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  1. The Pig
  2. The Ale of the Trolls

The Pig

Once on a time there was a woman who had three daughters, and one day they had to thresh flax. While they were in the garden, their mother came out to see to the work. At that moment a pig ran into the garden, and started eating up the cabbage. The woman told her oldest daughter to go and drive him off, and the daughter ran toward the pig with the flax-swingle in her hand. When she was close to him the pig cried, "Scratch me, scratch me!"

"Yes, I'll scratch you till you feel it!" said the girl, and chased the pig, which ran hurriedly into the woods; but there fell so thick a fog that the girl lost her way, and then the pig disappeared behind a thicket, and reappeared in the shape of a man. He told the girl to come with him. She would have an easy time of it, and all the work she would have to do would be to prepare their meals; otherwise she might do as she chose. The girl could not find her way home again, as she was completely lost, and so she followed the pig.

The following day the mother was busy baking with her two daughters when they again saw the pig out in the garden, and the mother told her second daughter to hurry and drive him out. She ran out with the poker in her hand, and the pig ran too, and she after it into the woods, and suddenly there fell such a heavy fog that she lost her way. All at once the pig was gone, and instead a man stood before her, and said to her, as he had to her sister, that she had best go home with him; she should not have to work, and he would show her all his silver and gold; only there was one room she must not enter.

On the third day the mother was threshing flax with her youngest daughter, when they again saw the pig in the garden. The daughter wanted to go out and drive him off, but her mother would not allow her to, because she feared that like her two sisters, she would not return.

"No," said the daughter, "I will take care of myself," and she ran after the pig.

"Scratch me, scratch me!" cried the pig.

"Yes, indeed, I'll scratch you!" she cried, and struck at him.

"Yes, you know how to scratch me," said the pig, and ran off into the woods, and she after him. But again there fell so heavy a fog that she could not find her way back, and the pig turned into a man, and told her to follow him to his home and be his wife. All she would have to do would be to prepare the meals for them, and there were only two rooms into which she must not enter these were just the two rooms in which he kept her two sisters; but that, of course, she could not know. She was no longer able to find her way home, so she had to follow him. She did have an easy time of it with him, and he really had an alarming quantity of gold and silver. Yet in spite of that she was not happy, for she knew her mother was longing for her; yet how she might manage to get home again she could not imagine.

The man was away all day long, and she was home alone; so one day she looked through the keyholes of the rooms she was forbidden to enter, and there she saw her sisters inside. She called to them, and they discussed through the keyholes how they might manage to get together, and find the way back home. The one sister knew that the key of the rooms lay on a mantle-board over the hearth, and the youngest brought it at once, and was now able to go in and out of the rooms as she chose. Then she considered how she might deceive the man, in order that they might get back to their parents, who were no doubt much worried about them, and could not know what had become of them.

When the man came home that night he complained of the severe cold.

''Well, I suppose we can stand it," said she, "but imagine how hard it must be for my poor parents when it is as cold as this; they have only hard pebbles to burn, and they will burn as well today as they did yesterday, and tomorrow as they did today."

Then he said that he had no objection to letting them have a little fuel. He would go out that very evening, and she should fill a sack with coal and tie it on his back, and he would bring it to her parents himself. So she thanked him and was very well satisfied. Then she took a bag, and at the bottom she put silver and gold, then she put in one of her sisters, and over her sister coal, so that he would notice nothing amiss. She said to her sister, "Now when he is under way with you, he is apt to look into the bag, and then you must say, 'I can see you quite well! I can see you quite well!' Then he will think I am watching him."

The man came and fetched the bag, and the girl told him he must not open it, and that she would keep an eye on him and watch, to be sure that he really brought the bag to her parents. Off he went with the bag, but when he had gone a little way he said:

"The way is long,

A heavy load I drag;

If I but knew

What were in the bag!"

But the sister in the bag at once called out, "I can see you quite well, I can see you quite well!" Then the man was frightened, because he thought his wife could see him and he said:

"A curse on your eyes so bright,

They cover every vale and height!

And he went hastily into the house of her parents, flung the bag through the door, and said there was something they could use for heating. The parents at once opened the bag, and were very much pleased; for they now had their oldest daughter again.

The man went home and was tired, so he did not go into the locked rooms as usual. And the next day his wife again said to him that it was so terribly cold she was afraid her parents had burned all the coal he had brought them, and would he not take them another bag that evening. Yes, said he, she need only have it ready for him. So she put gold and silver at the bottom of the bag as she had done before, and on them the other sister, and coal on top. And she told her second sister what she had told the first. The man came and dragged off the sack, and everything happened as before. After he had gone a good way, he said:

"The way is long,

A heavy load I drag;

If I but knew

What were in the bag!"

But the sister in the bag at once called out, "I can see you quite well, I can see you quite well!" The man again thought his wife was watching him and said:

"A curse on your eyes so bright,

They cover every vale and height!

And he hurried to her parents and flung the sack rudely in through, the door. When he returned home he wanted to look at the rooms; but his wife told him to let it go for that evening, since supper was ready, and for him to come and eat while it was hot. So that evening he did not go into the locked rooms either.

On the following day he was away from home, and could not look after them, and when he did get home his wife once more told him that her parents were sure to freeze to death owing to the cold, and whether they could not have one more bag of coal.

"Yes, yes," said the man, they could have one more bag. "But three times is times enough," and that was the last they should have.

That would answer, said she, if he would make them a present of one more bag she would never ask anything further of him. "But I do not feel quite well today," she added, "and if you find that I happened to forget to tie up the bag, then it will be because I have gone to bed, so please tie it up yourself."

"Yes, yes," said the man. So when he had gone she first took a great armful of straw, tied a large handkerchief around it, and laid it in the bed. Not until then did she put gold and silver in the bag, crawl into it herself, and cover herself up as well as she could with coal. When the man came and saw that the sack had not been tied up, and that the coal shovel still lay beside it, it was clear to him that his wife had gone to bed. So he took up the sack and went away with it. When he had gone a way, he said:

"The way is long,

A heavy load I drag;

If I but knew

What were in the bag!"

But the woman in the bag called out, "I see you quite well, I see you quite well!" "Oh, dear!" said the man:

"A curse on your eyes so bright,

They cover every vale and height!

And he ran hurriedly to her parents with the sack, flung it in through the door, and muttered that there it was, and it was the last they would get.

They thanked him kindly, and were very happy; for now they had all three of their daughters again. He had taken them away and brought them back, and did not even know that he had done so.

When the man returned home he at last made time to look into the locked rooms and found them empty. He then ran to the bed to look for his wife; he shouted at her and shook her; but all he held in his hand was a bundle of straw. Then he realized that he had been fooled, and flew into such a rage that he burst into pebbles, the very same kind of pebbles that are cutting our feet this minute.



The Ale of the Trolls

In a homestead near Roskilde there once lived a man named Peter Anderson, and in a hillock on his farm dwelt a number of trolls. They were celebrating a wedding one day, and late at night they ran out of ale. Then a troll went to the peasant, who had brewed ale not long since, knocked at his door and said, "Will you help me out, and loan me a cask of ale, Peter Anderson? I will bring it back again when we have brewed."

"Who are you and where do you live?" asked the peasant.

"I am the man from the hillock over there," said the troll.

"Yes, go down into the cellar and help yourself to a cask," said the peasant. The troll got the ale and went home with it.

A few nights later the troll came to the house again and knocked. The peasant woke up and asked, "Who is knocking?"

"It is I," said the troll, "I am bringing back the ale I borrowed from you. I have put it in the cellar and am going to reward you for being so obliging. If you take care not to look in the cask, you can draw from it as long as you wish, and it will never grow empty."

For a long time all went well; they drew and drew and there was always ale in the cask, and no one ever looked into it. But one day they had a new maid, and she could not understand how it could be that there was never any ale brewed; and yet there was always ale on hand. So she determined to look into the cask, to see whether it would not soon be empty. But what was her fright when she saw that the cask was full of toads. And from that moment on there was no more ale in it.

Notes to Danish folktales



 The Danish Fairy Book, ed Clara Stroebe, tr. Frederick Herman Martens, Danish folktales, fairy tales of Denmark, To top    Section     Set    Next

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