|Norwegian Fairy Tales
Once on a time there
was a king and a queen who had no children, and that gave the queen
much grief; she scarce had one happy hour. She was always bewailing and
bemoaning herself, and saying how dull and lonesome it was in the
'If we had children there'd be life enough', she said.
she went in all her realm she found God's blessing in children, even in
the vilest hut; and wherever she came she heard the Goodies scolding
the bairns, and saying how they had done that and that wrong. All this
the queen heard, and thought it would be so nice to do as other women
did. At last the king and queen took into their palace a stranger
lassie to rear up, that they might have her always with them, to love
her if she did well, and scold her if she did wrong, like their own
So one day the little lassie whom they had taken as their
own, ran down into the palace yard, and was playing with a gold apple.
Just then an old beggar wife came by, who had a little girl with her,
and it wasn't long before the little lassie and the beggar's bairn were
great friends, and began to play together, and to toss the gold apple
about between them. When the Queen saw this, as she sat at a window in
the palace, she tapped on the pane for her foster-daughter to come up.
She went at once, but the beggar-girl went up too; and as they went
into the Queen's bower, each held the other by the hand. Then the Queen
began to scold the little lady, and to say:
'You ought to be above running about and playing with a tattered beggar's brat.'
And so she wanted to drive the lassie downstairs.
the Queen only knew my mother's power, she'd not drive me out', said
the little lassie; and when the Queen asked what she meant more
plainly, she told her how her mother could get her children if she
chose. The Queen wouldn't believe it, but the lassie held her own, and
said every word of it was true, and bade the Queen only to try and make
her mother do it. So the Queen sent the lassie down to fetch up her
'Do you know what your daughter says?' asked the Queen of the old woman, as soon as ever she came into the room.
No; the beggar wife knew nothing about it.
'Well, she says you can get me children if you will', answered the
'Queens shouldn't listen to beggar lassies' silly stories', said the old wife, and strode out of the room.
the Queen got angry, and wanted again to drive out the little lassie;
but she declared it was true every word that she had said.
the Queen only give my mother a drop to drink,' said the lassie; 'when
she gets merry she'll soon find out a way to help you.'
Queen was ready to try this; so the beggar wife was fetched up again
once more, and treated both with wine and mead as much as she chose;
and so it was not long before her tongue began to wag. Then the Queen
came out again with the same question she had asked before.
way to help you perhaps I know', said the beggar wife. 'Your Majesty
must make them bring in two pails of water some evening before you go
to bed. In each of them you must wash yourself, and afterwards throw
away the water under the bed. When you look under the bed next morning,
two flowers will have sprung up, one fair and one ugly. The fair one
you must eat, the ugly one you must let stand; but mind you don't
forget the last.'
That was what the beggar wife said.
the Queen did what the beggar wife advised her to do; she had the water
brought up in two pails, washed herself in them, and emptied them under
the bed; and lo! when she looked under the bed next morning, there
stood two flowers; one was ugly and foul, and had black leaves; but the
other was so bright, and fair, and lovely, she had never seen its like;
so she ate it up at once. But the pretty flower tasted so sweet, that
she couldn't help herself. She ate the other up too, for, she thought,
'it can't hurt or help one much either way, I'll be bound'.
sure enough, after a while the Queen was brought to bed. First of all,
she had a girl who had a wooden spoon in her hand, and rode upon a
goat; loathly and ugly she was, and the very moment she came into the
world, she bawled out 'Mamma'.
'If I'm your mamma', said the Queen, 'God give me grace to mend my ways.'
'Oh, don't be sorry', said the girl, who rode on the goat, 'for one will soon come after me who is better looking.'
after a while, the Queen had another girl, who was so fair and sweet,
no one had ever set eyes on such a lovely child, and with her you may
fancy the Queen was very well pleased. The elder twin they called
'Tatterhood', because she was always so ugly and ragged, and because
she had a hood which hung about her ears in tatters. The Queen could
scarce bear to look at her, and the nurses tried to shut her up in a
room by herself, but it was all no good; where the younger twin was,
there she must also be, and no one could ever keep them apart.
one Christmas eve, when they were half grown up, there rose such a
frightful noise and clatter in the gallery outside the Queen's bower.
So Tatterhood asked what it was that dashed and crashed so out in the
'Oh!' said the Queen, 'it isn't worth asking about.'
Tatterhood wouldn't give over till she found out all about it and so
the Queen told her it was a pack of Trolls and witches who had come
there to keep Christmas. So Tatterhood said she'd just go out and drive
them away; and in spite of all they could say, and however much they
begged and prayed her to let the Trolls alone, she must and would go
out to drive the witches off; but she begged the Queen to mind and keep
all the doors close shut, so that not one of them came so much as the
least bit ajar. Having said this, off she went with her wooden spoon,
and began to hunt and sweep away the hags; and all this while there was
such a pother out in the gallery, the like of it was never heard. The
whole Palace creaked and groaned as if every joint and beam were going
to be torn out of its place. Now, how it was, I'm sure I can't tell;
but somehow or other one door did get the least bit ajar, then her twin
sister just peeped out to see how things were going with Tatterhood,
and put her head a tiny bit through the opening. But, POP! up came an
old witch, and whipped off her head, and stuck a calf's head on her
shoulders instead; and so the Princess ran back into the room on
all-fours, and began to 'moo' like a calf. When Tatterhood came back
and saw her sister, she scolded them all round, and was very angry
because they hadn't kept better watch, and asked them what they thought
of their heedlessness now, when her sister was turned into a calf.
'But still I'll see if I can't set her free', she said.
she asked the King for a ship in full trim, and well fitted with
stores; but captain and sailors she wouldn't have. No; she would sail
away with her sister all alone; and as there was no holding her back,
at last they let her have her own way.
Then Tatterhood sailed
off, and steered her ship right under the land where the witches dwelt,
and when she came to the landing-place, she told her sister to stay
quite still on board the ship; but she herself rode on her goat up to
the witches' castle. When she got there, one of the windows in the
gallery was open, and there she saw her sister's head hung up on the
window frame; so she leapt her goat through the window into the
gallery, snapped up the head, and set off with it. After her came the
witches to try to get the head again, and they flocked about her as
thick as a swarm of bees or a nest of ants; but the goat snorted, and
puffed, and butted with his horns, and Tatterhood beat and banged them
about with her wooden spoon; and so the pack of witches had to give it
up. So Tatterhood got back to her ship, took the calf's head off her
sister, and put her own on again, and then she became a girl as she had
been before. After that she sailed a long, long way, to a strange
Now the king of that land was a widower, and had
an only son. So when he saw the strange sail, he sent messengers down
to the strand to find out whence it came, and who owned it; but when
the king's men came down there, they saw never a living soul on board
but Tatterhood, and there she was, riding round and round the deck on
her goat at full speed, till her elf locks streamed again in the wind.
The folk from the palace were all amazed at this sight, and asked, were
there not more on board? Yes, there were; she had a sister with her,
said Tatterhood. Her, too, they wanted to see, but Tatterhood said 'No':
one shall see her, unless the king comes himself', she said; and so she
began to gallop about on her goat till the deck thundered again.
when the servants got back to the palace, and told what they had seen
and heard down at the ship, the king was for setting out at once, that
he might see the lassie that rode on the goat. When he got down,
Tatterhood led out her sister, and she was so fair and gentle, the king
fell over head and ears in love with her as he stood. He brought them
both back with him to the Palace, and wanted to have the sister for his
queen; but Tatterhood said 'No'; the king couldn't have her in any way,
unless the king's son chose to have Tatterhood. That you may fancy the
prince was very loath to do, such an ugly hussy as Tatterhood was; but
at last the king and all the others in the palace talked him over, and
he yielded, giving his word to take her for his queen; but it went sore
against the grain, and he was a doleful man.
Now they set about
the wedding, both with brewing and baking; and when all was ready, they
were to go to church; but the prince thought it the weariest churching
he had ever had in all his life. First, the king drove off with his
bride, and she was so lovely and so grand, all the people stopped to
look after her all along the road, and they stared at her till she was
out of sight. After them came the prince on horseback by the side of
Tatterhood, who trotted along on her goat with her wooden spoon in her
fist, and to look at him, it was more like going to a burial than a
wedding, and that his own; so sorrowful he seemed, and with never a
word to say.
'Why don't you talk?' asked Tatterhood, when they had ridden a bit.
'Why, what should I talk about?' answered the prince.
'Well, you might at least ask me why I ride upon this ugly goat', said Tatterhood.
'Why do you ride on that ugly goat?' asked the prince.
it an ugly goat? why, it's the grandest horse bride ever rode on',
answered Tatterhood; and in a trice the goat became a horse, and that
the finest the prince had ever set eyes on.
Then they rode on
again a bit, but the prince was just as woeful as before, and couldn't
get a word out. So Tatterhood asked him again why he didn't talk, and
when the Prince answered he didn't know what to talk about, she said:
'You can at least ask me why I ride with this ugly spoon in my fist.'
'Why do you ride with that ugly spoon? 'asked the prince.
it an ugly spoon? why, it's the loveliest silver wand bride ever bore',
said Tatterhood; and in a trice it became a silver wand, so dazzling
bright, the sunbeams glistened from it.
So they rode on another
bit, but the Prince was just as sorrowful, and said never a word. In a
little while, Tatterhood asked him again why he didn't talk, and bade
him ask why she wore that ugly grey hood on her head.
'Why do you wear that ugly grey hood on your head?' asked the Prince.
it an ugly hood? why, it's the brightest golden crown bride ever wore',
answered Tatterhood, and it became a crown on the spot.
they rode on a long while again, and the Prince was so woeful, that he
sat without sound or speech just as before. So his bride asked him
again why he didn't talk, and bade him ask now, why her face was so
ugly and ashen-grey?
'Ah!' asked the Prince, 'why is your face so ugly and ashen-grey?'
ugly', said the bride; 'you think my sister pretty, but I am ten times
prettier'; and lo! when the Prince looked at her, she was so lovely, he
thought there never was so lovely a woman in all the world. After that,
I shouldn't wonder if the Prince found his tongue, and no longer rode
along hanging down his head.
So they drank the bridal cup both
deep and long, and, after that, both Prince and King set out with their
brides to the Princess's father's palace, and there they had another
bridal feast, and drank anew, both deep and long. There was no end to
the fun; and, if you make haste and run to the King's palace, I dare
say you'll find there's still a drop of the bridal ale left for you.