Popular Tales from the Norse
Sir George Webbe Dasent
Part 7 out of 10
wood for fuel. So a Bear met him.
'Out with your horse', said the Bear, 'or I'll strike all your sheep
dead by summer.'
'Oh! heaven help me then', said the man; 'there's not a stick of
firewood in the house; you must let me drive home a load of fuel,
else we shall be frozen to death. I'll bring the horse to you to-
Yes! on those terms he might drive the wood home, that was a bargain;
but Bruin said, 'if he didn't come back, he should lose all his sheep
So the man got the wood on the sledge and rattled homewards, but he
wasn't over pleased at the bargain you may fancy. So just then a Fox
'Why, what's the matter?' said the Fox; 'why are you so down in the
'Oh, if you want to know', said the man; 'I met a Bear up yonder in
the wood, and I had to give my word to him to bring Dobbin back to-
morrow, at this very hour; for if he didn't get him, he said he would
tear all my sheep to death by summer.'
'Stuff, nothing worse than that', said the Fox; 'if you'll give me
your fattest wether, I'll soon set you free; see if I don't.'
Yes! the man gave his word, and swore he would keep it too.
'Well, when you come with Dobbin to-morrow for the bear', said the
Fox, 'I'll make a clatter up in that heap of stones yonder, and so
when the bear asks what that noise is, you must say 'tis Peter the
Marksman, who is the best shot in the world; and after that you must
Next day off set the man, and when he met the Bear, something began
to make a clatter up in the heap of stones.
'Hist! what's that?' said the Bear.
'Oh! that's Peter the Marksman, to be sure', said the than; 'he's the
best shot in the world. I know him by his voice.'
'Have you seen any bears about here, Eric?' shouted out a voice in
'Say, no!' said the Bear.
'No, I haven't seen any', said Eric.
'What's that then, that stands alongside your sledge?' bawled out the
voice in the wood.
'Say it's an old fir-stump', said the Bear.
'Oh, it's only an old fir-stump', said the man.
'Such fir-stumps we take in our country and roll them on our
sledges', bawled out the voice; 'if you can't do it yourself, I'll
come and help you.'
'Say you can help yourself, and roll me up on the sledge', said the
'No, thank ye, I can help myself well enough', said the man, and
rolled the Bear on to the sledge.
'Such fir-stumps we always bind fast on our sledges in our part of
the world', bawled out the voice; 'shall I come and help you?'
'Say you can help yourself, and bind me fast, do', said the Bear.
'No, thanks, I can help myself well enough', said the man, who set to
binding Bruin fast with all the ropes he had, so that at last the
bear couldn't stir a paw.
'Such fir-stumps we always drive our axes into, in our part of the
world', bawled out the voice; 'for then we guide them better going
down the steep pitches.'
'Pretend to drive your axe into me, do now', said the bear. Then the
man took up his axe, and at one blow split the bear's skull, so that
Bruin lay dead in a trice, and so the man and the Fox were great
friends, and on the best terms. But when they came near the farm, the
'I've no mind to go right home with you, for I can't say I like your
tykes; so I'll just wait here, and you can bring the wether to me,
but mind and pick out one nice and fat.'
Yes! the man would be sure to do that, and thanked the Fox much for
his help. So when he had put up Dobbin, he went across to the sheep-
'Whither away, now?' asked his old dame.
'Oh!' said the man, 'I'm only going to the sheep-stall to fetch a fat
wether for that cunning Fox, who set our Dobbin free. I gave him my
word I would.'
'Whither, indeed', said the old dame; 'never a one shall that thief of
a Fox get. Haven't we got Dobbin safe, and the bear into the bargain;
and as for the Fox, I'll be bound he's stolen more of our geese than
the wether is worth; and even if he hasn't stolen them, he will. No,
no; take a brace of your swiftest hounds in a sack, and slip them
loose after him; and then, perhaps, we shall be rid of this robbing
Well, the man thought that good advice; so he took two fleet red
hounds, put them into a sack, and set off with them.
'Have you brought the wether?' said the Fox.
'Yes, come and take it', said the man, as he untied the sack and let
slip the hounds.
'HUF', said the Fox, and gave a great spring; 'true it is what the
old saw says, "Well done is often ill paid"; and now, too, I see the
truth of another saying, "The worst foes are those of one's own
house."' That was what the Fox said as he ran off, and saw the red
foxy hounds at his heels.
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 hay-
making 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 hay-field 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
their 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
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.
Once on a time there was a rich couple who had twelve sons; but the
youngest when he was grown up, said he wouldn't stay any longer at
home, but be off into the world to try his luck. His father and
mother said he did very well at home, and had better stay where he
was. But no, he couldn't rest; away he must and would go. So at last
they gave him leave. And when he had walked a good bit, he came to a
king's palace, where he asked for a place, and got it.
Now the daughter of the king of that land had been carried off into
the hill by a Troll, and the king had no other children; so he and
all his land were in great grief and sorrow, and the king gave his
word that any one who could set her free should have the Princess and
half the kingdom. But there was no one who could do it, though many
So when the lad had been there a year or so, he longed to go home
again and see his father and mother, and back he went, but when he
got home his father and mother were dead, and his brothers had shared
all that the old people owned between them, and so there was nothing
left for the lad.
'Shan't I have anything at all, then, out of father's and mother's
goods?' said the lad.
'Who could tell you were still alive, when you went gadding and
wandering about so long?' said his brothers. 'But all the same; there
are twelve mares up on the hill which we haven't yet shared among us;
if you choose to take them for your share, you're quite welcome.'
Yes! the lad was quite content; so he thanked his brothers, and went
at once up on the hill, where the twelve mares were out at grass. And
when he got up there and found them, each of them had a foal at her
side, and one of them had besides, along with her, a big dapple-gray
foal, which was so sleek that the sun shone from its coat.
'A fine fellow you are, my little foal', said the lad.
'Yes', said the foal; 'but if you'll only kill all the other foals,
so that I may run and suck all the mares one year more, you'll see
how big and sleek I'll be then.'
Yes! the lad was ready to do that; so he killed all those twelve
foals, and went home again.
So when he came back the next year to look after his foal and mares,
the foal was so fat and sleek, that the sun shone from its coat, and
it had grown so big, the lad had hard work to mount it. As for the
mares, they had each of them another foal.
'Well, it's quite plain I lost nothing by letting you suck all my
twelve mares', said the lad to the yearling, 'but now you're big
enough to come along with me.'
'No', said the colt, 'I must bide here a year longer; and now kill
all the twelve foals, that I may suck all the mares this year too,
and you'll see how big and sleek I'll be by summer.'
Yes! the lad did that; and next year when he went up on the hill to
look after his colt and the mares, each mare had her foal, but the
dapple colt was so tall the lad couldn't reach up to his crest when
he wanted to feel how fat he was; and so sleek he was too, that his
coat glistened in the sunshine.
'Big and beautiful you were last year, my colt', said the lad, 'but
this year you're far grander. There's no such horse in the king's
stable. But now you must come along with me.'
'No', said Dapple again, 'I must stay here one year more. Kill the
twelve foals as before, that I may suck the mares the whole year, and
then just come and look at me when the summer comes.'
Yes! the lad did that; he killed the foals, and went away home.
But when he went up next year to look after Dapple and the mares, he
was quite astonished. So tall, and stout, and sturdy, he never
thought a horse could be; for Dapple had to lie down on all fours
before the lad could bestride him, and it was hard work to get up
even then, although he lay flat; and his coat was so smooth and
sleek, the sunbeams shone from it as from a looking-glass.
This time Dapple was willing enough to follow the lad, so he jumped
up on his back, and when he came riding home to his brothers, they
all clapped their hands and crossed themselves, for such a horse they
had never heard of nor seen before.
'If you will only get me the best shoes you can for my horse, and the
grandest saddle and bridle that are to be found', said the lad, 'you
may have my twelve mares that graze up on the hill yonder, and their
twelve foals into the bargain.' For you must know that this year too
every mare had her foal.
Yes, his brothers were ready to do that, and so the lad got such
strong shoes under his horse, that the stones flew high aloft as he
rode away across the hills; and he had a golden saddle and a golden
bridle, which gleamed and glistened a long way off.
'Now we're off to the king's palace', said Dapplegrim--that was his
name; 'but mind you ask the king for a good stable and good fodder
Yes! the lad said he would mind; he'd be sure not to forget; and when
he rode off from his brothers' house, you may be sure it wasn't long,
with such a horse under him, before he got to the king's palace.
When he came there the king was standing on the steps, and stared and
stared at the man who came riding along.
'Nay, nay!', said he, 'such a man and such a horse I never yet saw in
all my life.'
But when the lad asked if he could get a place in the king's
household, the king was so glad he was ready to jump and dance as he
stood on the steps.
Well, they said, perhaps he might get a place there.
'Aye', said the lad, 'but I must have good stable-room for my horse,
and fodder that one can trust.'
Yes! he should have meadow-hay and oats, as much as Dapple could
cram, and all the other knights had to lead their horses out of the
stable that Dapplegrim might stand alone, and have it all to himself.
But it wasn't long before all the others in the king's household
began to be jealous of the lad, and there was no end to the bad
things they would have done to him, if they had only dared. At last
they thought of telling the king he had said he was man enough to set
the king's daughter free--whom the Troll had long since carried away
into the hill--if he only chose. The king called the lad before him,
and said he had heard the lad said he was good to do so and so; so
now he must go and do it. If he did it, he knew how the king had
promised his daughter and half the kingdom, and that promise would be
faithfully kept; if he didn't, he should be killed.
The lad kept on saying he never said any such thing; but it was no
good--the king wouldn't even listen to him; and so the end of it was
he was forced to say he'd go and try.
So he went into the stable, down in the mouth and heavy-hearted, and
then Dapplegrim asked him at once why he was in such dumps.
Then the lad told him all, and how he couldn't tell which way to
'For as for setting the Princess free, that's downright stuff.'
'Oh! but it might be done, perhaps', said Dapplegrim. 'I'll help you
through; but you must first have me well shod. You must go and ask
for ten pound of iron and twelve pound of steel for the shoes, and
one smith to hammer and another to hold.'
Yes, the lad did that, and got for answer 'Yes!' He got both the iron
and the steel, and the smiths, and so Dapplegrim was shod both strong
and well, and off went the lad from the court-yard in a cloud of
But when he came to the hill into which the Princess had been
carried, the pinch was how to get up the steep wall of rock where the
Troll's cave was, in which the Princess had been hid. For you must
know the hill stood straight up and down right on end, as upright as
a house-wall, and as smooth as a sheet of glass.
The first time the lad went at it he got a little way up; but then
Dapple's fore-legs slipped, and down they went again, with a sound
like thunder on the hill.
The second time he rode at it he got some way further up; but then
one fore-leg slipped, and down they went with a crash like a
But the third time Dapple said:
'Now we must show our mettle'; and went at it again till the stones
flew heaven-high about them, and so they got up.
Then the lad rode right into the cave at full speed, and caught up
the Princess, and threw her over his saddle-bow and out and down
again before the Troll had time even to get on his legs; and so the
Princess was freed.
When the lad came back to the palace, the king was both happy and
glad to get his daughter back; that you may well believe; but somehow
or other, though I don't know how, the others about the court had so
brought it about that the king was angry with the lad after all.
'Thanks you shall have for freeing my Princess', said he to the lad,
when he brought the Princess into the hall, and made his bow.
'She ought to be mine as well as yours; for you're a word-fast man, I
hope', said the lad.
'Aye, aye!' said the king, 'have her you shall, since I said it; but
first of all, you must make the sun shine into my palace hall.'
Now, you must know there was a high steep ridge of rock close outside
the windows, which threw such a shade over the hall that never a
sunbeam shone into it.
'That wasn't in our bargain', answered the lad; 'but I see this is
past praying against; I must e'en go and try my luck, for the
Princess I must and will have.'
So down he went to Dapple, and told him what the king wanted, and
Dapplegrim thought it might easily be done, but first of all he must
be new shod; and for that ten pound of iron, and twelve pound of
steel besides, were needed, and two smiths, one to hammer and the
other to hold, and then they'd soon get the sun to shine into the
So when the lad asked for all these things, he got them at once--the
king couldn't say nay for very shame; and so Dapplegrim got new
shoes, and such shoes! Then the lad jumped upon his back, and off
they went again; and for every leap that Dapplegrim gave, down sank
the ridge fifteen ells into the earth, and so they went on till there
was nothing left of the ridge for the king to see.
When the lad got back to the king's palace, he asked the king if the
Princess were not his now; for now no one could say that the sun
didn't shine into the hall. But then the others set the king's back
up again, and he answered the lad should have her of course, he had
never thought of anything else; but first of all he must get as grand
a horse for the bride to ride on to church as the bridegroom had
The lad said the king hadn't spoken a word about this before, and
that he thought he had now fairly earned the Princess; but the king
held to his own; and more, if the lad couldn't do that he should lose
his life; that was what the king said. So the lad went down to the
stable in doleful dumps, as you may well fancy, and there he told
Dapplegrim all about it; how the king had laid that task on him, to
find the bride as good a horse as the bridegroom had himself, else he
would lose his life.
'But that's not so easy', he said, 'for your match isn't to be found
in the wide world.'
'Oh yes, I have a match', said Dapplegrim; 'but 'tisn't so easy to
find him, for he abides in Hell. Still we'll try. And now you must go
up to the king and ask for new shoes for me, ten pound of iron, and
twelve pound of steel; and two smiths, one to hammer and one to hold;
and mind you see that the points and ends of these shoes are sharp;
and twelve sacks of rye, and twelve sacks of barley, and twelve
slaughtered oxen, we must have with us; and mind, we must have the
twelve ox-hides, with twelve hundred spikes driven into each; and,
let me see, a big tar-barrel--that's all we want.'
So the lad went up to the king and asked for all that Dapplegrim had
said, and the king again thought he couldn't say nay, for shame's
sake, and so the lad got all he wanted.
Well, he jumped up on Dapplegrim's back, and rode away from the
palace, and when he had ridden far far over hill and heath, Dapple
'Do you hear anything?'
'Yes, I hear an awful hissing and rustling up in the air,' said the
lad; 'I think I'm getting afraid.'
'That's all the wild birds that fly through the wood. They are sent
to stop us; but just cut a hole in the corn-sacks, and then they'll
have so much to do with the corn, they'll forget us quite.'
Yes! the lad did that; he cut holes in the corn-sacks, so that the
rye and barley ran out on all sides. Then all the wild birds that
were in the wood came flying round them so thick that the sunbeams
grew dark; but as soon as they saw the corn, they couldn't keep to
their purpose, but flew down and began to pick and scratch at the rye
and barley, and after that they began to fight among themselves. As
for Dapplegrim and the lad, they forgot all about them, and did them
So the lad rode on and on--far far over mountain and dale, over sand-
hills and moor. Then Dapplegrim began to prick up his ears again, and
at last he asked the lad if he heard anything?
'Yes! now I hear such an ugly roaring and howling in the wood all
round, it makes me quite afraid.'
'Ah!' said Dapplegrim, 'that's all the wild beasts that range through
the wood, and they're sent out to stop us. But just cast out the
twelve carcasses of the oxen, that will give them enough to do, and
so they'll forget us outright.'
Yes! the lad cast out the carcasses, and then all the wild beasts in
the wood, both bears, and wolves, and lions--all fell beasts of all
kinds--came after them. But when they saw the carcasses, they began
to fight for them among themselves till blood flowed in streams; but
Dapplegrim and the lad they quite forgot.
So the lad rode far away, and they changed the landscape many many
times, for Dapplegrim didn't let the grass grow under him, as you may
fancy. At last Dapple gave a great neigh.
'Do you hear anything?' he said.
'Yes, I hear something like a colt neighing loud, a long long way
off', answered the lad.
'That's a full-grown colt then', said Dapplegrim, 'if we hear him
neigh so loud such a long way off.'
After that they travelled a good bit, changing the landscape once or
twice, maybe. Then Dapplegrim gave another neigh.
'Now listen, and tell me if you hear anything', he said.
'Yes, now I hear a neigh like a full-grown horse', answered the lad.
'Aye! aye!' said Dapplegrim, 'you'll hear him once again soon, and
then you'll hear he's got a voice of his own.'
So they travelled on and on, and changed the landscape once or twice,
perhaps, and then Dapplegrim neighed the third time; but before he
could ask the lad if he heard anything, something gave such a neigh
across the heathy hill-side, the lad thought hill and rock would
surely be rent asunder.
'Now, he's here!' said Dapplegrim; 'make haste, now, and throw the ox
hides, with the spikes in them, over me, and throw down the tar-
barrel on the plain; then climb up into that great spruce-fir yonder.
When it comes fire will flash out of both nostrils, and then the tar-
barrel will catch fire. Now, mind what I say. If the flame rises, I
win; if it falls, I lose; but if you see me winning take and cast the
bridle--you must take it off me--over its head, and then it will be
So just as the lad had done throwing the ox hides, with the spikes,
over Dapplegrim, and had cast down the tar-barrel on the plain, and
had got well up into the spruce-fir, up galloped a horse, with fire
flashing out of his nostrils, and the flame caught the tar-barrel at
once. Then Dapplegrim and the strange horse began to fight till the
stones flew heaven high. They fought and bit, and kicked, both with
fore-feet and hind-feet, and sometimes the lad could see them, and
sometimes he couldn't; but at last the flame began to rise; for
wherever the strange horse kicked or bit, he met the spiked hides,
and at last he had to yield. When the lad saw that, he wasn't long in
getting down from the tree, and in throwing the bridle over its head,
and then it was so tame you could hold it with a pack-thread.
And what do you think? that horse was dappled too, and so like
Dapplegrim, you couldn't tell which was which. Then the lad bestrode
the new Dapple he had broken, and rode home to the palace, and old
Dapplegrim ran loose by his side. So when he got home, there stood
the king out in the yard.
'Can you tell me now', said the lad, 'which is the horse I have
caught and broken, and which is the one I had before. If you can't, I
think your daughter is fairly mine.'
Then the king went and looked at both Dapples, high and low, before
and behind, but there wasn't a hair on one which wasn't on the other
as well. 'No', said the king, 'that I can't; and since you've got my
daughter such a grand horse for her wedding, you shall have her with
all my heart. But still, we'll have one trial more, just to see
whether you're fated to have her. First, she shall hide herself
twice, and then you shall hide yourself twice. If you can find out
her hiding-place, and she can't find out yours, why then you're fated
to have her, and so you shall have her.'
'That's not in the bargain either', said the lad; 'but we must just
try, since it must be so'; and so the Princess went off to hide
So she turned herself into a duck, and lay swimming on a pond that
was close to the palace. But the lad only ran down to the stable, and
asked Dapplegrim what she had done with herself.
'Oh, you only need to take your gun', said Dapplegrim, 'and go down
to the brink of the pond, and aim at the duck which lies swimming
about there, and she'll soon show herself.'
So the lad snatched up his gun and ran off to the pond. 'I'll just
take a pop at this duck', he said, and began to aim at it.
'Nay, nay, dear friend, don't shoot. It's I', said the Princess.
So he had found her once.
The second time the Princess turned herself into a loaf of bread, and
laid herself on the table among four other loaves; and so like was
she to the others, no one could say which was which.
But the lad went again down to the stable to Dapplegrim, and said how
the Princess had hidden herself again, and he couldn't tell at all
what had become of her.
'Oh, just take and sharpen a good bread-knife', said Dapplegrim,' and
do as if you were going to cut in two the third loaf on the left hand
of those four loaves which are lying on the dresser in the king's
kitchen, and you'll find her soon enough.'
Yes! the was down in the kitchen in no time, and began to sharpen the
biggest bread-knife he could lay hands on; then he caught hold of the
third loaf on the left hand, and put the knife to it, as though he
was going to cut it in two. I'll just have a slice off this loaf', he
Nay, dear friend', said the Princess, 'don't cut. It's I' So he had
found her twice.
Then he was to go and hide; but he and Dapplegrim had settled it all
so well beforehand, it wasn't easy to find him. First he turned
himself into a tick, and hid himself in Dapplegrim's left nostril;
and the Princess went about hunting him everywhere, high and low; at
last she wanted to go into Dapplegrim's stall, but he began to bite
and kick, so that she daren't go near him, and so she couldn't find
'Well', she said, 'since I can't find you, you must show where you
are yourself'; and in a trice the lad stood there on the stable
The second time Dapplegrim told him again what to do; and then he
turned himself into a clod of earth, and stuck himself between
Dapple's hoof and shoe on the near forefoot. So the Princess hunted
up and down, out and in, everywhere; at last she came into the
stable, and wanted to go into Dapplegrim's loose-box. This time he
let her come up to him, and she pried high and low, but under his
hoofs she couldn't come, for he stood firm as a rock on his feet, and
so she couldn't find the lad.
'Well; you must just show yourself, for I'm sure I can't find you',
said the Princess, and as she spoke the lad stood by her side on the
'Now you are mine indeed', said the lad; 'for now you can see I'm
fated to have you.' This he said both to the father and daughter.
'Yes; it is so fated', said the king; 'so it must be.' Then they got
ready the wedding in right down earnest, and lost no time about it;
and the lad got on Dapplegrim, and the Princess on Dapplegrim's
match, and then you may fancy they were not long on their way to the
Once on a time there was a man and his wife, who had an only son, and
his name was Jack. The old dame thought it high time for her son to
go out into the world to learn a trade, and bade her husband be off
'But all you do', she said, 'mind you bind him to some one who can
teach him to be master above all masters'; and with that she put some
food and a roll of tobacco into a bag, and packed them off.
Well! they went to many masters; but one and all said they could make
the lad as good as themselves, but better they couldn't make him. So
when the man came home again to his wife with that answer, she said:
'I don't care what you make of him; but this I say and stick to, you
must bind him to some one where he can learn to be master above all
masters'; and with that she packed up more food and another roll of
tobacco, and father and son had to be off again.
Now when they had walked a while they got upon the ice, and there
they met a man who came whisking along in a sledge, and drove a black
'Whither away?' said the man.
'Well!' said the father, 'I'm going to bind my son to some one who is
good to teach him a trade; but my old dame comes of such fine folk,
she will have him taught to be master above all masters.'
'Well met then', said the driver; 'I'm just the man for your money,
for I'm looking out for such an apprentice. Up with you behind!' he
added to the lad, and whisk! off they went, both of them, and sledge
and horse, right up into the air.
'Nay, nay!' cried the lad's father, 'you haven't told me your name,
nor where you live.'
'Oh!' said the master, 'I'm at home alike north and south, and east
and west, and my name's _Farmer Weathersky_. In a year and a day
you may come here again, and then I'll tell you if I like him.' So
away they went through the air, and were soon out of sight.
So when the man got home, his old dame asked what had become of her
'Well', said the man, 'Heaven knows, I'm sure I don't. They went up
aloft'; and so he told her what had happened. But when the old dame
heard that her husband couldn't tell at all when her son's
apprenticeship would be out, nor whither he had gone, she packed him
off again, and gave him another bag of food and another roll of
So, when he had walked a bit, he came to a great wood, which
stretched on and on all day as he walked through it. When it got dark
he saw a great light, and he went towards it. After a long, long time
he came to a little but under a rock, and outside stood an old hag
drawing water out of a well with her nose, so long was it.
'Good evening, mother!' said the man.
'The same to you', said the old hag. 'It's hundreds of years since
any one called me mother.'
'Can I have lodging here to-night?' asked the man.
'No! that you can't', said she.
But then the man pulled out his roll of tobacco, lighted his pipe,
and gave the old dame a whiff, and a pinch of snuff. Then she was so
happy she began to dance for joy, and the end was, she gave the man
leave to stop the night.
So next morning he began to ask after Farmer Weathersky. 'No! she
never heard tell of him, but she ruled over all the four-footed
beasts; perhaps some of them might know him.' So she played them all
home with a pipe she had, and asked them all, but there wasn't one of
them who knew anything about Farmer Weathersky.
'Well!' said the old hag, 'there are three sisters of us; maybe one
of the other two know where he lives. I'll lend you my horse and
sledge, and then you'll be at her house by night; but it's at least
three hundred miles off, the nearest way.'
Then the man started off, and at night reached the house, and when he
came there, there stood another old hag before the door, drawing
water out of the well with her nose.
'Good evening, mother!' said the man.
'The same to you', said she; 'it's hundreds of years since any one
called me mother.'
'Can I lodge here to-night?' asked the man.
'No!' said the old hag.
But he took out his roll of tobacco, lighted his pipe, and gave the
old dame a whiff, and a good pinch of snuff besides, on the back of
her hand. Then she was so happy that she began to jump and dance for
joy, and so the man got leave to stay the night. When that was over,
he began to ask after Farmer Weathersky. 'No! she had never heard
tell of him; but she ruled all the fish in the sea; perhaps some of
them might know something about him.' So she played them all home
with a pipe she had, and asked them, but there wasn't one of them who
knew anything about Farmer Weathersky.
'Well, well!' said the old hag, 'there's one sister of us left; maybe
she knows something about him. She lives six hundred miles off, but
I'll lend you my horse and sledge, and then you'll get there by
Then the man started off, and reached the house by nightfall, and
there he found another old hag who stood before the grate, and
stirred the fire with her nose, so long and tough it was.
'Good evening, mother!' said the man.
'The same to you', said the old hag; 'it's hundreds of years since
any one called me mother.'
'Can I lodge here to-night?' asked the man.
'No', said the old hag.
Then the man pulled out his roll of tobacco again, and lighted his
pipe, and gave the old hag such a pinch of snuff it covered the whole
back of her hand. Then she got so happy she began to dance for joy,
and so the man got leave to stay. But when the night was over, he
began to ask after Farmer Weathersky. She never heard tell of him she
said; but she ruled over all the birds of the air, and so she played
them all home with a pipe she had, and when she had mustered them
all, the Eagle was missing. But a little while after he came flying
home, and when she asked him, he said he had just come straight from
Farmer Weathersky. Then the old hag said he must guide the man
thither; but the eagle said he must have something to eat first, and
besides he must rest till the next day; he was so tired with flying
that long way, he could scarce rise from the earth.
So when he had eaten his fill and taken a good rest, the old hag
pulled a feather out of the Eagle's tail, and put the man there in
its stead; so the Eagle flew off with the man, and flew, and flew,
but they didn't reach Farmer Weathersky's house before midnight.
So when they got there, the Eagle said
'There are heaps of dead bodies lying about outside but you mustn't
mind them. Inside the house every man Jack of them are so sound
asleep, 't will be hard work to wake them; but you must go straight
to the table drawer, and take out of it three crumbs of bread, and
when you hear some one snoring loud, pull three feathers out of his
head; he won't wake for all that.'
So the man did as he was told, and after he had taken the crumbs of
bread, he pulled out the first feather.
'OOF!' growled Farmer Weathersky, for it was he who snored.
So the man pulled out another feather.
'OOF!' he growled again.
But when he pulled out the third, Farmer Weathersky roared so, the
man thought roof and wall would have flown asunder, but for all that
the snorer slept on.
After that the Eagle told him what he was to do. He went to the yard,
and there at the stable-door he stumbled against a big gray stone,
and that he lifted up; underneath it lay three chips of wood, and
those he picked up too; then he knocked at the stable-door, and it
opened of itself. Then he threw down the three crumbs of bread, and a
hare came and ate them up; that hare he caught and kept. After that
the Eagle bade him pull three feathers out of his tail, and put the
hare, the stone, the chips, and himself there instead, and then he
would fly away home with them all.
So when the Eagle had flown a long way, he lighted on a rock to rest.
'Do you see anything?' it asked.
'Yes', said the man, 'I see a flock of crows coming flying after us.'
'We'd better be off again, then', said the Eagle, who flew away.
After a while it asked again:
'Do you see anything now?'
'Yes', said the man; 'now the crows are close behind us.'
'Drop now the three feathers you pulled out of his head, said the
Well, the man dropped the feathers, and as soon as ever he dropped
them they became a flock of ravens which drove the crows home again.
Then the Eagle flew on far away with the man, and at last it lighted
on another stone to rest.
'Do you see anything?' it said.
'I'm not sure', said the man; 'I fancy I see something coming far far
'We'd better get on then', said the Eagle; and after a while it said
'Do you see anything?'
'Yes', said the man, 'now he's close at our heels.'
'Now, you must let fall the chips of wood which you took from under
the gray stone at the stable door', said the Eagle.
Yes! the man let them fall, and they grew at once up into tall thick
wood, so that Farmer Weathersky had to go back home to fetch an axe
to hew his way through. While he did this, the Eagle flew ever so
far, but when it got tired, it lighted on a fir to rest.
'Do you see anything?' it said.
'Well! I'm not sure', said the man; 'but I fancy I catch a glimpse of
something far away.'
'We'd best be off then', said the Eagle; and off it flew as fast as
it could. After a while it said:
'Do you see anything now?'
'Yes! now he's close behind us', said the man.
'Now, you must drop the big stone you lifted up at the stable door',
said the Eagle.
The man did so, and as it fell it became a great high mountain, which
Farmer Weathersky had to break his way through. When he had got half
through the mountain, he tripped and broke one of his legs, and so he
had to limp home again and patch it up.
But while he was doing this, the Eagle flew away to the man's house
with him and the hare, and as soon as they got home, the man went
into the churchyard and sprinkled Christian mould over the hare, and
lo! it turned into 'Jack', his son.
Well, you may fancy the old dame was glad to get her son again, but
still she wasn't easy in her mind about his trade, and she wouldn't
rest till he gave her a proof that he was 'master above all masters'.
So when the fair came round, the lad changed himself into a bay
horse, and told his father to lead him to the fair. 'Now, when any
one comes', he said, 'to buy me, you may ask a hundred dollars for
me; but mind you don't forget to take the headstall off me; if you
do, Farmer Weathersky will keep me for ever, for he it is who will
come to deal with you.'
So it turned out. Up came a horse-dealer, who had a great wish to
deal for the horse, and he gave a hundred dollars down for him; but
when the bargain was struck, and Jack's father had pocketed the
money, the horse-dealer wanted to have the headstall. 'Nay, nay!'
said the man, 'there's nothing about that in the bargain; and
besides, you can't have the headstall, for I've other horses at home
to bring to town to-morrow.'
So each went his way; but they hadn't gone far before Jack took his
own shape and ran away, and when his father got home, there sat Jack
in the ingle.
Next day he turned himself into a brown horse, and told his father to
drive him to the fair.
'And when any one comes to buy me, you may ask two hundred dollars
for me--he'll give that and treat you besides; but whatever you do,
and however much you drink, don't forget to take the headstall off
me, else you'll never set eyes on me again.'
So all happened as he had said; the man got two hundred dollars for
the horse and a glass of drink besides, and when the buyer and seller
parted, it was as much as he could do to remember to take off the
headstall. But the buyer and the horse hadn't got far on the road
before Jack took his own shape, and when the man got home, there sat
Jack in the ingle.
The third day, it was the same story over again: the lad turned
himself into a black horse, and told his father some one would come
and bid three hundred dollars for him, and fill his skin with meat
and drink besides; but however much he ate or drank, he was to mind
and not forget to take the headstall off, else he'd have to stay with
Farmer Weathersky all his life long.
'No, no; I'll not forget, never fear', said the man.
So when he came to the fair, he got three hundred dollars for the
horse, and as it wasn't to be a dry bargain, Farmer Weathersky made
him drink so much that he quite forgot to take the headstall off, and
away went Farmer Weathersky with the horse. Now when he had gone a
little way, Farmer Weathersky thought he would just stop and have
another glass of brandy; so he put a barrel of red-hot nails under
his horse's nose, and a sieve of oats under his tail, hung the
halter, upon a hook, and went into the inn. So the horse stood there
and stamped and pawed, and snorted and reared. Just then out came a
lassie, who thought it a shame to treat a horse so.
'Oh, poor beastie', she said, 'what a cruel master you must have to
treat you so', and as she said this she pulled the halter off the
hook, so that the horse might turn round and taste the oats.
'I'M AFTER YOU', roared Farmer Weathersky, who came rushing out of
But the horse had already shaken off the headstall, and jumped into a
duck-pond, where he turned himself into a tiny fish. In went Farmer
Weathersky after him, and turned himself into a great pike. Then Jack
turned himself into a dove, and Farmer Weathersky made himself into a
hawk, and chased and struck at the dove. But just then a Princess
stood at the window of the palace and saw this struggle.
'Ah! poor dove', she cried, 'if you only knew what I know, you'd fly
to me through this window.'
So the dove came flying in through the window, and turned itself into
Jack again, who told his own tale.
'Turn yourself into a gold ring, and put yourself on my finger', said
'Nay, nay!' said Jack, 'that'll never do, for then Farmer Weathersky
will make the king sick, and then there'll be no one who can make him
well again till Farmer Weathersky comes and cures him, and then, for
his fee, he'll ask for that gold ring.'
'Then I'll say I had it from my mother, and can't part with it', said
Well, Jack turned himself into a gold ring, and put himself on the
Princess' finger, and so Farmer Weathersky couldn't get at him. But
then followed what the lad had foretold; the king fell sick, and
there wasn't a doctor in the kingdom who could cure him till Farmer
Weathersky came, and he asked for the ring off the Princess' finger
for his fee. So the king sent a messenger to the Princess for the
ring; but the Princess said she wouldn't part with it, her mother had
left it her. When the king heard that, he flew into a rage, and said
he would have the ring, whoever left it to her.
'Well', said the Princess, 'it's no good being cross about it. I
can't get it off, and if you must have the ring, you must take my
'If you'll let me try, I'll soon get the ring off', said Farmer
'No, thanks, I'll try myself', said the Princess, and flew off to the
grate and put ashes on her finger. Then the ring slipped off and was
lost among the ashes. So Farmer Weathersky turned himself into a
cock, who scratched and pecked after the ring in the grate, till he
was up to the ears in ashes. But while he was doing this, Jack turned
himself into a fox, and bit off the cock's head; and so if the Evil
One was in Farmer Weathersky, it is all over with him now.
Once on a time there was a poor couple, and they had nothing in the
world but three sons. What the names the two elder had I can't say,
but the youngest he was called Peter. So when their father and mother
died, the sons were to share what was left, but there was nothing but
a porridge-pot, a griddle, and a cat.
The eldest, who was to have first choice, he took the pot; 'for',
said he, 'whenever I lend the pot to any one to boil porridge, I can
always get leave to scrape it'.
The second took the griddle; 'for', said he, 'whenever I lend it to
any one, I'll always get a morsel of dough to make a bannock.'
But the youngest, he had no choice left him; if he was to choose
anything it must be the cat.
'Well!' said he, 'if I lend the cat to any one I shan't get much by
that; for if pussy gets a drop of milk, she'll want it all herself.
Still, I'd best take her along with me; I shouldn't like her to go
about here and starve.'
So the brothers went out into the world to try their luck, and each
took his own way; but when the youngest had gorse a while, the cat
'Now you shall have a good turn, because you wouldn't let me stay
behind in the old cottage and starve. Now, I'm off to the wood to lay
hold of a fine fat head of game, and then you must go up to the
king's palace that you see yonder, and say you are come with a little
present for the king; and when he asks who sends it, you must say,
"Why, who should it be from but Lord Peter."'
Well! Peter hadn't waited long before back came the cat with a
reindeer from the wood; she had jumped up on the reindeer's head,
between his horns, and said, 'If you don't go straight to the king's
palace I'll claw your eyes out.'
So the reindeer had to go whether he liked it or no.
And when Peter got to the palace he went into the kitchen with the
deer, and said: 'Here I'm come with a little present for the king, if
he won't despise it.'
Then the King went out into the kitchen, and when he saw the fine
plump reindeer, he was very glad.
'But, my dear friend', he said, 'who in the world is it that sends me
such a fine gift?'
'Oh!' said Peter, 'who should send it but Lord Peter.'
'Lord Peter! Lord Peter!' said the King. 'Pray tell me where he
lives'; for he thought it a shame not to know so great a man. But
that was just what the lad wouldn't tell him; he daren't do it, he
said, because his master had forbidden him.
So the King gave him a good bit of money to drink his health, and
bade him be sure and say all kind of pretty things, and many thanks
for the present to his master when he got home.
Next day the Cat went again into the wood, and jumped up on a red
deer's head, and sat between his horns, and forced him to go to the
palace. Then Peter went again into the kitchen, and said he was come
with a little present for the King, if he would be pleased to take
it. And the King was still more glad to get the red deer than he had
been to get the reindeer, and asked again who it was that sent so
fine a present.
'Why, it's Lord Peter, of course', said the lad; but when the King
wanted to know where Lord Peter lived, he got the same answer as the
day before; and this day, too, he gave Peter a good lump of money to
drink his health with.
The third day the Cat came with an elk. And so when Peter got into
the palace kitchen, and said he had a little present for the King, if
he'd be pleased to take it, the King came out at once into the
kitchen; and when he saw the grand big elk, he was so glad he scarce
knew which leg to stand on; and this day, too, he gave Peter many
many more dollars--at least a hundred. He wished now, once for all,
to know where this Lord Peter lived, and asked and asked about this
thing and that, but the lad said he daren't say, for his master's
sake, who had strictly forbidden him to tell.
'Well, then', said the King, 'beg Lord Peter to come and see me.'
Yes, the lad would take that message; but when Peter got out into the
yard again, and met the Cat, he said,
'A pretty scrape you've got me into now, for here's the King, who
wants me to come and see him, and you know I've nothing to go in but
these rags I stand and walk in.'
'Oh, don't be afraid about that', said the Cat; 'in three days you
shall have coach and horses, and fine clothes, so fine that the gold
falls from them, and then you may go and see the king very well. But
mind, whatever you see in the king's palace, you must say you have
far finer and grander things of your own. Don't forget that.'
No, no, Peter would bear that in mind, never fear.
So when three days were over, the Cat came with a coach and horses,
and clothes, and all that Peter wanted, and altogether it was as
grand as anything you ever set eyes on; so off he set, and the Cat
ran alongside the coach. The King met him well and graciously; but
whatever the King offered him, and whatever he showed him, Peter
said, 'twas all very well, but he had far finer and better things in his
own house. The King seemed not quite to believe this, but Peter
stuck to what he said, and at last the King got so angry, he couldn't
bear it any longer.
'Now I'll go home with you', he said, 'and see if it be true what
you've been telling me, that you have far finer and better things of
your own. But if you've been telling a pack of lies, Heaven help you,
that's all I say.'
'Now, you've got me into a fine scrape', said Peter to the Cat, 'for
here's the King coming home with me; but my home, that's not so easy
to find, I think.'
'Oh! never mind', said the Cat; 'only do you drive after me as I run
So off they set; first Peter, who drove after his Cat, and then the
King and all his court.
But when they had driven a good bit, they came to a great flock of
fine sheep, that had wool so long it almost touched the ground.
'If you'll only say', said the Cat to the Shepherd, 'this flock of
sheep belongs to Lord Peter, when the King asks you, I'll give you
this silver spoon', which she had taken with her from the King's
Yes! he was willing enough to do that. So when the king came up, he
said to the lad who watched the sheep,
'Well, I never saw so large and fine a flock of sheep in my life!
Whose is it? my little lad.'
'Why', said the lad, 'whose should it be but Lord Peter's.'
A little while after they came to a great, great herd of fine
brindled kine, who were all so sleek the sun shone from them.
'If you'll only say', said the Cat to the neat-herd, 'this herd is
Lord Peter's, when the King asks you, I'll give you this silver
ladle'; and the ladle too she had taken from the King's palace.
'Yes! with all my heart', said the neat-herd.
So when the King came up, he was quite amazed at the fine fat herd,
for such a herd he had never seen before, and so he asked the neat-
herd who owned those brindled kine.
'Why! who should own them but Lord Peter', said the neat-herd.
So they went on a little further, and came to a great, great drove of
horses, the finest you ever saw, six of each colour, bay, and black,
and brown, and chesnut.
'If you'll only say this drove of horses is Lord Peter's when the
King asks you', said the Cat, 'I'll give you this silver stoop'; and
the stoop too she had taken from the palace.
Yes! the lad was willing enough; and so when the King came up, he was
quite amazed at the grand drove of horses, for the matches of such
horses he had never yet set eyes on, he said.
So he asked the lad who watched them, whose all these blacks, and
bays, and browns, and chesnuts were?
'Whose should they be', said the lad, 'but Lord Peter's.'
So when they had gone a good bit farther, they came to a castle;
first there was a gate of tin, and next there was a gate of silver,
and next a gate of gold. The castle itself was of silver, and so
dazzling white, that it quite hurt one's eyes to look at in the
sunbeams which fell on it just as they reached it.
So they went into it, and the Cat told Peter to say this was his
house. As for the castle inside, it was far finer than it looked
outside, for everything was pure gold--chairs, and tables, and
benches, and all. And when the King had gone all over it, and seen
everything high and low, he got quite shameful and downcast.
'Yes', he said at last; 'Lord Peter has everything far finer than I
have, there's no gainsaying that', and so he wanted to be off home
But Peter begged him to stay to supper, and the King stayed, but he
was sour, and surly the whole time.
So as they sat at supper, back came the Troll who owned the castle,
and gave such a great knock at the door.
'WHO'S THIS EATING MY MEAT AND DRINKING MY MEAD LIKE SWINE IN HERE',
roared out the Troll.
As soon as the Cat heard that, she ran down to the gate.
'Stop a bit', she said, 'and I'll tell you how the farmer sets to
work to get in his winter rye.'
And so she told him such a long story about the winter rye.
'First of all, you see, he ploughs his field, and then he dungs it,
and then he ploughs it again, and then he harrows it'; and so she
went on till the sun rose.
'Oh, do look behind you, and there you'll see such a lovely lady',
said the Cat to the Troll.
So the Troll turned round, and, of course, as soon as he saw the sun
'Now all this is yours', said the Cat to Lord Peter. 'Now, you must
cut off my head; that's all I ask for what I have done for you.'
'Nay, nay', said Lord Peter, 'I'll never do any such thing, that's
'If you don't', said the Cat,' see if I don't claw your eyes out.'
Well! so Lord Peter had to do it, though it was sore against his
will. He cut off the Cat's head, but there and then she became the
loveliest Princess you ever set eyes on, and Lord Peter fell in love
with her at once.
'Yes! all this greatness was mine first', said the Princess, 'but a
Troll bewitched me to be a Cat in your father's and mother's cottage.
Now you may do as you please, whether you take me as your queen or
not, for you are now king over all this realm.'
Well, well; there was little doubt Lord Peter would be willing enough
to have her as his queen, and so there was a wedding that lasted
eight whole days, and a feast besides; and after it was over, I
stayed no longer with Lord Peter and his lovely queen, and so I can't
say anything more about them.
THE SEVEN FOALS
Once on a time there was a poor couple who lived in a wretched hut,
far far away in the wood. How they lived I can't tell, but I'm sure
it was from hand to mouth, and hard work even then; but they had
three sons, and the youngest of them was Boots, of course, for he did
little else than lie there and poke about in the ashes.
So one day the eldest lad said he would go out to earn his bread, and
he soon got leave, and wandered out into the world. There he walked
and walked the whole day, and when evening drew in, he came to a
king's palace, and there stood the King out on the steps, and asked
whither he was bound.
'Oh, I'm going about, looking after a place', said the lad.
'Will you serve me?' asked the King, 'and watch my seven foals. If
you can watch them one whole day, and tell me at night what they eat
and what they drink, you shall have the Princess to wife, and half my
kingdom; but if you can't, I'll cut three red stripes out of your
back. Do you hear?'
Yes! that was an easy task, the lad thought; he'd do that fast
enough, never fear.
So next morning, as soon as the first peep of dawn came, the king's
coachman let out the seven foals. Away they went, and the lad after
them. You may fancy how they tore over hill and dale, through bush
and bog. When the lad had run so a long time, he began to get weary,
and when he had held on a while longer, he had more than enough of
his watching, and just there, he came to a cleft in a rock, where an
old hag sat and spun with a distaff. As soon as she saw the lad who
was running after the foals till the sweat ran down his brow, this
old hag bawled out:
'Come hither, come hither, my pretty son, and let me comb your hair.'
Yes! the lad was willing enough; so he sat down in the cleft of the
rock with the old hag, and laid his head on her lap, and she combed
his hair all day whilst he lay there, and stretched his lazy bones.
So, when evening drew on, the lad wanted to go away. 'I may just as
well toddle straight home now', said he, 'for it's no use my going
back to the palace.'
'Stop a bit till it's dark', said the old hag, 'and then the king's
foals will pass by here again, and then you can run home with them,
and then no one will know that you have lain here all day long,
instead of watching the foals.'
So, when they came, she gave the lad a flask of water and a clod of
turf. Those he was to show to the King, and say that was what his
seven foals ate and drank.
'Have you watched true and well the whole day, now?' asked the King,
when the lad came before him in the evening.
'Yes, I should think so', said the lad.
'Then you can tell me what my seven foals eat and drink', said the
'Yes!' and so the lad pulled out the flask of water and the clod of
turf, which the old hag had given him.
'Here you see their meat, and here you see their drink', said the
But then the King saw plain enough how he had watched, and he got so
wroth, he ordered his men to chase him away home on the spot; but
first they were to cut three red stripes out of his back, and rub
salt into them. So when the lad got home again, you may fancy what a
temper he was in. He'd gone out once to get a place, he said, but
he'd never do so again.
Next day the second sons aid he would go out into the world to try
his luck. His father and mother said 'No', and bade him look at his
brother's back; but the lad wouldn't give in; he held to his own, and
at last he got leave to go, and set off. So when he had walked the
whole day, he, too, came to the king's palace. There stood the King
out on the steps, and asked whither he was bound? and when the lad
said he was looking about for a place, the King said he might have a
place there, and watch his seven foals. But the king laid down the
same punishment, and the same reward, as he had settled for his
brother. Well, the lad was willing enough; he took the place at once
with the King, for he thought he'd soon watch the foals, and tell the
King what they ate and drank. So, in the gray of the morning, the
coachman let out the seven foals, and off they went again over hill
and dale, and the lad after them. But the same thing happened to him
as had befallen his brother. When he had run after the foals a long
long time, till he was both warm and weary, he passed by the cleft in
a rock, where an old hag sat and spun with a distaff, and she bawled
out to the lad:
'Come hither, come hither, my pretty son, and let me comb your hair.'
That the lad thought a good offer, so he let the foals run on their
way, and sat down in the cleft with the old hag. There he sat, and
there he lay, taking his ease, and stretching his lazy bones the
When the foals came back at nightfall, he too got a flask of water
and clod of turf from the old hag to show to the King. But when the
King asked the lad:
'Can you tell me now, what my seven foals eat and drink?' and the lad
pulled out the flask and the clod, and said:
'Here you see their meat, and here you see their drink.'
Then the King got wroth again, and ordered them to cut three red
stripes out of the lad's back, and rub salt in, and chase him home
that very minute. And so when the lad got home, he also told how he
had fared, and said, he had gone out once to get a place, but he'd
never do so any more.
The third day Boots wanted to set out; he had a great mind to try and
watch the seven foals, he said. The others laughed at him, and made
game of him, saying:
'When we fared so ill, you'll do it better--a fine joke; you look
like it--you, who have never done anything but lie there and poke
about in the ashes.'
'Yes!' said Boots, 'I don't see why I shouldn't go, for I've got it
into my head, and can't get it out again.'
And so, in spite of all the jeers of the others and the prayers of
the old people, there was no help for it, and Boots set out.
So after he had walked the whole day, he too came at dusk to the
king's palace. There stood the King out on the steps, and asked
whither he was bound.
'Oh', said Boots, 'I'm going about seeing if I can hear of a place.'
'Whence do you come then?' said the King, for he wanted to know a
little more about them before he took any one into his service.
So Boots said whence he came, and how he was brother to those two who
had watched the king's seven foals, and ended by asking if he might
try to watch them next day.
'Oh, stuff!' said the King, for he got quite cross if he even thought
of them; 'if you're brother to those two, you're not worth much, I'll
be bound. I've had enough of such scamps.'
'Well', said Boots; but since I've come so far, I may just as well
get leave to try, I too.'
'Oh, very well; with all my heart', said the King, 'if you
_will_ have your back flayed, you're quite welcome.'
'I'd much rather have the Princess', said Boots.
So next morning, at gray of dawn, the coachman let out the seven
foals again, and away they went over hill and dale, through bush and
bog, and Boots behind them. And so, when he too had run a long while,
he came to the cleft in the rock, where the old hag sat, spinning at
her distaff. So she bawled out to Boots:
'Come hither, come hither, my pretty son, and let me comb your hair.'
'Don't you wish you may catch me', said Boots. 'Don't you wish you
may catch me', as he ran along, leaping and jumping, and holding on
by one of the foal's tails. And when he had got well past the cleft
in the rock, the youngest foal said:
'Jump up on my back, my lad, for we've a long way before us still.'
So Boots jumped up on his back.
So they went on, and on, a long, long way.
'Do you see anything now', said the Foal.
'No', said Boots.
So they went on a good bit farther.
'Do you see anything now?' asked the Foal.
'Oh no', said the lad.
So when they had gone a great, great way farther--I'm sure I can't
tell how far--the Foal asked again:
'Do you see anything now?'
'Yes', said Boots; 'now I see something that looks white--just like a
tall, big birch trunk.'
'Yes', said the Foal; 'we're going into that trunk.' So when they got
to the trunk, the eldest foal took and pushed it on one side, and
then they saw a door where it had stood, and inside the door was a
little room, and in the room there was scarce anything but a little
fireplace and one or two benches; but behind the door hung a great
rusty sword and a little pitcher.
'Can you brandish the sword?' said the Foals; 'try.' So Boots tried,
but he couldn't; then they made him take a pull at the pitcher; first
once, then twice, and then thrice, and then he could wield it like
'Yes', said the Foals, 'now you may take the sword with you, and with
it you must cut off all our seven heads on your wedding-day, and then
we'll be princes again as we were before. For we are brothers of that
Princess whom you are to have when you can tell the King what we eat
and drink; but an ugly Troll has thrown this shape over us. Now mind,
when you have hewn off our heads, to take care to lay each head at
the tail of the trunk which it belonged to before, and then the spell
will have no more power over us.'
Yes! Boots promised all that, and then on they went. And when they
had travelled a long long way, the Foal asked:
'Do you see anything?'
'No', said Boots.
So they travelled a good bit still.
'And now?' asked the Foal.
'No, I see nothing', said Boots.
So they travelled many many miles again, over hill and dale.
'Now then', said the Foal, 'do you see anything now?'
'Yes', said Boots, 'now I see something like a blue stripe, far far
'Yes', said the Foal, 'that's a river we've got to cross.' Over the
river was a long, grand bridge; and when they had got over to the
other side, they travelled on a long, long way. At last the Foal
'If Boots didn't see anything?'
'Yes, this time he saw something that looked black far far away, just
as though it were a church steeple.'
'Yes', said the Foal, 'that's where we're going to turn in.'
So when the foals got into the churchyard, they became men again, and
looked like Princes, with such fine clothes that it glistened from
them; and so they went into the church, and took the bread and wine
from the priest who stood at the altar. And Boots he went in too; but
when the priest had laid his hands on the Princes, and given them the
blessing, they went out of the church again, and Boots went out too;
but he took with him a flask of wine and a wafer. And soon as ever
the seven Princes came out into the churchyard, they were turned into
foals again, and so Boots got up on the back of the youngest, and so
they all went back the same way that they had come; only they went
much, much faster. First they crossed the bridge, next they passed
the trunk, and then they passed the old hag, who sat at the cleft and
span, and they went by her so fast, that Boots couldn't hear what the
old hag screeched after him; but he heard so much as to know she was
in an awful rage.
It was almost dark when they got back to the palace, and the King
himself stood out on the steps and waited for them. 'Have you watched
well and true the whole day?' said he to Boots.
'I've done my best', answered Boots.
'Then you can tell me what my seven foals eat and drink', said the
Then Boots pulled out the flask of wine and the wafer, and showed
them to the King.
'Here you see their meat, and here you see their drink', said he.
'Yes', said the King, 'you have watched true and well, and you shall
have the Princess and half the kingdom.'
So they made ready the wedding-feast, and the King said it should be
such a grand one, it should be the talk far and near.
But when they sat down to the bridal-feast, the bridegroom got up and
went down to the stable, for he said he had forgotten something, and
must go to fetch it. And when he got down there, he did as the Foals
had said, and hewed their heads off, all seven, the eldest first, and
the others after him; and at the same time he took care to lay each
head at the tail of the foal to which it belonged; and as he did
this, lo! they all became Princes again.
So when he went into the bridal hall with the seven princes, the King
was so glad he both kissed Boots and patted him on the back, and his
bride was still more glad of him than she had been before.
'Half the kingdom you have got already', said the King, 'and the
other half you shall have after my death; for my sons can easily get
themselves lands and wealth, now they are princes again.'
And so, like enough, there was mirth and fun at that wedding. I was
there too; but there was no one to care for poor me; and so I got
nothing but a bit of bread and butter, and I laid it down on the
stove, and the bread was burnt and the butter ran, and so I didn't
get even the smallest crumb. Wasn't that a great shame?
THE WIDOW'S SON
Once on a time there was a poor, poor widow, who had an only son. She
dragged on with the boy till he had been confirmed, and then she said
she couldn't feed him any longer, he must just go out and earn his
own bread. So the lad wandered out into the world, and when he had
walked a day or so, a strange man met him.
'Whither away?' asked the man.
'Oh, I'm going out into the world to try and get a place', said the
'Will you come and serve me?' said the man.
'Oh yes; just as soon you as any one else', said the lad.
'Well, you'll have a good place with me', said the man; 'for you'll
only have to keep me company, and do nothing at all else beside.'
So the lad stopped with him, and lived on the fat of the land, both
in meat and drink, and had little or nothing to do; but he never saw
a living soul in that man's house.
So one day the man said:
'Now, I'm going off for eight days, and that time you'll have to
spend here all alone; but you must not go into any one of these four
rooms here. If you do, I'll take your life when I come back.'
'No', said the lad, he'd be sure not to do that. But when the man had
been gone three or four days, the lad couldn't bear it any longer,
but went into the first room, and when he got inside he looked round,
but he saw nothing but a shelf over the door where a bramble-bush rod
Well, indeed! thought the lad; a pretty thing to forbid my seeing
So when the eight days were out, the man came home, and the first
thing he said was:
'You haven't been into any of these rooms, of course.'
'No, no; that I haven't', said the lad.
'I'll soon see that', said the man, and went at once into the room
where the lad had been.
'Nay, but you have been in here', said he; 'and now you shall lose
Then the lad begged and prayed so hard that he got off with his life,
but the man gave him a good thrashing. And when it was over, they
were as good friends as ever.
Some time after the man set off again, and said he should be away
fourteen days; but before he went he forbade the lad to go into any
of the rooms he had not been in before; as for that he had been in,
he might go into that, and welcome. Well, it was the same story aver
again, except that the lad stood out eight days before he went in. In
this room, too, he saw nothing but a shelf over the door, and a big
stone, and a pitcher of water on it. Well, after all, there's not
much to be afraid of my seeing here, thought the lad.
But when the man came back, he asked if he had been into any of the
rooms. No, the lad hadn't done anything of the kind.
'Well, well; I'll soon see that,' said the man; and when he saw that
the lad had been in them after all, he said, 'Ah! now I'll spare you
no longer; now you must lose your life.'
But the lad begged and prayed for himself again, and so this time too
he got off with stripes; though he got as many as his skin could
carry. But when he got sound and well again, he led just as easy a
life as ever, and he and the man were just as good friends.
So a while after the man was to take another journey, and now he said
he should be away three weeks, and he forbade the lad anew to go into
the third room, for if he went in there he might just make up his
mind at once to lose his life. Then after fourteen days the lad
couldn't bear it, but crept into the room, but he saw nothing at all
in there but a trap door on the floor; and when he lifted it up and
looked down, there stood a great copper cauldron which bubbled and
boiled away down there; but he saw no fire under it.
'Well, I should just like to know if it's hot,' thought the lad, and
stuck his finger down into the broth, and when he pulled it out
again, lo! it was gilded all over. So the lad scraped and scrubbed
it, but the gilding wouldn't go off, so he bound a piece of rag round
it; and when the man came back, and asked what was the matter with
his finger, the lad said he'd given it such a bad cut. But the man
tore off the rag, and then he soon saw what was the matter with the
finger. First he wanted to kill the lad outright, but when he wept,
and begged, he only gave him such a thrashing that he had to keep his
bed three days. After that the man took down a pot from the wall, and
rubbed him over with some stuff out of it, and so the lad was sound
and fresh as ever.
So after a while the man started off again, and this time he was to
be away a month. But before he went, he said to the lad, if he went
into the fourth room he might give up all hope of saving his life.
Well, the lad stood out for two or three weeks, but then he couldn't
holdout any longer; he must and would go into that room, and so in he
stole. There stood a great black horse tied up in a stall by himself,
with a manger of red-hot coals at his head, and a truss of hay at his
tail. Then the lad thought this all wrong, so he changed them about,
and put the hay at his head. Then said the Horse:
'Since you are so good at heart as to let me have some food, I'll set
you free, that I will. For if the Troll comes back and finds you
here, he'll kill you outright. But now you must go up to the room
which lies just over this, and take a coat of mail out of those that
hang there; and mind, whatever you do, don't take any of the bright
ones, but the most rusty of all you see, that's the one to take; and
sword and saddle you must choose for yourself just in the same way.'
So the lad did all that; but it was a heavy load for him to carry
them all down at once.
When he came back, the Horse told him to pull off his clothes and get
into the cauldron which stood and boiled in the other room, and bathe
himself there. 'If I do', thought the lad, 'I shall look an awful
fright'; but for all that, he did as he was told. So when he had
taken his bath, he became so handsome and sleek, and as red and white
as milk and blood, and much stronger than he had been before.
'Do you feel any change?' asked the Horse.
'Yes', said the lad.
'Try to lift me, then', said the Horse.
Oh yes! he could do that, and as for the sword, he brandished it like
'Now saddle me', said the Horse, 'and put on the coat of mail, and
then take the bramble-bush rod, and the stone, and the pitcher of
water, and the pot of ointment, and then we'll be off as fast as we
So when the lad had got on the horse, off they went at such a rate,
he couldn't at all tell how they went. But when he had ridden awhile,
the Horse said,
'I think I hear a noise; look round! can you see anything?'
'Yes; there are ever so many coming after us, at least a score', said
'Aye, aye, that's the Troll coming', said the Horse; 'now he's after
us with his pack.'
So they rode on a while, until those who followed were close behind
'Now throw your bramble-bush rod behind you, over your shoulder',
said the Horse; 'but mind you throw it a good way off my back.'
So the lad did that, and all at once a close, thick bramble-wood grew
up behind them. So the lad rode on a long, long time, while the Troll
and his crew had to go home to fetch something to hew their way
through the wood. But at last, the Horse said again.
'Look behind you! can you see anything now?'
'Yes, ever so many', said the lad, 'as many as would fill a large
'Aye, aye, that's the Troll and his crew', said the Horse; 'now he's
got more to back him; but now throw down the stone, and mind you
throw it far behind me.'
And as soon as the lad did what the Horse said, up rose a great black
hill of rock behind him. So the Troll had to be off home to fetch
something to mine his way through the rock; and while the Troll did
that, the lad rode a good bit further on. But still the Horse begged
him to look behind him, and then he saw a troop like a whole army
behind him, and they glistened in the sunbeams.
'Aye, aye', said the Horse, 'that's the Troll, and now he's got his
whole band with him, so throw the pitcher of water behind you, but
mind you don't spill any of it upon me.'
So the lad did that; but in spite of all the pains he took, he still
spilt one drop on the horse's flank. So it became a great deep lake;
and because of that one drop, the horse found himself far out in it,
but still he swam safe to land. But when the Trolls came to the lake,
they lay down to drink it dry; and so they swilled and swilled till
'Now we're rid of them', said the Horse.
So when they had gone a long, long while, they came to a green patch
in a wood.
'Now, strip off all your arms', said the Horse, 'and only put on your
ragged clothes, and take the saddle off me, and let me loose, and
hang all my clothing and your arms up inside that great hollow lime-
tree yonder. Then make yourself a wig of fir-moss, and go up to the
king's palace, which lies close here, and ask for a place. Whenever
you need me, only come here and shake the bridle, and I'll come to
Yes! the lad did all his Horse told him, and as soon as ever he put
on the wig of moss he became so ugly, and pale, and miserable to look
at, no one would have known him again. Then he went up to the king's
palace and begged first for leave to be in the kitchen, and bring in
wood and water for the cook, but then the kitchen-maid asked him:
'Why do you wear that ugly wig? Off with it. I won't have such a
fright in here.'
'No, I can't do that', said the lad; 'for I'm not quite right in my
'Do you think then I'll have you in here about the food', cried the
cook. 'Away with you to the coachman; you're best fit to go and clean
But when the coachman begged him to take his wig off, he got the same
answer, and he wouldn't have him either. 'You'd best go down to the
gardener', said he; 'you're best fit to go about and dig in the
So he got leave to be with the gardener, but none of the other
servants would sleep with him, and so he had to sleep by himself
under the steps of the summerhouse. It stood upon beams, and had a
high staircase. Under that he got some turf for his bed, and there he
lay as well as he could.
So, when he had been some time at the palace, it happened one
morning, just as the sun rose, that the lad had taken off his wig,
and stood and washed himself, and then he was so handsome, it was a
joy to look at him.
So the Princess saw from her window the lovely gardener's boy, and
thought she had never seen any one so handsome. Then she asked the
gardener why he lay out there under the steps.
'Oh', said the gardener, 'none of his fellow-servants will sleep with
him; that's why.'
'Let him come up to-night, and lie at the door inside my bedroom, and
then they'll not refuse to sleep with him any more', said the
So the gardener told that to the lad.
'Do you think I'll do any such thing?' said the lad. 'Why they'd say
next there was something between me and the Princess.'
'Yes', said the gardener, 'you've good reason to fear any such thing,
you who are so handsome.'
'Well, well', said the lad, 'since it's her will, I suppose I must
So, when he was to go up the steps in the evening, he tramped and
stamped so on the way, that they had to beg him to tread softly lest
the King should come to know it. So he came into the Princess'
bedroom, lay down, and began to snore at once. Then the Princess said
to her maid:
'Go gently, and just pull his wig off'; and she went up to him.
But just as she was going to whisk it off, he caught hold of it with
both hands, and said she should never have it. After that he lay down
again, and began to snore. Then the Princess gave her maid a wink,
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
After that the lad slept every night in the Princess' bedroom.
But it wasn't long before the King came to hear how the gardener's
lad slept every night in the Princess' bedroom; and he got so wroth
he almost took the lad's life. He didn't do that, however, but threw
him into the prison tower; and as for his daughter, he shut her up in
her own room, whence she never got leave to stir day or night. All
that she begged, and all that she prayed, for the lad and herself,
was no good. The King was only more wroth than ever.
Some time after came a war and uproar in the land, and the king had
to take up arms against another king who wished to take the kingdom
from him. So when the lad heard that, he begged the gaoler to go to
the king and ask for a coat of mail and a sword, and for leave to go
to the war. All the rest laughed when the gaoler told his errand, and
begged the king to let him have an old worn-out suit, that they might
have the fun of seeing such a wretch in battle. So he got that, and
an old broken-down hack besides, which went upon three legs and
dragged the fourth after it.
Then they went out to meet the foe; but they hadn't got far from the
palace before the lad got stuck fast in a bog with his hack. There he
sat and dug his spurs in, and cried, 'Gee up, gee up!' to his hack.
And all the rest had their fun out of this, and laughed, and made
game of the lad as they rode past him. But they were scarcely gone,
before he ran to the lime-tree, threw on his coat of mail, and shook
the bridle, and there came the horse in a trice, and said 'Do now
your best, and I'll do mine.'
But when the lad came up the battle had begun, and the king was in a
sad pinch; but no sooner had the lad rushed into the thick of it than
the foe was beaten back, and put to flight. The king and his men
wondered and wondered who it could be who had come to help them, but
none of them got so near him as to be able to talk to him, and as
soon as the fight was over he was gone. When they went back, there
sat the lad still in the bog, and dug his spurs into his three-legged
hack, and they all laughed again.
'No! only just look', they said; 'there the fool sits still.'
The next day when they went out to battle, they saw the lad sitting
there still, so they laughed again, and made game of him; but as soon
as ever they had ridden by, the lad ran again to the lime-tree, and
all happened as on the first day. Every one wondered what strange
champion it could be that had helped them, but no one got so near him
as to say a word to him; and no one guessed it could be the lad;
that's easy to understand.
So when they went home at night, and saw the lad still sitting there
on his hack, they burst out laughing at him again, and one of them
shot an arrow at him and hit him in the leg. So he began to shriek
and to bewail; 'twas enough to break one's heart; and so the king
threw his pocket-handkerchief to him to bind his wound.
When they went out to battle the third day, the lad still sat there.
'Gee up! gee up!' he said to his hack.
'Nay, nay', said the king's men; 'if he won't stick there till he's
starved to death.'
And then they rode on, and laughed at him till they were fit to fall
from their horses. When they were gone, he ran again to the lime, and
came up to the battle just in the very nick of time. This day he slew
the enemy's king, and then the war was over at once.
When the battle was over, the king caught sight of his handkerchief,
which the strange warrior had bound round his leg, and so it wasn't
hard to find him out. So they took him with great joy between them to
the palace, and the Princess, who saw him from her window, got so
glad, no one can believe it.
'Here comes my own true love', she said.
Then he took the pot of ointment and rubbed himself on the leg, and
after that he rubbed all the wounded, and so they all got well again
in a moment.
So he got the Princess to wife; but when he went down into the stable
where his horse was on the day the wedding was to be, there it stood
so dull and heavy, and hung its ears down, and wouldn't eat its corn.
So when the young king--for he was now a king, and had got half the
kingdom--spoke to him, and asked what ailed him, the Horse said:
'Now I have helped you on, and now I won't live any longer. So just
take the sword, and cut my head off.'
'No, I'll do nothing of the kind', said the young king; 'but you
shall have all you want, and rest all your life.'
'Well', said the Horse, 'If you don't do as I tell you, see if I
don't take your life somehow.'
So the king had to do what he asked; but when he swung the sword and
was to cut his head off, he was so sorry he turned away his face, for
he would not see the stroke fall. But as soon as ever he had cut off
the head, there stood the loveliest Prince on the spot where the
horse had stood.
'Why, where in all the world did you come from?' asked the king.
'It was I who was a horse', said the Prince; 'for I was king of that
land whose king you slew yesterday. He it was who threw this Troll's
shape over me, and sold me to the Troll. But now he is slain I get my
own again, and you and I will be neighbour kings, but war we will
never make on one another.'
And they didn't either; for they were friends as long as they lived,
and each paid the other very many visits.
Once on a time there was a widower, who had a son and a daughter by
his first marriage. Both were good children, and loved each other
dearly. Some time after the man married a widow, who had a daughter
by her first husband, and she was both ugly and bad, like her mother.
So from the day the new wife came into the house there was no peace
for her stepchildren in any corner; and at last the lad thought he'd
best go out into the world, and try to earn his own bread. And when
he had wandered a while he came to a king's palace, and got a place
under the coachman, and quick and willing he was, and the horses he
looked after were so sleek and clean that their coats shone again.
But the sister who stayed at home was treated worse than badly; both
her stepmother and stepsister were always at her, and wherever she
went, and whatever she did, they scolded and snarled so, the poor
lassie hadn't an hour's peace. All the hard work she was forced to
do, and early and late she got nothing but bad words, and little food
So one day they had sent her to the burn to fetch water: and what do
you think? up popped an ugly, ugly head out of the pool, and said:
'Wash me, you lassie.'
'Yes, with all my heart I'll wash you', said the lassie. So she began
to wash and scrub the ugly head; but truth to say, she thought it
Well, as soon as she had done washing it, up popped another head out
of the pool, and this was uglier still.
'Brush me, you lassie', said the head.
'Yes, with all my heart I'll brush you.'
And with that she took in hand the matted locks, and you may fancy
she hadn't very pleasant work with them. But when she had got over
that, if a third head didn't pop up out of the pool, and this was far
more ugly and loathsome than both the others put together.
'Kiss me, you lassie!'
'Yes, I'll kiss you', said the lassie, and she did it too, though she
thought it the worst work she had ever had to do in her life.
Then the heads began to chatter together, and each asked what they
should do for the lassie who was so kind and gentle.
'That she be the prettiest lassie in the world, and as fair as the
bright day', said the first head.
'That gold shall drop from her hair, every time she brushes it', said
the second head.
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