|Norwegian Fairy tales
TRUE AND UNTRUE
on a time there were two brothers; one was called True, and the other
Untrue. True was always upright and good towards all, but Untrue was
bad and full of lies, so that no one could believe what he said. Their
mother was a widow, and hadn't much to live on; so when her sons had
grown up, she was forced to send them away, that they might earn their
bread in the world. Each got a little scrip with some food in it, and
then they went their way.
when they had walked till evening, they sat down on a windfall in the
wood, and took out their scraps, for they were hungry after walking the
whole day, and thought a morsel of food would be sweet enough.
you're of my mind', said Untrue, 'I think we had better eat out of your
scrip, so long as there is anything in it, and after that we can take
Yes! True was well pleased with this, so they fell to eating, but
Untrue got all the best bits, and stuffed himself with them, while
True got only the burnt crusts and scraps.
morning they broke their fast off True's food, and they dined off it
too, and then there was nothing left in his scrip. So when they had
walked till late at night, and were ready to eats again, True wanted to
eat out of his brother's scrip, but Untrue said 'No', the food was his,
and he had only enough for himself.
'Nay! but you know you ate out of my scrip so long as there was anything in it', said True.
very fine, I daresay', answered Untrue; 'but if you are such a fool as
to let others eat up your food before your face, you must make the best
of it; for now all you have to do is to sit here and starve.'
'Very well!' said True, 'you're Untrue by name and untrue by nature; so you have been, and so you will be all your life long.'
when Untrue heard this, he flew into a rage, and rushed at his brother,
and plucked out both his eyes. 'Now, try if you can see whether folk
are untrue or not, you blind buzzard!' and so saying, he ran away and
True! there he went walking along and feeling his way through the thick
wood. Blind and alone, he scarce knew which way to turn, when all at
once he caught hold of the trunk of a great bushy lime- tree, so he
thought he would climb up into it, and sit there till the night was
over for fear of the wild beasts.
the birds begin to sing', he said to himself, 'then I shall know it is
day, and I can try to grope my way farther on.' So he climbed up into
the lime-tree. After he had sat there a little time, he heard how some
one came and began to make a stir and clatter under the tree, and soon
after others came; and when they began to greet one another, he found
out it was Bruin the bear, and Greylegs the wolf, and Slyboots the fox,
and Longears the hare who had come to keep St. John's eve under the
tree. So they began to eat and drink, and be merry; and when they had
done eating, they fell to gossipping together. At last the Fox said:
we, each of us, tell a little story while we sit here?' Well! the
others had nothing against that. It would be good fun, they said, and
the Bear began; for you may fancy he was king of the company.
king of England', said Bruin, 'has such bad eyesight, he can scarce see
a yard before him; but if he only came to this lime-tree in the
morning, while the dew is still on the leaves, and took and rubbed his
eyes with the dew, he would get back his sight as good as ever.'
true!' said Greylegs. 'The king of England has a deaf and dumb daughter
too; but if he only knew what I know, he would soon cure her. Last year
she went to the communion. She let a crumb of the bread fall out of her
mouth, and a great toad came and swallowed it down; but if they only
dug up the chancel floor, they would find the toad sitting right under
the altar rails, with the bread still sticking in his throat. If they
were to cut the toad open and take and give the bread to the princess,
she would be like other folk again as to her speech and hearing.'
all very well', said the Fox; 'but if the king of England knew what I
know, he would not be so badly off for water in his palace; for under
the great stone, in his palace-yard, is a spring of the clearest water
one could wish for, if he only knew to dig for it there.'
said the Hare in a small voice; 'the king of England has the finest
orchard in the whole land, but it does not bear so much as a crab, for
there lies a heavy gold chain in three turns round the orchard. If he
got that dug up, there would not be a garden like it for bearing in all
'Very true, I dare say', said the Fox; 'but now it's getting very late, and we may as well go home.'
So they all went away together.
they were gone, True fell asleep as he sat up in the tree; but when the
birds began to sing at dawn, he woke up, and took the dew from the
leaves, and rubbed his eyes with it, and so got his sight back as good
as it was before Untrue plucked his eyes out.
he went straight to the king of England's palace, and begged for work,
and got it on the spot. So one day the king came out into the
palace-yard, and when he had walked about a bit, he wanted to drink out
of his pump; for you must know the day was hot, and the king very
thirsty; but when they poured him out a glass, it was so muddy, and
nasty, and foul, that the king got quite vexed.
don't think there's ever a man in my whole kingdom who has such bad
water in his yard as I, and yet I bring it in pipes from far, over hill
and dale', cried out the king. 'Like enough, your Majesty', said True;
'but if you would let me have some men to help me to dig up this great
stone which lies here in the middle of your yard, you would soon see
good water, and plenty of it.'
the king was willing enough; and they had scarcely got the stone well
out, and dug under it a while, before a jet of water sprang out high up
into the air, as clear and full as if it came out of a conduit, and
clearer water was not to be found in all England.
little while after the king was out in his palace-yard again, and there
came a great hawk flying after his chicken, and all the king's men
began to clap their hands and bawl out, 'There he flies!' 'There he
flies!' The king caught up his gun and tried to shoot the hawk, but he
couldn't see so far, so he fell into great grief.
'Would to Heaven', he said, 'there was any one who could tell me a cure for my eyes; for I think I shall soon go quite blind!'
can tell you one soon enough', said True; and then he told the king
what he had done to cure his own eyes, and the king set off that very
afternoon to the lime-tree, as you may fancy, and his eyes were quite
cured as soon as he rubbed them with the dew which was on the leaves in
the morning. From that time forth there was no one whom the king held
so dear as True, and he had to be with him wherever he went, both at
home and abroad.
So one day, as they were walking together in the orchard, the king said, 'I can't tell how it is that I
can't! there isn't a, man in England who spends so much on his orchard
as I, and yet I can't get one of the trees to bear so much as a crab.'
well!' said True; 'if I may have what lies three times twisted round
your orchard, and men to dig it up, your orchard will bear well enough.'
the king was quite willing, so True got men and began to dig, and at
last he dug up the whole gold chain. Now True was a rich man; far
richer indeed than the king himself, but still the king was well
pleased, for his orchard bore so that the boughs of the trees hung down
to the ground, and such sweet apples and pears nobody had ever tasted.
day too the king and True were walking about, and talking together,
when the princess passed them, and the king was quite downcast when he
'Isn't it a pity, now, that so lovely a princess as mine should want speech and hearing', he said to True.
'Ay, but there is a cure for that', said True.
the king heard that, he was so glad that he promised him the princess
to wife, and half his kingdom into the bargain, if he could get her
right again. So True took a few men, and went into the church, and dug
up the toad which sat under the altar-rails. Then he cut open the toad,
and took out the bread and gave it to the king's daughter; and from
that hour she got back her speech, and could talk like other people.
True was to have the princess, and they got ready for the bridal feast,
and such a feast had never been seen before; it was the talk of the
whole land. Just as they were in the midst of dancing the bridal-dance
in came a beggar lad, and begged for a morsel of food, and he was so
ragged and wretched that every one crossed themselves when they looked
at him; but True knew him at once, and saw that it was Untrue, his
'Do you know me again?' said True.
'Oh! where should such a one as I ever have seen so great a lord', said Untrue.
'Still you have seen
me before', said True. 'It was I whose eyes you plucked out a year ago
this very day. Untrue by name, and untrue by nature; so I said before,
and so I say now; but you are still my brother, and so you shall have
some food. After that, you may go to the lime-tree where I sat last
year; if you hear anything that can do you good, you will be lucky.'
Untrue did not wait to be told twice. 'If True has got so much good by
sitting in the lime-tree, that in one year he has come to be king over
half England, what good may not I get', he thought. So he set off and
climbed up into the lime-tree. He had not sat there long, before all
the beasts came as before, and ate and drank, and kept St. John's eve
under the tree. When they had left off eating, the Fox wished that they
should begin to tell stories, and Untrue got ready to listen with all
his might, till his ears were almost fit to fall off. But Bruin the
bear was surly, and growled and said:
one has been chattering about what we said last year, and so now we
will hold our tongues about what we know'; and with that the beasts
bade one another 'Good-night', and parted, and Untrue was just as wise
as he was before, and the reason was, that his name was Untrue, and his
nature untrue too.