|Norwegian Fairy Tales
Once on a time there
was a rich couple who had twelve sons; but the youngest when he was
grown up, said he wouldn't stay any longer at home, but be off into the
world to try his luck. His father and mother said he did very well at
home, and had better stay where he was. But no, he couldn't rest; away
he must and would go. So at last they gave him leave. And when he had
walked a good bit, he came to a king's palace, where he asked for a
place, and got it.
Now the daughter of the king of that land had
been carried off into the hill by a Troll, and the king had no other
children; so he and all his land were in great grief and sorrow, and
the king gave his word that any one who could set her free should have
the Princess and half the kingdom. But there was no one who could do
it, though many tried.
So when the lad had been there a year or
so, he longed to go home again and see his father and mother, and back
he went, but when he got home his father and mother were dead, and his
brothers had shared all that the old people owned between them, and so
there was nothing left for the lad.
'Shan't I have anything at all, then, out of father's and mother's goods?' said the lad.
could tell you were still alive, when you went gadding and wandering
about so long?' said his brothers. 'But all the same; there are twelve
mares up on the hill which we haven't yet shared among us; if you
choose to take them for your share, you're quite welcome.'
the lad was quite content; so he thanked his brothers, and went at once
up on the hill, where the twelve mares were out at grass. And when he
got up there and found them, each of them had a foal at her side, and
one of them had besides, along with her, a big dapple-gray foal, which
was so sleek that the sun shone from its coat.
'A fine fellow you are, my little foal', said the lad.
said the foal; 'but if you'll only kill all the other foals, so that I
may run and suck all the mares one year more, you'll see how big and
sleek I'll be then.'
Yes! the lad was ready to do that; so he killed all those twelve foals, and went home again.
when he came back the next year to look after his foal and mares, the
foal was so fat and sleek, that the sun shone from its coat, and it had
grown so big, the lad had hard work to mount it. As for the mares, they
had each of them another foal.
'Well, it's quite plain I lost
nothing by letting you suck all my twelve mares', said the lad to the
yearling, 'but now you're big enough to come along with me.'
said the colt, 'I must bide here a year longer; and now kill all the
twelve foals, that I may suck all the mares this year too, and you'll
see how big and sleek I'll be by summer.'
Yes! the lad did that;
and next year when he went up on the hill to look after his colt and
the mares, each mare had her foal, but the dapple colt was so tall the
lad couldn't reach up to his crest when he wanted to feel how fat he
was; and so sleek he was too, that his coat glistened in the sunshine.
and beautiful you were last year, my colt', said the lad, 'but this
year you're far grander. There's no such horse in the king's stable.
But now you must come along with me.'
'No', said Dapple again,
'I must stay here one year more. Kill the twelve foals as before, that
I may suck the mares the whole year, and then just come and look at me
when the summer comes.'
Yes! the lad did that; he killed the foals, and went away home.
when he went up next year to look after Dapple and the mares, he was
quite astonished. So tall, and stout, and sturdy, he never thought a
horse could be; for Dapple had to lie down on all fours before the lad
could bestride him, and it was hard work to get up even then, although
he lay flat; and his coat was so smooth and sleek, the sunbeams shone
from it as from a looking-glass.
This time Dapple was willing
enough to follow the lad, so he jumped up on his back, and when he came
riding home to his brothers, they all clapped their hands and crossed
themselves, for such a horse they had never heard of nor seen before.
you will only get me the best shoes you can for my horse, and the
grandest saddle and bridle that are to be found', said the lad, 'you
may have my twelve mares that graze up on the hill yonder, and their
twelve foals into the bargain.' For you must know that this year too
every mare had her foal.
Yes, his brothers were ready to do
that, and so the lad got such strong shoes under his horse, that the
stones flew high aloft as he rode away across the hills; and he had a
golden saddle and a golden bridle, which gleamed and glistened a long
'Now we're off to the king's palace', said
Dapplegrim—that was his name; 'but mind you ask the king for a good
stable and good fodder for me.'
Yes! the lad said he would mind;
he'd be sure not to forget; and when he rode off from his brothers'
house, you may be sure it wasn't long, with such a horse under him,
before he got to the king's palace.
When he came there the king was standing on the steps, and stared and stared at the man who came riding along.
'Nay, nay!', said he, 'such a man and such a horse I never yet saw in all my life.'
when the lad asked if he could get a place in the king's household, the
king was so glad he was ready to jump and dance as he stood on the
Well, they said, perhaps he might get a place there.
'Aye', said the lad, 'but I must have good stable-room for my horse, and fodder that one can trust.'
he should have meadow-hay and oats, as much as Dapple could cram, and
all the other knights had to lead their horses out of the stable that
Dapplegrim might stand alone, and have it all to himself.
wasn't long before all the others in the king's household began to be
jealous of the lad, and there was no end to the bad things they would
have done to him, if they had only dared. At last they thought of
telling the king he had said he was man enough to set the king's
daughter free—whom the Troll had long since carried away into the
hill—if he only chose. The king called the lad before him, and said he
had heard the lad said he was good to do so and so; so now he must go
and do it. If he did it, he knew how the king had promised his daughter
and half the kingdom, and that promise would be faithfully kept; if he
didn't, he should be killed.
The lad kept on saying he never
said any such thing; but it was no good—the king wouldn't even listen
to him; and so the end of it was he was forced to say he'd go and try.
So he went into the stable, down in the mouth and heavy-hearted, and then Dapplegrim asked him at once why he was in such dumps.
Then the lad told him all, and how he couldn't tell which way to turn:
'For as for setting the Princess free, that's downright stuff.'
but it might be done, perhaps', said Dapplegrim. 'I'll help you
through; but you must first have me well shod. You must go and ask for
ten pound of iron and twelve pound of steel for the shoes, and one
smith to hammer and another to hold.'
Yes, the lad did that, and
got for answer 'Yes!' He got both the iron and the steel, and the
smiths, and so Dapplegrim was shod both strong and well, and off went
the lad from the court-yard in a cloud of dust.
But when he came
to the hill into which the Princess had been carried, the pinch was how
to get up the steep wall of rock where the Troll's cave was, in which
the Princess had been hid. For you must know the hill stood straight up
and down right on end, as upright as a house-wall, and as smooth as a
sheet of glass.
The first time the lad went at it he got a
little way up; but then Dapple's fore-legs slipped, and down they went
again, with a sound like thunder on the hill.
The second time he
rode at it he got some way further up; but then one fore-leg slipped,
and down they went with a crash like a landslip.
But the third time Dapple said:
'Now we must show our mettle'; and went at it again till the stones flew heaven-high about them, and so they got up.
the lad rode right into the cave at full speed, and caught up the
Princess, and threw her over his saddle-bow and out and down again
before the Troll had time even to get on his legs; and so the Princess
When the lad came back to the palace, the king was
both happy and glad to get his daughter back; that you may well
believe; but somehow or other, though I don't know how, the others
about the court had so brought it about that the king was angry with
the lad after all.
'Thanks you shall have for freeing my
Princess', said he to the lad, when he brought the Princess into the
hall, and made his bow.
'She ought to be mine as well as yours; for you're a word-fast man, I hope', said the lad.
aye!' said the king, 'have her you shall, since I said it; but first of
all, you must make the sun shine into my palace hall.'
must know there was a high steep ridge of rock close outside the
windows, which threw such a shade over the hall that never a sunbeam
shone into it.
'That wasn't in our bargain', answered the lad;
'but I see this is past praying against; I must e'en go and try my
luck, for the Princess I must and will have.'
So down he went to
Dapple, and told him what the king wanted, and Dapplegrim thought it
might easily be done, but first of all he must be new shod; and for
that ten pound of iron, and twelve pound of steel besides, were needed,
and two smiths, one to hammer and the other to hold, and then they'd
soon get the sun to shine into the palace hall.
So when the lad
asked for all these things, he got them at once—the king couldn't say
nay for very shame; and so Dapplegrim got new shoes, and such shoes!
Then the lad jumped upon his back, and off they went again; and for
every leap that Dapplegrim gave, down sank the ridge fifteen ells into
the earth, and so they went on till there was nothing left of the ridge
for the king to see.
When the lad got back to the king's palace,
he asked the king if the Princess were not his now; for now no one
could say that the sun didn't shine into the hall. But then the others
set the king's back up again, and he answered the lad should have her
of course, he had never thought of anything else; but first of all he
must get as grand a horse for the bride to ride on to church as the
bridegroom had himself.
The lad said the king hadn't spoken a
word about this before, and that he thought he had now fairly earned
the Princess; but the king held to his own; and more, if the lad
couldn't do that he should lose his life; that was what the king said.
So the lad went down to the stable in doleful dumps, as you may well
fancy, and there he told Dapplegrim all about it; how the king had laid
that task on him, to find the bride as good a horse as the bridegroom
had himself, else he would lose his life.
'But that's not so easy', he said, 'for your match isn't to be found in the wide world.'
yes, I have a match', said Dapplegrim; 'but 'tisn't so easy to find
him, for he abides in Hell. Still we'll try. And now you must go up to
the king and ask for new shoes for me, ten pound of iron, and twelve
pound of steel; and two smiths, one to hammer and one to hold; and mind
you see that the points and ends of these shoes are sharp; and twelve
sacks of rye, and twelve sacks of barley, and twelve slaughtered oxen,
we must have with us; and mind, we must have the twelve ox-hides, with
twelve hundred spikes driven into each; and, let me see, a big
tar-barrel—that's all we want.'
So the lad went up to the king
and asked for all that Dapplegrim had said, and the king again thought
he couldn't say nay, for shame's sake, and so the lad got all he wanted.
he jumped up on Dapplegrim's back, and rode away from the palace, and
when he had ridden far far over hill and heath, Dapple asked:
'Do you hear anything?'
'Yes, I hear an awful hissing and rustling up in the air,' said the lad; 'I think I'm getting afraid.'
all the wild birds that fly through the wood. They are sent to stop us;
but just cut a hole in the corn-sacks, and then they'll have so much to
do with the corn, they'll forget us quite.'
Yes! the lad did
that; he cut holes in the corn-sacks, so that the rye and barley ran
out on all sides. Then all the wild birds that were in the wood came
flying round them so thick that the sunbeams grew dark; but as soon as
they saw the corn, they couldn't keep to their purpose, but flew down
and began to pick and scratch at the rye and barley, and after that
they began to fight among themselves. As for Dapplegrim and the lad,
they forgot all about them, and did them no harm.
So the lad
rode on and on—far far over mountain and dale, over sand- hills and
moor. Then Dapplegrim began to prick up his ears again, and at last he
asked the lad if he heard anything?
'Yes! now I hear such an ugly roaring and howling in the wood all round, it makes me quite afraid.'
said Dapplegrim, 'that's all the wild beasts that range through the
wood, and they're sent out to stop us. But just cast out the twelve
carcasses of the oxen, that will give them enough to do, and so they'll
forget us outright.'
Yes! the lad cast out the carcasses, and
then all the wild beasts in the wood, both bears, and wolves, and
lions—all fell beasts of all kinds—came after them. But when they saw
the carcasses, they began to fight for them among themselves till blood
flowed in streams; but Dapplegrim and the lad they quite forgot.
the lad rode far away, and they changed the landscape many many times,
for Dapplegrim didn't let the grass grow under him, as you may fancy.
At last Dapple gave a great neigh.
'Do you hear anything?' he said.
'Yes, I hear something like a colt neighing loud, a long long way off', answered the lad.
'That's a full-grown colt then', said Dapplegrim, 'if we hear him neigh so loud such a long way off.'
After that they travelled a good bit, changing the landscape once or twice, maybe. Then Dapplegrim gave another neigh.
'Now listen, and tell me if you hear anything', he said.
'Yes, now I hear a neigh like a full-grown horse', answered the lad.
'Aye! aye!' said Dapplegrim, 'you'll hear him once again soon, and then you'll hear he's got a voice of his own.'
they travelled on and on, and changed the landscape once or twice,
perhaps, and then Dapplegrim neighed the third time; but before he
could ask the lad if he heard anything, something gave such a neigh
across the heathy hill-side, the lad thought hill and rock would surely
be rent asunder.
'Now, he's here!' said Dapplegrim; 'make haste,
now, and throw the ox hides, with the spikes in them, over me, and
throw down the tar- barrel on the plain; then climb up into that great
spruce-fir yonder. When it comes fire will flash out of both nostrils,
and then the tar- barrel will catch fire. Now, mind what I say. If the
flame rises, I win; if it falls, I lose; but if you see me winning take
and cast the bridle—you must take it off me—over its head, and then it
will be tame enough.'
So just as the lad had done throwing the
ox hides, with the spikes, over Dapplegrim, and had cast down the
tar-barrel on the plain, and had got well up into the spruce-fir, up
galloped a horse, with fire flashing out of his nostrils, and the flame
caught the tar-barrel at once. Then Dapplegrim and the strange horse
began to fight till the stones flew heaven high. They fought and bit,
and kicked, both with fore-feet and hind-feet, and sometimes the lad
could see them, and sometimes he couldn't; but at last the flame began
to rise; for wherever the strange horse kicked or bit, he met the
spiked hides, and at last he had to yield. When the lad saw that, he
wasn't long in getting down from the tree, and in throwing the bridle
over its head, and then it was so tame you could hold it with a
And what do you think? that horse was dappled too,
and so like Dapplegrim, you couldn't tell which was which. Then the lad
bestrode the new Dapple he had broken, and rode home to the palace, and
old Dapplegrim ran loose by his side. So when he got home, there stood
the king out in the yard.
'Can you tell me now', said the lad,
'which is the horse I have caught and broken, and which is the one I
had before. If you can't, I think your daughter is fairly mine.'
the king went and looked at both Dapples, high and low, before and
behind, but there wasn't a hair on one which wasn't on the other as
well. 'No', said the king, 'that I can't; and since you've got my
daughter such a grand horse for her wedding, you shall have her with
all my heart. But still, we'll have one trial more, just to see whether
you're fated to have her. First, she shall hide herself twice, and then
you shall hide yourself twice. If you can find out her hiding-place,
and she can't find out yours, why then you're fated to have her, and so
you shall have her.'
'That's not in the bargain either', said
the lad; 'but we must just try, since it must be so'; and so the
Princess went off to hide herself first.
So she turned herself
into a duck, and lay swimming on a pond that was close to the palace.
But the lad only ran down to the stable, and asked Dapplegrim what she
had done with herself.
'Oh, you only need to take your gun',
said Dapplegrim, 'and go down to the brink of the pond, and aim at the
duck which lies swimming about there, and she'll soon show herself.'
So the lad snatched up his gun and ran off to the pond. 'I'll just take a pop at this duck', he said, and began to aim at it.
'Nay, nay, dear friend, don't shoot. It's I', said the Princess.
So he had found her once.
second time the Princess turned herself into a loaf of bread, and laid
herself on the table among four other loaves; and so like was she to
the others, no one could say which was which.
But the lad went
again down to the stable to Dapplegrim, and said how the Princess had
hidden herself again, and he couldn't tell at all what had become of
'Oh, just take and sharpen a good bread-knife', said
Dapplegrim,' and do as if you were going to cut in two the third loaf
on the left hand of those four loaves which are lying on the dresser in
the king's kitchen, and you'll find her soon enough.'
was down in the kitchen in no time, and began to sharpen the biggest
bread-knife he could lay hands on; then he caught hold of the third
loaf on the left hand, and put the knife to it, as though he was going
to cut it in two. I'll just have a slice off this loaf', he said,
Nay, dear friend', said the Princess, 'don't cut. It's I' So he had found her twice.
he was to go and hide; but he and Dapplegrim had settled it all so well
beforehand, it wasn't easy to find him. First he turned himself into a
tick, and hid himself in Dapplegrim's left nostril; and the Princess
went about hunting him everywhere, high and low; at last she wanted to
go into Dapplegrim's stall, but he began to bite and kick, so that she
daren't go near him, and so she couldn't find the lad.
she said, 'since I can't find you, you must show where you are
yourself'; and in a trice the lad stood there on the stable floor.
second time Dapplegrim told him again what to do; and then he turned
himself into a clod of earth, and stuck himself between Dapple's hoof
and shoe on the near forefoot. So the Princess hunted up and down, out
and in, everywhere; at last she came into the stable, and wanted to go
into Dapplegrim's loose-box. This time he let her come up to him, and
she pried high and low, but under his hoofs she couldn't come, for he
stood firm as a rock on his feet, and so she couldn't find the lad.
you must just show yourself, for I'm sure I can't find you', said the
Princess, and as she spoke the lad stood by her side on the stable
'Now you are mine indeed', said the lad; 'for now you can
see I'm fated to have you.' This he said both to the father and
'Yes; it is so fated', said the king; 'so it must be.'
Then they got ready the wedding in right down earnest, and lost no time
about it; and the lad got on Dapplegrim, and the Princess on
Dapplegrim's match, and then you may fancy they were not long on their
way to the church.