Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The Boy Who Went to the North Wind and Demanded Back His Flour

Once upon a time there was an old wife who had a son; she was pathetic and fragile, and so the boy should go out to the stabbur for her, to fetch some porridge flour for dinner. But when he stepped on to the stabbur step again, then the North Wind came blustering, took the flour from him, and went straight into the air with it. The boy went back into the stabbur for some more, but when he stepped out on to the step, the North Wind came again, and took the flour from him; and so it went the third time, too. The boy grew angry at this, and he thought it unreasonable that the North Wind should treat him so, and so he thought he would look him up, and demand the flour back.

Well, he set off; but the way was long and he walked and he walked. Finally, he came to the North Wind.

“Good day,” said the boy, “and thank you for last time.”

“Good day,” replied the North Wind—he had a gruff voice—“and thank you for last time, yourself. What do you want?” he said.

“Oh,” said the boy, “I want to ask you if you would be so kind as to return to me the flour you took from me on the stabbur step; for we have only a little, and when you behave in that way, and take from us what little we have, then there is nothing left but starve-to-death.”

“I do not have any flour,” said the North Wind, “but since you are in such need, then you shall have a tablecloth that will provide all you can want, when you simply say: ‘Tablecloth, unfold yourself and set yourself with all manner of costly fare!’”

This the boy was well-satisfied with. But as the way was so long that he could not reach home that day, he went in to an inn along the way, and when those who were there should eat their supper, he laid the tablecloth on a table that stood in the corner, and said: ‘Tablecloth, unfold yourself and set yourself with all manner of costly fare!’ He had hardly said it before the tablecloth had done it, and everyone thought it a wonderful thing; but no one liked it more than the innkeeper’s wife.

Here was no big fuss with roasting and boiling, with covering and setting, with fetching and laying out on the table, she thought. And as the night drew on, and everyone slept, she took the tablecloth and laid another in its stead, which was exactly like the one he had got from the North Wind, but which could not bring forth even an oat lefse.

When the boy awoke, he took the tablecloth, and went off with it, and that day he came home to his mother.

“Now,” he said, “I have been to the North Wind; he was a reasonable man, for he gave me this tablecloth, and when I simply say to it: ‘Tablecloth, unfold yourself and set yourself with all manner of costly fare!’ then I get everything I wish for.”

“Yes, I am sure of it,” said his mother, “but I won’t believe it before I see it.”

The boy hurried to bring out a table, laid the tablecloth on it, and said: “Tablecloth, unfold yourself and set yourself with all manner of costly fare!” But the tablecloth did not even set itself with some flatbread.

“There is nothing for it but that I go to the North Wind again, then,” said the boy, and went on his way. Far beyond a long time later, he arrived at where the North Wind dwelt.

“Good evening,” said the boy.

“Good evening,” said the North Wind.

“I want what is right for the flour you took from me,” said the boy; “for the tablecloth I got was not good for much.”

“I do not have any flour,” said the North Wind; “but here is a buck that drops gold ducats, if only you say: ‘My buck, make money!’”

The boy had nothing against this, but it was so far from home that he could not reach it the same day, so he went in to the innkeeper again. Before he ordered anything, he tried the buck, for he wanted to see if it was true, what the North Wind had said; and when the innkeeper saw this, he thought it a fine buck, and the boy had hardly fallen asleep before he took another, which did not drop gold ducats, and placed it in its stead.

The morning after, the boy went on his way, and when he came home, he said: “The North Wind is a kind man withal; now he gave me a buck that can make gold ducats, if only I say: ‘My buck, make money!’”

“I am sure of it,” said his mother, “that it is nothing more than talk, and I will not believe it before I see it.”

“My buck, make money!” said the boy; but it certainly was not money the buck made!

So he went on his way to the North Wind again, and said that the buck was good for nothing, and that he wanted his right for the flour.

“Well now, I have nothing else to give you,” said the North Wind, “but the old stick that stands over there in the corner; but it is such that when you say: ‘My stick, strike!’ then it will continue striking until you say: ‘My stick, stand still!’”

Since the way was long, the boy went in to the innkeeper that night, too; and as he could guess how things had gone with the tablecloth and the buck, he lay down immediately and began to snore on the bech, pretending to sleep. The innkeeper could understand that the stick was also good for something, so he searched one out that resembled it, and would put it there in its stead, as he heard the boy snoring. But just as the innkeeper was about to take the stick, the boy shouted: “My stick, strike!” And the stick began to strike and beat the innkeeper so that he jumped over both table and benches, and shouted and screamed: “Oh my God! Oh my God! Ask the stick to stop, or it will beat me to death; you shall have back both the tablecloth and the buck!”

As the boy thought the innkeeper had had enough, he said: “My stick, stand still!” Then he took the table cloth, and stuck it in his pocket, and his stick in his hand, bound a rope around the buck’s horn, and went home with it altogether. That was a good return for the flour.

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