Saturday, 15 April 2017

Tyri-Hans Who Made the King’s Daughter Laugh

Once upon a time there was a king who had a daughter, and she was so beautiful that she was renowned both far and wide; but she was so serious that she never could laugh, and she was so aware of this that she said no to eveyone who came and proposed to her, and would have no one, no matter how fine, or whether they were princes or gentlemen. The king had grown weary of this a long time ago, and thought she should marry, as any other; she had nothing to wait for—she was old enough, and neither could she grow richer, for half the kingdom would she have, as her inheritance from her mother.

So he had it pronounced in the churches, both quickly and soon, that the one who could make his daughter laugh, he would have her and half the kingdom. But were there one who tried but could not make her laugh, they would cut three stripes in his back, and rub salt in; and it is certain there were many sore backs in that kingdom. Suitors came travelling from both south and north, and from east and west, who thought it but a little matter to make a king’s daughter laugh. And strange fellows they were also, those who came. But for all the monkey business there was, and all the monkey tricks they did, the king’s daughter remained just as solemn and serious, she did.

Close by the king’s farm there lived a man who had three sons. They had also heard that the king had pronounced that the one who could make the king’s daughter laugh would have her and half the kingdom.

The eldest would go on his way first, and so off he set, and when he came to the king’s farm, he said to the king that he would certainly try to make the king’s daughter laugh.

“Yes, I am sure of it,” said the king, “but it will do little good, for here have many been who have tried; my daughter is so sorrowful that it does no good; and I would like as few people as possible to get into trouble.”

But he said he could do it; it could not be so difficult a matter to get a king’s daughter to laugh at him, for they had laughed many times at him, both distinguished and simple folk, when he was a soldier and served under Lance Corporal Nils. Then he went out on to the lawn outside the king’s daughter’s window, and began to exercise like Lance Corporal Nils. But it did not help; the king’s daughter was just as solemn and serious. So they took him and cut three broad red stripes into his back, and sent him home again.

When he had come home, the second son would go on his way. He was a schoolmaster, and a strange figure of a fellow was he. One of his legs was much longer than the other. While he was still a small boy, he raised himself up on his long leg, and was as big as a troll. And he was very good at setting out. Yes, he went to the king’s farm, and said that he would try to make the king’s daughter laugh; this was not impossible, said the king, “but God help you if you don’t get her to,” he said; “we cut the stripes broader for each one who tries.”

The schoolmaster went out on to the lawn outside the king’s daughter’s window, and he preached and massed like seven parsons, and read and sang like seven sextons who had been in the village there. The king laughed until he had to hold on to the hall column, and the king’s daughter wanted to smile, too; but then she was just as solemn and serious again, and so things went no better for Pål the schoolmaster than they had for Per the soldier—for Per and Pål were their names, you should know. They took him and cut three red stripes in his back and rubbed salt in, and then they sent him back home.

Then the youngest would go on his way, and that was Tyri-Hans. But his brothers laughed and mocked him and showed him their sore backs, and his father would not give his permission, for he said that it could do him no good, he who had no wits; nothing could he do, and nothing did he do; he just sat in the hearth, like a cat, digging in the ashes, and whittling pitch-pine sticks. But Tyri-Hans did not give in; he nagged and bothered for so long that they grew weary of his nagging, until finally he was allowed to go to the king’s farm, to try his luck.

When he arrived at the king’s farm, he did not say that he would try to make the king’s daughter laugh, but he asked if he could go into service there. No, they had no position for him; but Tyri-Hans did not give in—they surely had need of someone to carry wood and water for the kitchen maid on such a big farm, he said. Yes, the king thought so—and he was also weary of his nagging—so Tyri-Hans was finally allowed to remain there, carrying wood and water for the kitchen maid.

One day while he was fetching wood from the brook, he saw a large fish hovering beneath an old pine root that the water had cut the soil from under; he set his bucket very slowly under the fish. But on his way back home to the king’s farm, he met an old woman leading a golden goose.

“Good day, grandmother,” said Tyri-Hans. “That is a fine bird you have; such fine feathers, too. They gleam from a distance. If I had such a bird, then I could go without whittling pitch-pine sticks,” he said.

The woman thought just as well of the fish Hans had in his bucket, and said that if he would give her the fish, then he could have the golden goose, which was such that the one who touched it would stick fast, if only one said, “If you want to come along, then hold on!”

Yes, such a swap was one Tyri-Hans would make. “A bird is as good as a fish,” he said to himself. “If it is as you say, then I might well use it as a fishing hook,” he said to the woman, and was well-content with the goose.

He had not gone far before he met an old woman. When she saw the fine golden goose, she had to go to it and stroke it. She made herself as sweet and lovely as she could, and asked Tyri-Hans if she might be allowed to pat his pretty golden goose.

“You may,” said Tyri-Hans, “but you may not pluck any feathers from her.”

As soon as she patted the bird, he said, “If you want to come along, then hold on!” The woman pulled and wrestled, but she had to hold on, whether she wanted to or not, and Tyri-Hans went onwards, as if he were alone with the golden goose.

When he had gone a way further, he met a man who had something to say to the woman on account of a prank she had played on him. When he saw how hard she fought to free herself, and understood that she was stuck fast, he thought he could safely give her a shove as a greeting for last time, and so he kicked the woman, with one foot.

“If you want to come along, then hold on!” said Tyri-Hans, and the man had to follow along, hopping on one leg, whether he wanted to or not, and when he pulled and wrestled to loose himself, then it went even worse, for he was ready to fall over backwards, just like that.

Now they went on a good way, until they approached the king’s farm. There they met the king’s smith; he was on his way to the smithy, and had a pair of large forging tongs in his hand. This smith was a jokester, who was always full of trouble and tricks, and when he saw this procession coming, jumping and hopping, he first bent double with laughter. But then he said: “This is probably a new flock of geese for the princess. I wonder which of them is the gander and who among them are the geese. It must be the gander who waddles before them. Goosey, goosey, goosey, goosey, goosey!” he called, throwing out with his hand, as if he was spreading grain for the geese. But the flock did not stop—the man and the woman just looked angrily at the smith because he mocked them. Then the smith said: “It would be fun to hold the whole flock, as many as there are,” for he was a strong man; and so he took hold with his forging tongs on to the backside of the old man, and the man both screamed and writhed.

But Tyri-Hans said: “If you want to come along, then hold on!”

Then the smith had to go along, too. He certainly curled his back, braced himself against the ground, and tried to loose himself, but it did not help; he was stuck as fast as if he were screwed into the big vise in the smithy, and whether or not he would, he had to dance along.

When they arrived at the king’s farm, the farm dog came at them, barking as if it were at a vagrant or a tramp, and when the king’s daughter went to look out of the window, to see what was going on, and saw this procession, she began to laugh. But Tyri-Hans, he was not content with this. “Wait a little, and she will really open the doors of laughter,” he said, and turned aside along the back of the king’s farm, with his entourage.

When they came past the kitchen, the door was open, and the cook was pressing the porridge; but when she saw Tyri-Hans and the flock, she came out of the door at them, with the porridge press in one hand and a wooden spoon full of steaming porridge in the other, laughing so that she shook; and when she saw that the smith was there, she slapped her thigh, laughing. But when she had laughed herself finished, she also thought that the golden goose was so fine that she had to go to it and pat it.

“Tyri-Hans! Tyri-Hans!” she cried, coming over with her porridge spoon in her fist. “May I be allowed to pat that fine bird you have?”

“Let her rather pat me!” said the smith.

“You may!” said Tyri-Hans.

But when the cook heard it, she grew angry. “What is it you say?” she screamed, and hit the smith with the porridge spoon.

“If you want to come along, then hold on!” said Tyri-Hans; and she stuck fast, too, and no matter how she pulled and wrestled, and no matter how wild she was, she had to hop along.

But when they came beneath the king’s daughter’s window, she stood waiting for them, and when she saw that they had got the cook to come along, with both porridge spoon and -press, she fully opened up the doors of laughter, and laughed so that the king had to steady her. And so Tyri-Hans won the princess and half the kingdom, and they held a wedding that was both heard and asked of.

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