|Norwegian Fairy Tales
Once on a time
there was a widower, who had a housekeeper named Grizzel, who set her
mutch at him and teazed him early and late to marry her. At last the
man got so weary of her, he was at his wits' end to know how to get rid
of her. So it fell on a day, between hay time and harvest, the two went
out to pull hemp. Grizzel's head was full of her good looks and her
handiness, and she worked away at the hemp till she grew giddy from the
strong smell of the ripe seed, and at last down she fell flat, fast
asleep among the hemp. While she slept, her master got a pair of
scissors and cut her skirts short all round, and then he rubbed her all
over, face and all, first with tallow and then with soot, till she
looked worse than the Deil himself. So, when Grizzel woke and saw how
ugly she was, she didn't know herself.
'Can this be me now?' said Grizzel. 'Nay, nay! it can never be me. So ugly have I never been; it's surely the Deil himself?'
Well! that she might really know the truth, she went off and knocked at her master's door, and asked,
'Is your Girzie at home the day, father?'
'Aye, aye, our Girzie is at home safe enough', said the man, who wanted to be rid of her.
'Well, well!' she said to herself, 'then I can't be his Grizzel,' and stole away; and right glad the man was, I can tell you.
when she had walked a bit she came to a great wood, where she met two
thieves. 'The very men for my money, thought Grizzel, 'since I am the
Deil, thieves are just fit fellows for me.'
But the thieves were
not of the same mind, not they. As soon as they set eyes on her, they
took to their heels as fast as they could, for they thought the Evil
One was come to catch them. But it was no good, for Grizzel was
long-legged and swift-footed, and she came up with them before they
knew where they were.
'If you're going out to steal, I'll go
with you and help,' said Grizzel, 'for I know the whole country round.'
So, when the thieves heard that, they thought they had found a good
mate, and were no longer afraid.
Then they said they were off to steal a sheep, only they didn't know where to lay hold of one.
said Grizzel, 'that's a small matter, for I was maid with a farmer ever
so long out in the wood yonder, and I could find the sheepfold, though
the night were dark as pitch.'
The thieves thought that grand;
and when they came to the place, Grizzel was to go into the fold and
turn out the sheep, and they were to lay hold on it. Now, the sheepfold
lay close to the wall of the room where the farmer slept, so Grizzel
crept quite softly and carefully into the fold; but, as soon as she got
in, she began to scream out to the thieves, 'Will you have a wether or
a ewe? here are lots to choose from.'
'Hush, hush!' said the thieves, 'only take one that is fine and fat.'
yes! but will you have a wether or a ewe? will you have a wether or a
ewe? for here are lots to choose from,' screeched Grizzel.
hush!' said the thieves again, 'only take one that's fine and fat; it's
all the same to us whether it's a wether or a ewe.'
screeched Grizzel, who stuck to her own; 'but will you have a wether or
a ewe—a wether or a ewe? here are lots to choose from.'
'Hold your jaw!' said the thieves, 'and take a fine fat one, wether or ewe, its all one to us.'
just then out came the farmer in his shirt, who had been waked by all
this clatter, and wanted to see what was going on. So the thieves took
to their heels, and Grizzel after them, upsetting the farmer in her
'Stop, boys! stop, boys!' she screamed; but the farmer,
who had only seen the black monster, grew so afraid that he could
scarce stand, for he thought it was the Deil himself that had been in
his sheepfold. The only help he knew was, to go indoors and wake up the
whole house; and they all sat down to read and pray, for he had heard
that was the way to send the Deil about his business.
next night the thieves said they must go and steal a fat goose, and
Grizzel was to shew them the way. So when they came to the goosepen,
Grizzel was to go in and turn one out, for she knew the ways of the
place, and the thieves were to stand outside and catch it. But as soon
as ever she got in she began to scream,
'Will you have goose or gander? you may pick and choose here.'
hush! choose only a fine fat one', said the thieves. 'Yes, yes! but
will you have goose or gander—goose or gander? you may pick and
choose', screamed Grizzel.
'Hush, hush! only choose one that's
fine and fat, and it's all one to us whether it's goose or gander; but
do hold your jaw', said they.
But while Grizzel and the thieves
were settling this, one of the geese began to cackle, and then another
cackled, and then the whole flock cackled and hissed, and out came the
farmer to see what all the noise could mean, and away went the thieves,
and Grizzel after them, at full speed, and the farmer thought again it
was the black Deil flying away; for long-legged she was, and she had no
skirts to hamper her.
'Stop a bit, boys!' she kept on screaming, 'you might as well have said whether you would have goose or gander?'
they had no time to stop, they thought; and, as for the farmer, he
began to read and pray with all his house, small and great, for they
thought it was the Deil, and no mistake.
Now, the third day,
when night came, the thieves and Grizzel were so hungry they did not
know what to do; so they made up their minds to go to the larder of a
rich farmer, who lived by the wood's side, and steal some food. Well,
off they went, but the thieves did not dare to venture themselves, so
Grizzel was to go up the steps which led to the larder, and hand the
food out, and the others were to stand below and take it from her. So
when Grizzel got inside, she saw the larder was full of all sorts of
things, fresh meat and salt, and sausages and oat-cake. The thieves
begged her to be still, and just throw out something to eat, and to
bear in mind how badly they had fated for two nights. But Grizzel stuck
to her own, that she did.
'Will you have fresh meat, or salt, or
sausages, or oat-cake? Just look, what a lovely oat-cake', she bawled
out enough to split your head. 'You may have what you please, for
here's plenty to choose from.'
But the farmer woke with all this
noise, and ran out to see what it all meant. As for the thieves, off
they ran as fast as they could; but while the farmer was looking after
them, down came Grizzel so black and ugly.
'Stop a bit! stop a bit, boys!' she bellowed; 'you may have what you please, for there's plenty to choose from.'
when the farmer saw that ugly monster, he, too, thought the Deil was
loose, for he had heard what had happened to his neighbours the
evenings before; so he began both to read and pray, and every one in
the whole parish began to read and pray, for they knew that you could
read the Deil away.
The next evening was Saturday evening, and
the thieves wanted to steal a fat ram for their Sunday dinner; and well
they might, for they had fasted many days. But they wouldn't have
Grizzel with them at any price. She brought bad luck with her jaw, they
said; so while Grizzel was walking about waiting for them on Sunday
morning, she got so awfully hungry—for she had fasted for three
days—that she went into a turnip-field and pulled up some turnips to
eat. But when the farmer who owned the turnips rose, he felt uneasy in
his mind, and thought he would just go and take a look at his turnips
on the Sunday morning. So he pulled on his trousers and went across the
moss which lay under the hill, where the turnip-field lay. But when he
got to the bottom of the field, he saw something black walking about in
the field and pulling up his turnips, and he soon made up his mind that
it was the Deil. So away he ran home as fast as he could, and said the
Deil was among the turnips. This frightened the whole house out of
their wits, and they agreed they'd best send for the priest, and get
him to bind the Deil.
'That won't do', said the goodwife, 'this
is Sunday morning, you'll never get the priest to come; for either
he'll be in bed; or if he's up, he'll be learning his sermon by heart.'
'Oh!' said the goodman, 'never fear; I'll promise him a fat loin of veal, and then he'll come fast enough.'
off he went to the priest's house; but when he got there, sure enough,
the priest was still in bed. The maid begged the farmer to walk into
the parlour while she ran up to the priest, and said:
'Farmer So-and-So was downstairs, and wished to have a word with him.'
when the priest heard that such a worthy man was downstairs, he got up
at once, and came down just as he was, in his slippers and nightcap.
the goodman told his errand; how the Deil was loose in his turnip-
field; and if the priest would only come and bind him, he would send
him a fat loin of veal. Yes! the priest was willing enough, and called
out to his groom, to saddle his horse, while he dressed himself.
nay, father!' said the man; 'the Deil won't wait for us long, and no
one knows where we shall find him again if we miss him now. Your
reverence must come at once, just as you are.'
So the priest
followed him just as he was, with the clothes he stood in, and went off
in his nightcap and slippers. But when they got to the moss, it was so
moist the priest couldn't cross it in his slippers. So the goodman took
him on his back to carry him over. On they went, the goodman picking
his way from one clump to the other, till they got to the middle; then
Grizzel caught sight of them, and thought it was the thieves bringing
'Is he fat?' she screamed; 'is he fat?' and made such a noise that the wood rang again.
Deil knows if he's fat or lean; I'm sure I don't', said the goodman,
when he heard that; 'but, if you want to know, you had better come
yourself and see.'
And then he got so afraid, he threw the
priest head over heels into the soft wet moss, and took to his legs;
and if the priest hasn't got out, why I dare say he's lying there still..