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T h e B a l d w i n P r o j e c t
Once upon a time there was a King who had twelve sons. When they were grown up he told them they must go out into the world and find themselves wives, who must all be able to spin and weave and make a shirt in one day, else he would not have them for daughters-in-law. He gave each of his sons a horse and a new suit of armor, and so they set out in the world to look for wives.
When they had traveled a bit on the way they said they would not take Ashiepattle with them, for he was good for nothing. Ashiepattle must stop behind; there was no help for it. He did not know what he should do or which way he should turn; he became so sad that he got off the horse and sat down on the grass and began to cry.
When he had sat awhile, one of the tussocks among the grass began to move, and out of it came a small white figure; as it came nearer, Ashiepattle saw that it was a beautiful little girl, but she was so tiny, so very, very tiny.
She went up to him and asked him if he would come below and pay a visit to the doll in the grass.
Yes, that he would; and so he did. When he came down below, the doll in the grass was sitting in a chair, dressed very finely and looking still more beautiful. She asked Ashiepattle where he was going and what was his errand.
He told her they were twelve brothers, and that the King had given them each a horse and a suit of armor, and told them to go out in the world and find themselves wives, but they must all be able to spin and weave and make a shirt in a day.
"If you can do that and will become my wife, I will not travel any farther," said Ashiepattle to the doll in the grass.
Yes, that she would, and she set to work at once to get the shirt spun, woven, and made; but it was so tiny, so very, very tiny, no bigger thanso!
Ashiepattle then returned home, taking the shirt with him; but when he brought it out he felt very shy because it was so small. But the King said he could have her for all that, and you can imagine how happy and joyful Ashiepattle became.
The road did not seem long to him as he set out to fetch his little sweetheart. When he came to the doll in the grass, he wanted her to sit with him on his horse; but no, that she wouldn't; she said she would sit and drive in a silver spoon, and she had two small white horses which would draw her. So they set out, he on his horse and she in the silver spoon; and the horses which drew her were two small white mice.
Ashiepattle always kept to one side of the road, for he was so afraid he should ride over her, she was so very, very tiny.
When they had traveled a bit on the way they came to a large lake; there Ashiepattle's horse took fright and shied over to the other side of the road, and upset the spoon, so that the doll in the grass fell into the water. Ashiepattle became very sad, for he did not know how he should get her out again; but after a while a merman brought her up. But now she had become just as big as any other grown-up being and was much more beautiful than she was before. So he placed her in front of him on the horse and rode home.
When Ashiepattle got there all his brothers had also returned, each with a sweetheart; but they were so ugly and ill-favored and bad-tempered that they had come to blows with their sweethearts on their way home. On their heads they had hats which were painted with tar and soot, and this had run from their hats down their faces, so that they were still uglier and more ill-favored to behold.
When the brothers saw Ashiepattle's sweet-heart, they all became envious of him, but the King was so pleased with Ashiepattle and his sweetheart that he drove all the others away; and so Ashiepattle was married to the doll in the grass; and afterwards they lived happy and comfortable for a long, long while; and if they are not dead, they must be still alive.