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Title: Tales from the Fjeld - A Second Series of Popular Tales
Author: Asbjörnsen, P. Chr.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Tales from the Fjeld - A Second Series of Popular Tales" ***

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                          TALES FROM THE FJELD.

                    A SECOND SERIES OF POPULAR TALES,

                            FROM THE NORSE OF

                           P. CHR. ASBJÖRNSEN.

                         BY G. W. DASENT, D.C.L.

   AUTHOR OF "TALES FROM THE NORSE," "ANNALS OF AN EVENTFUL LIFE," ETC.


    LONDON:
    CHAPMAN & HALL, 193, PICCADILLY.
    1874.

    [_All Rights Reserved._]



PREFACE.


The Tales contained in this volume form a second series of those
"Popular Tales from the Norse," which have been received with much
favour in this country, and of which a Third Edition will shortly be
published. A part of them appeared some years ago in _Once a Week_, from
which they are now reprinted by permission of the proprietors, the Norse
originals, from which they were translated, having been communicated by
the translator's friend, P. Chr. Asbjörnsen, to various Christmas books,
published in Christiania. In 1871, Mr. Asbjörnsen collected those
scattered Tales and added some more to them, which he published under
the title "Norske Folke-Eventyr fortalte of P. Chr. Asbjörnsen, Ny
Samling." It is from this new series as revised by the collector that
the present version has been made. In it the translator has trodden in
the path laid down in the first series of "Tales from the Norse," and
tried to turn his Norse original into mother English, which any one that
runs may read.

That this plan has met with favour abroad as well as at home is proved
by the fact that large editions of the "Tales from the Norse" have been
printed by Messrs. Appleton in New York, by which, no doubt, that
appropriating firm have been great gainers, though the translator's
share in their profits has amounted to nothing. It is more grateful to
him to find that in Norway, the cradle of these beautiful stories, his
efforts have been warmly appreciated by Messrs Asbjörnsen and Moe, who,
in their preface to the Third Edition, Christiania, 1866, speak in the
following terms of his version: "In France and England collections have
appeared in which our Tales have not only been correctly and faultlessly
translated, but even rendered with exemplary truth and care,--nay, with
thorough mastery; the English translation, by George Webbe Dasent, is
the best and happiest rendering of our Tales that has appeared, and it
has in England been more successful and become far more widely known
than the originals here at home." Then speaking of the Introduction,
Messrs. Asbjörnsen and Moe go on to say, "We have here added the end of
this Introduction to show how the translator has understood and grasped
the relation in which these Tales stand to Norse nature and the life of
the people, and how they have sprung out of both."

The title of this volume, "Tales from the Fjeld," arose out of the form
in which they were published in _Once a Week_. The translator began by
setting them in a frame formed by the imaginary adventures of English
sportsmen on the Fjeld or Fells in Norway. "Karin and Anders," and
"Edward and I," are therefore the creatures of his imagination, but the
Tales are the Tales of Asbjörnsen. After a while he grew weary of the
setting and framework, and when about a third of the volume had been
thus framed, he resolved to let the Tales speak for themselves and stand
alone as in the first series of "Popular Tales from the Norse."

With regard to the bearing of these Tales on the question of the
diffusion of race and tradition, much might be said, but as he has
already traversed the same ground in the Introduction to the "Tales from
the Norse," he reserves what he has to say on that point till the Third
Edition of those Tales shall appear. It will be enough here to mention
that several of the Tales now published are variations, though very
interesting ones, from some of those in the first series. Others are
rather the harvest of popular experience than mythical tales, and on the
whole the character of this volume is more jocose and less poetical than
that of its predecessor. In a word, they are, many of them, what the
Germans would call "Schwänke."

Of this kind are the Tales called "The Charcoal Burner," "Our Parish
Clerk," and "The Parson and the Clerk." In "Goody 'gainst the Stream,"
and "Silly Men and Cunning Wives," the reader, skilled in popular
fiction, will find two tales of Indian origin, both of which are
wide-spread in the folklore of the West, and make their appearance in
the Facetiæ of Poggio. The Beast Epic, in which Jacob Grimm so
delighted, is largely represented, and the stories of that kind in this
volume are among the best that have been collected. One of the most
mythical and at the same time one of the most domestic stories of those
now published, is, perhaps, "The Father of the Family," which ought
rather to have been called "The Seventh, the Father of the Family," as
it is not till the wayfarer has inquired seven times from as many
generations of old men that he finds the real father of the family Mr.
Ralston, the accomplished writer and editor of "Russian Popular Tales,"
has pointed out in an article on these Norse Tales, which appeared in
_Fraser's Magazine_ for December, 1872, the probable antiquity of this
story, which he classes with the Rigsmal of the Elder Edda. That it was
known in England two centuries ago is proved by the curious fact that it
has got woven into the life of "Old Jenkins," whose mythical age as well
as that of "Old Parr," Mr. Thoms has recently demolished in his book on
the "Longevity of Man." The story as quoted by Mr. Thoms, from
Clarkson's "History and Antiquities of Richmond," in Yorkshire, is so
curious that it is worth while to give it at length. There had been some
legal dispute in which the evidence of Old Jenkins, as confessedly "the
oldest inhabitant" was required, and the agent of Mrs. Wastell, one of
the parties, went to visit the old man. "Previous to Jenkins going to
York," says Mr. Clarkson, "when the agent of Mrs. Wastell went to him to
find out what account he could give of the matter in dispute, he saw an
old man sitting at the door, to whom he told his business. The old man
said 'he could remember nothing about it, but that he would find his
father in the house, who perhaps could satisfy him.' When he went in he
saw another old man sitting over the fire, bowed down with years, to
whom he repeated his former questions. With some difficulty he made him
understand what he had said, and after a little while got the following
answer, which surprised him very much: 'That he knew nothing about it,
but that if he would go into the yard he would meet with his father, who
perhaps could tell him.' The agent upon this thought that he had met
with a race of Antediluvians. However into the yard he went, and to his
no small astonishment found a venerable man with a long beard, and a
broad leathern belt about him, chopping sticks. To this man he again
told his business, and received such information as in the end recovered
the royalty in dispute." "The fact is," adds Mr. Thoms, "that the story
of Jenkins' son and grandson is only a Yorkshire version of the story as
old or older than Jenkins himself, namely, of the very old man who was
seen crying because his father had beaten him for throwing stones at his
grandfather." On which it may be remarked, that however old Old Jenkins
may have been, this story has probably out-lived as many generations as
popular belief gave years to his life. Another old story is "Death and
the Doctor," which centuries ago got entangled with the history of the
family of Bethune, in Scotland, who were supposed to possess an
hereditary gift of leechcraft, derived in the same way. "Friends in Life
and Death," is a Norse variation of Rip van Winkle, which is nothing
more nor less than a Dutch popular tale, while the lassie who won the
prince by fulfilling his conditions of coming to him, "not driving and
not riding, not walking and not carried, not fasting and not full-fed,
not naked and not clad, not by daylight and not by night," has its
variations in many lands. It is no little proof of the wonderful skill
of Hans Christian Andersen, and at the same time of his power to enter
into the spirit of popular fiction, that he has worked the tale of "The
Companion" into one of his most happy stories.

In this volume, as in the former one, the translator, while striving to
be as truthful as possible, has in the case of some characters adopted
the English equivalent rather than a literal rendering from the Norse.
Thus "Askpot" is still "Boots," the youngest of the family on whom falls
all the dirty work, and not "Cinderbob" or the Scottish "Ashiepet."
"Tyrihans" he has rendered almost literally "Taper Tom," the name
meaning not slender or limber Tom, but Tom who sits in the ingle and
makes tapers or matchwood of resinous fir to be used instead of candles.
Some of the Tales, such as "The Charcoal Burner," "Our Parish Clerk,"
and "The Sheep and the Pig who set up House," are filled with proverbs
which it was often very difficult to render. On this and other points it
must be left to others to say whether he has succeeded or not. But if
his readers, young and old, will only remember that things which seem
easiest are often the hardest to do, they will be as gentle readers as
those he desired to find for his first volume, and so long as they are
of that spirit he is sure to be well pleased.

_October 18th, 1873._



CONTENTS.


OSBORN'S PIPE

THE HAUNTED MILL, AND THE HONEST PENNY.
    THE HAUNTED MILL
    THE HONEST PENNY

THE DEATH OF CHANTICLEER, AND THE GREEDY CAT.
    THE DEATH OF CHANTICLEER
    THE GREEDY CAT

PETER THE FORESTER AND GRUMBLEGIZZARD.
    GRUMBLEGIZZARD

PETER'S THREE TALES.
    FATHER BRUIN IN THE CORNER
    REYNARD AND CHANTICLEER
    GOODMAN AXEHAFT

THE COMPANION.
    THE COMPANION

THE SHOPBOY AND HIS CHEESE, AND PEIK.
    THE SHOPBOY AND HIS CHEESE
    PEIK

KARIN'S THREE STORIES.
    DEATH AND THE DOCTOR
    THE WAY OF THE WORLD
    THE PANCAKE

PETER'S BEAST STORIES.
    PORK AND HONEY
    THE HARE AND THE HEIRESS
    SLIP ROOT, CATCH REYNARD'S FOOT
    BRUIN GOODFELLOW
    BRUIN AND REYNARD PARTNERS
    REYNARD WANTS TO TASTE HORSE-FLESH

MASTER TOBACCO

THE CHARCOAL BURNER

THE BOX WITH SOMETHING PRETTY IN IT

THE THREE LEMONS

THE PRIEST AND THE CLERK

FRIENDS IN LIFE AND DEATH

THE FATHER OF THE FAMILY

THREE YEARS WITHOUT WAGES

OUR PARISH CLERK

SILLY MEN AND CUNNING WIVES

TAPER TOM

THE TROLLS IN HEDALE WOOD

THE SKIPPER AND OLD NICK

GOODY GAINST-THE-STREAM

HOW TO WIN A PRINCE

BOOTS AND THE BEASTS

THE SWEETHEART IN THE WOOD

HOW THEY GOT HAIRLOCK HOME

OSBORN BOOTS AND MR. GLIBTONGUE

THIS IS THE LAD WHO SOLD THE PIG

THE SHEEP AND THE PIG WHO SET UP HOUSE

THE GOLDEN PALACE THAT HUNG IN THE AIR

LITTLE FREDDY WITH HIS FIDDLE

MOTHER ROUNDABOUT'S DAUGHTER

THE GREEN KNIGHT

BOOTS AND HIS CREW

THE TOWN-MOUSE AND THE FELL-MOUSE

SILLY MATT

KING VALEMON, THE WHITE BEAR

THE GOLDEN BIRD



TALES FROM THE FJELD.


We were up on the Fjeld, Edward and I and Anders our guide, in quest of
reindeer. How long ago it was we will not ask; for after all it was not
so very long ago. How did we get there? Well; if you must know we went
up to the head of the Sogne Fjord in a boat, and then we drove up the
valley in carioles till we were tired, and then we took to our legs,
and, now, about three P.M., we were on the Fjeld making for the
_Soeter_ or Shieling, where we were to pass the night. On this our
first day, we did not expect to meet deer, so on we plodded over the
stony soil slanting across the Fjeld which showed its long shoulder
above us, while far off glared the snowy peaks, and the glaciers stooped
down to meet the Fjeld, for as the Norse proverb says, if the dale won't
come to the mountain, the mountain must meet the dale. On we went,
Anders cheering the way by stories of _Huldror_ and Trolls, and running
off hither and thither to fetch us Alpine plants and flowers. All at
once, in one of these flights which had brought him up to the very edge
of the shoulder above us, we saw his tall form stiffen as it were
against the sky, and, in another moment, he had fallen flat, beckoning
us to come cautiously to him. As we reached him stooping and running, he
whispered "There they are, away yonder;" and sure enough, about half a
mile further on, close under the shoulder, which broke off into an
immense circular valley or combe, we could make out two stags, three
hinds, and some fawns, at play. It was a strange sight to see the low,
thick-set stags with their heavy palmated antlers, leaping over one
another and over the hinds, and the hinds and fawns in turn following
their example. "A sure sign of rain and wind," said Anders. "It will
blow a hurricane and pour in torrents to-morrow, mark my words. I never
looked to find them so low down; let us try to get at them." We crept
down then, well under cover of the shoulder, and, led by Anders, went on
till he said we were opposite the spot where the deer were at play.
"But, by all the powers," said he, "be sure to take good aim both of
you, and bring down each a stag. I will take one of the hinds, but I
will not fire before you." And now began the real stalk; we had about
three hundred yards against the wind to crawl on our hands and feet over
stones, and gravel, and dry grass, and brambles, and dwarf willow,
before we could get to the edge of the shoulder, and look down on the
deer. For nearly the whole distance all went well, our bellies clove to
the dust like snakes, as we wormed our way. But, alas! when we were not
ten yards from the edge, Edward uttered a cry and sprang to his feet.
Anders and I did the same without the cry, only to see the deer off at
full speed down the combe, followed by a volley of oaths and a
billetless bullet from the old flint rifle which Anders carried. For
myself I turned to Edward and felt very much as though I should like to
send my bullet through him.

"Why, in the name of all that is unholy, did you utter that yell and
scare them away."

"Oh, I am very sorry," he said, "but I came across this thing like a
bramble, only the prickles are much sharper, and it tore me so I
couldn't bear it;" and, as he spoke, he pointed to a stout trailing
_Rubus arcticus_ over which he had crawled, and which had taken toll
both of his clothing and flesh.

Anders looked at him with unutterable scorn. "When the gentleman next
goes after reindeer, he had better take Osborn's Pipe with him. Come
along, no more reindeer for us to-day; no, nor to-morrow either. The
peaks are going to put on their nightcaps; we must try to get to the
_Soeter_ before the storm comes on." After a tough walk, during which
Anders said little or nothing, we got to the shieling, where two girls,
a cousin of Anders and his sister, met us with bright hearty faces. They
had been up there looking after the cattle since June, and it was now
August, and they had made heaps of butter and cheese. There were three
rooms in the _Soeter_, a living-room in the middle, and on either hand
a room for the men and another for the women. There were outhouses for
the butter, and cheese, and milk, and cream. We had sent up some
creature comforts, and with these and the butter, cream, and cheese, we
made a good supper; and now we are sitting over the fire smoking our
pipes, and listening to the rain as it patters on the roof, and to the
wind as it howls round the building. Under the influence of tobacco and
cognac Anders was more happy, and got even reconciled to Edward, whom he
regarded as a muff. Looking at him mockingly, he said again, "What a
pity you had not Osborn's Pipe."

"And, pray, what was that?" asked Edward; "was it anything like this?"
holding out his cutty pipe.

"God forgive us," said Anders; "there are pipes and pipes, and Osborn's
Pipe was not a tobacco-pipe, but a playing pipe or whistle. At least so
my grandmother said, for she said her grandmother knew a very old woman
down at the head of the lake, who had known Osborn and seen his pipe.
But, if you like, I'll tell you the story. The girls are gone to bed,
and so they won't trouble us, though there's a good bit of kissing in
the story, and, when you hear it, you'll both say we should have been
lucky if we had only had Osborn's Pipe when the gentleman scared away
the deer. But here goes."



OSBORN'S PIPE.


"Once on a time there was a poor tenant farmer who had to give up his
farm to his landlord; but, if he had lost his farm, he had three sons
left, and their names were Peter, Paul, and Osborn Boots. They stayed at
home and sauntered about, and wouldn't do a stroke of work; _that_ they
thought was the right thing to do. They thought, too, they were too good
for everything, and that nothing was good enough for them.

"At last Peter had got to hear how the king would have a keeper to watch
his hares; so he said to his father that he would be off thither: the
place would just suit him, for he would serve no lower man than the
king; that was what he said. The old father thought there might be work
for which he was better fitted than that; for he that would keep the
king's hares must be light and lissom, and no lazy-bones, and when the
hares began to skip and frisk there would be quite another dance than
loitering about from house to house. Well, it was all no good: Peter
would go, and must go, so he took his scrip on his back, and toddled
away down the hill; and when he had gone far, and farther than far, he
came to an old wife, who stood there with her nose stuck fast in a log
of wood, and pulled and pulled at it; and as soon as he saw how she
stood dragging and pulling to get free he burst into a loud fit of
laughter.

"'Don't stand there and grin,' said the old wife, 'but come and help an
old cripple; I was to have split asunder a little firewood, and I got my
nose fast down here, and so I have stood and tugged and torn and not
tasted a morsel of food for hundreds of years.' That was what she said.

"But for all that Peter laughed more and more. He thought it all fine
fun. All he said was, as she had stood so for hundreds of years she
might hold out for hundreds of years still.

"When he got to the king's grange, they took him for keeper at once. It
was not bad serving there, and he was to have good food and good pay,
and maybe the princess into the bargain; but if one of the king's hares
got lost, they were to cut three red stripes out of his back and cast
him into a pit of snakes.

"So long as Peter was in the byre and home-field he kept all the hares
in one flock: but as the day wore on, and they got up into the wood, all
the hares began to frisk, and skip, and scuttle away up and down the
hillocks. Peter ran after them this way and that, and nearly burst
himself with running, so long as he could make out that he had one of
them left, and when the last was gone he was almost brokenwinded. And
after that he saw nothing more of them.

"When it drew towards evening he sauntered along on his way home, and
stood and called and called to them at each fence, but no hares came;
and when he got home to the king's grange, there stood the king all
ready with his knife, and he took and cut three red stripes out of
Peter's back, and then rubbed pepper and salt into them, and cast him
into a pit of snakes.

"After a time, Paul was for going to the king's grange to keep the
king's hares. The old gaffer said the same thing to him, and even still
more; but he must and would set off; there was no help for it, and
things went neither better nor worse with him than with Peter. The old
wife stood there and tugged and tore at her nose to get it out of the
log; he laughed, and thought it fine fun, and left her standing and
hacking there. He got the place at once; no one said him nay; but the
hares hopped and skipped away from him down all the hillocks, while he
rushed about till he blew and panted like a colley-dog in the dog-days,
and when he got home at night to the king's grange, without a hare, the
king stood ready with his knife in the porch, and took and cut three
broad red stripes out of his back, and rubbed pepper and salt into them,
and so down he went into the pit of snakes.

"Now, when a little while had passed, Osborn Boots was all for setting
off to keep the king's hares, and he told his mind to the gaffer. He
thought it would be just the right work for him to go into the woods and
fields, and along the wild strawberry brakes, and to drag a flock of
hares with him, and between whiles to lie and sleep and warm himself on
the sunny hillsides.

"The gaffer thought there might be work which suited him better; if it
didn't go worse, it was sure not to go better with him than with his two
brothers. The man to keep the king's hares must not dawdle about like a
lazy-bones with leaden soles to his stockings, or like a fly in a
tar-pot; for when they fell to frisking and skipping on the sunny
slopes, it would be quite another dance to catching fleas with gloves
on. No; he that would get rid of that work with a whole back had need to
be more than lithe and lissom, and he must fly about faster than a
bladder or a bird's-wing.

"'Well, well, it was all no good, however bad it might be,' said Osborn
Boots. He would go to the king's grange and serve the king, for no
lesser man would he serve, and he would soon keep the hares. They
couldn't well be worse than the goat and the calf at home. So Boots
threw his scrip on his shoulder, and down the hill he toddled.

"So when he had gone far, and farther than far, and had begun to get
right down hungry, he too came to the old wife, who stood with her nose
fast in the log, who tugged, and tore, and tried to get loose.

"'Good-day, grandmother,' said Boots. 'Are you standing there whetting
your nose, poor old cripple that you are?'

"'Now, not a soul has called me "mother" for hundreds of years,' said
the old wife. 'Do come and help me to get free, and give me something to
live on; for I haven't had meat in my mouth all that time. See if I
don't do you a motherly turn afterwards.'

"Yes; he thought she might well ask for a bit of food and a drop of
drink.

"So he cleft the log for her, that she might get her nose out of the
split, and sat down to eat and drink with her; and as the old wife had a
good appetite, you may fancy she got the lion's share of the meal.

"When they were done, she gave Boots a pipe, which was in this wise:
when he blew into one end of it, anything that he wished away was
scattered to the four winds, and when he blew into the other, all things
gathered themselves together again; and if the pipe were lost or taken
from him, he had only to wish for it, and it came back to him.

"'Something like a pipe, this,' said Osborn Boots.

"When he got to the king's grange, they chose him for keeper on the
spot. It was no bad service there, and food and wages he should have,
and, if he were man enough to keep the king's hares, he might, perhaps,
get the princess too; but if one of them got away, if it were only a
leveret, they were to cut three red stripes out of his back. And the
king was so sure of this that he went off at once and ground his knife.

"It would be a small thing to keep these hares, thought Osborn Boots;
for when they set out they were almost as tame as a flock of sheep, and
so long as he was in the lane and in the home-field, he had them all
easily in a flock and following; but when they got upon the hill by the
wood, and it looked towards mid-day, and the sun began to burn and shine
on the slopes and hillsides, all the hares fell to frisking and skipping
about, and away over the hills.

"'Ho, ho! stop! will you all go? Go, then!' said Boots; and he blew into
one end of the pipe, so that they ran off on all sides, and there was
not one of them left. But as he went on, and came to an old charcoal
pit, he blew into the other end of the pipe; and before he knew where he
was, the hares were all there, and stood in lines and rows, so that he
could take them all in at a glance, just like a troop of soldiers on
parade. 'Something like a pipe, this,' said Osborn Boots; and with that
he laid him down to sleep away under a sunny slope, and the hares
frisked and frolicked about till eventide. Then he piped them all
together again, and came down to the king's grange with them, like a
flock of sheep.

"The king and the queen, and the princess, too, all stood in the porch,
and wondered what sort of fellow this was who so kept the hares that he
brought them home again; and the king told and reckoned them on his
fingers, and counted them over and over again; but there was not one of
them missing--no! not so much as a leveret.

"'Something like a lad, this,' said the princess.

"Next day he went off to the wood, and was to keep the hares again; but
as he lay and rested himself on a strawberry brake, they sent the maid
after him from the grange that she might find out how it was that he was
man enough to keep the king's hares so well.

"So he took out the pipe and showed it her, and then he blew into one
end and made them fly like the wind over all the hills and dales; and
then he blew into the other end, and they all came scampering back to
the brake, and all stood in row and rank again.

"'What a pretty pipe,' said the maid. She would willingly give a hundred
dollars for it, if he would sell it, she said.

"'Yes! it is something like a pipe,' said Osborn Boots; 'and it was not
to be had for money alone; but if she would give him the hundred
dollars, and a kiss for each dollar, she should have it,' he said.

"Well! why not? of course she would; she would willingly give him two
for each dollar, and thanks besides.

"So she got the pipe; but when she had got as far as the king's grange,
the pipe was gone, for Osborn Boots had wished for it back, and so, when
it drew towards eventide, home he came with his hares just like any
other flock of sheep; and for all the king's counting or telling, there
was no help,--not a hair of the hares was missing.

"The third day that he kept the hares, they sent the princess on her way
to try and get the pipe from him. She made herself as blithe as a lark,
and she bade him two hundred dollars if he would sell her the pipe and
tell her how she was to behave to bring it safe home with her.

"'Yes! yes! it is something like a pipe,' said Osborn Boots; 'and it was
not for sale,' he said, 'but all the same, he would do it for her sake,
if she would give him two hundred dollars, and a kiss into the bargain
for each dollar; then she might have the pipe. If she wished to keep it,
she must look sharp after it. That was her look-out.'

"'This is a very high price for a hare-pipe,' thought the princess; and
she made mouths at giving him the kisses; 'but, after all,' she said,
'it's far away in the wood, no one can see it or hear it--it can't be
helped; for I must and will have the pipe.'

"So when Osborn Boots had got all he was to have, she got the pipe, and
off she went, and held it fast with her fingers the whole way; but when
she came to the grange, and was going to take it out, it slipped through
her fingers and was gone!

"Next day the queen would go herself and fetch the pipe from him. She
made sure she would bring the pipe back with her.

"Now she was more stingy about the money, and bade no more than fifty
dollars; but she had to raise her price till it came to three hundred.
Boots said it was something like a pipe, and it was no price at all;
still for her sake it might go, if she would give him three hundred
dollars, and a smacking kiss for each dollar into the bargain; then she
might have it. And he got the kisses well paid, for on that part of the
bargain she was not so squeamish.

"So when she had got the pipe, she both bound it fast, and looked after
it well; but she was not a hair better off than the others, for when she
was going to pull it out at home, the pipe was gone; and at even down
came Osborn Boots, driving the king's hares home for all the world like
a flock of tame sheep.

"'It is all stuff,' said the king; 'I see I must set off myself, if we
are to get this wretched pipe from him; there's no other help for it, I
can see.' And when Osborn Boots had got well into the woods next day
with the hares, the king stole after him, and found him lying on the
same sunny hillside, where the women had tried their hands on him.

"Well! they were good friends and very happy; and Osborn Boots showed
him the pipe, and blew first on one end and then on the other, and the
king thought it a pretty pipe, and wanted at last to buy it, even though
he gave a thousand dollars for it.

"'Yes! it is something like a pipe,' said Boots, 'and it's not to be had
for money; but do you see that white horse yonder down there?' and he
pointed away into the wood.

"'See it! of course I see it; it's my own horse Whitey,' said the king.
No one had need to tell him that.

"'Well! if you will give me a thousand dollars, and then go and kiss yon
white horse down in the marsh there, behind the big fir-tree, you shall
have my pipe.'

"'Isn't it to be had for any other price?' asked the king.

"'No, it is not,' said Osborn.

"'Well! but I may put my silken pockethandkerchief between us?' said the
king.

"Very good; he might have leave to do that. And so he got the pipe, and
put it into his purse. And the purse he put into his pocket, and
buttoned it up tight; and so off he strode to his home. But when he
reached the grange, and was going to pull out his pipe, he fared no
better than the women folk; he hadn't the pipe any more than they, and
there came Osborn Boots driving home the flock of hares, and not a hair
was missing.

"The king was both spiteful and wroth, to think that he had fooled them
all round, and cheated him out of the pipe as well; and now he said
Boots must lose his life, there was no question of it, and the queen
said the same: it was best to put such a rogue out of the way
red-handed.

"Osborn thought it neither fair nor right, for he had done nothing but
what they told him to do; and so he had guarded his back and life as
best he might.

"So the king said there was no help for it; but if he could lie the
great brewing-vat so full of lies that it ran over, then he might keep
his life.

"That was neither a long nor perilous piece of work: he was quite game
to do that, said Osborn Boots. So he began to tell how it had all
happened from the very first. He told about the old wife and her nose in
the log, and then he went on to say, 'Well, but I must lie faster if the
vat is to be full.' So he went on to tell of the pipe and how he got it;
and of the maid, how she came to him and wanted to buy it for a hundred
dollars, and of all the kisses she had to give besides, away there in
the wood. Then he told of the princess how she came and kissed him so
sweetly for the pipe when no one could see or hear it all away there in
the wood. Then he stopped and said, 'I must lie faster if the vat is
ever to be full.' So he told of the queen, how close she was about the
money and how overflowing she was with her smacks. 'You know I must lie
hard to get the vat full,' said Osborn.

"'For my part,' said the queen, 'I think it's pretty full already.'

"'No! no! it isn't,' said the king.

"So he fell to telling how the king came to him, and about the white
horse down on the marsh, and how if the king was to have the pipe, he
must--'Yes, your majesty, if the vat is ever to be full I must go on and
lie hard,' said Osborn Boots.

"'Hold! hold, lad! It's full to the brim,' roared out the king; 'don't
you see how it is foaming over?'

"So both the king and the queen thought it best he should have the
princess to wife and half the kingdom. There was no help for it.

"'That was something like a pipe,' said Osborn Boots."

       *       *       *       *       *

That was the story of Osborn's Pipe, and when Anders stopped we all
laughed, and our laughter was re-echoed by the girls, who had listened
with the door ajar, and who now showed their smiling faces through the
opening, and thanked Anders for telling the story so well. "Your own
grandmother couldn't have told it better," said Christine, his
fair-haired cousin.



THE HAUNTED MILL, AND THE HONEST PENNY.


Next morning we woke to find Anders' words too true; the wind still
howled, and the rain still poured, deerstalking was out of the question,
nor could the girls stir out of the doors to look after the kine. There
we were, all house-bound. What was to be done? After breakfast we
smoked, and the girls knitted stockings. Anders, for want of something
better to do, cleaned our guns and admired their make and locks. But all
this was not much towards killing time on the Fjeld, and we had no
books.

At last Edward, who was rather afraid of Anders and his jokes on his
sportsmanship, whispered to me,

"Can't you make him tell us some more stories? I'll be bound _Osborn's
Pipe_ is not the only tale he has in his scrip."

Not a bad thought, but Anders was one of those free spirits who must be
stalked as warily as a reindeer. I felt that if I asked him outright he
might betake him to his Norse pride and say he was no story-teller. "If
I wanted stories I had better ask some of the old women down in the
dales." It was not the first time I had unsealed unwilling lips, and I
knew the way.

"That was a good story about Osborn's Pipe, and I owe you one for it,
Anders. Come listen to one of mine, and let the lassies listen to it
too. It's not long."


THE HAUNTED MILL.

"Once on a time, there was a man who had a mill by the side of a force,
and in the mill there was a brownie. Whether the man, as is the custom
in most places, gave the brownie porridge and ale at Yule to bring grist
to the mill, I can't say, but I don't think he did, for every time he
turned the water on the mill, the brownie took hold of the spindle and
stopped the mill, so that he couldn't grind a sack.

"The man know well enough it was all the brownie's work, and at last one
evening, when he went into the mill, he took a pot full of pitch and
tar, and lit a fire under it. Well! when he turned the water on the
wheel, it went round awhile, but soon after it made a dead stop. So he
turned, and twisted, and put his shoulder to the top of the wheel, but
it was all no good. By this time the pot of pitch was boiling hot, and
then he opened the trap-door which opened on to the ladder that went
down into the wheel, and if he didn't see the brownie standing on the
steps of the ladder with his jaws all a-gape, and he gaped so wide that
his mouth filled up the whole trap-door.

"'Did you ever see such a wide mouth?' said the brownie.

"But the man was handy with his pitch. He caught up the pot and threw
it, pitch and all, into the gaping jaws.

"'Did you ever feel such hot pitch?'

"Then the brownie let the wheel go, and yelled and howled frightfully.
Since then he has been never known to stop the wheel in that mill, and
there they ground in peace."

       *       *       *       *       *

Yes! Anders had heard a story something like that, only it was about a
water kelpy, not a brownie. Brownies, he declared, never did folk much
harm, except lazy maids and idle grooms, but kelpies were spiteful, and
hated men. Besides, brownies hated water, they couldn't bear to cross a
running stream; then how could they live in a mill? No, it was a kelpy,
and his grandmother had told him so.

Then, after a pause, he went on, "But I know another story of a mill
which was not canny, and I'll tell it if you like."

We were all ears, and Anders began:--


THE HAUNTED MILL.

"This story, too, I heard of my grandmother, who knew stories without
end, and more, she believed them. This mill was not in these parts, it
was somewhere up the country; but wherever it was, north of the Fells,
or south of the Fells, it was not canny. No one could grind a grain of
corn in it for weeks together, when something came and haunted it. But
the worst was that, besides haunting it, the trolls, or whatever they
were, took to burning the mill down. Two Whitsun-eves running it had
caught fire and burned to the ground.

"Well, the third year, as Whitsuntide was drawing on, the man had a
tailor in his house hard by the mill, who was making Sunday clothes for
the miller.

"'I wonder, now,' said the man on Whitsun-eve, 'whether the mill will
burn down this Whitsuntide, too?'

"'No, it shan't,' said the tailor. 'Why should it? Give me the keys:
I'll watch the mill.'

"Well, the man thought that brave, and so, as the evening drew on, he
gave the tailor the keys, and showed him into the mill. It was empty,
you know, for it was just new-built, and so the tailor sat down in the
middle of the floor, and took out his chalk and chalked a great circle
round about him, and outside the ring all round he wrote the Lord's
Prayer, and when he had done that he wasn't afraid--no, not if Old Nick
himself came.

"So at dead of night the door flew open with a bang, and there came in
such a swarm of black cats you couldn't count them, they were as thick
as ants. They were not long before they had put a big pot on the
fireplace and set light under it, and the pot began to boil and bubble
and as for the broth, it was for all the world like pitch and tar.

"'Ha! ha!' thought the tailor, 'that's your game, is it!'

"And he had hardly thought this before one of the cats thrust her paw
under the pot and tried to upset it.

"'Paws off, pussy,' said the tailor, 'you'll burn your whiskers.'

"'Hark to the tailor, who says "Paws off, pussy," to me,' said the cat
to the other cats, and in a trice they all ran away from the fireplace,
and began to dance and jump round the circle; and then all at once the
same cat stole off to the fireplace and tried to upset the pot.

"'Paws off, pussy, you'll burn your whiskers,' bawled out the tailor
again, and again he scared them from the fireplace.

"'Hark to the tailor, who says "Paws off, pussy"' said the cat to the
others, and again they all began to dance and jump round the circle, and
then all at once they were off again to the pot, trying to upset it.

"'Paws off, pussy, you'll burn your whiskers,' screamed out the tailor
the third time, and this time he gave them such a fright that they
tumbled head over heels on the floor, and began dancing and jumping as
before.

"Then they closed round the circle, and danced faster and faster: so
fast at last that the tailor's head began to turn round, and they glared
at him with such big ugly eyes, as though they would swallow him up
alive.

"Now just as they were at the fastest, the same cat which had tried so
often to upset the pot, stuck her paw inside the circle, as though she
meant to claw the tailor. But as soon as the tailor saw that, he drew
his knife out of the sheath and held it ready; just then the cat thrust
her paw in again, and in a trice the tailor chopped it off, and then,
pop! all the cats took to their heels as fast as they could, with yells
and caterwauls, right out at the door.

"But the tailor lay down inside his circle, and slept till the sun shone
bright in upon the floor. Then he rose, locked the mill, and went away
to the miller's house.

"When he got there, both the miller and his wife were still abed, for
you know it was Whitsunday morning.

"'Good morning,' said the tailor, as he went to the bedside, and held
out his hand to the miller.

"'Good morning,' said the miller, who was both glad and astonished to
see the tailor safe and sound, you must know.

"'Good morning, mother!' said the tailor, and held out his hand to the
wife.

"'Good morning,' said she; but she looked so wan and worried; and as for
her hand, she hid it under the quilt; but at last she stuck out the
left. Then the tailor saw plainly how things stood, but what he said to
the man and what was done to the wife, I never heard."

       *       *       *       *       *

"But I can tell you, Anders," I broke in: "she was burnt for a witch,
and, do you know, over in Scotland we have the same story; only we have
the end. She tried on the Boot till her feet were crushed, and Morton's
Maiden hugged her till her ribs cracked, and her fingers were fitted to
the thumbscrews till they were all jelly. All this to make her own that
she was a witch, and at last, when she owned it, she was burnt at
Edinburgh, in the days of King James the Sixth, and seven other carlines
with her."

Having unsealed Anders' lips, I was not going to let him stop, so I told
the story of _Whittington and his Cat_, and I even got him and the
lassies to understand the awful importance of the Lord Mayor of London.
After Anders and the lassies had crossed and blessed themselves over and
over again at that wonderful story, Anders said,--

"Heaven help us, we have no Lord Mayors in Norway; the sheriff is good
enough for us, and trouble enough he gives us sometimes; but we have a
story, the end of which is as like your Lord Mayor's story as one pea is
like another, and here it is, only we call it


THE HONEST PENNY.

"Once on a time there was a poor woman who lived in a tumble-down hut
far away in the wood. Little had she to eat, and nothing at all to burn,
and so she sent a little boy she had out into the wood to gather fuel.
He ran and jumped, and jumped and ran, to keep himself warm, for it was
a cold gray autumn day, and every time he found a bough or a root for
his billet, he had to beat his arms across his breast, for his fists
were as red as the cranberries over which he walked, for very cold. So
when he had got his billet of wood and was off home, he came upon a
clearing of stumps on the hillside, and there he saw a white crooked
stone.

"'Ah! you poor old stone,' said the boy; 'how white and wan you are!
I'll be bound you are frozen to death;' and with that he took off his
jacket, and laid it on the stone. So when he got home with his billet of
wood his mother asked what it all meant that he walked about in wintry
weather in his shirtsleeves. Then he told her how he had seen an old
crooked stone which was all white and wan for frost, and how he had
given it his jacket.

"'What a fool you are!' said his mother; 'do you think a stone can
freeze? But even if it froze till it shook again, know this--everyone is
nearest to his own self. It costs quite enough to get clothes to your
back, without your going and hanging them on stones in the clearings,'
and as she said that, she hunted the boy out of the house to fetch his
jacket.

"So when he came where the stone stood, lo! it had turned itself and
lifted itself up on one side from the ground. 'Yes! yes! this is since
you got the jacket, poor old thing,' said the boy.

"But, when he looked a little closer at the stone, he saw a money-box,
full of bright silver, under it.

"'This is stolen money, no doubt,' thought the boy; 'no one puts money,
come by honestly, under a stone away in the wood.'

"So he took the money-box and bore it down to a tarn hard by and threw
the whole hoard into the tarn; but one silver pennypiece floated on the
top of the water, "'Ah! ah! that is honest,' said the lad; 'for what is
honest never sinks.'

"So he took the silver penny and went home with it and his jacket. Then
he told his mother how it had all happened, how the stone had turned
itself, and how he had found a money-box full of silver money, which he
had thrown out into the tarn because it was stolen money, and how one
silver penny floated on the top.

"'That I took,' said the boy, 'because it was honest.'

"'You are a born fool,' said his mother, for she was very angry; 'were
naught else honest than what floats on water, there wouldn't be much
honesty in the world. And even though the money were stolen ten times
over, still you had found it; and I tell you again what I told you
before, every one is nearest to his own self. Had you only taken that
money we might have lived well and happily all our days. But a
ne'er-do-weel thou art, and a ne'er-do-weel thou wilt be, and now I
won't drag on any longer toiling and moiling for thee. Be off with thee
into the world and earn thine own bread.'"

"So the lad had to go out into the wide world, and he went both far and
long seeking a place. But wherever he came, folk thought him too little
and weak, and said they could put him to no use. At last he came to a
merchant, and there he got leave to be in the kitchen and carry in wood
and water for the cook. Well, after he had been there a long time, the
merchant had to make a journey into foreign lands, and so he asked all
his servants what he should buy and bring home for each of them. So,
when all had said what they would have, the turn came to the scullion,
too, who brought in wood and water for the cook. Then he held out his
penny.

"'Well, what shall I buy with this?' asked the merchant; 'there won't be
much time lost over this bargain.'

"'Buy what I can get for it. It is honest, that I know,' said the lad.

"That his master gave his word to do, and so he sailed away.

"So when the merchant had unladed his ship and laded her again in
foreign lands, and bought what he had promised his servants to buy, he
came down to his ship, and was just going to shove off from the wharf.
Then all at once it came into his head that the scullion had sent out a
silver penny with him, that he might buy something for him.

"'Must I go all the way back to the town for the sake of a silver penny?
One would then have small gain in taking such a beggar into one's
house,' thought the merchant.

"Just then an old wife came walking by with a bag at her back.

"'What have you got in your bag, mother?' asked the merchant.

"'Oh! nothing else than a cat. I can't afford to feed it any longer, so
I thought I would throw it into the sea, and make away with it,'
answered the woman.

"Then the merchant said to himself, 'Didn't the lad say I was to buy
what I could get for his penny?' So he asked the old wife if she would
take four farthings for her cat. Yes! the goody was not slow to say
'done,' and so the bargain was soon struck.

"Now when the merchant had sailed a bit, fearful weather fell on him,
and such a storm, there was nothing for it but to drive and drive till
he did not know whither he was going. At last he came to a land on which
he had never set foot before, and so up he went into the town.

"At the inn where he turned in, the board was laid with a rod for each
man who sat at it. The merchant thought it very strange, for he couldn't
at all make out what they were to do with all these rods; but he sate
him down, and thought he would watch well what the others did, and do
like them. Well! as soon as the meat was set on the board, he saw well
enough what the rods meant; for out swarmed mice in thousands, and each
one who sate at the board had to take to his rod and flog and flap about
him, and naught else could be heard than one cut of the rod harder than
the one which went before it. Sometimes they whipped one another in the
face, and just gave themselves time to say, 'Beg pardon,' and then at it
again.

"'Hard work to dine in this land!' said the merchant. 'But don't folk
keep cats here?'

"'Cats?' they all asked, for they did not know what cats were.

"So the merchant sent and fetched the cat he had bought for the
scullion, and as soon as the cat got on the table, off ran the mice to
their holes, and folks had never in the memory of man had such rest at
their meat.

"Then they begged and prayed the merchant to sell them the cat, and at
last, after a long, long time, he promised to let them have it; but he
would have a hundred dollars for it; and that sum they gave and thanks
besides.

"So the merchant sailed off again; but he had scarce got good sea-room
before he saw the cat sitting up at the mainmast head, and all at once
again came foul weather and a storm worse than the first, and he drove
and drove till he got to a country where he had never been before. The
merchant went up to an inn, and here, too, the board was spread with
rods; but they were much bigger and longer than the first. And, to tell
the truth, they had need to be; for here the mice were many more, and
every mouse was twice as big as those he had before seen.

"So he sold the cat again, and this time he got two hundred dollars for
it, and that without any haggling.

"So when he had sailed away from that land and got a bit out at sea,
there sat Grimalkin again at the masthead; and the bad weather began at
once again, and the end of it was, he was again driven to a land where
he had never been before.

"He went ashore, up to the town, and turned into an inn. There, too, the
board was laid with rods, but every rod was an ell and a half long, and
as thick as a small broom; and the folk said that to sit at meat was the
hardest trial they had, for there were thousands of big ugly rats, so
that it was only with sore toil and trouble one could get a morsel into
one's mouth, 'twas such hard work to keep off the rats. So the cat had
to be fetched up from the ship once more, and then folks got their food
in peace. Then they all begged and prayed the merchant, for heaven's
sake, to sell them his cat. For a long time he said, 'No;' but at last,
he gave his word to take three hundred dollars for it. That sum they
paid down at once, and thanked him and blessed him for it into the
bargain.

"Now, when the merchant got out to sea, he fell a-thinking how much the
lad had made out of the penny he had sent out with him.

"'Yes, yes, some of the money he shall have,' said the merchant to
himself; 'but not all. Me it is that he has to thank for the cat I
bought; and, besides, every man is nearest to his own self.'

"But as soon as ever the merchant thought this, such a storm and gale
arose that every one thought the ship must founder. So the merchant saw
there was no help for it, and he had to vow that the lad should have
every penny; and, no sooner had he vowed this vow, than the weather
turned good, and he got a snoring breeze fair for home.

"So, when he got to land, he gave the lad the six hundred dollars, and
his daughter besides; for now the little scullion was just as rich as
his master, the merchant, and even richer; and, after that, the lad
lived all his days in mirth and jollity; and he sent for his mother and
treated her as well as or better than he treated himself; for, said the
lad, 'I don't think that every one is nearest to his own self.'"



THE DEATH OF CHANTICLEER, AND THE GREEDY CAT.


All this time Edward and the lassies sat by and listened. It was dull
work for Edward, he knew little Norse, and so could not follow the
stories; sometimes he stared in a dull vacant way at the girls, and
sometimes he consulted Bradshaw's Foreign Guide. Whether he solved any
of the many mysteries of that most mysterious volume, I know not, let us
hope he did. "Bored" is the word which best expressed his looks. But as
for Christine and Karin, they knitted and knitted, and laughed and
sniggered at the story, which Anders, I must say, told in a way which
would have rejoiced his old grandmother's heart. But they were not to
have all the fun and no work. It was now their turn to be amusing, and
help to kill the ancient enemy, time.

When _The Honest Penny_ was over, Anders, almost without taking breath,
said,--

"Now, girls, it is my right to call for a tune. You know lots of
stories, and can tell them better than I. So, Christine, do you tell
_The Death of Chanticleer_; and you, Karin, _The Greedy Cat_. And mind
you act them as well as tell them. They are nursery tales meant for
children, and mind you tell them well."

I am bound to say that Christine, who was a very pretty girl, now no
doubt the happy mother of children, told _The Death of Chanticleer_ in a
way which would have gained her in China the post of Own Story-teller to
the Emperor's children. Without a blush, and without even the
stereotyped "unaccustomed as I am to public story-telling," she began.
"This is the story of--


THE DEATH OF CHANTICLEER.

"Once on a time there were a Cock and a Hen, who walked out into the
field, and scratched, and scraped, and scrabbled. All at once,
Chanticleer found a burr of hop, and Partlet found a barley-corn; and
they said they would make malt and brew Yule ale.

"'Oh! I pluck barley, and I malt malt, and I brew ale, and the ale is
good,' cackled dame Partlet.

"'Is the wort strong enough?' crew Chanticleer; and as he crowed he flew
up on the edge of the cask, and tried to have a taste; but, just as he
bent over to drink a drop, he took to flapping his wings, and so he fell
head over heels into the cask, and was drowned.

"When dame Partlet saw that, she clean lost her wits, and flew up into
the chimney-corner, and fell a-screaming and screeching out. 'Harm in
the house! harm in the house!' she screeched out all in a breath, and
there was no stopping her.

"'What ails you, dame Partlet, that you sit there sobbing and sighing?'
said the Handquern.

"'Why not?' said dame Partlet; 'when goodman Chanticleer has fallen into
the cask and drowned himself, and lies dead? That's why I sigh and sob.'

"'Well, if I can do naught else, I will grind and groan,' said the
Handquern; and so it fell to grinding as fast as it could.

"When the Chair heard that, it said--

"'What ails you, Handquern, that you grind and groan so fast and oft?'

"'Why not, when goodman Chanticleer has fallen into the cask and drowned
himself; and dame Partlet sits in the ingle, and sighs and sobs? That's
why I grind and groan,' said the Handquern.

"'If I can do naught else, I will crack,' said the Chair; and, with
that, he fell to creaking and cracking.

"When the Door heard that, it said,--

"'What's the matter? Why do you creak and crack so, Mr. Chair?'

"'Why not?' said the Chair; 'goodman Chanticleer has fallen into the
cask and drowned himself; dame Partlet sits in the ingle, sighing and
sobbing; and the Handquern grinds and groans. That's why I creak and
crackle, and croak and crack.'

"'Well,' said the Door, 'if I can do naught else, I can rattle and bang,
and whistle and slam;' and, with that, it began to open and shut, and
bang and slam, it deaved one to hear, and all one's teeth chattered.

"All this the Stove heard, and it opened its mouth and called out--

"'Door! Door! why all this slamming and banging?'

"'Why not?' said the Door; 'when goodman Chanticleer has fallen into the
cask and drowned himself; dame Partlet sits in the ingle, sighing and
sobbing; the Handquern grinds and groans, and the Chair creaks and
cracks. That's why I bang and slam.'

"'Well,' said the Stove, 'if I can do naught else, I can smoulder and
smoke;' and so it fell a-smoking and steaming till the room was all in a
cloud.

"The Axe saw this, as it stood outside, and peeped with its shaft
through the window,--

"'What's all this smoke about, Mrs. Stove?' said the Axe, in a sharp
voice.

"'Why not? said the Stove; 'when goodman Chanticleer has fallen into the
cask and drowned himself; dame Partlet sits in the ingle, sighing and
sobbing; the Handquern grinds and groans; the Chair creaks and cracks,
and the Door bangs and slams. That's why I smoke and steam.'

"'Well, if I can do naught else, I can rive and rend,' said the Axe;
and, with that, it fell to riving and rending all round about.

"This the Aspen stood by and saw.

"'Why do you rive and rend everything so, Mr. Axe?' said the Aspen.

"'Goodman Chanticleer has fallen into the ale-cask and drowned himself,'
said the Axe; 'dame Partlet sits in the ingle, sighing and sobbing; the
Handquern grinds and groans; the Chair creaks and cracks; the Door slams
and bangs, and the Stove smokes and steams. That's why I rive and rend
all about.'

"'Well, if I can do naught else,' said the Aspen, 'I can quiver and
quake in all my leaves;' so it grew all of a quake.

"The Birds saw this, and twittered out,--

"'Why do you quiver and quake, Miss Aspen?'

"'Goodman Chanticleer has fallen into the ale-cask and drowned himself,'
said the Aspen, with a trembling voice; 'dame Partlet sits in the ingle,
sighing and sobbing; the Handquern grinds and groans; the Chair creaks
and cracks; the Door slams and bangs; the Stove steams and smokes; and
the Axe rives and rends. That's why I quiver and quake.'

"Well, if we can do naught else, we will pluck off all our feathers,'
said the Birds; and, with that, they fell a-pilling and plucking
themselves till the room was full of feathers.

"This the Master stood by and saw, and, when the feathers flew about
like fun, he asked the Birds,--

"'Why do you pluck off all your feathers, you Birds?'

"'Oh! goodman Chanticleer has fallen into the ale-cask and drowned
himself,' twittered out the Birds; 'dame Partlet sits sighing and
sobbing in the ingle; the Handquern grinds and groans; the Chair creaks
and cracks; the Door slams and bangs; the Stove smokes and steams; the
Axe rives and rends, and the Aspen quivers and quakes. That's why we are
pilling and plucking all our feathers off.'

"'Well, if I can do nothing else, I can tear the brooms asunder,' said
the man; and, with that, he fell tearing and tossing the brooms till the
birch-twigs flew about east and west.

"The goody stood cooking porridge for supper, and saw all this.

"'Why, man!' she called out; 'what are you tearing the brooms to bits
for?'

"'Oh!' said the man, 'goodman Chanticleer has fallen into the ale-vat
and drowned himself; dame Partlet sits sighing and sobbing in the ingle;
the Handquern grinds and groans; the Chair cracks and creaks; the Door
slams and bangs; the Stove smokes and steams; the Axe rives and rends;
the Aspen quivers and quakes; the Birds are pilling and plucking all
their feathers off, and that's why I am tearing the besoms to bits.'

"'So, so!' said the goody; 'then I'll dash the porridge over all the
walls;' and she did it; for she took one spoonful after the other and
dashed it against the walls, so that no one could see what they were
made of for very porridge.

"That was how they drank the burial ale after goodman Chanticleer, who
fell into the brewing-vat and was drowned; and, if you don't believe it,
you may set off thither and have a taste both of the ale and the
porridge."

       *       *       *       *       *

When Christine ended, I did not tell them what I could now tell them,
that this story of _The Death of Chanticleer_ is _mutatis mutandis_, the
very same story as one in _Grimm's Tales_, and another in the Scotch
collection of Robert Chambers. But alas! I heard _The Death of
Chanticleer_ up on the Fjeld long before those Scotch Stories appeared
in print, and so, as some of these stories say, I could tell them
nothing about it.

Karin was not so good a story-teller as Christine, but she still told
her story well. Besides, it was harder to tell, and required an effort
of memory, like that needed in our _This is the House that Jack built_.
_The Greedy Cat_ has a wildness of its own, and is full of humour. Here
it is--


THE GREEDY CAT.

"Once on a time there was a man who had a cat, and she was so awfully
big, and such a beast to eat, he couldn't keep her any longer. So she
was to go down to the river with a stone round her neck, but before she
started she was to have a meal of meat. So the goody set before her a
bowl of porridge and a little trough of fat. That she crammed into her,
and ran off and jumped through the window. Outside stood the goodman by
the barn door, threshing.

"'Good day, goodman,' said the cat.

"'Good day, pussy,' said the goodman; 'have you had any food to-day?'

"'Oh, I've had a little, but I'm 'most fasting,' said the cat; 'it was
only a bowl of porridge and a trough of fat--and, now I think of it,
I'll take you too,' and so she took the goodman and gobbled him up.

"When she had done that, she went into the byre, and there sat the goody
milking.

"'Good day, goody,' said the cat.

"'Good day, pussy,' said the goody; 'are you here, and have you eaten up
your food yet?'

"'Oh, I've eaten a little to-day, but I'm 'most fasting,' said pussy;
'it was only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the
goodman--and, now I think of it, I'll take you too,' and so she took the
goody and gobbled her up.

"'Good day, you cow at the manger,' said the cat to Daisy the cow.

"'Good day, pussy,' said the bell-cow; 'have you had any food to-day?'

"'Oh, I've had a little, but I'm 'most fasting,' said the cat; 'I've
only had a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and
the goody--and, now I think of it, I'll take you too,' and so she took
the cow and gobbled her up.

"Then off she set up into the home-field, and there stood a man picking
up leaves.

"'Good day, you leaf-picker in the field,' said the cat.

"'Good day, pussy; have you had anything to eat to-day?' said the
leaf-picker.

"'Oh, I've had a little, but I'm 'most fasting,' said the cat; 'it was
only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman and the
goody, and Daisy the cow--and, now I think of it, I'll take you too.' So
she took the leaf-picker and gobbled him up.

"Then she came to a heap of stones, and there stood a stoat and peeped
out.

"'Good day, Mr. Stoat of Stoneheap,' said the cat.

"'Good day, Mrs. Pussy; have you had anything to eat to-day?'

"'Oh, I've had a little, but I'm 'most fasting,' said the cat; 'it was
only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the
goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker--and, now I think of it, I'll
take you too.' So she took the stoat and gobbled him up.

"When she had gone a bit farther, she came to a hazel-brake, and there
sat a squirrel gathering nuts.

"'Good day, Sir Squirrel of the Brake,' said the cat.

"'Good day, Mrs. Pussy; have you had anything to eat to-day?'

"'Oh, I've had a little, but I'm 'most fasting,' said the cat; 'it was
only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the
goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker, and the stoat--and, now I think
of it, I'll take you too.' So she took the squirrel and gobbled him up.

"When she had gone a little farther, she saw Reynard the Fox, who was
prowling about by the woodside.

"'Good day, Reynard Slyboots,' said the cat.

"'Good day, Mrs. Pussy; have you had anything to eat to-day?'

"'Oh, I've had a little, but I'm 'most fasting,' said the cat; 'it was
only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the
goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker, and the stoat, and the
squirrel--and, now I think of it, I'll take you too.' So she took
Reynard and gobbled him up.

"When she had gone a while farther she met Long Ears the Hare.

"'Good day, Mr. Hopper the Hare,' said the cat.

"'Good day, Mrs. Pussy; have you had anything to eat to-day?'

"'Oh, I've had a little, but I'm 'most fasting,' said the cat; 'it was
only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the
goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker, and the stoat, and the
squirrel, and the fox--and, now I think of it, I'll take you too.' So
she took the hare and gobbled him up.

"When she had gone a bit farther, she met a wolf.

"'Good day, you Greedy Greylegs,' said the cat.

"'Good day, Mrs. Pussy; have you had anything to eat to-day?'

"'Oh, I've had a little, but I'm 'most fasting,' said the cat; 'it was
only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the
goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker, and the stoat, and the
squirrel, and the fox and the hare--and, now I think of it, I may as
well take you too.' So she took and gobbled up Greylegs too.

"So she went on into the wood, and when she had gone far and farther
than far, o'er hill and dale, she met a bear-cub.

"'Good day, you bare-breeched Bear,' said the cat.

"'Good day, Mrs. Pussy,' said the bear-cub; 'have you had anything to
eat to-day?'

"'Oh, I've had a little, but I'm 'most fasting,' said the cat; 'it was
only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the
goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker, and the stoat, and the
squirrel, and the fox, and the hare, and the wolf--and, now I think of
it, I may as well take you too,' and so she took the bear-cub and
gobbled him up.

"When the cat had gone a bit farther, she met a she-bear, who was
tearing away at a stump till the splinters flew, so angry was she at
having lost her cub.

"'Good day, you Mrs. Bruin,' said the cat.

"'Good day, Mrs. Pussy; have you had anything to eat to-day?'

"'Oh, I've had a little, but I'm 'most fasting,' said the cat; 'it was
only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the
goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker, and the stoat, and the
squirrel, and the fox, and the hare, and the wolf, and the
bear-cub--and, now I think of it, I'll take you too,' and so she took
Mrs. Bruin and gobbled her up too.

"When the cat got still farther on, she met Baron Bruin himself.

"'Good day, you Baron Bruin,' said the cat.

"'Good day, Mrs. Pussy,' said Bruin; 'have you had anything to eat
to-day?'

"'Oh, I've had a little, but I'm 'most fasting,' said the cat; 'it was
only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the
goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker, and the stoat, and the
squirrel, and the fox, and the hare, and the wolf, and the bear-cub, and
the she-bear--and, now I think of it, I'll take you too,' and so she
took Bruin and ate him up too.

"So the cat went on and on, and farther than far, till she came to the
abodes of men again, and there she met a bridal train on the road.

"'Good day, you bridal train on the king's highway,' said she.

"'Good day, Mrs. Pussy; have you had anything to eat to-day?'

"'Oh, I've had a little, but I'm 'most fasting,' said the cat; 'it was
only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the
goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker, and the stoat, and the
squirrel, and the fox, and the hare, and the wolf, and the bear-cub, and
the she-bear, and the he-bear--and, now I think of it, I'll take you
too,' and so she rushed at them, and gobbled up both the bride and
bridegroom, and the whole train, with the cook and the fiddler, and the
horses, and all.

"When she had gone still farther, she came to a church, and there she
met a funeral.

"'Good day, you funeral train,' said she.

"'Good day, Mrs. Pussy; have you had anything to eat to-day?'

"'Oh, I've had a little, but I'm 'most fasting,' said the cat; 'it was
only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the
goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker, and the stoat, and the
squirrel, and the fox, and the hare, and the wolf, and the bear-cub, and
the she-bear, and the he-bear, and the bride and bridegroom and the
whole train--and, now, I don't mind if I take you too,' and so she fell
on the funeral train and gobbled up both the body and the bearers.

"Now when the cat had got the body in her, she was taken up to the sky,
and when she had gone a long, long way, she met the moon.

"'Good day, Mrs. Moon,' said the cat.

"'Good day, Mrs. Pussy; have you had anything to eat to-day?'

"'Oh, I've had a little, but I'm 'most fasting,' said the cat; 'it was
only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the
goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker, and the stoat, and the
squirrel, and the fox, and the hare, and the wolf, and the bear-cub, and
the she-bear, and the he-bear, and the bride and bridegroom and the
whole train, and the funeral train--and, now I think of it, I don't mind
if I take you too,' and so she seized hold of the moon, and gobbled her
up, both new and full.

"So the cat went a long way still, and then she met the sun.

"'Good day, you Sun in heaven.'

"'Good day, Mrs. Pussy,' said the sun; 'have you had anything to eat
to-day?'

"'Oh, I've had a little, but I'm 'most fasting,' said the cat; 'it was
only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the
goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker, and the stoat, and the
squirrel, and the fox, and the hare, and the wolf, and the bear-cub, and
the she-bear, and the he-bear, and the bride and bridegroom, and the
whole train, and the funeral train, and the moon--and, now I think of
it, I don't mind if I take you too,' and so she rushed at the sun in
heaven and gobbled him up.

"So the cat went far and farther than far, till she came to a bridge,
and on it she met a big Billygoat.

"'Good day, you Billygoat on Broad-bridge,' said the cat.

"'Good day, Mrs. Pussy; have you had anything to eat to-day?' said the
Billygoat.

"'Oh, I've had a little, but I'm 'most fasting; I've only had a bowl of
porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the goody in the
byre, and Daisy the cow at the manger, and the leaf-picker in the
home-field, and Mr. Stoat of Stoneheap, and Sir Squirrel of the Brake,
and Reynard Slyboots, and Mr. Hopper the Hare, and Greedy Greylegs the
Wolf, and Bare-breech the Bear-cub, and Mrs. Bruin, and Baron Bruin, and
a Bridal train on the king's highway, and a Funeral at the church, and
Lady Moon in the sky, and Lord Sun in heaven, and, now I think of it,
I'll take you too.'

"'That we'll fight about," said the Billygoat, and butted at the cat
till she fell right over the bridge into the river, and there she burst.

"So they all crept out one after the other, and went about their
business, and were just as good as ever, all that the cat had gobbled
up. The Goodman of the house, and the Goody in the byre, and Daisy the
cow at the manger, and the Leaf-picker in the home-field, and Mr. Stoat
of Stoneheap, and Sir Squirrel of the Brake, and Reynard Slyboots, and
Mr. Hopper the Hare, and Greedy Greylegs the Wolf, and Bare-breech the
Bear-cub, and Mrs. Bruin, and Baron Bruin, and the Bridal train on the
highway, and the Funeral train at the church, and Lady Moon in the Sky,
and Lord Sun in heaven."



PETER THE FORESTER AND GRUMBLEGIZZARD.


When the girls had ended, we all laughed at the droll turn out of Sun,
Moon, and Co. from the cat's maw; and I was just going to repay them
with a Scotch story, when there came a great knock at the door.

Who could it be? said the girls. Father and mother would not come up
from the dale in such weather. Who could it be? Perhaps one of the Hill
folk. Perhaps a Huldra.

"Nonsense, lassies!" said Anders; "even if it were anything uncanny, we
have guns enough here to fire a shot over a whole pack of them, and men
enough to fire them too. Don't stand dawdling there, Karin, but open the
door."

Karin did as she was bid, and drew back the wooden bolt.

"My!" she cried, "if it isn't Peter the Forester! Come in, Peter. Come
in."

In strode Peter, a strapping fellow, long past youth, but still hale and
hearty. His tight-fitting breeches and hose showed a well-knit frame;
over his many-buttoned jacket he wore a loose cloak of russet woollen
stuff, "Wadmel," as they call it in the north of Scotland, and "Vadmal,"
as they call it in Norway. A broad, flapping wide-awake covered his
head, which on this occasion was tied down across the top, and under the
chin by a red cotton kerchief. On his shoulder was his rifle.

"Why, Peter," said Anders, "what brought you out in such Deil's
weather?"

"Well!" said Peter, "the owner of the sawmills down at the end of the
dale on the other side of the Fjeld, sent me up here last night to see
if I could mark down any reindeer for him; and so I came, though I told
him 'twas no use. The poor, silly body fancies the deer are like a pack
of barn-door fowls, that you can count morning and evening, as they go
out and come home to roost. He little thinks that the deer seen to-day
here, are to-morrow fifty miles off, or more; but as I wanted to cross
the Fjeld, and look at the forest on the other side down in the dale, I
said I would come and tell him if I saw any deer; and to make a long
story short, I came, and thought to get here last night; but just on the
edge of the Fjeld it grew dark as pitch, and so I crept into a reft in
the rocks, and spent the night as I best could. Luckily I had fladbrod
and gammelost, and a flask of brandy, else I should have fared badly.
But here I am, drenched to the skin, and nigh starved. Let me have a
pair of dry stockings, and a bowl of milk, and make myself comfortable.
But God's peace! I did not see you had English lords here. Good day!
Good day! After deer, too, no doubt. Did you see the deer yesterday?"

While Anders told him in a low voice who we were, in which story
Edward's mishap was sure to find a place, Peter took off his shoes and
stockings, and put on dry ones, and then draining off his bowl of milk,
sate before the fire to enjoy his pipe.

But Anders was not going to let him off so lightly.

"You must often hear and see strange things in the woods, and on the
Fjeld, Peter!"

"Aye! aye!" replied Peter, under a cloud of puffs, to this rather
leading question. "Aye, aye, I have both heard and seen many things.
Strange sounds and noises; sometimes for all the world like the sweetest
music."

"And what made it?" I asked.

"What made it!" scornfully replied Peter, "why the Huldror--the
fairies."

"The fairies! then you believe in the Good People?"

"Good or bad," said Peter, "and I think they are more often bad than
good, by their leave be it spoken; for to tell the truth, they say this
very Sæter was haunted in old days. Good or bad, why shouldn't I believe
in them? Doesn't the Bible speak of evil spirits? and if I believe in
the Bible I must believe in them."

I was too eager to get out of Peter what he knew about the Hill folk or
Huldror or fairies, to stop to discuss his dictum as to the Bible, so I
said,

"But do tell us what you saw yourself."

"Well!" said Peter, "once in August I was sitting on a knoll by the side
of a path, with bushes on each side, so that I could look across the
path down into a little hollow full of heath and ling. I was out calling
birds, for I can call them by their notes, and just then I heard a grey
hen call among the heather, and I called to her and thought, 'If I only
set eyes on you, you shall have gobbled and cackled your last.' Then all
at once I heard something come rustling behind me along the path, and I
turned round and saw an old, old man; he was a strange looking chap
altogether, but the strangest thing about him was that he had--at least
so it seemed to me--three legs; and the third leg hung and dangled
between the other two right down to the ground, and so he walked along
the path. When I say 'walked,' it wasn't walking either, but a sliding,
sloping motion, and so he went along, and I lost sight of him in one of
the darkest hollows of the glen. Now if that were not a fairy I should
like to know what it was?"

"Why an old gaberlunzie man, who helped himself along going down hill
with his stick behind him," said I. "Come, come, Peter, you must know
better stories than that. Tell us something that you have not seen, but
only heard tell of. Can't you tell us 'Grumblegizzard?'" For that, you
must know, was the name of a Norse tale that I had often heard of but
never yet heard.

"Yes! yes," said Anders. "Peter knows it, I'll be bound."

"Well!" said Peter, "it's a queer story, but here it is. This is the
story of


GRUMBLEGIZZARD.

"Once on a time there were five goodies, who were all reaping in a
field; they were all childless, and all wished to have a bairn. All at
once they set eyes on a strangely big goose-egg, almost as big as a
man's head.

"'I saw it first,' said one.

"'I saw it just as soon as you,' screamed another.

"'Heaven help me, but I will have it,' swore the third; 'I was the first
to see it.'

"So they flocked round it and squabbled so much about the egg that they
were tearing one another's hair. But at last they agreed that they would
own it in common, all five of them, and each was to sit on it in turn
like a goose, and so hatch the gosling. The first lay sitting eight
days, and sat and sat, but nothing came of it; meanwhile the others had
to drag about to find food both for themselves and her. At last one of
them began to scold her.

"'Well,' said the one that sat, 'you did not chip the egg yourself before
you could cry, not you; but this egg, I think, has something in it, for
it seems to me to mumble, and this is what it says, "Herrings and brose,
porridge and milk, all at once." And now you may come and sit for eight
days too, and we will change and change about and get food for you.'

"So when all five had sat on it eight days, the fifth heard plainly that
there was a gosling in the egg, which screeched out, 'Herrings and
brose, porridge and milk;' so she picked a hole in it, but instead of a
gosling out came a man child, and awfully ugly it was, with a big head
and little body. And the first thing it bawled out when it chipped the
egg, was 'Herrings and brose, porridge and milk.'

"So they called it 'Grumblegizzard.'

"Ugly as it was, they were still glad to have it, at first; but it was
not long before it got so greedy that it ate up all the meat in their
house. When they boiled a kettle of soup or a pot of porridge, which
they thought would be enough for all six, it tossed it all down its own
throat. So they would not keep it any longer.

"'I've not known what it is to have a full meal since this changeling
crept out of the egg-shell,' said one of them, and when Grumblegizzard
heard that all the rest were of the same mind, he said he was quite
willing to be off. If they did not care for him, he didn't care for
them; and with that he strode off from the farm.

"After a long time he came to a farmer's house, which lay in a stone
country, and there he asked for a place. Well, they wanted a labourer,
and the goodman set him to pick up stones off the field. Yes!
Grumblegizzard gathered the stones from the field, and he took them so
big that there were many horse-loads in them, and whether they were big
or little, he stuffed them all into his pocket. 'Twas not long before he
was done with that work, and then he wanted to know what he was to do
next.

"'I've told you to pluck out the stones from the field,' said the
goodman, 'you can't be done before you begin, I trow.'

"But Grumblegizzard turned out his pockets and threw the stones in a
heap. Then the goodman saw that he had done his work, and felt he ought
to keep a workman who was so strong. He had better come in and have
something to eat, he said. Grumblegizzard thought so too, and he alone
ate all that was ready for the master and mistress and for the servants,
and after all he was not half full.

"'That was a man and a half to work, but a fearful fellow to eat, too;
there was no stopping him,' said the goodman. 'Such a labourer would eat
a poor farmer out of house and home before one could turn round.'

"So he told him he had no more work for him. He had best be off to the
king's grange.

"Then Grumblegizzard strode on to the king, and got a place at once. In
the king's grange there was enough both of work and food. He was to be
odd man, and help the lasses to bring in wood and water and other small
jobs. So he asked what he was to do first.

"'Oh, if you would be so good as to chop us a little firewood.'

"Yes. Grumblegizzard fell to chopping and hewing till the splinters flew
about him. 'Twas not long before he had chopped up all that there was,
both of firewood and timber, both planks and beams; and when he had done
he came back and asked what he was to do now.

"'Go on chopping wood,' they said.

"'There's no more left to chop,' said he.

"'That couldn't be true,' said the king's grieve, and he went and looked
out in the wood-yard. But it was quite true; Grumblegizzard had chopped
everything up; he had made firewood both of sawn planks and hewn beams.
That was bad work, the grieve said, and he told him he should not taste
a morsel of food till he had gone into the forest and cut down as much
timber as he had chopped up into firewood.

"Grumblegizzard went off to the smithy, and got the smith to help him to
make an axe of fifteen pounds of iron; and so he went into the forest
and began to clear it; down toppled tall spruces and firs fit for masts.
Everything went down that he found either on the king's or his
neighbour's ground; he did not stay to top or lop them, and there they
lay like so many windfalls. Then he laid a good load on a sledge, and
put all the horses to it, but they could not stir the load from the
spot, and when he took them by the heads and wished to set them a-going,
he pulled their heads off. Then he tumbled the horses out of the traces
on to the ground, and drew the load home by himself.

"When he came down to the king's grange the king and his wood-grieve
stood in the gallery to take him to task for having been so wasteful in
the forest--the wood-grieve had been up to see what he was at--but when
Grumblegizzard came along dragging back half a wood of timber, the king
got both angry and afraid, and he thought he must be careful with him,
since he was so strong.

"'That I call a workman, and no mistake,' said the king; 'but how much
do you eat at once, for now you may well be hungry.'

"'When he was to have a good meal of porridge, he could do with twelve
barrels of meal,' said Grumblegizzard; 'but when he had got so much
inside him, he could hold out for some time.'

"It took time to get the porridge boiled, and, meantime, he was to draw
in a little wood for the cook; so he laid the whole pile of wood on a
sledge, but when he was to get through the doorway with it, he got into
a scrape again. The house was so shaken that it gave way at every joist,
and he was within an ace of dragging the whole grange over on end.

"When the hour drew near for dinner, they sent him out to call home the
folk from the field; he bawled and bellowed so that the rocks and hills
rang again; but they did not come quick enough for him, so he fell out
with them, and slew twelve of them on the spot.

"'He has slain twelve men,' said the king; 'and he eats for twelve times
twelve. But for how many do you work, I should like to know?'

"'For twelve times twelve, too,' said Grumblegizzard.

"When he had eaten his dinner, he was to go out into the barn to thrash,
so he took off the roof-tree and made a flail out of it; and, when the
roof was just about to fall, he took a great spruce fir, branches and
all, and stuck it up for a roof-tree; and then he thrashed the floor and
the straw, and hay, altogether. He did great harm, for the grain and
chaff and beard flew about together, and a cloud arose over the whole
grange.

"When he was nearly done thrashing, enemies came into the land; and
there was to be war. So the king told him to take folk with him and go
on the way to meet the foe and fight them, for he thought they would put
him to death. 'No! he would have no folk with him to be slain; he would
fight alone, that he would,' said Grumblegizzard.

"'All the better, I shall be sooner rid of him,' said the king.

"But he must have a mighty club.

"They sent off to the smith to forge a club of fifty pounds. 'That might
do very well to crack nuts,' said Grumblegizzard. So they smithied him
one of a hundred pounds. 'That might do well enough to nail shoes with,'
he said. Well, the smith couldn't smithy it any bigger with all his men.
So Grumblegizzard went off to the smithy himself, and forged a club of
fifteen tons, and it took a hundred men to turn it on the anvil. 'That
might do,' said Grumblegizzard.

"Besides, he must have a scrip for food; and he made one out of fifteen
oxhides, and stuffed it full of food. And so he toddled off down the
hill with his scrip at his back and his club on his shoulder.

"So, when he had got so far that the enemy saw him, they sent out a man
to ask if he were coming against them.

"'Bide a bit, till I have had my dinner,' said Grumblegizzard, as he
threw himself down on the road, and fell to eating behind his great
scrip.

"But they couldn't wait, and began to shoot at him at once, so that it
rained and hailed rifle bullets.

"'These bilberries I don't mind a bit,' said Grumblegizzard, and fell to
eating harder than ever.

"Neither lead nor iron could touch him, and before him was his scrip,
like a wall, and kept off the fire.

"So they took to throwing shells at him, and to fire cannons at him; and
he just grinned a little every time they hit him.

"'Ah! ah! it's all no good,' he said. But, just then, he got a bombshell
right down his throat.

"'Fie!' he said, and spat it out again; and then came a chain-shot and
made its way into his butter-box, and another took the bit he was just
going to eat from between his fingers. Then he got angry, and rose up,
and took his club, and dashed it on the ground, and asked if they were
going to snatch the bread out of his mouth with their bilberries, which
they puffed out of big peashooters. Then he gave a few more strokes,
till the rocks and hills shook, and the enemy flew into the air like
chaff, and so the war was over."

       *       *       *       *       *

Having got so far, Peter said he must take breath, and called for
another bowl of milk, and while he refreshed himself, we all waited
open-mouthed for the rest of the story of Grumblegizzard.

       *       *       *       *       *

"When Grumblegizzard got home again and wanted more work, the king was
in a sad way, for he thought he should have been rid of him that time,
and now he could think of nothing but to send him to hell.

"'You must be off to Old Nick, and ask for my land-tax.'

"Grumblegizzard set off from the grange, with his scrip on his back and
his club on his shoulder. He lost no time on the way, but, when he got
there, Old Nick was gone to serve on a jury. There was no one at home
but his mother, and she said she had never in her born days heard talk
of any land-tax; he had better come again another day.

"'Yes, yes! come to me to-morrow,' said Grumblegizzard. 'That's all
stuff and nonsense, for to-morrow never comes.' Now he was there, he
would stay there. He must and would have the land-tax, and he had lots
of time to wait.

"But when he had eaten up all his food, the time hung heavy, and so he
went and asked the old dame to give him the land-tax. She must pay it
down.

"'No,' she said, 'she couldn't do it. That stood as fast as the old
fir-tree,' she said, 'that grew outside the gate of hell, and was so big
that fifteen men could scarcely span it when they held hands.'

"But Grumblegizzard climbed up to the top of it, and twisted and turned
it about like an osier; and then he asked if she were ready with the
land-tax.

"Yes, she dared not do anything else, and found so many pence as he
thought he could carry in his scrip.

"And now he started for home with the land-tax; but, as soon as he was
off, Old Nick came back. When he heard that Grumblegizzard had stridden
off from his house with his big scrip full of money, he first of all
beat and banged his mother, and then ran after him to catch him on the
way.

"And he caught him up, too, for he ran light, and used his wings, while
Grumblegizzard had to keep to the ground under the weight of the big
scrip; but, just as Old Nick was at his heels, he began to run and jump
as fast as he could; and he held his club behind him to keep Old Nick
off.

"And so they went along, Grumblegizzard holding the haft, and Old Nick
clawing at the head, till they came to a deep dale; there Grumblegizzard
leapt from one hill-top to the other, and Old Nick was so hot to follow,
that he tripped over the club and fell down into the dale, and broke his
leg, and so there he lay.

"'Here you have the land-tax,' said Grumblegizzard, as he came to the
king's grange, and dashed down the scripful of money before the king, so
that the whole gallery creaked and cracked.

"The king thanked him, and put a good face on it, and promised him good
pay and a safe pass home if he cared to have it; but all Grumblegizzard
wanted was more work.

"'What shall I do now?' he asked. Well, when the king had thought about
it, he said he had better travel to the Hill Troll, who had carried off
his grandfather's sword to that castle he had by the lake, whither no
one dared to go.

"So Grumblegizzard got several loads of food into his big scrip, and set
off again; and he fared both far and long, over wood and fell, and wild
wastes, till he came to some high hills, where the Troll was said to
dwell, who had taken the king's grandfather's sword.

"But the Troll was not to be seen under bare sky, and the hill was fast
shut, so that even Grumblegizzard was not man enough to get in.

"So he joined fellowship with some quarrymen, who were living at a hill
farm, and who lay up there quarrying stone in those hills. Such help
they never yet had, for he beat and battered the fell till the rocks
were rent, and great stones were rolled down as big as houses; but when
he was to rest at noon, and take out one load of food, the whole scrip
was clean eaten out.

"'I'm a pretty good trencherman myself,' said Grumblegizzard; 'but
whoever has been here, has a sharper tooth, for he has eaten up bones
and all.'

"That was how things went the first day, and it was no better the next.
The third day he set off to quarry stones again, and took with him the
third meal of food; but he laid down behind it, and shammed sleep.

"Just then there came out of the hill a Troll with seven heads, and
began to munch and eat his food.

"'Now the board is laid, and I will eat,' said the Troll.

"'That we'll have a tussle for,' said Grumblegizzard; and gave him a
blow with his club, and knocked off all his seven heads at once.

"So he went into the hill, out of which the Troll had come, and in there
stood a horse, which ate out of a tub of glowing coals, and at its heels
stood a tub of oats.

"'Why don't you eat out of the tub of oats?' said Grumblegizzard.

"'Because I am not able to turn round,' said the horse.

"'I'll soon turn you,' said he.

"'Rather strike off my head,' said the horse.

"So he struck it off, and then the horse was turned into a handsome man.
He said he had been taken into the hill by the Troll, and turned into a
horse, and then he helped him to find the sword, which the Troll had
hidden at the bottom of his bed, and upon the bed lay the Troll's old
mother, asleep and snoring.

"Home again they went by water, and when they had got well out, the old
witch came after them; as she could not catch them, she fell to drinking
the lake dry, and she drank and drank, till the water in the lake fell;
but she could not drink the sea dry, and so she burst.

"When they came to shore, Grumblegizzard sent a message to the king, to
come and fetch his sword. He sent four horses. No! they could not stir
it; he sent eight, and he sent twelve; but the sword stayed where it
was, they could not move it an inch. But Grumblegizzard took it up
alone, and bore it along.

"The king could not believe his eyes, when he saw Grumblegizzard again;
but he put a good face on it, and promised him gold, and green woods;
and when Grumblegizzard wanted more work, he said he had better set off
for a haunted castle he had, where no one dared to be, and there he must
sleep till he had built a bridge over the Sound, so that folk could pass
over. If he were good to do that he would pay him well; nay, he would be
glad to give him his daughter to wife.

"'Yes! yes! I am good to do that,' said Grumblegizzard.

"No man had ever left that castle alive; those who reached it lay there
slain and torn to bits, and the king thought he should never see him
more, if he only got him to go thither.

"But Grumblegizzard set off; and he took with him his scrip of food, a
very tough and twisted stump of a fir-tree, an axe, a wedge, and a few
matches, and besides, he took the workhouse boy from the king's grange.

"When they got to the Sound, the river ran full of ice, and was as
headlong as a force; but he stuck his legs fast at the bottom, and waded
on till he got over at last.

"When he had lighted a fire and warmed himself, and got a bit of food,
he tried to sleep; but it was not long before there was such a noise and
din, as though the whole castle was turned topsy-turvy. The door blew
back against the wall, and he saw nothing but a gaping jaw, from the
threshold up to the lintel.

"'There, you have a bit, taste that!' said Grumblegizzard, as he threw
the workhouse boy into the gaping maw.

"'Now let me see you, what kind you are. May be we are old friends.'

"So it was, for it was Old Nick, who was outside. Then they took to
playing cards, for the Old One wanted to try and win back some of the
land-tax, which Grumblegizzard had squeezed out of his mother, when he
went to ask it for the king; but whichever way they cut the cards,
Grumblegizzard won, for he put a cross on all the court cards, and when
he had won all his ready money, Old Nick was forced to give
Grumblegizzard some of the gold and silver that was in the castle.

"Just as they were hard at it the fire went out, so that they could not
tell one card from another.

"'Now we must chop wood,' said Grumblegizzard, and with that he drove
his axe into the fir stump, and thrust the wedge in; but the gnarled
root was tough, and would not split at once, however much he twisted and
turned his axe.

"'They say you are very strong,' he said to Old Nick; 'spit in your
fists and bear a hand with your claws, and rive and rend, and let me see
the stuff you are made of.'

"Old Nick did so, and put both his fists into the split, and strove to
rend it with might and main, but, at the same time, Grumblegizzard
struck the wedge out, and Old Nick was caught in a trap; and then
Grumblegizzard tried his back with his axe. Old Nick begged and prayed
so prettily to be let go, but Grumblegizzard was hard of hearing on that
side till he gave his word never to come there again, and make a noise.
And so, he too, had to promise to build a bridge over the Sound, so that
folks could pass over it at all times of the year, and it was to be
ready when the ice was gone.

"'This is a hard bargain,' said Old Nick. But there was no help for it,
if he wished to get out. He had to give his word; only, he bargained, he
was to have the first soul that passed over the bridge. That was to be
the Sound due.

"'That he should have,' said Grumblegizzard. So he got loose, and went
home; but Grumblegizzard lay down to sleep, and slept till far on next
day.

"So, when the king came to see if he was hacked to pieces, or torn to
bits, he had to wade through heaps of money before he could get to the
bed. It lay in piles and sacks high up the wall: but Grumblegizzard lay
in the bed asleep and snoring.

"'God help both me and my daughter,' said the king when he saw that
Grumblegizzard was alive and rich. Yes, all was good and well done;
there was no gainsaying that. But it was not worth while talking of the
wedding till the bridge was ready.

"So, one day, the bridge stood ready, and Old Nick stood on it to take
the toll he had bargained for.

"Now Grumblegizzard wanted to take the king with him to try the bridge,
but he had no mind to do that. So he got up himself on a horse, and
threw the fat milkmaid from the king's grange upon the pommel before
him;--she looked for all the world like a big fir-stump--and then he
rode over till the bridge thundered under him.

"'Where is the Sound due? Where have you put the soul?' screamed Old
Nick.

"'It sits inside this stump. If you want it, spit in your fists and take
it,' said Grumblegizzard.

"'Nay, nay! many thanks,' said Old Nick. 'If she doesn't take me, I'll
not take her. You caught me once, and you shan't catch me again in a
cleft stick;' and, with that, he flew off straight home to his old
mother; and, since then, he has never been seen or heard in those parts.

"But Grumblegizzard went home to the king's grange, and wanted the wages
the king had promised him; and when the king tried to wriggle out of it,
and would not keep his word, Grumblegizzard said he had better pack up a
good scrip of food, for he was going to take his wages himself. Yes, the
king did that: and, when all was ready, Grumblegizzard took the king out
before the door, and gave him a good push and sent him flying up into
the air. As for the scrip, he threw it after him, that he might have
something to eat. And, if he hasn't come down again, there he is still
hanging, with his scrip, between Heaven and Earth, to this very day that
now is."



PETER'S THREE TALES.


When _Grumblegizzard_ was over, we all laughed so that Peter was quite
in good humour. At first he had not liked the doubt thrown on his vision
of the old fairy man, but our applause soothed his ruffled spirit.

"As you like stories," he said, "I'll tell you three short ones right
off, and then I'll call on Anders to tell one. The first is_ Father
Bruin in the Corner_, and it shows too what tongues old wives have, and
how there's no stopping them even in a pitfall. Many's the time I've
trapped Bruin, and Graylegs, and Reynard, in a pit; but I never yet
trapped an old woman, and I hope I never shall. It would be like
shearing a pig, 'all cry and no wool.' But here is the story."


FATHER BRUIN IN THE CORNER.

"Once on a time there was a man who lived far, far away in the wood. He
had many, many goats and sheep, but never a one could he keep for fear
of Graylegs, the wolf.

"At last he said, 'I'll soon trap Grayboots,' and so he set to work
digging a pitfall. When he had dug it deep enough, he put a polo down in
the midst of the pit, and on the top of the pole he set a board, and on
the board he put a little dog. Over the pit itself he spread boughs and
branches and leaves, and other rubbish, and a-top of all he strewed
snow, so that Graylegs might not see there was a pit underneath.

"So when it got on in the night, the little dog grew weary of sitting
there: 'Bow-wow, bow-wow,' it said, and bayed at the moon. Just then up
came a fox, slouching and sneaking, and thought here was a fine time for
marketing, and with that gave a jump--head over heels down into the
pitfall.

"And when it got a little farther on in the night, the little dog got so
weary and so hungry, and it fell to yelping and howling: 'Bow-wow,
bow-wow,' it cried out. Just at that very moment up came Graylegs,
trotting and trotting. He, too, thought he should get a fat steak, and
he too made a spring--head over heels down into the pitfall.

"When it was getting on towards gray dawn in the morning, down fell
snow, with a north wind, and it grew so cold that the little dog stood
and froze, and shivered and shook; it was so weary and hungry, 'Bow-wow,
bow-wow, bow-wow,' it called out, and barked and yelled and howled. Then
up came a bear, tramping and tramping along, and thought to himself how
he could get a morsel for breakfast at the very top of the morning, and
so he thought and thought among the boughs and branches till he too went
bump--head over heels down into the pitfall.

"So when it got a little further on in the morning, an old beggar wife
came walking by, who toddled from farm to farm with a bag on her back.
When she set eyes on the little dog that stood there and howled, she
couldn't help going near to look and see if any wild beasts had fallen
into the pit during the night. So she crawled up on her knees and peeped
down into it.

"'Art thou come into the pit at last, Reynard?' she said to the fox, for
he was the first she saw; 'a very good place, too, for such a hen-roost
robber as thou: and thou, too, Graypaw,' she said to the wolf; 'many a
goat and sheep hast thou torn and rent, and now thou shalt be plagued
and punished to death. Bless my heart! Thou, too, Bruin! art thou, too,
sitting in this room, thou mare-flayer? Thee, too, will we strip, and
thee shall we flay, and thy skull shall be nailed up on the wall.' All
this the old lass screeched out as she bent over towards the bear. But
just then her bag fell over her ears, and dragged her down, and slap!
down went the old crone--head over heels into the pitfall.

"So there they all four sat and glared at one another, each in a corner.
The fox in one, Graylegs in another, Bruin in a third, and the old crone
in a fourth.

"But as soon as it was broad daylight, Reynard began to peep and peer,
and to twist and turn about, for he thought he might as well try to get
out. But the old lass cried out,--

"'Canst thou not sit still, thou whirligig thief, and not go twisting
and turning? Only look at Father Bruin himself in the corner, how he
sits as grave as a judge,' for now she thought she might as well make
friends with the bear. But just then up came the man who owned the
pitfall. First he drew up the old wife, and after that he slew all the
beasts, and neither spared Father Bruin himself in the corner, nor
Graylegs, nor Reynard, the whirligig thief. That night, at least, he
thought he had made a good haul."

       *       *       *       *       *

"The next story," said Peter, "is also out of the wood. It isn't often
that Reynard gets cheated, but even the wisest folk sometimes get the
worst of it, and so it was with Reynard in this story."


REYNARD AND CHANTICLEER.

"Once on a time there was a Cock who stood on a dung-heap, and crew, and
flapped his wings. Then the Fox came by.

"'Good day,' said Reynard, 'I heard you crowing so nicely; but can you
stand on one leg and crow, and wink your eyes?'

"'Oh, yes,' said Chanticleer. 'I can do that very well.' So he stood on
one leg and crew; but he winked only with one eye, and when he had done
that he made himself big and flapped his wings, as though he had done a
great thing.

"'Very pretty, to be sure,' said Reynard. 'Almost as pretty as when the
parson preaches in church; but can you stand on one leg and wink both
your eyes at once? I hardly think you can.'

"'Can't I though!' said Chanticleer, and stood on one leg, and winked
both his eyes, and crew. But Reynard caught hold of him, took him by the
throat, and threw him over his back, so that he was off to the wood
before he had crowed his crow out, as fast as Reynard could lay legs to
the ground.

"When they had come under an old spruce fir, Reynard threw Chanticleer
on the ground, set his paw on his breast, and was going to take a bite!

"'You are a heathen, Reynard!' said Chanticleer. 'Good Christians say
grace, and ask a blessing before they eat.'

"But Reynard would be no heathen. God forbid it! So he let go his hold,
and was about to fold his paws over his breast and say grace--but pop!
up flew Chanticleer into a tree.

"'You sha'n't get off for all that,' said Reynard to himself. So he went
away, and came again with a few chips, which the woodcutters had left.
Chanticleer peeped and peered to see what they could be.

"'Whatever have you got there?' he asked.

"'These are letters I have just got,' said Reynard, 'won't you help me
to read them, for I don't know how to read writing.'

"'I'd be so happy, but I dare not read them now; said Chanticleer; 'for
here comes a hunter, I see him, I see him, as I sit by the tree trunk.'

"When Reynard heard Chanticleer chattering about a hunter, he took to
his heels as quick as he could.

"This time it was Reynard who was made game of.

       *       *       *       *       *

"The third story," said Peter, "is about an old fellow who was as deaf
as a post, and who had a goody who was no better than she should have
been. Where he lived I'm sure I don't know, but I've heard it said he
lived in different parts of the country, both north of Stad and south of
Stad; but at any rate this is the story."


GOODMAN AXEHAFT.

"There was once a ferryman who was so hard of hearing he could neither
hear nor catch anything that any one said to him. He had a goody and a
daughter, and they did not care a pin for the goodman, but lived in
mirth and jollity so long as there was aught to live on, and then they
took to running up a bill with the inn-keeper, and gave parties, and had
feasts every day.

"So when no one would trust them any longer, the sheriff was to come and
seize for what they owed and had wasted. Then the goody and her child
set off for her kinsfolk, and left the deaf husband behind, all alone,
to see the sheriff and the bailiff.

"Well, there stood the man and pottered about and wondered what the
sheriff wanted to ask, and what he should say when he came.

"'If I take to doing something,' he said to himself, 'he'll be sure to
ask me something about it. I'll just begin to cut out an axehaft, so
when he asks me what that is to be, I shall answer, "Axehaft." Then
he'll ask how long it is to be, and I'll say, "Up as far as this twig
that sticks out." Then he'll ask, "What's become of the ferry-boat?" and
I'll say, "I am going to tar her; and yonder she lies on the strand,
split at both ends." Then he'll ask, "Where's your grey mare?" and I'll
answer, "She is standing in the stable, big with foal." Then he'll ask,
"Whereabouts is your sheepcote and shieling?" and I'll say, "Not far
off; when you get a bit up the hill you'll soon see them."'

"All this he thought well-planned.

"A little while after in came the sheriff; he was true to time, but as
for his man, he had gone another way round by an inn, and there he sat
still drinking.

"'Good-day, sir,' he said.

"'Axehaft,' said the ferryman.

"'So, so," said the sheriff. 'How far off is it to the inn?'

"'Right up to this twig,' said the man, and pointed a little way up the
piece of timber.

"The sheriff shook his head and stared at him open-mouthed.

"'Where is your mistress, pray?'

"'I am just going to tar her,' said the ferryman, 'for yonder she lies
on the strand, split open at both ends.'

"'Where is your daughter?'

"'Oh, she stands in the stable, big with foal,' answered the man, who
thought he answered very much to the purpose.

"'Oh, go to hell with you,' said the sheriff.

"'Very good; 'tis not so far off; when you get a bit up the hill, you'll
soon get there,' said the man.

"So the sheriff was floored, and went away."



THE COMPANION.


We all thought Peter's three stories first rate, but he was not going to
be put off with praise, and asked Anders if he knew _The Companion_.

"Yes," was the answer, "but it's a long story, though a very good one."

"If it's long, the sooner you begin it the better," said Peter; "and
then it will be sooner over."

Anders made no more mouths about it, but began:


THE COMPANION.

"Once on a time there was a farmer's son who dreamt that he was to marry
a princess far, far out in the world. She was as red and white as milk
and blood, and so rich there was no end to her riches. When he awoke he
seemed to see her still standing bright and living before him, and he
thought her so sweet and lovely that his life was not worth having
unless he had her too. So he sold all he had, and set off into the world
to find her out. Well, he went far, and farther than far, and about
winter he came to a land where all the high-roads lay right straight on
end; there wasn't a bend in any of them. When he had wandered on and on
for a quarter of a year he came to a town, and outside the church-door
lay a big block of ice, in which there stood a dead body, and the whole
parish spat on it as they passed by to church. The lad wondered at this,
and when the priest came out of church he asked him what it all meant.

"'It is a great wrong-doer,' said the priest. 'He has been executed for
his ungodliness, and set up there to be mocked and spat upon.'

"'But what was his wrong-doing?' asked the lad.

"'When he was alive here he was a vintner,' said the priest, 'and he
mixed water with his wine.'

"The lad thought that no such dreadful sin.

"'Well,' he said, 'after he had atoned for it with his life, you might
as well have let him have Christian burial and peace after death.'

"But the priest said that could not be in any wise, for there must be
folk to break him out of the ice, and money to buy a grave from the
church; then the grave-digger must be paid for digging the grave, and
the sexton for tolling the bell, and the clerk for singing the hymns,
and the priest for sprinkling dust over him.

"'Do you think now there would be any one who would be willing to pay
all this for an executed sinner?'

"'Yes,' said the lad. 'If he could only get him buried in Christian
earth, he would be sure to pay for his funeral ale out of his scanty
means.'

"Even after that the priest hemmed and hawed; but when the lad came with
two witnesses, and asked him right out in their hearing if he could
refuse to sprinkle dust over the corpse, he was forced to answer that he
could not.

"So they broke the vintner out of the block of ice, and laid him in
Christian earth, and they tolled the bell and sang hymns over him, and
the priest sprinkled dust over him, and they drank his funeral ale till
they wept and laughed by turns; but when the lad had paid for the ale he
hadn't many pence left in his pocket.

"He set off on his way again, but he hadn't got far ere a man overtook
him who asked if he did not think it dull work walking on all alone.

"No; the lad did not think it dull. 'I have always something to think
about,' he said.

"Then the man asked if he wouldn't like to have a servant.

"'No,' said the lad; 'I am wont to be my own servant, therefore I have
need of none; and even if I wanted one ever so much, I have no means to
get one, for I have no money to pay for his food and wages.'

"'You do need a servant, that I know better than you,' said the man,
'and you have need of one whom you can trust in life and death. If you
won't have me as a servant, you may take me as your companion; I give
you my word I will stand you in good stead, and it shan't cost you a
penny. I will pay my own fare, and as for food and clothing, you shall
have no trouble about them.'

"Well, on those terms he was willing enough to have him as his
companion; so after that they travelled together, and the man for the
most part went on ahead and showed the lad the way.

"So after they had travelled on and on from land to land, over hill and
wood, they came to a crossfell that stopped the way. There the companion
went up and knocked, and bade them open the door; and the rock opened
sure enough, and when they got inside the hill up came an old witch with
a chair, and asked them, 'Be so good as to sit down. No doubt ye are
weary.'

"'Sit on it yourself,' said the man. So she was forced to take her seat,
and as soon as she sat down she stuck fast, for the chair was such that
it let no one loose that came near it. Meanwhile they went about inside
the hill, and the companion looked round till he saw a sword hanging
over the door. That he would have, and if he got it he gave his word to
the old witch that he would let her loose out of the chair.

"'Nay, nay,' she screeched out; 'ask me anything else. Anything else you
may have, but not that, for it is my Three-Sister Sword; we are three
sisters who own it together.'

"Very well; then you may sit there till the end of the world,' said the
man. But when she heard that, she said he might have it if he would set
her free.

"So he took the sword and went off with it, and left her still sitting
there.

"When they had gone far, far away over naked fells and wide wastes, they
came to another crossfell. There, too, the companion knocked and bade
them open the door, and the same thing happened as happened before; the
rock opened, and when they had got a good way into the hill another old
witch came up to them with a chair and begged them to sit down. 'Ye may
well be weary,' she said.

"'Sit down yourself,' said the companion. And so she fared as her sister
had fared, she did not dare to say nay, and as soon as she came on the
chair she stuck fast. Meanwhile the lad and his companion went about in
the hill, and the man broke open all the chests and drawers till he
found what he sought, and that was a golden ball of yarn. That he set
his heart on, and he promised the old witch to set her free if she would
give him the golden ball. She said he might take all she had, but that
she could not part with; it was her Three-Sister Ball. But when she
heard that she should sit there till Doomsday unless he got it, she said
he might take it all the same if he would only set her free. So the
companion took the golden ball, but he left her sitting where she sat.

"So on they went for many days, over waste and wood, till they came to a
third crossfell. There all went as it had gone twice before. The
companion knocked, the rock opened, and inside the hill an old witch
came up, and asked them to sit on her chair, they must be tired. But the
companion said again, 'Sit on it yourself,' and there she sat. They had
not gone through many rooms before they saw an old hat which hung on a
peg behind the door. That the companion must and would have; but the old
witch couldn't part with it. It was her Three-Sister Hat, and if she
gave it away, all her luck would be lost. But when she heard that she
would have to sit there till the end of the world unless he got it, she
said he might take it if he would only let her loose. When the companion
had got well hold of the hat, he went off, and bade her sit there still,
like the rest of her sisters.

"After a long, long time, they came to a Sound; then the companion took
the ball of yarn, and threw it so hard against the rock on the other
side of the stream that it bounded back, and after he had thrown it
backwards and forwards a few times it became a bridge. On that bridge
they went over the Sound, and when they reached the other side, the man
bade the lad to be quick and wind up the yarn again as soon as he could,
for, said he:--

"'If we don't wind it up quick, all those witches will come after us,
and tear us to bits.'

"So the lad wound and wound with all his might and main, and when there
was no more to wind than the very last thread, up came the old witches
on the wings of the wind. They flew to the water, so that the spray rose
before them, and snatched at the end of the thread; but they could not
quite get hold of it, and so they were drowned in the Sound.

"When they had gone on a few days further, the companion said, 'Now we
are soon coming to the castle where she is, the princess of whom you
dreamt, and when we get there, you must go in and tell the king what you
dreamt, and what it is you are seeking.'

"So when they reached it he did what the man told him, and was very
heartily welcomed. He had a room for himself, and another for his
companion, which they were to live in, and when dinner-time drew near,
he was bidden to dine at the king's own board. As soon as ever he set
eyes on the princess he knew her at once, and saw it was she of whom he
had dreamt as his bride. Then he told her his business, and she answered
that she liked him well enough, and would gladly have him; but first he
must undergo three trials. So when they had dined she gave him a pair of
golden scissors, and said,--

"'The first proof is that you must take these scissors and keep them,
and give them to me at mid-day to-morrow. It is not so very great a
trial, I fancy,' she said, and made a face; 'but if you can't stand it,
you lose your life; it is the law, and so you will be drawn and
quartered, and your body will be stuck on stakes, and your head over the
gate, just like those lovers of mine, whose skulls and skeletons you see
outside the king's castle.'

"'That is no such great art,' thought the lad.

"But the princess was so merry and mad, and flirted so much with him,
that he forgot all about the scissors and himself, and so while they
played and sported, she stole the scissors away from him without his
knowing it. When he went up to his room at night, and told how he had
fared, and what she had said to him, and about the scissors she gave him
to keep, the companion said,--

"'Of course you have the scissors safe and sure.'

"Then he searched in all his pockets; but there were no scissors, and
the lad was in a sad way when he found them wanting.

"'Well! well!' said the companion; 'I'll see if I can't get you them
again.'

"With that he went down into the stable, and there stood a big, fat
Billygoat, which belonged to the princess, and it was of that breed that
it could fly many times faster through the air than it could run on
land. So he took the Three-Sister Sword, and gave it a stroke between
the horns, and said,--

"'When rides the princess to see her lover to-night?'

"The Billygoat baaed, and said it dared not say, but when it had another
stroke, it said the princess was coming at eleven o'clock. Then the
companion put on the Three-Sister Hat, and all at once he became
invisible, and so he waited for her. When she came, she took and rubbed
the Billygoat with an ointment which she had in a great horn, and
said,--

"'Away, away, o'er roof tree and steeple, o'er land, o'er sea, o'er
hill, o'er dale, to my true love who awaits me in fell this night.'

"At the very moment that the goat set off, the companion threw himself
on behind, and away they went like a blast through the air. They were
not long on the way, and in a trice they came to a crossfell. There she
knocked, and so the goat passed through the fell to the Troll, who was
her lover.

"'Now, my dear,' she said, 'a new lover is come, whose heart is set on
having me. He is young and handsome but I will have no other than you,'
and so she coaxed and petted the Troll.

"'So I set him a trial, and here are the scissors he was to watch and
keep; now do you keep them,' she said.

"So the two laughed heartily, just as though they had the lad already on
wheel and stake.

"'Yes! yes!' said the Troll; 'I'll keep them safe enough.

    And I shall sleep on the bride's white arm,
    While ravens round his skeleton swarm.'

"And so he laid the scissors in an iron chest with three locks; but just
as he dropped them into the chest, the companion snapped them up.
Neither of them could see him, for he had on the Three-Sister Hat; and
so the Troll locked up the chest for naught, and he hid the keys he had
in the hollow eye-tooth in which he had the toothache. There it would be
hard work for any one to find them, the Troll thought.

"So when midnight was passed she set off home again. The companion got
up behind the goat, and they lost no time on the way back.

"Next day, about noon, the lad was asked down to the king's board; but
then the princess gave herself such airs, and was so high and mighty,
she would scarce look towards the side where the lad sat. After they had
dined, she dressed her face in holiday garb, and said, as if butter
wouldn't melt in her mouth,--

"'May be you have those scissors which I begged you to keep, yesterday?'

"'Oh, yes, I have;' said the lad, 'and here they are,' and with that he
pulled them out, and drove them into the board, till it jumped again.
The princess could not have been more vexed had he driven the scissors
into her face; but for all that she made herself soft and gentle, and
said,--

"'Since you have kept the scissors so well, it won't be any trouble to
you to keep my golden ball of yarn, and take care you give it me
to-morrow at noon; but if you have lost it, you shall lose your life on
the scaffold. It is the law.'

"The lad thought that an easy thing, so he took and put the golden ball
into his pocket. But she fell a-playing and flirting with him again, so
that he forgot both himself and the golden ball, and while they were at
the height of their games and pranks, she stole it from him, and sent
him off to bed.

"Then when he came up to his bedroom, and told what they had said and
done, his companion asked,--

"'Of course you have the golden ball she gave you?'

"'Yes! yes!' said the lad, and felt in his pocket where he had put it;
but no, there was no ball to be found, and he fell again into such an
ill mood, and knew not which way to turn.

"'Well! well! bear up a bit,' said the companion. 'I'll see if I can't
lay hands on it;' and with that he took the sword and hat and strode off
to a smith, and got twelve pounds of iron welded on to the back of the
sword-blade. Then he went down to the stable, and gave the Billygoat a
stroke between his horns, so that the brute went head over heels, and he
asked,--

"'When rides the princess to see her lover to-night?'

"'At twelve o'clock,' baaed the Billygoat.

"So the companion put on the Three-Sister Hat again, and waited till she
came, tearing along with her horn of ointment, and greased the
Billygoat. Then she said, as she had said the first time,--

"'Away, away, o'er roof-tree and steeple, o'er land, o'er sea, o'er
hill, o'er dale, to my true love who awaits me in the fell this night.'

"In a trice they were off, and the companion threw himself on behind the
Billygoat, and away they went like a blast through the air. In the
twinkling of an eye they came to the Troll's hill; and, when she had
knocked three times, they passed through the rock to the Troll, who was
her lover.

"'Where was it you hid the golden scissors I gave you yesterday, my
darling?' cried out the princess. 'My wooer had it and gave it back to
me.'

"'That was quite impossible,' said the Troll; 'for he had locked it up
in a chest with three locks and hidden the keys in the hollow of his
eye-tooth;' but, when they unlocked the chest, and looked for it, the
Troll had no scissors in his chest.

"So the princess told him how she had given her suitor her golden ball.

"'And here it is,' she said; 'for I took it from him again without his
knowing it. But what shall we hit upon now, since he is master of such
craft!'

"Well, the Troll hardly knew; but, after they had thought a bit, they
made up their minds to light a large fire and burn the golden ball; and
so they would be cocksure that he could not get at it. But, just as she
tossed it into the fire, the companion stood ready and caught it; and
neither of them saw him, for he had on the Three-Sister Hat.

"When the princess had been with the Troll a little while, and it began
to grow towards dawn, she set off home again, and the companion got up
behind her on the goat, and they got back fast and safe.

"Next day, when the lad was bidden down to dinner, the companion gave
him the ball. The princess was even more high and haughty than the day
before, and, after they had dined, she perked up her mouth, and said, in
a dainty voice,--

"'Perhaps it is too much to look for that you should give me back my
golden ball, which I gave you to keep yesterday?'

"'Is it?' said the lad. 'You shall soon have it. Here it is, safe
enough;' and, as he said that, he threw it down on the board so hard,
that it shook again; and, as for the king, he gave a jump high up into
the air.

"The princess got as pale as a corpse, but she soon came to herself
again, and said, in a sweet, small voice,--

"'Well done, well done!' Now he had only one more trial left, and it was
this:

"'If you are so clever as to bring me what I am now thinking of by
dinner-time to-morrow, you shall win me, and have me to wife.'

"That was what she said.

"The lad felt like one doomed to death, for he thought it quite
impossible to know what she was thinking about, and still harder to
bring it to her; and so, when he went up to his bedroom, it was hard
work to comfort him at all. His companion told him to be easy, he would
see if he could not get the right end of the stick this time too, as he
had done twice before. So the lad at last took heart, and lay down to
sleep.

"Meanwhile, the companion went to the smith and got twenty-four pounds
of iron welded on to his sword; and, when that was done, he went down to
the stable and let fly at the Billygoat between the horns with such a
blow, that he went right head over heels against the wall.

"'When rides the princess to her lover to-night?' he asked.

"'At one o'clock,' baaed the Billygoat.

"So, when the hour drew near, the companion stood in the stable with his
Three-Sister Hat on; and, when she had greased the goat, and uttered the
same words that they were to fly through the air to her true love, who
was waiting for her in the fell, off they went again, on the wings of
the wind; and, all the while, the companion sat behind.

"But he was not light-handed this time; for, every now and then, he gave
the princess a slap, so that he almost beat the breath out of her body.

"And when they came to the wall of rock, she knocked at the door, and it
opened, and they passed on into the fell to her lover.

"As soon as she got there, she fell to bewailing, and was very cross,
and said she never knew the air could deal such buffets; she almost
thought, indeed, that some one sat behind, who beat both the Billygoat
and herself; she was sure she was black and blue all over her body, such
a hard flight had she had through the air.

"Then she went on to tell how her lover had brought her the golden ball
too; how it happened, neither she nor the Troll could tell.

"'But now do you know what I have hit upon?'

"No; the Troll did not.

"'Well,' she went on; 'I have told him to bring me what I was then
thinking of by dinner-time to-morrow, and what I thought of was your
head. Do you think he can get that, my darling?' said the princess, and
began to fondle the Troll.

"'No, I don't think he can,' said the Troll. 'He would take his oath he
couldn't;' and then the Troll burst out laughing, and scunnered worse
than any ghost, and both the princess and the Troll thought the lad
would be drawn and quartered, and that the crows would peck out his
eyes, before he could get the Troll's head.

"So when it turned towards dawn, she had to set off home again; but she
was afraid, she said, for she thought there was some one behind her, and
so she was afraid to ride home alone. The Troll must go with her on the
way. Yes; the Troll would go with her, and he led out his Billygoat (for
he had one that matched the princess's), and he smeared it and greased
it between the horns. And when the Troll got up, the companion crept on
behind, and so off they set through the air to the king's grange. But
all the way the companion thrashed the Troll and his Billygoat, and gave
them cut and thrust and thrust and cut with his sword, till they got
weaker and weaker, and at last were well on the way to sink down into
the sea over which they passed. Now the Troll thought the weather was so
wild, he went right home with the princess up to the king's grange, and
stood outside to see that she got home safe and well. But just as she
shut the door behind her, the companion struck off the Troll's head and
ran up with it to the lad's bedroom.

"'Here is what the princess thought of,' said he.

"Well, they were merry and joyful, one may think, and when the lad was
bidden down to dinner, and they had dined, the princess was as lively as
a lark.

"'No doubt you have got what I thought of?' said she.

"'Aye; aye; I have it,' said the lad, and he tore it out from under his
coat, and threw it down on the board with such a thump that the board,
trestles and all, was upset. As for the princess, she was as though she
had been dead and buried; but she could not say that this was not what
she was thinking of, and so now he was to have her to wife as she had
given her word. So they made a bridal feast, and there was drinking and
gladness all over the kingdom.

"But the companion took the lad on one side, and told him that he might
just shut his eyes and sham sleep on the bridal night; but if he held
his life dear, and would listen to him, he wouldn't let a wink come over
them till he had stripped her of her troll-skin, which had been thrown
over her, but he must flog it off her with a rod made of nine new birch
twigs, and he must tear it off her in three tubs of milk: first he was
to scrub her in a tub of year-old whey, and then he was to scour her in
the tub of buttermilk, and lastly, he was to rub her in a tub of new
milk. The birch twigs lay under the bed, and the tubs he had set in the
corner of the room. Everything was ready to his hand. Yes; the lad gave
his word to do as he was bid and to listen to him. So when they got into
the bridal bed at even, the lad shammed as though he had given himself
up to sleep. Then the princess raised herself up on her elbow and looked
at him to see if he slept, and tickled him under the nose; but the lad
slept on still. Then she tugged his hair and his beard; but he lay like
a log, as she thought. After that she drew out a big butcher's knife
from under the bolster, and was just going to hack off his head; but the
lad jumped up, dashed the knife out of her hand, and caught her by the
hair. Then he flogged her with the birchrods, and wore them out upon her
till there was not a twig left. When that was over he tumbled her into
the tub of whey, and then he got to see what sort of beast she was: she
was black as a raven all over her body; but when he scrubbed her well in
the whey, and scoured her with buttermilk, and rubbed her well in new
milk, her troll-skin dropped off her, and she was fair and lovely and
gentle; so lovely she had never looked before.

"Next day the companion said they must set off home. Yes; the lad was
ready enough, and the princess too, for her dower had been long waiting.
In the night the companion fetched to the king's grange all the gold and
silver and precious things which the Troll had left behind him in the
Fell, and when they were ready to start in the morning the whole grange
was so full of silver, and gold, and jewels, there was no walking
without treading on them. That dower was worth more than all the king's
land and realm, and they were at their wits' end to know how to carry it
with them. But the companion knew a way out of every strait. The Troll
left behind him six billygoats, who could all fly through the air. Those
he so laded with silver and gold that they were forced to walk along the
ground, and had no strength to mount aloft and fly, and what the
billygoats could not carry had to stay behind in the king's grange. So
they travelled far, and farther than far, but at last the billygoats got
so footsore and tired they could not go another step. The lad and the
princess knew not what to do; but when the companion saw they could not
get on, he took the whole dower on his back, and the billygoats a-top of
it, and bore it all so far on that there was only half a mile left to
the lad's home.

"Then the companion said: 'Now we must part. I can't stay with you any
longer.'

"But the lad would not part from him, he would not lose him for much or
little. Well, he went with them a quarter of a mile more; but farther he
could not go and when the lad begged and prayed him to go home and stay
with him altogether, or at least as long as they had drunk his
home-coming ale in his father's house, the companion said, 'No. That
could not be. Now he must part, for he heard heaven's bells ringing for
him.' He was the vintner who had stood in the block of ice outside the
church door, whom all spat upon; and he had been his companion and
helped him because he had given all he had to get him peace and rest in
Christian earth.

"'I had leave,' he said, 'to follow you a year, and now the year is
out.'

"When he was gone the lad laid together all his wealth in a safe place,
and went home without any baggage. Then they drank his home-coming ale,
till the news spread far and wide, over seven kingdoms, and when they
had got to the end of the feast, they had carting and carrying all the
winter both with the billygoats and the twelve horses which his father
had before they got all that gold and silver safely carted home."



THE SHOPBOY AND HIS CHEESE, AND PEIK.


When Anders had ended _The Companion_, that strangely wild story, we all
admired it, but he too had his call, and, turning to Karin, he said,

"Now do you tell _The Shopboy and his Cheese_. I know you know it, for I
heard you telling it to the children last winter over the stove."

So Karin began


THE SHOPBOY AND HIS CHEESE.

"Once on a time there was a shopboy who was so well liked by all who
knew him, that they thought him too good to stand behind the counter
with a yard measure, and weights and scales. So they made up their minds
to send him out with a venture to foreign parts, and they let him choose
what he would take out. He chose old cheese, and set off with it to
Turkey. There he sold his cheeses very well; but as he was on his way
home, he met two who had slain a man, and it was not enough that they
had slain him in this life, but they ill-treated his body after he was
dead. This the shopboy could not bear to see, how wickedly they behaved;
so he bought the body of them and got a grave with his money, and buried
it, and then he had spent all he had.

"After a long, long time, he got safe home, and was both illcome and
welcome. Some of those who had helped and fitted him out thought he had
done a good deed; but others were ill-pleased that he should have so
thrown away his money. But for all that they were ready to try if he
could not do better another time, so they let him choose his lading
again. He chose the same freight, and took the same way, and sold his
cheese even better than before. But, as he was on his way home, he met
two who had stolen a king's daughter, and they had put harness on her,
and had got so far as to drive her; they had stripped off her clothes to
the waist, and one went on either side of her and whipped her. The lad's
heart melted at this, for she was a lovely lass. So he asked if they
would sell her. Yes, if he would pay down her weight in silver he might
have her, and there was no long bargaining: he paid all they asked.

"After a long, long time, he got safe home; but those who had fitted him
out were one and all so ill-pleased at his dealing, that they banished
him the land. So he had to set off to England. There he stayed for four
years with his sweetheart, and the way they got their living was by her
weaving ribbons, which she wove so well that he sold two shillings'
worth a-day.

"One day he met two who were foes, and one wished to thrash the other
because he owed him eighteen-pence. That seemed to the lad wrong, and he
paid the debt for him. Another day he met two travellers, who began to
talk with him, and asked if he had anything to sell. 'Nothing but
ribbons,' he said. Well, they would have three shillings' worth, and
asked him where he lived, and fixed a day to come and fetch them; and
when the day came, they came too, and lo! when they came, if one of them
was not the princess's brother, and the other an emperor's son, to whom
she was betrothed. So they got the ribbons for which they had bargained,
and wanted to take her home with them. But she wouldn't go unless they
would let him go with them, and take care of him; for she would not
forsake the man who had freed her, so long as she had breath in her
body. So they had to give way to her if they were to take her at all.
But when they were to go on board ship, the brother and sister went
first into the boat, and when the emperor's son was to get into her, he
shoved her off, and jumped into her himself, and so the lad was left
standing on the shore. The ship lay ready for sea, and they sailed as
soon as ever they came on board. But then up came the man for whom the
lad had paid eighteen-pence, in a boat and put him on board. Then the
princess was so glad, and took a gold ring off her finger and gave it to
him, and made him go down into the cabin where she lay.

"Well! they sailed many days, till they came to a desert island, where
they landed to look for game, and they settled things so that the
brother, and the Norseman who had saved the princess's life, were to go
each on his side of the island, and the emperor's son in the middle, and
when the lad was well gone, so that they could neither see him, nor he
them, they got on board, and he was left to walk about the island alone.
Then he saw there was no help for it but to stay there; and there he
stayed seven years. He got his food from a fruit-bearing tree which he
found, and when the seven years were up, an old, old man came to him and
said,--

"'To-day your true-love is to be married. They have not got a kind word
out of her these seven years, since you parted; but for all that the
emperor's son wants to marry her, for that he knows she is wise and
witty, and for that she is so rich.'

"After that, the man asked if he had not a mind to be at the wedding. So
he said: well! what he said any one can guess, but he saw no way of
getting there. But lo! in a little while there he stood in the palace
where the wedding was to be. Then he wanted to know what kind of man
that was who had brought him thither. He was no man, he said; but a
spirit. He it was whose body he had bought and buried in Turkey.

"After that, he gave him a glass and a bottle, with wine in it, and told
him to send some one in with a message to the cook to come out to him.

"'When he comes, you must first pour out a glass and drink it yourself;
and then another, and give it to the cook; and then you must pour out a
third, and send it to the bride; but first of all you must take the ring
off your finger, and put it into the glass which you send her.'

"So when the cook came in with the glass, they all cried out, 'She
mustn't drink.' But the cook said, 'First he drank, and then I drank, so
she may very safely drink the wine.'

"And when she drank the glass out, she saw the ring that lay at the
bottom, and ran out, and as soon as she got outside she knew him again,
and fell on his neck and kissed him, all shaggy as he was, for you may
fancy, he had neither lather nor razor on his beard for seven years.

"But now the king came after, and wanted to know the meaning of all this
fondling between them. So they were brought into a room, and told the
whole story from first to last. Then the king bade them go and fetch a
barber, and scrape the bristles off him, and trim him; and a tailor with
a new court dress; and then the king went into the bridal hall, and
asked the bridegroom, that emperor's son, what doom should be passed on
one who had robbed a man both of life and honour. He answered,--

"'Such a scoundrel should be first hanged on a gallows and then his body
should be burnt quick.'

"So he was taken at his word and suffered the doom that he uttered over
himself, and the shopboy was wedded to the king's daughter, and lived
both long and luckily.

"After that I was no longer with them, and I don't know how they fared;
but this I know, that he who last told this Tale is alive this very day,
and he is Ole Olsen, of Hitli, in Roldale."

       *       *       *       *       *

When _The Shopboy and his Cheese_ was over, Anders, who ordered about
his cousins like a Turk, called on Christina for _Peik_; but nothing
could get the story out of her. There was something in it she did not
like. It was not a girl's story. He had better tell it himself.

"Well, I will," said Anders; "I'm sure there's no harm in it; but judge
for yourselves."


PEIK.

"Once on a time there was a man, and he had a wife; they had a son and a
daughter who were twins, and they were so like, no one could tell the
one from the other by anything else than their clothing. The boy they
called Peik. He was of little good while his father and mother lived,
for he had no mood to do aught else than to befool folk, and he was so
full of tricks and pranks that no one could be at peace for him; but
when they were dead it got worse and worse, he wouldn't turn his hand to
anything; all he would do was to squander what they left behind them,
and as for his neighbours he fell out with all of them. His sister
toiled and moiled all she could, but it helped little; so at last she
said to him how silly this was that he would do naught for her house,
and ended by asking him,

"'What shall we have to live on when you have wasted everything?'

"'Oh, I'll go out and befool somebody,' said Peik.

"'Yes, Peik, I'll be bound you'll do that soon enough,' said his sister.

"'Well, I'll try,' said Peik.

"So at last they had nothing more, for there was an end of everything;
and Peik trotted off, and walked and walked till he came to the king's
grange. There stood the King in the porch, and as soon as he set eyes on
the lad, he said,--

"'Whither away to-day, Peik?'

"'Oh, I was going out to see if I could befool anybody,' said Peik.

"'Can't you befool me, now?' said the King.

"'No, I'm sure I can't,' said Peik, 'for I've forgotten my fooling rods
at home.'

"'Can't you go and fetch them?' said the King, 'for I should be very
glad to see if you are such a trickster as folks say.'

"'I've no strength to walk,' said Peik.

"'I'll lend you a horse and saddle,' said the King.

"'But I can't ride either,' said Peik.

"'Then we'll lift you up,' said the King, 'then you'll be able to stick
on.'

"Well, Peik stood and clawed and scratched his head, as though he would
pull the hair off, and let them lift him up into the saddle, and there
he sat swinging this side and that so long as the King could see him,
and the King laughed till the tears came into his eyes, for such a
tailor on horseback he had never before seen. But when Peik was come
well into the wood behind the hill, so that he was out of the King's
sight, he sat as though he were nailed to the horse, and off he rode as
though he had stolen both steed and bridle, and when he got to the town,
he sold both horse and saddle.

"All the while the King walked up and down, and loitered and waited for
Peik to come tottering back again with his fooling rods; and every now
and then he laughed when he called to mind how wretched he looked as he
sat swinging about on the horse like a sack of corn, not knowing on
which side to fall off; but this lasted for seven lengths and seven
breadths, and no Peik came, and so at last the King saw that he was
fooled and cheated out of his horse and saddle, even though Peik had not
his fooling rods with him. And so there was another story, for the King
got wroth, and was all for setting off to kill Peik.

"But Peik had found out the day he was coming, and told his sister she
must put on the big boiler with a drop of water in it. But just as the
King came in Peik dragged the boiler off the fire and ran off with it to
the chopping-block, and so boiled the porridge on the block.

"The King wondered at that, and wondered on and on so much that he clean
forgot what brought him there.

"'What do you want for that pot?' said he.

"'I can't spare it,' said Peik.

"'Why not?' said the King, 'I'll pay what you ask.'

"'No, no!' said Peik. 'It saves me time and money, woodhire and
choppinghire, carting and carrying.'

"'Never mind,' said the King, 'I'll give you a hundred dollars. It's
true you've fooled me out of a horse and saddle, and bridle besides, but
all that shall go for nothing if I can only get the pot.'

"'Well! if you must have it you must,' said Peik.

"When the King got home he asked guests and made a feast, but the meat
was to be boiled in the new pot, and so he took it up and set it in the
middle of the floor. The guests thought the King had lost his wits, and
went about elbowing one another, and laughing at him. But he walked
round and round the pot, and cackled and chattered, saying all in a
breath--

"'Well, well! bide a bit, bide a bit! 'twill boil in a minute.'

"But there was no boiling. So he saw that Peik had been out again with
his fooling rods and cheated him, and now he would set off at once and
slay him.

"When the King came Peik stood out by the barn door. 'Wouldn't it boil?'
he asked.

"'No! it would not,' said the King; 'but now you shall smart for it,'
and so he was just going to unsheath his knife.

"'I can well believe that,' said Peik, 'for you did not take the block
too.'

"'I wish I thought,' said the King, 'you weren't telling me a pack of
lies.'

"'I tell you it's all because of the block it stands on; it won't boil
without it,' said Peik.

"'Well; what did he want for it?' It was well worth three hundred
dollars; but for the King's sake it should go for two. So he got the
block and travelled home with it, and bade guests again, and made a
feast, and set the pot on the chopping-block in the middle of the room.
The guests thought he was both daft and mad, and they went about making
game of him, while he cackled and chattered round the pot, calling out
'Bide a bit, now it boils! now it boils in a trice.'

"But it wouldn't boil a bit more on the block than on the bare floor. So
he saw again that Peik had been out with his fooling rods this time too.
Then he fell a-tearing his hair, and swore he would set off at once and
slay him. He wouldn't spare him this time, whether he put a good or a
bad face on it.

"But Peik had taken steps to meet him again. He slaughtered a wether and
caught the blood in the bladder, and stuffed it into his sister's bosom,
and told her what to say and do.

"'Where's Peik!' screeched out the King. He was in such a rage that his
tongue faltered.

"'He is so poorly that he can't stir hand or foot,' she said, 'and now
he's trying to get a nap.'

"'Wake him up,' said the King.

"'Nay, I daren't; he is so hasty,' said the sister.

"'Well! I'm hastier still,' said the King, 'and if you don't wake him, I
will,' and with that he tapped his side where his knife hung.

"Well! she would go and wake him; but Peik turned hastily in his bed,
drew out a little knife, and ripped open the bladder in her bosom, so
that a stream of blood gushed out, and down she fell on the floor, as
though she were dead.

"'What a dare devil you are, Peik,' said the King, 'if you haven't
stabbed your sister to death, and here I stood by and saw it with my own
eyes.'

"'There's no risk with her body so long as there's breath in my
nostrils;' and with that he pulled out a ramshorn, and began to toot
upon it, and when he had tooted a bridal tune, he put the end to her
body, and blew life into her again, and up she rose as though there was
naught the matter with her.

"'Bless me, Peik! can you kill folk and blow life into them again? Can
you do that?' said the King.

"'Why!' said Peik, 'how could I get on at all if I couldn't? I'm always
killing everyone I come near; don't you know I'm very hasty.'

"'So am I hot-tempered,' said the King, 'and that horn I must have; I'll
give you a hundred dollars for it, and besides I'll forgive you for
cheating me out of my horse, and for fooling me about the pot and the
block, and all else.'

"Peik was very loth to part with it, but for his sake he would let him
have it, and so the King went off home with it, and he had hardly got
back before he must try it. So he fell a-wrangling and quarrelling with
the Queen and his eldest daughter, and they paid him back in the same
coin; but before they knew a word about it he whipped out his knife and
cut their throats, so that they fell down stone dead, and everyone else
ran out of the room, they were so afraid.

"The King walked and paced about the floor for a while, and kept
chattering that there was no harm done, so long as there was breath in
him, and a pack of such stuff which had flowed out of Peik's mouth, and
then he pulled out the horn and began to blow 'Toot-i-too, Toot-i-too,'
but though he blew and tooted as hard as he could all that day and the
next too, he couldn't blow life into them again. Dead they were, and
dead they stayed, both the Queen and his daughter, and he was forced to
buy graves for them in the churchyard, and to spend money on their
funeral ale into the bargain.

"So he must and would go and cut Peik off; but Peik had his spies out,
and knew when the King was coming, and then he said to his sister,--

"'Now you must change clothes with me and set off. If you will do that
you may have all we have got.'

"Well! she changed clothes with him, and packed up and started off as
fast as she could; but Peik sat all alone in his sister's clothes.

"'Where is that Peik?' said the King, as he came in a towering rage
through the door.

"'He has run away,' said Peik.

"'Ah! had he been at home,' said the King, 'I'd have slain him on the
spot. It's no good sparing the life of such a rogue.'

"'Yes! he knew by his spies that your Majesty was coming, and was going
to take his life for his wicked tricks; but he has left me all alone
without a morsel of bread or a penny in my purse,' said Peik, who made
himself as soft and mealy-mouthed as a young lady.

"'Come along then to the King's Grange, and you shall have enough to
live on. There's no good sitting here and starving in this cabin by
yourself,' said the King.

"Yes! he was glad to do that; so the King took him with him, and had him
taught everything, and treated him as his own daughter, and it was
almost as if the King had his three daughters again, for Miss Peik sewed
and stitched, and sung and played with the others, and was with them
early and late.

"After a time a king's son came to look for a wife.

"'Yes! I have three daughters,' said the King; 'it rests with you which
you will have?'

"So he got leave to go up to their bower to make friends with them, and
the end was that he liked Miss Peik best, and threw a silk kerchief into
her lap as a love token. So they set to work to get ready the bridal
feast, and in a little while his kinsfolk came, and the King's men, and
they all fell to feasting and drinking on the bridal eve; but as night
was falling Miss Peik daren't stay longer, but ran away from the King's
Grange, out into the wide world, and the bride was lost; but there was
worse behind, for just then both the other princesses felt very queer,
and all at once two little princes came travelling into the world, and
folk had to break up and go home just as the fun and feasting were
highest.

"The King got both wroth and sorrowful, and began to wonder if it wasn't
Peik again that had a finger in this pie.

"So he mounted his horse and rode out, for he thought it dull work
staying at home; but when he got out among the ploughed fields, there
sat Peik on a stone playing on a Jews' harp.

"'What! are you sitting there, Peik?' said the King.

"'Here I sit, sure enough,' said Peik. 'Where else should I sit?"

"'Now you have cheated me foully, time after time,' said the King; 'but
now you must come along home with me, and I'll kill you.'

"'Well, well,' said Peik, 'if it can't be helped it can't; I suppose I
must go along with you.'

"When they got home to the King's Grange, they got ready a cask which
Peik was to be put in, and when it was ready they carted it up to a high
fell; there he was to lie three days thinking on all the evil he had
done, then they were to roll him down the fell into the firth.

"The third day a rich man passed by, but Peik sat inside the cask and
sang,--

    'To heaven's bliss and Paradise,
    To heaven's bliss and Paradise.

"'I'd sooner far stay here and not be made an angel.'

"When the man heard that, he asked what he would take to change places
with him.

"'It ought to be a good sum,' said Peik, 'for there wasn't a coach ready
to start for Paradise every day.'

"So the man said he would give all he had, and so he knocked out the
head of the cask and crept into it instead of Peik.

"'A happy journey,' said the King, when he came to roll him down; 'now
you'll go faster to the firth than if you were in a sledge with
reindeer; and now it's all over with you and your fooling rods.'

"Before the cask was half-way down the fell, there wasn't a whole stave
of it left, nor a limb of him who was inside. But when the King came
back to the Grange, Peik was there before him, and sat in the courtyard
playing on the Jews' harp.

"'What! you sitting here, you Peik?'

"'Yes! here I sit, sure enough; where else should I sit?' said Peik.
'Maybe I can get house-room here for all my horses and sheep and money.'

"'But whither was it that I rolled you that you got all this wealth?'
asked the King.

"'Oh, you rolled me into the firth,' said Peik, 'and when I got to the
bottom there was more than enough and to spare, both of horses and sheep
and of gold and silver. The cattle went about in great flocks, and the
gold and silver lay in large heaps as big as houses.'

"'What will you take to roll me down the same way?' asked the King.

"'Oh,' said Peik, 'it costs little or nothing to do it. Besides, you
took nothing from me, and so I'll take nothing from you either.'

"So he stuffed the King into a cask and rolled him over, and when he had
given him a ride down to the firth for nothing, he went home to the
King's Grange. Then he began to hold his bridal feast with the youngest
princess, and afterwards he ruled both land and realm, but he kept his
fooling rods to himself, and kept them so well that nothing was ever
afterwards heard of Peik and his tricks, but only of OURSELF THE KING."



KARIN'S THREE STORIES.


"Now," said Karin, "as you have told _Peik_, which I did not want to
tell, I'll tell you three stories all of a row, _Death and the Doctor_,
_The Way of the World_, and _The Pancake_." So she began with the first.


DEATH AND THE DOCTOR.

'Once on a time there was a lad, who had lived as a servant a long time
with a man of the North Country. This man was a master at ale-brewing;
it was so out-of-the-way good the like of it was not to be found. So,
when the lad was to leave his place and the man was to pay him the wages
he had earned, he would take no other pay than a keg of yule-ale. Well!
he got it and set off with it, and he carried it both far and long, but
the longer he carried the keg the heavier it got, and so he began to
look about to see if anyone were coming with whom he might have a drink,
that the ale might lessen, and the keg lighten. And after a long, long
time, he met an old man with a big beard.

"'Good-day,' said the man.

"'Good-day to you,' said the lad.

"'Whither away?' asked the man.

"'I'm looking after some one to drink with, and get my keg lightened,'
said the lad.

"'Can't you drink as well with me as with anyone else?' said the man. 'I
have fared both far and wide, and I am both tired and thirsty.'

"'Well! why shouldn't I?' said the lad; 'but tell me, whence do you
come, and what sort of man are you?'

"'I am "Our Lord," and come from Heaven,' said the man.

"'Thee will I not drink with,' said the lad; 'for thou makest such
distinction between persons here in the world, and sharest rights so
unevenly that some get so rich and some so poor. No! with thee I will
not drink,' and as he said this he trotted off with his keg again.

"So, when he had gone a bit farther the keg grew too heavy again; he
thought he never could carry it any longer unless some one came with
whom he might drink, and so lessen the ale in the keg. Yes! he met an
ugly scrawny man who came along fast and furious.

"'Good-day,' said the man.

"'Good-day to you,' said the lad.

"'Whither away?' asked the man.

"'Oh! I'm looking for some one to drink with, and get my keg lightened,'
said the lad.

"'Can't you drink with me as well as with any one else?' said the man;
'I have fared both far and wide, and I am tired and thirsty.'

"'Well! why not?' said the lad; 'but who are you, and whence do you
come?'

"'Who am I? I am the De'il, and I come from Hell; that's where I come
from,' said the man.

"'No!' said the lad; 'thou only pinest and plaguest poor folk, and if
there is any unhappiness a-stir, they always say it is thy fault. Thee I
will not drink with.'

"So he went far and farther than far again with his ale-keg on his back,
till he thought it grew so heavy there was no carrying it any farther.
He began to look round again if any one were coming with whom he could
drink and lighten his keg. So after a long, long time, another man came,
and he was so dry and lean 'twas a wonder his bones hung together.

"'Good-day,' said the man.

"'Good-day to you,' said the lad.

"'Whither away?' asked the man.

"'Oh, I was only looking about to see if I could find some one to drink
with, that my keg might be lightened a little, it is so heavy to carry.'

"'Can't you drink as well with me as with anyone else?' said the man.

"'Yes; why not?' said the lad. 'But what sort of man are you?'

"'They call me Death,' said the man.

"'The very man for my money,' said the lad. 'Thee I am glad to drink
with,' and as he said this he put down his keg, and began to tap the ale
into a bowl. 'Thou art an honest, trustworthy man, for thou treatest all
alike, both rich and poor.'

"So he drank his health, and Death drank his health, and Death said he
had never tasted such drink, and as the lad was fond of him, they drank
bowl and bowl about, till the ale was lessened, and the keg grew light.

"At last, Death said, 'I have never known drink which smacked better, or
did me so much good as this ale that you have given me, and I scarce
know what to give you in return.' But after he had thought a while, he
said the keg should never get empty, however much they drank out of it,
and the ale that was in it should become a healing drink, by which the
lad could make the sick whole again better than any doctor. And he also
said that when the lad came into the sick man's room Death would always
be there, and show himself to him, and it should be to him for a sure
token if he saw Death at the foot of the bed that he could cure the sick
with a draught from the keg; but if he sate by the pillow, there was no
healing nor medicine, for then the sick belonged to Death.

"Well, the lad soon grew famous, and was called in far and near, and he
helped many to health again, who had been given over. When he came in
and saw how Death sate by the sick man's bed, he foretold either life or
death, and his foretelling was never wrong. He got both a rich and
powerful man, and at last he was called in to a king's daughter far, far
away in the world. She was so dangerously ill no doctor thought he could
do her any good, and so they promised him all that he cared either to
ask or have if he would only save her life.

"Now, when he came into the princess's room, there sate Death at her
pillow; but as he sate he dozed and nodded, and while he did this she
felt herself better.

"'Now, life or death is at stake,' said the doctor; 'and I fear, from
what I see, there is no hope.'

"But they said he _must_ save her, if it cost land and realm. So he
looked at Death, and while he sate there and dozed again, he made a sign
to the servants to turn the bed round so quickly that Death was left
sitting at the foot, and at the very moment they turned the bed, the
doctor gave her the draught, and her life was saved.

"'Now you have cheated me,' said Death, 'and we are quits.'

"'I was forced to do it,' said the doctor, 'unless I wished to lose land
and realm.'

"'That shan't help you much,' said Death; 'your time is up, for now you
belong to me.'

"'Well,' said the lad, 'what must be, must be; but you'll let me have
time to read the Lord's Prayer first.'

"Yes, he might have leave to do that; but he took very good care not to
read the Lord's Prayer; everything else he read; but the Lord's Prayer
never crossed his lips, and at last he thought he had cheated Death for
good and all. But when Death thought he had really waited too long, he
went to the lad's house one night, and hung up a great tablet with the
Lord's Prayer painted on it over against his bed. So when the lad woke
in the morning he began to read the tablet, and did not quite see what
he was about till he came to AMEN; but then it was just too late, and
Death had him."


THE WAY OF THE WORLD.

"Once on a time, there was a man who went into the wood to cut
hop-poles, but he could find no trees so long and straight, and slender,
as he wanted, till he came high up under a great heap of stones. There
he heard groans and moans as though some one were at Death's door. So he
went up to see who it was that needed help, and then he heard that the
noise came from under a great flat stone which lay upon the heap. It was
so heavy it would have taken many a man to lift it. But the man went
down again into the wood and cut down a tree, which he turned into a
lever, and with that he tilted up the stone, and lo! out from under it
crawled a Dragon, and made at the man to swallow him up. But the man
said he had saved the Dragon's life, and it was shameful thanklessness
in him to want to eat him up.

"'May be,' said the Dragon; 'but you might very well know I must be
starved when I have been here hundreds of years and never tasted meat.
Besides, it's the way of the world,--that's how it pays its debts.'

"The man pleaded his cause stoutly, and begged prettily for his life;
and at last they agreed to take the first living thing that came for a
daysman, and if his doom went the other way the man should not lose his
life, but if he said the same as the Dragon, the Dragon should eat the
man.

"The first thing that came was an old hound, who ran along the road down
below under the hillside. Him they spoke to, and begged him to be judge.

"'God knows,' said the hound, 'I have served my master truly ever since
I was a little whelp. I have watched and watched many and many a night
through, while he lay warm asleep on his ear, and I have saved house and
home from fire and thieves more than once; but now I can neither see nor
hear any more, and he wants to shoot me. And so I must run away, and
slink from house to house, and beg for my living till I die of hunger.
No! it's the way of the world,' said the hound; 'that's how it pays its
debts.'

"'Now I am coming to eat you up,' said the Dragon, and tried to swallow
the man again. But the man begged and prayed hard for his life, till
they agreed to take the next comer for a judge; and if he said the same
as the Dragon and the Hound, the Dragon was to eat him, and get a meal
of man's meat; but if he did not say so, the man was to get off with his
life.

"So there came an old horse limping down along the road which ran under
the hill. Him they called out to come and settle the dispute. Yes; he
was quite ready to do that.

"'Now, I have served my master,' said the horse, 'as long as I could
draw or carry. I have slaved and striven for him till the sweat trickled
from every hair, and I have worked till I have grown lame, and halt, and
worn out with toil and age; now I am fit for nothing. I am not worth my
food, and so I am to have a bullet through me, he says. Nay! nay! It's
the way of the world. That's how the world pays its debts.'

"'Well, now I'm coming to eat you,' said the Dragon, who gaped wide, and
wanted to swallow the man. But he begged again hard for his life.

"But the Dragon said he must have a mouthful of man's meat; he was so
hungry, he couldn't bear it any longer.

"'See, yonder comes one who looks as if he was sent to be a judge
between us,' said the man, as he pointed to Reynard the fox, who came
stealing between the stones of the heap.

"'All good things are three,' said the man; 'let me ask him, too, and if
he gives doom like the others, eat me up on the spot.'

"'Very well,' said the Dragon. He, too, had heard that all good things
were three, and so it should be a bargain. So the man talked to the fox
as he had talked to the others.

"'Yes, yes,' said Reynard; 'I see how it all is;' but as he said this he
took the man a little on one side.

"'What will you give me if I free you from the Dragon?' he whispered
into the man's ear.

"'You shall be free to come to my house, and to be lord and master over
my hens and geese, every Thursday night,' said the man.

"'Well, my dear Dragon,' said Reynard, 'this is a very hard nut to
crack. I can't get it into my head how you, who are so big and mighty a
beast, could find room to lie under yon stone.'

"'Can't you,' said the Dragon; 'well, I lay under the hillside, and
sunned myself, and down came a landslip, and hurled the stone over me.'

"'All very likely, I dare say,' said Reynard; 'but still I can't
understand it, and what's more, I won't believe it till I see it.'

"So the man said they had better prove it, and the Dragon crawled down
into the hole again; but in the twinkling of an eye they whipped out the
lever, and down the stone crashed again on the Dragon.

"'Lie now there till Doomsday,' said the fox. 'You would eat the man,
would you, who saved your life?'

"The Dragon groaned, and moaned, and begged hard to come out; but the
two went their way, and left him alone.

"The very first Thursday night Reynard came to be lord and master over
the hen-roost, and hid himself behind a great pile of wood hard by. When
the maid went to feed the fowls, in stole Reynard. She neither saw nor
heard anything of him; but her back was scarce turned before he had
sucked blood enough for a week, and stuffed himself so that he couldn't
stir. So when she came again in the morning, there Reynard lay and
snored, and slept in the morning sun, with all four legs stretched
straight; and he was as sleek and round as a German sausage.

"Away ran the lassie for the goody, and she came, and all the lassies
with her, with sticks and brooms to beat Reynard; and, to tell the
truth, they nearly banged the life out of him; but, just as it was
almost all over with him, and he thought his last hour was come, he
found a hole in the floor, and so he crept out, and limped and hobbled
off to the wood.

"'Oh, oh,' said Reynard; 'how true it is. 'Tis the way of the world; and
this is how it pays its debts.'"


THE PANCAKE.

"Once on a time there was a goody who had seven hungry bairns, and she
was frying a pancake for them. It was a sweet-milk pancake, and there it
lay in the pan bubbling and frizzling so thick and good, it was a sight
for sore eyes to look at. And the bairns stood round about, and the
goodman sat by and looked on.

"'Oh, give me a bit of pancake, mother, dear; I am so hungry,' said one
bairn.

"'Oh, darling mother,' said the second.

"'Oh, darling, good mother,' said the third.

"'Oh, darling, good, nice mother,' said the fourth.

"'Oh, darling, pretty, good, nice mother,' said the fifth.

"'Oh, darling, pretty, good, nice, clever mother,' said the sixth.

"'Oh, darling, pretty, good, nice, clever, sweet mother,' said the
seventh.

"So they begged for the pancake all round, the one more prettily than
the other; for they were so hungry and so good.

"'Yes, yes, bairns, only bide a bit till it turns itself,'--she ought to
have said 'till I can get it turned,'--'and then you shall all have
some--a lovely sweet-milk pancake; only look how fat and happy it lies
there.'

"When the pancake heard that, it got afraid, and in a trice it turned
itself all of itself, and tried to jump out of the pan; but it fell back
into it again t'other side up, and so when it had been fried a little on
the other side too, till it got firmer in its flesh, it sprang out on
the floor, and rolled off like a wheel through the door and down the
hill.

"'Holloa! Stop, pancake!' and away went the goody after it, with the
frying-pan in one hand, and the ladle in the other, as fast as she
could, and her bairns behind her, while the goodman limped after them
last of all.

"'Hi! won't you stop? Seize it. Stop, pancake, they all screamed out,
one after the other, and tried to catch it on the run and hold it; but
the pancake rolled on and on, and in the twinkling of an eye it was so
far ahead that they couldn't see it, for the pancake was faster on its
feet than any of them.

"So when it had rolled awhile it met a man.

"'Good-day, pancake,' said the man.

"'God bless you, Manny Panny!' said the pancake.

"'Dear pancake,' said the man, 'don't roll so fast; stop a little and
let me eat you.'

"'When I have given the slip to Goody Poody, and the goodman, and seven
squalling children, I may well slip through your fingers, Manny Panny,'
said the pancake, and rolled on and on till it met a hen.

"'Good-day, pancake,' said the hen.

"'The same to you, Henny Penny,' said the pancake.

"'Pancake, dear, don't roll so fast, bide a bit and let me eat you up,'
said the hen.

"'When I have given the slip to Goody Poody, and the goodman, and seven
squalling children, and Manny Panny, I may well slip through your claws,
Henny Penny,' said the pancake, and so it rolled on like a wheel down
the road.

"Just then it met a cock.

"'Good-day, pancake,' said the cock.

"'The same to you, Cocky Locky,' said the pancake.

"'Pancake, dear, don't roll so fast, but bide a bit and let me eat you
up.'

"'When I have given the slip to Goody Poody, and the goodman, and seven
squalling children, and to Manny Panny, and Henny Penny, I may well slip
through your claws, Cocky Locky,' said the pancake, and off it set
rolling away as fast as it could; and when it had rolled a long way it
met a duck.

"'Good-day, pancake,' said the duck.

"'The same to you, Ducky Lucky.'

"'Pancake, dear, don't roll away so fast; bide a bit and let me eat you
up.'

"'When I have given the slip to Goody Poody, and the goodman, and seven
squalling children, and Manny Panny, and Henny Penny, and Cocky Locky, I
may well slip through your fingers, Ducky Lucky,' said the pancake, and
with that it took to rolling and rolling faster than ever; and when it
had rolled a long, long while, it met a goose.

"'Good-day, pancake,' said the goose.

"'The same to you, Goosey Poosey.'

"'Pancake, dear, don't roll so fast; bide a bit and let me eat you up.'

"'When I have given the slip to Goody Poody, and the goodman, and seven
squalling children, and Manny Panny, and Henny Penny, and Cocky Locky,
and Ducky Lucky, I can well slip through your feet, Goosey Poosey,' said
the pancake, and off it rolled.

"So when it had rolled a long, long way farther, it met a gander.

"'Good-day, pancake,' said the gander.

"'The same to you, Gander Pander,' said the pancake.

"'Pancake, dear, don't roll so fast: bide a bit and let me eat you up.'

"'When I have given the slip to Goody Poody, and the goodman, and seven
squalling children, and Manny Panny, and Henny Penny, and Cocky Locky,
and Ducky Lucky, and Goosey Poosey, I may well slip through your feet,
Gander Pander,' said the pancake, which rolled off as fast as ever.

"So when it had rolled a long, long time, it met a pig.

"'Good-day, pancake,' said the pig.

"'The same to you, Piggy Wiggy,' said the pancake, which, without a word
more, began to roll and roll like mad.

"'Nay, nay,' said the pig, 'you needn't be in such a hurry; we two can
then go side by side and see one another over the wood; they say it is
not too safe in there.'

"The pancake thought there might be something in that, and so they kept
company. But when they had gone awhile, they came to a brook. As for
piggy, he was so fat he swam safe across, it was nothing to him; but the
poor pancake couldn't get over.

"'Seat yourself on my snout,' said the pig, 'and I'll carry you over.'

"So the pancake did that.

"'Ouf, ouf,' said the pig, and swallowed the pancake at one gulp; and
then, as the poor pancake could go no farther, why--this story can go no
farther either."



PETER'S BEAST STORIES.


"Now," said Peter, "I'll tell you another lot of stories right out of
the wood, as fresh as a spruce fir or a juniper. Here they are:--


PORK AND HONEY.

"At dawn the other day, when Bruin came tramping over the bog with a fat
pig, Reynard sat up on a stone by the moorside.

"'Good day, grandsire,' said the fox, 'what's that so nice that you have
there?'

"'Pork,' said Bruin.

"'Well! I have got a dainty bit, too,' said Reynard.

"'What is that?' asked the bear.

"'The biggest wild bees-comb I ever saw in my life,' said Reynard.

"'Indeed, you don't say so,' said Bruin, who grinned and licked his
lips. He thought it would be so nice to taste a little honey. At last he
said, 'Shall we swop our fare?'

"'Nay, nay!' said Reynard, 'I can't do that.'

"The end was that they made a bet, and agreed to name three trees. If
the fox could say them off faster than the bear he was to have leave to
take one bite off the bacon; but if the bear could say them faster he
was to have leave to take one sup out of the comb. Greedy Bruin thought
he was sure to sup out all the honey at one breath.

"'Well,' said Reynard, 'it's all fair and right no doubt, but all I say
is, if I win, you shall be bound "to tear" off the bristles where I am
to bite.'

"'Of course,' said Bruin, 'I'll help you as you can't help yourself.'

"So they were to begin and name the trees.

"'FIR, SCOTCH Fir, SPRUCE,' growled out Bruin, for he was gruff in his
tongue, that he was. But for all that he only named two trees, for Fir
and Scotch Fir are both the same.

"'_Ash_, _Aspen_, _Oak_,' screamed Reynard, so that the wood rang again!

"So he had won the wager, and down he ran and took the heart out of the
pig at one bite, and was just running off with it. But Bruin was angry
because he had taken the best bit out of the whole pig, and so he laid
hold of his tail and held him fast.

"'Stop a bit, stop a bit,' he said, and was wild with rage.

"'Never mind,' said the fox, 'it's all right; let me go, grandsire, and
I'll give you a taste of my honey.'

"When Bruin heard that, he let go his hold, and away went Reynard after
the honey.

"'Here, on this honeycomb,' said Reynard, 'lies a leaf, and under this
leaf is a hole, and that hole you are to suck.'

"As he said this he held up the comb under the Bear's nose, took off the
leaf, jumped up on a stone, and began to gibber and laugh, for there was
neither honey nor honeycomb, but a wasp's nest, as big as a man's head,
full of wasps, and out swarmed the wasps and settled on Bruin's head,
and stung him in his eyes and ears, and mouth and snout. And he had such
hard work to rid himself of them that he had no time to think of
Reynard.

"And that's why, ever since that day, Bruin is so afraid of wasps."


THE HARE AND THE HEIRESS.

"Once on a time there was a hare, who was frisking up and down under the
greenwood tree.

"'Oh! hurrah! hip, hip, hurrah!' he cried, and leapt and sprang, and all
at once he threw a somersault, and stood upon his hind legs. Just then a
fox came slouching by.

"'Good-day, good-day,' said the hare; 'I'm so merry to-day, for you must
know I was married this morning.'

"'Lucky fellow you,' said the fox.

"'Ah, no! not so lucky after all,' said the hare, 'for she was very
heavy handed, and it was an old witch I got to wife.

"'Then you were an unlucky fellow,' said the fox.

"'Oh, not so unlucky either,' said the hare, 'for she was an heiress.
She had a cottage of her own.'

"'Then you were lucky after all,' said the fox.

"'No, no! not so lucky either,' said the hare, 'for the cottage caught
fire and was burnt, and all we had with it.'

"'That I call downright unlucky,' said the fox.

"'Oh, no; not so very unlucky after all,' said the hare, 'for my witch
of a wife was burnt along with her cottage.'"


SLIP ROOT, CATCH REYNARD'S FOOT.

"Once on a time there was a bear, who sat on a hillside in the sun and
slept. Just then Reynard came slouching by and caught sight of him.

"'There you sit taking your ease, grandsire,' said the fox. 'Now see if
I don't play you a trick.' So he went and caught three field mice and
laid them on a stump close under Bruin's nose, and then he bawled out,
into his ear, 'Bo! Bruin, here's Peter the Hunter, just behind this
stump;' and as he bawled this out he ran off through the wood as fast as
ever he could.

"Bruin woke up with a start, and when he saw the three little mice, he
was as mad as a March hare, and was going to lift up his paw and crush
them, for he thought it was they who had bellowed in his ear.

"But just as he lifted it he caught sight of Reynard's tail among the
bushes by the woodside, and away he set after him, so that the underwood
crackled as he went, and, to tell the truth, Bruin was so close upon
Reynard, that he caught hold of his off-hind foot just as he was
crawling into an earth under a pine-root. So there was Reynard in a
pinch, but for all that he had his wits about him, for he screeched out,
'SLIP THE PINE-ROOT AND CATCH REYNARD'S FOOT,' and so the silly bear let
his foot slip and laid hold of the root instead. But by that time
Reynard was safe inside the earth, and called out--

"'I cheated you that time, too, didn't I, grandsire!'

"'Out of sight isn't out of mind,' growled Bruin down the earth, and was
wild with rage."


BRUIN GOODFELLOW.

"Once on a time there was a husbandman who travelled ever so far up to
the Fells to fetch a load of leaves for litter for his cattle in winter.
So when he got to where the litter lay he backed the sledge close up to
the heap, and began to roll down the leaves on to the sledge. But under
the heap lay a bear who had made his winter lair there, and when he felt
the man trampling about he jumped out right down on to the sledge.

"As soon as the horse got wind of Bruin, he was afraid, and ran off as
though he had stolen both bear and sledge, and he went back faster by
many times than he had come up.

"Bruin, they say, is a brave fellow, but even he was not quite pleased
with his drive this time. So there he sat, holding fast, as well as he
could, and he glared and grinned on all sides, and he thought of
throwing himself off, but he was not used to sledge travelling, and so
he made up his mind to sit still where he was.

"So when he had driven a good bit, he met a pedlar.

"'Whither in heaven's name is the sheriff bound to-day? He has surely
little time, and a long way; he drives so fast.'

"But Bruin said never a word, for all he could do was to stick fast.

"A little further on a beggar-woman met him. She nodded to him and
greeted him, and begged for a penny, in God's name. But Bruin said never
a word, but stuck fast and drove on faster than ever.

"So when he had gone a bit further, Reynard the fox met him.

"'Ho! ho!' said Reynard, 'are you out taking a drive. Stop a bit, and
let me get up behind and be your post-boy.'

"But still Bruin said never a word, but held on like grim death, and
drove on as fast as the horse could lay legs to the ground.

"'Well, well,' screamed Reynard, after him, 'if you won't take me with
you I'll spae your fortune; and that is, though you drive like a
dare-devil to-day, you'll be hanging up to-morrow with the hide off your
back.'

"But Bruin never heard a word that Reynard said. On and on he drove just
as fast; but when the horse got to the farm, he galloped into the open
stable door at full speed, so that he tore off both sledge and harness,
and as for poor Bruin, he knocked his skull against the lintel, and
there he lay dead on the spot.

"All this time the man knew nothing of what had happened. He rolled down
bundle after bundle of leaves, and when he thought he had enough to load
his sledge, and went down to bind on the bundles, he could find neither
horse nor sledge.

"So he had to tramp along the road to find his horse again, and, after a
while, he met the pedlar.

"'Have you met my horse and sledge?' he asked.

"'No,' said the pedlar; 'but lower down along the road I met the
sheriff; he drove so fast, he was surely going to lay some one by the
heels.'

"A while after he met the beggar-woman.

"'Have you seen my horse and sledge?' said the man.

"'No,' said the beggar-woman, 'but I met the parson lower down yonder;
he was surely going to a parish meeting, he drove so fast, and he had a
borrowed horse.'

"A while after, the man met the fox.

"'Have you seen my horse and sledge?'

"'Yes! I have,' said the fox, 'and Bruin Goodfellow sat on it and drove
just as though he had stolen both horse and harness.'

"'De'il take him,' said the man, 'I'll be bound he'll drive my horse to
death.'

"'If he does, flay him,' said Reynard, 'and roast him before the fire!
But if you get your horse again you may give me a lift over the Fell,
for I can ride well, and besides, I have a fancy to see how it feels
when one has four legs before one.'

"'What will you give for the lift?' said the man.

"'You can have what you like,' said Reynard; 'either wet or dry. You may
be sure you'll always get more out of me than out of Bruin Goodfellow,
for he is a rough carle to pay off when he takes a fancy to riding and
hangs on a horse's back.'

"'Well! you shall have a lift over the Fell,' said the man, 'if you will
only meet me at this spot to-morrow.'

"But he knew that Reynard was only playing off some of his tricks upon
him, and so he took with him a loaded gun on the sledge, and when
Reynard came, thinking to get a lift for nothing, he got, instead, a
charge of shot in his body, and so the husbandman flayed the coat off
him too, and then he had gotten both Bruin's hide and Reynard's skin."


BRUIN AND REYNARD PARTNERS.

"Once on a time Bruin and Reynard were to own a field in common. They
had a little clearing up in the wood, and the first year they sowed rye.

"'Now we must share the crop as is fair and right,' said Reynard. 'If
you like to have the root, I'll take the top.'

"Yes, Bruin was ready to do that; but when they had threshed out the
crop, Reynard got all the corn, but Bruin got nothing but roots and
rubbish. He did not like that at all; but Reynard said it was how they
had agreed to share it.

"'This year I have the gain,' said Reynard; 'next year it will be your
turn. Then you shall have the top, and I shall have to put up with the
root.'

"But when spring came, and it was time to sow, Reynard asked Bruin what
he thought of turnips.

"'Aye, aye!' said Bruin, 'that's better food than corn;' and so Reynard
thought also. But when harvest came Reynard got the roots, while Bruin
got the turnip-tops. And then Bruin was so angry with Reynard that he
put an end at once to his partnership with him."


REYNARD WANTS TO TASTE HORSE-FLESH.

"One day as Bruin lay by a horse which he had slain, and was hard at
work eating it, Reynard was out that day too, and came up spying about
and licking his lips, if he might get a taste of the horse-flesh. So he
doubled and turned till he got just behind Bruin's back, and then he
jumped on the other side of the carcass and snapped a mouthful as he ran
by. Bruin was not slow either, for he made a grab at Reynard and caught
the tip of his red brush in his paw; and ever since then Reynard's brush
is white at the tip, as any one may see.

"But that day Bruin was merry, and called out, "'Bide a bit, Reynard;
and come hither, and I'll tell you how to catch a horse for yourself.'

"Yes, Reynard was ready enough to learn, but he did not for all that
trust himself to go very close to Bruin.

"'Listen,' said Bruin, 'when you see a horse asleep, sunning himself in
the sunshine, you must mind and bind yourself fast by the hair of his
tail to your brush, and then you must make your teeth meet in the flesh
of his thigh.'

"As you may fancy, it was not long before Reynard found out a horse that
lay asleep in the sunshine, and then he did as Bruin had told him; for
he knotted and bound himself well into the hair of his tail, and made
his teeth meet in the horse's thigh.

"Up sprang the horse, and began to kick and rear and gallop, so that
Reynard was dashed against stock and stone, and got battered black and
blue, so that he was not far off losing both wit and sense. And while
the horse galloped, they passed Jack Longears, the Hare.

"'Whither away so fast, Reynard?' cried Jack Longears.

"'Post haste, on business of life and death, dear Jack,' cried Reynard.

"And with that Jack stood up on his hind legs, and laughed till his
sides ached and his jaws split right up to his ears. It was so funny to
see Reynard ride post haste.

"But you must know, since that ride Reynard has never thought of
catching a horse for himself. For that once at least it was Bruin who
had the best of it in wit, though they do say he is most often as
simple-minded as the Trolls."


       *       *       *       *       *

Many other stories Edward and I heard that season up on the Fjeld,
either from the girls, or Peter, or Anders; and here some of them follow
standing by themselves, and not set in a frame.



MASTER TOBACCO


[Illustration: MASTER TOBACCO.]

"Once on a time there was a poor woman who went about begging with her
son; for at home she had neither a morsel to eat nor a stick to burn.
First she tried the country, and went from parish to parish; but it was
poor work, and so she came into the town. There she went about from
house to house for a while, and at last she came to the lord mayor. He
was both open-hearted and open-handed, and he was married to the
daughter of the richest merchant in the town, and they had one little
daughter. As they had no more children, you may fancy she was sugar and
spice and all that's nice, and in a word there was nothing too good for
her. This little girl soon came to know the beggar boy as he went about
with his mother; and as the lord mayor was a wise man, as soon as he saw
what friends the two were, he took the boy into his house, that he might
be his daughter's playmate. Yes, they played and read and went to school
together, and never had so much as one quarrel.

"One day the lady mayoress stood at the window, and watched the children
as they were trudging off to school. There had been a shower of rain,
and the street was flooded, and she saw how the boy first carried the
basket with their dinner over the stream, and then he went back and
lifted the little girl over, and when he set her down he gave her a
kiss.

"When the lady mayoress saw this, she got very angry. 'To think of such
a ragamuffin kissing our daughter--we, who are the best people in the
place!' That was what she said. Her husband did his best to stop her
tongue. 'No one knew,' he said, 'how children would turn out in life, or
what might befall his own: the boy was a clever, handy lad, and often
and often a great tree sprang from a slender plant.'

"But no! it was all the same whatever he said, and whichever way he put
it. The lady mayoress held her own, and said, beggars on horseback
always rode their cattle to death, and that no one had ever heard of a
silk purse being made out of a sow's ear; adding, that a penny would
never turn into a shilling, even though it glittered like a guinea. The
end of it all was that the poor lad was turned out of the house, and had
to pack up his rags and be off.

"When the lord mayor saw there was no help for it, he sent him away with
a trader who had come thither with a ship, and he was to be cabin-boy on
board her. He told his wife he had sold the boy for a roll of tobacco.

"But before he went the lord mayor's daughter broke her ring into two
bits, and gave the boy one bit, that it might be a token to know him by
if they ever met again; and so the ship sailed away, and the lad came to
a town, far, far off in the world, and to that town a priest had just
come who was so good a preacher that every one went to church to hear
him, and the crew of the ship went with the rest the Sunday after to
hear the sermon. As for the lad, he was left behind to mind the ship and
to cook the dinner. So while he was hard at work he heard some one
calling out across the water on an island. So he took the boat and rowed
across, and there he saw an old hag, who called and roared.

"'Aye,' she said, 'you have come at last! Here have I stood a hundred
years calling and bawling, and thinking how I should ever get over this
water; but no one has ever heard or heeded but you, and you shall be
well paid, if you will put me over to the other side.'

"So the lad had to row her to her sister's house, who lived on a hill on
the other side, close by; and when they got there, she told him to beg
for the old table-cloth which lay on the dresser. Yes! he begged for it,
and when the old witch who lived there knew that he had helped her
sister over the water, she said he might have whatever he chose to ask.

"'Oh,' said the boy, 'then I won't have anything else than that old
table-cloth on the dresser yonder.'

"'Oh,' said the old witch, 'that you never asked out of your own wits.'

"'Now I must be off,' said the lad, 'to cook the Sunday dinner for the
church-goers.'

"'Never mind that,' said the first old hag; 'it will cook itself while
you are away. Stop with me, and I will pay you better still. Here have I
stood and called and bawled for a hundred years, but no one has ever
heeded me but you.'

"The end was he had to go with her to another sister, and when he got
there the old hag said he was to be sure and ask for the old sword,
which was such that he could put it into his pocket and it became a
knife, and when he drew it out it was a long sword again. One edge was
black and the other white; and if he smote with the black edge
everything fell dead, and if with the white everything came to life
again. So when they came over, and the second old witch heard how he had
helped her sister across, she said he might have anything he chose to
ask for her fare.

"'Oh,' said the lad, 'then I will have nothing else but that old sword
which hangs up over the cupboard.'

"'That you never asked out of your own wits,' said the old witch; but
for all that he got the sword.

"Then the old hag said again, 'Come on with me to my third sister. Here
have I stood and called and bawled for a hundred years, and no one has
heeded me but you. Come on to my third sister, and you shall have better
pay still.'

"So he went with her, and on the way she told him he was to ask for the
old hymn-book; and that was such a book that when any one was sick and
the nurse sang one of the hymns, the sickness passed away, and they were
well again. Well! when they got across, and the third old witch heard he
had helped her sister across, she said he was to have whatever he chose
to ask for his fare.

"'Oh,' said the lad, 'then I won't have anything else but granny's old
hymn-book.'

"'That,' said the old hag, 'you never asked out of your own wits.'

"When he got back to the ship the crew were still at church, so he tried
his table-cloth, and spread just a little bit of it out, for he wanted
to see what good it was before he laid it on the table. Yes! in a trice,
it was covered with good food and strong drink; enough, and to spare. So
he just took a little snack, and then he gave the ship's dog as much as
it could eat.

"When the church-goers came on board, the captain said, 'Wherever did
you get all that food for the dog? Why, he's as round as a sausage, and
as lazy as a snail.'

"'Oh, if you must know,' said the lad, 'I gave him the bones.'

"'Good boy,' said the captain, 'to think of the dog.'

"So he spread out the cloth, and at once the whole table was covered all
over with such brave meat and drink as they had never before seen in all
their born days.

"Now when the boy was again alone with the dog, he wanted to try the
sword, so he smote at the dog with the black edge, and it fell dead on
the deck; but when he turned the blade and smote with the white edge,
the dog came to life again and wagged his tail and fawned on his
playmate. But the book,--that he could not get tried just then.

"Then they sailed well and far till a storm overtook them, which lasted
many days; so they lay to and drove till they were quite out of their
course, and could not tell where they were. At last the wind fell, and
then they came to a country far, far off, that none of them knew; but
they could easily see there was great grief there, as well there might
be, for the king's daughter was a leper. The king came down to the
shore, and asked was there any one on board who could cure her and make
her well again.

"'No, there was not.' That was what they all said who were on deck.

"'Is there no one else on board the ship than those I see?' asked the
king.

"'Yes; there's a little beggar boy.'

"'Well,' said the king, 'let him come on deck.'

"So when he came, and heard what the king wanted, he said he thought he
might cure her; and then the captain got so wrath and mad with rage that
he ran round and round like a squirrel in a cage, for he thought the boy
was only putting himself forward to do something in which he was sure to
fail, and he told the king not to listen to such childish chatter.

"But the king only said that wit came as children grew, and that there
was the making of a man in every bairn. The boy had said he could do it,
and he might as well try. After all, there were many who had tried and
failed before him. So he took him home to his daughter, and the lad sang
an hymn once. Then the princess could lift her arm. Once again he sang
it, and she could sit up in bed. And when he had sung it thrice the
king's daughter was as well as you and I are.

"The king was so glad, he wanted to give him half his kingdom and the
princess to wife.

"'Yes,' said the lad, 'land and power were fine things to have half of,
and was very grateful; but as for the princess, he was betrothed to
another,' he said, 'and he could not take her to wife.'

"So he stayed there awhile, and got half the kingdom; and when he had
not been very long there, war broke out, and the lad went out to battle
with the rest, and you may fancy he did not spare the black edge of his
sword. The enemy's soldiers fell before him like flies, and the king won
the day. But when they had conquered, he turned the white edge, and they
all rose up alive and became the king's soldiers, who had granted them
their lives. But then there were so many of them that they were badly
off for food, though the king wished to send them away full, both of
meat and drink. So the lad had to bring out his table-cloth, and then
there was not a man that lacked anything.

"Now when he had lived a little longer with the king, he began to long
to see the lord mayor's daughter. So he fitted out four ships of war and
set sail; and when he came off the town where the lord mayor lived, he
fired off his cannon like thunder, till half the panes of glass in the
town were shivered. On board those ships everything was as grand as in a
king's palace; and as for himself, he had gold on every seam of his
coat, so fine he was. It was not long before the lord mayor came down to
the shore and asked if the foreign lord would not be so good as to come
up and dine with him. 'Yes, he would go,' he said; and so he went up to
the mansion-house where the lord mayor lived, and there he took his seat
between the lady mayoress and her daughter.

"So as they sat there in the greatest state, and ate and drank and were
merry, he threw the half of the ring into the daughter's glass, and no
one saw it; but she was not slow to find out what he meant, and excused
herself from the feast and went out and fitted his half to her half. Her
mother saw there was something in the wind and hurried after her as fast
as she could.

"'Do you know who that is in there, mother?' said the daughter.

"'No!' said the lady mayoress.

"'He whom papa sold for a roll of tobacco,' said the daughter.

"At these words the lady mayoress fainted, and fell down flat on the
floor.

"In a little while the lord mayor came out to see what was the matter,
and when he heard how things stood he was almost as uneasy as his wife.

"'There is nothing to make a fuss about,' said Master Tobacco. 'I have
only come to claim the little girl I kissed as we were going to school.'

"But to the lady mayoress, he said, 'You should never despise the
children of the poor and needy, for none can tell how they may turn out;
for there is the making of a man in every child of man, and wit and
wisdom come with growth and strength.'"



THE CHARCOAL-BURNER.


"Once on a time there was a charcoal-burner, who had a son, who was a
charcoal-burner too. When the father was dead, the son took him a wife;
but he was lazy and would turn his hand to nothing. He was careless in
minding his pits too, and the end was no one would have him to burn
charcoal for them.

"It so fell out that one day he had burned a pit full for himself, and
set off to the town with a few loads and sold them; and when he had done
selling, he loitered in the street and looked about him. On his way home
he fell in with townsmen and neighbours, and made merry, and drank, and
chattered of all he had seen in the town. 'The prettiest thing I saw,'
he said, 'was a great crowd of priests, and all the folks greeted them
and took off their hats to them. I only wish I were a priest myself;
then maybe they would take off their hats to me too. As it was they
looked as though they did not even see me at all.'

"'Well, well!' said his friends, 'if you are nothing else, you can't say
you're not as black as a priest. And now we are about it, we can go to
the sale of the old priest, who is dead, and have a glass, and meanwhile
you can buy his gown and hood.' That was what the neighbours said; and
what they said he did, and when he got home he had not so much as a
penny left.

"'Now you have both means and money, I dare say,' said his goody, when
she heard he had sold his charcoal.

"'I should think so. Means, indeed!' said the charcoal-burner, 'for you
must know I have been ordained priest. Here you see both gown and hood.'

"'Nay, I'll never believe that,' said the goody, 'strong ale makes big
words. You are just as bad, whichever end of you turns up. That you
are,' she said.

"'You shall neither scold nor sorrow for the pit, for its last coal is
quenched and cold,' said the charcoal-burner.

"It fell out one day that many people in priests' robes passed by the
charcoal-burner's cottage on their way to the king's palace, so that it
was easy to see there was something in the wind there. Yes! the
charcoal-burner would go too, and so he put on his gown and hood.

"His goody thought it would be far better to stay at home; for even if
he chanced to hold a horse for some great man, the drink-money he got
would only go down his throat like so many before it.

"'There are many, mother, who talk of drink,' said the man, 'who never
think of thirst. All I know is, the more one drinks the more one
thirsts;' and with that he set off for the palace. When he got there,
all the strangers were bidden to come in, and the charcoal-burner
followed with the rest. So the king made them a speech, and said he had
lost his costliest ring, and was quite sure it had been stolen. That was
why he had summoned all the learned priests in the land, to see if there
were one of them who could tell him who the thief was. And he made a vow
there and then, and said what reward he would give to the man who found
out the thief. If he were a curate, he should have a living; if he was a
rector, he should be made a dean; if he were a dean, he should be made a
bishop; and if he were a bishop, he should become the first man in the
kingdom after the king.

"So the king went round and round among them all, from one to the other,
asking them if they could find the thief; and when he came to the
charcoal-burner, he said,

"'Who are you?'

"'I am the wise priest and the true prophet,' said the charcoal-burner.

"'Then you can tell me,' said the king, 'who has taken my ring?'

"'Yes!' said the charcoal-burner; 'it isn't so right against rhyme and
reason that what has happened in darkness should come to light; but it
isn't every year that salmon spawn in fir-tree tops. Here have I been a
curate for seven years, trying to feed myself and my children, and I
haven't got a living yet. If that thief is to be found out, I must have
lots of time and reams of paper; for I must write and reckon, and track
him out through many lands.'

"'Yes! he should have as much time and paper as he chose, if he would
only lay his finger on the thief.'

"So they shut him up by himself in a room in the king's palace, and it
was not long before they found out that he must know much more than his
Lord's Prayer; for he scribbled over so much paper that it lay in great
heaps and rolls, and yet there was not a man who could make out a word
of what he wrote, for it looked like nothing else than pot-hooks and
hangers. But, as he did this, time went on, and still there was not a
trace of the thief. At last the king got weary, and so he said, if the
priest couldn't find the thief in three days he should lose his life.

"'More haste, worse speed. You can't cart coal till the pit is cool,'
said the charcoal-burner. But the king stuck to his word--that he did;
and the charcoal-burner felt his life wasn't worth much.

"Now there were three of the king's servants who waited on the
charcoal-burner day by day, in turn, and these three fellows had stolen
the ring between them. So when one of these servants came into the room
and cleared the table when he had eaten his supper, and was going out
again, the charcoal-burner heaved a deep sigh as he looked after him,
and said,

"'THERE GOES THE FIRST OF THEM!' but he only meant the first of the
three days he had still to live.

"'That priest knows more than how to fill his mouth,' said the servant,
when he was alone with his fellows; for he said, I was the first of
them.'

"The next day, the second servant was to mark what the prisoner said
when he waited on him, and sure enough when he went out, after clearing
the table, the charcoal-burner stared him full in the face and fetched a
deep sigh, and said,

"'THERE GOES THE SECOND OF THEM!'

"So the third was to take heed to what the charcoal-burner said on the
third day, and it was all worse and no better; for when the servant had
his hand on the door as he went out with the plates and dishes, the
charcoal-burner clasped his hands together, and said, with a sigh as
though his heart would break,

"'THERE GOES THE THIRD OF THEM!'

"So the man went down to his fellows with his heart in his throat, and
said it was clear as day the priest knew all about it; and so they all
three went into his room and fell on their knees before him, and begged
and prayed he would not say it was they who had stolen the ring. If he
would do this, they were ready to give him, each of them, a hundred
dollars, if he would not bring them into trouble.

"Well, he gave his word, like a man, to do that and keep them harmless,
if they would only give him the money and the ring and a great bowl of
porridge. And what do you think he did with the ring when he got it?
Why, he stuffed it well down into the porridge, and bade them go and
give it to the biggest pig in the king's stye.

"Next morning the king came, and was in no mood for jokes, and said he
must know all about the thief.

"'Well! well! now I have written and reckoned all the world round,' said
the charcoal-burner, 'but it is no child of man that stole your
majesty's ring.'

"'Pooh!' said the king; 'who was it, then?'

"'It was the biggest pig in your stye,' said the charcoal-burner.

"Yes! they killed the pig, and there the ring was inside it; there was
no mistake about that; and so the charcoal-burner got a living, and the
king was so glad he gave him a farm and a horse, and a hundred dollars
into the bargain.

"You may fancy the charcoal-burner was not slow in flitting to the
living, and the first Sunday after he got there he was going to church
to read himself in; but before he left his house he was to have his
breakfast, and so he took the king's letter and laid it on a bit of dry
toast and then, by mistake, he dipped both toast and letter into his
brose, and when he found it tough to chew, he gave the whole morsel to
his dog Tray, and Tray gobbled up both toast and letter.

"And now he scarce knew what to do, or how to turn. To church he must,
for the people were waiting; and when he got there, he went straight up
into the pulpit. In the pulpit he put on such a grave face that all
thought he was a grand priest; but as the service went on, it was not so
good after all. This was how he began:

"'The words, my brethren, which you should have heard this day have
gone, alas! to the dogs; but come next Sunday, dear parishioners, and
you shall hear something else; and so this sermon comes to an end.
Amen!'

"All the parish thought they had got a strange priest, for they had
never heard such a funny sermon before; but still they said to
themselves, 'He'll be better perhaps by-and-by, and if he isn't better
we shall know how to deal with him.'

"Next Sunday, when there was service again, the church was so crowded
full with folk who wished to hear the new priest that there was scarce
standing-room. Well, he came again, and went straight up into the
pulpit, and there he stood awhile and said never a word. But all at once
he burst out, and bawled at the top of his voice--

"'Hearken to me, old Nannygoat Bridget! Why in the world do you sit so
far back in the church?'

"'Oh, your reverence,' said she, 'if you must know, it's because my
shoes are all in holes.'

"'That's no reason; for you might take an old bit of pig-skin and stitch
yourself new shoes, and then you could also come far forward in the
church, like the other fine ladies. For the rest, you all ought to
bethink yourselves of the way you are going; for I see when ye come to
church, some of you come from the north and some from the south, and it
is the same when you go from church again. But sometimes ye stand and
loiter on the way, and then it may well be asked, What will become of
you? Yea! who can tell what will become of every one of us? By the way,
I have to give notice of a black mare which has strayed from the old
priest's widow. She has hair on her fetlocks and a falling mane, and
other marks which I will not name in this place. Besides, I may tell
you, I have a hole in my old breeches-pocket, and I know it, but you do
not know it; and another thing you do not know, and which I do not know,
is whether any of you has a bit of cloth to patch that hole. Amen.'

"Some few of the hearers were very well pleased with this sermon. They
thought it sure he would make a brave priest in time; but, to tell the
truth, most of them thought it too bad, and when the dean came they
complained of the priest, and said no one had ever heard such sermons
before, and there was even one of them who knew the last by heart, and
wrote it down and read it to the dean.

"'I call it a very good sermon,' said the dean, 'for it was likely that
he spoke in parables as to seeking light and shunning darkness and its
deeds, and as to those who were walking either on the broad or the
strait path; but most of all,' he said, 'that was a grand parable when
he gave that notice about the priest's black mare, and how it would fare
with us all at the last. The pocket with the hole in it was to show the
need of the church, and the piece of cloth to patch it was the gifts and
offerings of the congregation.' That was what the dean said.

"As for the parish, what they said was, 'Ay! ay!' so much we could
understand that it was to go into the priest's pocket.

"The end was, the dean said, he thought the parish had got such a good
and understanding priest, there was no fault to find with him, and so
they had to make the best of him; but after a while, as he got worse
instead of better, they complained of him to the bishop.

"Well! sooner or later the bishop came, and there was to be a
visitation. But, the day before, the priest had gone into the church,
unbeknown to anybody, and sawed the props of the pulpit all but in two,
so that it would only just hang together if one went up into it very
carefully. So when the people were gathered together and he was to
preach before the bishop, he crept up into the pulpit and began to
expound, as he was wont; and when he had gone on a while, he got more in
earnest, threw his arms about and bawled out,

"'If there be any here who is wicked or given to ill deeds, it were
better he left this place; for this very day there shall be a fall, such
as hath not been seen since the world began.'

"With that he struck the reading-desk like thunder, and lo! the desk and
the priest and the whole pulpit tumbled down on the floor of the church
with such a crash that the whole congregation ran out of church, as if
Doomsday were at their heels.

"But then the bishop told the fault-finders he was amazed that they
dared to complain of a priest who had such gifts in the pulpit, and so
much wisdom that he could foresee things about to happen. For his part,
he thought he ought to be a dean at least, and it was not long either
before he was a dean. So there was no help for it; they had to put up
with him.

"Now it so happened that the king and queen had no children; but when
the king heard that, perhaps, there was one coming, he was eager to know
if it would be an heir to his crown and realm, or if it would only be a
princess. So all the wise men in the land were gathered to the palace,
that they might say beforehand what it would be. But when there was not
a man of them that could say that, both the king and the bishop thought
of the charcoal-burner, and it was not long before they got him between
them, and asked him about it. 'No!' he said, 'that was past his power,
for it was not good to guess at what no man alive could know.'

"'All very fine, I dare say,' said the king. 'It's all the same to me,
of course, if you know it or if you don't know it; but, you know, you
are the wise priest and the true prophet who can foretell things to
come; and all I can say is if you don't tell it me, you shall lose your
gown. And now I think of it, I'll try you first.'

"So he took the biggest silver tankard he had and went down to the
sea-shore, and, in a little while, called the priest.

"'If you can tell me now what there is in this tankard,' said the king,
'you will be able to tell me the other also;' and as he said this, he
held the lid of the tankard tight.

"The charcoal-burner only wrung his hands and bemoaned himself.

"'Oh! you most wretched crab and cripple on this earth,' he cried out,
'this is what all your backslidings and sidelong tricks have brought on
you.'

"'Ah!' cried out the king, 'how could you say you did not know?' for you
must know he had a crab in the tankard. So the charcoal-burner had to go
into the parlour to the queen. He took a chair and sat down in the
middle of the floor, while the queen walked up and down in the room.

"'One should never count one's chickens before they are hatched, and
never quarrel about a baby's name before it is born,' said the
charcoal-burner; 'but I never heard or saw such a thing before! When the
queen comes toward me, I almost think it will be a prince, and when she
goes away from me it looks as if it would be a princess.'

"Lo! when the time came, it was both a prince and a princess, for twins
were born; and so the charcoal-burner had hit the mark that time too.
And because he could tell that which no man could know, he got money in
carts full, and was the next man to the king in the realm.

    "Trip, trap, trill,
    A man is often more than he will."



THE BOX WITH SOMETHING PRETTY IN IT.


"Once on a time there was a little boy who was out walking on the road,
and when he had walked a bit he found a box.

"'I am sure there must be something pretty in this box,' he said to
himself; but however much he turned it, and however much he twisted it,
he was not able to get it open.

"But when he had walked a bit farther, he found a little tiny key. Then
he got tired and sat down, and all at once he thought what fun it would
be if the key fitted the box, for it had a little key-hole in it. So he
took the little key out of his pocket, and then he blew first into the
pipe of the key, and afterwards into the key-hole, and then he put the
key into the key-hole and turned it. 'Snap' it went within the lock; and
when he tried the hasp, the box was open.

"But can you guess what there was in the box? Why a cow's tail; and if
the cow's tail had been longer, this story would have been longer too."



THE THREE LEMONS.


"Once on a time there were three brothers, who had lost their parents;
and as they had left nothing behind them on which the lads could live,
they had to go out into the world to try their luck. The two elder
fitted themselves out as well as they could; but the youngest, whom they
called Taper Tom, because he always sat in the chimney-corner and held
tapers of pine wood, him they would not have with them.

"The two set out early in the grey dawn; but, however fast they went, or
did not go, Taper Tom came just as soon as the others to the king's
palace. So when they got there, they asked for work. The king said he
had nothing for them to do; but as they were so pressing, he'd see if he
could not find them something,--there must be always something to do in
such a big house. Yes! they might drive nails into the wall; and when
they had done driving them in, they might pull them out again. When they
had done that, they might carry wood and water into the kitchen.

"Taper Tom was the handiest in driving nails into the wall and in
pulling them out again and he was the handiest also in carrying wood and
water. So his brothers were jealous of him, and said he had given out
that he was good enough to get the king the prettiest princess who was
to be found in twelve kingdoms; for you must know the king had lost his
old dame, and was a widower. When the king heard that, he told Taper Tom
he must do what he had said, or else he would make them lay him on the
block and chop his head off.

"Taper Tom answered, he had never said nor thought anything of the kind;
but, as the king was so stern, he would try what he could do. So he got
him a scrip of food over his shoulders, and set off from the palace; but
he had not gone far on the road before he grew hungry, and wanted to
taste the food they had given him when he set out. So when he had seated
himself to rest at his ease, under a spruce by the roadside, up came an
old hag hobbling, who asked what he had in his scrip.

"'Salt meat and fresh meat,' said the lad. 'If you are hungry, granny,
come and take a snack with me.'

"Yes! She thanked him, and then she said, might be she would do him a
good turn herself; and away she hobbled through the wood. So when Taper
Tom had eaten his full, and had rested, he threw his scrip over his
shoulder and set off again; but he had not gone far before he found a
pipe. That, he thought, would be nice to have with him and play on by
the way; and it was not long before he brought the sound out of it, you
may fancy. But then there came about him such a swarm of little Trolls,
and each asked the other in full cry,--

"'What has my lord to order? What has my lord to order?'

"Taper Tom said he never knew he was lord over them; but if he was to
order anything, he wished they would fetch him the prettiest princess to
be found in twelve kingdoms. Yes! that was no great thing, the little
Trolls thought; they knew well enough where she was, and they could show
him the way, and then he might go and get her for himself, for they had
no power to touch her.

"Then they showed him the way, and he got to the end of his journey well
and happily. There was not anyone who laid so much as two sticks across
in his way. It was a Troll's castle, and in it sat three lovely
princesses; but as soon as ever Taper Tom came in, they all lost their
wits for fear, and ran about like scared lambs, and all at once they
were turned into three lemons that lay in the window. Taper Tom was so
sorry and unhappy at that, he scarce knew which way to turn. But when he
had thought a little, he took and put the lemons into his pocket, for he
thought they would be good to have if he got thirsty by the way, for he
had heard say lemons were sour.

"So when he had gone a bit of the way, he got so hot and thirsty; water
was not to be had, and he did not know what he should do to quench his
thirst. So he fell to thinking of the lemons, and took one of them out
and bit a hole in it. But, lo! inside sat the princess as far as her
armpits, and screamed out--

"'Water!--water!' Unless she got water, she must die, she said.

"Yes! the lad ran about looking for water as though he were a mad thing;
but there was no water to be got, and all at once the princess was dead.

"So when he had gone a bit further, he got still hotter and thirstier;
and as he could find nothing to quench his thirst, he pulled out the
second lemon and bit a hole in it. Inside it was also a princess,
sitting as far as her armpits, and she was still lovelier than the
first. She, too, screamed for water, and said, if she could not get it
she must die outright. So Taper Tom hunted under stone and moss, but he
could find no water; and so the end was the second Princess died too.

"Taper Tom thought things got worse and worse, and so it was, for the
farther he went the hotter it got. The earth was so dry and burnt up,
there was not a drop of water to be found, and he was not far off being
half dead of thirst. He kept himself as long as he could from biting a
hole in the lemon he still had, but at last there was no help for it. So
when he had bitten the hole, there sat a princess inside it also; she
was the loveliest in twelve kingdoms, and she screamed out if she could
not get water she must die at once. So Taper Tom ran about hunting for
water; and this time he fell upon the king's miller, and he showed him
the way to the mill-dam. So when he came to the dam with her and gave
her some water, she came quite out of the lemon, and was stark naked. So
Taper Tom had to let her have the wrap he had to throw over her, and
then she hid herself up a tree while he went up to the king's palace to
fetch her clothes, and tell the king how he had got her, and, in a word,
told him the whole story.

"But while this was going on, the cook came down to the mill-dam to
fetch water; and when she saw the lovely face which played on the water,
she thought it was her own, and grew so glad she fell a-dancing and
jumping because she had grown so pretty.

"'The deil carry water,' she cried, 'since I am so pretty;' and away she
threw the water-buckets. But in a little while she got to see that the
face in the mill-dam belonged to the princess who sat up in the tree;
and then she got so cross, that she tore her down from the tree, and
threw her out into the dam. But she herself put on Taper Tom's cloak,
and crept up into the tree.

"So when the king came and set eyes on the ugly swarthy kitchen-maid, he
turned white and red; but when he heard how they said she was the
loveliest in twelve kingdoms, he thought he could not help believing
there must be something in it; and besides he felt for poor Taper Tom,
who had taken so much pains to get her for him.

"'She'll get better, perhaps, as time goes on,' he thought, 'when she is
dressed smartly, and wears fine clothes;' and so he took her home with
him.

"Then they sent for all the wig-makers and needlewomen, and she was
dressed and clad like a princess; but for all they washed and dressed
her, she was still as ugly and black as ever.

"After a while the kitchen-maid was to go to the dam to fetch water, and
then she caught a great silver fish in her bucket. She bore it up to the
palace, and showed it to the king, and he thought it grand and fine; but
the ugly princess said it was some witchcraft, and they must burn it,
for she soon saw what it was. Well! the fish was burnt, and next morning
they found a lump of silver in the ashes. So the cook came and told it
to the king, and he thought it passing strange; but the princess said it
was all witchcraft, and bade them bury it in the dung-heap. The king was
much against it; but she left him neither rest nor peace, and so he said
at last they might do it.

"But lo! next day stood a tall lovely linden tree on the spot where they
had buried the lump of silver, and that linden had leaves which gleamed
like silver. So when they told the king that, he thought it passing
strange; but the princess said it was nothing but witchcraft, and they
must cut down the linden at once. The king was against that; but the
princess plagued him so long that at last he had to give way to her in
this also.

"But lo! when the lasses went out to gather the chips of the linden to
light the fires, they were pure silver.

"'It isn't worth while,' one of them said, 'to say anything about this
to the king or the princess, or else they, too, will be burnt and
melted. It is better to hide them in our drawers. They will be good to
have when a lover comes, and we are going to marry.'

"Yes! They were all of one mind as to that; but when they had borne the
chips a while, they grew so fearfully heavy that they could not help
looking to see what it was; and then they found the chips had been
changed into a child, and it was not long before it grew into the
loveliest princess you ever set eyes on.

"The lasses could see very well that something wrong lay under all this.
So they got her clothes, and flew off to find the lad, who was to fetch
the loveliest princess in twelve kingdoms, and told him their story.

"So when Taper Tom came, the princess told him her story, and how the
cook had come and torn her from the tree and thrown her into the dam;
and how she had been the silver fish, and the silver lump, and the
linden, and the chips, and how she was the true princess.

"It was not so easy to get the king's ear, for the ugly black cook hung
over him early and late; but at last they made out a story, and said
that a challenge had come from a neighbour king, and so they got him
out; and when he came to see the lovely princess, he was so taken with
her, he was for holding the bridal feast on the spot; and when he heard
how badly the ugly black cook had behaved to her, he said they should
take her and roll her down hill in a cask full of nails. Then they kept
the bridal feast at such a rate that it was heard and talked of over
twelve kingdoms."



THE PRIEST AND THE CLERK.


"Once on a time there was a priest, who was such a bully, that he bawled
out, ever so far off, whenever he met anyone driving on the king's
highway,--

"'Out of the way, out of the way! Here comes the priest!'

"One day when he was driving along and behaving so, he met the king
himself.

"'Out of the way, out of the way,' he bawled a long way off. But the
king drove on and kept his own; so that time it was the priest who had
to turn his horse aside, and when the king came alongside him, he said,
'To-morrow you shall come to me to the palace, and if you can't answer
three questions which I will set you, you shall lose hood and gown for
your pride's sake.'

"This was something else than the priest was wont to hear. He could bawl
and bully, shout, and behave worse than badly. All THAT he could do, but
question and answer was out of his power. So he set off to the clerk who
was said to be better in a gown than the priest himself, and told him he
had no mind to go to the king.

"'For one fool can ask more than ten wise men can answer;' and the end
was, he got the clerk to go in his stead.

"Yes! The clerk set off, and came to the palace in the priest's gown and
hood. There the king met him out in the porch with crown and sceptre,
and was so grand it glittered and gleamed from him.

"'Well! Are you there?' said the king.

"Yes; he was there, sure enough.

"'Tell me first,' said the king; 'how far the east is from the west?'

"'Just a day's journey,' said the clerk.

"'How is that?' asked the king.

"'Don't you know,' said the clerk, 'that the sun rises in the east and
sets in the west, and he does it just nicely in one day.'

"'Very well!' said the king; 'but tell me now what you think I am worth,
as you see me stand here?'

"'Well,' said the clerk; 'Our Lord was valued at thirty pieces of
silver, so I don't think I can set your price higher than twenty-nine.'

"'All very fine!' said the king; 'but as you are so wise, perhaps you
can tell me what I am thinking about now?'

"'Oh!' said the clerk; 'you are thinking it's the priest who stands
before you, but so help me, if you don't think wrong, for I am the
clerk.'

"'Be off home with you,' said the king, 'and be you priest, and let him
be clerk,' and so it was."



FRIENDS IN LIFE AND DEATH.


"Once on a time there were two young men who were such great friends
that they swore to one another they would never part, either in life or
death. One of them died before he was at all old, and a little while
after the other wooed a farmer's daughter, and was to be married to her.
So when they were bidding guests to the wedding the bridegroom went
himself to the churchyard where his friend lay, and knocked at his
grave, and called him by name. No! he neither answered nor came. He
knocked again, and he called again, but no one came. A third time he
knocked louder and called louder to him, to come that he might talk to
him. So, after a long, long time, he heard a rustling, and at last the
dead man came up out of the grave.

"'It was well you came at last,' said the bridegroom, 'for I have been
standing here ever so long, knocking and calling for you.'

"'I was a long way off,' said the dead man, 'so that I did not quite
hear you till the last time you called.'

"'All right,' said the bridegroom; 'but I am going to stand bridegroom
to-day, and you mind well, I dare say, what we used to talk about, and
how we were to stand by each other at our weddings as best man.'

"'I mind it well,' said the dead man, 'but you must wait a bit till I
have made myself a little smart; and, after all, no one can say I have
on a wedding garment.'

"The lad was hard put to it for time, for he was overdue at home to meet
the guests, and it was all but time to go to church; but still he had to
wait awhile and let the dead man go into a room by himself, as he
begged, so that he might brush himself up a bit, and come smart to
church like the rest, for, of course, he was to go with the bridal train
to church.

"Yes! the dead man went with him both to church and from church, but
when they had got so far on with the wedding that they had taken off the
bride's crown, he said he must go. So, for old friendship's sake, the
bridegroom said he would go with him to the grave again. And as they
walked to the churchyard the bridegroom asked his friend if he had seen
much that was wonderful, or heard anything that was pleasant to know.

"'Yes! that I have,' said the dead man. 'I have seen much, and heard
many strange things.'

"'That must be fine to see,' said the bridegroom. 'Do you know I have a
mind to go along with you, and see all that with my own eyes.'

"'You are quite welcome,' said the dead man; 'but it may chance that you
may be away some time.'

"'So it might,' said the bridegroom; but for all that he would go down
into the grave.

"But before they went down the dead man took and cut up a turf out of
the graveyard and put it on the young man's head. Down and down they
went, far and far away, through dark, silent wastes, across wood, and
moor, and bog, till they came to a great, heavy gate, which opened to
them as soon as the dead man touched it. Inside it began to grow
lighter, first as though it were moonshine, and the further they went
the lighter it got. At last they got to a spot where there were such
green hills, knee-deep in grass, and on them fed a large herd of kine,
who grazed as they went; but for all they ate those kine looked poor,
and thin, and wretched.

"'What's all this?' said the lad who had been bridegroom; 'why are they
so thin, and in such bad case, though they eat, every one of them, as
though they were well paid to eat?'

"'This is a likeness of those who never can have enough, though they
rake and scrape it together ever so much,' said the dead man.

"So they journeyed on far and farther than far, till they came to some
hill pastures, where there was naught but bare rocks and stones, with
here and there a blade of grass. Here was grazing another herd of kine,
which were so sleek, and fat, and smooth that their coats shone again.

"'What are these,' asked the bridegroom, 'who have so little to live on,
and yet are in such good plight? I wonder what they can be.'

"'This,' said the dead man, 'is a likeness of those who are content with
the little they have, however poor it be.'

"So they went farther and farther on till they came to a great lake, and
it and all about it was so bright and shining that the bridegroom could
scarce bear to look at it--it was so dazzling.

"'Now, you must sit down here,' said the dead man, 'till I come back. I
shall be away a little while.'

"With that he set off, and the bridegroom sat down, and as he sat sleep
fell on him, and he forgot everything in sweet deep slumber. After a
while the dead man came back.

"'It was good of you to sit still here, so that I could find you again.'

"But when the bridegroom tried to get up he was all overgrown with moss
and bushes, so that he found himself sitting in a thicket of thorns and
brambles.

"So when he had made his way out of it they journeyed back again, and
the dead man led him by the same way to the brink of the grave. There
they parted and said farewell, and as soon as the bridegroom got out of
the grave he went straight home to the house where the wedding was.

"But when he got where he thought the house stood, he could not find his
way. Then he looked about on all sides, and asked every one he met, but
he could neither hear nor learn anything of the bride, or the wedding,
or his kindred, or his father and mother; nay, he could not so much as
find any one whom he knew. And all he met wondered at the strange shape,
who went about and looked for all the world like a scarecrow.

"Well! as he could find no one he knew, he made his way to the priest,
and told him of his kinsmen and all that had happened up to the time he
stood bridegroom, and how he had gone away in the midst of his wedding.
But the priest knew nothing at all about it at first; but when he had
hunted in his old registers he found out that the marriage he spoke of
had happened a long, long time ago, and that all the folk he talked of
had lived four hundred years before.

"In that time there had grown up a great stout oak in the priest's yard,
and when he saw it he clambered up into it, that he might look about
him. But the grey-beard who had sat in Heaven and slumbered for four
hundred years, and had now at last come back, did not come down from the
oak as well as he went up. He was stiff and gouty, as was likely enough;
and so when he was coming down he made a false step, fell down, broke
his neck, and that was the end of him."



THE FATHER OF THE FAMILY.


"Once on a time there was a man who was out on a journey; so at last he
came to a big and a fine farm, and there was a house so grand that it
might well have been a little palace.

"'Here it would be good to get leave to spend the night,' said the man
to himself, as he went inside the gate. Hard by stood an old man with
grey hair and beard, who was hewing wood.

"'Good evening, father,' said the wayfarer. 'Can I have house-room here
to-night?'

"'I'm not father in the house,' said the grey-beard. 'Go into the
kitchen, and talk to my father.'

"The wayfarer went into the kitchen, and there he met a man who was
still older, and he lay on his knees before the hearth, and was blowing
up the fire.

"'Good evening, father,' said the wayfarer. 'Can I get house-room
to-night?'

"I'm not father in the house,' said the old man; 'but go in and talk to
my father. You'll find him sitting at the table in the parlour.'

"So the wayfarer went into the parlour, and talked to him who sat at the
table. He was much older than either of the other two, and there he sat,
with his teeth chattering, and shivered and shook, and read out of a big
book, almost like a little child.

"'Good evening, father,' said the man. 'Will you let me have house-room
here to-night?'

"'I'm not father in the house,' said the man who sat at the table, whose
teeth chattered, and who shivered and shook; 'but speak to my father
yonder--he who sits on the bench.'

"So the wayfarer went to him who sat on the bench, and he was trying to
fill himself a pipe of tobacco; but he was so withered up and his hands
shook so with the palsy that he could scarce hold the pipe.

"'Good evening, father,' said the wayfarer again. 'Can I get house-room
here to-night?'

"'I'm not father in the house,' said the old withered fellow; 'but speak
to my father, who lies in bed yonder.'

"So the wayfarer went to the bed, and there lay an old, old man, who but
for his pair of big staring eyes scarcely looked alive.

"'Good evening, father,' said the wayfarer. 'Can I get house-room here
to-night?'

"'I'm not father in the house,' said the old carle with the big eyes;
'but go and speak to my father, who lies yonder in the cradle.'

"Yes, the wayfarer went to the cradle, and there lay a carle as old as
the hills, so withered and shrivelled he was no bigger than a baby, and
it was hard to tell that there was any life in him, except that there
was a sound of breathing every now and then in his throat.

"'Good evening, father,' said the wayfarer. 'May I have house-room here
to-night?'

"It was long before he got an answer, and still longer before the carle
brought it out; but the end was he said, as all the rest, that he was
not father in the house. 'But go,' said he, 'and speak to my
father--you'll find him hanging up in the horn yonder against the wall.'

"So the wayfarer stared about round the walls, and at last he caught
sight of the horn; but when he looked for him who hung in it he looked
more like a film of ashes that had the likeness of a man's face. Then he
was so frightened that he screamed out,--

"'Good evening, father! will you let me have house-room here to-night?'

"Then a chirping came out of the horn like a little tom-tit, and it
was-all he could do to make out that the chirping meant, 'YES, MY
CHILD.'

"And now a table came in which was covered with the costliest dishes,
and with ale and brandy; and when he had eaten and drank there came in a
good bed, with reindeer skins; and the wayfarer was so very glad because
he had at last found the right father in the house."



THREE YEARS WITHOUT WAGES.


"Once on a time there was a poor householder, who had an only son, but
he was so lazy and unhandy, this son, that he would neither mix with
folk nor turn his hand to anything in the world. So the father said:

"'If I'm not to go on for ever feeding this long lazy fellow, I must
pack him off a long way, where no one knows him. If he runs away then it
won't be so easy for him to come home.'

"Yes! the man took his son with him, and went about far and wide
offering him as a serving man; but there was no one who would have him.

"So last of all they came to a rich man, of whom the story went that he
turned a penny over seven times before he let it go. He was to take the
lad as a ploughboy, and there he was to serve three years without wages.
But when the three years were over the man was to go to the town two
mornings, and buy the first thing he met that was for sale, but the
third morning the lad was to go himself to the town, and buy the first
thing he met, and these three things he was to have instead of wages.

"Well! the lad served his three years out, and behaved better than any
one would have believed. He was not the best ploughboy in the world,
sure enough; but then his master was not of the best sort either, for he
let him go the whole time with the same clothes he had when he came, so
that at last they were nothing else but patch on patch and mend on mend.
Now, when the man was to set off and buy he was up and away at cockcrow,
long before dawn.

"'Dear wares must be seen by daylight,' he said; 'they are not to be
found on the road to town so early. Still, they may be dear enough, for
after all it's all risk and chance what I find.'

"Well! the first person he found in the street was an old hag, and she
carried a basket with a cover.

"'Good day, granny,' said the man.

"'Good day to you, father,' said the old hag.

"'What have you got in your basket?' asked the man.

"'Do you mean business?' said the old hag.

"'Yes, I do, for I was to buy the first thing I met.'

"'Well, if you want to know you had better buy it,' said the old hag.

"'But what does it cost?' asked the man.

"Yes! she must have fourpence.

"The man thought that no such very high price after all. He couldn't do
better, and lifted the lid, and it was a puppy that lay in the basket.

"When the man came home from his trip to town the lad stood out in the
yard, and wondered what he should get for his wages for the first year.

"'So soon home, master?' said the lad.

"Yes, he was.

"'What was it you bought?' he asked.

"'What I bought,' said the man, 'was not worth much. I scarcely know if
I ought to show it; but I bought the first thing that was to be had, and
it was a puppy.'

"'Now, thank you so much,' said the lad. 'I have always been so fond of
dogs.'

"Next morning things went no better. The man was up at dawn again, and
he had not got well into the town before he saw the old hag with her
basket.

"'Good day, granny,' he said.

"'Good day to you, sir,' she said.

"'What have you got in your basket to-day?' asked the man.

"'If you wish to know you had better buy it,' said the old hag.

"'What does it cost?' asked the man.

"'Yes! she must have fourpence; she never had more than one price,' she
said.

"So the man said he would take it; it would be hard to find anything
cheaper. When he lifted the lid this time there lay a kitten in it.

"When he got home the lad stood out in the yard, waiting and wondering
what he should get for his wages the second year.

"'Is that you, master?' he said.

"Yes, there he was.

"'What did you buy to-day now?' asked the lad.

"'Oh! it was worse, and no better,' said the man; 'but it was just as we
bargained. I bought the first thing I met, and it was nothing else than
this kitten.'

"'You could not have met anything better,' said the lad; 'I have been as
fond of cats all my life as of dogs.'

"'Well,' thought the man, 'I did not get so badly out of that after all;
but there's another day to come, when he is to go to town himself.'

"The third morning the lad set off, and just as he got into the town he
met the same old hag with her basket on her arm.

"'Good morning, granny!' said the lad.

"'Good morning to you, my son,' said the old hag.

"'What have you got in your basket?'

"'If you want to know you had better buy it,' said the old hag.

"'Will you sell it then?' asked the lad.

"Yes, she would; and fourpence was her price.

"'That was cheap enough,' said the lad, 'and he would have it, for he
was to buy the first thing he met.'

"'Now you may take it, basket and all,' said the old hag; 'but mind you
don't look inside it before you get home. Do you hear what I say?'

"'Nay, nay, never fear, he wouldn't look inside it; was it likely?' But
for all that he walked and wondered what there could be inside the
basket, and whether he would or no he could not help just lifting the
lid and peeping in. In the twinkling of an eye out popped a little
lizard, and ran away so fast along the street that the air whistled
after it. There was nothing else in the basket.

"'Nay! nay!' cried the lad, 'stop a bit, and don't run off so. You know
I have bought you.'

"'Stick me in the tail--stick me in the tail!' bawled the lizard.

"Well, the lad was not slow in running after it and sticking his knife
into its tail just as it was crawling into a hole in the wall, and that
very minute it was turned into a young man as fine and handsome as the
grandest prince, and a prince he was indeed.

"'Now you have saved me,' said the prince, 'for that old hag with whom
you and your master have dealt is a witch, and me she has changed into a
lizard, and my brother and sister into a puppy and kitten.'

"'A pretty story!' said the lad.

"'Yes,' said the prince; 'and now she was on her way to cast us into the
fjord and kill us; but if any one came and wanted to buy us she must
sell us for fourpence each; that was settled, and that was all my father
could do. Now you must come home to him and get the meed for what you
have done.'

"'I dare say,' said the lad, 'it's a long way off?'

"'Oh,' said the prince, 'not so far after all. There it is yonder,' he
said, as he pointed to a great hill in the distance.

"So they set off as fast as they could, but as was to be weened it was
farther off than it looked, and so they did not reach the hill till far
on in the night.

"Then the prince began to knock and knock.

"'WHO IS THAT,' said some one inside the hill, 'that knocks at my door,
and spoils my rest?' and that some one was so loud of speech that the
earth quaked.

"'Oh! open the door, father, there's a dear,' said the prince. 'It is
your son who has come home again.'

"Yes! he opened the door fast and well.

"'I almost thought you lay at the bottom of the sea,' said the
grey-beard. 'But you are not alone, I see,' he said.

"'This is the lad who saved me,' said the prince. 'I have asked him
hither that you may give him his meed.'

"Yes, he would see to that, said the old fellow.

"'But now you must step in,' he said; 'I am sure you have need of rest."

"Yes! they went in and sat down, and the old man threw on the fire an
armful of dry fuel and one or two logs, so that the fire blazed up and
shone as clear as the day in every corner, and whichever way they looked
it was grander than grand. Anything like it the lad had never seen
before, and such meat and drink as the grey-beard set before them he had
never tasted either; and all the plates, and cups, and stoops, and
tankards were all of pure silver or real gold.

"It was not easy to stop the lads. They ate and drank and were merry,
and afterwards they slept till far on next morning. But the lad was
scarcely awake before the grey-beard came with a morning draught in a
tumbler of gold.

"So when he had huddled on his clothes and broken his fast, the old man
took him round with him and showed him everything that he might choose
something that he would like to have as his meed for saving his son.
There was much to see and to choose from you may fancy.

"'Now what will you have?' said the king; 'you see there is plenty of
choice, you can have what you please.'

"But the lad said, he would think it over and ask the prince. Yes! the
king was willing he should do that.

"'Well!' said the prince, 'you have seen many grand things.'

"'Yes, I have, as was likely,' said the lad; 'but tell me, what shall I
choose of all the wealth. Do tell me, for your father says I may choose
what I please.'

"'Do not take anything of all you have seen,' said the prince; 'but he
has a little ring on his finger, that you must ask for.'

"Yes! he did so, and begged for the little ring which he had on his
finger.

"'Why! it is the dearest thing I have,' said the king; 'but, after all,
my son is just as dear and so you shall have it all the same. Do you
know now what it is good for?'

"No! he knew nothing about it.

"'When you have this ring on your finger,' said the king, 'you can have
anything you wish for."

"So the lad thanked the king, and the king and the prince bade him God
speed home, and told him to be sure and take care of the ring.

"So he had not gone far on his way before he thought he would prove what
the ring was worth, and so he wished himself a new suit of clothes, and
he had scarce wished for them before he had them on him. And now he was
as grand and bright as a new-struck penny. So he thought it would be
fine fun to play his father a trick.

"'He was not so very nice all the time I was at home;' and so he wished
he was standing before his father's door, just as ragged as he was of
old, and in a second he stood at the door.

"'Good day, father, and thank you for our last meal,' said the lad.

"But when the father saw that he had come back still more ragged and
tattered than when he set out, he began to bellow and to bemoan himself.

"'There's no helping you,' he said. 'You have not so much as earned
clothes to your back all the time you have been away.'

"'Don't be in such a way, father,' said the lad, 'you ought never to
judge a man by his clothes; and now you shall be my spokesman, and go up
to the palace and woo the king's daughter for me.' That was what the lad
said.

"'Oh, fie, fie,' said the father, 'this is only gibing and jeering.'

"But the lad said it was the right down earnest, and so he took a birch
cudgel and drove his father up to the gate of the palace, and there he
came hobbling right up to the king with his eyes full of tears.

"'Now, now!' said the king, 'what's the matter my man. If you have
suffered wrong, I will see you righted.'

"No, it wasn't that, he said, but he had a son who had brought him great
sorrow, for he could never make a man of him, and now he must say he had
gone clean out of the little wit he had before, and then he went on,--

"'For now he has hunted me up to the palace gate with a big birch
cudgel, and forced me to ask for the king's daughter to wife.'

"'Hold your tongue, my man,' said the king; 'and as for this son of
yours, go and ask him to come here indoors to me, and then we will see
what to make of him.'

"So the lad ran in before the king till his rags fluttered behind him.

"'Am I to have your daughter?'

"'That was just what we were to talk about,' said the king; 'perhaps she
mayn't suit you, and perhaps you mayn't suit her either.'

"'That was very likely!' said the lad.

"Now you must know there had just come a big ship from over the sea, and
she could be seen from the palace windows.

"'All the same!' said the King. 'If you are good to make a ship in an
hour or two like that lying yonder in the fjord and looking so brave,
you may perhaps have her.' That was what the king said.

"'Nothing worse than that!' said the lad.

"So he went down to the strand and sat down on a sandhill, and when he
had sat there long enough, he wished that a ship might be out on the
fjord fully furnished with masts, and sails and rigging, the very match
of that which lay there already. And as he wished for it there it lay,
and when the king saw there were two ships for one, he came down to the
strand to see the rights of it, and there he saw the lad standing out in
a boat with a brush in his hand as though he were painting out spots and
making blisters in the paint good--but as soon as he saw the king down
on the shore he threw away the brush and said,--

"'Now the ship is ready, may I have your daughter?'

"'This is all very well,' said the king, 'but you try your hand at
another masterpiece first. If you can build a palace, a match to my
palace in one or two hours, we will see about it.' That was what the
king said.

"'Nothing worse than that,' bawled out the lad and strode off. So when
he had sauntered about so long, that the time was nearly up, he wished
that a palace might stand there the very match of that which stood there
already. It was not long, I trow, before it stood there, and it was not
long either before the king came, both with queen and princess to look
about him in the new palace. There stood the lad again with his broom
and swept.

"'Here's the palace right and ready,' he called out 'may I have her
now?'

"'Very well, very well,' said the king, 'you may come in and we will
talk it over,' for he saw clearly the lad could do more than eat his
meat, and so he walked up and down, and thought and thought how he might
be rid of him. Yes! there they walked, the king first and foremost, and
after him the queen, and then the princess next before the lad. So as
they walked along, all at once the lad wished that he might become the
handsomest man in all the world, and so he was in a trice. When the
princess saw how handsome he had grown in no time, she gave the queen a
nudge, and the queen passed it on to the king, and when they had all
stared their full, they saw still more plainly, the lad was more than he
seemed to be when he first came in all tattered and torn. So they
settled it among them, that the princess should go daintily to work till
she had found out all about him. Yes! the princess made herself as sweet
and as soft as a whole firkin of butter, and coaxed and hoaxed the lad,
telling him she could not bear him out of her eyes, day or night. So
when the first evening was coming to an end, she said,--

"'As we are to have one another, you and I, you must keep nothing back
from me, dearest, and so you will tell me, I am sure, how you came to
make all these grand things.'

"'Aye, aye,' then said the lad, 'all that you'll come to know in good
time. Only let us be man and wife; there's no good talking about it till
then.' That was what he said.

"The next evening the princess was rather put out. She could see with
half an eye, she said, 'that he couldn't care very much for his
sweetheart, when he wouldn't tell her what she asked him. So it would be
with all the rest of his love-making, when he wouldn't meet her wishes
in such a little thing.'

"Now the lad was quite cut to the heart, and that they might be friends
again he told her the whole story from beginning to end. She was not
slow in telling it to the king and queen, and so they laid their heads
together how they might get the ring from the lad, and when they had
done that they thought it would be no such hard thing to be rid of him.

"At night the princess came with some sleeping-drops, and said, now she
would pour out a little philtre for her own true love, for she was sure
he did not care enough for her; that was what she said. Yes! he thought
no harm could come of it, and so he drained off the drink like a man,
and in a trice he fell so sound asleep, they might have pulled the house
down over his head without waking him. So the princess took the ring off
his finger and put it on her own, and wished the lad might lie on the
dung-heap outside in the street, just as tattered and beggarly as he was
when he came in, and in his place she wished for the handsomest prince
in the world. In the twinkling of an eye it all happened. As the night
wore on the lad woke up on the dunghill, and at first he thought it was
only a dream, but when he found the ring was gone he knew how it had all
happened, and then he got so bewildered that he set off and was just
going to jump into the lake and drown himself.

"But just then he met the cat which his master had bought for him.

"'Whither away?' asked the cat.

"'To the lake to drown myself,' said the lad.

"'Don't think of it,' said the cat; 'you shall get your ring back again,
never fear.'

"'Oh, shall I, shall I?' said the lad.

"By this time the cat was already off, and as she started she met a rat.

"'Now I'll take and gobble you up,' said the cat.

"'Oh! pray don't,' said the rat, 'and I'll get you the ring again.'

"'If so, be quick about it,' said the cat, 'or----'

"So after they had taken up their abode in the palace, the rat ran about
poking his nose into everything, trying to get into the prince and
princess's bedroom. At last he found a little hole and crept through it.
Then he heard how they lay awake talking, and the rat could tell that
the prince had the ring on his finger, for the princess said, 'Mind you
take great care of my ring, dear.' That was what she said; but what the
prince said was,--

"'Pooh, no one will come in hither after the ring through stone and
mortar; but, for all that, if you think it isn't safe on my finger, I
can just as well put it into my mouth.'

"In a little while the prince turned over on his back, and tried to go to
sleep, and as he did so the ring was just slipping down into his throat,
and then he coughed it up, so that it shot out of his mouth and rolled
away over the floor--Pop!--up the rat snapped it and crept off with it
to the cat who sat outside watching at the rat-hole.

"All this while the king had laid hands on the lad and put him into a
strong tower and doomed him to lose his life, for that he had made jeers
and gibes at him and his daughter, and there he was to stay till the day
of his death. Now, as the cat was hard at work prowling about trying to
steal into the tower with the ring to the lad, a great eagle came flying
and pounced down on her and caught her up in his claws and flew away
with her over the sea. But just in the nick of time came a falcon and
struck at the eagle, so that he let the cat fall into the sea; but when
the cat felt the cold water, she got so frightened she dropped the ring
and swam to shore. She had not shaken the water off her, and smoothed
her coat, before she met the dog which his master had bought for the
lad.

"'Nay! nay!' said the cat, and purred and was in a sad way, 'what's to
be done now? the ring is gone and they will take the lad's life.'

"'I'm sure I don't know,' said the dog, 'all I know is that something is
riving and rending my inside. It couldn't be worse, if I were going to
turn inside out.'

"'Now you see what comes of over-eating yourself,' said the cat.

"'I never eat more than I can carry,' said the dog; 'and this time I
have eaten nothing but a dead fish which lay floating up and down on the
ebb.'

"'May be that fish had swallowed the ring,' said the cat. 'And now I
dare say you are going to pay for it too, for you know you can't digest
gold.'

"'It may well be,' said the dog. 'It's much the same whether one loses
life first or last. Perhaps, the lad's life might then be saved.'

"'Oh!' said the rat, for he was there too, 'don't say that. I don't want
much of a hole to creep into, and if the ring is there may I never tell
the truth, if I don't poke it out.'

"Well! the rat crept down the dog's throat, and it was not long before
he came out again with the ring. Then the cat set off to the tower and
clambered up about it, till she found a hole into which she could put
her paw, and so she gave back his ring to the lad.

"The lad no sooner got it on his finger than he wished the tower might
rend asunder, and at the same moment he stood in the doorway and scolded
both the king and queen and the princess as a pack of rogues. The king
was not slow in calling out his warriors, and bade them throw a ring
round the tower and seize the lad and settle him whether they took him
dead or alive. But the lad only wished that all the soldiers might stand
up to the armpits in the big moss up in the fjeld, and then they had
more than enough to get out again, all that were not left sticking
there. After that he began again where he left off with the king and his
folk, and when he had got his mouth to say all the bad of them that he
knew and willed, he wished they might be shut up all their days in the
tower into which they had thrown him. And when they were safe shut up
there, he took the land and realm as his own. Then the dog became a
prince and the cat a princess again, her he took and married, and the
last I heard of them, was, that they kept it up at the bridal both well
and long."



OUR PARISH CLERK.


"Once on a time there was a clerk in our parish, who was very sharp set
after all that was nice and good. All the parish said his brains were in
his belly, for though he was very fond of pretty girls and buxom wives,
still he liked good meat and drink even better.

"'Aye, aye,' said our clerk; 'one can't live long on love and the south
wind.' That was his motto, and that was why he kept company most with
well-to-do-house-wives, with those who were new wedded, or with pretty
lasses who were sure to marry rich husbands, for there you were sure to
find titbits both of beauty and food. That was what our clerk thought.
It wasn't every one, indeed, who thought it so fine to have such a
cupboard lover, but yet there were some who looked on it as fine enough
for them, for, after all, a parish clerk stands a little higher than a
farmer.

"Now it fell out there was a rich young lass who had married our clerk's
next-door neighbour. There he crept in and out, and soon got good
friends with the husband, and better friends still with his wife. When
the husband was at home all went well between them, but as soon as he
was away at the mill, or in the wood, or at floating timber, or at a
meeting, the goody sent word to the clerk, and then the two spent the
day in revelling and mirth. There was no one who found this out, before
the ploughboy got wind of it, and he thought he would just speak of it
to his master; but, somehow or other, he couldn't find a fitting time
till one day when they were together in the outfield gathering leaves
for litter. There they chatted this and that about lasses and wives, and
the master thought he had made a lucky hit in marrying such a rich and
pretty wife, and he said as much outright.

"'Thank God, she is both good and clever.'

"'Aye, aye,' said the lad; 'every man is welcome to believe what he
likes, but if you knew her as well as I do, you wouldn't say such words
at random. Pretty women are like wind in warm summer weather.

    'And love is such that, willy, nilly,
    It takes up with a clerk as well as a lily.'

"'What's that you say?' said the man.

"'I have long thought I would tell you that there's a black bull that
walks hoof to hoof and horn to horn with that milk-white cow in your
mead, master--that's what I wanted to say.'

"'One can say much in a summer day,' said the man; 'but I can't
understand what this points to.'

"'Is it so?' said the lad. 'Well, I have long thought of telling you
that our clerk is often and ever in our house with the mistress, and how
they lived as though there was a bridal every day, while we scarce get
so much as the leavings of their good cheer.'

    "'He who will ever taste and try,
    Will burn his fingers in the pie,'

said his master. 'I don't believe a word of what you say.'

"'It's a strange ear that will never hear,' said the lad; 'but seeing is
believing, and if you will listen to me, I'm ready to wager ten dollars
that you shall soon have the proof in your own hands.'

"'Done,' said the master; 'he would bet ten dollars; nay, for that
matter, he would bet horse and farm, and a hundred dollars into the
bargain.'

"Well, that wager was to stand. 'But an old fox is hard to hunt,' said
the lad, and so his master must say and do all that his ploughboy
wished. When they got home he was to say they must set off for the river
and land timber, and his wife must put up some food for them in hot
haste; it was best to look out while the weather was fine, it might turn
to storm in a trice. Yes! That was what the husband said, and the food
was ready to the minute. The lad put the horses to the timber drags, and
off they went, but no farther than half a mile; there they put the
horses up at a farm, and turned in themselves. As the night came on they
went back, and when they got home, the door was locked fast.

"'Now we have him,' said the lad; 'it's hard to keep off the field to
which one is wont.'

"So they went by the back way from the garden, and so through a
trap-door in the cellar into the kitchen. Then they struck a light and
went into the parlour, and saw what they saw. Well! our clerk had eaten
so well that he lay snoring with his mouth open and his nose in the air;
as for the goody, she was not awake either.

"'Now you see I was right; seeing is believing, master,' said the lad.

"'May I never speak the truth again,' said the man, 'if I would have
believed ten men telling it.'

"'Hush, be still,' said the lad, and took him out again.

"'Man's law is not land's law,' said the lad; 'but even a bear can be
tamed if you know how to deal with him. Have you any lead, master?

"Yes! He had, he was sure, more than seventy bullets in his pouch. Then
it was all right. They took a sauce-pan, and melted the lead on the
spot, and ran it down our clerk's throat.

"'Every man has his own taste,' said the lad, 'and that's why all meat
is eaten,' as he heard the molten lead bubbling and frizzling in our
clerk's throat.

"Then they went out by the way they got in, and began to knock and
thunder at the front door. The wife woke up and asked who was there.

"'It is I, open the door, I say,' said the husband.

"Then she gave our clerk a nudge in the ribs. 'It is the master; the
master is back,' she said. But no! he did not mind her, and never so
much as stirred. Then she put her knees to his side, and tumbled him on
to the floor, and jumped up and took him by the legs, and dragged him to
the heap of wood behind the stove, and there she hid him. Till she had
done that she had no time to open the door to her husband.

"'Were you gone after christening water, that you were gone so long?'
asked the man.

"'Oh!' she answered; 'I dozed off again to sleep, and I did not think it
could ever be you either.'

"'Well!' said her husband; 'now you must bring out some food, for me and
the boy, we are a'most starved.'

"'I've got no food ready,' said the goody. 'How can you think of such a
thing? I never thought you would be back either to-day or to-morrow. Why
you know you were to go to the river to land timber.'

"'One can't hang a hungry man up on the wall like a clock,' said the
lad; 'and self-help is the best help; shall I bring in the food we
packed up, master.'

"Yes; they did that, and they sat down to eat out of the knapsack; but
when they got up to put a log or two on the fire, there lay our clerk
among the pile of wood.

"'Why who in the world is this?' asked the man.

"'Oh! oh! It's only a beggar man who came here so late and begged for
house-room; he was quite content if he might only lie among the
firewood,' said the goody.

"'A pretty beggar,' said the man; 'why he has got silver buckles to his
shoes, and silver buttons at his knees.'

"'All are not beggars who are tattered and torn,' said the lad; 'but I'm
blessed if this isn't our parish clerk.'

"'What was he doing here, mistress,' asked her husband, who all the
while kept on pulling and kicking at him. But our clerk never so much as
stirred or lifted a finger, There stood the goody fumbling and
stammering, and not knowing what to say. All she could do was to bite
her thumb.

"'I see it in your face, what you have done, mistress,' said her
husband. 'But life is hard to lose, and, after all, he was our parish
clerk. If I did what was right, I should send off at once for the
sheriff.'

"'Heaven help us,' said his wife; 'only get our clerk out of the way.'

"'This is your matter, and not mine,' said the man. 'I never asked him
hither, nor sent for him; but if you can get any one to help you to get
rid of him, I won't stand in your way.'

"Then she took the lad on one side, and said,--

"'I've laid up some woollen stuff for my husband, but I'll give it to
you for clothes, if you'll only get our clerk buried, so that he shall
never be seen or heard of again.'

"'There's no saying what one can do till one tries. If we drive in the
frost, we shall find it slippery, to our cost. Have you ropes and cord,
master? if so, I'll see if I can't cure this.'

"Well! he got our clerk fast in a slipknot, threw him on his back,
caught up his hat as well, and away he went. But he hadn't gone far
along the path in the meadow when he met some horses; so he caught one
of these, and tied and bound our clerk fast on his back. He put his hat,
too, on his head, and his hand down on his thigh, and there he sat
upright, and jogged up and down just as a man on horseback.

"'One may kill trolls at any time of night,' said the lad, when he got
home; 'who can say when a man is 'fey.' But he will never rise up who is
safe buried under ground, and the cock that is slain crows never again.'

"Now, whether all this were true or no, there was a way from the meadow
across the fields to a barn, and along it they had carted hay, and
dropped it as they went along; so the horse went that way, picking up
the hay as he went, and out in that barn were two men watching for
thieves who used to steal the hay, for it had been a bad year for
fodder.

"'Here comes the thief,' they said, when they heard the horse's hoofs;
'now we shall catch him.'

"'Who's there,' they called out, so that it rang against the hillside.
No! there was no answer, the horse paid little heed, and our clerk less.

"'If you don't answer I'll send a bullet through your brains, you
horse-thief,' they both called out, and then off went the gun, at which
the horse gave such a sudden jump, that our clerk gave a bob, and fell
bump on the ground.

"'I think,' said one of the watchers, as he jumped up to look, 'I think
you've shot him dead as mutton;' and then, when he saw who it was, 'Oh
Lord!' he said, 'if it ain't our parish clerk. You ought to have aimed
at his legs, and not killed him outright.'

"'What's done is done, and can't be helped,' said the other. 'Least said
soonest mended. We must keep our ears close, and bury him for a little
while among the hay in the barn.'

"Yes! They did that, and when it was over, they lay them down to rest.
In a little while came some one puffing and stamping, that the field
shook again. The two who lay among the hay nudged one another, for they
thought it was thieves again. Close to the barn was a stepping-stone,
and there the new-comer sat down with his load, and began to talk to
himself. He had been killing pigs at a farm a few days before, and
thought he had been paid too little for his work, too little pay and too
little board, and so he had set off and stolen the biggest porker. 'He
that swaps with a bear always comes worst off,' he said; 'and so it's
best to help one's self to what is right, and a little share is better
than a long law-suit. But, bitter death! If I haven't forgotten my
gloves; if they find them at the farm, they'll soon find out who has
inherited their porker.' And, as he said this, he bolted back after his
gloves.

"The two who were in the barn lay and listened to all this.

"'He who lays traps for others, comes into the trap himself,' said one.

"'There's no sin in stealing from a thief,' said the other; 'and no one
is hanged, save those who can't steal right. It would be fine fun to get
rid of our clerk in an easy way, and get a fat pig instead. I think, old
chap, we had better make a swap.'

"The other burst out laughing at this, and so they tumbled the pig out
of the sack and tossed in our clerk, head foremost, hat and all, and
tied up the mouth of the sack as tight as they could.

"Just as they had done, back came the thief flying with his gloves,
snatched up the sack, and strode off home. There he cast the sack down
on the floor at his goody's feet.

"'Here's what I call a porker, old lass,' he said.

"'How grand!' said the goody. 'Nothing is all very fine to the eye, but
not to the mouth. One can't get on without meat, for meat is man's
strength. Thank Heaven we have now a bit of meat in the house, and shall
be able to live well awhile.'

"'I took the biggest I could,' said the man, who sat down in his
armchair, and puffed and wiped the sweat off his brow. 'He had both
breeches and drawers, he was well covered, that he was.' By which he
meant the pig was well fed and fat. Then he went on, 'Have you any meat
in the house, old lass?'

"'No,' she said; 'meat! where should I get meat?'

"'Make up the fire then,' said the man; 'and sharpen your knife, and cut
off a wee bit, and fry it with salt, and let's have a pork chop.'

"She did as he bade, and tore open the mouth of the sack, and was just
going to cut off a steak.

"'What's all this?' she cried. 'He has got his trotters on,' when she
saw his shoes; 'and he's as black as a coal.'

"'Don't you know,' said her husband; 'all cats are grey in the dark, and
all pigs black.'

"'I dare say,' she said; 'but black or white is always bright, and a fog
is not like a bilberry. This pig has got breeches on.'

"'Plague take him!' said the man. 'I know well enough he is covered with
fat all down his legs. Haven't I carried him till the sweat ran down my
face?'

"'Nay, nay!' said the goody. 'He has silver buckles in his shoes, and
silver buttons at his knees. My! if it isn't our Parish Clerk!' she
screamed out.

"'I tell you it was a fat pig I took,' said the man, as he jumped up to
see how things stood. 'Well! Well! Seeing is believing.' It was our
clerk, both with shoes and buckles; but, for all, he stuck to it, it was
the fattest pig he had put into the sack.

"'But what's done can't be undone,' he said; 'the best servant is one's
own self; but, for all that, help is good, even if it comes out of the
porridge-pot; wake up our Mary, old girl.'

"Now you must know Mary was their daughter, a ready and trusty lass; she
had the strength of a man too, and always had her wits about her. So she
was to take our clerk and bury him in an out-of-the-way dale, so that
nothing should ever be heard of him. If she did this, she was to have a
new suit of working clothes, which were meant for her mother.

"Well! The lassie took our clerk round the body, tossed him on her back,
and strode off from the farm, not forgetting to take his hat. But when
she had gone a bit of the way, she heard a fiddle going, for there was a
dance at a farm near the road, and so she crept in and set our clerk
down upright behind the back-stairs. There he sat with his hat between
his hands, just as though he were begging an alms, and leaning against
the wall and a post.

"After a while came a girl in a flurry.

"'I wonder whoever this can be,' she said. 'The master of the house is
as grey as a goose, but this fellow is black as a raven. Halloa, you
sir, why are you sitting there, blocking up the way? One can scarce get
by.'

"But our clerk said never a word.

"'Are you poor? Do you beg for a penny for Heaven's sake? Ah! poor
fellow! Here's two pence for you,' and as she said this she tossed them
into his hat. Still our clerk said never a word. She waited a little,
for she thought he would say 'Thank you,' but our clerk did not so much
as nod his head.

"'No, I never,' said the girl, when she went back into the ball-room. 'I
never did see the like of a beggar who sits out yonder by the staircase.
He isn't at all like a starling on a fence,' she went on; 'for he won't
answer, and he won't say "Thank you," and won't so much as lift a
finger, though I did give him two pence.'

"'The least a beggar can do is to say "Thank you,"' cried a young
sheriff's clerk who was of the party. 'He must be a pretty fellow whom I
cannot get to speak, for I've made thieves and stiff-necked folk open
their mouths wide before this.'

"As he said this he ran out to the stairs, and bawled out in our clerk's
ear, for he thought he was hard of hearing.

"'What do you sit here for, you sir?' And then again, 'Are you poor? Do
you beg?'

"No, our clerk said never a word. So he took out half-a-dollar, and
threw it into his hat, saying, 'There's something for you.' But our
clerk was still silent, and made no sign. So when he could get no thanks
out of him, the sheriff's officer gave him a blow under the ear, as hard
as he could, and down fell our clerk head over heels across the
staircase. And you may be sure the girl Mary was not slow in running to
the spot.

"'Are you in a swoon, or are you dead, father,' she screeched out, and
then she went on screaming and bewailing herself.

"'It's quite true,' she said; 'there's no peace for the poor after all,
but I never yet heard of any one laying themselves out to strike beggars
dead.'

"'Hush! Hold your tongue,' said the sheriff's officer. 'Don't make a
fuss. Here you have ten dollars, keep your peace and take him away. I
only gave him a blow that made him swoon.'

"Well! She was glad enough. 'Money brings money,' she thought; 'with
fair words and money, one can go far in a day, and one need never care
for food with a purse full of pence.' So she took our clerk on her back
again, and strode off to the nearest farm, and there she put him athwart
the brink of the well. When our Mary got home she said she had borne him
off to the wood, and buried him far far away in a side dale.

"'Thank Heaven,' said the goody. 'Now we are well quit of him, you shall
have all I promised, and more besides. Be sure of that.'

"So there lay our clerk, as though he were peering down into the well,
till at dawn of day the ploughboy came running up to draw water.

"'Why are you lying there, and what are you gazing at? Out of the way. I
want some water,' said the lad.

"No! He neither stirred hand or foot. Then the lad let drive at him, so
that it went _plump_, and there lay our clerk in the well. Then he must
have help to get him out, but there was no help for it till the hind
came with a boat-hook and dragged him out.

"'Why! it's our Parish Clerk!' they all bawled out, and they all thought
he had eaten and drank so much at some feast, that he had fallen asleep
by the well-side.

"But when the master of the house came and saw our clerk, and heard how
it had all happened, he said,--

"'Harm watches while men sleep; but man's scathe is the worst scathe.
When one pot strikes against another, both break. Take the saddle and
lay it on Blackie, and ride to fetch the sheriff, my lad, and then we
shall be out of harm's way, for our clerk's sake. Mishaps never come
single, but it's hard to drown on dry land.' That was what the master
said.

"Yes! The lad rode off to the sheriff, and after a while the sheriff
came. But, as the saying is, more haste, worse speed, and work done in
haste will never last. So it took time before they got the doctor and
witnesses to come. Now you all know we owe a death to God; but then it
was made as plain as day that our clerk had been killed three times
before he tumbled into the well. First the ladle of lead had taken away
his breath, next he had a bullet through his forehead, and third and
last his neck was broken. Surely he was 'fey' when he set out to see the
goody. It is hard to tell how all this was found out at last; but
tongues will clack behind a man's back, and hard things are said of a
man when he's dead."



SILLY MEN AND CUNNING WIVES.


"Once on a time there were two Goodies, who quarrelled, as women often
will; and when they had nothing else to quarrel about, they fell to
fighting about their husbands, as to which was the silliest of them. The
longer they strove the worse they got, and at last they had almost come
to pulling caps about it, for, as every one knows, it is easier to begin
than to end, and it is a bad look out when wit is wanting. At last, one
of them said there was nothing she could not get her husband to believe,
if she only said it, for he was as easy as a Troll. Then the other said
there was nothing so silly that she could not get her husband to do, if
she only said it must be done, for he was such a fool, he could not tell
B from a bull's foot.

"'Well! let us put it to the proof, which of us can fool them best, and
then we'll see which is the silliest.' That was what they said once, and
so it was settled.

"Now when the first husband, Master Northgrange came home from the wood,
his goody said--

"'Heaven help us both! what is the matter! you are surely ill, if you
are not at death's door?'

"'Nothing ails me but want of meat and drink,' said the man.

"'Now, Heaven be my witness!' screamed out the wife, 'it gets worse and
worse. You look just like a corpse in face; you must go to bed! Dear!
dear! this never can last long!' And so she went on till she got her
husband to believe he was hard at death's door, and she put him to bed;
and then she made him fold his hands on his breast, and shut his eyes;
and so she stretched his limbs, and laid him out, and put him into a
coffin; but that he might not be smothered while he lay there, she had
some holes made in the sides, so that he could breathe and peep out.

"The other goody, she took a pair of carding combs, and began to card
wool; but she had no wool on them. In came the man, and saw this
tomfoolery.

"'There's no use,' he said, 'in a wheel without wool; but carding combs,
without wool, is work for a fool.'

"'Without wool!' said the goody; 'I have wool, only you can't see it;
it's of the fine sort.' So, when she had carded it all, she took her
wheel, and fell a-spinning.

"'Nay! nay! this is all labour lost!" said the man. 'There you sit,
wearing out your wheel, as it spins and hums, and all the while you've
nothing on it.'

"'Nothing on it!' said the goody; 'the thread is so fine, it takes
better eyes than yours to see it, that's all.'

"So, when her spinning was over, she set up her loom, and put the woof
in, and threw the shuttle, and wove cloth. Then she took it out of the
loom and pressed it and cut it out, and sewed a new suit of clothes for
her husband out of it, and when it was ready, she hung the suit up in
the linen closet. As for the man, he could see neither cloth nor
clothes; but as he had once for all got it into his head that it was too
fine for him to see, he went on saying, 'Aye, aye, I understand it all,
it is so fine because it is so fine.'

"Well! in a day or two his goody said to him,

"'To-day you must go to a funeral. Farmer Northgrange is dead, and they
bury him to-day, and so you had better put on your new clothes.'

"'Yes, very true, he must go to the funeral;' and she helped him on with
his new suit, for it was so fine, he might tear it asunder if he put it
on alone.

"So when he came up to the farm, where the funeral was to be, they had
all drank hard and long, and you may fancy their grief was not greater
when they saw him come in in his new suit. But when the train set off
for the churchyard, and the dead man peeped through the breathing holes,
he burst out into a loud fit of laughter.

"'Nay! nay!' he said, 'I can't help laughing, though it is my funeral,
for if there isn't Olof Southgrange walking to my funeral stark naked!'

"When the bearers heard that, they were not slow in taking the lid off
the coffin, and the other husband, he in the new suit, asked how it was
that he, over whom they had just drank his funeral ale, lay there in his
coffin and chatted and laughed, when it would be more seemly if he wept.

"'Ah!' said the other; 'you know tears never yet dug up any one out of
his grave--that's why I laughed myself to life again.'

"But the end of all their talk was that it came out that their goodies
had played them those tricks. So the husbands went home, and did the
wisest thing either of them had done for a long time; and if any one
wishes to know what it was, he had better go and ask the birch cudgel."



TAPER TOM.


"Once on a time there was a King, who had a daughter, and she was so
lovely, that her good looks were well known far and near; but she was so
sad and serious, she could never be got to laugh; and, besides, she was
so high and mighty, that she said 'No' to all who wooed her to wife, and
she would have none of them, were they ever so grand--lords and princes,
it was all the same. The king had long ago got tired of this, for he
thought she might just as well marry, she, too, like the rest of the
world. There was no good waiting; she was quite old enough, nor would
she be any richer, for she was to have half the kingdom, that came to
her as her mother's heir.

"So he had it given out at the church door both quick and soon, that any
one who could get his daughter to laugh should have her and half the
kingdom. But if there were any one who tried and could not, he was to
have three red stripes cut out of his back, and salt rubbed in; and sure
it was that there were many sore backs in that kingdom, for lovers and
wooers came from north and south, and east and west, thinking it nothing
at all to make a king's daughter laugh; and brave fellows they were,
some of them, too; but for all their tricks and capers, there sat the
princess, just as sad and serious as she had been before.

"Now, hard by the Palace lived a man who had three sons, and they too
had heard how the king had given it out that the man who could make the
princess laugh was to have her to wife and half the kingdom.

"The eldest, he was for setting off first; so he strode off; and when he
came to the king's grange, he told the king he would be glad to try to
make the princess laugh.

"'All very well, my man,' said the king; 'but it's sure to be no good,
for so many have been here and tried. My daughter is so sorrowful, it's
no use trying, and I don't at all wish that any one should come to
grief.'

"But he thought there was use. It couldn't be such a very hard thing for
him to get a princess to laugh, for so many had laughed at him, both
gentle and simple, when he listed for a soldier, and learnt his drill
under Corporal Jack. So he went off to the courtyard, under the
princess's window, and began to go through his drill as Corporal Jack
had taught him. But it was no good, the princess was just as sad and
serious, and did not so much as smile at him once. So they took him, and
cut three broad red stripes out of his back, and sent him home again.

"Well! he had hardly got home before his second brother wanted to set
off. He was a schoolmaster, and a wonderful figure of fun besides; he
was lop-sided, for he had one leg shorter than the other, and one moment
he was as little as a boy, and in another, when he stood on his long
leg, he was as tall and long as a Troll. Besides this, he was a powerful
preacher.

"So when he came to the king's grange, and said he wished to make the
princess laugh, the king thought it might not be so unlikely after all.
'But Heaven help you!' he said, 'if you don't make her laugh. We are for
cutting the stripes broader and broader for every one that tries.'

"Then the schoolmaster strode off to the courtyard, and put himself
before the princess's window, and read and preached like seven parsons,
and sang and chanted like seven clerks, as loud as all the parsons and
clerks in the country round. The king laughed loud at him, and was
forced to hold the posts in the gallery, and the princess was just going
to put a smile on her lips, but all at once she got as sad and serious
as ever; and so it fared no better with Paul the schoolmaster than with
Peter the soldier--for you must know one was called Peter and the other
Paul. So they took him and cut three red stripes out of his back, and
rubbed the salt well in, and then they sent him home again.

"Then the youngest was all for setting out, and his name was Taper Tom;
but his brothers laughed and jeered at him, and showed him their sore
backs, and his father would not give him leave, for he said, how could
it be of any use to him, when he had no sense, for, wasn't it true that
he neither knew anything or could do anything? There he sat in the ingle
by the chimney corner, like a cat, and grubbed in the ashes and split
fir tapers. That was why they called him 'Taper Tom.' But Taper Tom
wouldn't give in, for he growled and grizzled so long, that they got
tired of his growling, and so, at last, he too got leave to go to the
king's grange, and try his luck.

"When he got to the king's grange he did not say he wished to try to
make the princess laugh, but asked if he could get a place there. 'No,'
they had no place for him; but for all that Taper Tom wouldn't take an
answer; they must want some one, he said, to carry wood and water for
the kitchen-maid, in such a big grange as that--that was what he said;
and the king thought it might very well be, for he, too, got tired of
his worry, and the end was, Taper Tom got leave to stay there and carry
wood and water for the kitchen-maid.

"So, one day, when he was going to fetch water from the beck, he set
eyes on a big fish, which lay under an old fir stump, where the water
had eaten into the bank, and he put his bucket so softly under the fish,
and caught it. But as he was going home to the grange he met an old
woman who led a golden goose by a string.

"'Good day, godmother,' said Taper Tom; 'that's a pretty bird you have
got; and what fine feathers!--they dazzle one a long way off. If one
only had such feathers one might leave off splitting fir tapers.'

"The goody was just as pleased with the fish Tom had in his bucket, and
said, if he would give her the fish, he might have the golden goose; and
it was such a goose, that when any one touched it, he stuck fast to it,
if Tom only said, 'Hang on, if you care to come with us.'

"Yes! that swap Taper Tom was willing enough to make.

"'A bird is as good as a fish, any day,' he said to himself; and if it's
such a bird as you say, I can use it as a fish-hook.' That was what he
said to the goody, and was so pleased with the goose. Now, he hadn't
gone far before he met another old woman, and as soon as she saw the
lovely gold goose she was all for running up to it and patting it; and
she spoke so prettily, and coaxed him so, and begged him give her leave
to stroke his lovely golden goose.

"'With all my heart,' said Taper Tom; 'but, mind you don't pluck out any
of its feathers.'

"Just as she stroked the goose, he said,

"'Hang on, if you care to come with us!'

"The goody pulled and tore, but she was forced to hang on, whether she
would or no, and Taper Tom went before, as though he alone were with the
golden goose. So when he had gone a bit further, he met a man who had a
thorn in his side against the goody for a trick she had played him. So,
when he saw how hard she struggled and strove to get free, and how fast
she stuck, he thought he would be quite safe in giving her one for her
nob, to pay off the old grudge, and so he just gave her a kick with his
foot.

"'Hang on, if you care to come with us!' called out Tom, and then the
man had to limp along on one leg, whether he would or no, and when he
jibbed and jibed, and tried to break loose, it was still worse for him,
for he was all but falling flat on his back every step he took.

"So they went on a good bit till they had about come to the king's
grange. There they met the king's smith, who was going to the smithy,
and had a great pair of tongs in his hand. Now you must know this smith
was a merry fellow, who was as full of tricks and pranks as an egg is
full of meat, and when he saw this string come hobbling and limping
along, he laughed so that he was almost bent in two, and then he bawled
out, 'Surely this is a new flock of geese the princess is going to have;
who can tell which is goose and which gander! Ah! I see, this must be
the gander that toddles in front. Goosey! goosey! goosey!' he called
out; and with that he coaxed them to him, and threw his hands about as
though he were scattering corn for the geese.

"But the flock never stopped--on it went, and all that the goody and the
man did was to look daggers at the smith for making game of them. Then
the smith went on,

"'It would be fine fun to see if I could hold the whole flock, so many
as they are;' for he was a stout strong fellow, and so he took hold,
with his big tongs, by the old man's coat tail, and the man all the
while bellowed and wriggled; but Taper Tom only said,

"'Hang on, if you care to come with us.'

"So the smith had to go along too. He bent his back and stuck his heels
into the hill, and tried to get loose; but it was all no good, he stuck
fast, as though he had been screwed tight with his own anvil, and,
whether he would or no, he had to dance along with the rest.

"So, when they came near to the king's grange, the mastiff ran out and
began to bay and bark as though they were wolves or beggars; and when
the princess looked out of the window to see what was the matter, and
set eyes on this strange pack, she laughed inwardly. But Taper Tom was
not content with that.

"'Bide a bit,' he said, 'she'll soon have to open the door of her mouth
wider;' and as he said that he turned off with his band to the back of
the grange.

"So, when they passed by the kitchen, the door stood open, and the cook
was just beating the porridge; but when she saw Taper Tom and his pack
she came running out at the door, with her brush in one hand, and a
wooden ladle full of smoking porridge in the other, and she laughed as
though her sides would split; and when she saw the smith there too, she
slapped her thigh and went off again in a loud peal. But when she had
laughed her laugh out, she too thought the golden goose so lovely she
must just stroke it.

"'Taper Tom! Taper Tom!' she bawled out, and came running out with the
ladle of porridge in her fist, 'may I have leave to stroke that pretty
bird of yours?'

"'Better let her stroke me,' said the smith.

"'I daresay,' said Taper Tom.

"But when the cook heard that she got angry.

"'What is that you say!' she cried, and let fly at the smith with the
ladle.

"'Hang on, if you care to come with us,' said Taper Tom. So she stuck
fast, she, too; and for all her kicks and plunges, and all her scolding
and screaming, and all her riving and striving, and all her rage, she
too had to limp along with them.

"But when they came outside the window of the princess, there she stood,
waiting for them; and when she saw they had taken the cook too, with her
ladle and brush, she opened her mouth wide, and laughed loud, so that
the king had to hold her upright. So Taper Tom got the princess and half
the kingdom; and they had such a merry wedding, it was heard and talked
of far and wide."



THE TROLLS IN HEDALE WOOD.


"Up at a place in Vaage, in Gudbrandsdale, there lived once on a time in
the days of old a poor couple. They had many children, and two of the
sons who were about half grown up had to be always roaming about the
country begging. So it was that they were well known with all the
highways and by-ways, and they also knew the short cut into Hedale.

"It happened once that they wanted to get thither, but at the same time
they heard that some falconers had built themselves a hut at Mæla, and
so they wished to kill two birds with one stone, and see the birds, and
how they are taken, and so they took the cut across Longmoss. But you
must know it was far on towards autumn, and so the milkmaids had all
gone home from the shielings, and they could neither get shelter nor
food. Then they had to keep straight on for Hedale, but the path was a
mere track, and when night fell they lost it; and, worse still, they
could not find the falconers' hut either, and before they knew where
they were, they found themselves in the very depths of the forest. As
soon as they saw they could not get on, they began to break boughs, lit
a fire, and built themselves a bower of branches, for they had a
hand-axe with them; and, after that, they plucked heather and moss and
made themselves a bed. So a little while after they had lain down, they
heard something which sniffed and snuffed so with its nose; then the
boys pricked up their ears and listened sharp to hear whether it were
wild beasts or wood trolls, and just then something snuffed up the air
louder than ever, and said--

"'There's a smell of Christian blood here!'

"At the same time they heard such a heavy foot-fall that the earth shook
under it, and then they knew well enough the trolls must be about.

"'Heaven help us! what shall we do?' said the younger boy to his
brother.

"'Oh! you must stand as you are under the fir, and be ready to take our
bags and run away when you see them coming; as for me, I will take the
hand-axe,' said the other.

"All at once they saw the trolls coming at them like mad, and they were
so tall and stout, their heads were just as high as the fir-tops; but it
was a good thing they had only one eye between them all three, and that
they used turn and turn about. They had a hole in their foreheads into
which they put it, and turned and twisted it with their hands. The one
that went first, he must have it to see his way, and the others went
behind and took hold of the first.

"'Take up the traps,' said the elder of the boys, 'but don't run away
too far, but see how things go; as they carry their eye so high aloft
they'll find it hard to see me when I get behind them.'

"Yes! the brother ran before and the trolls after him, meanwhile the
elder got behind them and chopped the hindmost troll with his axe on the
ankle, so that the troll gave an awful shriek, and the foremost troll
got so afraid he was all of a shake and dropped the eye. But the boy was
not slow to snap it up. It was bigger than two quart pots put together,
and so clear and bright, that though it was pitch dark, everything was
as clear as day as soon as he looked through it.

"When the trolls saw he had taken their eye and done one of them harm,
they began to threaten him with all the evil in the world if he didn't
give back the eye at once.

"'I don't care a farthing for trolls and threats,' said the boy, 'now
I've got three eyes to myself and you three have got none, and besides
two of you have to carry the third.'

"If we don't get our eye back this minute, you shall be both turned to
stocks and stones,' screeched the trolls.

"But the boy thought things needn't go so fast; he was not afraid for
witchcraft or hard words. If they didn't leave him in peace he'd chop
them all three, so that they would have to creep and crawl along the
earth like cripples and crabs.

"When the trolls heard that, they got still more afraid and began to use
soft words. They begged so prettily that he would give them their eye
back, and then he should have both gold and silver and all that he
wished to ask. Yes! that seemed all very fine to the lad, but he must
have the gold and silver first, and so he said, if one of them would go
home and fetch as much gold and silver as would fill his and his
brother's bags, and give them two good cross-bows beside, they might
have their eye, but he should keep it until they did what he said.

"The trolls were very put out, and said none of them could go when he
hadn't his eye to see with, but all at once one of them began to bawl
out for their goody, for you must know they had a goody between them all
three as well as an eye. After a while an answer came from a knoll a
long way off to the north. So the trolls said she must come with two
steel cross-bows and two buckets full of gold and silver, and then it
was not long, you may fancy, before she was there. And when she heard
what had happened, she too began to threaten them with witchcraft. But
the trolls got so afraid, and begged her beware of the little wasp, for
she couldn't be sure he would not take away her eye too. So she threw
them the cross-bows and the buckets and the gold and the silver, and
strode off to the knoll with the trolls; and since that time no one has
ever heard that the trolls have walked in Hedale wood snuffing after
Christian blood."



THE SKIPPER AND OLD NICK.


"Once on a time there was a skipper who was so wonderfully lucky in
everything he undertook; there was no one who got such freights, and no
one who earned so much money, for it rolled in upon him on all sides,
and, in a word, there was no one who was good to make such voyages as
he, for whithersoever he sailed he took the wind with him;--nay! men did
say he had only to turn his hat and the wind turned the way he wished it
to blow.

"So he sailed for many years, both in the timber trade and to China, and
he had gathered money together like grass. But it so happened that once
he was coming home across the North sea with every sail set, as though
he had stolen both ship and lading; but he who wanted to lay hold on him
went faster still. It was Old Nick, for with him he had made a bargain,
as one may well fancy, and that very day the time was up, and he might
look any moment that Old Nick would come and fetch him.

"Well! the skipper came up on deck out of the cabin and looked at the
weather; then he called for the carpenter and some others of the crew,
and said they must go down into the hold and hew two holes in the ship's
bottom, and when they had done that they were to lift the pumps out of
their beds and drive them down tight into the holes they had made, so
that the sea might rise high up into the pumps.

"The crew wondered at all this, and thought it a funny bit of work, but
they did as the skipper ordered; they hewed holes in the ship's bottom
and drove the pumps in so tight that never a drop of water could come to
the cargo, but up in the pump itself the North sea stood seven feet
high.

"They had only just thrown the chips overboard after their piece of work
when Old Nick came on board in a gust of wind and caught the skipper by
the throat.

"'Stop, father!' said the skipper, 'there's no need to be in such a
hurry,' and as he said that he began to defend himself and to loose the
claws which Old Nick had stuck into him by the help of a marling-spike.

"'Haven't you made a bargain that you would always keep the ship dry and
tight?' asked the skipper. 'Yes! you're a pretty fellow; look down the
pumps, there's the water standing seven feet high in the pipe. Pump,
devil, pump! and pump the ship dry, and then you may take me and have me
as soon and as long as you choose.'

"Old Nick was not so clever that he was not taken in; he pumped and
strove, and the sweat ran down his back like a brook, so that you might
have turned a mill at the end of his backbone, but he only pumped out of
the North sea and into the North sea again. At last he got tired of that
work, and when he could not pump a stroke more, he set off in a sad
temper home to his grandmother to take a rest. As for the skipper, he
let him stay a skipper as long as he chose, and if he isn't dead, he is
still perhaps sailing on his voyages whithersoever he will, and twisting
the wind as he chooses only by turning his hat."



GOODY GAINST-THE-STREAM.


"Once on a time there was a man who had a goody who was so cross-grained
that there was no living with her. As for her husband he could not get
on with her at all, for whatever he wished she set her face right
against it.

"So it fell one Sunday in summer that the man and his wife went out into
the field to see how the crop looked; and when they came to a field of
rye on the other side of the river, the man said--

"'Ay! now it is ripe. To-morrow we must set to work and reap it.'

"'Yes,' said his wife, 'to-morrow we can set to work and shear it.'

"'What do you say,' said the man; 'shall we shear it? Mayn't we just as
well reap it?'

"'No,' said the goody, 'It shall be shorn.'

"'There is nothing so bad as a little knowledge,' said the man, 'but you
must have lost the little wit you had. When did you ever hear of
shearing a field?'

"'I know little, and I care to know little, I dare say,' said the goody,
'but I know very well that this field shall be shorn and not reaped.'

"That was what she said, and there was no help for it; it must and
should be shorn.

"So they walked about and quarrelled and strove till they came to the
bridge across the river, just above a deep hole.

"''Tis an old saying,' said the man, 'that good tools make good work,
but I fancy it will be a fine swathe that is shorn with a pair of
shears. Mayn't we just as well reap the field after all?' he asked.

"'No! no! shear, shear,' bawled out the goody, who jumped about and
clipped like a pair of scissors under her husband's nose. In her
shrewishness she took such little heed that she tripped over a beam on
the bridge, and down she went _plump_ into the stream.

"''Tis hard to wean any one from bad ways,' said the man, 'but it were
strange if I were not sometimes in the right, I too.'

"Then he swam out into the hole and caught his wife by the hair of her
head, and so got her head above water.

"'Shall we reap the field now?' were the first words he said.

"'Shear! shear! shear!' screeched the goody.

"'I'll teach you to shear,' said the man, as he ducked her under the
water; but it was no good, they must shear it, she said, as soon as ever
she came up again.

"'I can't think anything else than that the goody is mad,' said the man
to himself. 'Many are mad and never know it; many have wit and never
show it; but all the same, I'll try her once more.'

"But as soon as ever he ducked her under the water again, she held her
hands up out of the water and began to clip with her fingers like a pair
of shears. Then the man fell into a great rage and ducked her down both
well and long; but while he was about it, the goody's head fell down
below the water, and she got so heavy all at once, that he had to let
her go.

"'No! no!' he said, 'you wish to drag me down with you into the hole,
but you may lie there by yourself.'

"So the goody was left in the river.

"But after a while the man thought it was ill she should lie there and
not get Christian burial, and so he went down the course of the stream
and hunted and searched for her, but for all his pains he could not find
her. Then he came with all his men and brought his neighbours with him,
and they all in a body began to drag the stream and to search for her
all along it. But for all their searching they found no goody.

"'Oh!' said the man, 'I have it. All this is no good, we search in the
wrong place. This goody was a sort by herself; there was not such
another in the world while she was alive. She was so cross and contrary,
and I'll be bound it is just the same now she is dead. We had better
just go and hunt for her up stream, and drag for her above the force,[1]
maybe she has floated up thither.'

[Footnote 1: Waterfall.]

"And so it was. They went up stream and sought for her above the force,
and there lay the goody, sure enough! Yes! She was well called GOODY
GAINST-THE-STREAM."



HOW TO WIN A PRINCE.


"Once on a time there was a king's son who made love to a lass, but
after they had become great friends and were as good as betrothed, the
prince began to think little of her, and he got it into his head that
she wasn't clever enough for him, and so he wouldn't have her.

"So he thought how he might be rid of her; and at last he said he would
take her to wife all the same, if she could come to him--

     'Not driving,
     And not riding;
     Not walking,
     And not carried;
     Not fasting,
     And not full-fed;
     Not naked,
     And not clad;
     Not in the daylight,
     And not by night.'

"For all that he fancied she could never do.

"So she took three barleycorns and swallowed them, and then she was not
fasting, and yet not full-fed; and next she threw a net over her, and so
she was

    'Not naked,
    And yet not clad.'

Next she got a ram and sat on him, so that her feet touched the ground;
and so she waddled along, and was

    'Not driving,
    And not riding;
    Not walking,
    And not carried.'

And all this happened in the twilight, betwixt night and day.

"So when she came to the guard at the palace, she begged that she might
have leave to speak with the prince; but they wouldn't open the gate,
she looked such a figure of fun.

"But for all that the noise woke up the prince, and he went to the
window to see what it was.

"So she waddled up to the window, and twisted off one of the ram's
horns, and took it and rapped with it against the window.

"And so they had to let her in, and have her for their princess."



BOOTS AND THE BEASTS.


"Once on a time there was a man who had an only son, but he lived in
need and wretchedness, and when he lay on his death-bed, he told his son
he had nothing in the world but a sword, a bit of coarse linen, and a
few crusts of bread--that was all he had to leave him. Well! when the
man was dead, the lad made up his mind to go out into the world to try
his luck; so he girded the sword about him, and took the crusts and laid
them in the bit of linen for his travelling fare; for you must know they
lived far away up on a hillside in the wood, far from folk. Now the way
he went took him over a fell, and when he had got up so high that he
could look over the country, he set his eyes on a lion, a falcon, and an
ant, who stood there quarrelling over a dead horse. The lad was sore
afraid when he saw the lion, but he called out to him and said he must
come and settle the strife between them and share the horse, so that
each should get what he ought to have.

"So the lad took his sword and shared the horse, as well as he could. To
the lion he gave the carcass and the greater portion; the falcon got
some of the entrails and other titbits; and the ant got the head. When
he had done, he said,--

"'Now I think it is fairly shared. The lion shall have most, because he
is biggest and strongest; the falcon shall have the best, because he is
nice and dainty; and the ant shall have the skull, because he loves to
creep about in holes and crannies.'

"Yes! they were all well pleased with his sharing; and so they asked him
what he would like to have for sharing the horse so well.

"'Oh,' he said, 'if I have done you a service, and you are pleased with
it, I am also pleased; but I won't be paid.'

"'Yes; but he must have something,' they said.

"'If you won't have anything else,' said the lion, 'you shall have three
wishes.'

"But the lad knew not what to wish for; and so the lion asked him if he
wouldn't wish that he might be able to turn himself into a lion; and the
two others asked him if he wouldn't wish to be able to turn himself into
a falcon and an ant. Yes! all that seemed to him good and right; and so
he wished these three wishes.

"Then he threw aside his sword and wallet, turned himself into a falcon,
and began to fly. So he flew on and on, till he came over a great lake;
but when he had almost flown across it he got so tired and sore on the
wing he couldn't fly any longer; and as he saw a steep rock that rose
out of the water, he perched on it and rested himself. He thought it a
wondrous strong rock, and walked about it for a while; but when he had
taken a good rest, he turned himself again into a little falcon, and
flew away till he came to the king's grange. There he perched on a tree,
just before the princess's windows. When she saw the falcon she set her
heart on catching it. So she lured it to her; and as soon as the falcon
came under the casement she was ready, and pop! she shut to the window,
and caught the bird and put him into a cage.

"In the night the lad turned himself into an ant and crept out of the
cage; and then he turned himself into his own shape, and went up and sat
down by the princess's bed. Then she got so afraid that she fell to
screeching out and awoke the king, who came into her room and asked
whatever was the matter.

"'Oh!' said the princess, 'there is some one here.'

"But in a trice the lad became an ant, crept into the cage, and turned
himself into a falcon. The king could see nothing for her to be afraid
of; so he said to the princess it must have been the nightmare riding
her. But he was hardly out of the door before it was all the same story
over again. The lad crept out of the cage as an ant, and then became his
own self, and sat down by the bedside of the princess.

"Then she screamed loud, and the king came again to see what was the
matter.

"'There is some one here,' screamed the princess. But the lad crept into
the cage again, and sat perched up there like a falcon. The king looked
and hunted high and low; and when he could see nothing he got cross that
his rest was broken, and said it was all a trick of the princess.

"'If you scream like that again,' he said, 'you shall soon know that
your father is the king.'

"But for all that, the king's back was scarcely turned before the lad
was by the princess's side again. This time she did not scream, although
she was so afraid she did not know which way to turn.

"So the lad asked why she was so afraid.

"Didn't he know? She was promised to a hill-ogre, and the very first
time she came under bare sky he was to come and take her; and so when
the lad came she thought it was the hill-ogre. And, besides, every
Thursday morning came a messenger from the hill-ogre, and that was a
dragon, to whom the king had to give nine fat pigs every time he came;
and that was why he had given it out that the man who could free him
from the dragon should have the princess and half the kingdom.

"The lad said he would soon do that; and as soon as it was daybreak the
princess went to the king and said there was a man in there who would
free him from the dragon and the tax of pigs. As soon as the king heard
that, he was very glad, for the dragon had eaten up so many pigs, there
would soon have been no more left in the whole kingdom. It happened that
day was just a Thursday morning, and so the lad strode off to the spot
where the dragon used to come to eat the pigs, and the shoeblack in the
king's grange showed him the way.

"Yes! the dragon came; and he had nine heads, and he was so wild and
wroth that fire and flame flared out of his nostrils when he did not see
his feast of pigs; and he flew upon the lad as though he would gobble
him up alive. But, pop! he turned himself into a lion and fought with
the dragon, and tore one head off him after another. The dragon was
strong, that he was; and he spat fire and venom. But as the fight went
on he hadn't more than one head left, though that was the toughest. At
last the lad got that torn off, too; and then it was all over with the
dragon.

"So he went to the king, and there was great joy all over the palace;
and the lad was to have the princess. But once on a time, as they were
walking in the garden, the hill-ogre came flying at them himself, and
caught up the princess and bore her off through the air.

"As for the lad, he was for going after her at once; but the king said
he mustn't do that, for he had no one else to lean on now he had lost
his daughter. But for all that, neither prayers nor preaching were any
good: the lad turned himself into a falcon and flew off. But when he
could not see them anywhere, he called to mind that wonderful rock in
the lake, where he had rested the first time he ever flew. So he settled
there, and after he had done that he turned himself into an ant, and
crept down through a crack in the rock. So when he had crept about
awhile, he came to a door which was locked. But he knew a way how to get
in, for he crept through the key-hole, and what do you think he saw
there? Why, a strange princess, combing a hill-ogre's hair that had
three heads.

"'I have come all right,' said the lad to himself; for he had heard how
the king had lost two daughters before, whom the trolls had taken.

"'Maybe, I shall find the second also,' he said to himself, as he crept
through the key-hole of a second door. There sat a strange princess
combing a hill-ogre's hair who had six heads. So he crept through a
third key-hole still, and there sat the youngest princess, combing a
hill-ogre's hair with nine heads. Then he crept up her leg and stung
her, and so she knew it was the lad who wished to talk to her; and then
she begged leave of the hill-ogre to go out.

"When she came out the lad was himself again, and so he told her she
must ask the hill-ogre whether she would never get away and go home to
her father. Then he turned himself into an ant and sat on her foot, and
so the princess went into the house again, and fell to combing the
hill-ogre's hair.

"So when she had done this awhile, she fell a-thinking.

"'You're forgetting to comb me,' said the hill-ogre. 'What is it you're
thinking of?'

"'Oh, I am doubting whether I shall ever get away from this place, and
home to my father's grange,' said the princess.

"'Nay! nay! that you'll never do!' said the hill-ogre; 'not unless you
can find the grain of sand which lies under the ninth tongue of the
ninth head of the dragon to which your father paid tax; but that no one
will ever find, for if that grain of sand came over the rock all the
hill-ogres would burst, and the rock itself would become a gilded
palace, and the lake green meadows.'

"As soon as the lad heard that he crept out through the keyholes, and
through the crack in the rock, till he got outside. Then he turned
himself into a falcon, and flew whither the dragon lay. Then he hunted
till he found the grain of sand under the ninth tongue of the ninth
head, and flew off with it; but when he came to the lake he got so
tired, so tired, that he had to sink down and perch on a stone by the
strand. And just as he sat there he dozed and nodded for the twinkling
of an eye; and, meantime, the grain of sand fell out of his bill down
among the sand on the shore. So he searched for it three days before he
found it again. But as soon as he had found it he flew straight off to
the steep rock with it, and dropped it down the crack. Then all the
hill-ogres burst, and the rock was rent, and there stood a gilded
castle, which was the grandest castle in all the world; and the lake
became the loveliest fields and the greenest meads any one ever saw.

"So they travelled back to the king's grange, and there arose, as you
may fancy, joy and gladness. The lad and the youngest princess were to
have one another; and they kept up the bridal feast over the whole
kingdom for seven full weeks. And if they did not fare well, I only hope
you may fare better still."



THE SWEETHEART IN THE WOOD.


"Once on a time there was a man who had a daughter, and she was so
pretty her name was spread over many kingdoms, and lovers came to her as
thick as autumn leaves. One of these made out that he was richer than
all the rest; and grand and handsome he was too; so he was to have her,
and after that he came over and over again to see her.

"As time went on, he said he should like her to come to his house and
see how he lived; he was sorry he could not fetch her and go with her,
but the day she came he would strew peas all along the path right up to
his house door; but somehow or other it fell out that he strewed the
peas a day too early.

"She set out and walked a long way, through wood and waste, and at last
she came to a big grand house, which stood in a green field in the midst
of the wood; but her lover was not at home, nor was there a soul in the
house either. First, she went into the kitchen, and there she saw
nothing but a strange bird which hung in a cage from the roof. Next she
went into the parlour, and there everything was so fine it was beyond
belief. But as she went into it, the bird called after her,--

"'Pretty maiden, be bold, but not too bold.'

"When she passed on into an inner room, the bird called out the same
words. There she saw ever so many chests of drawers, and when she pulled
open the drawers, they were filled with gold and silver, and everything
that was rich and rare. When she went on into a second room the bird
called out again,--

"'Pretty maiden! be bold, but not too bold.'

"In that room the walls were all hung round with women's dresses, till
the room was crammed full. She went on into a third room, and then the
bird screamed out,--

"'Pretty maiden! Pretty maiden, be bold, but not too bold.'

"And what do you think she saw there? Why! ever so many pails full of
blood.

"So she passed on to a fourth room, and then the bird screamed and
screeched after her,--

"'Pretty maiden! Pretty maiden, be bold, but not too bold.'

"'That room was full of heaps of dead bodies, and skeletons of slain
women, and the girl got so afraid that she was going to run away out of
the house, but she had only got as far as the next room, where the pails
of blood stood, when the bird called out to her,--

"'Pretty maiden! Pretty maiden! Jump under the bed, jump under the bed,
for now he's coming.'

"She was not slow to give heed to the bird, and to hide under the bed.
She crept as far back close to the wall as she could, for she was so
afraid she would have crept into the wall itself, had she been able!

"So in came her lover with another girl; and she begged so prettily and
so hard he would only spare her life, and then she would never say a
word against him, but it was all no good. He tore off all her clothes
and jewels, down to a ring which she had on her finger. That he pulled
and tore at, but when he couldn't get it off he hacked off her finger,
and it rolled away under the bed to the girl who lay there, and she took
it up and kept it. Her sweetheart told a little boy who was with him, to
creep under the bed and bring out the finger. Yes! he bent down and
crept under, and saw the girl lying there; but she squeezed his hand
hard, and then he saw what she meant.

"'It lies so far under, I can't reach it,' he cried. 'Let it bide there
till to-morrow, and then I'll fetch it out.'

"Early next morning the robber went out, and the boy was left behind to
mind the house, and he then went to meet the girl to whom his master was
betrothed, and who had come, as you know, by mistake the day before. But
before he went, the robber told him to be sure not to let her go into
the two farthermost bed-rooms.

"So when he was well off in the wood, the boy went and said she might
come out now.

"'You were lucky, that you were,' he said, 'in coming so soon, else he
would have killed you like all the others.'

"She did not stay there long, you may fancy, but hurried back home as
quick as ever she could, and when her father asked her why she had come
so soon, she told him what sort of a man her sweetheart was, and all
that she had heard and seen.

"A short time after her lover came passing by that way, and he looked so
grand that his raiment shone again, and he came to ask, he said, why she
had never paid him that visit as she had promised.

"'Oh!' said her father; 'there came a man in the way with a sledge and
scattered the peas, and she couldn't find her way; but now you must just
put up with our poor house, and stay the night, for you must know we
have guests coming, and it will be just a betrothal feast.'

"So when they had all eaten and drunk, and still sat round the table,
the daughter of the house said she had dreamt such a strange dream a few
nights before. If they cared to hear it she would tell it them, but they
must all promise to sit quite still till she came to the end.

"Yes! They were all ready to hear, and they all promised to sit still,
and her sweetheart as well.

"'I dreamt I was walking along a broad path, and it was strewn with
peas.'

"'Yes! Yes!' said her sweetheart; 'just as it will be when you go to my
house, my love.'

"'Then the path got narrower and narrower, and it went far, far away
through wood and waste.'

"'Just like the way to my house, my love,' said her sweetheart.

"'And so I came to a green field, in which stood a big grand house.'

"'Just like my house, my love,' said her sweetheart.

"'So I went into the kitchen, but I saw no living soul, and from the
roof hung a strange bird in a cage, and as I passed on into the parlour,
it called after me, "Pretty maiden, be bold, but not too bold."'

"'Just like my house that too, my love!' said her sweetheart.

"'So I passed on into a bedroom, and the bird bawled after me the same
words, and in there were so many chests of drawers, and when I pulled
the drawers out and looked into them, they were filled with gold and
silver stuffs, and everything that was grand.'

"'That is just like it is at my house, my love,' said her sweetheart.
'I, too, have many drawers full of gold and silver, and costly things.'

"'So I went on into another bedroom, and the bird screeched out to me
the very same words; and that room was all hung round on the walls with
fine dresses of women.'

"'Yes, that too, is just as it is in my house,' he said; 'there are
dresses and finery there both of silk and satin.'

"'Well! when I passed on to the next bedroom, the bird began to screech
and scream--pretty maiden, pretty maiden! be bold, but not too bold; and
in this room were casks and pails all round the walls, and they were
full of blood.'

"'Fie,' said her sweetheart, 'how nasty. It isn't at all like that in my
house, my love,' for now he began to grow uneasy and wished to be off.

"'Why!' said the daughter, 'it's only a dream, you know, that I am
telling. Sit still. The least you can do is to hear my dream out.' Then
she went on,

"'When I went on into the next bedroom the bird began to scream out as
loudly as before, the same words--pretty maiden, pretty maiden! be bold,
but not too bold. And there lay many dead bodies and skeletons of slain
folk.'

"'No! no,' said her sweetheart, 'there's nothing like that in my house,'
and again he tried to run out.

"'Sit still, I say,' she said, 'it is nothing else than a dream, and you
may very well hear it out. I, too, thought it dreadful, and ran back
again, but I had not got farther than the next room where all those
pails of blood stood, when the bird screeched out that I must jump under
the bed and hide, for now _He_ was coming; and so he came, and with him
he had a girl who was so lovely I thought I had never seen her like
before. She prayed and begged so prettily that he would spare her life.
But he did not care a pin for all her tears and prayers; he tore off her
clothes, and took all she had, and he neither spared her life nor aught
else; but on her left hand she had a ring, which he could not tear off,
so he hacked off her finger, and it rolled away under the bed to me.'

"'Indeed! my love,' said her sweetheart, 'there's nothing like that in
my house.'

"'Yes, it was in your house,' she said, 'and here is the finger and the
ring, and you are the man who hacked it off.'

"So they laid hands on him, and put him to death, and burnt both his
body and his house in the wood."



HOW THEY GOT HAIRLOCK HOME.


"Once on a time there was a goody who had three sons. The first was
called Peter, the second Paul, and the third Osborn Boots. One single
nanny-goat she had who was called Hairlock and she never would come home
in time for tea.

"Peter and Paul both went out to get her home, but they found no
nanny-goat, so Boots had to set off, and when he had walked a while he
saw Hairlock high, high upon a crag.

"'Dear Hairlock, pretty Hairlock,' he cried, 'you can't stand any longer
on yon crag, for you must come home in good time for tea, to-day.'

"'No, no, that I shan't,' said Hairlock, 'I won't wet my socks for any
one, and if you want me you must carry me.'

"But Osborn Boots would not do that, so he went and told his mother.

"'Well!' said his mother, 'go to the fox and beg him to bite Hairlock.'

"So the lad went to the fox.

"'My dear fox, bite Hairlock, for Hairlock won't come home in good time
for tea to-day.'

"'No,' said the fox, 'I won't blunt my snout on pig's bristles and
goat's beards.'

"So the lad went and told his mother.

"'Well, then!' she said, 'go to Graylegs, the wolf.'

"So the lad said to Graylegs,--

"'Dear Graylegs! do, Graylegs, tear the fox, for the fox won't bite
Hairlock, and Hairlock won't come home in good time for tea to-day.'

"'No,' said Graylegs, 'I won't wear out my paws and teeth on a dry fox's
carcass.'

"So the lad went and told his mother.

"'Well then, go to the bear,' said his mother, 'and beg him to slay
Graylegs.'

"So the lad said to the bear,--

"'My dear bear, do, bear, slay Graylegs, for Graylegs won't tear the
fox, and the fox won't bite Hairlock, and Hairlock won't come home in
good time for tea to-day.'

"'No, I won't,' said the bear, 'I won't blunt my claws in that work,
that I won't.'

"So the lad told his mother.

"'Well then,' she said, 'go to the Finn and beg him shoot the bear.'

"So the lad said to the Finn,--

"'Dear Finn! do, Finn, shoot the bear, the bear won't slay Graylegs,
Graylegs won't tear the fox, the fox won't bite Hairlock, and Hairlock
won't come home in good time for tea to-day.'

"'No! that I won't,' said the Finn, 'I'm not going to shoot away my
bullets for that.'

"So the lad told his mother.

"'Well then,' she said, 'go to the fir, and beg him fall on the Finn.'

"So the lad said to the fir,--

"'My dear fir! fir, do fall on the Finn, the Finn won't shoot the bear,
the bear won't slay the wolf, the wolf won't tear the fox, the fox won't
bite Hairlock, and Hairlock won't come home in good time to tea to-day.'

"'No! that I won't,' said the fir, 'I'm not going to break off my boughs
for that.'

"So the lad told his mother.

"'Well then,' said she, 'go to the fire and beg it to burn the fir.'

"So the lad said to the fire, 'My dear fire! do, fire, burn the fir, the
fir won't fall on the Finn, the Finn won't shoot the bear, the bear
won't slay the wolf, the wolf won't tear the fox, the fox won't bite
Hairlock, and Hairlock won't come home in good time to tea to-day.'

"'No! that I won't,' said the fire, 'I'm not going to burn myself out
for that, that I won't.'

"So the lad told his mother.

"'Well then,' she said, 'go to the water and beg it to quench the fire.'

"So the lad said to the water,--

"'My dear water! do, water, quench the fire, the fire won't burn the
fir, the fir won't fall on the Finn, the Finn won't shoot the bear, the
bear won't slay the wolf, the wolf won't tear the fox, the fox won't
bite Hairlock, and Hairlock won't come home in good time to tea to-day.'

"No, I won't,' said the water, 'I'm not going to run to waste for that,
be sure.'

"So the lad told his mother.

"'Well then,' she said, 'go to the ox, and beg him to drink up the
water.'

"So the lad said to the ox,--

"'My dear ox! do, ox, drink up the water, for the water won't quench the
fire, the fire won't burn the fir, the fir won't fall on the Finn, the
Finn won't shoot the bear, the bear won't slay the wolf, the wolf won't
tear the fox, the fox won't bite Hairlock, and Hairlock won't come home
in good time to tea to-day.'

"'No! I won't,' said the ox, 'I'm not going to burst asunder in doing
that, I trow.'

"So the lad told his mother.

"'Well then,' said she, 'you must go to the yoke, and beg him to pinch
the ox.'

"So the lad said to the yoke,--

"'My dear yoke! yoke, do pinch the ox, for the ox won't drink up the
water, the water won't quench the fire, the fire won't burn the fir, the
fir won't fall on the Finn, the Finn won't shoot the bear, the bear
won't slay the wolf, the wolf won't tear the fox, the fox won't bite
Hairlock, and Hairlock won't come home in good time to tea to-day.'

"'No, that I won't,' said the yoke, 'I'm not going to break myself in
two in doing that.'

"So the lad told his mother.

"'Well then,' she said, 'you must go to the axe, and beg him to chop the
yoke.'

"So the lad said to the axe,--

"'My dear axe, do, axe, chop the yoke, for the yoke won't pinch the ox,
the ox won't drink up the water, the water won't quench the fire, the
fire won't burn the fir, the fir won't fall on the Finn, the Finn won't
shoot the bear, the bear won't slay the wolf, the wolf won't tear the
fox, the fox won't bite Hairlock, and Hairlock won't come home in good
time to tea to-day.'

"'No, that I won't,' said the axe, 'I'm not going to spoil my edge for
that, that I won't.'

"So the lad told his mother.

"'Well then,' she said, 'go to the smith, and beg him to hammer the
axe.'

"So the lad said to the smith,--

"'My dear smith! do, smith, hammer the axe, for the axe won't chop the
yoke, the yoke won't pinch the ox, the ox won't drink up the water, the
water won't quench the fire, the fire won't burn the fir, the fir won't
fall on the Finn, the Finn won't shoot the bear, the bear won't slay the
wolf, the wolf won't tear the fox, the fox won't bite Hairlock, and
Hairlock won't come home in good time to tea to-day.'

"'No, I won't,' said the smith, 'I'm not going to burn up my coal, and
wear out my sledge hammer for that,' he said.

"So the lad told his mother.

"'Well then,' she said, 'you must go to the rope, and beg it to hang the
smith.'

"So the lad said to the rope,--

"'My dear rope! do, rope, hang the smith, for the smith won't hammer the
axe, the axe won't chop the yoke, the yoke won't pinch the ox, the ox
won't drink up the water, the water won't quench the fire, the fire
won't burn the fir, the fir won't fall on the Finn, the Finn won't shoot
the bear, the bear won't slay the wolf, the wolf won't tear the fox, the
fox won't bite Hairlock, and Hairlock won't come home in good time to
tea to-day.'

"'No!' said the rope, 'that I won't, I'm not going to fray myself out
for that.'

"So the lad told his mother.

"'Well then!' she said, 'you must go to the mouse, and beg him to gnaw
the rope.'

"So the lad said to the mouse,--

"'My dear mouse! do, mouse, gnaw the rope, for the rope won't hang the
smith, the smith won't hammer the axe, the axe won't chop the yoke, the
yoke won't pinch the ox, the ox won't drink up the water, the water
won't quench the fire, the fire won't burn the fir, the fir won't fall
on the Finn, the Finn won't shoot the bear, the bear won't slay the
wolf, the wolf won't tear the fox, the fox won't bite Hairlock, and
Hairlock won't come home in good time to tea to-day.'

"'No! I won't,' said the mouse, 'I'm not going to wear down my teeth for
that.'

"So the lad told his mother.

"'Well then,' she said, 'you must go to the cat, and beg her to catch
the mouse.'

"So the lad said to the cat,--

"'My dear cat! do, cat, catch the mouse, for the mouse won't gnaw the
rope, the rope won't hang the smith, the smith won't hammer the axe, the
axe won't chop the yoke the yoke won't pinch the ox, the ox won't drink
up the water, the water won't quench the fire, the fire won't burn the
fir, the fir won't fall on the Finn, the Finn won't shoot the bear, the
bear won't slay the wolf, the wolf won't tear the fox, the fox won't
bite Hairlock, and Hairlock won't come home in good time to tea to-day.'

"'Well!' said the cat, 'just give me a drop of milk for my kittens and
then----' that's what the cat said, and the lad said, 'yes, she should
have it.'

"So the cat bit mouse, and mouse gnawed rope, and rope hanged smith, and
smith hammered axe, and axe chopped yoke, and yoke pinched ox, and ox
drank water, and water quenched fire, and fire burnt fir, and fir felled
Finn, and Finn shot bear, and bear slew graylegs, and graylegs tore fox,
and fox bit Hairlock, so that she sprang home and knocked off one of her
hind legs against the barn wall.

"So there lay the nanny-goat, and if she's not dead she limps about on
three legs.

"But as for Osborn Boots, he said it served her just right, because she
would not come home in good time for tea that very day."



OSBORN BOOTS AND MR. GLIBTONGUE.


"Once on a time there was a king who had many hundred sheep, and many
hundred goats and kine; and many hundred horses he had too, and silver
and gold in great heaps. But for all that he was so given to grief, that
he seldom or ever saw folk, and much less say a word to them. Such he
had been ever since his youngest daughter was lost, and if he had never
lost her it would still have been bad enough, for there was a troll who
was for ever making such waste and worry there that folk could hardly
pass to the king's grange in peace. Now the troll let all the horses
loose, and they trampled down mead and corn-field, and ate up the crops;
now he tore the heads off the king's ducks and geese; sometimes he
killed the king's kine in the byre, sometimes he drove the king's sheep
and goats down the rocks and broke their necks, and every time they went
to fish in the mill-dam he had hunted all the fish to land and left them
lying there dead.

"Well! there was a couple of old folk who had three sons, the first was
called Peter, the second Paul, and the third Osborn Boots, for he always
lay and grubbed about in the ashes.

"They were hopeful youths, but Peter, who was the eldest, was said to be
the hopefullest, and so he asked his father if he might have leave to go
out into the world and try his luck.

"'Yes! you shall have it,' said the old fellow. 'Better late than never,
my boy.'

"So he got brandy in a flask, and food in his wallet, and then he threw
his fare on his back and toddled down the hill. And when he had walked a
while, he fell upon an old wife who lay by the road side.

"'Ah! my dear boy, give me a morsel of food to-day,' said the old wife.

"But Peter hardly so much as looked on one side, and then he held his
head straight and went on his way.

"'Ay, ay,' said the old wife, 'go along, and you shall see what you
shall see.'

"So Peter went far and farther than far, till he came at last to the
king's grange. There stood the king in the gallery, feeding the cocks
and hens.

"'Good evening and God bless your majesty," said Peter.

"'Chick-a-biddy! chick-a-biddy!' said the king, and scattered corn both
east and west, and took no heed of Peter.

"'Well!' said Peter to himself, 'you may just stand there and scatter
corn and cackle chicken-tongue till you turn into a bear,' and so he
went into the kitchen and sat down on the bench as though he were a
great man.

"'What sort of a stripling are you,' said the cook, for Peter had not
yet got his beard. That he thought jibes and mocking, and so he fell to
beating and banging the kitchen-maid. But while he was hard at it, in
came the king, and made them cut three red stripes out of his back, and
then they rubbed salt into the wound, and sent him home again the same
way he came.

"Now as soon as Peter was well home, Paul must set off in his turn.
Well! well! he too got brandy in his flask and food in his wallet, and
he threw his fare over his back and toddled down the hill. When he had
got on his way he, too, met the old wife, who begged for food, but he
strode past her and made no answer; and at the king's grange he did not
fare a pin better than Peter. The king called 'chick-a-biddy,' and the
kitchen-maid called him a clumsy boy, and when he was going to bang and
beat her for that, in came the king with a butcher's knife, and cut
three red stripes out of him, and rubbed hot embers in, and sent him
home again with a sore back.

"Then Boots crept out the cinders, and fell to shaking himself. The
first day he shook all the ashes off him, the second he washed and
combed himself, and the third he dressed himself in his Sunday best.

"'Nay! nay! just look at him,' said Peter. 'Now we have got a new sun
shining here. I'll be bound you are off to the king's grange to win his
daughter and half the kingdom. Far better bide in the dusthole and lie
in the ashes, that you had.'

"But Boots was deaf in that ear, and he went in to his father and asked
leave to go out a little into the world.

"'What are you to do out in the world?' said the grey-beard. 'It did not
fare so well either with Peter or Paul, and what do you think will
become of you?'

"But Boots would not give way, and so at last he had leave to go.

"His brothers were not for letting him have a morsel of food with him,
but his mother gave him a cheese rind and a bone with very little meat
on it, and with them he toddled away from the cottage. As he went he
took his time. 'You'll be there soon enough,' he said to himself. 'You
have all the day before you, and afterwards the moon will rise, if you
have any luck.' So he put his best foot foremost, and puffed up the
hills, and all the while looked about him on the road.

"After a long, long way he met the old wife, who lay by the road side.

"'The poor old cripple,' said Boots, 'I'll be bound you are starving.'

"'Yes! she was,' said the old wife.

"'Are you? then I'll go shares with you,' said Osborn Boots, and as he
said that he gave her the rind of cheese.

"'You're freezing too,' he said, as he saw how her teeth chattered. 'You
must take this old jacket of mine. It's not good in the arms, and thin
in the back, but once on a time, when it was new, it was a good wrap.'

"'Bide a bit,' said the old wife, as she fumbled down in her big pocket,
'Here you have an old key, I have nothing better or worse to give you,
but when you look through the ring at the top, you can see whatever you
choose to see.'

"So when he got to the king's grange the cook was hard at work drawing
water, and that was great toil to her.

"'It's too heavy for you,' said Boots, 'but it's just what I am fit to
do.'

"The one that was glad then, you may fancy, was the kitchen-maid, and
from that day she always let Boots scrape the porridge-pot; but it was
not long before he got so many enemies by that, that they told lies of
him to the king, and said he had told them he was man enough to do this
and that.

"So one day the king came and asked Boots if it were true that he was
man enough to keep the fish in the mill-dam, so that the troll could not
harm them, 'for that's what they tell me you have said,' spoke the king.

"'I have not said so,' said Boots, 'but if I had said it I would have
been as good as my word.'

"Well, however it was, whether he had said it or not, he must try, if he
wished to keep a whole skin on his back; that was what the king said.

"'Well, if he must he must,' said Boots, for he said he had no need to
go about with red stripes under his jacket.

"In the evening Boots peeped through his key ring, and then he saw that
the troll was afraid of thyme. So he fell to plucking all the thyme he
could find, and some of it he strewed in the water, and some on land,
and the rest he spread over the brink of the dam.

"So the troll had to leave the fish in peace, but now the sheep had to
pay for it, for the troll was chasing them over all the cliffs and crags
the whole night.

"Then one of the other servants came and said again that Boots knew a
cure for the stock as well, if he only chose, for that he had said he
was man enough to do it, was the very truth.

"Well! the king went out to him and spoke to him as he had spoken the
first time, and threatened that he would cut three broad stripes out of
his back if he did not do what he had said.

"So there was no help for it. Boots thought, I dare say it would be very
fine to go about in the king's livery and a red jacket, but he thought
he would rather be without it, if he himself had to find the cloth for
it out of the skin of his back. That was what he thought and said.

"So he betook himself to his thyme again, but there was no end to his
work, for as soon as he bound thyme on the sheep they ate it off one
another's backs, and as he went on binding they went on eating, and they
ate faster than he could bind. But at last he made an ointment of thyme
and tar, and rubbed it well into them, and then they left off eating it.
Then the kine and the horses got the same ointment, and so they had
peace from the troll.

"But one day when the king was out hunting he trod upon wild grass and
got bewildered, and lost his way in the wood; so he rode round and round
for many days, and had nothing either to eat or drink, and his clothing
fared so ill in the thorns and thickets that at last he had scarce a rag
to his back. So the troll came to him and said if he might have the
first thing the king set eyes on when he got on his own land, he would
let him go home to his grange. Yes! he should have that, for the king
thought it would be sure to be his little dog, which always came
frisking and fawning to meet him. But just as he got near his grange,
that they could see him, out came his eldest daughter at the head of all
the court, to meet the king, and to welcome him back safe and sound.

"So when he saw that she was the first to meet him, he was so cut to the
heart he fell to the ground on the spot, and since that time had been
almost half-witted.

"One evening the troll was to come and fetch the princess, and she was
dressed out in her best, and sat in a field out by the tarn, and wept
and bewailed. There was a man called Glibtongue, who was to go with her,
but he was so afraid he clomb up into a tall spruce fir, and there he
stuck. Just then up came Boots, and sat down on the ground by the side
of the princess. And she was so glad, as you may fancy, when she saw
there were still Christian folk who dared to stay by her after all.

"'Lay your head on my lap,' she said, 'and I'll comb your hair;' so
Osborn Boots did as she bade him, and while she combed his hair he fell
asleep, and she took a gold ring off her finger and knitted it into his
hair. Just then up came the troll puffing and blowing. He was so heavy
footed that all the wood groaned and cracked a whole mile round.

"And when the troll saw Glibtongue sitting up in the tree-top, like a
little black cock, he spat at him.

"'Pish,' he said, that was all, and down toppled Glibtongue and the
spruce fir to the ground, and there he lay sprawling like a fish out of
water.

"'Hu! hu!' said the troll, 'are you sitting here combing Christian
folk's hair? Now I'll gobble you up.'

"'Stuff,' said Boots, as soon as he woke up, and then he fell to peering
at the troll through the ring on his key.

"'Hu! hu!' said the troll, 'what are you staring at? Hu! hu!'

"And as he said that he hurled his iron club at him, so that it stood
fifteen ells deep in the rock; but Boots was so quick and ready on his
feet that he got on one side of the club, just as the troll hurled it.

"'Stuff! for such old wives' tricks,' said Boots, 'out with your
toothpick, and you shall see something like a throw.'

"Yes! the troll plucked out the club at one pull, and it was as big as
three weaver's beams. Meanwhile Boots stared up at the sky, both south
and north.

"'Hu! hu!' said the troll, 'what are you gazing at now?'

"'I'm looking out for a star at which to throw,' said Boots. 'Do you see
that tiny little one due north, that's the one I choose.'

"'Nay! nay!' said the troll, 'let it bide as it is. You mustn't throw
away my iron club.'

"'Well! well!' said Boots, 'you may have it again then, but perhaps you
wouldn't mind if I tossed you up to the moon just for once.'

"No! the troll would have nothing to say to that either.

"'Oh! but blindman's buff,' said Boots, 'haven't you a mind to play
blindman's buff?'

"Yes, that would be fine fun, the troll thought; 'but you shall be
blindfold first,' said the troll to Boots.

"'Oh, yes, with all my heart,' said the lad, 'but the fairest way is
that we draw lots, and then we shan't have anything to quarrel about.'

"Yes! yes! that was best, and then you may fancy Boots took care the
troll should be the first to have the handkerchief over his eyes, and
was the first 'buff.'

"But that just was a game. My! how they went in and out of the wood, and
how the troll ran and stumbled over the stumps, so that the dust flew
and the wood rang.

"'Haw! haw!' bawled the troll at last, 'the deil take me if I'll be buff
any longer,' for he was in a great rage.

"'Bide a bit,' said Boots, 'and I'll stand still and call till you come
and catch me.'

"Meanwhile he took a hemp-comb and ran round to the other side of the
tarn, which was so deep it had no bottom.

"'Now come, here I stand,' bawled out Boots.

"'I dare say there are logs and stumps in the way,' said the troll.

"'Your ears can tell you there is no wood here,' said Boots, and then he
swore to him there were no stumps or stocks.

"'Now come along.'

"So the troll set off again, but 'squash' it said, and there lay the
troll in the tarn, and Boots hacked at his eyes with the hemp-comb every
time he got his head above water.

"Now the troll begged so prettily for his life, that Boots thought it
was a shame to take it, but first he had to give up the princess, and to
bring back the other whom he had stolen before. And besides he had to
promise that folk and flock should have peace, and then he let the troll
out, and he took himself off home to his hill.

"But now Glibtongue became a man again, and came down out of the
tree-top, and carried off the princess to the grange, as though he had
set her free. And then he stole down and gave his arm to the other also,
when Boots had brought her as far as the garden. And now there was such
joy in the king's grange, that it was heard and talked of over land and
realm, and Glibtongue was to be married to the youngest daughter.

"Well, it was all good and right, but after all it was not so well, for
just as they were to have the feast, if that old troll had not gone down
under earth and stopped all the springs of water.

"'If I can't do them any other harm,' he said, 'they sha'n't have water
to boil their bridal brose.'

"So there was no help for it but to send for Boots again. Then he got
him an iron bar, which was to be fifteen ells long, and six smiths were
to make it red hot. Then he peeped through his key ring, and saw where
the troll was, just as well underground as above it, and then he drove
the bar down through the ground, and into the troll's backbone, and all
I can say was, there was a smell of burnt horn fifteen miles round.

"'Haw! haw!' bellowed out the troll, 'let me out,' and in a trice he
came tearing up through the hole, and all his back was burnt and singed
up to the nape of his neck.

"But Boots was not slow, for he caught the troll and laid him on a stake
that had thyme twisted round it, and there he had to be till he told him
where he had got eyes from after those had been hacked out with the
hemp-comb.

"'If you must know,' said the troll, 'I stole a turnip, and rubbed it
well over with ointment, and then I cut it to the sizes I needed, and
nailed them in tight with ten-penny nails, and better eyes I hope no
Christian man will ever have.'

"Then the king came with the two princesses, and wanted to see the
troll, and Glibtongue walked so bent and bowed, his coat tails were
higher than his neck. But then the king caught sight of something
glistening in the hair of Boots.

"'What have you got there?' he said.

"'Oh!' said Boots, 'nothing but the ring your daughter gave me when I
freed her from the troll.'

"And now it came out how it had all happened. Glibtongue begged and
prayed for himself, but for all his trying and all his crying there was
no help for it, down he had to go into a pit full of snakes, and there
he lay till he burst.

"Then they put an end to the troll, and then they began to be noisy and
merry, and to drink and dance at the bridal of Boots, for now he was
king of that company, and he got the youngest princess and half the
kingdom.

    "And here I lay my tale upon a sledge,
    And send it thee whose tongue hath sharper edge,
    But if thy tongue in wit is not so fine,
    Then shame on thee that throwest blame on mine."



THIS IS THE LAD WHO SOLD THE PIG.


"Once on a time there was a widow who had a son and he had set his heart
on being nothing else than a tradesman. But you must know they were so
poor that they had nothing that he could begin his trading with. The
only thing his mother owned in the world was a sow pig, and he begged
and prayed so long and so prettily for that, at last she was forced to
let him have it.

"When he had got it he was to set off to sell it, that he might have
some money to begin his trading. So he offered it to this man and that,
good and bad alike; but there was no one who just then cared to buy a
pig. At last he came to a rich old hunks; but you know much will always
have more, and that man was one of the sort that never can have enough.

"'Will you buy a pig to-day?' said the lad; 'a good pig, and a long pig,
and a fine fat pig.' That was what he said.

"The old hunks asked what he would have for it. It was at least worth
six dollars, even between brothers, said the lad; but the times were so
hard, and money so scarce, he didn't mind selling it for four dollars.
And that was as good as giving it away.

"No, that the old hunks would not do--he wouldn't give so much as a
dollar even; he had more pigs already than he wanted, and was well off
for pigs of that sort. But as the lad was so eager to sell, he would be
willing to do him a turn, and deal with him; but the most he could give
for the whole pig, every inch of it, was fourpence. If he would take
that down, he might turn his pig into the sty with the rest. That was
what the old hunks said.

"The lad thought it shameful that he should not get more for his pig;
but then he thought that something was better than nothing, and so he
took the fourpence and turned in the pig. And then he fingered the money
and went about his business. But when he got out into the road, he could
not get it out of his head that he had been cheated out of his pig, and
that he was not much better off with fourpence than with nothing. The
longer he went and thought of this the angrier he got, and at last he
thought to himself,--

"'If I could only play him a pretty trick, I wouldn't care either for
the pig or the pence.'

"So he went away and got him a pair of stout thongs and a
cat-o'-nine-tails, and then he threw over him a big cloak, and put on a
billygoat's beard; and so he went back to the skinflint and said he was
from outlandish parts, where he had learnt to be a master builder--for
you must know he had heard the old hunks was going to build a house.

"Yes, he would gladly take him as master builder, he said; for
thereabouts there were none but home-taught carpenters. So off they went
to look at the timber, and it was the finest heart of pine that any one
would wish to have in the wall of his house: and even the lad said it
was brave timber--he couldn't say otherwise; but in outlandish parts
they had got a new fashion, which was far better than the old. They did
not take long beams and fit them into the wall, but they cut the beams
up into nice small logs, and then they baked them in the sun and
fastened them together again; and so they wore both stronger and
prettier than an old-fashioned timber building.

"'That's how they build all the houses now-a-days in outlandish parts,'
said the lad.

"'If it must be so, it must,' said the hunks. With that he set all the
carpenters and woodmen who were to be found round about to chop and hew
all his beams up into small logs.

"'But,' said the lad, 'we still want some big trees--some of the real
mast-firs--for our sill-beams; maybe, there are no such big trees in
your wood?'

"'Well!' said the man; 'if they're not to be found in my wood, it will
be hard to find them anywhere else.'

"And so they strode off to the wood, both of them; and a little way up
the hill they came to a big tree.

"'I should think that's big enough,' said the man.

"'No, it isn't big enough,' said the lad. 'If you haven't bigger trees,
we sha'n't make much way with our building after the new fashion.'

"'Yes! I have bigger ones,' said the man. 'You shall soon see; but we
must go further on.'

"So they went a long way over the hill, and at last they came to a big
tree, one of the finest trees for a mast in all the wood.

"'Do you think this is big enough?' said the man.

"'I almost think it is,' said the lad. 'We will fathom it, and then we
shall soon see. You go on the other side of the fir, and I will stand
here. If we are not good enough to make our hands meet, it will be big
enough; but mind you stretch out well. Stretch out well, do you hear?'
said the lad, as he took out his thongs. As for the man, he did all the
lad told him.

"'Yes!' said the lad, 'we shall meet nicely, I can see. But stop a bit,
and I'll stretch your hands better,' he said, as he slipped a running
knot over his wrists and drew it tight and bound him fast to the tree;
then out came the cat-o'-nine-tails, and he fell to flogging the old
hunks as fast as he could, and all the while he cried out,--

"'This is the lad who sold the pig, and this is the lad who sold the
pig.'

"Nor did he leave off till he thought the old hunks had enough, and that
he had got his rights for the pig; and then he loosed him, and left him
lying under the tree.

"Now when the man did not come home they made a hue and cry for him over
the neighbourhood, and searched the country round; and at last they
found him under the fir-tree, more dead than alive.

"So when they had got him home the lad came, and had dressed himself up
as a doctor, and said he had come from foreign parts, and knew a cure
for all kinds of hurt. And when the man heard that, he was all for
having him to doctor him, and the lad said he would not be long in
curing him; but he must have him all alone in a room by himself, and no
one must be by.

"'If you hear him screech and cry out,' he said, 'you must not mind it;
for the more he screeches, the sooner he will be well again.'

"So when they were alone, he said,--

"'First of all I must bleed you.' And so he threw the man roughly down
on a bench and bound him fast with the thongs; and then out came the
cat-o'-nine-tails, and he fell to flogging him as fast as he could. The
man screeched and screamed, for his back was sore, and every lash went
into the bare flesh; and the lad flogged and flogged as though there
were no end to it and all the while he bawled out,--

"'This is the lad who sold the pig. This is the lad who sold the pig.'

"The old hunks bellowed as though a knife were being stuck into him; but
there was not a soul that cared about it, for the more he screeched the
sooner he would be well, they thought.

"So when the lad had done his doctoring, he set off from the farm as
fast as he could; but they followed fast on his heels, and overtook him
and threw him into prison, and the end was he was doomed to be hanged.

"And the old hunks was so angry with him, even then, that he would not
have him hanged till he was quite well, so that he might hang him with
his own hands.

"So while the lad sat there in prison waiting to be hanged, one of the
serving-men came out by night and stole kail in the garden of the old
hunks, and the lad saw him.

"'So, so!' said he to himself; 'master thief, it will be odd if I don't
play off a trick or two with you before I am hanged.'

"And so when time went on, and the man was so well he thought he had
strength enough to hang him, he made them set up a gallows down by the
way to the mill, so that he might see the body hanging every time he
went to the mill. So they set out to hang the lad, and when they had
gone a bit of the way, the lad said,--

"'You will not refuse to let me talk alone with your servant who grinds
down yonder at the mill? I did him a bad turn once, and I wish now to
confess it, and beg him for forgiveness before I die.'

"Yes! he might have leave to do that.

"'Heaven help you!' he said to the miller's man. 'Now your master is
coming to hang you because you stole kail in his garden.'

"As soon as the miller's man heard that, he was so taken aback he did
not know which way to turn; and so he asked the lad what he should do.

"'Take and change clothes with me and hide yourself behind the door,'
said the lad; 'and then he will not know that it isn't me. And if he
lays hands on any one, then it will not be you, but me.'

"It was some time before they had changed clothes and dressed again, and
the old hunks began to be afraid lest the lad should have run away. So
he posted down to the mill door.

"'Where is he?' he said to the lad, who stood there as white as a
miller.

"'Oh, he was here just now,' said the lad. 'I think he went and hid
himself behind the door.'

"'I'll teach you to hide behind the door, you rogue,' said the old
hunks, as he seized the man in a great rage, and hurried him off to the
gallows and hanged him in a breath; and all the while he never knew it
was not the lad that he hanged.

"After that was done, he wanted to go into the mill to talk to his man,
who was busy grinding. Meantime the lad had wedged up the upper
millstone, and was feeling under it with his hands.

"Come here, come here,' he called out as soon as he saw the old hunks;
'and you shall feel what a wonderful millstone this is.'

"So the man went and felt the millstone with one hand.

"'Nay, nay,' said the lad; 'you'll never feel it unless you take hold of
it with both hands.'

"Well, he did so; and just then the lad snatched out the wedge and let
the upper millstone down on him, so that he was caught fast by the hands
between the stones. Then out came the cat-o'-nine-tails again, and he
fell to flogging him as fast as he could.

"'This is the lad who sold the pig,' he cried out, till he was hoarse.

"And when he had flogged him as much as he could he went home to his
mother; and as time went on, and he thought the man had come to himself
again, he said to her,--

"'Yes! now I daresay that man will be coming to whom I sold the pig; and
now I know no other trick to screen me any longer from him, unless I dig
a hole here south of the house, and there I will lie all day; and you
must mind and say to him just what I tell you.'

"So the lad told his mother all she was to say and do.

"Then he dug such a hole as he had said, and took with him a long
butcher's knife, and lay down in it; and his mother covered him over
with boughs, and leaves, and moss, so that he was quite hidden! There he
lay by day; and after a while the man came travelling along and asked
for the lad.

"'Ay, ay,' said his mother. 'He was a man, that he was; though he never
got from me more than one sow pig. For he became both a doctor and a
master builder, and he was hanged after that, and rose again from the
dead; and yet I never heard anything but ill of him. Here he came flying
home the other day, and then he gave me the greatest joy I ever had of
him, for he laid him down and died. As for me, I did not care enough for
him to spend money on a priest and Christian earth; but I just buried
him yonder, south of the house, and raked over him boughs and leaves.'

"'See now,' said the old hunks; 'if he hasn't cheated me after all, and
slipped through my fingers. But though I have not been avenged on him
living, I will do him a dishonour in his grave.'

"As he said this he strode away south to the grave, and stooped down to
spit into it; but at that very moment the lad stuck the knife into him
up to the handle, and bawled out,--

"'This is the lad who sold the pig! This is the lad who sold the pig!'

"Away flew the man with the knife sticking in him, and he was so scared
and afraid, that nothing has ever been heard or seen of him since."



THE SHEEP AND THE PIG WHO SET UP HOUSE.


"Once on a time there was a sheep who stood in the pen to be fattened;
so he lived well, and was stuffed and crammed with everything that was
good. So it went on, till, one day, the dairymaid came and gave him
still more food, and then she said,

"'Eat away, sheep; you won't be much longer here; we are going to kill
you to-morrow.'

"It is an old saying, that women's counsel is always worth having, and
that there is a cure and physic for everything but death. 'But, after
all,' said the sheep to himself, 'there may be a cure even for death
this time.'

"So he ate till he was ready to burst; and when he was crammed full, he
butted out the door of the pen, and took his way to the neighbouring
farm. There he went to the pigsty to a pig whom he had known out on the
common, and ever since had been the best friends with.

"'Good day!' said the sheep, 'and thanks for our last merry meeting.'

"'Good day!' answered the pig, 'and the same to you.'

"'Do you know,' said the sheep, 'why it is you are so well off, and why
it is they fatten you and take such pains with you?'

"'No, I don't,' said the pig.

"'Many a flask empties the cask; I suppose you know that,' said the
sheep. 'They are going to kill and eat you.'

"'Are they?' said the pig; 'well, I hope they'll say grace after meat.'

"'If you will do as I do,' said the sheep, 'we'll go off to the wood,
build us a house, and set up for ourselves. A home is a home be it ever
so homely.'

"Yes! the pig was willing enough. 'Good company is such a comfort,' he
said, and so the two set off.

"So, when they had gone a bit they met a goose.

"'Good day, good sirs, and thanks for our last merry meeting,' said the
goose; 'whither away so fast to-day?'

"'Good day, and the same to you,' said the sheep; 'you must know we were
too well off at home, and so we are going to set up for ourselves in the
wood, for you know every man's house is his castle.'

"'Well!' said the goose, 'it's much the same with me where I am. Can't I
go with you too, for it's child's play when three share the day.'

"'With gossip and gabble is built neither house nor stable,' said the
pig, 'let us know what you can do.'

"'By cunning and skill a cripple can do what he will,' said the goose.
'I can pluck moss and stuff it into the seams of the planks, and your
house will be tight and warm.'

"Yes! they would give him leave, for, above all things piggy wished to
be warm and comfortable.

"So, when they had gone a bit farther--the goose had hard work to walk
so fast--they met a hare, who came frisking out of the wood.

"'Good day, good sirs, and thanks for our last merry meeting,' she said,
'how far are you trotting to-day?'

"'Good day, and the same to you,' said the sheep; 'we were far too well
off at home, and so we're going to the wood, to build us a house, and
set up for ourselves, for you know, try all the world round, there's
nothing like home.'

"'As for that,' said the hare, 'I have a house in every bush--yes, a
house in every bush; but, yet, I have often said, in winter, 'if I only
live till summer, I'll build me a house;' and so I have half a mind to
go with you and build one up, after all.'

"'Yes!' said the pig, 'if we ever get into a scrape, we might use you to
scare away the dogs, for you don't fancy you could help us in house
building.'

"'He who lives long enough always finds work enough to do,' said the
hare. 'I have teeth to gnaw pegs, and paws to drive them into the wall,
so I can very well set up to be a carpenter, for "good tools make good
work," as the man said, when he flayed the mare with a gimlet.'

"Yes! he too got leave to go with them and build their house, there was
nothing more to be said about it.

"When they had gone a bit farther they met a cock.

"'Good day, good sirs,' said the cock, 'and thanks for our last merry
meeting; whither are ye going to-day, gentlemen?'

"'Good day, and the same to you,' said the sheep. 'At home we were too
well off, and so we are going off to the wood to build us a house, and
set up for ourselves; for he who out of doors shall bake, loses at last
both coal and cake.'

"'Well!' said the cock, 'that's just my case; but it's better to sit on
one's own perch, for then one can never be left in the lurch, and,
besides, all cocks crow loudest at home. Now, if I might have leave to
join such a gallant company, I also would like to go to the wood and
build a house.'

"'Ay! ay!' said the pig, 'flapping and crowing sets tongues a-going; but
a jaw on a stick never yet laid a brick. How can you ever help us to
build a house?'

"'Oh!' said the cock, 'that house will never have a clock, where there
is neither dog nor cock. I am up early, and I wake every one.'

"'Very true,' said the pig, 'the morning hour has a golden dower; let
him come with us;' for, you must know, piggy was always the soundest
sleeper. 'Sleep is the biggest thief,' he said; 'he thinks nothing of
stealing half one's life.'

"So they all set off to the wood, as a band and brotherhood, and built
the house. The pig hewed the timber, and the sheep drew it home; the
hare was carpenter, and gnawed pegs and bolts, and hammered them into
the walls and roof; the goose plucked moss and stuffed it into the
seams; the cock crew, and looked out that they did not oversleep
themselves in the morning; and when the house was ready, and the roof
lined with birch bark, and thatched with turf; there they lived by
themselves, and were merry and well. ''Tis good to travel east and
west,' said the sheep, 'but after all a home is best.'

"But you must know that a bit farther on in the wood was a wolf's den,
and there lived two graylegs. So when they saw that a new house had
risen up hard by, they wanted to know what sort of folk their neighbours
were, for they thought to themselves that a good neighbour was better
than a brother in a foreign land, and that it was better to live in a
good neighbourhood than to know many people miles and miles off.

"So one of them made up an errand, and went into the new house and asked
for a light for his pipe. But as soon as ever he got inside the door,
the sheep gave him such a butt that he fell head foremost into the
stove. Then the pig began to gore and bite him, the goose to nip and
peck him, the cock upon the roost to crow and chatter; and as for the
hare he was so frightened out of his wits, that he ran about aloft and
on the floor, and scratched and scrambled in every corner of the house.

"So after a long time the wolf came out.

"'Well!' said the one who waited for him outside, 'neighbourhood makes
brotherhood. You must have come into a perfect paradise on bare earth,
since you stayed so long. But what became of the light, for you have
neither pipe nor smoke.'

"'Yes, yes!' said the other; 'it was just a nice light and a pleasant
company. Such manners I never saw in all my life. But then you know we
can't pick and choose in this wicked world, and an unbidden guest gets
bad treatment. As soon as I got inside the door, the shoe-maker let fly
at me with his last, so that I fell head foremost into the stithy fire;
and there sat two smiths who blew the bellows and made the sparks fly,
and beat and punched me with red hot tongs and pincers, so that they
tore whole pieces out of my body. As for the hunter he went scrambling
about looking for his gun, and it was good luck he did not find it. And
all the while there was another who sat up under the roof, and slapped
his arms and sang out,

"'Put a hook into him, and drag him hither, drag him hither.' That was
what he screamed, and if he had only got hold of me, I should never have
come out alive."



THE GOLDEN PALACE THAT HUNG IN THE AIR.


"Once on a time there was a poor man who had three sons. When he died
the two eldest were to go out into the world to try their luck; but as
for the youngest they would not have him at any price.

"'As for you,' they said, 'you are fit for nothing but to sit and hold
fir tapers, and grub in the ashes and blow up the embers. That's what
you are fit for.'

"'Well, well,' said Boots, 'then I must e'en go alone by myself: at any
rate I shan't fall out with my company.'

"So the two went their way, and when they had travelled some days they
came to a great wood. There they sat down to rest, and were just going
to take out a meal from their knapsack, for they were both tired and
hungry. So as they sat there up came an old hag out of a hillock, and
begged for a morsel of meat. She was so old and feeble that her nose and
mouth met, and she nodded with her head, and could only walk with a
stick. As for meat she had not had, she said, a morsel in her mouth
these hundred years. But the lads only laughed at her, and ate on and
told her as she had lived so long on nothing, she might very well hold
out the rest of her life, even though she did not eat up their scanty
fare, for they had little to eat and nothing to spare.

"So when they had eaten their fill and could eat no more, and were quite
rested, they went on their way again, and, sooner or later, they came to
the King's Grange, and there they each of them got a place.

"A while after they had started from home, Boots gathered together the
crumbs which his brothers had thrown on one side, and put them into his
little scrip, and he took with him the old gun which had no lock, for he
thought it might be some good on the way; and so he set off. So when he
had wandered some days, he too came into the big wood, through which his
brothers had passed, and as he got tired and hungry, he sat down under a
tree that he might rest and eat; but he had his eyes about him for all
that, and as he opened his scrip he saw a picture hanging on a tree, and
on it was painted the likeness of a young girl or princess, whom he
thought so lovely he couldn't keep his eyes off her. So he forgot both
food and scrip, and took down the painting and lay and stared at it.
Just then came up the old hag out of the hillock, who hobbled along with
her stick, whose nose and mouth met, and whose head nodded. Then she
begged for a little food, for she hadn't had a morsel of bread in her
mouth for a hundred years. That was what she said.

"'Then it's high time you had a little to live on, granny,' said the
lad; and with that he gave her some of the crumbs he had. The old hag
said no one had ever called her 'granny' these hundred years, and she
would be as a mother to him in her turn. Then she gave him a grey ball
of wool, which he had only to roll on before him and he would come to
whatever place he wished; but as for the painting she said he mustn't
bother himself about that, he would only fall into ill luck if he did.
As for Boots, he thought it was very kind of her to say that, but he
could not bear to be without the painting, so he took it under his arm
and rolled the ball of wool before him, and it was not long before he
came to the King's Grange, where his brothers served. There he too
begged for a place, but all the answer he got was they had nothing to
put him to, for they had just got two new serving men. But as he begged
so prettily, at last he got leave to be with the coachman, and learn how
to groom and handle horses. That he was right glad to do, for he was
fond of horses, and he was both quick and ready, so that he soon learnt
how to bed and rub them down, and it was not long before every one in
the King's Grange was fond of him; but every hour he had to himself he
was up in the loft looking at the picture, for he had hung it up in a
corner of the hay-loft.

"As for his brothers, they were dull and lazy, and so they often got
scolding and stripes, and when they saw that Boots fared better than
they, they got jealous of him, and told the coachman he was a worshipper
of false gods, for he prayed to a picture and not to Our Lord. Now, even
though the coachman thought well of the lad, still he wasn't long before
he told the king what he had heard. But the king only swore and snapped
at him, for he had grown very sad and sorrowful since his daughters had
been carried off by trolls. But they so dinned it into the king's ears,
that at last he must and would know what it was that the lad did. But
when he went up into the hay-loft and set his eyes on the picture, he
saw it was his youngest daughter who was painted on it. But when the
brothers of Boots heard that, they were ready with an answer, and said
to the coachman,

"'If our brother only would, he has said he was good to get the king's
daughter back.'

"You may fancy it was not long before the coachman went to the king with
this story, and when the king heard it, he called for Boots, and said,

"'Your brothers say you can bring back my daughter again, and now you
must do it.'

"Boots answered, he had never known it was the king's daughter till the
king said so himself, and if he could free her and fetch her he would be
sure to do his best; but two days he must have to think over it and fit
himself out. Yes, he might have two days.

"So Boots took the grey ball of wool and threw it down on the road, and
it rolled and rolled before him, and he followed it till he came to the
old hag, from whom he had got it. Her he asked what he must do, and she
said he must take with him that old gun of his and three hundred chests
of nails and horseshoe brads, and three hundred barrels of barley, and
three hundred barrels of grits, and three hundred carcases of pigs, and
three hundred beeves, and then he was to roll the ball of wool before
him till he met a raven and a baby troll, and then he would be all
right, for they were both of her stock. Yes, the lad did as she bade
him; he went right on to the King's Grange, and took his old gun with
him, and he asked the king for the nails and the brads, and meat and
flesh, and grain, and for horses and men, and carts to carry them in.
The king thought it was a good deal to ask, but if he could only get his
daughter back, he might have whatever he chose, even to the half of his
kingdom.

"So when the lad had fitted himself out, he rolled the ball of wool
before him again, and he hadn't gone many days before he came to a high
hill, and there sat a raven, up in a fir tree. So Boots went on till he
came close under the tree, and then he began to aim and point at the
raven with his gun.

"'No, no,' cried the raven, 'don't shoot me, don't shoot me, and I'll
help you.'

"'Well,' said Boots, 'I never heard of anyone who boasted he had eaten
roast raven, and since you are so eager to save your life, I may just as
well spare it.'

"So he threw down his gun, and the raven came flying down to him, and
said,

"'Here, up on this fell there is a baby troll walking up and down, for
he has lost his way and can't get down again. I will help you up, and
then you can lead him home, and ask a boon which will stand you in good
stead. When you get to the troll's house he will offer you all the
grandest things he has, but you should not heed them a pin. Mind you
take nothing else but the little grey ass which stands behind the stable
door.'

"Then the raven took Boots on his back and flew up on the hill with him,
and put him off there. When he had gone about on it a bit, he heard the
baby troll howling and whining, because it couldn't get down again. So
the lad talked kindly to it, and they got the best friends in the world,
and he said he would help it down and guide it to the old troll's house,
that it mightn't lose itself on the way back. Then they went to the
raven, and he took them both on his back, and carried them off the hill
troll's house.

"And when the old troll saw his baby, he was so glad he was beside
himself, and told Boots he might come indoors and take whatever he
chose, because he had freed his child. Then they offered him both gold
and silver, and all that was rare and costly; but the lad said he would
rather have a horse than anything else. Yes, he should have a horse, the
troll said, and off they went to the stable. It was full of the grandest
horses, whose coats shone like the sun and moon; but Boots thought they
were all too big for him. So he peeped behind the stable door, and when
he set eyes on the little grey ass that stood there, he said,

"'I'll take this one. It will suit me to a T, and if I fall off I shall
be no farther from the ground than that ---- high.'

"The old troll did not at all like to part with his ass, but as he had
given his word he had to stand by it. So Boots got the ass, and saddle,
and bridle, and all that belonged to it, and then he set off. They
travelled through wood and field, and over fells and wide wastes. So
when they had gone farther than far, the ass asked Boots if he saw
anything.

"'No, I see naught else than a hill, which looks blue in the distance,'
said Boots.

"'Oh,' said the ass, 'that hill we have to pass through.'

"'All very fine, I daresay,' said Boots, for he didn't believe a word of
it.

"So when they got close to the hill, an unicorn came tearing along at
them, just as if he were going to eat them up all alive.

"'I almost think now I'm afraid,' said Boots.

"'Oh,' said the ass, 'don't say so; just throw it a score or so of
beeves, and beg it to bore a hole, and break a way for us through the
hill.'

"So Boots did as he was told, and when the unicorn had eaten his fill,
they said they would give him a score or two of pigs' carcasses, if he
would go before them and bore a hole in the hill, so that they might get
through it. So when he heard that he set to work and bored the hole, and
broke a way so fast that they had hard work to keep up with him, and
when he had done his work they threw him two score of pigs.

"So when they had got well out of that they travelled far away, until
they passed again through woods and fields and across fells and wide
wastes.

"'Do you see anything now?' asked the ass.

"'Now I see naught but the bare sky and wild fells,' said Boots.

"So they travelled on far and farther than far, and the higher up they
came the fell got smoother and flatter, so that they could see farther
about them.

"'Do you see anything now?' said the ass.

"'Yes, I see something far, far away,' said Boots, 'and it gleams and
twinkles like a little star.'

"'It's not so very little for all that,' said the ass.

"So when they had gone on farther and farther than far again, the ass
asked again,

"'Do you see anything now?'

"'Yes,' said Boots, 'I see something a long way off, that shines like a
moon.'

"'It is no moon,' said the ass, 'but the silver castle we are bound for.
Now, when we get there you will see three dragons lying on the watch
before the gate. They have not been awakened for hundreds of years, and
so the moss has grown over their eyes.'

"'I almost think I shall be afraid of them,' said Boots.

"'Oh, don't say that,' said the ass, 'you've only got to wake up the
youngest, and throw it a score or so of beeves and swine, and then it
will talk to the others, and so you'll come into the castle.'

"So on they travelled far and farther than far again before they came up
to the castle, but when they reached it it was both grand and great, and
everything they saw was cast in silver, and outside the gate lay the
dragons, and blocked up the way so that no one could get in; but they
had a nice easy time of it, and had not been much troubled in their
watch; for they were so overgrown with moss that no one could tell what
they were made of, and at their sides underwood was springing up between
the tufts of moss. So Boots woke up the youngest of them, and it began
to rub its eyes and clear the moss out of them. But when the dragon saw
there was folk there, he came at them with his maw wide a-gape; but then
the lad stood ready, and tossed into it the carcasses of beeves, and
swung after them salted swine, till the dragon had got his fill, and
grew a little more sensible to talk to. Then the lad begged he would
wake up his fellows, and ask them to be so good as to get out of the
way, so that he might get into the castle; but the dragon neither would
nor dared to do that at first, for he said, as they had not been awake
or tasted anything for hundreds of years, he was afraid lest they should
get raving mad, and swallow up everything alive or dead.

"But Boots thought there was no need to fear that, for they could leave
behind them a hundred carcasses of beeves, and a hundred salt swine, and
go a little way off and then the dragons would have time to eat their
fill, and to come to themselves before the others came back to the
castle.

"Yes, the dragon was ready to do that, and so they did it; but before
the dragons were well awake, and got the moss rubbed off their eyes;
they went about roaring and raving, and riving and rending at everything
alive or dead, so that the youngest dragon had enough to do to shield
himself from them till they had snuffed up the smell of flesh. Then they
swallowed down whole oxen and swine, and ate and ate till they were
full. And after that they were just as tame and buxom as the youngest,
and let Boots pass between them into the castle.

"When he got inside it was all so grand he never could have thought
anything could be so good anywhere; but there was not a soul in it, for
he went from room to room, and opened all the doors, but he could see no
one. Well, at last he peeped through a door that led to a bedroom, which
he had not seen before, and in there sat a princess, spinning, and she
was so glad and happy when she saw him.

"'No, no,' she cried, 'can it be that Christian folk dare to come
hither? but it will be best for you to be off again, else the troll
might kill you, for you must know a troll lives with three heads.'

"But Boots said he would not fly even if he had seven heads. When the
princess heard that, she said she wished him to try if he could brandish
the great rusty sword that hung behind the door. No, he could not
brandish it, he could not so much as even lift it.

"'Ah,' said the princess, 'if you can't do that you must take a drink of
that flask yonder, that hangs by the side of the sword, for that's what
the troll does when he goes out to use it.'

"So Boots took two or three drinks, and then he could brandish the sword
as though it were a rolling pin.

"Just then came the troll, so that the wind sung after him.

"'Hu!' he screeched out, 'what a smell of Christian blood there is in
here.'

"'I know there is,' said Boots, 'but you needn't blow and snort so at
it; you shan't suffer long from that smell,' and in a trice he cut off
all his heads.

"The princess was so glad, just as if she had got something so good; but
in a little while she got heavy-hearted, for she pined for her sister,
who had been stolen by a troll with six heads, and lived in a golden
castle three hundred miles on this side of the world's end. Boots
thought that was not so very bad, for he could go and fetch both the
princess and the castle; and so he took the sword and the flask, and got
on the ass, and bade the dragons follow him, and carry the meat, and
grain, and nails which he had.

"So when they had been a while on the way, and had travelled far, far
away over land and strand, the ass said one day,

"'Do you see anything?'

"'I see naught,' said Boots, 'but land and water and bare sky and high
crags.'

"So they went on far and farther than far, and then the ass said again,

"'Do you see anything now?'

"'Yes,' when he had looked well before him, he saw something a long,
long way off, that shone like a little star.

"'It will be big enough by-and-by,' said the ass.

"When they had gone a good bit still, the ass asked,

"'Do you see anything now?'

"'Now I see it shining like a moon,' said the lad.

"'Ay, ay,' said the ass, and on they went.

"So when they had gone far, and farther than far away, over land and
strand, and hill and heath, the ass asked,

"'Do you see anything now?'

"'Now, methinks,' said Boots, 'it shines most like the sun.'

"'Ay,' said the ass, 'that's the golden castle for which we are bound;
but outside it lives a worm, which stops the way and keeps watch and
ward.'

"'I think I shall be afraid of it,' said Boots.

"'Oh, don't say so,' said the ass, 'we must spread over it heaps of
boughs, and lay between them layers of horseshoe brads and nails, and
set fire to them all, and so we shall be rid of it.'

"So after a long, long time they came up to where the castle hung in the
air, but the worm lay underneath it and stopped the way. So the lad gave
the dragons a good meal of beeves and salted swine, that they might help
him, and they spread over the worm heaps of boughs and wood, and laid
between them layers of nails and brads, till they had used up the three
hundred chests, and when it was all done they set fire to the pile and
burned up the worm alive, in a fire at white heat.

"So when they had done with him one dragon flew under the castle and
lifted it up, and the two others went up high, high into the air, and
unloosed the links and hooks by which it hung, and so they lowered it
down and set it on the ground. When that was done Boots went inside, and
there it was grander far than in the silvern castle, but he could see no
folk till he came to the innermost room, and there lay a princess on a
bed of gold. She slept so sound, as though she were dead, but she was
not, though he was not able to wake her up, for her face was as red and
white as milk and blood. And just as Boots stood there gazing at her,
back came the troll tearing along. As soon as he put his first head
through the door he screamed out,

"'Hu! what a smell of Christian blood there is in here.'

"'Maybe,' said Boots, 'but you've no need to smell and snort about that;
you shan't suffer long from it.'

"And with that he cut off all his heads, as though they stood on a kail
stalk.

"So the dragons took the golden castle on their backs and went home with
it--I fancy they were not long on the way--and set it down side by side
with the silvern castle, so that it shone both far and wide.

"Now when the princess of the silvern castle came to her window in the
morning, and caught sight of it, she was so glad that she sprang over to
the golden castle at once; but when she saw her sister lying there and
sleeping as though she were dead, she said to Boots that they would
never get life into her before they found the water of life and death,
and that stood in two wells on either side of a golden castle which hung
in the air, nine hundred miles beyond the world's end, and where the
third sister dwelt.

"Well, Boots thought there was no help for it; he must go and fetch it,
and it was not long before he was on his way. So he travelled far and
farther than far, through many realms, across wood and field, over fell
and firth, along hill and heath, and at last he got to the world's end,
and after that he travelled far, far over crags and wastes and high
rocks.

"'Do you see anything?' asked the ass one day.

"'I see naught but heaven and earth,' said the lad.

"'Do you see anything now?' asked the ass again, when some days were
past.

"'Yes,' said Boots, 'now I see something that glimmers very high up,
far, far away, like a little star.'

"'It's not so little for all that,' said the ass.

"So when they had travelled on a while, the ass asked,

"'Do you see anything now?'

"'Yes,' said Boots, 'now it shines like the sun.'

"'That's whither we are bound,' said the ass; 'it's the golden castle
that hangs in the air, and there lives a princess who has been stolen by
a troll with nine heads; but all the wild beasts there are in the world
lie on watch, and stop the way thither.'

"'Uf,' said Boots, 'I almost think I'm afraid of them.'

"'Don't say so,' said the ass; and then he told him there was no danger,
if he would only make up his mind not to linger there, but to set off on
his way back as soon as ever he had filled his flasks with the water,
for there was no going thither but during one hour in the day, and that
began at high noon; but if he were not man enough to be ready in time
and to get away, the beasts would tear him into a thousand pieces.

"Well, Boots said he would be sure to do that, he would not think of
staying too long.

"At the stroke of twelve they reached the castle, and there lay all the
wild and savage beasts that ever were, as it were a fence before the
gate, and on either side of the way. But they all slumbered like stocks
and stones, and there wasn't one of them that so much as lifted a paw.
So Boots passed between them, and took good heed not to tread on their
toes or the tips of their tails, and he filled his flasks with the
waters of life and death, and while he did that he looked up at the
castle, which was as though it were cast in pure gold. It was the
grandest he had ever seen, and he thought it would be grander still
inside than out.

"'Stuff,' thought Boots, 'I have time enough, I can always look about me
in half an hour,' and so he opened the door and went in. Well, inside it
was grander than grand itself, and as he went out of one gorgeous room
into another, it was as if it was all made of gold and pearls, and
everything that was costliest in the world. Folk there were none; but at
last he came into a bedroom where there lay another princess on a bed of
gold, just as though she were dead too, but she was as grand as the
grandest queen, and as red and white as blood on snow, and so lovely he
had never seen anything so lovely but her picture; for she it was that
was painted on it.

"Then Boots forgot both the water he was to fetch, and the wild beasts,
and the castle and everything, and could only gaze at the princess; and
he thought he could never have his fill of looking at her; but all the
while she slept as though she were dead, and he was not able to wake her
up.

"So when it drew towards evening, the troll came tearing along so that
the wind sung after him, and he rattled and slammed the gates and doors
till the whole castle rang again.

"'Huf,' he cried; 'what a strong smell of Christian blood there is in
here;' and then he stuck his first head inside the door and snuffed up
the air.

"'I daresay there is,' said Boots, 'but you've no need to puff and blow
as though you were about to burst, for it shan't vex you long;' and as
he said that he cut off all his nine heads. But when he had done that he
got so weary he couldn't keep his eyes open. So he laid him down on the
bed by the side of the princess, and all the while she slept both night
and day, as though she would never wake again; only at midnight she just
woke up for the twinkling of an eye, and then she told him that he had
set her free, but she must bide there three years still, and if she
didn't come home to him then he must just come and fetch her.

"When the clock began to go towards one next day, Boots woke for the
first time, and the first thing he heard was the ass braying and
screaming and making a stir, and so he thought he would get up and set
off home, but before he went he cut a breadth out of the princess's
skirt, and took it away with him. And however it was, he had loitered so
long there that the beasts began to wake and stir, and by the time he
had mounted his ass they stood in a ring round him, so that he thought
it had rather a ghastly look. But the ass said he must sprinkle on them
a few drops of the water of death, and he did so, and in a trice they
all fell headlong on the spot, and never stirred a limb more.

"As they were on their way home, the ass said to Boots,--

"'Now when you come to honour and glory, see if you don't forget me and
all I have done for you, so that I shall be broken-kneed for hunger.'

"'Nay, nay! that should never be,' said the lad.

"So when he got home to the princess with the water of life, she
sprinkled a few drops over her sister, and woke her up, and then there
was such great joy and they were so happy. Then they travelled home to
the king, and he too was glad and joyful, because he had got those two
back; but still he went about longing and longing that the three years
might pass away, and his youngest daughter come home.

"As for Boots, who had brought them back, the king made him a mighty
man, so that he was the first in the land after the king himself. But
there were many who were jealous that he should have grown to be such a
man of mark, and one of them was Ritter Red, who they did say wished to
have the eldest princess, and he got her to sprinkle over Boots a little
of the water of death, so that he swooned off and lay as dead.

"So when the three years were over, and a bit of the fourth was gone,
there came sailing up a strange ship of war, and on board was the third
sister, and with her she had a boy three years old. She sent word up to
the King's Grange, and said she would not set her foot on land till they
had sent him who had been in the golden castle and set her free. So they
sent down to her one of the highest men about the court, the master of
the ceremonies himself; and when he came on board the princess' ship, he
took off his hat and bowed and scraped, and bent himself before her.

"'Can that be your father? my son,' said the princess to her boy, who
was playing with a golden apple.

"'No,' said the child, 'my father doesn't crawl about like a
cheesemite.'

"So they sent another of the same stamp, and this time it was Ritter
Red. But it fared no better with him than with the first one, and the
princess sent word by him, if they didn't make haste and send the right
one, it should go ill with them. When they heard that they were forced
to wake up Boots with the water of life; and so he went down to the ship
to the princess, but he didn't make too low a bow, I should think; he
only nodded his head and brought out the breadth he had cut out of the
skirt of the princess in the golden castle.

"'That's my father! that's my father!' bawled out the boy, and gave him
the golden apple he was playing with.

"Then there was great joy and mirth all over the realm, and the old king
was the gladdest of all of them, because he had got his darling back
again. But when what Ritter Red and the eldest princess had done to
Boots came out, the king asked to have them both rolled down a hill,
each in a cask full of spikes and nails; but Boots and the youngest
princess begged hard for them, and so they got off with life.

"Now it happened one day, as they were about to begin the bridal feast,
that they stood looking out of window,--it was towards spring, just when
they were turning out the horses and cows after the winter--and the last
that came out of the stable was the ass; but it was so starved that it
came out of the stable-door on its knees.

"Then Boots was cut to the heart because he had forgotten it, and he
went down and did not know how to make it up to the poor beast. But the
ass said the best thing he could do was to cut his head off. That he was
very loath to do, but the ass begged so prettily that he had to yield,
and did it at last; and as soon as ever his head fell in the yard, it
was all over with the shape which had been thrown over him by
witchcraft, and there stood the handsomest prince any one cared to see.
He got the second princess to wife, and they fell to keeping the bridal
feast, so that it was heard and talked of over seven kingdoms.

    'Then they built themselves houses,
    And stitched themselves shoon,
    And had so many bairns
    They reached up to the moon.'"



LITTLE FREDDY WITH HIS FIDDLE.


"Once on a time there was a cottager who had an only son, and this lad
was weakly, and hadn't much health to speak of; so he couldn't go out to
work in the field.

"His name was Freddy, and undersized he was, too; and so they called him
Little Freddy. At home there was little either to bite or sup, and so
his father went about the country trying to bind him over as a cowherd
or an errand-boy; but there was no one who would take his son till he
came to the sheriff, and he was ready to take him, for he had just
packed off his errand-boy, and there was no one who would fill his
place, for the story went that he was a skinflint.

"But the cottager thought it was better there than nowhere: he would get
his food, for all the pay he was to get was his board--there was nothing
said about wages or clothes. So when the lad had served three years he
wanted to leave, and then the sheriff gave him all his wages at one
time. He was to have a penny a year. 'It couldn't well be less,' said
the sheriff. And so he got threepence in all.

"As for little Freddy, he thought it was a great sum, for he had never
owned so much; but for all that he asked if he wasn't to have something
more.

"'You have already had more than you ought to have,' said the sheriff.

"'Sha'n't I have anything, then, for clothes?' asked little Freddy; 'for
those I had on when I came here are worn to rags, and I have had no new
ones.'

"And, to tell the truth, he was so ragged that the tatters hung and
flapped about him.

"'When you have got what we agreed on,' said the sheriff, 'and three
whole pennies beside, I have nothing more to do with you. Be off!'

"But for all that he got leave just to go into the kitchen and get a
little food to put in his scrip; and after that he set off on the road
to buy himself more clothes. He was both merry and glad, for he had
never seen a penny before; and every now and then he felt in his pockets
as he went along to see if he had them all three. So when he had gone
far, and farther than far, he got into a narrow dale, with high fells on
all sides, so that he couldn't tell if there were any way to pass out;
and he began to wonder what there could be on the other side of those
fells, and how he ever should get over them.

"But up and up he had to go, and on he strode; he was not strong on his
legs, and had to rest every now and then--and then he counted and
counted how many pennies he had got. So when he had got quite up to the
very top, there was nothing but a great plain overgrown with moss. There
he sat him down, and began to see if his money were all right; and
before he was aware of him a beggarman came up to him--and he was so
tall and big that the lad began to scream and screech when he got a good
look of him, and saw his height and length.

"'Don't you be afraid,' said the beggarman, 'I'll do you no harm; I only
beg for a penny, in God's name.'

"'Heaven help me!' said the lad. 'I have only three pennies, and with
them I was going to the town to buy clothes.'

"'It is worse for me than for you,' said the beggarman. "'I have got no
penny, and I am still more ragged than you.'

"'Well! then you shall have it,' said the lad.

"So when he had walked on awhile he got weary, and sat down to rest
again. But when he looked up there he saw another beggarman, and he was
still taller and uglier than the first; and so when the lad saw how very
tall and ugly and long he was he fell a-screeching.

"'Now, don't you be afraid of me,' said the beggar; 'I'll not do you any
harm. I only beg for a penny, in God's name.'

"'Now, may heaven help me!' said the lad. 'I've only got two pence, and
with them I was going to the town to buy clothes. If I had only met you
sooner, then----'

"'It's worse for me than for you,' said the beggarman. I have no penny,
and a bigger body and less clothing.'

"'Well, you may have it,' said the lad.

"So he went awhile farther, till he got weary, and then he sat down to
rest; but he had scarce sat down than a third beggarman came to him. He
was so tall and ugly and long, that the lad had to look up and up, right
up to the sky. And when he took him all in with his eyes, and saw how
very, very tall and ugly and ragged he was he fell a-screeching and
screaming again.

"'Now, don't you be afraid of me, my lad,' said the beggarman. 'I'll do
you no harm; for I am only a beggarman, who begs for a penny in God's
name.'

"'May heaven help me!' said the lad. 'I have only one penny left, and
with it I was going to the town to buy clothes. If I had only met you
sooner, then----'

"'As for that,' said the beggarman, 'I have no penny at all--that I
haven't, and a bigger body and less clothes, so it is worse for me than
for you.'

"'Yes!' said little Freddy, he must have the penny then--there was no
help for it; for so each would have what belonged to him, and he would
have nothing.

"'Well!' said the beggarman, 'since you have such a good heart that you
gave away all that you had in the world, I will give you a wish for each
penny.' For you must know it was the same beggarman who had got them all
three; he had only changed his shape each time, that the lad might not
know him again.

"'I have always had such a longing to hear a fiddle go, and see folk so
glad and merry that they couldn't help dancing,' said the lad; and so,
if I may wish what I choose, I will wish myself such a fiddle, that
everything that has life must dance to its tune.'

"'That he might have,' said the beggarman; but it was a sorry wish. 'You
must wish something better for the other two pennies.'

"'I have always had such a love for hunting and shooting,' said little
Freddy; 'so if I may wish what I choose, I will wish myself such a gun
that I shall hit everything I aim at, were it ever so far off.'

"'That he might have,' said the beggarman; 'but it was a sorry wish. You
must wish better for the last penny.'

"'I have always had a longing to be in company with folk who were kind
and good,' said little Freddy; and so, if I could get what I wish, I
would wish it to be so that no one can say 'Nay' to the first thing I
ask.'

"'That wish was not so sorry,' said the beggarman; and off he strode
between the hills, and he saw him no more. And so the lad laid down to
sleep, and the next day he came down from the fell with his fiddle and
his gun.

"First he went to the storekeeper and asked for clothes, and at one farm
he asked for a horse, and at another for a sledge; and at this place he
asked for a fur-coat, and no one said him 'Nay,'--even the stingiest
folk, they were all forced to give him what he asked for. At last he
went through the country as a fine gentleman, and had his horse and his
sledge; and so when he had gone a bit he met the sheriff with whom he
had served.

"'Good-day, master,' said Little Freddy, as he pulled up and took off
his hat.

"'Good-day,' said the sheriff. And then he went on, 'When was I ever
your master?'

"'Oh, yes!' said little Freddy. 'Don't you remember how I served you
three years for three pence?'

"'Heaven help us!' said the sheriff. 'How you have got on all of a
hurry! And pray how was it that you got to be such a fine gentleman?'

"'Oh, that's telling!' said little Freddy.

"'And are you full of fun, that you carry a fiddle about with you?'
asked the sheriff.

"'Yes! yes!' said Freddy. 'I have always had such a longing to get folk
to dance; but the funniest thing of all is this gun, for it brings down
almost anything that I aim at, however far it may be off. Do you see
that magpie yonder, sitting in the spruce fir? What'll you bet I don't
bag it, as we stand here?'

"On that the sheriff was ready to stake horse and groom, and a hundred
dollars beside, that he couldn't do it; but, as it was, he would bet all
the money he had about him; and he would go to fetch it when it
fell--for he never thought it possible for any gun to carry so far.

"But as the gun went off down fell the magpie, and into a great bramble
thicket; and away went the sheriff up into the brambles after it, and he
picked it up and showed it to the lad. But in a trice Little Freddy
began to scrape his fiddle, and the sheriff began to dance, and the
thorns to tear him; but still the lad played on, and the sheriff danced,
and cried, and begged till his clothes flew to tatters, and he scarce
had a thread to his back.

"'Yes!' said Little Freddy; 'now I think you're about as ragged as I was
when I left your service. So now you may get off with what you have
got.'

"But, first of all, the sheriff had to pay him what he had wagered that
he could not hit the magpie.

"So when the lad came to the town he turned aside into an inn, and he
began to play, and all who came danced, and he lived merrily and well.
He had no care, for no one could say him 'Nay' to anything he asked.

"But just as they were all in the midst of their fun up came the
watchmen to drag the lad off to the town-hall: for the sheriff had laid
a charge against him, and said he had waylaid him and robbed him, and
nearly taken his life. And now he was to be hanged--they would not hear
of anything else. But Little Freddy had a cure for all trouble, and that
was his fiddle. He began to play on it, and the watchmen fell a-dancing,
till they lay down and gasped for breath.

"So they sent soldiers and the guard on their way; but it was no better
with them than with the watchmen. As soon as ever Little Freddy scraped
his fiddle, they were all bound to dance, so long as he could lift a
finger to play a tune; but they were half dead long before he was tired.
At last they stole a march on him, and took him while he lay asleep by
night; and when they had caught him he was doomed to be hanged on the
spot, and away they hurried him to the gallows-tree.

"There a great crowd of people flocked together to see this wonder, and
the sheriff, he, too, was there; and he was so glad at last at getting
amends for the money and the skin he had lost, and that he might see him
hanged with his own eyes. But they did not get him to the gallows very
fast, for little Freddy was always weak on his legs, and now he made
himself weaker still. His fiddle and his gun he had with him also--it
was hard to part him from them; and so, when he came to the gallows, and
had to mount the steps, he halted on each step; and when he got to the
top he sat down, and asked if they could deny him a wish, and if he
might have leave to do one thing? He had such a longing, he said to
scrape a tune and play a bar on his fiddle before they hanged him.

"'No! no!' they said. 'It were sin and shame to deny him that.' For, you
know, no one could gainsay what he asked.

"But the sheriff he begged them, for God's sake, not to let him have
leave to touch a string, else it was all over with them altogether; and
if the lad got leave, he begged them to bind him to the birch that stood
there.

"So little Freddy was not slow in getting his fiddle to speak, and all
that were there fell a-dancing at once--those who went on two legs, and
those who went on four; both the dean and the parson, and the lawyer,
and the bailiff, and the sheriff; masters and men, dogs and swine, they
all danced and laughed and screeched at one another. Some danced till
they lay for dead; some danced till they fell into a swoon. It went
badly with all of them, but worst of all with the sheriff, for there he
stood bound to the birch, and he danced and scraped great bits off his
back against the trunk. There was not one of them who thought of doing
anything to little Freddy, and away he went with his fiddle and his gun,
just as he chose; and he lived merrily and happily all his days, for
there was no one who could say him 'Nay' to the first thing he asked
for."



MOTHER ROUNDABOUT'S DAUGHTER.


"Once on a time there was a goody who had a son, and he was so lazy and
slow he would never turn his hand to anything that was useful; but
singing and dancing he was very fond of, and so he danced and sang as
long as it was day, and sometimes even some way on in the night. The
longer this lasted the harder it was for the goody, the boy grew, and
meat he must have without stint, and more and more was spent in clothing
as he grew bigger and bigger, and it was soon worn out, I should think;
for he danced and sprang about both in wood and field.

"At last the goody thought it too bad; so she told the lad that now he
must begin to turn his hand to work, and live steadily, or else there
was nothing before both of them but starving to death. But that the lad
had no mind to do; he said he would far rather woo Mother Roundabout's
daughter, for if he could only get her he would be able to live well and
good all his days, and sing and dance and never do one stroke of work.

"When his mother heard that, she too thought it would be a very fine
thing, and so she fitted out the lad as well as she could that he might
look tidy when he got to Mother Roundabout's house, and so he set off on
his way.

"Now when he got out of doors the sun shone warm and bright; but it had
rained the night before, so that the ways were soft and miry, and all
the bog-holes stood full of water. The lad took a short cut to Mother
Roundabout, and he sang and jumped, as was ever his wont, but just as he
sprang and leapt he got to a bog-hole, and over it lay a little bridge,
and from the bridge he had to make a spring across a hole on to a tuft
of grass, that he might not dirty his shoes. But '_plump_,' it said all
at once, and just as he put his foot on the tuft it gave way under him,
and there was no stopping till he found himself in a nasty deep dark
hole. At first he could see nothing, but when he had been there a while
he had a glimpse of a rat which came wiggle-waggle up to him with a
bunch of keys at the tip of her tail.

"'What, you here, my boy?" said the rat. 'Thank yon kindly for coming to
me. I have waited long for you. You come, of course, to woo me, and you
are eager at it, I can very well see; but you must have patience yet
awhile, for I shall have a great dower, and I am not ready for my
wedding just yet, but I'll do my best that it shall be as soon as ever I
can.'

"When she had said that she brought out ever so many eggshells with all
sorts of bits and scraps, such as rats are wont to eat, and set them
before him, and said,

"'Now, you must sit down and eat; I am sure you must be both tired and
hungry.'

"But the lad thought he had no liking for such food.

"'If I were only well away from this, above ground again,' he thought to
himself, but he said nothing out loud.

"'Now, I daresay, you'ld be glad to go home again,' said the rat. 'I
know your heart is set on this wedding, and I'll make all the haste I
can, and you must take with you this linen thread, and when you get up
above you must not look round, but go straight home, and on the way you
must mind and say nothing but

    'Short before, and long back,
    Short before, and long back;'

and as she said this she put the linen thread into his hand.

"'Heaven be praised!' said the lad, when he got above ground. 'Thither
I'll never come again, if I can help it.'

"But he still had the thread in his hand, and he sprang and sang as he
was wont; but even though he thought no more of the rat-hole, he had got
his tongue into the tune, and so he sang,

    'Short before, and long back,
    Short before, and long back;'

"So when he got back home into the porch he turned round, and there lay
many many hundred ells of the whitest linen, so fine that the handiest
weaving girl could not have woven it finer.

"'Mother! mother! come out,' he cried and roared. Out came the goody in
a bustle, and asked what ever was the matter; but when she saw the linen
woof, which stretched as far back as she could see and a bit beside, she
couldn't believe her eyes, till the lad told her how it had all
happened. And when she had heard it and tried the woof between her
fingers, she got so glad that she too began to dance and sing.

"So she took the linen and cut it out, and sewed shirts out of it both
for herself and her son, and the rest she took into the town and sold,
and got money for it. And now they both lived well and happily a while;
but when the money was all gone the goody had no more food in the house,
and so she told her son he really must now begin to go to work, and live
like the rest of the world, else there was nothing for it but starving
for them both.

"But the lad had more mind to go to Mother Roundabout and woo her
daughter. Well, the goody thought that a very fine thing, for now he had
good clothes on his back, and he was not such a bad looking fellow
either. So she made him smart and fitted him out as well as she could,
and he took out his new shoes and brushed them till they were as bright
as glass, and when he had done that off he went.

"But all happened just as it did before. When he got out of doors the
sun shone warm and bright, but it had rained over night, so that it was
soft and miry, and all the bog-holes were full of water. The lad took
the short cut to Mother Roundabout, and he sang and sprang as he was
ever wont. Now he took another way than the one he went before, but just
as he leaped and jumped he got upon the bridge over the moor again, and
from it he had to jump over a bog-hole on to a tuft that he might not
dirty his shoes. But _plump_ it went, and down it went under him, and
there was no stopping till he found himself in a nasty, deep dark hole.
At first he could see nothing, but when he had been there a while he got
a glimpse of a rat with a bunch of keys at the tip of her tail, who came
wiggle-waggle up to him.

"'What, you here, my boy?' said the rat. 'That was nice of you to wish
to see me so soon again. You are very eager, that I can see; but you
really must wait a while, for there is still something wanting to my
dower, but the next time you come it shall be all right.'

"When she had said this she set before him all kinds of scraps and bits
in eggshells, such as rats eat and like; but the lad thought it all
looked like meat that had been already eaten once, and he wasn't hungry,
he said; and all the time he thought, 'If I could only once get above
ground, well out of this hole.' But he said nothing out loud.

"So after a while the rat said,

"I dare say now you would be glad to get home again; but I'll hasten on
the wedding as fast as ever I can. And now you must take with you this
thread of wool, and when you come above ground you must not look round,
but go straight home, and all the way you must mind and say nothing than

    'Short before, and long back,
    Short before, and long back;'

and as she said that she gave him a thread of wool into his hand.

"'Heaven be praised!' said the lad, 'that I got away. Thither I'll never
go again if I can help it;' and so he sang and jumped as he was wont. As
for the rat-hole he thought no more about it, but as he had got his
tongue into tune and he sang,

    'Short before, and long back,
    Short before, and long back;'

so he kept on the whole way home.

"So when he had got into the yard at home again he turned and looked
behind him, and there lay the finest cloth more than many hundred ells;
ay! almost above half a mile long, and so fine that no town dandy could
have had finer cloth to his coat.

"'Mother! mother! come out,' bawled the lad.

"So the goody came out of doors, and clapped her hands, and was almost
ready to swoon for joy when she saw all that lovely cloth, and then he
had to tell her how he had got it, and how it had all happened from
first to last. Then they had a fine time of it, you may fancy. The lad
got new clothes of the finest sort, and the goody went off to the town
and sold the cloth by little and little, and made heaps of money. Then
she decked out her cottage and got so smart in her old days as though
she had been a born lady. So they lived well and happily, but at last
that money came to an end too, and so the day came when the goody had no
more food in the house, and then she told her son, he really must turn
his hand to work, and live like the rest of the world, else there was
nothing but starving staring both of them in the face.

"But the lad thought it far better to go to Mother Roundabout and woo
her daughter. This time the goody thought so too, and said not a word
against it, for now he had new clothes of the finest kind, and he looked
so well she thought it quite out of the question that any one could say,
'No!' to so smart a lad. So she smartened him up, and made him as tidy
as she could, and he himself brought out his new shoes and rubbed them
till they shone so he could see his face in them, and when he had done
that off he went.

"This time he did not take the short cut, but made a great bend, for
down to the rats he would not go if he could help it, he was so tired of
all that wiggle-waggle and that everlasting bridal gossip. As for the
weather and the ways they were just as they had been twice before. The
sun shone, so that it was dazzling on the pools and bog-holes, and the
lad sang and sprang as he was wont; but just as he sang and jumped,
before he knew where he was, he was on the very same bridge across the
bog again. So he was to jump from the bridge over a bog-hole on to a
tuft, that he might not dirty his bright shoes. '_Plump_,' it said, and
it gave way with him, and there was no stopping till he was down in the
same nasty deep dark hole again. At first he was glad, for he could see
nothing, but when he had been there a while he had a glimpse of the ugly
rat, and he was so loath to see her with the bunch of keys at the end of
her tail.

"'Good day, my boy!' said the rat. 'You shall be heartily welcome again,
for I see you can't bear to be any longer without me. Thank you, thank
you kindly; but now everything is ready for the wedding, and we shall
set off to church at once.'

"'Something dreadful is going to happen,' thought the lad, but he said
nothing out loud.

"Then the rat whistled, and there came swarming out such a lot of small
rats and mice out of all the holes and crannies, and six big rats came
harnessed to a frying-pan; two mice got up behind as footmen, and two
got up before and drove; some, too, got into the pan, and the rat with
the bunch of keys at her tail took her seat among them. Then she said to
the lad,

"'The road is a little narrow here, so you must be good enough to walk
by the side of the carriage, my darling boy, till it gets broader, and
then you shall have leave to sit up in the carriage alongside of me.'

"'Very fine that will be, I dare say,' thought the lad. 'If I were only
well above ground, I'd run away from the whole pack of you.' That was
what he thought, but he said nothing out loud!

"So he followed them as well as he could; sometimes he had to creep on
all fours, and sometimes he had to stoop and bend his back well, for the
road was low and narrow in places; but when it got broader he went on in
front, and looked about him how he might best give them the slip and run
away. But as he went forward he heard a clear, sweet voice behind him,
which said, "'Now the road is good. Come, my dear, and get up into the
carriage.'

"The lad turned round in a trice, and had near lost both nose and ears.
There stood the grandest carriage with six white horses to it, and in
the carriage sat a maiden, as bright and lovely as the sun, and round
her sat others who were as pretty and soft as stars. They were a
princess and her playfellows, who had been bewitched all together. But
now they were free because he had come down to them, and never said a
word against them.

"'Come now,' said the princess. So the lad stepped up into the carriage,
and they drove to church, and when they drove from church again the
princess said, 'Now, we will drive first to my house, and then we'll
send to fetch your mother.'

"'That is all very well!' thought the lad, for he still said nothing,
even now; but, for all that, he thought it would be better to go home to
his mother than down into that nasty rat-hole. But just as he thought
that, they came to a grand castle; into it they turned, and there they
were to dwell. And so a grand carriage with six horses was sent to fetch
the goody, and when it came back they set to work at the wedding feast.
It lasted fourteen days, and maybe they are still at it. So let us all
make haste; perhaps, we too may come in time to drink the bride-groom's
health and dance with the bride."



THE GREEN KNIGHT.


"Once on a time there was a king who was a widower, and he had an only
daughter. But it is an old saying, that widower's grief is like knocking
your funny-bone, it hurts, but it soon passes away; and so the king
married a queen who had two daughters. Now, this queen--well! she was no
better than step-mothers are wont to be, snappish and spiteful she
always was to her step-daughter.

"Well! a long time after, when they were grown up, these three girls,
war broke out, and the king had to go forth to fight for his country and
his kingdom. But before he went the three daughters had leave to say
what the king should buy and bring home for each of them, if he won the
day against the foe.

"So the step-daughters were to speak first, as you may fancy, and say
what they wished.

"Well! the first wished for a golden spinning-wheel, so small that it
could stand on a sixpenny-piece; and the second, she begged for a golden
winder, so small that it could stand on a sixpenny-piece; that was what
they wanted to have, and till they had them there was no spinning or
winding to be got out of them. But his own daughter, she would ask for
no other thing than that he would greet the Green Knight in her name.

"So the king went out to war, and whithersoever he went he won, and
however things turned out he brought the things he had promised his
step-daughters; but he had clean forgotten what his own daughter had
begged him to do, till at last he made a feast because he had won the
day.

"Then it was that he set eyes on a Green Knight, and all at once his
daughter's words came into his head, and he greeted him in her name. The
Green Knight thanked him for the greeting, and gave him a book which
looked like a hymn-book with parchment clasps. That the king was to take
home and give her; but he was not to unclasp it, or the princess either,
till she was all alone.

"So, when the king had done fighting and feasting he went home again,
and he had scarce got inside the door before his step-daughters clung
round him to get what he had promised to buy them. 'Yes,' he said, he
had brought them what they wished; but his own daughter, she held back
and asked for nothing, and the king forgot all about it too, till one
day, when he was going out, and he put on the coat he had worn at the
feast, and just as he thrust his hand into his pocket for his
handkerchief, he felt the book and knew what it was.

"So he gave it to his daughter, and said he was to greet her with it
from the Green Knight, and she mustn't unclasp it till she was all
alone.

"Well! that evening when she was by herself in her bedroom she unclasped
the book, and as soon as she did so she heard a strain of music, so
sweet she had never heard the like of it, and then, what do you think!
Why, the Green Knight came to her and told her the book was such a book
that whenever she unclasped it he must come to her, and it would be all
the same wherever she might be, and when she clasped it again he would
be off and away again.

"Well! she unclasped the book often and often in the evenings when she
was alone and at rest, and the knight always came to her and was almost
always there. But her step-mother, who was always thrusting her nose
into everything, she found out there was some one with her in her room,
and she was not long in telling it to the king. But he wouldn't believe
it. 'No!' he said, they must watch first and see if it was so before
they trumped up such stories, and took her to task for them.

"So one evening they stood outside the door and listened, and it seemed
as though they heard some one talking inside; but when they went in
there was no one.

"'Who was it you were talking with? asked the step-mother, both sharp
and cross.

"'It was no one, indeed,' said the princess.

"'Nay! said she; 'I heard it as plain as day.'

"'Oh!' said the princess, 'I only lay and read aloud out of a
prayer-book.'

"'Show it me; said the queen.

"'Well! then it was only a prayer-book after all, and she must have
leave to read that,' the king said.

"But the step-mother thought just the same as before, and so she bored a
hole through the wall and stood prying about there. So one evening, when
she heard that the knight was in the room she tore open the door and
came flying into her step-daughter's room like a blast of wind; but she
was not slow in clasping the book either, and he was off and away in a
trice; but however quick she had been, for all that her step-mother
caught a glimpse of him, so that she was sure some one had been there.

"It happened just then that the king was setting out on a long, long
journey, and while he was away the queen had a deep pit dug down into
the ground, and there she built up a dungeon, and in the stone and
mortar she laid ratsbane and other strong poisons, so that not so much
as a mouse could get through the wall. As for the master-mason he was
well paid, and gave his word to fly the land, but he didn't, for he
stayed where he was. Then the princess was thrown into that dungeon with
her maid, and when they were inside the queen walled up the door and
left only a little hole open at the top to let down food to them. So
there she sat and sorrowed, and the time seemed long, and longer than
long; but at last she remembered she had her book with her, and took it
out and unclasped it. First of all she heard the same sweet strain she
had heard before, and then arose a grievous sound of wailing, and just
then the Green Knight came.

"'I am at death's door,' he said, and then he told her that her
step-mother bad laid poison in the mortar, and he did not know if he
should ever come out alive. So when she clasped the book up as fast as
she could she heard the same wailing sound.

"But you must know the maid who was shut up with her had a sweetheart,
and she sent word to him to go to the master-mason, and beg him to make
the hole at top big enough for them to creep out at it. If he would do
that the princess would pay him so well he could live in plenty all his
days. Yes! he did so, and they set out and travelled far, far away in
strange lands, she and her maid, and wherever they came they asked after
the Green Knight.

"So after a long, long time they came to a castle, which was all hung
with black, and just as they were passing by it a shower of rain fell,
and so the princess stepped into the church porch to wait till the rain
was over. As she stood there, a young man and an old man came by, who
also wished to take shelter; but the princess drew away farther into a
corner, so that they did not see her.

"'Why is it,' said the young man, 'that the king's castle is hung with
black?'

"'Don't you know,' said the grey-beard, 'the prince here is sick to
death, he whom they call the Green Knight;' And so he went on telling
him how it had all happened. So when the young man had listened to the
story, he asked if there was anyone who could make him well again.

"'Nay, nay!' said the other. 'There is but one cure, and that is if the
maiden who was shut up in the dungeon were to come and pluck healing
plants in the fields, and boil them in sweet milk, and wash him with
them thrice.'

"Then he went on reckoning up the plants that were needful before he
could get well again.

"All this the princess heard, and she kept it in her head, and when the
rain was over the two men went away, nor did she bide there long either.

"So when they got home to the house in which they lived, out they went
at once to get all kinds of plants and grasses in the field and wood,
she and the maid, and they plucked and gathered early and late till she
had got all that she was to boil. Then she bought her a doctor's hat and
a doctor's gown, and went to the king's castle, and offered to make the
prince well again.

"'No, no; it is no good,' said the king. So many had been there and
tried, but he always got worse instead of better. But she would not
yield, and gave her word he should be well, and that soon and happily.
Well, then, she might have leave to try, and so she went into the Green
Knight's bedroom and washed him the first time. And when she came the
next day he was so well he could sit up in bed; the day after he was man
enough to walk about the room, and the third he was as well and lively
as a fish in the water.

"'Now he may go out hunting,' said the doctor.

"Then the king was so overjoyed with the doctor as a bird in broad day.
But the doctor said he must go home.

"Then she threw off her hat and gown, and dressed herself smart, and
made a feast, and then she unclasped the book. Then arose the same
joyful strain as of old, and in a trice the Green Knight was there, and
he wondered much to know how she had got thither.

"So she told him all about it, and how it had happened, and when they
had eaten and drunk he took her straight up to the castle, and told the
king the whole story from beginning to end. Then there was such a bridal
and such a feast, and when it was over they set off to the bride's home,
and there was great joy in her father's heart, but they took the
step-mother and rolled her down hill in a cask full of spikes."



BOOTS AND HIS CREW.


"Once on a time there was a king, and that king had heard talk of a ship
that went as fast by land as it did by water; so he set his heart on
having such a ship, and he gave his word that the man who could build it
should have the princess and half the kingdom. And this promise he had
given out in every parish church in the realm, and at every parish
meeting. There were many that tried their hands you may fancy, for it
was a nice thing to have half the kingdom, and it was brave to get the
princess into the bargain, but it went ill with most of them.

"So there were three brothers away in the wood; the eldest was called
Peter, the second Paul, and the youngest Osborn Boots, because he was
for ever sitting and grubbing in the ashes. But it so happened that on
the Sunday, when the king's promise was given out, he was at church too.
So when he got home and told the story, his eldest brother, Peter,
begged his mother for some food, for he was bent on setting off, and
trying his luck, if he couldn't build the ship and win the princess and
half the realm. So when he had got his wallet full he strode off from
the farm, and on the way he met an old, old man, who was so bent and
wretched.

"'Whither away?' asked the old man.

"'Oh!' said Peter, 'I'm off to the wood to make a platter for my father,
for he doesn't like to eat out of the same dish with us.'

"'A platter it shall be,' said the man; 'but what have you in your
knapsack?'

"'Muck,' said Peter.

"'Muck it shall be,' said the man, and they parted.

"So Peter strode on till he came to a grove of oaks, and then he fell to
chopping and carpentering, but for all his hewing and all his
carpentering he could turn out nothing but platter after platter. So
when it got towards mid-day, he was going to take a snack, and opened
his wallet. But there was not a morsel of food in it, and as he had
nothing to eat, and did not get on any better with the carpentering, he
got weary of the work, and took his axe and wallet on his back and
strode off home to his mother again.

"Next Paul was for setting off to try if he had any luck in
shipbuilding, and could win the king's daughter and half the kingdom.
He, too, begged his mother for food, and when he had got it he threw his
wallet over his shoulder and set off from their farm. On the way he met
an old man who was so bent and wretched.

"'Whither away?' said the man.

"'Oh! I'm just going to the wood to make a pig trough for our little
pig,' said Paul.

"'A pig trough it shall be,' said the man.

"'What have you got in your wallet?' asked the man.

"'Muck,' said Paul.

"'Muck it shall be,' said the man.

"'So Paul trudged off to the wood, and fell to hewing and carpentering
as hard as he could; but however he hewed and however he carpentered, he
could turn out nothing but pig troughs and pig tubs. Still he wouldn't
give in, but worked till far on in the afternoon before he thought of
taking a little snack; then he got so hungry all at once that he must
take out his knapsack, but when he opened it there was not a morsel of
food in it. Then Paul got so cross that he rolled up the knapsack and
dashed it against a stump, and then he shouldered his axe and trudged
away home from the wood as fast as he could.

"So when Paul had come home, Boots was all for setting out in his turn,
and begged his mother for food.

"'May be I might be man enough to get the ship built and win the
princess and half the kingdom.' That was what he said.

"'Yes! yes! a likely thing,' said his mother. 'You look like winning the
princess and the kingdom, that you do, by my troth; you, who have done
naught else than grub and poke about in the ashes! No! no! you don't get
any food,' said the goody.

"'But Boots would not give in; he begged so long that at last he got
leave. As for food he got none, was it likely? But he got by stealth two
oat cakes and a drop of stale beer, and with them he trudged off from
the farm.

"Well! when he had walked a while he met the same old man, who was so
bent and vile and wretched.

"'Whither away?' asked the man.

"Oh! I'm going into the wood to build me a ship which will go as well on
land as on sea; for you must know that the king has given out that the
man who can build such a ship shall have the princess and half the
realm.'

"'What have you got in your wallet?' asked the man.

"'Not much to brag of,' said Boots, 'though it's called travelling
fare.'

"'If you'll give me some of your food, I'll help you,' said the man.

"'With all my heart,' said Boots; 'but there's nothing but two oat cakes
and a drop of stale beer.'

"'It was all the same to him what it was,' said the man, so that he got
something; and he would be sure to help him.

"So when they got up to the old oak in the wood, the man said to the
lad,--

"'Now you must chop out one chip, and you must put it back where it came
from, and when you have done that you may lie down and sleep.

"Yes! Boots did as he said, he lay him down to sleep, and in his slumber
he thought he heard some one hewing and hammering, and carpentering and
sawing, and planing, but he could not wake up till the man called him,
and then there stood the ship all ready, alongside the oak.

"'Now you must go aboard her, and every one you meet you must take as
one of your crew,' he said.

"Yes! Boots thanked him for the ship, and sailed off saying he'd be sure
to do what he said.

"So when he had sailed a while, he came upon a great, long, thin fellow,
who lay away by the hillside and ate granite.

"'What kind of chap are you?' said Boots, 'that you lie here eating
granite?'

"Well! he was so sharp set for meat he could never have his fill, and
that was why he was forced to eat granite. That was what he said; and
then he begged if he might have leave to be one of the ship's company.

"'Oh, yes,' said Boots, 'if you care to come, step on board.'

"Yes, he was willing enough, and he took with him a few big granite
boulders as his sea stores.

"So when they had sailed a bit farther they met a man who lay on a sunny
brae and sucked at a tap.

"'What sort of a chap are you?' asked Boots, and what good is it that
you lie there sucking at that tap?'

"'Oh!' said he, 'when one hasn't got the cask, one must be thankful for
the tap. I am always so thirsty for ale, that I can never drink enough
ale or wine;' and then he asked if he might have leave to be one of the
ship's company.

"'If you care to come, step on board,' said Boots.

"Yes, he was willing enough, and he stepped on board and took the tap
with him lest he should be a-thirst.

"So when they had sailed a bit farther they met one who lay with one ear
on the ground, listening.

"'What sort of a chap are you?' asked Boots 'and what good is it that
you lie there on the ground, listening?'

"'I am listening to the grass growing,' he said, 'for I am so quick of
hearing that I can hear it grow;' and so he begged that he might be one
of the ship's company. Well, he too did not get 'Nay.'

"'If you care to come, step on board,' said Boots.

"Yes, he was willing enough, and so up he too stepped into the ship.

"So when they had sailed a bit farther, they came to a man who stood
aiming and aiming.

"'What sort of a chap are you?' said Boots, 'and why is it that you
stand there aiming and aiming?'

"'I am so sharp-sighted,' he said, 'that I'm a dead shot up to the
world's end;' and so he too asked if he might have leave to be one of
the ship's company.

"'If you care to come, step in,' said Boots.

"Yes, he was willing enough, and so he stepped up into the ship and
joined Boots and his comrades.

"So when they had sailed a bit farther, they came on a man who went
about hopping on one leg, and on the other he had seven hundred weight.

"What sort of a chap are you?' asked Boots; 'and what's the good of your
limping and hopping on one leg, with seven hundred weight on the other?'

"'Oh?' said he, 'I'm as light as a feather, and if I went on both legs I
should be at the world's end in less than five minutes;' and so he too
begged if he might have leave to be one of the ship's company.

"'If you care to come, step in,' said Boots.

"Yes, he was willing enough, and he stepped on board to Boots and his
comrades.'

"So when they had sailed a bit farther, they met a man who stood holding
his throat.

"'What sort of a chap are you?' asked Boots, 'and why in the world do
you stand here holding your throat?'

"'Oh!' said he, 'you must know I have got seven summers and fifteen
winters inside me, so I've good need to hold my gullet, for if they all
slipped out at once they'd freeze the whole world in a trice.' That was
what he said, and so he begged leave to be with them.

"'If you care to come, step in,' said Boots. Yes, he was willing enough,
and so he too stepped on board the ship to the rest.

"So when they had sailed a good bit farther, they came to the king's
grange. Then Boots strode straight into the king, and said, that the
ship was ready out in the courtyard, and now he was come to claim the
princess, as the king had given his word.

"But the king wouldn't hear of it, for Boots did not look very nice; he
was grimy and sooty, and the king was loath to give his daughter to such
a fellow. So he said he must wait a little, he couldn't have the
princess until they cleared a barn which the king had with three hundred
casks of salt meat in it.

"'All the same,' said the king, 'if you can do it by this time to-morrow
you shall have her.'

"'I can but try,' said Boots; 'I may have leave, perhaps, to take one of
my crew with me?'

"'Yes, he might have leave to do that, even if he took them all six,'
said the king, for he thought it quite beyond his power though he had
six hundred to help him.

"But Boots only took with him the man who ate granite, and was always so
sharp set; and so when they came next morning and unlocked the barn, if
he hadn't eaten all the casks, so that there was nothing left but half a
dozen spare-ribs, and that was only one for each of his other comrades.
So Boots strode into the king, and said, now the barn was empty, and now
he might have the princess.

"Then the king went out to the barn, and empty it was, that was plain
enough; but still Boots was so sooty and smutty, that the king thought
it a shame that such a fellow should have his daughter. So he said he
had a cellar full of ale and old wine, three hundred casks of each kind,
which he must have drunk out first, and said the king,--

"'All the same, if you are man enough to drink them out by this time
to-morrow, you shall have her.'

"'I can but try,' said Boots; 'but I may have leave perhaps, to take one
of my comrades with me.'

"'With all my heart,' said the king, who thought he had so much ale and
wine that the whole seven of them would soon get more than their skins
could hold.

"But Boots only took with him the man who sucked the tap, and who had
such a swallow for ale, and then the king locked them both up in the
cellar.

"So he drank cask after cask as long as there were any left, but at last
he spared a drop or two, about as much as a quart or two, for each of
his comrades. Next morning they unlocked the cellar, and Boots strode
off at once to the king, and said he was done with the ale and wine, and
now he must have his daughter as he had given his word.

"'Ay, ay, but I must first go down into the cellar and see,' said the
king, for he didn't believe it. But when he got to the cellar, there was
nothing in it but empty casks. But Boots was still black and smutty, and
the king thought he never could bear to have such a fellow for his
son-in-law. So he said, 'No,' but all the same if he could fetch him
water from the world's end, in ten minutes, for the princess's tea, he
should have both her and half the realm, for he thought that quite out
of his power.

"'I can but try,' said Boots; so he laid hand on him who limped on one
leg, with seven hundred weight on the other, and said he must unbuckle
the weights and use both his legs as fast as ever he could, for he must
have water from the world's end for the princess's tea in ten minutes.

"So he took off the weights, and got a pail, and set off and was out of
sight in a trice. But time went on and on, for seven lengths and seven
breadths, and yet he did not come back. At last there were no more than
three minutes left till the time was up, and the king was as pleased as
though some one had given him a horse. But just then Boots bawled out to
him who heard the grass grow, and bade him listen and hear what had
become of him.

"'He has fallen asleep at the well,' he said. 'I can hear him snoring,
and the trolls are combing his hair.'

"So Boots called him, who could shoot to the world's end, and bade him
put a bullet into the troll. Yes! he did that, and shot him right in the
eye, and the troll set up such a howl that he woke up at once, he that
was to fetch the water for tea; and when he got back to the king's
grange, there was still one minute left of the ten.

"Then Boots strode into the king, and said there was the water, and now
he must have the princess, there must be no more words about it. But the
king thought him just as sooty and smutty as before, and did not at all
like to have him for a son-in-law. So the king said he had three hundred
fathoms of wood, with which he was about to dry corn in the malt-house,
and 'all the same, if you are man enough to get inside it while I burn
up all that fuel, you shall have her, and I will make no more bones
about it.'

"'I can but try,' said Boots; 'but I must have leave to take one of my
crew with me.'

"'Yes, yes!' said the king, 'all six of them if you like;' for he
thought it would be warm enough in there for all of them.

"But Boots took with him the man who had fifteen winters and seven
summers inside him, and they trudged off to the malt-house at night. But
the king had laid the fuel on thick, and there was such a pile burning,
it almost melted the stove. Out again they could not come, for they had
scarce set foot inside than the king shot the bolt behind them, and hung
two padlocks on the door besides. Then Boots said,--

"'You'd better slip out six or seven winters at once, so that it may be
a nice summer heat.'

"Then the heat fell, and they could bear it, but on in the night it
began to grow chilly; so Boots said he must make it milder, with two
summers, and then they slept till far on next day.

"But when they heard the king rattling at the door outside, Boots
said,--

"'Now you must let slip two more winters, but lay them so that the last
may go full on his face.'

"Yes, he did so, and when the king unlocked the malt-house door, and
thought to find them lying there burnt to cinders, there they sat
shivering and shaking till their teeth chattered, and the man with the
fifteen winters let slip the last right into the king's face, so that it
swelled up at once into a big frost-bite.

"'MAY I HAVE YOUR DAUGHTER NOW?' said Boots.

"'Yes, yes! Pray take her and keep her, and half the realm besides,'
said the king, for he couldn't say 'No' any longer.

"So they held the bridal feast, and kept it up and rejoiced and fired
off witch shots, and meanwhile they went looking about for charges, and
then they took me and gave me porridge in a flask, and milk in a basket,
and then they shot me off here to you, that I might tell you all how the
wedding went off."



THE TOWN-MOUSE AND THE FELL-MOUSE.


"Once on a time there was a fell-mouse and a town-mouse, and they met on
a hill brae, where the fell-mouse sat in a hazel thicket and plucked
nuts.

"'God help you, sister,' said the town-mouse. 'Do I meet my kinsfolk
here so far out in the country?'

"'Yes! so it is;' said the fell-mouse.

"'You gather these nuts and carry them to your house?' said the
town-mouse.

"'Yes; I must do it,' said the fell-mouse, 'if we are to have anything
to live on.'

"'The husks are long and the kernels full this year,' said the
town-mouse; 'so I dare say they will help to fill out a starveling
body.'

"'You are quite right,' said the fell-mouse, and then she told her how
well and happily she lived. But the town-mouse thought she was better
off, and the fell-mouse would not give in, but said there was no place
so good as wood and fell, and as for herself, she had far the best of
it.

"Still the town-mouse said she was sure she had the best of it, and they
could not agree at all. So, at last, they promised to pay one another a
visit at Yule, that they might taste and see which lived best. The
town-mouse was the one that had to pay the first visit, and she went
through woods and deep dales, for though the fell-mouse had come down to
the lowlands for the winter, the road was both long and heavy. It was
up-hill work, and the snow was both deep and soft, so that she was both
weary and hungry by the time she got to her journey's end.

"'Now I shall be glad to get some food,' she said, when she got there.
As for the fell-mouse, she had scraped together all sorts of good
things. There were kernels of nuts, and liquorish-root and other roots,
and much else that grows in wood and field. All this she had in a hole
deep under ground where it would not freeze, and close by was a spring
which was open all the winter, so that she could drink as much water as
she chose. There was plenty of what was to be had, and they fed both
well and good; but the town-mouse thought it was not more than sorry
fare.

"'One can keep life together with this,' she said; 'but it isn't choice,
not at all. But now you must be so kind as come to me, and taste what we
have in town.'

"Well, the fell-mouse was willing, and it was not long before she came.
Then the town-mouse had gathered together something of all the Christmas
fare which the mistress of the house had dropped as she went about, when
she had taken a drop too much at Yule. There were bits of cheese, and
odds and ends of butter and tallow, and cheesecakes and tipsycake, and
much else that was nice. In the jar under the ale-tap she had drink
enough, and the whole room was full of all kinds of dainties. They fed
and lived well, and there was no end to the fell-mouse's greediness.
Such fare she had never tasted. At last, she got thirsty, for the food
was both strong and rich, and now she must have a drink of water.

"'It is not far off to the ale,' said the town-mouse; 'that's the drink
for us;' and with that she jumped up on the edge of the jar, and drank
her thirst out, but she drank no more than she could carry, for she knew
the Yule ale and how strong it was. But as for the fell-mouse, she
thought it famous drink, for she had never tasted anything but water,
and now she took sip after sip; but she was no judge of strong drink,
and so the end was she got drunk, for she tumbled down and got wild in
her head, and felt her feet tingle, till she began to run and to jump
about from one beer-barrel to the other, and to dance and cut capers on
the shelves among the cups and jugs, and to whistle and whine, just as
though she were tipsy and silly; and tipsy she was, there was no
gainsaying it.

"'You mustn't behave as though you had just come from the hills,' said
the town-mouse. 'Don't make such a noise, and don't lead us such a life;
we have a hard master here.'

"But the fell-mouse said: 'She cared not a pin for man or master!'

"But all this while the cat sat up on the trap-door above the cellar,
and listened and spied both to their talk and pranks. Just then, the
goody came down to draw a mug of ale, and as she lifted the trap-door,
the cat stole into the cellar and fixed her claws into the fell-mouse.
Then there was another dance. The town-mouse crept into her hole, and
sat safe looking on, but the fell-mouse got sober all at once as soon as
she felt the cat's claws.

"'Oh, my dear master, my dear master; be merciful and spare my life, and
I'll tell you a story.' That was what she said.

"'Out with it then,' said the cat.

"'Once on a time there were two small mice,' said the fell-mouse; and
she squeaked so pitifully and slowly, for she wanted to drag the story
out as long as she could.

"'Then they were not alone,' said the cat, both sharply and drily.

"'And so we had a steak we were going to cook.'

"'Then you were not starved,' said the cat.

"'So we put it up on the roof that it might cool itself well,' said the
fell-mouse.

"'Then you didn't burn your tongues,' said the cat.

"'So, then the fox and the crow came and gobbled it up,' said the
fell-mouse.

"'And so I'll gobble you up,' said the cat.

"But just then the goody slammed to the trap-door again, so that the cat
got afraid and loosed her hold, and--pop--the fell-mouse was away in the
town-mouse's hole, and from it there was a way out into the snow, and
the fell-mouse was not slow in setting off home.

"'This you call living well, and you say that you live best?' she said
to the town-mouse. 'Heaven help me to a better mind, for with such a big
house, and such a hawk for a master I could scarce get off with my life."



SILLY MATT.


"Once on a time there was a goody who had a son called Matthew, but he
was so stupid that he had no sense for anything, nor would he do much
either; and the little he did was always topsy-turvy and never right,
and so they never called him anything but 'Silly Matt.'

"All this the goody thought bad; and it was still worse she thought that
her son idled about and never turned his hand to anything else than
yawning and stretching himself between the four walls.

"Now close to where they lived ran a great river, and the stream was
strong and bad to cross. So, one day, the goody said to the lad, there
was no lack of timber there, for it grew almost up to the cottage-wall;
he must cut some down and drag it to the bank and try to build a bridge
over the river and take toll, and then he would both have something to
do and something to live upon besides.

"Yes! Matt thought so too, for his mother had said it; what she begged
him do, he would do. That was safe and sure he said, for what she said
must be so and not otherwise. So he hewed down timber and dragged it
down and built a bridge. It didn't go so awfully fast with the work, but
at any rate he had his hands full while it went on.

"When the bridge was ready, the lad was to stand down at its end and
take toll of those who wanted to cross, and his mother bade him be sure
not to let any one over unless they paid the toll. It was all the same,
she said, if it were not always in money. Goods and wares were just as
good pay.

"So the first day came three chaps with each his load of hay, and wanted
to cross the bridge.

"'No! no!' said the lad; 'you can't go over till I've taken the toll.'

"'We've nothing to pay it with,' they said.

"'Well, then! you can't cross; but it's all the same, if it isn't money.
Goods will do just as well.'

"So they gave him each a wisp of hay, and he had as much as would go on
a little hand-sledge, and then they had leave to pass over the bridge.

"Next came a pedlar with his pack, who sold needles and thread, and such
like small wares, and he wanted to cross.

"'You can't cross, till you have paid the toll,' said the lad.

"'I've nothing to pay it with,' said the pedlar.

"'You have wares, at any rate.'

"So the pedlar took out two needles and gave them him, and then he had
leave to cross the bridge. As for the needles, the lad stuck them into
the hay, and soon set off home.

"So when he got home, he said, 'Now, I have taken the toll, and got
something to live on.'

"'What did you get?' asked the goody.

"'Oh!' said he, 'there came three chaps, each with his load of hay. They
each gave me a wisp of hay, so that I got a little sledge-load; and
next, I got two needles from a pedlar.'

"'What did you do with the hay?' asked the goody.

"'I tried it between my teeth; but it tasted only of grass, so I threw
into the river.'

"'You ought to have spread it out on the byre-floor,' said the goody.

"'Well! I'll do that next time, mother,' he said.

"'And what then did you do with the needles?' said the goody.

"'I stuck them in the hay!'

"'Ah!' said his mother. 'You _are_ a born fool. You should have stuck
them in and out of your cap.'

"'Well! don't say another word, mother, and I'll be sure to do so next
time.'

"Next day, when the lad stood down at the foot of the bridge again,
there came a man from the mill with a sack of meal, and wanted to cross.

"'You can't cross till you pay the toll,' said the lad.

"'I've no pence to pay it with,' said the man.

"'Well! You can't cross,' said the lad; 'but goods are good pay.' So he
got a pound of meal, and the man had leave to cross.

"Not long after came a smith, with a horse-pack of smith's work, and
wanted to cross; but it was still the same.

"'You mustn't cross till you've paid the toll,' said the lad. But he too
had no money either; so he gave the lad a gimlet, and then he had leave
to cross.

"So when the lad got home to his mother, the toll was the first thing
she asked about.

"'What did you take for toll to-day?'

"'Oh! there came a man from the mill with a sack of meal, and he gave me
a pound of meal; and then came a smith, with a horse-load of
smith's-work, and he gave me a gimlet.'

"'And pray what did you do with the gimlet?' asked the goody.

"'I did as you bade me, mother,' said the lad. 'I stuck it in and out of
my cap.'

"'Oh! but that was silly,' said the goody; 'you oughtn't to have stuck
it out and in your cap; but you should have stuck it up your
shirt-sleeve.'

"'Ay! ay! only be still, mother; and I'll be sure to do it next time.'

"'And what did you do with the meal, I'd like to know?' said the goody.

"'Oh! I did as you bade me, mother. I spread it over the byre-floor.'

"'Never heard anything so silly in my born days,' said the goody; 'why,
you ought to have gone home for a pail and put it into it.'

"'Well! well! only be still, mother,' said the lad; 'and I'll be sure to
do it next time.'

"Next day the lad was down at the foot of the bridge to take toll, and
so there came a man with a horse-load of brandy, and wanted to cross.

"'You can't cross till you pay the toll,' said the lad.

"'I've got no money,' said the man.

"'Well, then, you can't cross; but you have goods, of course;' said the
lad. Yes; so he got half a quart of brandy, and that he poured up his
shirt-sleeve.

"A while after came a man with a drove of goats, and wanted to cross the
bridge.

"'You can't cross till you pay the toll,' said the lad.

"Well! he was no richer than the rest. He had no money; but still he
gave the lad a little billy-goat, and he got over with his drove. But
the lad took the goat and trod it down into a bucket he had brought with
him. So when he got home, the goody asked again--

"'What did you take to-day?'

"'Oh! there came a man with a load of brandy, and from him I got a pint
of brandy.'

"'And what did you do with it?'

"'I did as you bade me, mother; I poured it up my shirt-sleeve.'

"'Ay! but that was silly, my son; you should have come home to fetch a
bottle and poured it into it.'

"'Well! well! be still this time, mother, and I'll be sure to do what
you say next time,' and then he went on--

"'Next came a man with a drove of goats, and he gave me a little
billy-goat, and that I trod down into the bucket.'

"'Dear me!' said his mother, 'that was silly, and sillier than silly, my
son; you should have twisted a withy round its neck, and led the
billy-goat home by it.'

"'Well! be still, mother, and see if I don't do as you say next time.'

"Next day he set off for the bridge again to take toll, and so a man
came with a load of butter, and wanted to cross. But the lad said 'he
couldn't cross unless he paid toll.'

"'I've nothing to pay it with,' said the man.

"'Well! then you can't cross,' said the lad; 'but you have goods, and
I'll take them instead of money.'

"So the man gave him a pat of butter, and then he had leave to cross the
bridge, and the lad strode off to a grove of willows and twisted a
withy, and twined it round the butter, and dragged it home along the
road; but so long as he went he left some of the butter behind him, and
when he got home there was none left.

"'And what did you take to-day?' asked his mother.

"'There came a man with a load of butter, and he gave a pat.'

"'Butter!' said the goody, 'where is it?'

"'I did as you bade me, mother,' said the lad. 'I tied a withy round the
pat and led it home; but it was all lost by the way.'

"'Oh!' said the goody, 'you were born a fool, and you'll die a fool. Now
you are not one bit better off for all your toil; but had you been like
other folk, you might have had both meat and brandy, and both hay and
tools. If you don't know better how to behave, I don't know what's to be
done with you. Maybe, you might be more like the rest of the world, and
get some sense into you if you were married to some one who could settle
things for you, and so I think you had better set off and see about
finding a brave lass; but you must be sure you know how to behave well
on the way and to greet folk prettily when you meet them.'

"'And pray what shall I say to them?' asked the lad.

"'To think of your asking that,' said his mother. 'Why, of course, you
must bid them "God's Peace," Don't you know that?'

"'Yes! yes! I'll do as you bid,' said the lad; and so he set off on his
way to woo him a wife.

"So, when he had gone a bit of the way, he met Greylegs, the wolf, with
her seven cubs; and when he got so far as to be alongside them, he stood
still and greeted them with 'God's Peace!' and when he had said that, he
went home again.

"'I said it all as you bade me, mother,' said Matt.

"'And what was that?' asked his mother.

"'God's Peace,' said Matt.

"'And pray whom did you meet?'

"'A she wolf with seven cubs; that was all I met,' said Matt.

"'Ay! ay! You are like yourself,' said his mother. 'So it was, and so it
will ever be. Why in the world did you say "God's Peace" to a wolf. You
should have clapped your hands and said--"Huf! huf! you jade of a
she-wolf!" That's what you ought to have said.'

"'Well! well! be still, mother,' he said. 'I'll be sure to say so
another time;' and with that he strode off from the farm, and when he
had gone a bit on the way, he met a bridal train. So he stood still when
he had got well up to the bride and bridegroom, and clapped his hands
and said: 'Huf! huf! you jade of a she-wolf!' After that he went home to
his mother and said--

"'I did as you bade me mother; but I got a good thrashing for it, that I
did.'

"'What was it you did?' she asked.

"'Oh! I clapped my hands and called out, "Huf! huf! you jade of a
she-wolf!"'

"'And what was it you met?'

"'I met a bridal train.'

"'Ah! you are a fool, and always will be a fool,' said his mother. 'Why
should you say such things to a bridal train. You should have said,
"Ride happily, bride and bridegroom."'

"'Well! well! See if I don't say so next time,' said the lad, and off he
went again.

"So he met a bear, who was taking a ride on a horse, and Matt waited
till he came alongside him, and then he said 'A happy ride to you, bride
and bridegroom,' and then he went back to his mother and told her how he
had said what she bade him.

"'And pray! what was it you said?' she asked.

"'I said, 'A happy ride to you both, bride and bridegroom.'

"'And whom did you meet?'

"'I met a bear taking a ride on a horse,' said Matt.

"'My goodness! what a fool you are,' said his mother. 'You ought to have
said, "To the de'il with you." That's what you ought to have said.'

"'Well! well! mother. I'll be sure to say so next time.'

"So he set off again, and this time he met a funeral; and when he had
come well up to the coffin, he greeted it and said, 'To the de'il with
you!' and then he ran home to his mother, and told her he had said what
she bade him.

"'And what was that?' she asked.

"'Oh! I said, 'To the de'il with you."'

"'And what was it you met?'

"'I met a funeral,' said Matt; 'but I got more kicks than halfpence!'

"'You didn't get half enough,' said the goody. 'Why, of course, you
ought to have said, "May your poor soul have mercy." That's what you
ought to have said.'

"Ay! ay! mother! so I will next time, only be still,' said Matt, and off
he went again.

"So when he had gone a bit of the way he fell on two ugly gipsies who
were skinning a dog. So when he came up to them he greeted them and
said, 'May your poor soul have mercy,' and when he had said so he went
home and told his mother he had said what she bade him; but all he got
was such a drubbing he could scarce drag one leg after the other.

"'But what was it you said?' asked the goody.

"'May your poor soul have mercy; that was what I said.'

"'And whom did you meet?'

"'A pair of gipsies skinning a dog,' he said.

"'Well! well!' said the goody. 'There's no hope of your changing. You'll
always be a shame and sorrow to us wherever you go. I never heard such
shocking words. But now, you must set out and take no notice of any one
you meet, for you must be off to woo a wife, and see if you can get some
one who knows more of the ways of the world and has a better head on her
shoulders than yours. And now you must behave like other folk, and if
all goes well you may bless your stars, and bawl out, Hurrah!'

"Yes, the lad did all that his mother bade him. He set off and wooed a
lass, and she thought he couldn't be so bad a fellow after all; and so
she said, 'Yes, she would have him.'

"When the lad got home the goody wanted to know what his sweetheart's
name was; but he did not know. So the goody got angry and said, he must
just set off again, for she would know what the girl's name was. So when
Matt was going home again he had sense enough to ask her what she was
called. 'Well,' she said, 'my name is Solvy; but I thought you knew it
already.'

"So Matt ran off home, and as he went he mumbled to himself,

    "'Solvy, Solvy,
    Is my darling!
    Solvy, Solvy,
    Is my darling?'

"But just as he was running as hard as he could to reach home before he
forgot it, he tripped over a tuft of grass, and forgot the name again.
So when he got on his feet again he began to search all round the
hillock, but all he could find was a spade. So he seized it and began to
dig and search as hard as he could, and as he was hard at it up came an
old man.

"'What are you digging for?' said the man. 'Have you lost anything
here?'

"'Oh yes! oh yes! I have lost my sweetheart's name, and I can't find it
again.'

"'I think her name is Solvy,' said the man.

"'Oh yes, that's it,' said Matt, and away he ran with the spade in his
hand, bawling out,

    "'Solvy, Solvy,
    Is my darling!'

"But when he had gone a little way he called to mind that he had taken
the spade, and so he threw it behind him, right on to the man's leg.
Then the man began to roar and bemoan himself as though he had a knife
stuck in him, and then Matt forgot the name again, and ran home as fast
as he could, and when he got there, the first thing his mother asked
was--

"'What's your sweetheart's name?'

"But Matt was just as wise as when he set out, for he did not know the
name any better the last than the first time.

"'You are the same big fool, that you are,' said the goody. 'You won't
do any better this time either. But now I'll just set off myself and
fetch the girl home, and get you married. Meanwhile you must fetch water
up to the fifth plank all round the room, and wash it, and then you must
take a little fat and a little lean, and the greenest thing you can find
in the cabbage garden, and boil them all up together; and when you have
done that you must put yourself into fine feather, and look smart when
your lassie comes, and then you may sit down on the dresser.'

"Yes, all that Matt thought he could do very well. He fetched water and
dashed it about the room in floods, but he couldn't get it to stand
above the fourth plank, for when it rose higher it ran out. So he had to
leave off that work. But now you must know, they had a dog whose name
was 'Fat,' and a cat whose name was 'Lean;' both these he took and put
into the soup-kettle. As for the greenest thing in the garden, it was a
green gown which the goody had meant for her daughter-in-law; that he
cut up into little bits, and away it went into the pot; but their little
pig, which was called 'All,' he cooked by himself in the brewing tub.
And when Matt had done all this he laid hands on a pot of treacle and
and a feather pillow. Then he first of all rubbed himself all over with
the treacle, and then he tore open the pillow and rolled himself in the
feathers, and then he sat down on the dresser out in the kitchen, till
his mother and the lassie came.

"Now the first thing the goody missed when she came to her house was the
dog, for it always used to meet her out of doors. The next thing was the
cat, for it always met her in the porch, and when the weather was right
down good and the sun shone, she even came out into the yard, and met
her at the garden gate. Nor could she see the green gown she had meant
for her daughter-in-law either, and her piggy-wiggy, which followed her
grunting wherever she went, he was not there either. So she went in to
see about all this; but as soon as ever she lifted the latch, out poured
the water through the doorway like a waterfall, so that they were almost
borne away by the flood, both the goody and the lassie.

"So they had to go round by the back door, and when they got inside the
kitchen there sat that figure of fun all befeathered.

"'What have you done?' said the goody.

"'I did just as you bade me, mother,' said Matt. 'I tried to get the
water up to the fifth plank, but as fast as ever I poured it in it ran
out again, and so I could only get up as high as the fourth plank.'

"'Well! well! but "Fat" and "Lean," said the goody, who wished to turn
it off; 'what have you done with them?'

"'I did as you bade me, mother,' said Matt. 'I took and put them into
the soup-kettle. They both scratched and bit, and they mewed and whined,
and Fat was strong and kicked against it; but he had to go in at last
all the same; and as for "All," he's cooking by himself in the brewing
tub in the brew-house, for there wasn't room for him in the
soup-kettle.'

"'But what have you done with that new green gown I meant for my
daughter-in-law?' said the goody, trying to hide his silliness.

"'Oh! I did as you bade me, mother. It hung out in the cabbage-garden,
and as it was the greatest thing there, I took it and cut it up small,
and yonder it boils in the soup.'

"Away ran the goody to the chimney-corner, tore off the pot and turned
it upside down with all that was in it. Then she filled it anew and put
it on to boil. But when she had time to look at Matt she was quite
shocked.

"'Why is it you are such a figure?' she cried.

"'I did as you bade me, mother,' said Matt. 'First I rubbed myself all
over with treacle to make myself sweet for my bride, and then I tore
open the pillow and put myself into fine feathers.'

"Well, the goody turned it off as well as she could, and picked off the
feathers from her son, and washed him clean, and put fresh clothes on
him.

"So at last they were to have the wedding, but first Matt was to go to
the town and sell a cow to buy things for the bridal. The goody had told
him what he was to do, and the beginning and end of what she said was,
he was to be sure to get something for the cow. So when he got to the
market with the cow, and they asked what he was to have for her, they
could get no other answer out of him than that he was to have
_something_ for her. So at last came a butcher, who begged him to take
the cow and follow him home, and he'd be sure to give him _something_
for her. Yes, Matt went off with the cow, and when he got to the
butcher's house the butcher spat into the palm of Matt's hand, and
said--

"'There, you have something for your cow, but look sharp after it.'

"So off went Matt as carefully as if he trode on eggs, holding his hand
shut; but when he had got about as far as the cross-road, which led to
their farm, he met the parson, who came driving along.

"'Open the gate for me, my lad,' said the parson.

"So the lad hastened to open the gate, but in doing so he forgot what he
had in his palm, and took the gate by both hands, so that what he got
for the cow was left sticking on the gate. So when he saw it was gone he
got cross, and said, his reverence had taken _something_ from him.

"But when the parson asked him if he had lost his wits, and said he had
taken nothing from him, Matt got so wrath he killed the parson at a
blow, and buried him in a bog by the wayside.

"So when he got home he told his mother all about it, and she
slaughtered a billy-goat, and laid it where Matt had laid the parson,
but she buried the parson in another place. And when she had done that
she hung over the fire a pot of brose, and when it was cooked she made
Matt sit down in the ingle and split matches. Meantime she went up on
the roof with the pot and poured the brose down the chimney, so that it
streamed over her son.

"Next day came the sheriff. So when the sheriff asked him, Matt did not
gainsay that he had slain the parson, and more, he was quite ready to
show the sheriff where he had laid 'his reverence.' But when the sheriff
asked on what day it happened, Matt said 'it was the day when it rained
brose over the whole world.'

"So when he got to the spot where he had buried the parson the sheriff
pulled out the billy-goat, and asked--

"'Had your parson horns?'

"Now when the judges heard the story, they made up their minds that the
lad was quite out of his wits, and so he got off scot free.

"So after all the bridal was to stand, and the goody had a long talk
with her son, and bade him be sure to behave prettily when they sat at
table. He was not to look too much at the bride, but to cast an eye at
her now and then. Peas he might eat by himself, but he must share the
eggs with her, and he was not to lay the leg bones by his side on the
table, but to place them tidily on his plate.

"Yes, Matt would do all that, and he did it well; yes, he did all that
his mother bade him, and nothing else. First, he stole out to the
sheepfold, and plucked the eyes out of all the sheep and goats he could
find, and took them with him. So when they went to dinner he sat with
his back to his bride; but all at once he cast a sheep's eye at her so
that it hit her full in her face; and a little while after he cast
another, and so he went on. As for the eggs he ate them all up to his
own cheek, so that the lassie did not get a taste, but when the peas
came he shared them with her. And when they had eaten a while Matt put
his feet together, and up on his plate went his legs.

"At night, when they were to go to bed, the lassie was tired and weary,
for she thought it no good to have such a fool for her husband. So she
said she had forgotten something and must go out a little; but she could
not get Matt's leave; he would follow her, for to tell the truth, he was
afraid she would never come back.

"'No! no! lie still, I say,' said the bride. 'See, here's a long
hair-rope; tie it round me, and I'll leave the door ajar. So if you
think I'm too long away you have only to pull the rope and then you'll
drag me in again.'

"Yes, Matt was content with that; but as soon as the lassie got out into
the yard she caught a billy-goat and untied the rope and tied it round
him.

"So when Matt thought she was too long out of doors he began to haul in
the rope, and so he dragged the billy-goat up into bed to him. But when
he had lain a while, he bawled out--

"'Mother! mother! my bride has horns like a billy-goat!'

"'Stuff! silly boy to lie and bewail yourself,' said his mother. 'It's
only her hair-plaits, poor thing, I'm sure.'

"In a little while Matt called out again--

"'Mother! mother! my bride has a beard like a goat.'

"'Stuff! silly boy to lie there and rave,' said the goody.

"But there was no rest in that house that night, for in a little while
Matt screeched out that his bride was like a billy-goat all over. So
when it grew towards morning the goody said--

"'Jump up, my son, and make a fire.'

"So Matt climbed up to a shelf under the roof, and set fire to some
straw and chips, and other rubbish that lay there. But then such a smoke
rose, that he couldn't bear it any longer indoors. He was forced to go
out, and just then the day broke. As for the goody, she too had to make
a start of it, and when they got out the house was on fire, so that the
flames came right out at the roof.

"'Good luck! good luck! Hip, hip, hurrah!' roared out Matt, for he
thought it fine fun to have such an ending to his bridal feast."



KING VALEMON, THE WHITE BEAR.


"Now, once on a time there was, as there well might be, a king. He had
two daughters who were ugly and bad, but the third was as fair and soft
as the bright day, and the king and everyone was glad of her. So one day
she dreamt of a golden wreath that was so lovely she couldn't live until
she had it. But as she could not get it, she grew sullen and wouldn't so
much as talk for grief, and when the king knew it was the wreath she
sorrowed for, he sent out a pattern cut just like the one that the
princess had dreamt of, and sent word to goldsmiths in every land to see
if they could get the like of it. So the goldsmiths worked night and
day; but some of the wreaths she tossed away from her, and the rest she
would not so much as look at.

"But once when she was in the wood, she set her eyes upon a white bear,
who had the very wreath she had dreamt of between his paws, and played
with it. Then she wanted to buy it. No! it was not for sale for money,
but she might have it, if he might have her. Yes! she said it was never
worth living without it. It was all the same to her whither she went,
and whom she got if she could only have that wreath; and so it was
settled between them that he should fetch her when three days were up,
and that day was a Thursday.

"So when she went home with the wreath every one was glad because she
was glad again, and the king said, he thought it could never be so hard
to stop a white bear. So the third day he turned out his whole army
round the castle to withstand him. But when the white bear came there
was no one who could stand before him, for no weapon would bite on his
hide, and he hurled them down right and left, so that they lay in heaps
on either side. All this the king thought right down scathe; so he sent
out his eldest daughter, and the white bear took her upon his back and
went off with her. And when they had gone far, and farther than far, the
white bear asked,--

"'Have you ever sat softer, and have you ever seen clearer?'

"'Yes! on my mother's lap I sat softer, and in my father's hall I saw
clearer,' she said.

"'Oh!' said the white bear, 'then you're not the right one;' and with
that he hunted her home again.

"The next Thursday he came again, and it all went just the same. The
army went out to withstand the white bear; but neither iron nor steel
bit on his hide, and so he dashed them down like grass till the king
begged him to hold hard, and then he sent out to him his next oldest
daughter, and the white bear took her on his back and went off with her.
So when they had travelled far and farther than far, the white bear
asked,--

"'Have you ever seen clearer, and have you ever sat softer?'

"'Yes!' she said, 'in my father's hall I saw clearer, and on my mother's
lap I sat softer.'

"Oh! then you are not the right one,' said the white bear, and with that
he hunted her home again.

"The third Thursday he came again, and then he smote the army harder
than he had done before; so the king thought he couldn't let him slay
his whole army like that, and he gave him his third daughter in God's
name. So he took her up on his back and went away far, and farther than
far, and when they had gone deep, deep, into the wood, he asked her as
he had asked the others, whether she had ever sat softer or seen
clearer?

"'No! never!' she said.

"'Ah!' he said, 'you are the right one.'

"So they came to a castle which was so grand, that the one her father
had was like the poorest place when set against it. There she was to be
and live happily, and she was to have nothing else to do but to see that
the fire never went out. The bear was away by day, but at night he was
with her, and then he was a man. So all went well for three years; but
each year she had a baby, and he took it and carried it off as soon as
ever it came into the world. Then she got more and more dull, and begged
she might have leave to go home and see her parents. Well! there was
nothing to stop that; but first, she had to give her word that she would
listen to what her father said, but not do what her mother wished. So
she went home, and when they were alone with her, and she had told how
she was treated, her mother wanted to give her a light to take back that
she might see what kind of man he was.

"But her father said, 'No! she mustn't do that, for it will lead to harm
and not to gain.'

"But however it happened, so it happened; she got a bit of a candle-end
to take with her when she started.

"So the first thing she did when he was sound asleep, was to light the
candle-end and throw a light on him; and he was so lovely she never
thought she could gaze enough at him; but as she held the candle over
him, a hot drop of tallow dropped on his forehead, and he woke up.

"'What is this you have done?' he said. 'Now you have made us both
unlucky; there was no more than a month left, and had you lasted it out,
I should have been saved; for a hag of the trolls has bewitched me, and
I am a white bear by day. But now it is all over between us, for now I
must go to her and take her to wife.'

"She wept and bemoaned herself; but he must set off, and he would set
off. Then she asked if she might not go with him. 'No!' he said, 'there
was no way of doing that.' But for all that, when he set off in his
bear-shape, she took hold of his shaggy hide and threw herself upon his
back, and held on fast.

"So away they went over crags and hills, and through brakes and briars,
till her clothes were torn off her back, and she was so dead tired, that
she let go her hold and lost her wits. When she came to herself she was
in a great wood, and then she set off again, but she could not tell
whither she was going. So after a long, long, time she came to a hut,
and there she saw two women, an old woman and a pretty little girl. Then
the princess asked, had they seen anything of King Valemon, the white
bear.

"'Yes!' they said. 'He passed by here this morning early, but he went so
fast you'll never be able to catch him up.'

"As for the girl, she ran about clipping in the air and playing with a
pair of golden scissors, which were of that kind, that silk and satin
stuffs flew all about her if she only clipped the air with them. Where
they were, there was never any want of clothes.

"'But this woman,' said the little lass, 'who is to go so far and on
such bad ways, she will suffer much; she may well have more need of
these scissors than I to cut out her clothes with.'

"And as she said this she begged her mother so hard, that at last she
got leave to give her the scissors.

"So away travelled the princess through the wood, which seemed never to
come to an end, both day and night, and next morning she came to another
hut. In it there were also two women, an old wife and a young girl.

"'Good-day!" said the princess. 'Have you seen anything of King Valemon,
the white bear?' That was what she asked them.

"'Was it you, maybe, who was to have him?' said the old wife.

"'Yes! it was.'

"'Well, he passed by yesterday, but he went so fast you'll never be able
to catch him up.'

"This little girl played about on the floor with a flask, which was of
that kind it poured out every drink any one wished to have.

"'But this poor wife,' said the girl, 'who has to go so far on such bad
ways, I think she may well be thirsty and suffer much other ill. No
doubt she needs this flask more than I;' and so she asked if she might
have leave to give her the flask. Yes! that leave she might have.

"So the princess got the flask, and thanked them, and set off again away
through the same wood, both that day and the next night too. The third
morning she came to a hut, where there was also an old wife and a little
girl.

"'Good-day!' said the princess.

"'Good-day to you,' said the old wife.

"'Have you seen anything of King Valemon, the white bear?' she asked.

"'Maybe it was you who was to have him?' said the old wife.

"'Yes! it was.'

"'Well he passed by here the day before yesterday; but he went so fast
you'll never be able to catch him up,' she said.

"This little girl played about on the floor with a napkin, which was of
that kind that when one said on it, 'Napkin, spread yourself out and be
covered with all dainty dishes,' it did so, and where it was there was
never any want of a good dinner.

"'But this poor wife,' said the little girl, 'who has to go so far over
such bad ways, she may well be starving and suffering much other ill. I
dare say she has far more need of this napkin than I;' and so she asked
if she might have leave to give her the napkin, and she got it.

"So the princess took the napkin and thanked them, and set off again far
and farther than far, away through the same murk wood all that day and
night, and in the morning she came to a crossfell which was as steep as
a wall, and so high and broad, she could see no end to it. There was a
hut there too, and as soon as she set her foot inside it, she said,--

"'Good-day! Have you seen if King Valemon, the white bear, has passed
this way?'

"'Good-day to you,' said the old wife. 'It was you, maybe, who was to
have him?'

"'Yes! it was.'

"'Well! he passed by and went up over the hill three days ago; but up
that nothing can get that is wingless.'

"That hut, you must know, was all so full of small bairns, and they all
hung round their mother's skirts and bawled for food. Then the goody put
a pot on the fire full of small round pebbles. When the princess asked
what that was for, the goody said they were so poor they had neither
food nor clothing, and it went to her heart to hear the children
screaming for a morsel of food; but when she put the pot on the fire,
and said--

"'The potatoes will soon be ready,' the words dulled their hunger, and
they were patient awhile.

"It was not long before the princess brought out the napkin and the
flask, that you may be sure, and when the children were all full and
glad, she cut them out clothes with her golden scissors.

"'Well!' said the goody in the hut, 'since you have been so kind and
good towards me and my bairns, it were a shame if I didn't do all in my
power to try to help you over the hill. My husband is one of the best
smiths in the world, and now you must lie down and rest till he comes
home, and then I'll get him to forge you claws for your hands and feet,
and then you can see if you can crawl and scramble up.'

"So when the smith came home, he set to work at once at the claws, and
next morning they were ready. She had no time to stay, but said, 'Thank
you,' and then clung close to the rock and crept and crawled with the
steel claws all that day and the next night, and just as she felt so
very very tired that she thought she could scarce lift hand or foot, but
must slip down--there she was all right at the top. There she found a
plain, with tilled fields and meads, so big and broad, she never thought
there could be any land so wide and so flat, and close by was a castle
full of workmen of all kinds, who swarmed like ants on an ant-hill.

"'What is going on here?' asked the princess.

"Well! if she must know, there lived the old hag who had bewitched King
Valemon, the white bear, and in three days she was to hold her wedding
feast with him. Then she asked if she mightn't have a word with her.
'No! was it likely? It was quite impossible.' So she sat down under the
window and began to clip in the air with her golden scissors, till the
silks and satins flew about as thick as a snow-drift.

"But when the old hag saw that, she was all for buying the golden
scissors, for she said, 'All our tailors can do is no good at all, we
have too many to find clothes for.'

"So the princess said, 'It was not for sale for money, but she should
have it, if she got leave to sleep with her sweetheart that night.'

"'Yes!' the old hag said, 'she might have that leave and, welcome, but
she herself must lull him off to sleep and wake him in the morning.'

"And, so when he went to bed she gave him a sleeping draught, so that he
could not keep an eye open, for all that the princess cried and wept.

"Next day the princess went under the window again, and began to pour
out drink from her flask. It frothed like a brook with ale and wine, and
it was never empty. So when the old hag saw that, she was all for buying
it, for she said,--

"'For all our brewing and stilling, it's no good, we have too many to
find drink for.'

"But the princess said, 'It was not for sale for money, but if she might
have leave to sleep with her sweetheart that night, she might have it.'

"'Well!' the old hag said, 'she might have that leave and welcome, but
she must herself lull him off to sleep and wake him in the morning.'

"So when he went to bed she gave him another sleeping draught, so that
it went no better that night than the first. He was not able to keep his
eyes open, for all that the princess bawled and wept.

"But that night, there was one of the workmen who worked in a room next
to theirs. He heard the weeping and knew how things stood, and next day
he told the prince that she must be come, that princess who was to set
him free.

"That day it was just the same story with the napkin as with the
scissors and the flask. When it was about dinner-time the princess went
outside the castle, took out the napkin and said, 'Napkin, spread
yourself out and be covered with all dainty dishes,' and there was meat
enough, and to spare, for hundreds of men; but the princess sat down to
table by herself.

"So when the old hag set her eyes on the napkin, she wanted to buy it,
'For all their roasting and boiling is worth nothing, we have too many
mouths to feed.'

"But the princess said, 'It was not for sale for money, but if she might
have leave to sleep with her sweetheart that night, she might have it.

"'Well! she might do so and welcome,' said the old hag; 'but she must
first lull him off to sleep and wake him up in the morning.'

"So when he was going to bed, she came with the sleeping draught, but
this time he was aware of her and made as though he slept. But the old
hag did not trust him for all that, for she took a pin and stuck it into
his arm to try if he were sound asleep, but for all the pain it gave him
he did not stir a bit, and so the princess got leave to come into him.

"Then everything was soon set right between them, and if they could only
get rid of the old hag, he would be free. So he got the carpenters to
make him a trap-door on the bridge over which the bridal train had to
pass, for it was the custom there that the bride rode at the head of the
train with her friends.

"So when they got well on the bridge, the trap-door tipped up with the
bride and all the other old hags who were her bridesmaids. But King
Valemon and the princess, and all the rest of the train, turned back to
the castle and took all they could carry away of the gold and goods of
the old hag, and so they set off for his own land, and were to hold
their real wedding.

"And on the way King Valemon picked up those three little girls in the
three huts and took them with them, and now she saw why it was he had
taken her babes away and put them out at nurse; it was, that they might
help her to find him out. And so they drank their bridal ale both stiff
and strong."



THE GOLDEN BIRD.


"Once on a time there was a king who had a garden, and in that garden
stood an apple-tree, and on that apple-tree grew one golden apple every
year. But when the time drew on for plucking it, away it went, and there
was no one who could tell who took it or what became of it. It was gone,
and that was all they knew.

"This king had three sons, and so he said to them one day that he of
them who could get him his apple again or lay hold of the thief should
have the kingdom after him, were he the eldest, or the youngest, or the
midmost.

"So the eldest set out first on this quest, and sat him down under the
tree, and was to watch for the thief; and when night drew near a golden
bird came flying, and his feathers gleamed a long way off; but when the
king's son saw the bird and his beams he got so afraid he daren't stay
his watch out, but flew back into the palace as fast as ever he could.

"Next morning the apple was gone. By that time the king's son had got
back his heart into his body, and so he fell to filling his scrip with
food, and was all for setting out to try if lie could find the bird. So
the king fitted him out well, and spared neither money nor clothes, and
when the king's son had gone a bit he got hungry and took out his scrip,
and sat him down to eat his dinner by the wayside. Then out came a fox
from a spruce clump and sat by him and looked on.

"'Do, dear friend, give me a morsel of food,' said the fox.

"'I'll give you burnt horn, that I will,' said the king's son. 'I'm like
to need food myself, for no one knows how far and how long I may have to
travel.'

"'Oh! that's your game, is it?' said the fox, and back he went into the
wood.

"So when the king's son had eaten and rested awhile he set off on his
way again. After a long, long time he came to a great town, and in that
town was an inn, where there was always mirth and never sorrow; there he
thought it would be good to be, and so he turned in there. But there was
so much dancing and drinking, and fun and jollity, that he forgot the
bird and its feathers, and his father, and his quest, and the whole
kingdom. Away he was and away he stayed.

"The year after the midmost king's son was to watch for the apple thief
in the garden. Yes, he too sat him down under the tree when it began to
ripen. So all at once one night the golden bird came shining like the
sun, and the lad got so afraid he put his tail between his legs and ran
indoors as fast as ever he could.

"Next morning the apple was gone; but by that time the king's son had
taken heart again, and was all for setting off to see if he could find
the bird. Yes, he began to put up his travelling fare, and the king
fitted him out well, and spared neither clothes nor money. But just the
same befell him as had befallen his brother. When he had travelled a bit
he got hungry, and opened his scrip, and sat him down to eat his dinner
by the wayside. So out came a fox from a spruce clump and sat up and
looked on.

"'Dear friend, give me a morsel of food, do?' said the fox.

"'I'll give you burnt horn, that I will,' said the king's son. 'I may
come to need food myself, for no one knows how far and how long I may
have to go.'

"'Oh! that's your game, is it?' said the fox, and away he went into the
wood again.

"So when the king's son had eaten and rested himself awhile he set off
on his way again. And after a long, long time he came to the same town
and the same inn where there was always mirth and never sorrow, and he
too thought it would be good to turn in there, and the very first man he
met was his brother, and so he too stayed there. His brother had feasted
and drunk till he had scarce any clothes to his back; but now they both
began anew, and there was such drinking and dancing, and fun and
jollity, that the second brother also forgot the bird and its feathers,
and his father, the quest, and the whole kingdom. Away he was and away
he stayed, he too.

"So when the time drew on that the apple was getting ripe again the
youngest king's son was to go out into the garden and watch for the
apple thief. Now he took with him a comrade, who was to help him up into
the tree, and they took with them a keg of ale and a pack of cards to
while away the time, so that they should not fall asleep. All at once
came a blaze as of the sun, and just as the golden bird pounced down and
snapped up the apple the king's son tried to seize it, but he only got a
feather out of his tail. So he went into the king's bedroom and when he
came in with the feather the room was as bright as broad day.

"So he too would go out into the wide world to try if he could hear any
tidings of his brothers and catch the bird, for after all he had been so
near it that he had put his mark on it and got a feather out of his
tail. Well, the king was long in making up his mind if he should let him
go, for he thought it would not be better with him who was the youngest
than with the eldest, who ought to have had more knowledge of the ways
of the world, and he was afraid he might lose him too. But the king's
son begged so prettily, that he had to give him leave at last.

"So he began to pack up his travelling fare, and the king fitted him out
well both with clothes and money, and so he set off. So when he had
travelled a bit he got hungry and opened his scrip, and sat him down to
eat his dinner, and just as he put the first bit into his mouth a fox
came out of a spruce clump, and sat down by him and looked on.

"'Oh! dear friend! give me a morsel of food, do,' said the fox.

"'I might very well come to need food for myself,' said the king's son;
'for, I'm sure, I can't tell how long I shall have to go; but so much I
know, that I can just give you a little bit.'

"So when the fox had got a bit of meat to bite at, he asked the king's
son whither he was bound. Well, he told him what he was trying to do.

"'If you will listen to me,' said the fox, 'I will help you, so that you
shall take luck along with you.'

"Then the king's son gave his word to listen to him, and so they set off
in company, and when they had travelled awhile they came to the
self-same town and the self-same inn where there was always mirth and
never sorrow.

"'Now I may just as well stay outside the town,' said the fox. 'Those
dogs are such a bore.'

"And then he told him what his brothers had done, and what they were
still doing, and he went on.

"'If you go in there you'll get no farther either. Do you hear?'

"So the king's son gave his word, and his hand into the bargain, that he
wouldn't go in there, and they each went his way. But when the prince
got to the inn and heard what music and jollity there was inside he
could not help going in, there were not two words about that, and when
he met his brothers, there was such a to-do, that he forgot both the fox
and his quest, and the bird and his father. But when he had been there
awhile the fox came--for he had ventured into the town after all--and
peeped through the door, and winked at the king's son, and said now they
must set off: So the prince came to his senses again, and away they
started for the house.

"And when they had gone awhile they saw a big fell far far off. Then the
fox said:

"'Three hundred miles behind yon fell there grows a gilded linden tree
with golden leaves, and in that linden roosts the golden bird whose
feather that is.'

"So they travelled thither together, and when the king's son was going
off to catch the bird, the fox gave him some fine feathers, which he was
to wave with his hand to lure the bird down, and then it would come
flying and perch on his hand. But the fox told him to mind and not touch
the linden, for there was a big Troll who owned it, and if the king's
son but touched the tiniest twig the Troll would come and slay him on
the spot.

"Nay! the king's son would be sure not to touch it, he said; but when he
had got the bird on his fist, he thought he just would have a twig of
the linden, that was past praying against, it was so bright and lovely.
So, he took one, just one very tiny little one. But in a trice out came
the Troll.

"'WHO IS IT THAT STEALS MY LINDEN AND MY BIRD?' he roared, and was so
angry that sparks of fire flashed from him.

"'Thieves think every man a thief,' said the king's son; 'but none are
hanged but those who don't steal right.'

"But the Troll said it was all one, and was just going to smite him; but
the lad said he must spare his life.

"'Well! well!' said the Troll, 'if you can get me again the horse which
my nearest neighbour has stolen from me, you shall get off with your
life.'

"'But where shall I find him?' asked the king's son.

"'Oh! he lives three hundred miles beyond yon big fell that looks blue
in the sky.'

"So the king's son gave his word to do his best. But when he met the
fox, Reynard was not altogether in a soft temper.

"'Now you have behaved badly,' he said. 'Had you done as I bade you, we
should have been on our way home by this time.'

"So they had to make a fresh start, as life was at stake, and the prince
had given his word, and after a long, long time they got to the spot.
And when the prince was to go and take the horse, the fox said:

"'When you come into the stable, you will see many bits hanging on the
stalls, both of silver and gold; them you shall not touch, for then the
Troll will come out and slay you on the spot; but the ugliest and
poorest, that you shall take.'

"Yes! the king's son gave his word to do that; but when he got into the
stable he thought it was all stuff, for there was enough and to spare of
fine bits; and so he took the brightest he could find, and it shone like
gold; but in a trice out came the Troll, so cross that sparks of fire
flashed from him.

"'WHO IS IT WHO TRIES TO STEAL MY HORSE AND MY BIT?' he roared out.

"'Thieves think every man a thief,' said the kings son; 'but none are
hanged but those who don't steal right.'

"'Well! all the same,' said the Troll, 'I'll kill you on the spot.'

"But the king's son said he must spare his life.

"'Well! well!' said the Troll, 'if you can get me back the lovely maiden
my nearest neighbour has stolen from me I'll spare your life.'

"'Where does he live, then?' said the king's son.

"'Oh! he lives three hundred miles behind that big fell that is blue,
yonder in the sky,' said the Troll.

"Yes! the king's son gave his word to fetch the maiden, and then he had
leave to go, and got off with his life. But when he came out of doors
the fox was not in the very best temper, you may fancy.

"'Now you have behaved badly again. Had you done as I bade you, we might
have been on our way home long ago. Do you know, I almost think now I
won't stay with you any longer.'

"But the king's son begged and prayed so prettily from the bottom of his
heart, and gave his word never to do anything but what the fox said, if
he would only be his companion. At last the fox yielded, and they became
fast friends again, and so they set off afresh, and after a long, long
time they came to the spot where the lovely maiden was.

"'Yes!' said the fox, 'you have given your word like a man, but for all
that, I dare not let you go in to the Troll's house this time. I must go
myself.'

"So he went in, and in a little while he came out with the maiden, and
so they travelled back by the same way that they had come. And when they
came back to the Troll who had the horse, they took both it and the
grandest bit; and when they got to the Troll who owned the linden and
the bird, they took both the linden and the bird, and set off with them.

"So when they had travelled awhile, they came to a field of rye, and the
fox said:

"'I hear a noise; now you must ride on alone, and I will bide here
awhile.'

"So he platted himself a dress of rye-straw, and it looked just like
some one who stood there and preached. And he had scarcely done that
before all three Trolls came flying along, thinking they would overtake
them.

"'Have you seen any one riding by here with a lovely maiden, and a horse
with a gold bit, and a golden bird and a gilded linden-tree?' they all
roared out to him who stood there preaching.

"'Yes! I heard that from my grandmother's grandmother, that such a train
passed by here, but Lord bless us, that was in the good old time, when
my grandmother's grandmother baked cakes for a penny, and gave the penny
back again.'

"Then all the three Trolls burst out into loud fits of laughter, 'HA!
HA! HA! HA!' they cried, and took hold of one another.

"'If we have slept so long, we may e'en just turn our noses home, and go
to bed,' they said; and so they went back by the way they had come.

"Then the fox started off after the king's son; but when they got to the
town where the inn and his brothers were, he said:

"'I dare not go through the town for the dogs. I must take my own way
round about; but now you must take good care that your brothers don't
lay hold of you.'

"But when the king's son got into the town, he thought it very hard if
he didn't look in on his brothers and have a word with them, and so he
halted a little time. But as soon as his brothers set eyes on him, they
came out and took from him both the maiden and the horse, and the bird
and the linden, and everything; and himself they stuffed into a cask and
cast him into the lake, and so they set off home to the king's palace,
with the maiden and the horse, and the bird and linden, and everything.
But the maiden wouldn't say a word; she got pale and wretched to look
at. The horse got so thin and starved, all his bones scarce clung
together. The bird moped and shone no more, and the linden withered
away.

"Meanwhile the fox walked about outside the town, where the inn was with
all its jollity, and he listened and waited for the king's son and the
lovely maiden, and wondered why they did not come back. So he went
hither and thither, and waited and longed, and at last he went down to
the strand, and there he saw the cask which lay on the lake drifting,
and called out:

"'Are you driven about there, you empty cask?'

"'Oh! it is I,' said the king's son inside the cask.

"Then the fox swam out into the lake as fast as he could, and got hold
of the cask and drew it on shore. Then he began to gnaw at the hoops,
and when he had got them off the cask, he called out to the king's son,
'Kick and stamp!'

"So the king's son struck out and stamped and kicked, till every stave
burst asunder, and out he jumped from the cask. Then they went together
to the king's palace, and when they got there the maiden grew lovely,
and began to speak; the horse got so fat and sleek that every hair
beamed; the bird shone and sang; the linden began to bloom and glitter
with its leaves, and at last the maiden said:

"'Here he is who set us free!'

"So they planted the linden in the garden and the youngest prince was to
have the princess, for she was one of course; but as for the two elder
brothers, they put them each into his own cask full of nails, and rolled
them down a steep hill.

"So they made ready for the bridal; but first the fox said to the prince
he must lay him on the chopping-block, and cut his head off, and whether
he thought it good or ill, there was no help for it, he must do it. But
as he dealt the stroke, the fox became a lovely prince, and he was the
princess's brother, whom they had set free from the Trolls.

"So the bridal came on, and it was so great and grand, that the story of
that feasting spread far and wide, till it reached all the way to this
very spot."


THE END.

[Transcriber's note:  Both S[oe]ter and Sæter are used in the text.
S[oe]ter has been changed to Soeter.]





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