slower
he went the more time people had to gape and stare at him; and I must
say they made good use of their time, for he was terribly tattered
and torn, after his dance with the calf.
Next day was fixed for the wedding at the palace, and the eldest
brother was to drive to church with his bride, and the younger, who
had lived with the Giant, with the bride's sister. But when they had
got into the coach, and were just going to drive off, one of the
trace-pins snapped off; and though they made at least three in its
place, they all broke, from whatever sort of wood they were made. So
time went on and on, and they couldn't get to church, and every one
grew very downcast. But all at once the Constable said, for he too
was bidden to the wedding, that yonder away in the copse lived a
'And if you can only get her to lend you the handle of her shovel
with which she makes up her fire, I know very well it will hold.'
Well! they sent a messenger on the spot, with such a pretty message
to the maiden, to know if they couldn't get the loan of her shovel
which the Constable had spoken of; and the maiden said 'yes', they
might have it; so they got a trace-pin which wasn't likely to snap.
But all at once, just as they were driving off, the bottom of the
coach tumbled to bits. So they set to work to make a new bottom as
they best might; but it mattered not how many nails they put into it,
nor of what wood they made it, for as soon as ever they got the
bottom well into the coach and were driving off, snap it went in two
again, and they were even worse off than when they lost the trace-
pin. Just then the Attorney said--for if the Constable was there, you
may fancy the Attorney was there too: 'Away yonder, in the copse,
lives a maiden, and if you could only get her to lend you one-half of
her porch-door, I know it can hold together.'
Well! they sent another message to the copse, and asked so prettily
if they couldn't have the loan of the gilded porch-door which the
Attorney had talked of; and they got it on the spot. So they were
just setting out; but now the horses were not strong enough to draw
the coach, though there were six of them; then they put on eight, and
ten, and twelve, but the more they put on, and the more the coachman
whipped, the more the coach wouldn't stir an inch. By this time it
was far on in the day, and every one about the palace was in doleful
dumps; for to church they must go, and yet it looked as if they
should never get there. So at last the Sheriff said, that yonder in
the gilded hut, in the copse, lived a maiden, and if they could only
get the loan of her calf:
'I know it can drag the coach, though it were as heavy as a
Well they all thought it would look silly to be drawn to church by a
calf, but there was no help for it, so they had to send a third time,
and ask so prettily in the King's name, if he couldn't get the loan
of the calf the Sheriff had spoken of, and the Mastermaid let them
have it on the spot, for she was not going to say 'no' this time
either. So they put the calf on before the horses, and waited to see
if it would do any good, and away went the coach over high and low,
and stock and stone, so that they could scarce draw their breath;
sometimes they were on the ground, and sometimes up in the air, and
when they reached the church, the calf began to run round and round
it like a spinning jenny, so that they had hard work to get out of
the coach, and into the church. When they went back, it was the same
story, only they went faster, and they reached the palace almost
before they knew they had set out.
Now when they sat down to dinner, the Prince who had served with the
Giant said he thought they ought to ask the maiden who had lent them
her shovel-handle and porch-door, and calf, to come up to the palace.
'For', said he, 'if we hadn't got these three things, we should have
been sticking here still.'
Yes; the King thought that only fair and right, so he sent five of
his best men down to the gilded but to greet the maiden from the
King, and to ask her if she wouldn't be so good as to came up and
dine at the palace.
'Greet the King from me', said the Mastermaid, 'and tell him, if he's
too good to come to me, so am I too good to go to him.'
So the King had to go himself, and then the Mastermaid went up with
him without more ado; and as the King thought she was more than she
seemed to be, he sat her down in the highest seat by the side of the
Now, when they had sat a little while at table, the Mastermaid took
out her golden apple, and the golden cock and hen, which she had
carried off from the Giant, and put them down on the table before
her, and the cock and hen began at once to peck at one another, and
to fight for the golden apple.
'Oh! only look', said the Prince; 'see how those two strive for the
'Yes!' said the Mastermaid; 'so we two strove to get away that time
when we were together in the hillside.'
Then the spell was broken, and the Prince knew her again, and you may
fancy how glad he was. But as for the witch who had rolled the apple
over to him, he had her torn to pieces between twenty-four horses, so
that there was not a bit of her left, and after that they held on
with the wedding in real earnest; and though they were still stiff
and footsore, the Constable, the Attorney, and the Sheriff, kept it
up with the best of them.
THE CAT ON THE DOVREFELL
Once on a time there was a man up in Finnmark who had caught a great
white bear, which he was going to take to the king of Denmark. Now,
it so fell out, that he came to the Dovrefell just about Christmas
Eve, and there he turned into a cottage where a man lived, whose name
was Halvor, and asked the man if he could get house-room there, for
his bear and himself.
'Heaven never help me, if what I say isn't true!' said the man; 'but
we can't give any one house-room just now, for every Christmas Eve
such a pack of Trolls come down upon us, that we are forced to flit,
and haven't so much as a house over our own heads, to say nothing of
lending one to any one else.'
'Oh?' said the man, 'if that's all, you can very well lend me your
house; my bear can lie under the stove yonder, and I can sleep in the
Well, he begged so hard, that at last he got leave to stay there; so
the people of the house flitted out, and before they went, everything
was got ready for the Trolls; the tables were laid, and there was
rice porridge, and fish boiled in lye, and sausages, and all else
that was good, just as for any other grand feast.
So, when everything was ready, down came the Trolls. Some were great,
and some were small; some had long tails, and some had no tails at
all; some, too, had long, long noses; and they ate and drank, and
tasted everything. Just then one of the little Trolls caught sight of
the white bear, who lay under the stove; so he took a piece of
sausage and stuck it on a fork, and went and poked it up against the
bear's nose, screaming out:
'Pussy, will you have some sausage?'
Then the white bear rose up and growled, and hunted the whole pack of
them out of doors, both great and small.
Next year Halvor was out in the wood, on the afternoon of Christmas
Eve, cutting wood before the holidays, for he thought the Trolls
would come again; and just as he was hard at work, he heard a voice
in the wood calling out:
'Well', said Halvor, 'here I am.'
'Have you got your big cat with you still?'
'Yes, that I have', said Halvor; 'she's lying at home under the
stove, and what's more, she has now got seven kittens, far bigger and
fiercer than she is herself.'
'Oh, then, we'll never come to see you again', bawled out the Troll
away in the wood, and he kept his word; for since that time the
Trolls have never eaten their Christmas brose with Halvor on the
PRINCESS ON THE GLASS HILL
Once on a time there was a man who had a meadow, which lay high up on
the hill-side, and in the meadow was a barn, which he had built to
keep his hay in. Now, I must tell you, there hadn't been much in the
barn for the last year or two, for every St John's night, when the
grass stood greenest and deepest, the meadow was eaten down to the
very ground the next morning, just as if a whole drove of sheep had
been there feeding on it over night. This happened once, and it
happened twice; so at last the man grew weary of losing his crop of
hay, and said to his sons--for he had three of them, and the youngest
was nicknamed Boots, of course--that now one of them must just go and
sleep in the barn in the outlying field when St John's night came,
for it was too good a joke that his grass should be eaten, root and
blade, this year, as it had been the last two years. So whichever of
them went must keep a sharp look-out; that was what their father
Well, the eldest son was ready to go and watch the meadow; trust him
for looking after the grass! It shouldn't be his fault if man or
beast, or the fiend himself, got a blade of grass. So, when evening
came, he set off to the barn, and lay down to sleep; but a little on
in the night came such a clatter, and such an earthquake, that walls
and roof shook, and groaned, and creaked; then up jumped the lad, and
took to his heels as fast as ever he could; nor dared he once look
round till he reached home; and as for the hay, why it was eaten up
this year just as it had been twice before.
The next St John's night, the man said again, it would never do to
lose all the grass in the outlying field year after year in this way,
so one of his sons must just trudge off to watch it, and watch it
well too. Well, the next oldest son was ready to try his luck, so he
set off, and lay down to sleep in the barn as his brother had done
before him; but as the night wore on, there came on a rumbling and
quaking of the earth, worse even than on the last St John's night,
and when the lad heard it, he got frightened, and took to his heels
as though he were running a race.
Next year the turn came to Boots; but when he made ready to go, the
other two began to laugh and to make game of him, saying,
'You're just the man to watch the hay, that you are; you, who have
done nothing all your life but sit in the ashes and toast yourself by
But Boots did not care a pin for their chattering, and stumped away
as evening drew on, up the hill-side to the outlying field. There he
went inside the barn and lay down; but in about an hour's time the
barn began to groan and creak, so that it was dreadful to hear.
'Well', said Boots to himself, 'if it isn't worse than this, I can
stand it well enough.'
A little while after came another creak and an earthquake, so that
the litter in the barn flew about the lad's ears.
'Oh!' said Boots to himself, 'if it isn't worse than this, I daresay
I can stand it out.'
But just then came a third rumbling, and a third earthquake, so that
the lad thought walls and roof were coming down on his head; but it
passed off, and all was still as death about him.
'It'll come again, I'll be bound', thought Boots; but no, it didn't
come again; still it was, and still it stayed; but after he had lain
a little while, he heard a noise as if a horse were standing just
outside the barn-door, and cropping the grass. He stole to the door,
and peeped through a chink, and there stood a horse feeding away. So
big, and fat, and grand a horse, Boots had never set eyes on; by his
side on the grass lay a saddle and bridle, and a full set of armour
for a knight, all of brass, so bright that the light gleamed from it.
'Ho, ho!' thought the lad; 'it's you, is it, that eats up our hay?
I'll soon put a spoke in your wheel, just see if I don't.'
So he lost no time, but took the steel out of his tinder-box, and
threw it over the horse; then it had no power to stir from the spot,
and became so tame that the lad could do what he liked with it. So he
got on its back, and rode off with it to a place which no one knew
of, and there he put up the horse. When he got home, his brothers
laughed and asked how he had fared?
'You didn't lie long in the barn, even if you had the heart to go so
far as the field.'
'Well', said Boots, 'all I can say is, I lay in the barn till the sun
rose, and neither saw nor heard anything; I can't think what there
was in the barn to make you both so afraid.'
'A pretty story', said his brothers; 'but we'll soon see how you have
watched the meadow'; so they set off; but when they reached it, there
stood the grass as deep and thick as it had been over night.
Well, the next St John's eve it was the same story over again;
neither of the elder brothers dared to go out to the outlying field
to watch the crop; but Boots, he had the heart to go, and everything
happened just as it had happened the year before. First a clatter and
an earthquake, then a greater clatter and another earthquake, and so
on a third time; only this year the earthquakes were far worse than
the year before. Then all at once everything was as still as death,
and the lad heard how something was cropping the grass outside the
barn-door, so he stole to the door, and peeped through a chink; and
what do you think he saw? why, another horse standing right up
against the wall, and chewing and champing with might and main. It
was far finer and fatter than that which came the year before, and it
had a saddle on its back, and a bridle on its neck, and a full suit
of mail for a knight lay by its side, all of silver, and as grand as
you would wish to see.
'Ho ho!' said Boots to himself; 'it's you that gobbles up our hay, is
it? I'll soon put a spoke in your wheel'; and with that he took the
steel out of his tinder-box, and threw it over the horse's crest,
which stood as still as a lamb. Well, the lad rode this horse, too,
to the hiding-place where he kept the other one, and after that he
'I suppose you'll tell us', said one of his brothers, 'there's a fine
crop this year too, up in the hayfield.'
'Well, so there is', said Boots; and off ran the others to see, and
there stood the grass thick and deep, as it was the year before; but
they didn't give Boots softer words for all that.
Now, when the third St John's eve came, the two elder still hadn't
the heart to lie out in the barn and watch the grass, for they had
got so scared at heart the night they lay there before, that they
couldn't get over the fright; but Boots, he dared to go; and, to make
a long story short, the very same thing happened this time as had
happened twice before. Three earthquakes came, one after the other,
each worse than the one which went before, and when the last came,
the lad danced about with the shock from one barn wall to the other;
and after that, all at once, it was still as death. Now when he had
lain a little while, he heard something tugging away at the grass
outside the barn, so he stole again to the door-chink, and peeped
out, and there stood a horse close outside--far, far bigger and
fatter than the two he had taken before.
'Ho, ho!' said the lad to himself, 'it's you, is it, that comes here
eating up our hay? I'll soon stop that--I'll soon put a spoke in your
wheel.' So he caught up his steel and threw it over the horse's neck,
and in a trice it stood as if it were nailed to the ground, and Boots
could do as he pleased with it. Then he rode off with it to the
hiding-place where he kept the other two, and then went home. When he
got home, his two brothers made game of him as they had done before,
saying, they could see he had watched the grass well, for he looked
for all the world as if he were walking in his sleep, and many other
spiteful things they said, but Boots gave no heed to them, only asking
them to go and see for themselves; and when they went, there stood
the grass as fine and deep this time as it had been twice before.
Now, you must know that the king of the country where Boots lived had
a daughter, whom he would only give to the man who could ride up over
the hill of glass, for there was a high, high hill, all of glass, as
smooth and slippery as ice, close by the king's palace. Upon the tip
top of the hill the king's daughter was to sit, with three golden
apples in her lap, and the man who could ride up and carry off the
three golden apples, was to have half the kingdom, and the Princess
to wife. This the king had stuck up on all the church-doors in his
realm, and had given it out in many other kingdoms besides. Now, this
Princess was so lovely, that all who set eyes on her, fell over head
and ears in love with her whether they would or no. So I needn't tell
you how all the princes and knights who heard of her were eager to
win her to wife, and half the kingdom beside; and how they came
riding from all parts of the world on high prancing horses, and clad
in the grandest clothes, for there wasn't one of them who hadn't made
up his mind that he, and he alone, was to win the Princess.
So when the day of trial came, which the king had fixed, there was
such a crowd of princes and knights under the glass hill, that it
made one's head whirl to look at them; and every one in the country
who could even crawl along was off to the hill, for they all were eager
to see the man who was to win the Princess. So the two elder brothers
set off with the rest; but as for Boots, they said outright he shouldn't
go with them, for if they were seen with such a dirty, changeling, all
begrimed with smut from cleaning their shoes and sifting cinders in
the dust-hole, they said folk would make game of them.
'Very well', said Boots, 'it's all one to me. I can go alone, and
stand or fall by myself.'
Now when the two brothers came to the hill of glass, the knights and
princes were all hard at it, riding their horses till they were all
in a foam; but it was no good, by my troth; for as soon as ever the
horses set foot on the hill, down they slipped, and there wasn't one
who could get a yard or two up; and no wonder, for the hill was as
smooth as a sheet of glass, and as steep as a house-wall. But all
were eager to have the Princess and half the kingdom. So they rode
and slipped, and slipped and rode, and still it was the same story
over again. At last all their horses were so weary that they could
scarce lift a leg, and in such a sweat that the lather dripped from
them, and so the knights had to give up trying any more. So the king
was just thinking that he would proclaim a new trial for the next
day, to see if they would have better luck, when all at once a knight
came riding up on so brave a steed, that no one had ever seen the
like of it in his born days, and the knight had mail of brass, and
the horse a brass bit in his mouth, so bright that the sunbeams shone
from it. Then all the others called out to him he might just as well
spare himself the trouble of riding at the hill, for it would lead to
no good; but he gave no heed to them, and put his horse at the hill,
and went up it like nothing for a good way, about a third of the
height; and when he had got so far, he turned his horse round and
rode down again. So lovely a knight the Princess thought she had
never yet seen; and while he was riding, she sat and thought to
herself: 'Would to heaven he might only come up and down the
And when she saw him turning back, she threw down one of the golden
apples after him, and it rolled down into his shoe. But when he got
to the bottom of the hill he rode off so fast that no one could tell
what had become of him. That evening all the knights and princes were
to go before the king, that he who had ridden so far up the hill
might show the apple which the princess had thrown, but there was no
one who had anything to show. One after the other they all came, but
not a man of them could show the apple.
At even the brothers of Boots came home too, and had such a long
story to tell about the riding up the hill.
'First of all', they said, 'there was not one of the whole lot who
could get so much as a stride up; but at last came one who had a suit
of brass mail, and a brass bridle and saddle, all so bright that the
sun shone from them a mile off. He was a chap to ride, just! He rode
a third of the way up the hill of glass, and he could easily have
ridden the whole way up, if he chose; but he turned round and rode
down, thinking, maybe, that was enough for once.'
'Oh! I should so like to have seen him, that I should', said Boots,
who sat by the fireside, and stuck his feet into the cinders, as was
'Oh!' said his brothers, 'you would, would you? You; look fit to keep
company with such high lords, nasty beast that you are, sitting there
amongst the ashes.'
Next day the brothers were all for setting off again, and Boots
begged them this time, too, to let him go with them and see the
riding; but no, they wouldn't have him at any price, he was too ugly
and nasty, they said.
'Well, well!' said Boots;' if I go at all, I must go by myself. I'm
So when the brothers got to the hill of glass, all the princes and
knights began to ride again, and you may fancy they had taken care to
shoe their horses sharp; but it was no good--they rode and slipped,
and slipped and rode, just as they had done the day before, and there
was not one who could get so far as a yard up the hill. And when they
had worn out their horses, so that they could not stir a leg, they
were all forced to give it up as a bad job. So the king thought he
might as well proclaim that the riding should take place the day
after for the last time, just to give them one chance more; but all
at once it came across his mind that he might as well wait a little
longer, to see if the knight in brass mail would come this day too.
Well! they saw nothing of him; but all at once came one riding on a
steed, far, far, braver and finer than that on which the knight in
brass had ridden, and he had silver mail, and a silver saddle and
bridle, all so bright that the sun-beams gleamed and glanced from
them far away. Then the others shouted out to him again, saying, he
might as well hold hard, and not try to ride up the hill, for all his
trouble would be thrown away; but the knight paid no heed to them,
and rode straight at the hill, and right up it, till he had gone two-
thirds of the way, and then he wheeled his horse round and rode down
again. To tell the truth, the Princess liked him still better than
the knight in brass, and she sat and wished he might only be able to
come right up to the top, and down the other side; but when she saw
him turning back, she threw the second apple after him, and it rolled
down and fell into his shoe. But, as soon as ever he had come down
from the hill of glass, he rode off so fast that no one could see
what became of him.
At even, when all were to go in before the king and the Princess,
that he who had the golden apple might show it, in they went, one
after the other, but there was no one who had any apple to show, and
the two brothers, as they had done on the former day, went home and
told how things had gone, and how all had ridden at the hill, and
none got up.
'But, last of all', they said, 'came one in a silver suit, and his
horse had a silver saddle and a silver bridle. He was just a chap to
ride; and he got two-thirds up the hill, and then turned back. He was
a fine fellow, and no mistake; and the Princess threw the second gold
apple to him.'
'Oh!' said Boots, 'I should so like to have seen him too, that I
'A pretty story', they said. 'Perhaps you think his coat of mail was
as bright as the ashes you are always poking about, and sifting, you
nasty dirty beast.'
The third day everything happened as it had happened the two days
before. Boots begged to go and see the sight, but the two wouldn't
hear of his going with them. When they got to the hill there was no
one who could get so much as a yard up it; and now all waited for the
knight in silver mail, but they neither saw nor heard of him. At last
came one riding on a steed, so brave that no one had ever seen his
match; and the knight had a suit of golden mail, and a golden saddle
and bridle, so wondrous bright that the sunbeams gleamed from them a
mile off. The other knights and princes could not find time to call
out to him not to try his luck, for they were amazed to see how grand
he was. So he rode right at the hill, and tore up it like nothing, so
that the Princess hadn't even time to wish that he might get up the
whole way. As soon as ever he reached the top, he took the third
golden apple from the Princess' lap, and then turned his horse and
rode down again. As soon as he got down, he rode off at full speed,
and was out of sight in no time.
Now, when the brothers got home at even, you may fancy what long
stories they told, how the riding had gone off that day; and amongst
other things, they had a deal to say about the knight in golden mail.
'He just was a chap to ride!' they said; 'so grand a knight isn't to
be found in the wide world.'
'Oh!' said Boots, 'I should so like to have seen him, that I should.'
'Ah! 'said his brothers, 'his mail shone a deal brighter than the
glowing coals which you are always poking and digging at; nasty dirty
beast that you are.'
Next day all the knights and princes were to pass before the king and
the Princess--it was too late to do so the night before, I suppose--
hat he who had the gold apple might bring it forth; but one came
after another, first the princes, and then the knights, and still no
one could show the gold apple.
'Well', said the king, 'some one must have it, for it was something
that we all saw with our own eyes, how a man came and rode up and
bore it off.'
So he commanded that every one who was in the kingdom should come up
to the palace and see if they could show the apple. Well, they all
came one after another, but no one had the golden apple, and after a
long time the two brothers of Boots came. They were the last of all,
so the king asked them if there was no one else in the kingdom who
'Oh, yes', said they; 'we have a brother, but he never carried off
the golden apple. He hasn't stirred out of the dusthole on any of the
'Never mind that', said the king; 'he may as well come up to the
palace like the rest.'
So Boots had to go up to the palace.
'How, now', said the king; 'have you got the golden apple? Speak
'Yes, I have', said Boots; 'here is the first, and here is the
second, and here is the third too'; and with that he pulled all three
golden apples out of his pocket, and at the same time threw off his
sooty rags, and stood before them in his gleaming golden mail.
'Yes!' said the king; 'you shall have my daughter, and half my
kingdom, for you well deserve both her and it.'
So they got ready for the wedding, and Boots got the Princess to
wife, and there was great merry-making at the bridal-feast, you may
fancy, for they could all be merry though they couldn't ride up the
hill of glass; and all I can say is, if they haven't left off their
merry-making yet, why, they're still at it.
THE COCK AND HEN
(In this tale the notes of the Cock and Hen must be imitated.)
_Hen_--You promise me shoes year after year, year after year,
and yet I get no shoes!
_Cock_--You shall have them, never fear! Henny penny!
_Hen_--I lay egg after egg, egg after egg, and yet I go about
_Cock_--Well, take your eggs, and be off to the tryst, and buy
yourself shoes, and don't go any longer barefoot!
HOW ONE WENT OUT TO WOO
Once on a time there was a lad who went out to woo him a wife.
Amongst other places, he came to a farm-house, where the household
were little better than beggars; but when the wooer came in, they
wanted to make out that they were well to do, as you may guess. Now
the husband had got a new arm to his coat.
'Pray, take a seat', he said to the wooer; 'but there's a shocking
dust in the house.'
So he went about rubbing and wiping all the benches and tables with
his new arm, but he kept the other all the while behind his back.
The wife she had got one new shoe, and she went stamping and sliding
with it up against the stools and chairs, saying, 'How untidy it is
here! Everything is out of its place!'
Then they called out to their daughter to come down and put things to
rights; but the daughter, she had got a new cap; so she put her head
in at the door, and kept nodding and nodding, first to this side, and
then to that.
'Well! for my part', she said, 'I can't be everywhere at once.'
Aye! aye! that was a well-to-do household the wooer had come to.
Once on a time, in the days when our Lord and St Peter used to wander
on earth, they came to a smith's house. He had made a bargain with
the Devil, that the fiend should have him after seven years, but
during that time he was to be the master of all masters in his trade,
and to this bargain both he and the Devil had signed their names. So
he had stuck up in great letters over the door of his forge: _'Here
dwells the Master over all Masters.'_
Now when our Lord passed by and saw that, he went in.
'Who are you?' he said to the Smith.
'Read what's written over the door', said the Smith; 'but maybe you
can't read writing. If so, you must wait till some one comes to help
Before our Lord had time to answer him, a man came with his horse,
which he begged the Smith to shoe.
'Might I have leave to shoe it?' asked our Lord.
'You may try, if you like', said the Smith; 'you can't do it so badly
that I shall not be able to make it right again.'
So our Lord went out and took one leg off the horse, and laid it in
the furnace, and made the shoe red-hot; after that, he turned up the
ends of the shoe, and filed down the heads of the nails, and clenched
the points; and then he put back the leg safe and sound on the horse
again. And when he was done with that leg, he took the other fore-leg
and did the same with it; and when he was done with that, he took the
hind-legs--first, the off, and then the near leg, and laid them in
the furnace, making the shoes red-hot, turning up the ends; filing
the heads of the nails, and clenching the points; and after all was
done, putting the legs on the horse again. All the while, the Smith
stood by and looked on.
'You're not so bad a smith after all', said he.
'Oh, you think so, do you?' said our Lord.
A little while after came the Smith's mother to the forge, and called
him to come home and eat his dinner; she was an old, old woman with
an ugly crook on her back, and wrinkles in her face, and it was as
much as she could do to crawl along.
'Mark now, what you see', said our Lord.
Then he took the woman and laid her in the furnace, and smithied a
lovely young maiden out of her.
'Well', said the Smith, 'I say now, as I said before, you are not
such a bad smith after all. There it stands over my door. _Here
dwells the Master over all Masters_; but for all that, I say right
out, one learns as long as one lives'; and with that he walked off to
his house and ate his dinner.
So after dinner, just after he had got back to his forge, a man came
riding up to have his horse shod.
'It shall be done in the twinkling of an eye', said the Smith, 'for I
have just learnt a new way to shoe; and a very good way it is when
the days are short.'
So he began to cut and hack till he had got all the horse's legs off,
for he said, I don't know why one should go pottering backwards and
forwards--first, with one leg, and then with another.
Then he laid the legs in the furnace, just as he had seen our Lord
lay them, and threw on a great heap of coal, and made his mates work
the bellows bravely; but it went as one might suppose it would go.
The legs were burnt to ashes, and the Smith had to pay for the horse.
Well, he didn't care much about that, but just then an old beggar-
woman came along the road, and he thought to himself, 'better luck
next time'; so he took the old dame and laid her in the furnace, and
though she begged and prayed hard for her life, it was no good.
'You're so old, you don't know what is good for you', said the Smith;
'now you shall be a lovely young maiden in half no time, and for all
that, I'll not charge you a penny for the job.'
But it went no better with the poor old woman than with the horse's
'That was ill done, and I say it', said our Lord.
'Oh! for that matter', said the Smith, 'there's not many who'll ask
after her, I'll be bound; but it's a shame of the Devil, if this is
the way he holds to what is written up over the door.'
'If you might have three wishes from me', said our Lord, 'what would
you wish for?'
'Only try me', said the Smith, 'and you'll soon know.'
So our Lord gave him three wishes.
'Well', said the Smith, 'first and foremost, I wish that any one whom
I ask to climb up into the pear-tree that stands outside by the wall
of my forge, may stay sitting there till I ask him to come down
again. The second wish I wish is, that any one whom I ask to sit down
in my easy chair which stands inside the workshop yonder, may stay
sitting there till I ask him to get up. Last of all, I wish that any
one whom I ask to creep into the steel purse which I have in my
pocket, may stay in it till I give him leave to creep out again.'
'You have wished as a wicked man', said St Peter; 'first and
foremost, you should have wished for God's grace and goodwill.'
'I durstn't look so high as that', said the Smith; and after that our
Lord and St Peter bade him 'good-bye', and went on their way.
Well, the years went on and on, and when the time was up, the Devil
came to fetch the Smith, as it was written in their bargain.
'Are you ready?' he said, as he stuck his nose in at the door of the
'Oh', said the Smith, 'I must just hammer the head of this tenpenny
nail first; meantime, you can just climb up into the pear-tree, and
pluck yourself a pear to gnaw at; you must be, both hungry and
thirsty after your journey.'
So the Devil thanked him for his kind offer, and climbed up into the
'Very good', said the Smith; 'but now, on thinking the matter over, I
find I shall never be able to have done hammering the head of this
nail till four years are out at least, this iron is so plaguey hard;
down you can't come in all that time, but may sit up there and rest
When the Devil heard this, he begged and prayed till his voice was as
thin as a silver penny that he might have leave to come down; but
there was no help for it. There he was, and there he must stay. At
last he had to give his word of honour not to come again till the
four years were out, which the Smith had spoken of, and then the
Smith said, 'Very well, now you may come down.'
So when the time was up, the Devil came again to fetch the Smith.
'You're ready now, of course', said he; 'you've had time enough to
hammer the head of that nail, I should think.'
'Yes, the head is right enough now', said the Smith; 'but still you
have come a little tiny bit too soon, for I haven't quite done
sharpening the point; such plaguey hard iron I never hammered in all
my born days. So while I work at the point, you may just as well sit
down in my easy chair and rest yourself; I'll be bound you're weary
after coming so far.'
'Thank you kindly', said the Devil, and down he plumped into the easy
chair; but just as he had made himself comfortable, the Smith said,
on second thoughts, he found he couldn't get the point sharp till
four years were out. First of all, the Devil begged so prettily to be
let out of the chair, and afterwards, waxing wroth, he began to
threaten and scold; but the Smith kept on, all the while excusing
himself, and saying it was all the iron's fault, it was so plaguy
hard, and telling the Devil he was not so badly off to have to sit
quietly in an easy chair, and that he would let him out to the minute
when the four years were over. Well, at last there was no help for
it, and the Devil had to give his word of honour not to fetch the
Smith till the four years were out; and then the Smith said:
'Well now, you may get up and be off about your business', and away
went the Devil as fast as he could lay legs to the ground.
When the four years were over, the Devil came again to fetch the
Smith, and he called out, as he stuck his nose in at the door of the
'Now, I know you must be ready.'
'Ready, aye, ready', answered the Smith; 'we can go now as soon as
you please; but hark ye, there is one thing I have stood here and
thought, and thought, I would ask you to tell me. Is it true what
people say, that the Devil can make himself as small as he pleases?'
'God knows, it is the very truth', said the Devil.
'Oh!' said the Smith; 'it _is_ true, is it? then I wish you
would just be so good as to creep into this steel purse of mine, and
see whether it is sound at the bottom, for to tell you the truth, I'm
afraid my travelling money will drop out.'
'With all my heart', said the Devil, who made himself small in a
trice, and crept into the purse; but he was scarce in when the Smith
snapped to the clasp.
'Yes', called out the Devil inside the purse; 'it's right and tight
'Very good', said the Smith; 'I'm glad to hear you say so, but "more
haste the worse speed", says the old saw, and "forewarned is
forearmed", says another; so I'll just weld these links a little
together, just for safety's sake'; and with that he laid the purse in
the furnace, and made it red-hot.
'AU! AU!' screamed the Devil, 'are you mad? don't you know I'm inside
'Yes, I do!' said the Smith; 'but I can't help you, for another old
saw says, "one must strike while the iron is hot"'; and as he said
this, he took up his sledge-hammer, laid the purse on the anvil, and
let fly at it as hard as he could.
'AU! AU! AU!' bellowed the Devil, inside the purse. 'Dear friend, do
let me out, and I'll never come near you again.'
'Very well!' said the Smith; 'now, I think, the links are pretty well
welded, and you may come out'; so he unclasped the purse, and away
went the Devil in such a hurry that he didn't once look behind him.
Now, some time after, it came across the Smith's mind that he had
done a silly thing in making the Devil his enemy, for, he said to
'If, as is like enough, they won't have me in the kingdom of Heaven,
I shall be in danger of being houseless, since I've fallen out with
him who rules over Hell.'
So he made up his mind it would be best to try to get either into
Hell or Heaven, and to try at once, rather than to put it off any
longer, so that he might know how things really stood. Then he threw
his sledge-hammer over his shoulder and set off; and when he had gone
a good bit of the way, he came to a place where two roads met, and
where the path to the kingdom of Heaven parts from the path that
leads to Hell, and here he overtook a tailor, who was pelting along
with his goose in his hand.
'Good day', said the Smith; 'whither are you off to?'
'To the kingdom of Heaven', said the Tailor, 'if I can only get into
it'--'but whither are you going yourself?'
'Oh, our ways don't run together', said the Smith; 'for I have made
up my mind to try first in Hell, as the Devil and I know something of
one another, from old times.'
So they bade one another 'Good-bye', and each went his way; but the
Smith was a stout, strong man, and got over the ground far faster
than the tailor, and so it wasn't long before he stood at the gates
of Hell. Then he called the watch, and bade him go and tell the Devil
there was some one outside who wished to speak a word with him.
'Go out', said the Devil to the watch, 'and ask him who he is?' So
that when the watch came and told him that, the Smith answered:
'Go and greet the Devil in my name, and say it is the Smith who owns
the purse he wots of; and beg him prettily to let me in at once, for
I worked at my forge till noon, and I have had a long walk since.'
But when the Devil heard who it was, he charged the watch to go back
and lock up all the nine locks on the gates of Hell.
'And, besides', he said, 'you may as well put on a padlock, for if he
only once gets in, he'll turn Hell topsy-turvy!'
'Well!' said the Smith to himself, when he saw them busy bolting up
the gates, 'there's no lodging to be got here, that's plain; so I may
as well try my luck in the kingdom of Heaven'; and with that he
turned round and went back till he reached the cross-roads, and then
he went along the path the tailor had taken. And now, as he was cross
at having gone backwards and forwards so far for no good, he strode
along with all his might, and reached the gate of Heaven just as St
Peter was opening it a very little, just enough to let the half-
starved tailor slip in. The Smith was still six or seven strides off
the gate, so he thought to himself, 'Now there's no time to be lost';
and, grasping his sledge-hammer, he hurled it into the opening of the
door just as the tailor slunk in; and if the Smith didn't get in
then, when the door was ajar, why I don't know what has become of
THE TWO STEP-SISTERS
Once on a time there was a couple, and each of them had a daughter by
a former marriage. The woman's daughter was dull and lazy, and could
never turn her hand to anything, and the man's daughter was brisk and
ready; but somehow or other she could never do anything to her
stepmother's liking, and both the woman and her daughter would have
been glad to be rid of her.
So it fell one day the two girls were to go out and spin by the side
of the well, and the woman's daughter had flax to spin, but the man's
daughter got nothing to spin but bristles.
'I don't know how it is', said the woman's daughter, 'you're always
so quick and sharp, but still I'm not afraid to spin a match with
Well, they agreed that she whose thread first snapped, should go down
the well. So they span away; but just as they were hard at it, the
man's daughter's thread broke, and she had to go down the well. But
when she got to the bottom she saw far and wide around her a fair
green mead, and she hadn't hurt herself at all.
So she walked on a bit, till she came to a hedge which she had to
'Ah! don't tread hard on me, pray don't, and I'll help you another
time, that I will', said the Hedge.
Then the lassie made herself as light as she could, and trode so
carefully she scarce touched a twig.
So she went on a bit further, till she came to a brindled cow, which
walked there with a milking-pail on her horns. 'Twas a large pretty
cow, and her udder was so full and round.
'Ah! be so good as to milk me, pray', said the Cow; 'I'm so full of
milk. Drink as much as you please, and throw the rest over my hoofs,
and see if I don't help you some day.'
So the man's daughter did as the cow begged. As soon as she touched
the teats, the milk spouted out into the pail. Then she drank till
her thirst was slaked; and the rest she threw over the cow's hoofs,
and the milking-pail she hung on her horns again.
So when she had gone a bit further, a big wether met her, which had
such thick long wool, it hung down and draggled after him on the
ground, and on one of his horns hung a great pair of shears.
'Ah, please clip off my wool', said the Sheep, 'for here I go about
with all this wool, and catch up everything I meet, and besides, it's
so warm, I'm almost choked. Take as much of the fleece as you please,
and twist the rest round my neck, and see if I don't help you some
Yes! she was willing enough, and the sheep lay down of himself on her
lap, and kept quite still, and she clipped him so neatly, there
wasn't a scratch on his skin. Then she took as much of the wool as
she chose, and the rest she twisted round the neck of the sheep.
A little further on, she came to an apple tree, which was loaded with
apples; all its branches were bowed to the ground, and leaning
against the stem was a slender pole.
'Ah! do be so good as to pluck my apples off me', said the Tree, 'so
that my branches may straighten themselves again, for it's bad work
to stand so crooked; but when you beat them down, don't strike me too
hard. Then eat as many as you please, lay the rest round my root, and
see if I don't help you some day or other.'
Yes, she plucked all she could reach with her hands, and then she
took the pole and knocked down the rest, and afterwards she ate her
fill, and the rest she laid neatly round the root.
So she walked on a long, long way, and then she came to a great farm-
house, where an old hag of the Trolls lived with her daughter. There
she turned in to ask if she could get a place.
'Oh!' said the old hag; 'it's no use your trying. We've had ever so
many maids, but none of them was worth her salt.'
But she begged so prettily that they would just take her on trial,
that at last they let her stay. So the old hag gave her a sieve, and
bade her go and fetch water in it. She thought it strange to fetch
water in a sieve, but still she went, and when she came to the well,
the little birds began to sing,
Daub in clay,
Stuff in straw!
Daub in clay,
Stuff in straw.
Yes, she did so, and found she could carry water in a sieve well
enough; but when she got home with the water, and the old witch saw
the sieve, she cried out:
'THIS YOU HAVEN'T SUCKED OUT OF YOUR OWN BREAST.'
So the old witch said, now she might go into the byre to pitch out
dung and milk kine; but when she got there, she found a pitchfork so
long and heavy, she couldn't stir it, much less work with it. She
didn't know at all what to do, or what to make of it; but the little
birds sang again that she should take the broom-stick and toss out a
little with that, and all the rest of the dung would fly after it. So
she did that, and as soon as ever she began with the broom-stick, the
byre was as clean as if it had been swept and washed.
Now she had to milk the kine, but they were so restless that they
kicked and frisked; there was no getting near them to milk them.
But the little birds sang outside:
A little drop, a tiny sup,
For the little birds to drink it up.
Yes, she did that; she just milked a tiny drop, 'twas as much as she
could, for the little birds outside; and then all the cows stood
still and let her milk them. They neither kicked nor frisked; they
didn't even lift a leg.
So when the old witch saw her coming in with the milk, she cried out:
'THIS YOU HAVEN'T SUCKED OUT OF YOUR OWN BREAST. BUT NOW JUST TAKE
THIS BLACK WOOL AND WASH IT WHITE.'
This the lassie was at her wits' end to know how to do, for she had
never seen or heard of any one who could wash black wool white. Still
she said nothing, but took the wool and went down with it to the
well. There the little birds sang again and told her to take the wool
and dip it into the great butt that stood there; and she did so, and
out it came as white as snow.
'Well! I never!' said the old witch, when she came in with the wool,
'it's no good keeping you. You can do everything, and at last you'll
be the plague of my life. We'd best part, so take your wages and be
Then the old hag drew out three caskets, one red, one green, and one
blue, and of these the lassie was to choose one as wages for her
service. Now she didn't know at all which to choose, but the little
Don't take the red, don't take the green,
But take the blue, where may be seen
Three little crosses all in a row;
We saw the marks, and so we know.
So she took the blue casket, as the birds sang.
'Bad luck to you, then', said the old witch; 'see if I don't make you
pay for this!'
So when the man's daughter was just setting off, the old witch shot a
red-hot bar of iron after her, but she sprang behind the door and hid
herself, so that it missed her, for her friends, the little birds,
had told her beforehand how to behave. Then she walked on and on as
fast as ever she could; but when she got to the apple tree, she heard
an awful clatter behind her on the road, and that was the old witch
and her daughter coming after her.
So the lassie was so frightened and scared, she didn't know what to
'Come hither to me, lassie, do you hear', said the Apple tree, 'I'll
help you; get under my branches and hide, for if they catch you,
they'll tear you to death, and take the casket from you.'
Yes! she did so, and she had hardly hidden herself before up came the
old witch and her daughter.
'Have you seen any lassie pass this way, you apple tree', said the
'Yes, yes', said the Apple tree; 'one ran by here an hour ago; but
now she's got so far ahead, you'll never catch her up.'
So the old witch turned back and went home again. Then the lassie
walked on a bit, but when she came just about where the sheep was,
she heard an awful clatter beginning on the road behind her, and she
didn't know what to do, she was so scared and frightened; for she
knew well enough it was the old witch, who had thought better of it.
'Come hither to me, lassie', said the Wether, 'and I'll help you.
Hide yourself under my fleece, and then they'll not see you; else
they'll take away the casket, and tear you to death.'
Just then up came the old witch, tearing along.
'Have you seen any lassie pass here, you sheep?' she cried to the
'Oh yes', said the Wether, 'I saw one an hour ago, but she ran so
fast, you'll never catch her.'
So the old witch turned round and went home.
But when the lassie had come to where she met the cow, she heard
another awful clatter behind her.
'Come hither to me, lassie', said the Cow, 'and I'll help you to hide
yourself under my udder, else the old hag will come and take away
your casket, and tear you to death.'
True enough, it wasn't long before she came up.
'Have you seen any lassie pass here, you cow?' said the old hag.
'Yes, I saw one an hour ago', said the Cow, 'but she's far away now,
for she ran so fast I don't think you'll ever catch her up!'
So the old hag turned round, and went back home again.
When the lassie had walked a long, long way farther on, and was not
far from the hedge, she heard again that awful clatter on the road
behind her, and she got scared and frightened, for she knew well
enough it was the old hag and her daughter, who had changed their
'Come hither to me, lassie', said the Hedge, 'and I'll help you.
Creep under my twigs, so that they can't see you; else they'll take
the casket from you, and tear you to death.'
Yes! she made all the haste she could to get under the twigs of the
'Have you seen any lassie pass this way, you hedge?' said the old hag
to the hedge.
'No, I haven't seen any lassie', answered the Hedge, and was as
smooth-tongued as if he had got melted butter in his mouth; but all
the while he spread himself out, and made himself so big and tall,
one had to think twice before crossing him. And so the old witch had
no help for it but to turn round and go home again.
So when the man's daughter got home, her step-mother and her step-
sister were more spiteful against her than ever; for now she was much
neater, and so smart, it was a joy to look at her. Still she couldn't
get leave to live with them, but they drove her out into a pigsty.
That was to be her house. So she scrubbed it out so neat and clean,
and then she opened her casket, just to see what she had got for her
wages. But as soon as ever she unlocked it, she saw inside so much
gold and silver, and lovely things, which came streaming out till all
the walls were hung with them, and at last the pigsty was far grander
than the grandest king's palace. And when the step-mother and her
daughter came to see this, they almost jumped out of their skin, and
began to ask what kind of a place she had down there?
'Oh', said the lassie, 'can't you see, when I have got such good
wages. 'Twas such a family, and such a mistress to serve, you
couldn't find their like anywhere.'
Yes! the woman's daughter made up her mind to go out to serve too,
that she might get just such another gold casket. So they sat down to
spin again, and now the woman's daughter was to spin bristles, and
the man's daughter flax, and she whose thread first snapped, was to
go down the well. It wasn't long, as you may fancy, before the
woman's daughter's thread snapped, and so they threw her down the
So the same thing happened. She fell to the bottom, but met with no
harm, and found herself on a lovely green meadow. When she had walked
a bit she came to the hedge. 'Don't tread hard on me, pray, lassie,
and I'll help you again', said the Hedge.
'Oh!' said she, 'what should I care for a bundle of twigs?' and
tramped and stamped over the hedge till it cracked and groaned again.
A little farther on she came to the cow, which walked about ready to
burst for want of milking.
'Be so good as to milk me, lassie', said the Cow, 'and I'll help you
again. Drink as much as you please, but throw the rest over my
Yes! she did that; she milked the cow, and drank till she could drink
no more; but when she left off, there was none left to throw over the
cow's hoofs, and as for the pail, she tossed it down the hill and
When she had gone a bit further, she came to the sheep which walked
along with his wool dragging after him.
'Oh, be so good as to clip me, lassie', said the Sheep, 'and I'll
serve you again. Take as much of the wool as you will, but twist the
rest round my neck.'
Well! she did that; but she went so carelessly to work, that she cut
great pieces out of the poor sheep, and as for the wool, she carried
it all away with her.
A little while after she came to the apple tree, which stood there
quite crooked with fruit again.
'Be so good as to pluck the apples off me, that my limbs may grow
straight, for it's weary work to stand all awry', said the Apple
tree. 'But please take care not to beat me too hard. Eat as many as
you will, but lay the rest neatly round my root, and I'll help you
Well, she plucked those nearest to her, and thrashed down those she
couldn't reach with the pole, but she didn't care how she did it, and
broke off and tore down great boughs, and ate till she was as full as
full could be, and then she threw down the rest under the tree.
So when she had gone a good bit further, she came to the farm where
the old witch lived. There she asked for a place, but the old hag
said she wouldn't have any more maids, for they were either worth
nothing, or were too clever, and cheated her out of her goods. But
the woman's daughter was not to be put off, she _would_ have a
place, so the old witch said she'd give her a trial, if she was fit
The first thing she had to do was to fetch water in a sieve. Well,
off she went to the well, and drew water in a sieve, but as fast as
she got it in it ran out again. So the little birds sung:
Daub in clay,
Put in straw!
Daub in clay,
Put in straw!
But she didn't care to listen to the birds' song, and pelted them
with clay, till they flew off far away. And so she had to go home
with the empty sieve, and got well scolded by the old witch.
Then she was to go into the byre to clean it, and milk the kine. But
she was too good for such dirty work, she thought. Still, she went
out into the byre, but when she got there, she couldn't get on at all
with the pitchfork, it was so big. The birds said the same to her as
they had said to her step-sister, and told her to take the
broomstick, and toss out a little dung, and then all the rest would
fly after it; but all she did with the broomstick was to throw it at
the birds. When she came to milk, the kine were so unruly, they
kicked and pushed, and every time she got a little milk in the pail,
over they kicked it. Then the birds sang again:
A little drop and a tiny sup
For the little birds to drink it up.
But she beat and banged the cows about, and threw and pelted at the
birds everything she could lay hold of, and made such a to do, 'twas
awful to see. So she didn't make much either of her pitching, or
milking, and when she came indoors she got blows as well as hard
words from the old witch, who sent her off to wash the black wool
white; but that, too, she did no better.
Then the old witch thought this really too bad, so she set out the
three caskets, one red, one green, and one blue, and said she'd no
longer any need of her services, for she wasn't worth keeping, but
for wages she should have leave to choose whichever casket she
Then sung the little birds:
Don't take the red, don't take the green,
But choose the blue, where may be seen
Three little crosses all in a row;
We saw the marks, and so we know.
She didn't care a pin for what the birds sang, but took the red,
which caught her eye most. And so she set out on her road home, and
she went along quietly and easily enough; there was no one who came
So when she got home, her mother was ready to jump with joy, and the
two went at once into the ingle, and put the casket up there, for
they made up their minds there could be nothing in it but pure silver
and gold, and they thought to have all the walls and roof gilded like
the pigsty. But lo! when they opened the casket there came tumbling
out nothing but toads, and frogs, and snakes; and worse than that,
whenever the woman's daughter opened her mouth, out popped a toad or
a snake, and all the vermin one ever thought of, so that at last
there was no living in the house with her.
That was all the wages _she_ got for going out to service with
the old witch.
Once on a time there was an old wife who sat and baked. Now, you must
know that this old wife had a little son, who was so plump and fat,
and so fond of good things, that they called him Buttercup; she had a
dog, too, whose name was Goldtooth, and as she was baking, all at
once Goldtooth began to bark.
'Run out, Buttercup, there's a dear!' said the old wife, 'and see
what Goldtooth is barking at.'
So the boy ran out, and came back crying out:
'Oh, Heaven help us! here comes a great big witch, with her head
under her arm, and a bag at her back.'
'Jump under the kneading-trough and hide yourself', said his mother.
So in came the old hag!
'Good day', said she!
'God bless you!' said Buttercup's mother.
'Isn't your Buttercup at home to-day?' asked the hag.
'No, that he isn't. He's out in the wood with his father, shooting
'Plague take it', said the hag, 'for I had such a nice little silver
knife I wanted to give him.'
'Pip, pip! here I am', said Buttercup under the kneading-trough, and
out he came.
'I'm so old, and stiff in the back', said the hag, 'you must creep
into the bag and fetch it out for yourself.'
But when Buttercup was well into the bag, the hag threw it over her
back and strode off, and when they had gone a good bit of the way,
the old hag got tired, and asked:
'How far is it off to Snoring?'
'Half a mile', answered Buttercup.
So the hag put down the sack on the road, and went aside by herself
into the wood, and lay down to sleep. Meantime Buttercup set to work
and cut a hole in the sack with his knife; then he crept out and put
a great root of a fir-tree into the sack, and ran home to his mother.
When the hag got home and saw what there was in the sack, you may
fancy she was in a fine rage.
Next day the old wife sat and baked again, and her dog began to bark
just as he did the day before.
'Run out, Buttercup, my boy', said she, 'and see what Goldtooth is
'Well, I never!' cried Buttercup, as soon as he got out; 'if there
isn't that ugly old beast coming again with her head under her arm,
and a great sack at her back.'
'Under the kneading-trough with you and hide', said his mother.
'Good day!' said the hag, 'is your Buttercup at home to-day?'
'I'm sorry to say he isn't', said his mother; 'he's out in the wood
with his father, shooting ptarmigan.'
'What a bore', said the hag; 'here I have a beautiful little silver
spoon I want to give him.'
'Pip, pip! here I am', said Buttercup, and crept out.
'I'm so stiff in the back', said the old witch, 'you must creep into
the sack and fetch it out for yourself.'
So when Buttercup was well into the sack, the hag swung it over her
shoulders and set off home as fast as her legs could carry her. But
when they had gone a good bit, she grew weary, and asked:
'How far is it off to Snoring?'
'A mile and a half', answered Buttercup.
So the hag set down the sack, and went aside into the wood to sleep a
bit, but while she slept, Buttercup made a hole in the sack and got
out, and put a great stone into it. Now, when the old witch got home,
she made a great fire on the hearth, and put a big pot on it, and got
everything ready to boil Buttercup; but when she took the sack, and
thought she was going to turn out Buttercup into the pot, down
plumped the stone and made a hole in the bottom of the pot, so that
the water ran out and quenched the fire. Then the old hag was in a
dreadful rage, and said, 'If he makes himself ever so heavy next
time, he shan't take me in again.' The third day everything went just
as it had gone twice before; Goldtooth began to bark, and Buttercup's
mother said to him:
'Do run out and see what our dog is barking at.'
So out he went, but he soon came back crying out:
'Heaven save us! Here comes the old hag again with her head under her
arm, and a sack at her back.'
'Jump under the kneading-trough and hide', said his mother.
'Good day!' said the hag, as she came in at the door; 'is your
Buttercup at home to-day?'
'You're very kind to ask after him', said his mother; 'but he's out
in the wood with his father, shooting ptarmigan.'
'What a bore now', said the old hag; 'here have I got such a
beautiful little silver fork for him.'
'Pip, pip! here I am', said Buttercup, as he came out from under the
'I'm so stiff in the back', said the hag, 'you must creep into the
sack and fetch it out for yourself.'
But when Buttercup was well inside the sack, the old hag swung it
across her shoulders, and set off as fast as she could. This time she
did not turn aside to sleep by the way, but went straight home with
Buttercup in the sack, and when she reached her house it was Sunday.
So the old hag said to her daughter:
'Now you must take Buttercup and kill him, and boil him nicely till I
come back, for I'm off to church to bid my guests to dinner.'
So, when all in the house were gone to church the daughter was to
take Buttercup and kill him, but then she didn't know how to set
about it at all.
'Stop a bit', said Buttercup; 'I'll soon show you how to do it; just
lay your head on the chopping-block, and you'll soon see.'
So the poor silly thing laid her head down, and Buttercup took an axe
and chopped her head off, just as if she had been a chicken. Then he
laid her head in the bed, and popped her body into the pot, and
boiled it so nicely; and when he had done that, he climbed up on the
roof, and dragged up with him the fir-tree root and the stone, and
put the one over the door, and the other at the top of the chimney.
So when the household came back from church, and saw the head on the
bed, they thought it was the daughter who lay there asleep; and then
they thought they would just taste the broth.
Good, by my troth!
said the old hag.
Good, by my troth!
said Buttercup down the chimney, but no one heeded him. So the old
hag's husband, who was every bit as bad as she, took the spoon to
have a taste.
Good, by my troth!
Good, by my troth!
said Buttercup down the chimney pipe.
Then they all began to wonder who it could be that chattered so, and
ran out to see. But when they came out at the door, Buttercup threw
down on them the fir-tree root and the stone, and broke all their
heads to bits. After that he took all the gold and silver that lay in
the house, and went home to his mother, and became a rich man.
TAMING THE SHREW
Once on a time there was a king, and he had a daughter who was such a
scold, and whose tongue went so fast, there was no stopping it. So he
gave out that the man who could stop her tongue should have the
Princess to wife, and half his kingdom into the bargain. Now, three
brothers, who heard this, made up their minds to go and try their
luck; and first of all the two elder went, for they thought they were
the cleverest; but they couldn't cope with her at all, and got well
Then Boots, the youngest, set off, and when he had gone a little way
he found an ozier band lying on the road, and he picked it up. When
he had gone a little farther he found a piece of a broken plate, and
he picked that up too. A little farther on he found a dead magpie,
and a little farther on still, a crooked ram's horn; so he went on a
bit and found the fellow to the horn; and at last, just as he was
crossing the fields by the king's palace, where they were pitching
out dung, he found a worn-out shoe-sole. All these things he took
with him into the palace, and went before the Princess.
'Good day', said he.
'Good day', said she, and made a wry face.
'Can I get my magpie cooked here?' he asked.
'I'm afraid it will burst', answered the Princess.
'Oh! never fear! for I'll just tie this ozier band round it', said
the lad, as he pulled it out.
'The fat will run out of it', said the Princess.
'Then I'll hold this under it', said the lad, and showed her the
piece of broken plate.
'You are so crooked in your words', said the Princess, 'there's no
knowing where to have you.'
'No, I'm not crooked', said the lad; 'but this is', as he held up one
of the horns.
'Well!' said the Princess, 'I never saw the match of this in all my
'Why, here you see the match to it', said the lad, as he pulled out
the other ram's horn.
'I think', said the Princess, 'you must have come here to wear out my
tongue with your nonsense.'
'No, I have not', said the lad; 'but this is worn out', as he pulled
out the shoe-sole.
To this the Princess hadn't a word to say, for she had fairly lost
her voice with rage.
'Now you are mine', said the lad; and so he got the Princess to wife,
and half the kingdom.
Once on a time, there was a poor couple who lived in a tumble-down
hut, in which there was nothing but black want, so that they hadn't a
morsel to eat, nor a stick to burn. But though they had next to
nothing of other things, they had God's blessing in the way of
children, and every year they had another babe. Now, when this story
begins, they were just looking out for a new child; and, to tell the
truth, the husband was rather cross, and he was always going about
grumbling and growling, and saying, 'For his part, he thought one
might have too many of these God's gifts.' So when the time came that
the babe was to be born, he went off into the wood to fetch fuel,
saying, 'he didn't care to stop and see the young squaller; he'd be
sure to hear him soon enough, screaming for food.'
Now, when her husband was well out of the house, his wife gave birth
to a beautiful boy, who began to look about the room as soon as ever
he came into the world.
'Oh! dear mother', he said, 'give me some of my brother's cast-off
clothes, and a few days' food, and I'll go out into the world and try
my luck; you have children enough as it is, that I can see.'
'God help you, my son!' answered his mother; 'that can never be, you
are far too young yet.'
But the tiny one stuck to what he said, and begged and prayed till
his mother was forced to let him have a few old rags, and a little
food tied up in a bundle, and off he went right merrily and manfully
into the wide world. But he was scarce out of the house before his
mother had another boy, and he too looked about him, and said:
'Oh, dear mother! give me some of my brother's old clothes and a few
days' food, and I'll go out into the world to find my twin-brother;
you have children enough already on your hands, that I can see.'
'God help you, my poor little fellow!' said his mother; 'you are far
too little, this will never do.'
But it was no good; the tiny one begged and prayed so hard, till he
got some old tattered rags and a bundle of food; and so he wandered
out into the world like a man, to find his twin-brother. Now, when
the younger had walked a while, he saw his brother a good bit on
before him, so he called out to him to stop.
'Holloa! can't you stop? why, you lay legs to the ground as if you
were running a race. But you might just as well have stayed to see
your youngest, brother before you set off into the world in such a
So the elder stopped and looked round; and when the younger had come
up to him and told him the whole story, and how he was his brother,
he went on to say:
'But let's sit down here and see what our mother has given us for
food.' So they sat down together, and were soon great friends.
Now when they had gone a bit farther on their way, they came to a
brook which ran through a green meadow, and the youngest said now the
time was come to give one another names, 'Since we set off in such a
hurry that we hadn't time to do it at home, we may as well do it
'Well!' said the elder, 'and what shall your name be?'
'Oh!' said the younger, 'my name shall be Shortshanks; and yours,
what shall it be?'
'I will be called King Sturdy', answered the eldest.
So they christened each other in the brook, and went on; but when
they had walked a while they came to a cross road, and agreed they
should part there, and each take his own road. So they parted, but
they hadn't gone half a mile before their roads met again. So they
parted the second time, and took each a road; but in a little while
the same thing happened, and they met again, they scarce knew how;
and the same thing happened a third time also. Then they agreed that
they should each choose a quarter of the heavens, and one was to go
east and the other west; but before they parted, the elder said:
'If you ever fall into misfortune or need, call three times on me,
and I will come and help you; but mind you don't call on me till you
are at the last pinch.'
'Well!' said Shortshanks, 'if that's to be the rule, I don't think we
shall meet again very soon.'
After that they bade each other good-bye, and Shortshanks went east,
and King Sturdy west.
Now, you must know, when Shortshanks had gone a good bit alone, he
met an old, old crook-backed hag, who had only one eye, and
Shortshanks snapped it up.
'Oh! oh!' screamed the hag, 'what has become of my eye?'
'What will you give me', asked Shortshanks, 'if you get your eye
'I'll give you a sword, and such a sword! It will put a whole army to
flight, be it ever so great', answered the old woman.
'Out with it, then!' said Shortshanks.
So the old hag gave him the sword, and got her eye back again. After
that, Shortshanks wandered on a while, and another old, old crook-
backed hag met him who had only one eye, which Shortshanks stole
before she was aware of him.
'Oh, oh! whatever has become of my eye', screamed the hag.
'What will you give me to get your eye back?' asked Shortshanks.
'I'll give you a ship', said the woman, 'which can sail over fresh
water and salt water, and over high hills and deep dales.'
'Well! out with it', said Shortshanks.
So the old woman gave him a little tiny ship, no bigger than he could
put in his pocket, and she got her eye back again, and they each went
their way. But when he had wandered on a long, long way, he met a
third time an old, old crook-backed hag, with only one eye. This eye,
too, Shortshanks stole; and when the hag screamed and made a great
to-do, bawling out what had become of her eye, Shortshanks said:
'What will you give me to get back your eye?'
Then she answered:
'I'll give you the art how to brew a hundred lasts of malt at one
Well! for teaching that art the old hag got back her eye, and they
each went their way.
But when Shortshanks had walked a little way, he thought it might be
worth while to try his ship; so he took it out of his pocket, and put
first one foot into it, and then the other; and as soon as ever he
set one foot into it, it began to grow bigger and bigger, and by the
time he set the other foot into it, it was as big as other ships that
sail on the sea. Then Shortshanks said:
'Off and away, over fresh water and salt water, over high hills and
deep dales, and don't stop till you come to the king's palace.'
And lo! away went the ship as swiftly as a bird through the air, till
it came down a little below the king's palace, and there it stopped.
From the palace windows people had stood and seen Shortshanks come
sailing along, and they were all so amazed that they ran down to see
who it could be that came sailing in a ship through the air. But
while they were running down, Shortshanks had stepped out of his ship
and put it into his pocket again; for as soon as he stepped out of
it, it became as small as it was when he got it from the old woman.
So those who had run down from the palace saw no one but a ragged
little boy standing down there by the strand. Then the king asked
whence he came, but the boy said he didn't know, nor could he tell
them how he had got there. There he was, and that was all they could
get out of him; but he begged and prayed so prettily to get a place
in the king's palace; saying, if there was nothing else for him to
do, he could carry in wood and water for the kitchen-maid, that their
hearts were touched, and he got leave to stay there.
Now when Shortshanks came up to the palace, he saw how it was all
hung with black, both outside and in, wall and roof; so he asked the
kitchen-maid what all that mourning meant?
'Don't you know?' said the kitchen-maid; 'I'll soon tell you: the
king's daughter was promised away a long time ago to three ogres, and
next Thursday evening one of them is coming to fetch her. Ritter Red,
it is true, has given out that he is man enough to set her free, but
God knows if he can do it; and now you know why we are all in grief
So when Thursday evening came, Ritter Red led the Princess down to
the strand, for there it was she was to meet the Ogre, and he was to
stay by her there and watch; but he wasn't likely to do the Ogre much
harm, I reckon, for as soon as ever the Princess had sat down on the
strand, Ritter Red climbed up into a great tree that stood there, and
hid himself as well as he could among the boughs. The Princess begged
and prayed him not to leave her, but Ritter Red turned a deaf ear to
her, and all he said was:
'Tis better for one to lose life than for two.'
That was what Ritter Red said.
Meantime Shortshanks went to the kitchen-maid, and asked her so
prettily if he mightn't go down to the strand for a bit?
'And what should take you down to the strand?' asked the kitchen-
maid. 'You know you've no business there.'
'Oh, dear friend', said Shortshanks, 'do let me go? I should so like
to run down there and play a while with the other children; that I
'Well, well!' said the kitchen-maid, 'off with you; but don't let me
catch you staying there a bit over the time when the brose for supper
must be set on the fire, and the roast put on the spit; and let me
see; when you come back, mind you bring a good armful of wood with
Yes! Shortshanks would mind all that; so off he ran down to the
But just as he reached the spot where the Princess sat, what should
come but the Ogre tearing along in his ship, so that the wind roared
and howled after him. He was so tall and stout it was awful to look
on him, and he had five heads of his own.
'Fire and flame!' screamed the Ogre.
'Fire and flame yourself!' said Shortshanks.
'Can you fight?' roared the Ogre.
'If I can't, I can learn', said Shortshanks.
So the Ogre struck at him with a great thick iron club which he had
in his fist, and the earth and stones flew up five yards into the air
after the stroke.
'My!' said Shortshanks, 'that was something like a blow, but now you
shall see a stroke of mine.'
Then he grasped the sword he had got from the old crook-backed hag,
and cut at the Ogre; and away went all his five heads flying over the
sand. So when the Princess saw she was saved, she was so glad that
she scarce knew what to do, and she jumped and danced for joy. 'Come,
lie down, and sleep a little in my lap', she said to Shortshanks, and
as he slept she threw over him a tinsel robe.
Now you must know, it wasn't long before Ritter Red crept down from
the tree, as soon as he saw there was nothing to fear in the way, and
he went up to the Princess and threatened her until she promised to
say it was he who had saved her life; for if she wouldn't say so, he
said he would kill her on the spot. After that he cut out the Ogre's
lungs and tongue, and wrapped them up in his handkerchief, and so led
the Princess back to the palace, and whatever honours he had not
before, he got then, for the king did not know how to find honour
enough for him, and made him sit every day on his right hand at
As for Shortshanks, he went first of all on board the Ogre's ship,
and took a whole heap of gold and silver rings, as large as hoops,
and trotted off with them as hard as he could to the palace. When the
kitchen-maid set her eyes on all that gold and silver, she was quite
scared, and asked him:
'But dear, good, Shortshanks, wherever did you get all this from?'
for she was rather afraid he hadn't come rightly by it.
'Oh!' answered Shortshanks, 'I went home for a bit, and there I found
these hoops, which had fallen off some old pails of ours, so I laid
hands on them for you, if you must know.'
Well! when the kitchen-maid heard they were for her, she said nothing
more about the matter, but thanked Shortshanks, and they were good
The next Thursday evening it was the same story over again; all were
in grief and trouble, but Ritter Red said, as he had saved the
Princess from one Ogre, it was hard if he couldn't save her from
another; and down he led her to the strand as brave as a lion. But he
didn't do this Ogre much harm either, for when the time came that
they looked for the Ogre, he said, as he had said before:
''Tis better one should lose life than two', and crept up into his
tree again. But Shortshanks begged the kitchen-maid to let him go
down to the strand for a little.
'Oh!' asked the kitchen-maid, 'and what business have you down
'Dear friend', said Shortshanks. 'do pray let me go. I long so to run
down and play a while with the other children.'
Well! the kitchen-maid gave him leave to go, but he must promise to
be back by the time the roast was turned, and he was to mind and
bring a big bundle of wood with him. So Shortshanks had scarce got
down to the strand, when the Ogre came tearing along in his ship, so
that the wind howled and roared around him; he was twice as big as
the other Ogre, and he had ten heads on his shoulders.
'Fire and flame!' screamed the Ogre.
Fire and flame yourself!' answered Shortshanks.
'Can you fight?' roared the Ogre.
'If I can't, I can learn', said Shortshanks.
Then the Ogre struck at him with his iron club; it was even bigger
than that which the first Ogre had, and the earth and stones flew up
ten yards into the air.
My!' said Shortshanks, 'that was something like a blow now you shall
see a stroke of mine.' Then he grasped his sword, and cut off all the
Ogre's ten heads at one blow, and sent them dancing away over the
Then the Princess said again to him, 'Lie down and sleep a little
while on my lap'; and while Shortshanks lay there, she threw over him
a silver robe. But as soon as Ritter Red marked that there was no
more danger in the way, he crept down from the tree, and threatened
the Princess, till she was forced to give her word, to say it was he
who had set her free; after that, he cut the lungs and tongue out of
the Ogre, and wrapped them in his handkerchief, and led the Princess
back to the palace. Then you may fancy what mirth and joy there was,
and the king was at his wits' end to know how to show Ritter Red
honour and favour enough.
This time, too, Shortshanks took a whole armful of gold and silver
rings from the Ogre's ship, and when he came back to the palace the
kitchen-maid clapped her hands in wonder, asking wherever he got all
that gold and silver from. But Shortshanks answered that he had been
home a while, and that the hoops had fallen off some old pails, so he
had laid his hands on them for his friend the kitchen-maid. So when
the third Thursday evening came, everything happened as it had
happened twice before; the whole palace was hung with black, and all
went about mourning and weeping. But Ritter Red said he couldn't see
what need they had to be so afraid; he had freed the Princess from
two Ogres, and he could very well free her from a third; so he led
her down to the strand, but when the time drew near for the Ogre to
come up, he crept into his tree again, and hid himself. The Princess
begged and prayed, but it was no good, for Ritter Red said again:
''Tis better that one should lose life than two.'
That evening, too, Shortshanks begged for leave to go down to the
'Oh!' said the kitchen-maid, 'what should take you down there?'
But he begged and prayed so, that at last he got leave to go, only he
had to promise to be back in the kitchen again when the roast was to
be turned. So off he went, but he had scarce reached the strand when
the Ogre came with the wind howling and roaring after him. He was
much, much bigger than either of the other two, and he had fifteen
heads on his shoulders.
'Fire and flame!' roared out the Ogre.
'Fire and flame yourself!' said Shortshanks.
'Can you fight?' screamed the Ogre.
'If I can't, I can learn', said Shortshanks.
'I'll soon teach you', screamed the Ogre, and struck at him with his
iron club, so that the earth and stones flew up fifteen yards into
'My!' said Shortshanks, 'that was something like a blow; but now you
shall see a stroke of mine.'
As he said that, he grasped his sword, and cut off all the Ogre's
fifteen heads at one blow, and sent them all dancing over the sand.
So the Princess was freed from all the Ogres, and she both blessed
and thanked Shortshanks for saving her life.
'Sleep now a while on my lap', she said; and he laid his head on her
lap, and while he slept, she threw over him a golden robe.
'But how shall we let it be known that it is you that have saved me?'
she asked, when he awoke.
'Oh, I'll soon tell you', answered Shortshanks. 'When Ritter Red has
led you home again, and given himself out as the man who has saved
you, you know he is to have you to wife, and half the kingdom. Now,
when they ask you, on your wedding-day, whom you will have to be your
cup-bearer, you must say, "I will have the ragged boy who does odd
jobs in the kitchen, and carries in wood and water for the kitchen-
maid." So when I am filling your cups, I will spill a drop on his
plate, but none on yours; then he will be wroth, and give me a blow,
and the same thing will happen three times. But the third time you
must mind and say, "Shame on you! to strike my heart's darling; he it
is who set me free, and him will I have!"'
After that Shortshanks ran back to the palace, as he had done before;
but he went first on board the Ogre's ship, and took a whole heap of
gold, silver, and precious stones, and out of them he gave the
kitchen-maid another great armful of gold and silver rings.
Well! as for Ritter Red, as soon as ever he saw that all risk was
over, he crept down from his tree, and threatened the Princess till
she was forced to promise she would say it was he who had saved her.
After that, he led her back to the palace, and all the honour shown
him before was nothing to what he got now, for the king thought of
nothing else than how he might best honour the man who had saved his
daughter from the three Ogres. As for his marrying her, and having
half the kingdom, that was a settled thing, the king said. But-when
the wedding-day came, the Princess begged she might have the ragged
boy who carried in wood and water for the cook to be her cup-bearer
at the bridal-feast.
'I can't think why you should want to bring that filthy beggar boy in
here', said Ritter Red; but the Princess had a will of her own, and
said she would have him, and no one else, to pour out her wine; so
she had her way at last. Now everything went as it had been agreed
between Shortshanks and the Princess; he spilled a drop on Ritter
Red's plate, but none on hers, and each time Ritter Red got wroth and
struck him. At the first blow Shortshank's rags fell off which he had
worn in the kitchen; at the second the tinsel robe fell off; and at
the third the silver robe; and then he stood in his golden robe, all
gleaming and glittering in the light. Then the Princess said:
'Shame on you! to strike my heart's darling! he has saved me, and him
will I have!'
Ritter Red cursed and swore it was he who had set her free; but the
king put in his word, and said:
'The man who saved my daughter must have some token to show for it.'
Yes! Ritter Red had something to show, and he ran off at once after
his handkerchief with the lungs and tongues in it, and Shortshanks
fetched all the gold and silver, and precious things, he had taken
out of the Ogres' ships. So each laid his tokens before the king, and
the king said:
'The man who has such precious stores of gold, and silver, and
diamonds, must have slain the Ogre, and spoiled his goods, for such
things are not to be had elsewhere.'
So Ritter Red was thrown into a pit full of snakes, and Shortshanks
was to have the Princess and half the kingdom.
One day Shortshanks and the king were out walking, and Shortshanks
asked the king if he hadn't any more children?
'Yes', said the king, 'I had another daughter; but the Ogre has taken
her away, because there was no one who could save her. Now you are
going to have one daughter, but if you can set the other free whom
the Ogre has carried off, you shall have her too with all my heart,
and the other half of my kingdom.'
'Well', said Shortshanks, 'I may as well try; but I must have an iron
cable, five hundred fathoms long, and five hundred men, and food for
them to last fifteen weeks, for I have a long voyage before me.'
Yes! the king said he should have them, but he was afraid there
wasn't a ship in his kingdom big enough to carry such a freight.
'Oh! if that's all', said Shortshanks, 'I have a ship of my own.'
With that he whipped out of his pocket the ship he had got from the
The king laughed, and thought it was all a joke; but Shortshanks
begged him only to give him what he asked, and he should soon see if
it was a joke. So they got together what he wanted, and Shortshanks
bade him put the cable on board the ship first of all; but there was
no one man who could lift it, and there wasn't room for more than one
at a time round the tiny ship. Then Shortshanks took hold of the
cable by one end, and laid a link or two into the ship; and as he
threw in the links, the ship grew bigger and bigger, till at last it
got so big, that there was room enough and to spare in it for the
cable, and the five hundred men, and their food, and Shortshanks, and
all. Then he said to the ship:
'Off and away, over fresh water and salt water, over high hill and
deep dale, and don't stop till you come to where the king's daughter
is.' And away went the ship over land and sea, till the wind whistled
So when they had sailed far, far away, the ship stood stock still in
the middle of the sea.
'Ah!' said Shortshanks, 'now we have got so far; but how we are to
get back is another story.'
Then he took the cable and tied one end of it round his waist, and
'Now, I must go to the bottom, but when I give the cable a good tug,
and want to come up again, mind you all hoist away with a will, or
your lives will be lost as well as mine'; and with these words
overboard he leapt, and dived down, so that the yellow waves rose
round him in an eddy.
Well, he sank and sank, and at last he came to the bottom, and there
he saw a great rock rising up with a door in it, so he opened the
door and went in. When he got inside, he saw another Princess, who
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