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The Lad and the Devil

Once on a time there was a lad who was walking along a road cracking nuts, so he found one that was worm-eaten, and just at that very moment he met the Devil.

"Is it true, now," said the lad, "what they say, that the Devil can make himself as small as he chooses, and thrust himself in through a pinhole?"

"Yes, it is," said the Devil.

"Oh! it is, is it? then let me see you do it, and just creep into this nut," said the lad.

So the Devil did it.

Now, when he had crept well into it through the worm's hole, the lad stopped it up with a pin.

"Now, I've got you safe," he said, and put the nut into his pocket.

So when he had walked on a bit, he came to a smithy, and he turned in and asked the smith if he'd be good enough to crack that nut for him.

"Ay, that'll be an easy job," said the smith, and took his smallest hammer, laid the nut on the anvil, and gave it a blow, but it wouldn't break.

So he took another hammer a little bigger, but that wasn't heavy enough either.

Then he took one bigger still, but it was still the same story; and so the smith got angry, and grasped his great sledge-hammer.

"Now, I'll crack you to bits," he said, and let drive at the nut with all his might and main. And so the nut flew to pieces with a bang that blew off half the roof of the smithy, and the whole house creaked and groaned as though it were ready to fall.

"Why! if I don't think the Devil must have been in that nut," said the smith.

"So he was; you're quite right," said the lad and went away laughing.

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The Cock and Hen A-nutting

ONCE ON A TIME the cock and the hen went out into the hazel-wood to pick nuts; and so the hen got a nutshell in her throat, and lay on her back, flapping her wings.

Off went the cock to fetch water for her; so he came to the spring and said:

"Dear good friend spring, give me a drop of water, that I may give it to Dame Partlet my mate, who lies at death's door in the hazel-wood."

But the spring answered:

"You'll get no water from me till I get leaves from you."

So the cock ran to the linden and said:

"Dear good friend linden, give me some of your leaves, the leaves I'll give to the spring, and the spring will give me water to give to Dame Partlet my mate, who lies at death's door in the hazel-wood."

"You'll get no leaves from me," said the linden, "till I get a red ribbon with a golden edge from you."

So the cock ran to the Virgin Mary.

"Dear good Virgin Mary, give me a red ribbon with a golden edge, and I'll give the red ribbon to the linden, the linden will give me leaves, the leaves I'll give to the spring, the spring will give me water, and the water I'll give to Dame Partlet my mate, who lies at death's door in the hazel-wood."

"You'll get no red ribbon from me," answered the Virgin Mary, "till I get shoes from you."

Mary in a blue coat in a rose garden
Mary in the "Garden of Paradise", painted c. 1410 by the Master of the Paradise Garden. Section.

So the cock ran to the shoemaker and said:

"Dear good friend shoemaker, give me shoes, and I'll give the shoes to the Virgin Mary, the Virgin Mary will give me a red ribbon, the red ribbon I'll give to the linden, the linden will give me leaves, the leaves I'll give to the spring, the spring will give me water, the water I'll give to Dame Partlet my mate, who lies at death's door in the hazel-wood."

"You'll get no shoes from me," said the shoemaker, "till I get bristles from you."

So the cock ran to the sow and said,— "Dear good friend sow, give me bristles, the bristles I'll give to the shoemaker, the shoemaker will give me shoes, the shoes I'll give to the Virgin Mary, the Virgin Mary will give me a red ribbon, the red ribbon I'll give to the linden, the linden will give me leaves, the leaves I'll give to the spring, the spring will give me water, the water I'll give to Dame Partlet my mate, who lies at death's door in the hazel-wood."

"You'll get no bristles from me," said the sow, "till I get corn from you."

So the cock ran to the thresher and said:

"Dear good friend thresher, give me corn, the corn I'll give to the sow, the sow will give me bristles, the bristles I'll give to the shoemaker, the shoemaker will give me shoes, the shoes I'll give to the Virgin Mary, the Virgin Mary will give me a red ribbon, the red ribbon I'll give to the linden, the linden will give me leaves, the leaves I'll give to the spring, the spring will give me water, the water I'll give to Dame Partlet my mate, who lies at death's door in the hazel-wood."

"You'll get no corn from me," said the thresher, "till I get a bannock from you."

So the cock ran to the baker's wife and said:

"Dear good friend Mrs. baker, give me a bannock, the bannock I'll give to the thresher, the thresher will give me corn, the corn I'll give to the sow, the sow will give me bristles, the bristles I'll give to the shoemaker, the shoemaker will give me shoes, the shoes I'll give to the Virgin Mary, the Virgin Mary will give me a red ribbon, the red ribbon I'll give to the linden, the linden will give me leaves, the leaves I'll give to the spring, the spring will give me water, the water I'll give to Dame Partlet my mate, who lies at death's door in the hazel-wood."

"You'll get no bannock from me," said the baker's wife, "till I get wood from you."

So the cock ran to the woodcutter and said:

"Dear good friend woodcutter, give me wood, the wood I'll give to the baker's wife, the baker's wife will give me a bannock, the bannock I'll give to the thresher, the thresher will give me corn, the corn I'll give to the sow, the sow will give me bristles, the bristles I'll give to the shoemaker, the shoemaker will give me shoes, the shoes I'll give to the Virgin Mary, the Virgin Mary will give me a red ribbon, the red ribbon I'll give to the linden, the linden will give me leaves, the leaves I'll give to the spring, the spring will give me water, the water I'll give to Dame Partlet my mate, who lies at death's door in the hazel-wood."

"You'll get no wood from me," answered the woodcutter, "till I get an axe from you."

So the cock ran to the smith and said:

"Dear good friend smith, give me an axe, the axe I'll give to the woodcutter, the woodcutter will give me wood, the wood I'll give to the baker's wife, the baker's wife will give me a bannock, the bannock I'll give to the thresher, the thresher will give me corn, the corn I'll give to the sow, the sow will give me bristles, the bristles I'll give to the shoemaker, the shoemaker will give me shoes, the shoes I'll give to the Virgin Mary, the Virgin Mary will give me a red ribbon, the red ribbon I'll give to the linden, the linden will give me leaves, the leaves I'll give to the spring, the spring will give me water, the water I'll give to Dame Partlet my mate, who lies at death's door in the hazel-wood."

"You'll get no axe from me," answered the smith, "till I get charcoal from you."

So the cock ran to the charcoal-burner and said:

"Dear good friend charcoal-burner, give me charcoal, the charcoal I'll give to the smith, the smith will give me an axe, the axe I'll give to the woodcutter, the woodcutter will give me wood, the wood I'll give to the baker's wife, the baker's wife will give me a bannock, the bannock I'll give to the thresher, the thresher will give me corn, the corn I'll give to the sow, the sow will give me bristles, the bristles I'll give to the shoemaker, the shoemaker will give me shoes, the shoes I'll give to the Virgin Mary, the Virgin Mary will give me a red ribbon, the red ribbon I'll give to the linden, the linden will give me leaves, the leaves I'll give to the spring, the spring will give me water, the water I'll give to Dame Partlet my mate, who lies at death's door in the hazel-wood."

So the charcoal-burner took pity on the cock, and gave him a bit of charcoal, and then the smith got his coal, and the woodcutter his axe, and the baker's wife her wood, and the thresher his bannock, and the sow her corn, and the shoemaker his bristles, and the Virgin Mary her shoes, and the linden its red ribbon with a golden edge, and the spring its leaves, and the cock his drop of water, and he gave it to Dame Partlet, his mate, who lay there at death's door in the hazel-wood, and so she got all right again.

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The Ashlad Who Ate a Match with the Troll

ONCE ON A TIME there was a farmer who had three sons; his means were small, and he was old and weak, and his sons would take to nothing. A fine large wood belonged to the farm, and one day the father told his sons to go and hew wood, and try to pay off some of his debts.

Well, after a long talk, he got them to set off, and the eldest was to go first. But when he had got well into the wood, and began to hew at a mossy old fir, what should he see coming up to him but a great sturdy troll.

NORWEGIAN FOLKTALES. Troll by Theodor Kittelsen
Troll drawn by Kittelsen.

"If you hew in this wood of mine," said the troll, I'll kill you!"

When the lad heard that, he threw the axe down, and ran off home as fast as he could lay legs to the ground; so he came in quite out of breath, and told them what had happened, but his father called him "hare-heart,"—no troll would ever have scared him from hewing when he was young, he said.

Next day the second son's turn came, and he fared just the same. He had scarce hewn three strokes at the fir, before the troll came to him too, and said:

"If you hew in this wood of mine, I'll kill you."

The lad dared not so much as look at him, but threw down the axe, took to his heels, and came scampering home just like his brother. So when he got home, his father was angry again, and said no troll had ever scared him when he was young.

The third day the Ashlad wanted to set off.

"You, indeed!" said the two elder brothers; "you'll do it bravely, no doubt! you, who have scarce ever set your foot out of the door."

The Ashlad said nothing to this, but only begged them to give him a good store of food. His mother had no cheese, so she set the pot on the fire to make him a little, and he put it into a scrip and set off. So when he had hewn a bit, the troll came to him too, and said:

"If you hew in this wood of mine, I'll kill you."

But the lad was not slow; he pulled his cheese out of the scrip in a trice, and squeezed it till the whey spurted out.

"Hold your tongue!" he cried to the troll, "or I'll squeeze you as I squeeze the water out of this white stone."

"Nay, dear friend!" said the troll, "only spare me, and I'll help you to hew."

Well, on those terms the lad was willing to spare him, and the troll hewed so bravely, that they felled and cut up many, many fathoms in the day.

But when even drew near, the troll said:

"Now you'd better come home with me, for my house is nearer than yours."

So the lad was willing enough; and when they reached the troll's house, the troll was to make up the fire, while the lad went to fetch water for their porridge, and there stood two iron pails so big and heavy, that he couldn't so much as lift them from the ground.

"Pooh!" said the lad, "it isn't worth while to touch these finger-basins. I'll just go and fetch the spring itself."

"Nay, nay, dear friend!" said the troll; " I can't afford to lose my spring; just you make up the fire, and I'll go and fetch the water."

So when he came back with the water, they set to and boiled up a great pot of porridge.

"It's all the same to me," said the lad; "but if you're of my mind, we'll eat a match!"

"With all my heart," said the troll, for he thought he could surely hold his own in eating. So they sat down; but the lad took his scrip unawares to the troll, and hung it before him, and so he spooned more into the scrip than he ate himself; and when the scrip was full, he took up his knife and made a slit in the scrip. The troll looked on all the while, but said never a word. So when they had eaten a good bit longer, the troll laid down his spoon, saying, "Nay! but I can't eat a morsel more."

"But you shall eat," said the youth; "I'm only half done; why don't you do as I did, and cut a hole in your paunch? You'll be able to eat then as much as you please."

"But doesn't it hurt one cruelly?" asked the troll.

"Oh," said the youth, "nothing to speak of."

So the troll did as the lad said, and then you must know very well that he lost his life; but the lad took all the silver and gold that he found in the hill-side, and went home with it, and you may fancy it went a great way to pay off the debt.

Notes

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Norwegian folktales, fairy tales of Norway, Asbjørnsen and Moe, stories, Literature  

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