Thursday, 11 August 2016

The Seventh Father of the House

Once upon a time, there was a man who was out wandering. Then, after a long time, he came to a beautiful great farm; it was a great farm so beautiful that it might well have been a small castle.

“It will be good to rest up here,” he thought to himself, as he entered at the gate. Close by stood an old man with grey hair and beard, chopping wood.

“Good evening, father,” said the wanderer; “may I stay here tonight?”

“I am not the father of the house,” said the old man; “go into the kitchen, and talk to my father.”

The wanderer went into the kitchen; there he met a man who was even older, and he knelt before the hearth and blew into the fire.

“Good evening, father; may I stay here tonight?” said the wanderer.

“I am not the father of the house,” said the old man; “but go in and talk to my father; he is sitting at the table in the parlour.”

So the wanderer went into the parlour and talked to he who sat at the table; he was much older than both of the others, and he sat, his teeth chattering, and shook, and read in a big book, almost like a small child.

“Good evening, father; may I stay here tonight?” said the man.

“I am not the father of the house; but talk to my father, he who sits on the bench,” said the man who sat at the table, his teeth chattering, and quaking and shaking.

So the wanderer went to he who sat on the bench, and he was trying to pack a pipe with tobacco; but he was so withered, and his hands shook so much that he almost could not hold on to the pipe.

“Good evening, father,” said the wanderer; “may I stay here tonight?”

“I am not the father of the house,” answered the old withered fellow; “but talk to my father, who lies in his bed.”

The wanderer went to the bed, and there lay an old, old fellow on whom there was nothing living to see but for a pair of large eyes.

“Good evening, father; may I stay here tonight?” said the wanderer.

“I am not the father of the house; but talk to my father, who lies in the cradle,” said the fellow with the large eyes.

Well, the wanderer went to the cradle; there lay an ancient fellow, so shrunken that he was no bigger than an infant; and he could not understand that there was life in him but for the sound that came from his throat once in a while.

“Good evening, father; may I stay here tonight?” said the man.

A long time passed before he got an answer; and an even longer time passed before the fellow was finished with it. He said, he as the others, that he was not the father of the house, “but talk to my father; he hangs in the horn on the wall.”

The wanderer glanced up over the wall, and eventually his eye caught sight of the horn, too; but when he looked for he who hung in it, there was nothing to see but a skin that had the appearance of a human face.

He was so aghast that he cried out loudly: “Good evening, father! May I stay here tonight?”

There was a squeak from up in the horn, like a little great tit, and it was the best he could do to make out that it said something like “Yes, my child.”

And now there came in a table that was set with the most precious of dishes, with beer and brandy; and when he had both eaten and drunk, there came in a good bed with reindeer calf skins; and the wanderer was truly glad that he had eventually found the right father of the house.

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