Thursday, 3 December 2015

Buttertub

Once upon a time, there was an old woman who sat and baked. She had a small boy who was so stout and fat, and who enjoyed good food so much, that she called him Buttertub. And they had a dog called Goldtooth. Straightway the dog began to snarl.

“Run out, you my Buttertub”, said the old woman, “and see what Goldtooth is snarling at.”

The boy ran out, and came in again, and said, “God help me, there’s a big, tall mound-hag coming, with her head under her arm and a sack on her back.”

“Run under the baking table and hide”, said his mother.

Then the big troll came in.

“Good day”, she said.

“God bless you”, said Buttertub’s mother.

“Isn’t Buttertub home today?” asked the troll.

“No, he’s in the forest with his father, hunting grouse”, answered his mother.

“That’s too bad”, the mound-hag said, “I have such a fine small silver knife that I wanted to give him.”

“Heigh-ho, here I am!” said Buttertub under the baking table, and came out.

“I am so old, and my back is so stiff”, said the troll. “You will have to jump into the sack yourself to get it.”

When Buttertub had got well in, the troll threw the sack over her shoulder and left through the door. But when they had gone some way, the troll grew tired, and asked: “How far is it until I can sleep?”

“A mile”, Buttertub answered.

So the troll laid the sack down by the way and went into the wood by herself and lay down to sleep. In the meantime, Buttertub took care of himself. He took the knife, cut a hole in the sack and crept out, placed a large root in the sack instead, and ran home to his mother. When the troll got home and saw what she had in the sack, she grew terribly angry.

The next day, the old woman was sitting baking again. Straightway, the dog began snarling.

“Run out, you my Buttertub”, she said, “and see what Goldtooth is snarling at.”

“Oh no, oh no, that ugly beast again!” said Buttertub; “she’s coming again, with her head under her arm, and a large sack on her back.”

“Run under the baking table and hide”, said his mother.

“Good day”, said the troll, “is Buttertub home today?”

“I’m afraid not”, said the mother. “He’s in the forest with his father, hunting grouse.”

“That’s too bad”, the mound-hag said, “for I have a beautiful little silver fork I wanted to give him.”

“Heigh-ho, here I am!” said Buttertub, and came out.

“My back is so stiff”, the troll said. “You’ll have to jump into the sack yourself and get it.” When Buttertub was well down in the sack, the troll threw it over her shoulder and left.

When they had gone a good way, she grew tired, and asked: “How far is it until I can sleep?”

“Three miles”, Buttertub answered.

Then the troll laid down the sack by the way, went into the woods, and lay down to sleep.

Whilst the troll did that, Buttertub made a hole in the sack, and when he had come out, he placed a large stone in the sack. When the mound-hag came home, she stoked up the fire in the hearth, and hung a huge cauldron over it to boil Buttertub. But when she took the sack and thought to tip Buttertub in, the stone fell out and knocked a hole in the bottom of the cauldron, so that the water ran out and quenched the fire. Then the troll grew angry, and said, “No matter how difficult he makes it, I’ll hoodwink him yet, I will.”

The third time went the same way: Goldtooth began to snarl, and the mother said,

“Run out, you my Buttertub, and see what Goldtooth is snarling at.”

So Buttertub ran out, and came in again, and said,

“Oh save me! It’s the troll coming again, with her head under her arm and a sack on her back.”

“Run under the baking table and hide”, said his mother.

“Good day”, said the troll, and strode in through the door. “Is Buttertub home today?”

“Indeed not”, said his mother. “He’s out in the forest with his father, hunting grouse.”

“Such a shame, that”, said the mound-hag, for I have such a beautiful little silver spoon I wanted to give him.”

“Heigh-ho, here I am!” said Buttertub, and came out from under the baking table.

“My back is so stiff”, said the mound-hag, “you’ll have to jump into the sack yourself and get it.”

When Buttertub was well down in the sack, the troll threw it over her shoulder and set off. This time, she didn’t stop to sleep, but went all the way home with Buttertub in the sack, and when they arrived, it was a Sunday.

Then the troll said to her daughter, “You take Buttertub and slay him and boil some broth with him until I return; for I am going to church now, with invitations to a feast.”

When she had gone, the daughter took Buttertub to slay him, but she didn’t quite know how to do it.

“Wait, and I’ll show you how you should do it”, said Buttertub. “Lay your head on the stool, and you’ll see.”

She did so, the poor thing, and Buttertub took the axe and hacked off her head as if she had been a chicken. Then he laid the head in the bed, and the body in the cauldron, and boiled a broth with the troll daughter. And when he had done that, he climbed up above the door, and took with him the large root and the stone, and laid one above the door, and the other across the troll’s chimney.

When they arrived back from church and saw the head in the bed, they thought that their daughter was asleep; so they went to taste the broth.

“This Buttertub-broth tastes good!” said the troll.

“This daughter-broth tastes good!” said Buttertub, but they weren’t listening.

Then the troll’s husband took the spoon and tasted.

“This Buttertub-broth tastes good!” he said.

“This daughter-broth tastes good!” said Buttertub down the chimney.

Then they wondered who was talking, and went to the door, to go out to look. But as they came out, Buttertub threw the root and the stone down on their heads and killed them. Then he took all the silver and gold he found in the house, and thus was made rich. And finally, he went home to his mother.

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