Thursday, 29 September 2016

The Doll in the Grass

There was once a king who had twelve sons. When they grew up, he told them that they should go out into the world to find a wife; but she should be able to spin and weave and sew a shirt in a day, else he would not have her as a son’s wife. He gave each of them a horse and a new suit of armour, and so they set out into the world and to look for wives. But when they had gone a little way, they said they would not have Askeladden with them, for he was no use for anything at all.

Yes, Askeladden, he had to stay behind—there was nothing else for it—and he did not know what to do or where to turn. He was so sorrowful that he dismounted and sat down in the grass to cry. But when he had sat a while, one of the tufts of grass began to stir, and out of it came a little white thing, and drew closer. Askeladden saw that it was a beautiful little girl; but she was so utterly small. She walked over and asked him if he would come down and see the Doll in the Grass. Yes, that he would, and he did.

When he had come down, there sat the Doll in the Grass on a chair; she was so beautifully adorned. She asked Askeladden where he was going, and what his business was.

He said that they were twelve brothers, and that the king had given them a horse and armour and told them to go out into the world to find a wife, and that she should be able to spin and weave and sew a shirt in a day. “But if you will do it, and be my wife, I will not go further,” said Askeladden to the Doll in the Grass.

Yes, she would, and she hurried to finish spinning, weaving, and sewing a shirt; but it was so utterly small, no longer than this: ————.

This shirt Askeladden now travelled home with; but when he arrived, he was ashamed of it, for it was so tiny. Nevertheless, the king said that he would have her, and so Askeladden travelled, cheerful and happy again, to fetch his little sweetheart.

When he came to the Doll in the Grass, he would take her up on his horse; but no, she would not. She said she would sit and drive in a silver spoon, and she even had two small white horses that would take her. So off they set, he on his horse and she in her silver spoon; and the horses that drew her were two small white mice. But Askeladdden rode on the other side of the road, for he was afraid he would ride over her, she was so tiny.

When they had gone some way, they came to a large lake. Askeladden’s horse was jittery, and jumped to the other side of the road, upsetting the spoon so that the Doll in the Grass fell into the water. Askeladden was so upset that he did not know how he would bring her up again. But after some time a merman came up with her; and now she had grown as big as any other adult human, and much lovelier than she was before. Then he put her before him on his horse and rode home.

When the prince arrived, all his brothers had come, each with his sweetheart. But they were so ugly and hideous, and so mean that on the way, their sweethearts had despaired. On their heads they had hats that were painted on with tar and soot, which had run down over their faces, so that they were even uglier and more hideous. When the brothers saw Askeladden’s sweetheat, they were all of them jealous of him; but the king was so fond of them both that he chased all the others out the door. And then Askeladden held a wedding with the Doll in the Grass; and afterwards, they lived well and happily for a long, long time. And if they’re not dead, then still they live.