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The Interrupted Fairy Wedding

Every summer, a long long time ago, they went up to the seter with the cows from Melbustad, in Hadeland, Norway. But they had not been there long before the cows became so restless that it was downright impossible to control them. Many girls had tried herding them, but it grew no better until a girl who had just plighted her troth came to work for them. Then the cows were calm right away, and there was no trouble herding them any longer. She stayed at the seter alone and had no other living soul with her but the dog.

One afternoon, as she was sitting inside the seter, she thought her sweetheart came in and sat down beside her and started talking about having the wedding right away. But she sat quite still and did not answer a word, for she seemed to feel rather strange. Little by little, people began to come in, and they started setting the table with silver and food, and bridesmaids carried in a crown and a beautiful wedding gown which they dressed her in; and they placed the crown upon her head, as they usually did in those days, and rings were put on her fingers.

She thought she knew all the people who had come. There were women from the farms and girls her own age. But the dog had certainly noticed that something was wrong. It ran away, straight down to Melbustad, and there it whined and barked and gave them no peace until they followed it back again.

Then the boy who was her sweetheart took his gun and went up to the seter. When he came to the yard, it was full of saddled horses standing around. He sneaked over to the cottage and peeked through a crack in the door at those who were sitting inside. It was easy to tell that they were trolls and huldre-folk, and so he fired the gun over the roof. At the same moment the door flew open, and one ball of grey wool after the other, each one bigger than the last, came rolling out and wound itself around his legs. When he got inside, the girl was sitting there dressed like a bride. He had come in the nick of time. Only the ring for the little finger was lacking, and then she would have been ready.

For heaven's sake! What's going on here? he asked, looking about. All the silver was still on the table, but all the good food had turned into moss and toadstools, and cow dung and toads, and other things like that.

What does all this mean? he said. Why are you sitting here dressed as a bride?

You should ask! said the girl. You've been sitting here talking to me about the wedding all afternoon.

No, I came just now, he said. It must have been someone who made himself look like me.

Then she began to come to herself again, but she was not really well for a long time afterward. She told him that she thought both he and the whole party had been there. He took her down to the village right away so that nothing more could happen to her, and they held the wedding at once while she was still wearing the wedding finery of the huldre-folk. The crown and all the finery were hung up at Melbustad, and they are supposed to be there to this very day.



Pork and Honey

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

"Good day, big one," 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 bee's comb I ever saw in my life," said Reynard.

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

"No, no!" 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 of the bacon; but if the bear could say them faster, he was to have leave to take one sup out of the comb. 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 as we agreed on. Let me go, big guy, 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.




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