Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Lillekort

There was, once upon a time, a couple of poor folk; they lived in a paltry cabin where there was nothing but bleak want, so that they had nothing to bite or to burn. But, had they nothing else, then they had the pure blessing of God in children, and with each year, they had one more. Now they were expecting one more. The husband was none too pleased with this. He often paced and wept and gave voice to his pain, and said that there must be a time when he had enough of God’s gifts. And when the time came for his wife to have the child, he went into the forest for some wood, for he would not see the new screamer; he would in time hear it screaming for food, he said.

When the husband had well gone, the wife had a beuatiful boy-child, and as soon as he had come into the world, he looked around the cabin.

“Oh dear mother,” he said, “give me some clothes after my brothers, and some food for a few days, and I will go out into the world and try my luck. You have children enough anyway, I see.”

“Oh, dear me, my son,” said the mother, “you are yet too small; there is nothing that may be done.”

But the boy-child insisted, and begged and pleaded for so long that the mother had to let him have some old rags and a little food in a bundle. And so he went, cheerfully and trustingly, out into the world.

But hardly had he gone than the wife had another boy; he looked around and said: “Oh dear mother, give me some clothes after my brothers, and food for a couple of days, and then I will go out into the world and find my twin brother. You have children anyway, you do.”

“Dear, oh dear me, my son, you are far too small, you poor thing,” said the wife; “there is nothing that may be done.”

But it did not help; the boy-child begged and pleaded for so long, until he got some old rags and a bundle of food, and then he rambled bravely enough out into the world, to find his twin brother.

When now the youngest had gone a while, he saw his brother a way off before him. He cried out to him and bid him stay: “Do stay,” he said, “you go on your way as if you were paid for it. But you should have seen your youngest brother before you went out into the world.” The eldest stopped then, and looked behind, and when the youngest had caught up, and had told of how things stood, that he was his brother, he countinued: “But let us sit down and look to see what mother has given us for food,” and so they did.

When they had gone a distance, they came to a brook that flowed through a green meadow, and there the youngest said that they should give each other names. “Since we had to hurry, there was no time to do it at home, so we must do it here,” he said.

“What do you want to be called, then?” the eldest asked.

“I will be called Lillekort,” replied the other; “and you? What do you want to be called?”

“I will be called King Lavring,” replied the eldest.

So they Christened each other, and then went on. But when they had walked a little while, they came to a crossroads, and there they agreed to part and go each their own way. This they did, but hardly had they walked a little while before they met again. They parted again, and each took his own way, but after a little while, it went the same: they met again before they knew it. And so it went the third time. Then they agreed that they should head off in different directions, the one to the east, and other to the west.

“But if real need and calamity should ever befall you,” said the eldest, “then call for me three times, and I shall come and help you; but you must not call for me before you are in your direst need!”

“It will not be so soon that we see each other, then,” said Lillekort.

And so they bid each other farewell, and Lillekort went east, and King Lavring went west.

When now Lillekort had walked a while alone, he met an old, old crooked woman, who had but one eye. This Lillekort snatched.

“Ow! Ow!” cried the woman. “Where has my eye gone?”

“What will you give me for an eye?” said Lillekort.

“I will give you a sword that is such that it can win against a whole militia, no matter how great it is,” replied the woman.

“Yes, give me it,” said Lillekort.

The woman gave him the sword, and so she got her eye back.

Then Lillekort went on, and when he had walked a while, he again met an old, old crooked woman, who had but one eye; this Lillekort stole before she knew it.

“Ow! Ow! Where has my eye gone?” cried the woman.

“What will you give me for an eye?” said Lillekort.

“I will give you a ship that can sail over fresh water and salt water, mountain and deep valleys,” replied the woman.

“Yes, give me it,” said Lillekort.

The woman gave him a tiny ship, which was no bigger than that he put it in his pocket; then she got her eye back, and they each went off in different directions.

When he had wandered a long time, he met for the third time an old, old crooked woman, who had only one eye; this Lillekort stole again. And when the woman screamed and misbehaved, and asked where her eye had gone, Lillekort said: “What will you give me for an eye?”

“I will give you the ability to brew a hundred batches of malt in one brew,” said the woman.

Yes, for that art, the woman got her eye back, and they went off, each in their own direction.

But when Lillekort had gone a little way, he thought it might be worth it to try the ship. So he took it out of his pocket and stepped, first one foot and then the other, and hardly had he stepped into it with the other than it grew as big as ships on the sea. Then said Lillekort: “Go now over fresh water and salt water, mountains and deep valleys, and do not stop before you come to the king’s farm!” And straightway the ship shot off like a bird of the air, until it came a little below the king’s farm; there it stopped. In the windows of the king’s farm, they had stood watching Lillekort come sailing, and everyone was so awed that they sprang down to see what manner of man had come sailing on a ship in the air. But as they sprang down from the king’s farm, Lillekort had stepped out of the ship and put it back into his pocket; for as soon as he stepped out of it, it became as small as it had been when he got it from the old woman. Those from the king’s farm saw nothing but a small, ragged boy, who stood down by the strand. The king asked where he was from, but the boy said that he did not know. He did not know how he had got there, either. But he asked so beautifully for permission to go into service on the king’s farm; if there was nothing else he could do, he could at least carry water and wood for the kitchen girls, he said. And he was allowed to do so.

When Lillekort came up to the king’s farm, he saw that it was all dressed in black, without as well as within, both walls and ceilings. He then asked a kitchen maid what this could mean. “Yes, I will tell you,” she answered; “the king’s daughter was, a long time ago, promised to three trolls, and next Thursday evening, one of them will come to fetch her. The Red Knight has said that he is good to save her, but we wonder if he be fellow enough to do it. And so you see there is solemn mourning here.”

When Thursday evening came, the Red Knight went with the princess down to the strand—for there should she meet the troll, and so he should be there to look after her. But he did not do the troll any great harm, I would not think, for no sooner had the princess set foot on the edge of the strand than the Red Knight clambered up a great tree that stood there, and hid himself as best he could between the branches. The princess wept and asked so heartily that he should not go from her. But the Red Knight did not care about that: “It is better that one lose their life than two,” said the Red Knight.

Meanwhile, Lillekort asked the kitchen maid for leave to go down to the strand a while.

“Oh, what do you want to do there, then?” said the kitchen maid. “You have nothing to do there.”

“Oh yes, dear me, let me go,” said Lillekort; “I would like to go down there and have a little fun with the other boys, too.”

“Well, well, go then,” said the kitchen maid, “but do not let me catch you there longer than when the evening cauldron should be hung up, and the roast should be put on the spit; and then bring a decent clutch of wood, when you come back into the kitchen.”

Yes, Lillekort promised this, and sprang down to the strand.

As soon as he had come down to where the princess sat, the troll came travelling, so that it roared and foamed around it. It was so great and huge that it was terrible, and it had five heads.

“Fire!” screamed the troll.

“Fire back!” said Lillekort.

“Can you fence?” cried the troll.

“Can I not, then I can learn,” said Lillekort.

Then the troll struck out at him with a great, thick iron bar he had in his fist, so that the earth was showered five cubits into the air.

“Well!” said Lillekort. “That was really something! Now you shall see a chop from me!”

Then he grasped the sword he had got from the old, crooked woman, and chopped at the troll so that all five heads rolled across the sand.

When the princess saw that she was saved, she was so glad that she did not know how to behave; she both jumped and danced. “Sleep now a little on my lap,” she said to Lillekort, and whilst he lay there, she pulled a golden tunic on to him.

But it was not long before the Red Knight clambered down again, out of his tree, when he saw that there was no more danger. He threatened the king’s daughter for as long as it took, until she had to promise that she would tell that it was he who had saved her; for if she did not, then he would kill her. Then he took the lungs and the tongues out of the troll and laid them in his kerchief, and then led the princess back to the king’s farm. And if he had not been honoured before, then he was now. The king did not know what he should do to honour him, and so he always sat at the right hand of the king at table.

Lillekort, he went first out to the troll ship and took with him a whole heap of gold- and silver goods and other beautiful things, and then he went back to the king’s farm. When the kitchen maid saw all the gold and silver, she was terrified, and asked: “But my darling, dear Lillekort, where have you got all this from?” for she was afraid that he might not have got it in the correct manner.

“Oh,” replied Lillekort, “I was at home a little and there had these goods fallen out of some vessels, and so I brought them here for you.” Yes, when the kitchen maid heard they were for her, she asked no more about it, but thanked Lillekort, and all was well and good again.

The second Thursday went the same way. All were in solemn mourning, but the Red Knight said that if he had saved the king’s daughter from one troll, then he could save her from one more, and he led her down to the strand. But he did not do that troll much harm, either; for when the time came that they should expect the troll, he said, as he had the last time, “It is better that one lose their life than two,” and clambered up the tree again.

Lillekort asked this time, too, for leave to go down to the strand a little.

“Oh, what do you want there?” said the kitchen maid.

“Yes, my dear, let me go!” said Lillekort. “I would like so much to go down and have a little fun with the other boys.”

Yes, he was allowed to go, but he had to promise to be back before the roast needed turning, and then he should bring a full clutch of wood.

Lillekort was hardly down by the strand before the troll came travelling so that it roared and foamed around it, it was as big again as the other troll, and it had ten heads.

“Fire!” screamed the troll.

“Fire back!” said Lillekort.

“Can you fence?” cried the troll.

“Can I not, then I can learn,” said Lillekort.

Then the troll struck out at him with his iron bar—it was even bigger than the one the first troll had—so that the earth sprayed ten cubits into the air.

“Well!” said Lillekort. “That was something, that was! Now you shall see a chop from me!”

Then he grasped his sword and chopped at the troll, so that all ten heads danced across the sand.

Then the king’s daughter said to him again: “Sleep a little while on my lap,” and while Lillekort lay there, she pulled a silver tunic on to him.

As soon as the Red Knight noticed that there was no longer any danger, he clambered down from the tree, and threatened the princess for so long that she had to promise to say that it was he who had saved her. He put the tongues and the lungs of the troll and laid them in his kerchief, and led the king’s daughter back to the castle. Here there was rejoicing and joy, you should know, and the king did not know at all how he should behave to show the Red Knight honour and glory enough.

But Lillekort took with him a clutch of gold- and silver goods and such from the troll ship. When he came back to the king’s farm, the kitchen maid clapped her hands together and wondered over where he had got all the gold and silver from. But Lillekort replied that he had been at home a while, and these were the goods that had fallen out of some vessels; these he had brought with him for the kitchen maid, he said.

When the third Thursday evening came, things went just the same way as they had the first times. The whole king’s farm was dressed in black, and everyone was in solemn mourning, and sobbed. But the Red Knight said he thought they did not have so much to be afraid of; had he saved the king’s daughter from two trolls, then he could save her from the third, too. He led her down to the strand, but when the time drew close to when the troll was to come, he clambered up a tree and hid himself again. The princess wept and bid him stay, but it did not help; he repeated himself: “It is better that one lose their life than two,” said the Red Knight.

That evening Lillekort also asked leave to go down to the strand.

“Oh what will you do there?” replied the kitchen maid. But he asked for so long until he was at last allowed to go; but then he had to promise that he would be back in the kitchen when the roast should be turned.

No sooner had he come to the strand, than that the troll came so that it roared and foamed around it; it was much, much bigger than any of the others, and fifteen heads had it.

“Fire!” screamed the troll.

“Fire back!” said Lillekort.

“Can you fence?” shrieked the troll.

“Can I not, then I can learn,” said Lillekort.

“I shall teach you!” shrieked the troll, and struck out at him with his iron bar, so the spray of earth stood fifteen cubits into the air.

“Well!” said Lillekort. “That was something, too! Now you shall see a chop from me!”

Immediately he grasped his sword and chopped at the troll, so all fifteen heads danced across the sand.

Then the princess was saved, and she both thanked and blessed Lillekort because he had saved her.

“Sleep now a little while in my lap,” she said, and while he lay there, she pulled a brass tunic on to him.

“But how shall we reveal that it was you who saved me?” said the king’s daughter.

“I shall tell you,” replied Lillekort. “When the Red Knight has led you home again, and pretends to be the one who has saved you, then you know he will have you and half the kingdom. But when they ask you on your wedding day who you want to fill your bowls, you shall say: ‘I want the little boy who is in the kitchen and carries wood and water for the kitchen maid.’ As I fill the bowls, I will spill a drop on his plate, but not on yours, and so he will grow angry and strike me, and this we will both do thrice. But the third time, you shall say: ‘Shame on you, who strikes the desire of my heart! He has saved me, and him will I have!’”

Then Lillekort sprang back to the king’s farm, just like the other times; but first he was out on the troll ship, as quickly as he could, and brought a whole batch of gold and silver and other costly things, and from that he gave the kitchen maid a whole lap-full of gold and silver goods.

As soon as the Red Knight saw that all danger was over, he climbed down from the tree, and threatened the king’s daughter to promise to say that he had saved her. Then he led her back to the king’s farm. And was there not enough honour and glory given him before, then it was now: the king thought of nothing other than how he should honour he who had saved his daughter from the three trolls; it was given that he should have both her and half the kingdom, he said.

But on the day of the wedding, the princess asked that she might have the little boy who was in the kitchen and carried wood and water for the kitchen maid, to fill the bowls at the wedding table. “Oh, what do you want with that blackened rag-boy in here?” the Red Knight said; but the princess said she wanted him to serve and none other, and finally she was allowed, too. And so everything went the way it was agreed upon between Lillekort and the kng’s daughter: he spilled a drop on the Red Knight’s plate, but none on hers, and each time, the Red Knight struck him. At the first strike, the ragged tunic fell off Lillekort, and at the second strike, the brass tunic fell off, and at the third strike, the silver tunic, so that he stood there in a golden tunic, so gleaming and fine that he shone.

Then the king’s daughter said: “Shame on you, who strikes the desire of my heart! He has saved me, and him will I have!”

The Red Knight cursed and swore that he had saved her, but then the king said: “The one who has saved my daughter has, I suppose, something to show for it.” Yes, the Red Knight sprang quickly for his kerchief with the lungs and tongues in, and Lillekort fetched all the gold and silver and every fine thing he had taken from the troll ships, and they each laid theirs before the king. “He who has such costly things of gold and silver and precious stones,” said the king, “he must have killed the trolls, for such is not to be had from anyone else.” And so the Red Knight was thrown into the pit of serpents, and Lillekort should have the princess and half the kingdom.

One day, the king and Lillekort took a walk. Then Lillekort asked the king if he had not had any more children.

“Yes,” said the king, “I have had another daughter, but she has the troll taken, for there was no one who could save her. Now you shall have one of my daughters, but if you can save the one whom the troll has taken, too, then you shall have her and the other half of the kingdom.”

“I will have to try,” said Lillekort; “but I must have an iron chain that is five-hundred cubits long, and then I want five-hundred men, and supplies for them for fifteen weeks; for I will go far to sea,” he said.

Yes, this he would have, but the king was afraid he did not have a ship that was big enough to carry everything.

“I have a ship myself,” said Lillekort, taking the one he had been given by the old wife, out of his pocket.

The king laughed at him, thinking it was nothing more than a joke, but Lillekort merely asked for what he had desired, and then the king would see.

They came then with it altogether, and Lillekort asked them to put the chain into the ship first, but there was none who could lift it, and many could not make room in the tiny ship at once. Then Lillekort himself took the chain at one end, and laid some links up in the ship, and as he threw the chain in, the ship grew bigger and bigger, and finally it was so large that the chain and the five-hundred men and the supplies and Lillekort had good room.

“Go now over fresh water and salt water, mountains and deep valleys, and do not stop before you come whither the king’s daughter is,” said Lillekort to the ship. And straightway they shot off so that it whistled and whined around them, over both land and water.

When they had sailed in such a manner, far, far away, the ship stopped in the midst of the sea. “Yes, now we have arrived,” said Lillekort, “but it is another matter how we are to come from here again.”

Then he took the iron chain and wrapped one end of it around his waist. “Now I have to go to the bottom,” he said, “but when I jerk the chain, and want to come up again, you must all pull as one man, otherwise there will be no life to think of, for you as much as for me.” And with that, he jumped into the sea so that the golden spray stood around him. He sank and he sank, and finally he came to the bottom. There he saw a great rock with a door in it, and this he went through. When he came in, he found the other king’s daughter; she sat sewing, but when she saw Lillekort, she clapped her hands together.

“Oh, thank God!” she cried. “Now, I have not seen a Christian man since I came here.”

“Yes, I have come for you,” said Lillekort.

“Oh, you will not get me,” said the king’s daughter; “it is not even worth thinking about. If the troll sees you, he will kill you.”

“It is well you speak of him,” said Lillekort; “where is he? It might be fun to see him.”

So the king’s daughter told him that the troll was out to see if he could find someone who could brew a hundred batches of malt in one brew; for there was to be a feast at the troll’s, and nothing less would do.

“Yes, I can do that,” said Lillekort.

“Yes, if only the troll were not so quick-tempered, so I could tell him,” replied the king’s daughter; “but he is so quick to anger that he will rip you to pieces as soon as he comes in, I am afraid. But I should try to think of something. Now you can hide yourself in the basket here, and we shall see how things go.”

Well, Lillekort did so, and hardly had he crept into the basket and hidden himself before the troll came.

“Huff! Here it smells of a Christian man’s blood,” said the troll.

“Yes, a bird flew across the roof, with a Christian man’s bone in its beak, and it dropped it down the chimney,” replied the king’s daughter; “I hurried quickly enough to be rid of it, but it is that it smells of, anyway.”

“Well, I suppose it is,” said the troll.

Then the king’s daughter asked him if he had found someone who could brew a hundred batches of malt in a single brew.

“No, there is no one who can do it,” said the troll.

“A little while ago there was one here who could do it,” said the king’s daughter.

“You are always so wise, you are,” said the troll, “so why did you let him go again, then? You knew I wanted to find someone like that.”

“Oh, I did not let him go, either,” said the king’s daughter, “but father is so quickly angry, and so I hid him in the basket; if father has not found anyone, then here he is.”

“Let him come in,” said the troll.

When Lillekort came, the troll asked him if it was true that he could brew a hundred batches of malt in a single brew.

“Yes,” said Lillekort.

“It was good that I found you,” said the troll. “Set straight to work; but so help you if you do not brew the beer strong!”

“Oh, it will surely have a strong flavour,” said Lillekort, and began to brew. “But I must have more trolls to carry the brewing vat,” said Lillekort; “those I have cannot manage much.”

Yes, he got more, so many that it swarmed, and then the brewing got under way.

When the wort was finished, they should all taste it, you understand, first the troll itself, and then the others; but Lillekort had brewed the wort so strong that they fell dead like flies, each as he drank it. Finally there was none left but a pathetic old woman, who lay behind the stove. “Oh, you poor thing,” said Lillekort, “you should taste the wort, too,” and then he scraped around the bottom of the brewing vessel with a stick, and gave it to her; then he was rid of them all.

As he stood now and looked around, he caught sight of a large chest. This Lillekort took and filled with gold and silver, then tied the chain around himself and the king’s daughter and the chest, and jerked it with all his might. Then the crew hauled them up in good condition.

When Lillekort had come aboard again, he said: “Go now over salt water and fresh water, mountains and deep valley, and do not stop before you have come to the king’s farm,” and straightway the ship shot off, so the golden wake stood around it. When those at the king’s farm saw the ship, they were not slow to meet it with song and music, and received them, but gladest of all was the king, who now had got his other daughter, too.

But he who was uneasy was Lillekort, for both king’s daughters would have him, and he wanted none but the first he had saved—she was the youngest. Therefore he went very often in thought of how he might behave in order to have her, for he would rather not act against the other. One day he went thinking about this, he suddenly thought that if only he had his brother with him, King Lavring, who was so like him that none could tell the difference between them, then he could have the other king’s daughter and half the kingdom, for he thought that he had enough with the one half. Hardly had he thought of it before he left the castle and called for King Lavring. No, no one came. So he called again, a little louder, but no, there still came no one. So Lillekort called a third time, and that with all his might, and then his brother stood there.

“I said you should not call for me unless you were in your direst need,” he said to Lillekort, “and here there is not even a mosquito that can do anything to you.”

With that, he struck him so that Lillekort rolled across the ground.

“Shame on you for striking!” said Lillekort; “first I have won the one king’s daughter and half the kingdom, and then the other king’s daughter and the other half of the kingdom, and now I had thought to give you one of the king’s daughters and half the kingdom with me—do you think it reasonable to behave like that?”

When King Lavring heard this, he apologised to his brother and they were soon good friends, and reconciled.

“Now, you know” said Lillekort, “that we are so alike that no one can distinguish the one of us from the other; change clothes with me now, and go up to the castle, so the king’s daughters think it is I who comes. The first one to kiss you, you shall have, and I shall take the other,” for he knew that the eldest king’s daughter was the strongest, and so he understood how things might go.

This was King Lavring soon willing to do; he changed clothes with his brother and went up to the castle. When he came into the room with the king’s daughters, both thought it was Lillekort, and both immediately ran to him, and the eldest, who was biggest and strongest, pushed her sister aside, took King Lavring around the neck and kissed him; and so he had her, and Lillekort had the youngest king’s daughter. Then perhaps there was a wedding, and such that it was heard of and asked of across seven kingdoms.

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