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The Mastermaid

Once on a time there was a king who had several sons—I don't know how many there were – but the youngest had no rest at home, for nothing else would please him but to go out into the world and try his luck, and after a long, time the king was forced to give him leave to go. Now, after he had travelled some days, he came one night to a giant's house, and there he got a place in the giant's service. In the morning the giant went off to herd his goats, and as he left the yard he told the prince to clean out the stable; "And after you have done that, you needn't do anything else today; for you must know it is an easy master you have come to. But what is set you to do you must do well, and you mustn't think of going into any of the rooms which are beyond that in which you slept, for if you do, I'll take your life."

"Sure enough, it is an easy master I have got," said the prince to himself as he walked up and down the room, and carolled and sang, for he thought there was plenty of time to clean out the stable.

"But still it would be good fun just to peep into his other rooms, for there must be something in them which he is afraid lest I should see, since he won't give me leave to go in."

So he went into the first room, and there was a pot boiling on a hook by the wall, but the prince saw no fire underneath it. I wonder what is inside it, he thought; and then he dipped a lock of his hair into it, and the hair seemed as if it were all turned to copper.

"What a dainty broth," he said; "if one tasted it, he'd look grand inside his gullet;" and with that he went into the next room. There, too, was a pot hanging by a hook, which bubbled and boiled; but there was no fire under that either.

"I may as well try this too," said the prince, as he put another lock into the pot, and it came out all silvered.

"They haven't such rich broth in my father's house," said the prince; "but it all depends on how it tastes," and with that he went on into the third room. There, too, hung a pot, and boiled just as he had seen in the two other rooms, and the prince had a mind to try this too, so he dipped a lock of hair into it, and it came out gilded, so that the light gleamed from it.

" 'Worse and worse,' said the old wife; but I say better and better," said the prince; "but if he boils gold here, I wonder what he boils in yonder."

He thought he might as well see; so he went through the door into the fourth room. Well, there was no pot in there, but there was a princess, seated on a bench, so lovely, that the prince had never seen anything like her in his born days.

"Oh, in Heaven's name," she said, "what do you want here?"

"I got a place here yesterday," said the prince.

"A place, indeed! Heaven help you out of it."

"Well, after all, I think I've got an easy master; he hasn't set me much to do today, for after I have cleaned out the stable my day's work is over."

"Yes, but how will you do it?" she said; "for if you set to work to clean it like other folk, ten pitchforks full will come in for every one you toss out. But I will teach you how to set to work; you must turn the fork upside down, and toss with the handle, and then all the dung will fly out of itself."

"Yes, he would be sure to do that," said the prince; and so he sat there the whole day, for he and the princess were soon great friends, and had made up their minds to have one another, and so the first day of his service with the giant was not long, you may fancy. But when the evening drew on, she said 'twould be as well if he got the stable cleaned out before the giant came home; and when he went to the stable he thought he would just see if what she had said were true, and so he began to work like the grooms in his father's stable; but he soon had enough of that, for he hadn't worked a minute before the stable was so full of dung that he hadn't room to stand. Then he did as the princess bade him, and turned up the fork and worked with the handle, and lo! in a trice the stable was as clean as if it had been scoured. And when he had done his work he went back into the room where the giant had given him leave to be, and began to walk up and down, and to carol and sing. So after a bit, home came the giant with his goats.

"Have you cleaned the stable?" asked the giant.

"Yes, now it's all right and tight, master," answered the prince.

"I'll soon see if it is," growled the giant, and strode off to the stable, where he found it just as the prince had said.

"You've been talking to my mastermaid, I can see," said the giant; "for you've not sucked this knowledge out of your own breast."

"Mastermaid!" said the prince, who looked as stupid as an owl, "what sort of thing is that, master? I'd be very glad to see it."

"Well, well!" said the giant; "you'll see her soon enough."

Next day the giant set off with his goats again, and before he went he told the prince to fetch home his horse, which was out at grass on the hill-side, and when he had done that he might rest all the day.

"For you must know it is an easy master you have come to," said the giant; "but if you go into any of the rooms I spoke of yesterday, I'll wring your head off."

So off he went with his flock of goats.

"An easy master you are indeed," said the prince; but for all that, I'll just go in and have a chat with your mastermaid; may be she'll be as soon mine as yours." So he went in to her, and she asked him what he had to do that day.

"Oh, nothing to be afraid of," said he; "I've only to go up to the hill-side to fetch his horse."

"Very well; and how will you set about it?"

"Well, for that matter, there's no great art in riding a horse home. I fancy I've ridden fresher horses before now," said the prince.

"Ah, but this isn't so easy a task as you think; but I'll teach you how to do it. When you get near it, fire and flame will come out of its nostrils, as out of a tar barrel; but look out, and take the bit which hangs behind the door yonder, and throw it right into his jaws, and he will grow so tame that you may do what you like with him."

Yes, the prince would mind and do that; and so he sat in there the whole day, talking and chattering with the mastermaid about one thing and another; but they always came back to how happy they would be if they could only have one another, and get well away from the giant; and, to tell the truth, the prince would have clean forgotten both the horse and the hill-side, if the mastermaid hadn't put him in mind of them when evening drew on, telling him he had better set out to fetch the horse before the giant came home. So he set off, and took the bit which hung in the corner, ran up the hill, and it wasn't long before he met the horse, with fire and flame streaming out of its nostrils. But he watched his time, and as the horse came open-jawed up to him, he threw the bit into its mouth, and it stood as quiet as a lamb. After that it was no great matter to ride it home and put it up, you may fancy; and then the prince went into his room again, and began to carol and sing.

So the giant came home again at even with his goats; and the first words he said were:

"Have you brought my horse down from the hill?"

"Yes, master, that I have," said the prince; "and a better horse I never bestrode; but for all that I rode him straight home, and put him up safe and sound."

"I'll soon see to that," said the giant, and ran out to the stable, and there stood the horse just as the prince had said.

"You've talked to my mastermaid, I'll be bound, for you haven't sucked this out of your own breast," said the giant again.

"Yesterday master talked of this mastermaid, and today it's the same story," said the prince, who pretended to be silly and stupid. "Bless you, master, why don't you show me the thing at once? I should so like to see it only once in my life."

"Oh, if that's all," said the giant, "you'll see her soon enough.

The third day, at dawn, the giant went off to the wood again with his goats; but before he went he said to the prince:

"Today you must go to hell and fetch my fire-tax. When you have done that you can rest yourself all day, for you must know it is an easy master you have come to;" and with that off he went.

"Easy master, indeed!" said the prince. "You may be easy, but you set me hard tasks all the same. But I may as well see if I can find your mastermaid, as you call her. I daresay she'll tell me what to do;" and so in he went to her again.

So when the mastermaid asked what the giant had set him to do that day, he told her how he was to go to hell and fetch the fire-tax.

"And how will you set about it?" asked the mastermaid.

"Oh, that you must tell me," said the prince. "I have never been to hell in my life; and even if I knew the way, I don't know how much I am to ask for."

"Well, I'll soon tell you," said the mastermaid; "you must go to the steep rock away yonder, under the hill-side, and take the club that lies there, and knock on the face of the rock. Then there will come out one all glistening with fire; to him you must tell your errand; and when he asks you how much you will have, mind you say, 'As much as I can carry.' "

Yes; he would be sure to say that; so he sat in there with the mastermaid all that day too; and though evening drew on, he would have sat there till now, had not the mastermaid put him in mind that it was high time to be off to hell to fetch the giant's fire-tax before he came home. So he went on his way, and did just as the mastermaid had told him; and when he reached the rock he took up the club and gave a great thump. Then the rock opened, and out came one whose face glistened, and out of whose eyes and nostrils flew sparks of fire.

"What is your will?" said he.

"Oh! I'm only come from the giant to fetch his fire-tax," said the prince.

"How much will you have then?" said the other.

"I never wish for more than I am able to carry," said the prince.

"Lucky for you that you did not ask for a whole horse-load," said he who came out of the rock; "but come now into the rock with me, and you shall have it."

So the prince went in with him, and you may fancy what heaps and heaps of gold and silver he saw lying in there, just like stones in a gravel-pit; and he got a load just as big as he was able to carry, and set off home with it. Now, when the giant came home with his goats at even, the prince went into his room, and began to carol and sing as he had done the evenings before.

"Have you been to hell after my fire-tax?" roared the giant.

"Oh yes; that I have, master," answered the prince.

"Where have you put it?" said the giant.

"There stands the sack on the bench over there," said the prince.

"I'll soon see to that," said the giant, who strode off to the bench, and there he saw the sack so full that the gold and silver dropped out on the floor as soon as ever he untied the string.

"You've been talking to my mastermaid, that I can see," said the giant; "but if you have, I'll wring your head off."

"Mastermaid!" said the prince; "yesterday master talked of this mastermaid, and today he talks of her again, and the day before yesterday it was the same story. I only wish I could see what sort of thing she is! That I do."

"Well, well, wait till tomorrow," said the giant, "and then I'll take you in to her myself."

"Thank you kindly, master," said the prince; "but it's only a joke of master's, I'll be bound."

So next day the giant took him in to the mastermaid, and said to her:

"Now, you must cut his throat, and boil him in the great big pot you wot of; and when the broth is ready just give me a call."

After that he laid him down on the bench to sleep, and began to snore so that it sounded like thunder on the hills.

So the mastermaid took a knife and cut the prince in his little finger, and let three drops of blood fall on a three-legged stool; and after that she took all the old rags and soles of shoes, and all the rubbish she could lay hands on, and put them into the pot; and then she filled a chest full of ground gold, and took a lump of salt, and a flask of water that hung behind the door, and she took, besides, a golden apple, and two golden chickens, and off she set with the prince from the giant's house as fast as they could; and when they had gone a little way, they came to the sea, and after that they sailed over the sea; but where they got the ship from I have never heard tell.

So when the giant had slumbered a good bit, he began to stretch himself as he lay on the bench, and called out, "Will it be soon done?"

"Only just begun," answered the first drop of blood on the stool.

So the giant lay down to sleep again, and slumbered a long, long time. At last he began to toss about a little, and cried out:

"Do you hear what I say; will it be soon done?" but he did not look up this time any more than the first, for he was still half asleep.

"Half done," said the second drop of blood.

Then the giant thought again it was the mastermaid, so he turned over on his other side, and fell asleep again and when he had gone on sleeping for many hours, he began to stir and stretch his old bones, and to call out:

"Isn't it done yet?"

"Done to a turn," said the third drop of blood.

Then the giant rose up, and began to rub his eyes, but he couldn't see who it was that was talking to him, so he searched and called for the mastermaid, but no one answered.

"Ah, well! I dare say she's just run out of doors for a bit," he thought, and took up a spoon and went up to the pot to taste the broth; but he found nothing but shoe-soles, and rags, and such stuff; and it was all boiled up together, so that he couldn't tell which was thick and which was thin. As soon as he saw this, he could tell how things had gone, and he got so angry he scarce knew which leg to stand on. Away he went after the prince and the mastermaid, till the wind whistled behind him; but before long he came to the water and couldn't cross it.

"Never mind," he said; "I know a cure for this. I've only got to call on my stream-sucker."

So he called on his stream-sucker, and he came and stooped down, and took one, two, three, gulps; and then the water fell so much in the sea that the giant could see the mastermaid and the prince sailing in their ship.

"Now you must cast out the lump of salt," said the mastermaid.

So the prince threw it overboard, and it grew up into a mountain so high, right across the sea, that the giant couldn't pass it, and the stream-sucker couldn't help him by swilling any more water.

"Never mind," cried the giant; "there's a cure for this too. So he called on his hill-borer to come and bore through the mountain, that the stream-sucker might creep through and take another swill; but just as they had made a hole through the hill, and the stream-sucker was about to drink, the mastermaid told the prince to throw overboard a drop or two out of the flask, and then the sea was just as full as ever, and before the stream-sucker could take another gulp, they reached the land and were saved from the giant.

So they made up their minds to go home to the prince's father; but the prince would not hear of the mastermaid's walking, for he thought it seemly neither for her nor for him.

"Just wait here ten minutes," he said, "while I go home after the seven horses that stand in my father's stall. It's no great way off, and I shan't be long about it; but I will not hear of my sweetheart walking to my father's palace."

"Ah!" said the mastermaid, "pray don't leave me, for if you once get home to the palace you'll forget me outright; I know you will."

"Oh!" said he, "how can I forget you; you with whom I have gone through so much, and whom I love so dearly?"

There was no help for it, he must and would go home to fetch the coach and seven horses, and she was to wait for him by the seaside. So at last the mastermaid was forced to let him have his way; she only said:

"Now, when you get home, don't stop so much as to say good day to any one, but go straight to the stable and put to the horses, and drive back as quick as you can; for they will all come about you, but do as though you did not see them; and above all things, mind you do not taste a morsel of food, for if you do, we shall both come to grief."

All this the prince promised; but he thought all the time there was little fear of his forgetting her.

Now, just as he came home to the palace, one of his brothers was thinking of holding his bridal feast, and the bride, and all her kith and kin, were just come to the palace. So they all thronged round him, and asked about this thing and that, and wanted him to go in with them; but he made as though he did not see them, and went straight to the stall and got out the horses, and began to put them to. And when they saw they could not get him to go in, they came out to him with meat and drink, and the best of everything they had got ready for the feast; but the prince would not taste so much as a crumb, and put to as fast as he could. At last the bride's sister rolled an apple across the yard to him, saying:

"Well, if you won't eat anything else, you may as well take a bite of this, for you must be both hungry and thirsty after so long a journey."

So he took up the apple and bit a piece out of it; but he had scarce done so before he forgot the mastermaid, and how he was to drive back for her.

"Well, I think I must be mad," he said; "what am I to do with this coach and horses?"

So he put the horses up again, and went along with the others into the palace, and it was soon settled that he should have the bride's sister, who had rolled the apple over to him.

There sat the mastermaid by the sea-shore, and waited and waited for the prince, but no prince came; so at last she went up from the shore, and after she had gone a bit she came to a little hut, which lay by itself in a copse close by the king's palace. She went in and asked if she might lodge there. It was an old dame that owned the hut, and a cross-grained scolding hag she was as ever you saw. At first she would not hear of the mastermaid's lodging in her house, but at last, for fair words and high rent, the mastermaid got leave to be there. Now the hut was as dark and dirty as a pigsty, so the mastermaid said she would smarten it up a little, that their house might look inside like other people's. The old hag did not like this either, and showed her teeth, and was cross; but the mastermaid did not mind her. She took her chest of gold, and threw a handful or so into the fire, and lo! the gold melted, and bubbled and boiled over out of the grate, and spread itself over the whole hut, till it was gilded both outside and in. But as soon as the gold began to bubble and boil, the old hag got so afraid that she tried to run out as if the Evil One were at her heels; and as she ran out at the door, she forgot to stoop, and gave her head such a knock against the lintel, that she broke her neck, and that was the end of her.
      Next morning the constable passed that way, and you may fancy he could scarce believe his eyes when he saw the golden hut shining and glistening away in the copse; but he was still more astonished when he went in and saw the lovely maiden who sat there. To make a long story short, he fell over head and ears in love with her, and begged and prayed her to become his wife.

"Well, but have you much money?" asked the mastermaid.

Yes, for that matter, he said, he was not so badly off, and off he went home to fetch the money, and when he came back at even he brought a half-bushel sack, and set it down on the bench. So the mastermaid said she would have him, since he was so rich; but they were scarce in bed before she said she must get up again:

"For I have forgotten to make up the fire."

"Pray, don't stir out of bed," said the constable; "I'll see to it."

So he jumped out of bed, and stood on the hearth in a trice.

"As soon as you have got hold of the shovel, just tell me," said the mastermaid.

"Well, I am holding it now," said the constable.

Then the mastermaid said:

"God grant that you may hold the shovel, and the shovel you, and may you heap hot burning coals over yourself till morning breaks."

So there stood the constable all night long, shovelling hot burning coals over himself; and though he begged, and prayed, and wept, the coals were not a bit colder for that; but as soon as day broke, and he had power to cast away the shovel, he did not stay long, as you may fancy, but set off as if Old Nick or the bailiff were at his heels; and all who met him stared their eyes out at him, for he cut capers as though he were mad, and he could not have looked in worse plight if he had been flayed and tanned, and every one wondered what had befallen him, but he told no one where he had been, for shame's sake.

Next day the attorney passed by the place where the mastermaid lived, and he too saw how it shone and glistened in the copse; so he turned aside to find out who owned the hut; and when he came in and saw the lovely maiden, he fell more in love with her than the constable, and began to woo her in hot haste.

Well, the mastermaid asked him, as she had asked the constable, if he had a good lot of money? And the attorney said he wasn't so badly off; and as a proof he went home to fetch his money. So at even he came back with a great fat sack of money—I think it was a whole bushel sack—and set it down on the bench; and the long and the short of the matter was, that he was to have her, and they went to bed. But all at once the mastermaid had forgotten to shut the door of the porch, and she must get up and make it fast for the night.

"What, you do that!" said the attorney, "while I lie here; that can never be; lie still while I go and do it."

So up he jumped like a pea on a drumhead, and ran out into the porch.

"Tell me," said the mastermaid, "when you have hold of the door-latch."

"I've got hold of it now," said the attorney.

"God grant, then," said the mastermaid, "that you may hold the door, and the door you, and that you may go from wall to wall till day dawns."

So you may fancy what a dance the attorney had all night long; such a waltz he never had before, and I don't think he would much care if he never had such a waltz again. Now he pulled the door forward, and then the door pulled him back, and so he went on, now dashed into one corner of the porch, and now into the other, till he was almost battered to death. At first he began to curse and swear, and then to beg and pray, but the door cared for nothing but holding its own till break of day. As soon as it let go its hold, off set the attorney, leaving behind him his money to pay for his night's lodging, and forgetting his courtship altogether, for, to tell the truth, he was afraid lest the house-door should come dancing after him. All who met him stared and gaped at him, for he too cut capers like a madman, and he could not have looked in worse plight if he had spent the whole night in butting against a flock of rams.

The third day the sheriff passed that way, and he too saw the golden hut, and turned aside to find out who lived there; and he had scarce set eyes on the mastermaid before he began to woo her. So she answered him as she had answered the other two. If he had lots of money she would have him; if not, he might go about his business. Well, the sheriff said he wasn't so badly off, and he would go home and fetch the money; and when he came again at even, he had a bigger sack even than the attorney—it must have been at least a bushel and a half, and put it down on the bench. So it was soon settled that he was to have the mastermaid, but they had scarce gone to bed before the mastermaid said she had forgotten to bring home the calf from the meadow, so she must get up and drive him into the stall. Then the sheriff swore by all the powers that should never be, and, stout and fat as he was, up he jumped as nimbly as a kitten.

"Well, only tell me when you've got hold of the calf's tail," said the mastermaid.

"Now I have hold of it," said the sheriff.

"God grant," said the mastermaid, "that you may hold the calf's tail, and the calf's tail you, and that you may make a tour of the world together till day dawns."

Well, you may just fancy how the sheriff had to stretch his legs; away they went, the calf and he, over high and low, across hill and dale, and the more the sheriff cursed and swore, the faster the calf ran and jumped. At dawn of day the poor sheriff was well nigh broken-winded, and so glad was he to let go the calf's tail that he forgot his sack of money and everything else. As he was a great man, he went a little slower than the attorney and the constable, but the slower he went the more time people had to gape and stare at him; and I must say they made good use of their time, for he was terribly tattered and torn, after his dance with the calf.

Next day was fixed for the wedding at the palace, and the eldest brother was to drive to church with his bride, and the younger, who had lived with the giant, with the bride's sister. But when they had got into the coach, and were just going to drive off, one of the trace-pins snapped off; and though they made at least three in its place, they all broke, from whatever sort of wood they were made. So time went on and on, and they couldn't get to church, and every one grew very downcast. But all at once the constable said, for he too was bidden to the wedding, that yonder, away in the copse, lived a maiden:

"And if you can only get her to lend you the handle of her shovel with which she makes up her fire, I know very well it will hold."

Well, they sent a messenger on the spot, with such a pretty message to the maiden, to know if they couldn't get the loan of her shovel that the constable had spoken of; and the maiden said "yes," they might have it; so they got a trace-pin which wasn't likely to snap.

But all at once, just as they were driving off, the bottom of the coach tumbled to bits. So they set to work to make a new bottom as they best might; but it mattered not how many nails they put into it, nor of what wood they made it, for as soon as ever they got the bottom well into the coach and were driving off, snap it went in two again, and they were even worse off than when they lost the trace-pin. Just then the attorney said: for if the constable was there, you may fancy the attorney was there too—"Away over there, in the grove, lives a maiden, and if you could only get her to lend you one-half of her porch-door, I know it can hold together."

Well, they sent another message to the copse, and asked so prettily if they couldn't have the loan of the gilded porch-door which the attorney had talked of; and they got it on the spot. So they were just setting out; but now the horses were not strong enough to draw the coach, though there were six of them; then they put on eight, and ten, and twelve, but the more they put on, and the more the coachman whipped, the more the coach wouldn't stir an inch. By this time it was far on in the day, and every one about the palace was in doleful dumps; for to church they must go, and yet it looked as if they should never get there. So at last the sheriff said that over there, in the gilded hut in the grove, lived a maiden, and if they could only get the loan of her calf:

"I know it can drag the coach, though it were as heavy as a mountain."

Well, they all thought it would look silly to be drawn to church by a calf, but there was no help for it, so they had to send a third time, and ask so prettily in the king's name, if he couldn't get the loan of the calf the sheriff had spoken of, and the mastermaid let them have it on the spot, for she was not going to say "no" this time either. So they put the calf on before the horses, and waited to see if it would do any good, and away went the coach over high and low, and stock and stone, so that they could scarce draw their breath; sometimes they were on the ground, and sometimes up in the air, and when they reached the church, the calf began to run round and round it like a spinning jenny, so that they had hard work to get out of the coach, and into the church. When they went back, it was the same story, only they went faster, and they reached the palace almost before they knew they had set out.

Now when they sat down to dinner, the prince who had served with the giant said he thought they ought to ask the maiden who had lent them her shovel-handle and porch-door, and calf, to come up to the palace.

"For," said he, "if we hadn't got these three things, we should have been sticking here still."

Yes; the king thought that only fair and right, so he sent five of his best men down to the gilded hut to greet the maiden from the king and to ask her if she wouldn't be so good as to come up and dine at the palace.

"Greet the king from me," said the mastermaid, "and tell him, if he's too good to come to me, so am I too good to go to him."

So the king had to go himself, and then the mastermaid went up with him without more ado; and as the king thought she was more than she seemed to be, he sat her down in the highest seat by the side of the youngest bridegroom.

Now, when they had sat a little while at table, the mastermaid took out her golden apple, and the golden cock and hen, which she had carried off from the giant, and put them down on the table before her, and the cock and hen began at once to peck at one another, and to fight for the golden apple.

"Oh, only look," said the prince; "see how those two strive for the apple."

"Yes!" said the mastermaid; "so we two strove to get away that time when we were together in the hillside."

Then the spell was broken, and the prince knew her again, and you may fancy how glad he was. But as for the witch who had rolled the apple over to him, he had her torn to pieces between twenty-four horses, so that there was not a bit of her left, and after that they held on with the wedding in real earnest; and though they were still stiff and footsore, the constable, the attorney, and the sheriff, kept it up with the best of them.

TO TOP NOTES  

Hacon Grizzlebeard

Once on a time there was a princess who was so proud and pert that no suitor was good enough for her. She made game of them all, and sent them about their business, one after the other; but though she was so proud, still new suitors kept on coming to the palace, for she was a beauty, the wicked hussey! So one day there came a prince to woo her, and his name was Hacon Grizzlebeard; but the first night he was there, the princess bade the king's fool cut off the ears of one of the prince's horses, and slit the jaws of the other up to the ears. When the prince went out to drive next day the princess stood in the porch and looked at him.

"Well!" she cried, "I never saw the like of this in all my life; the keen north wind that blows here has taken the ears off one of your horses, and the other has stood by and gaped at what was going on till his jaws have split right up to his ears."

And with that she burst out into a roar of laughter, ran in, slammed to the door, and let him drive off.

So he drove home; but as he went, he thought to himself that he would pay her off one day. After a bit, he put on a great beard of moss, threw a great fur cloak over his clothes, and dressed himself up just like any beggar. He went to a goldsmith and bought a golden spinning wheel, and sat down with it under the princess' window, and began to file away at his spinning wheel, and to turn it this way and that, for it wasn't quite in order, and besides, it wanted a stand.

So when the princess rose up in the morning, she came to the window and threw it up, and called out to the beggar if he would sell his golden spinning wheel?

"No; it isn't for sale," said Hacon Grizzlebeard; but if I may have leave to sleep outside your bed-room door tonight, I'll give it you."

Well, the princess thought it a good bargain; there could be no danger in letting him sleep outside her door.

So she got the wheel, and at night Hacon Grizzlebeard lay down outside her bedroom. But as the night wore on he began to freeze.

"Hutetutetutetu! It is so cold; do let me in," he cried.

"You've lost your wits outright, I think," said the princess.

"Oh, hutetutetutetu! It is so bitter cold, pray do let me in," said Hacon Grizzlebeard again.

"Hush, hush! Hold your tongue!" said the princess; "if my father were to know that there was a man in the house, I should be in a fine scrape."

"Oh, hutetutetutetu! I'm almost frozen to death; only let me come inside and lie on the floor," said Hacon Grizzlebeard.

There was no help for it. She had to let him in, and when he was, he lay on the ground and slept like a top.

Some time after, Hacon came again with the stand to the spinning wheel, and sat down under the princess' window and began to file at it, for it was not quite fit for use. When she heard him filing, she threw up the window and began to talk to him, and to ask what he had there.

"Oh! Only the stand to that spinning wheel which your royal highness bought; for I thought, as you had the wheel, you might like to have the stand too."

"What do you want for it?" asked the princess; but it was not for sale any more than the wheel, but she might have them if she would give him leave to sleep on the floor of her bedroom next night.

Well, she gave him leave, only he was to be sure to lie still, and not to shiver and call out "hutetu," or any such stuff. Hacon Grizzlebeard promised fair enough, but as the night wore on he began to shiver and shake, and to ask whether he might not come nearer, and lie on the floor alongside the princess' bed.

There was no help for it; she had to give him leave, lest the king should hear the noise he made. So Hacon Grizzlebeard lay alongside the princess' bed, and slept like a top.

It was a long while before Hacon Grizzlebeard came again; but when he came he had with him a golden wool-winder, and he sat down and began to file away at it under the princess' window. Then came the old story over again. When the princess heard what was going on, she came to the window and asked him how he did, and whether he would sell the golden wool-winder?

"It is not to be had for money; but if you'll give me leave to sleep tonight in your bed-room, with my head on your bedstead, you shall have it for nothing," said Hacon Grizzlebeard. "Well, she would give him leave, if he only gave his word to be quiet and make no noise. So he said he would do his best to be still; but as the night wore on he began to shiver and shake, so that his teeth chattered again.

"Hutetutetutetu! It is so bitter cold! Oh, do let me get into bed and warm myself a little," said Hacon Grizzlebeard.

"Get into bed!" said the princess; "why, you must have lost your wits."

"Hutetutetutetu!" said Hacon. "Do let me get into bed. Hutetutetutetu."

"Hush, hush, be still for God's sake," said the princess; "if father knows there is a man in here, I shall be in a sad plight. I'm sure he'll kill me on the spot."

"Hutetutetutetu! Let me get into bed," said Hacon Grizzlebeard, who kept on shivering so that the whole room shook. Well, there was no help for it; she had to let him get into bed, where he slept both sound and soft; but a little while after the princess had a child, at which the king grew so wild with rage, that he was near making an end of both mother and babe.

Just after this happened, came Hacon Grizzlebeard tramping that way once more, as if by chance, and took his seat down in the kitchen, like any other beggar.

So when the princess came out and saw him, she cried, "Ah, God have mercy on me, for the ill-luck you have brought on me; father is ready to burst with rage; now let me follow you to your home."

"Oh! I'll be bound you're too well bred to follow me," said Hacon, "for I have a log hut to live in; and how I shall ever get food for you?"

"It's all the same to me how you get it, or whether you get it at all," she said; "only let me be with you, for if I stay here any longer, my father will be sure to take my life."

So she got leave to be with the beggar, as she called him, and they walked a long, long way, though she was but a poor hand at tramping. When she passed out of her father's land into another, she asked whose it was?

"Oh, this is Hacon Grizzlebeard's, if you must know," said he.

"Indeed!" said the princess; "I might have married him if I chose, and then I should not have had to walk about like a beggar's wife."

So, whenever they came to grand castles, and woods, and parks, and she asked whose they were, the beggar's answer was still the same: "Oh, they are Hacon Grizzlebeard's." And the princess was in a sad way that she had not chosen the man who had such broad lands. Last of all they came to a palace, where he said he was known, and where he thought he could get her work, so that they might have something to live on; so he built up a cabin by the wood-side for them to dwell in; and every day he went to the king's palace, as he said, to hew wood and draw water for the cook, and when he came back he brought a few scraps of meat; but they did not go very far.

One day, when he came home from the palace, he said,

"Tomorrow I will stay at home and look after the baby, but you must get ready to go to the palace, do you hear? For the prince said you were to come and try your hand at baking."

"I bake!" said the princess; "I can't bake, for I never did such a thing in my life."

"Well, you must go," said Hacon, "since the prince has said it. If you can't bake, you can learn; you have only got to look how the rest bake; and mind, when you leave, you must steal me some bread."

"I can't steal," said the princess.

"You can learn that too," said Hacon; you know we live on short commons. But take care that the prince doesn't see you, for he has eyes at the back of his head."

So when she was well on her way, Hacon ran by a short cut and reached the palace long before her, and threw off his rags and beard, and put on his princely robes.

The princess took her turn in the bakehouse, and did as Hacon bade her, for she stole bread till her pockets were crammed full. So when she was about to go home at even, the prince said:

"We don't know much of this old wife of Hacon Grizzlebeard's; I think we'd best see if she has taken anything away with her."

So he thrust his hand into all her pockets, and felt her all over, and when he found the bread, he was in a great rage, and led them all a sad life. She began to weep and bewail, and said:

"The beggar made me do it, and I couldn't help it."

"Well," said the prince at last, "it ought to have gone hard with you; but all the same, for the sake of the beggar you shall be forgiven this once."

When she was well on her way, he threw off his robes, put on his skin cloak, and his false beard, and reached the cabin before her. When she came home, he was busy nursing the baby.

"Well, you have made me do what it went against my heart to do. This is the first time I ever stole, and this shall be the last;" and with that she told him how it had gone with her, and what the prince had said.

A few days after Hacon Grizzlebeard came home at even and said:

"Tomorrow I must stay at home and mind the babe, for they are going to kill a pig at the palace, and you must help to make the sausages."

"I make sausages!" said the princess; "I can't do any such thing. I have eaten sausages often enough; but as to making them, I never made one in my life."

Well, there was no help for it; the prince had said it, and go she must. As for not knowing how, she was only to do what the others did, and at the same time Hacon bade her steal some sausages for him.

"Nay, but I can't steal them," she said; "you know how it went last time."

"Well, you can learn to steal; who knows but you may have better luck next time?" said Hacon Grizzlebeard.

When she was well on her way, Hacon ran by a short cut, reached the palace long before her, threw off his skin cloak and false beard, and stood in the kitchen with his royal robes before she came in. So the princess stood by when the pig was killed, and made sausages with the rest, and did as Hacon bade her, and stuffed her pockets full of sausages. But when she was about to go home at even, the prince said:

"This beggar's wife was long-fingered last time; we may as well just see if she hasn't carried anything off."

So he began to thrust his hands into her pockets, and when he found the sausages he was in a great rage again, and made a great to do, threatening to send for the constable and put her into the cage.

"Oh, God bless your royal highness; do let me off! The beggar made me do it," she said, and wept bitterly.

"Well," said Hacon, "you ought to smart for it; but for the beggar's sake you shall be forgiven."

When she was gone, he changed his clothes again, ran by the short cut, and when she reached the cabin, there he was before her. Then she told him the whole story, and swore, through thick and thin, it should be the last time he got her to do such a thing.

Now, it fell out a little time after, when the man came back from the palace, he said:

"Our prince is going to be married, but the bride is sick, so the tailor can't measure her for her wedding gown. And the prince's will is, that you should go up to the palace and be measured instead of the bride; for he says you are just the same height and shape. But after you have been measured, mind you don't go away; you can stand about, you know, and when the tailor cuts out the gown, you can snap up the largest pieces, and bring them home for a waistcoat for me."

"Nay, but I can't steal," she said; "besides, you know how it went last time."

"You can learn then," said Hacon, "and you may have better luck, perhaps."

She thought it bad, but still she went and did as she was told. She stood by while the tailor was cutting out the gown, and she swept down all the biggest scraps, and stuffed them into her pockets; and when she was going away, the prince said:

"We may as well see if this old girl has not been long-fingered this time too."

So he began to feel and search her pockets, and when he found the pieces he was in a rage, and began to stamp and scold at a great rate, while she wept and said:

"Ah, pray forgive me; the beggar bade me do it, and I couldn't help it."

"Well, you ought to smart for it," said Hacon; "but for the beggar's sake it shall be forgiven you."

So it went now just as it had gone before, and when she got back to the cabin, the beggar was there before her.

"Oh, Heaven help me," she said; "you will be the death of me at last by making me nothing but what is wicked. The prince was in such a towering rage that he threatened me both with the constable and cage."

Some time after, Hacon came home to the cabin at even and said:

"Now, the prince's will is, that you should go up to the palace and stand for the bride, old lass! For the bride is still sick, and keeps her bed; but he won't put off the wedding; and he says, you are so like her, that no one could tell one from the other; so tomorrow you must get ready to go to the palace."

"I think you've lost your wits, both the prince and you," said she. "Do you think I look fit to stand in the bride's place? Look at me! Can any beggar's trull look worse than I?"

"Well, the prince said you were to go, and so go you must," said Hacon Grizzlebeard.

There was no help for it, go she must; and when, she reached the palace, they dressed her out so finely that no princess ever looked so smart.

The bridal train went to church, where she stood for the bride, and when they came back, there was dancing and merriment in the palace. But just as she was in the midst of dancing with the prince, she saw a gleam of light through the window, and lo! the cabin by the wood-side was all one bright flame.

"Oh, the beggar and the babe and the cabin," she screamed out, and was just going to swoon away.

"Here is the beggar and there is the babe, and so let the cabin burn away," said Hacon Grizzlebeard.

Then she knew him again, and after that the mirth and merriment began in right earnest; but since that I have never heard tell anything more about them.

TO TOP NOTES  

Rich Peter the Pedlar

Once on a time there was a man whom they called Rich Peter the Pedlar, because he used to travel about with a pack, and got so much money that he became quite rich. This Rich Peter had a daughter, whom he held so dear that all who came to woo her were sent about their business, for no one was good enough for her, he thought. Well, this went on and on, and at last no one came to woo her, and as years rolled on, Peter began to be afraid that she would die an old maid.

"I wonder now," he said to his wife, "why suitors no longer come to woo our lass, who is so rich. It would be odd if nobody cared to have her, for money she has, and more she shall have. I think I'd better just go off to the stargazers, and ask them whom she shall have, for not a soul comes to us now."

"But how," asked the wife, "can the stargazers answer that?"

"Can't they?" said Peter; "Why, they read all things in the stars."

So he took with him a great bag of money, and set off to the stargazers, and asked them to be so good as to look at the stars, and tell him the husband his daughter was to have.

Well, the stargazers looked and looked, but they said they could see nothing about it. But Peter begged them to look better, and to tell him the truth; he would pay them well for it. So the stargazers looked better, and at last they said that his daughter's husband was to be the miller's son, who was only just born, down at the mill below Rich Peter's house. Then Peter gave the stargazers a hundred dollars, and went home with the answer he had got.

Now, he thought it too good a joke that his daughter should wed one so newly born, and of such poor estate. He said this to his wife, and added:

"I wonder now if they would sell me the boy; then I'd soon put him out of the way?"

"I daresay they would," said his wife; "you know they're very poor."

So Peter went down to the mill, and asked the miller's wife whether she would sell him her son; she should get a heap of money for him?

"No!" that she wouldn't.

"Well!" said Peter, "I'm sure I can't see why you shouldn't; you've hard work enough as it is to keep hunger out of the house, and the boy won't make it easier, I think."

But the mother was so proud of the boy she couldn't part with him. So when the miller came home, Peter said the same thing to him, and gave his word to pay six hundred dollars for the boy, so that they might buy themselves a farm of their own, and not have to grind other folks' corn, and to starve when they ran short of water. The miller thought it was a good bargain, and he talked over his wife; and the end was, that Rich Peter got the boy. The mother cried and sobbed, but Peter comforted her by saying the boy should be well cared for; only they had to promise never to ask after him, for he said he meant to send him far away to other lands, so that he might learn foreign tongues.

So when Peter the Pedlar got home with the boy he sent for a carpenter, and had a little chest made, which was so tidy and neat, it was a joy to see. This he made water-tight with pitch, put the miller's boy into it, locked it up, and threw it into the river, where the stream carried it away.

"Now, I'm rid of him," thought Peter the Pedlar.

But when the chest had floated ever so far down the stream, it came into the mill-head of another mill, and ran down and hampered the shaft of the wheel, and stopped it. Out came the miller to see what stopped the mill, found the chest, and took it up. So when he came home to dinner to his wife, he said:

"I wonder now whatever there can be inside this chest, which came floating down the mill-head and stopped our mill today?"

"That we'll soon know," said his wife; "see, there's the key in the lock, just turn it."

So they turned the key, and opened the chest, and lo! there lay the prettiest child you ever set eyes on. So they were both glad, and were ready to keep the child, for they had no children of their own, and were so old they could now hope for none.

Now, after a little while, Peter the Pedlar began to wonder how it was no one came to woo his daughter, who was so rich in land, and had so much ready money. At last, when no one came, off he went again to the Stargazers, and offered them a heap of money if they could tell him whom his daughter was to have for a husband.

"Why, we have told you already, that she is to have the miller's son down over there," said the stargazers.

"All very true, I daresay," said Peter the Pedlar; "but it so happens he's dead; but if you can tell me whom she's to have, I'll give you two hundred dollars, and welcome."

So the stargazers looked at the stars again, but they got quite cross, and said:

"We told you before, and we tell you now, she is to have the miller's son, whom you threw into the river, and wished to make an end of; for he is alive, safe and sound, in such and such a mill, far down the stream."

So Peter the Pedlar gave them two hundred dollars for this news, and thought how he could best be rid of the miller's son. The first thing Peter did when he got home was to set off for the mill. By that time the boy was so big that he had been confirmed, and went about the mill, and helped the miller. Such a pretty boy you never saw.

"Can't you spare me that lad yonder?" said Peter the Pedlar to the miller.

"No, that I can't," he answered; "I've brought him up as my own son, and he has turned out so well that now he's a great help and aid to me in the mill, for I'm getting old and past work."

"It's just the same with me," said Peter the pedlar; that's why I'd like to have some one to learn my trade. Now, if you'll give him up to me, I'll give you six hundred dollars, and then you can buy yourself a farm, and live in peace and quiet the rest of your days."

Yes, when the miller heard that, he let Peter the Pedlar have the lad.

Then the two travelled about far and wide, with their packs and wares, till they came to an inn, which lay by the edge of a great wood. From this Peter the Pedlar sent the lad home with a letter to his wife, for the way was not so long if you took the short cut across the wood, and told him to tell her she was to be sure and do what was written in the letter as quickly as she could. But it was written in the letter that she was to have a great pile made there and then, fire it, and cast the miller's son into it. If she didn't do that, he'd burn her alive himself when he came back. So the lad set off with the letter across the wood, and when evening came on he reached a house far, far away in the wood, into which he went; but inside he found no one. In one of the rooms was a bed ready made, so he threw himself across it and fell asleep. The letter he had stuck into his hatband, and the hat he pulled over his face. So when the robbers came back – for in that house twelve robbers had their abode – and saw the lad lying on the bed, they began to wonder who he could be, and one of them took the letter and broke it open, and read it.

"He, he!" said he; "this comes from Peter the Pedlar, does it? Now we'll play him a trick. It would be a pity if the old niggard made an end of such a pretty lad."

So the robbers wrote another letter to Peter the Pedlar's wife, and fastened it under his hat-band while he slept; and in that they wrote that as soon as ever she got it she was to make a wedding for her daughter and the miller's boy, and give them horses and cattle, and household stuff, and set them up for themselves in the farm which he had under the hill; and if he didn't find all this done by the time he came back she'd smart for it – that was all.

Next day the robbers let the lad go, and when he came home and delivered the letter, he said he was to greet her kindly from Peter the Pedlar, and to say that she was to carry out what was written in the letter as soon as ever she could.

"You must have behaved very well then," said Peter the Pedlar's wife to the miller's boy, "if he can write so about you now, for when you set off, he was so mad against you he didn't know how to put you out of the way." So she married them on the spot, and set them up for themselves, with horses, and cattle, and household stuff, in the farm up under the hill. No long time after peter the Pedlar came home, and the first thing he asked was, if she had done what he had written in his letter. "Ay, ay!" she said; "I thought it rather odd, but I dared not do anything else;" and so Peter asked where his daughter was.

"Why, you know well enough where she is," said his wife. "Where should she be but up at the farm under the hill, as you wrote in the letter."

So when Peter the Pedlar came to hear the whole story, and came to see the letter, he got so angry he was ready to burst with rage, and off he ran up to the farm to the young couple.

"It's all very well, my son, to say you have got my daughter," he said to the miller's lad; "but if you wish to keep her, you must go to the dragon of Deepferry, and get me three feathers out of his tail; for he who has them may get anything he chooses."

"But where shall I find him?" said his son-in-law.

"I'm sure I can't tell," said Peter the Pedlar; "that's your look-out, not mine."

So the lad set off with a stout heart, and after he had walked some way he came to a king's palace.

"Here I'll just step in and ask," he said to himself, for such great folk know more about the world than others, and perhaps I may here learn the way to the dragon."

Then the king asked him whence he came, and whither he was going?

"Oh!" said the lad, "I'm going to the dragon of Deepferry to pluck three feathers out of his tail, if I only knew where to find him."

"You must take luck with you, then," said the king, "for I never heard of any one who came back from that search. But if you find him, just ask him from me why I can't get clear water in my well; for I've dug it out time after time, and still I can't get a drop of clear water."

"Yes, I'll be sure to ask him," said the lad. So he lived on the fat of the land at the palace, and got money and food when he left it. At even he came to another king's palace; and when he went into the kitchen, the king came out of the parlour and asked whence he came, and on what errand he was bound.

"Oh," said the lad, "I'm going to the dragon of Deepferry to pluck three feathers out of his tail."

"Then you must take luck with you," said the king, for I never yet heard that any one came back who went to look for him. But if you find him, be so good as to ask him from me where my daughter is, who has been lost so many years. I have hunted for her, and had her name given out in every church in the country, but no one can tell me anything about her.

"Yes, I'll mind and do that," said the lad; and in that palace too he lived on the best, and when he went away he got both money and food.

So when evening drew on again he came at last to another king's palace. Here who should come out into the kitchen but the queen, and she asked him whence he came, and on what errand he was bound.

"I'm going to the dragon of Deepferry, to pluck three feathers out of his tail," said the lad.

"Then you'd better take a good piece of luck with you," said the queen, "for I never heard of any one that came back from him. But if you find him, just be good enough to ask him from me where I shall find my gold keys which I have lost."

"Yes, I'll be sure to ask him," said the lad.

Well, when he left the palace he came to a great broad river; and while he stood there, and wondered whether he should cross it or go down along the bank, an old hunch-backed man came up, and asked whither he was going.

"Oh, I'm going to the dragon of Deepferry, if I could only find any one to tell where I can find him."

"I can tell you that," said the man; "for here I go backwards and forwards, and carry those over who are going to see him. He lives just across, and when you climb the hill you'll see his castle; but mind, if you come to talk with him, to ask him from me how long I'm to stop here and carry folk over."

"I'll be sure to ask him," said the lad.

So the man took him on his back and carried him over the river; and when he climbed the hill he saw the castle and went in.

He found there a princess who lived with the dragon all alone; and she said:

"But, dear friend, how can Christian folk dare to come hither? None have been here since I came, and you'd best be off as fast as you can; for as soon as the dragon comes home he'll smell you out, and gobble you up in a trice, and that'll make me so unhappy."

"Nay, nay!" said the lad; "I can't go before I've got three feathers out of his tail."

"You'll never get them," said the princess; "you'd best be off."

But the lad wouldn't go; he would wait for the dragon, and get the feathers, and an answer to all his questions.

"Well, since you're so steadfast I'll see what I can do to help you," said the princess; "just try to lift that sword that hangs on the wall yonder."

No; the lad could not even stir it.

"I thought so," said the princess; "but just take a drink out of this flask."

So when the lad had sat a while, he was to try again; and then he could just stir it.

"Well, you must take another drink," said the princess, "and then you may as well tell me your errand hither."

So he took another drink, and then he told her how one king had begged him to ask the dragon how it was he couldn't get clear water in his well? – how another had bidden him ask what had become of his daughter, who had been lost many years since? – and how a queen had begged him to ask the dragon what had become of her gold keys? – and, last of all, how the ferryman had begged him to ask the dragon how long he was to stop there and carry folk over? When he had done his story, and took hold of the sword, he could lift it; and when he had taken another drink, he could brandish it.

"Now," said the princess, "if you don't want the dragon to make an end of you you'd best creep under the bed, for night is drawing on, and he'll soon be home, and then you must lie as still as you can lest he should find you out. And when we have gone to bed, I'll ask him, but you must keep your ears open, and snap up all that he says; and under the bed you must lie till all is still and the dragon falls asleep; then creep out softly and seize the sword, and as soon as he rises, look out to hew off his head at one stroke, and at the same time pluck out the three feathers, for else he'll tear them out himself, that no one may get any good by them."

So the lad crept under the bed and the dragon came home.

"What a smell of Christian flesh," said the dragon.

"Oh yes," said the princess, "a raven came flying with a man's bone in his bill, and perched on the roof. No doubt it's that you smell."

"So it is, I daresay," said the dragon.

So the princess served supper; and after they had eaten, they went to bed. But after they had lain a while, the princess began to toss about, and all at once she started up and said:

"Ah, ah!"

"What's the matter?" said the dragon.

"Oh," said the princess, "I can't rest at all, and I've had such a strange dream."

"What did you dream about? Let's hear?" said the dragon.

"I thought a king came here, and asked you what he must do to get clear water in his well."

"Oh," said the dragon, "he might just as well have found that out for himself. If he dug the well out, and took out the old rotten stump that lies at the bottom, he'd get clear water fast enough. But be still now, and don't dream any more."

When the princess had lain a while, she began to toss about, and at last she started up with her

"Ah, ah!"

"What's the matter now?" said the dragon.

"Oh! I can't get any rest at all, and I've had such a strange dream," said the princess.

"Why, you seem full of dreams tonight," said the dragon: "what was your dream now?"

"I thought a king came here, and asked you what had become of his daughter who had been lost many years since," said the princess.

"Why, you are she," said the dragon; "but he'll never set eyes on you again. But now, do pray be still, and let me get some rest, and don't let's have any more dreams, else I'll break your ribs."

Well, the princess hadn't lain much longer before she began to toss about again. At last she started up with her

"Ah, ah!"

"What! Are you at it again?" said the dragon. "What's the matter now?" for he was wild and sleep-surly, so that he was ready to fly to pieces.

"Oh, don't be angry" said the princess; "but I've had such a strange dream."

"The deuce take your dreams," roared the dragon; what did you dream this time?"

"I thought a queen came here, who asked you to tell her where she would find her gold keys, which she has lost."

"Oh," said the dragon, "she'll find them soon enough if she looks among the bushes where she lay that time she wots of. But do now let me have no more dreams, but sleep in peace."

So they slept a while; but then the princess was just as restless as ever, and at last she screamed out:

"Ah, ah!"

"You'll never behave till I break your neck," said the dragon, who was now so angry that sparks of fire flew out of his eyes. "What's the matter now?"

"Oh, don't be so angry," said the princess; "I can't bear that; but I've had such a strange dream."

"Bless me!" said the dragon; "if I ever heard the like of these dreams – there's no end to them. And pray, what did you dream now?"

"I thought the ferryman down at the ferry came and asked how long he was to stop there and carry folk over," said the princess.

"The dull fool!" said the dragon; "he'd soon be free if he chose. When any one comes who wants to go across he has only to take and throw him into the river, and say 'Now, carry folk over yourself till some one sets you free.' But now, pray let's have an end of these dreams, else I'll lead you a pretty dance."

So the princess let him sleep on. But as soon as all was still, and the miller's lad heard that the dragon snored, he crept out. Before it was light the dragon rose; but he had scarce set both his feet on the floor before the lad cut off his head, and plucked three feathers out of his tail. Then came great joy, and both the lad and the princess took as much gold, silver, money, and precious things as they could carry; and when they came down to the ford, they so puzzled the ferryman with all they had to tell, that he quite forgot to ask what the dragon had said about him till they had got across.

"Halloa, you sir," he said, as they were going off, "did you ask the dragon what I begged you to ask?"

"Yes, I did," said the lad, "and he said, 'When any one comes and wants to go over, you must throw him into the midst of the river, and say 'Now, carry folk over yourself till some one comes to set you free,' and then you'll be free."

"Ah, what good luck for you," said the ferryman; "had you told me that before you might have set me free yourself."

So when they got to the first palace, the queen asked if he had spoken to the dragon about her gold keys.

"Yes," said the lad, and whispered in the queen's ear; "he said you must look among the bushes where you lay the day you know of."

"Hush, hush! Don't say a word," said the queen, and gave the lad a hundred dollars.

When they came to the second palace the king asked if he had spoken to the dragon of what he begged him.

"Yes," said the lad, "I did; and see, here is your daughter."

At that the king was so glad he would gladly have given the princess to the miller's lad to wife, and half the kingdom beside; but as he was married already he gave him two hundred dollars, and coaches and horses, and as much gold and silver as he could carry away.

When he came to the third king's palace, out came the king and asked if he had asked the dragon of what he begged him.

"Yes," said the lad, "and he said you must dig out the well, and take out the rotten old stump which lies at the bottom, and then you'll get plenty of clear water."

Then the king gave him three hundred dollars, and he set out home; but he was so loaded with gold and silver, and so grandly clothed, that it gleamed and glistened from him, and he was now far richer than Peter the Pedlar.

When Peter got the feathers he hadn't a word more to say against the wedding; but when he saw all that wealth, he asked if there was much still left at the dragon's castle.

"Yes, I should think so," said the lad; "there was much more than I could carry with me – so much, that you might load many horses with it; and if you choose to go you may be sure there'll be enough for you."

So his son-in-law told him the way so clearly that he hadn't to ask it of any one.

"But the horses," said the lad, "you'd best leave this side the river; for the old ferryman, he'll carry you over safe enough."

So Peter set off, and took with him great store of food, and many horses; but these he left behind him on the river's brink, as the lad had said. And the old ferryman took him on his back; but when they had come a bit out into the stream he cast him into the midst of the river, and said:

"Now you may go backwards and forwards here, and carry folk over till you are set free."

And unless some one has set him free, there goes Rich Peter the Pedlar backwards and forwards, and carries folk across this very day.

Notes

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