Thursday, 19 May 2016

The Stabbur Key in the Spinning Wheel Distaff

The names of the parts of a spinning wheel are easily looked up in a reference work, or on the Internet. It is the Norwegian word stabbur that needs explaining, in this tale. A stabbur is an out house that is used for storing food. Typically, a stabbur looks something like this:

And so to the tale:

The Stabbur Key in the Spinning Wheel Distaff

Once upon a time, there was a rich farm boy who would go out a-courting. He had heard tell of a girl who was both beautiful and friendly, good at tidying, and an accomplished cook. He went there, for it was such a wife he would have. They understood well enough, the folk on the farm, the errand the boy came to them on, so they asked him to sit on the bench, and they spoke to him, as the custom is; and thereafter, they offered him a drink to tide him over while they made ready some food. They went back and forth, so the suitor had time to look around the parlour. Away in the corner, he saw there was a spinning wheel, and the distaff was full of flax.

“Who is it who spins on that spinning wheel?” asked the boy.

“Oh, it is supposed to be our daughter,” said the woman in the parlour.

“That is a lot of flax,” said the boy; “she will spend more than a day spinning that,” he said.

“No matter,” said the woman; “she will do it well in a day, perhaps in less time than that.”

It was more than he had ever heard, that someone could spin so much in such a short time, said the boy.

But as they should carry the food forth, they all went out, and he was left alone in the parlour. He saw there lay a big old key on the windowsill. This he took, and stuck it into the distaff, and twisted it well into the flax. Then they ate and drank, and got on nicely with each other. And when he thought he had been there for long enough, he thanked them, and went on his way. They asked him to come again soon, and he promised to, too; but the reason for his visit he did not reveal, even though he liked the girl well enough.

A long time afterwards, he came back to the farm, and they received him even better than they had the first time. But as they talked, the woman said:

“Well, the last time you were here, something terribly strange happened; our stabbur key–it clean disappeared, so that we have not been able to find it again.”

The boy just went over to the spinning wheel, which stood there in the corner, with the flax as thick as last time, and felt around the distaff.

“Here is the key,” he said. “You don't earn much from your spinning, when the spinning day lasts from Michealmas until Easter.”

Then he thanked his hosts, but did not reveal the reason for his visit this time, either.

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