Thursday, 11 August 2016

Father Himself Sitting in the Cabin

Once upon a time, there was a man who lived away in a forest. He had many sheep and goats, but could by no means keep them in peace from the greyshanks.

“I shall trick greypaw yet,” he said at last, and took to digging a wolf trap. When he had dug down deep enough, he set a pole in the middle of the wolf pit; and on top of the pole he nailed a shelf; and on the shelf he placed a little dog; and across the pit he laid branches and pine needles and other rubble; and on that he spread snow, so that the wolf would not see that there was a pit beneath.

As the night drew in, the little dog grew tired of standing there.

“Woof, woof, woof!” he said, and bayed at the moon. Then came a fox slinking and slinking, and probably thought that he would win the field, so he took a jump—straight down into the wolf trap.

As the night drew on some more, the little dog grew so tired and hungry, so it began to bark and growl: “Woof, woof, woof!” he said. Soon there came a greyshanks wandering and wandering. He probably thought he would have himself a juicy steak, and so he took a jump—straight down into the wolf trap.

When the twilight of morning approached, the snow arrived from the north; and it grew so cold that the little dog stood and froze and shivered, and he was so tired and hungry.

“Woof, woof, woof, woof!” he said, and bayed incessantly. Then came a bear padding and padding along, and sat and thought he would have a nice morsel in the early morning. So out he went on to the branches—straight down into the wolf trap.

As the morning drew on, an old vagabond wife came walking, who meandered from farm to farm with a sack on her back. When she saw the little dog that stood there barking, she just had to go to see if any animals had fallen into the trap that night. Well, she knelt and peered down.

“Have you been trapped, Mikkel?” she said to the fox, for it was he she saw first. “It serves you right, you hen thief!—You too, Greypaw?” she said to the greyshanks; “if you have ripped sheep and goats, then now you will suffer till you croak. My goodness, Bear! Do you sit trapped, you flayer of mares? Well, you will we now scratch and you will we now flay, and your skull shall hang on the cabin wall,” screamed the woman eagerly, shaking her fist at the bear. But suddenly, her sack fell forwards over her head, and the woman fell down heavily into the wolf trap.

So there they sat, glaring at each other, all four, each in a corner: the fox in one corner, the greyshanks in the second, the bear in the third, and the woman in the fourth.

But when it grew properly light, Mikkel began to shake himself, and then he tossed around, for he thought that he might try to get out. But the woman said:

“Can’t you sit in peace, you turntail, and leave off your tossing and turning? Look at father himself in the cabin, there; he sits as steady as the parson,” for she thought she should make peace with the bear.

But then the man who made the wolf trap came. First he pulled up the woman, and then he killed all the animals, sparing neither the father in the cabin, nor the wolf, nor Mikkel Turntail. That night, he considered, he had made a good catch.

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