Saturday, 17 March 2018

Some Women Are Such

There was once upon a time a man and a wife who should sow, but they had no seed grain, and had no money to buy any, either. They had a single cow, and this the man should go to town with, and sell to get some money for seed corn. But when it came to it, his wife dared not let her husband go, for she was afraid he would drink up the money. So she took the cow with her, and took with her a hen, too.

Close by the town, she met a butcher. “Will you sell the cow, mother?” he asked.

“I shall do so, certainly,” she said.

“What do you want for it, then?”

“I suppose I want a mark for the cow, but the hen you may have for ten dollars,” she said.

“Well, I have no use for the hen,” he replied, “and you will get rid of it when you come to the town; but I will give you a mark for the cow.”

She sold the cow and took her mark, but there was no one in the town who would give ten dollars for a dry, scabby hen. So she went back to the butcher and said: “I cannot get rid of the hen, father. You must take it too, you who took the cow.”

“We shall come to an agreement,” said the butcher. He asked her to sit at the table, then gave her food, and poured her so much brandy that she grew drunk and lost her sense and composure.

While she was sleeping it off, the butcher dipped her in a barrel of pitch, and laid her in a heap of feathers.

When she awoke, she was feathered all over, and began to wonder: “Is it me, or is it not me? No, it can never be me; it must be a great, strange bird. But what shall I do to find out whether it is me or if it is not me? Well, now I know: if the calves lick me, and the dog does not bark at me, when I get home, then it is me.”

The dog had never before seen such a beast, so it began to bark greatly, as if there were both thieves and rascals on the farm. “No, it certainly cannot be me,” she said. When she went into the barn, the calves would not lick her, for they smelt the pitch. “No, it cannot be me, it must be a strange bird,” she said.

Then she climbed up on to the roof of the stabbur,1 began to flap her arms, as if they were wings, and tried to fly into the air.

When her husband saw this, he came out with his rifle, and began to aim.

“Oh, don’t shoot, don’t shoot!” shouted the wife, “It’s me!”

“If it is you,” said her husband, “then don’t stand there like a goat, but come down and give a true account of yourself.”

She climbed down again, then, but she did not have a single shilling, for the mark she had got from the butcher she had thrown away in her drunkenness; and when the husband heard this, he said: “You are no more than one time crazier than you have been.” And he grew so angry that he would leave everything altogether, and never come back unless he met three more women who were just as crazy. And when he had come a way on the road, he saw a woman who sprang out and in of a newly-built cabin, with an empty grain sieve. Each time she sprang in, she threw her apron over the sieve, as if she had something in it, and tipped it out on the floor.

“Why do you do this, mother?” he asked.

“Oh, I only want to carry in a little sunshine,” replied the woman; “but I do not know how it is; when I am outside, I have the sunshine in the sieve, but when I come in, I have lost it again. When I was in my old cabin, I had enough sunshine, even though I never carried even a tiny bit in; if only someone could bring me some sunshine, I would give him three-hundred dollars.”

“Do you have an axe?” said the man; “then I shall manage to bring you some sunshine.”

He got an axe, and chopped out some window holes, for that had the carpenters forgotten; straightway the sunshine came in, and he got his three-hundred dollars.

There was one, thought the man, and went on his way again.

After a while, he came to a house, and there was terrible screaming and din. There he went in and saw a woman who was striking her husband on his head with a wooden washing beetle; over his head he had pulled a shirt in which there was no neck hole.

“Do you want to beat your husband to death, mother?” he asked.

“No,” she said; “I just want a neck hole in this shirt.”

The man screamed and carried on, and said, “Oh dear, dear me, who would put on a new shirt! If someone could teach my wife to put a neck hole in a shirt in a different manner, then I would gladly give him three-hundred dollars!”

“That will soon be done; just give me a pair of scissors,” said the other. He got a pair of scissors, cut a hole, and then left with his money.

There was the second, he said to himself.

After a long, long time, he came to a farm; there he thought to rest a while, and went in.

“Where are you from, father?” asked the woman.

“I am from Ringerike,” he said.

“Oh no, are you really from himmerike?2 So you know Per the second, my blessed husband, then?”

The wife had been married three times; the first and the last had been bad; she thought, therefore, that the second had been blessed, for he had been a kind man.

“Yes, I know him, of course,” said he who was a-wandering.

“How does he fare now, then?” asked the wife.

“Oh, it is quite embarrassing,” said he from Ringerike, “he wanders from farm to farm, and has no food, nor clothes on his body—money there is now no talk of.”

“Oh, comfort me for him, then!” cried the woman; “he has no need to go so humbly, he who left so much behind; here there is a big loft full of his clothes, and a large chest of money stands here, too. If you want to take it with you, then you shall have a horse and a cart to drive with; and the horse he can have, and on the cart can he sit and drive from farm to farm, for he need not walk.”

The one from Ringerike got a whole cartload of clothes, and a chestful of gleaming silver money, and as much food and drink as he wanted, and he drove on his way.

There was the third, he said to himself.

But over in the field went the third husband, ploughing; and when he saw a stranger fellow travelling off with a horse and tools, he went home and asked his wife who it was who was going off with the blue horse.

“Oh him,” she said. “That was a man from heaven; he said that Per the second, my blessed husband, fared badly, that he was going from farm to farm there, and has neither clothes nor money; so I sent with him all these old clothes that hung behind after him, and the old money-chest full of silver dollars.”

The man soon understood where this was going, saddled a horse, and flew off at a full gallop. It was not long before he lay tight behind he who sat on the cart, driving; but when the other noticed, he drove the horse and cart into the thicket, snatched out a fistful of horsehair from the horse, and then he ran up a bank; there he tied the horsehair fast to a birch, and beneath it, he lay down and began to glare and stare up into the clouds.

“No, no, no!” he said, as if to himself, when Per the third came riding up. “No, now I have never seen anything so strange! No, I have never seen the like!”

Per stood, looking at him for a while, and wondered if he had lost his mind, or what this might be; finally he asked him: “What are you lying there, looking at?”

“No, I have never seen the like!” said the other. “There went one up into the sky on a blue horse; here, you see its hair hanging after it on this birch, and up there in the clouds, you can see the blue horse.”

Per looked at the clouds, and from the clouds to him, and said: “I see nothing but the horsehair in the birch.”

“No, you cannot see it, where you stand, either,” said the other. “But come here and lie down, and stare up, and of course you must not take your eyes off the clouds.”

While Per the third lay, glaring up into the sky until his eyes ran with water, the one from Ringerike took his horse, mounted it, and rode off with both it and the cartload. When it began to rumble on the road, Per shot up, but he was so confounded that the other was leaving with his horse that he did not think to run after before it was too late.

Now he was both quick and fast; but when he came home to his wife, and she asked what he had done with his horse, he said: “I gave it to Per the second, too, I did, for I thought it was not worthy, his sitting on a cart, rattling from farm to farm; now he can sell the cart and buy himself a carriage to drive on.”

“I thank you for that! Never did I think that you were such a kind man,” said his wife.

When he now came home, he who had gathered together the six-hundred dollars, and the cartload of clothes and money, he saw that all the fields had been ploughed and sown. The first thing he asked his wife about, that was where she had got the seed grain from.

“Oh,” she said, “I have always heard that he who sows, he reaps; so I sowed the salt that the notherner left here, and if only there is some rain soon, then I think it might come up again.”

“Crazy are you, and crazy you shall remain for as long as you live,” said the man; “but it makes no difference, for the others are the same as you!”


Norwegian source.

  1. See the illustration. 

  2. Meaning heaven. 

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