Wednesday, 6 September 2017

The Jøtul’s Servant Boy

The following tale is a variant of Askeladden Who Had an Eating Competition with a Troll. This variant is, in my opinion, much livelier that that which Asbjørnsen and Moe published.

The Jøtul’s Servant Boy

There was, upon a time, a jøtul who wanted a servant boy, and at last he got one, too, and he was a little rascal in whom there was no strength; but he was such a fellow to talk for himself that he appeared better than those who were big and strong.

So the jøtul would try him, to see if he was good for anything, and so he bade him go and fetch some water, and made him a couple of buckets to carry it in; but his buckets were so big and heavy that the boy was not able even to lift them off the ground, nor would he even try to, either.

He said that he would do nothing with the buckets, it was nothing for him to go carrying water in buckets; he would rather carry the whole well home at once, or he would not bother. The jøtul did not want this. He would go himself, instead, and fetch the water home in water buckets, and leave the well for next time.

Then he bade the boy bring in a clutch of firewood, but it was not small twigs he used, this fellow; they were big logs the size of treetrunks.

So the boy said that it was hardly worth going and getting a clutch of firewood; he was not used to such easy work. No, when he took a mind to it, he would bring in the whole woodshed at once. This the jøtul thought was too much, and so he would carry the firewood in, himself.

So the jøtul came in with the firewood and laid some kindling in the pit, and bade the boy light the fire. So the boy began to blow into the embers, but he was no good at getting it to burn, before the jøtul came and began to blow, himself. Then it was a different matter; he blew so that the wind gusted from him, so strongly that the boy was lifted off the floor and blew up into the vent, as if he were a fly.

“Where are you off to?” said the jøtul?

“Can’t you see I am dancing?” said the boy. “I thought about our cooking and eating some food, and when I saw that it began to burn, I grew so glad that I couldn’t help myself; I got up and took a little turn.”

So the jøtul cooked some porridge and poured it into a bowl, and then they began to eat. So the jøtul said that they should eat a contest, and see if the boy was good enough to meet him in the middle of the bowl.

The boy said that he would just pop out and put on a cardigan, and so he went out and he found and big knapsack, which he tied before his belly, and put a cardigan over it. Then he went in again and pretended to eat a contest with the jøtul, but he put in the bag much more than he ate, but the jøtul did not notice.

Afterwards, the jøtul said they should go out and jump a contest, and then he would see if the boy wouldn’t lose. The boy was not very good at jumping because of the knapsack he was carrying.

“I think I have a trick for this belly, first, for I feel that it is full,” he said, and so he took out his knife and cut into his cardigan and into the bag, so that the porridge fell out, and then he could jump so easily that he went like a bird around the jøtul.

So the jøtul grew afraid that the boy would win, and so he thought that he had better use the same trick that the boy had used. So he took his knife and cut, like the boy had cut. But he was unfortunate with his belly, and then he was no more.

“Now, I doubt but that you have finished jumping,” said the boy, and so he went in and took all his money, and then he went home again.

  • Location: Voss, Hordaland
  • Collector: Ivar Aasen

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