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NCE upon a time there was a king who had many sons.
I do not exactly know how many there were, but the
youngest of them could not stay quietly at home, and was
determined to go out into the world and try his luck, and
after a long time the King was forced to give him leave
to go. When he had travelled about for several days, he
came to a giant's house, and hired himself to the giant as
a servant. In the morning the giant had to go out to
pasture his goats, and as he was leaving the house he told
the King's son that he must clean out the stable. "And
after you have done that," he said, "you need not do any
more work to-day, for you have come to a kind master,
and that you shall find. But what I set you to do must
be done both well and thoroughly, and you must on no
account go into any of the rooms which lead out of the
room in which you slept last night. If you do, I will take
"Well to be sure, he is an easy master!" said the Prince
to himself as he walked up and down the room humming
and singing, for he thought there would be plenty of time
left to clean out the stable; "but it would be amusing to
steal a glance into his other rooms as well," thought the
Prince, "for there must be something that he is afraid of
my seeing, as I am not allowed to enter them." So he
went into the first room. A cauldron was hanging from
the walls; it was boiling, but the Prince could see no fire
under it. "I wonder what is inside it," he thought, and
dipped a lock of his hair in, and the hair became just as
if it were all made of copper. "That's a nice kind of soup.
If anyone were to taste that his throat would be gilded," said
the youth, and then he went into the next chamber.
There, too, a cauldron was hanging from the wall, bubbling
and boiling, but there was no fire under this either.
"I will just try what this is like too," said the Prince,
thrusting another lock of his hair into it, and it came out
silvered over. "Such costly soup is not to be had in my
father's palace," said the Prince; "but
every-  thing depends
on how it tastes," and then he went into the third room.
There, too, a cauldron was hanging from the wall, boiling,
exactly the same as in the two other rooms, and the
Prince took pleasure in trying this also, so he dipped a
lock of hair in, and it came out so brightly gilded that it
shone again. "Some talk about going from bad to worse," said the Prince; "but this is better and better. If he boils
gold here, what can he boil in there?" He was determined
to see, and went through the door into the fourth room.
No cauldron was to be seen there, but on a bench someone
was seated who was like a king's daughter, but, whosoever
she was, she was so beautiful that never in the
Prince's life had he seen her equal.
"Oh! in heaven's name what are you doing here?" said
she who sat upon the bench.
"I took the place of servant here yesterday," said the
"May you soon have a better place, if you have come
to serve here!" said she.
"Oh, but I think I have got a kind master," said the
Prince. "He has not given me hard work to do to-day.
When I have cleaned out the stable I shall be done."
"Yes, but how will you be able to do that?" she asked
again. "If you clean it out as other people do, ten pitchforksful
will come in for every one you throw out. But
I will teach you how to do it: you must turn your pitchfork
upside down, and work with the handle, and then all
will fly out of its own accord."
 "Yes, I will attend to that," said the Prince, and stayed
sitting where he was the whole day, for it was soon settled
between them that they would marry each other, he and
the King's daughter; so the first day of his service with
the giant did not seem long to him. But when evening
was drawing near she said that it would now be better for
him to clean out the stable before the giant came home.
When he got there he had a fancy to try if what she had
said were true, so he began to work in the same way that
he had seen the stable-boys doing in his father's stables,
but he soon saw that he must give up that, for when he
had worked a very short time he had scarcely any room
left to stand. So he did what the Princess had taught
him, turned the pitchfork round, and worked with the
handle, and in the twinkling of an eye the stable was as
clean as if it had been scoured. When he had done that,
he went back again into the room in which the giant had
given him leave to stay, and there he walked backwards
and forwards on the floor, and began to hum and to sing.
Then came the giant home with the goats. "Have you
cleaned the stable?" asked the giant.
"Yes, now it is clean and sweet, master," said the King's
"I shall see about that," said the giant, and went round
to the stable, but it was just as the Prince had said.
"You have certainly been talking to my Master-maid,
for you never got that out of your own head," said the
"Master-maid! What kind of a thing is that,
master?" said the Prince,
making himself look as stupid as an ass;
"I should like to see that."
"Well, you will see her quite soon enough," said the
On the second morning the giant had again to go out
with his goats, so he told the Prince that on that day he
was to fetch home his horse, which was out on the
mountain-side, and when he had done that he might rest
himself for the remainder of the day, "for you have come
to a kind master, and that you shall find," said the giant
once more. "But do not go into any of the rooms that I
spoke of yesterday, or I will wring your head off," said
he, and then went away with his flock of goats.
"Yes, indeed, you are a kind master," said the Prince;
"but I will go in and talk to the Master-maid again; perhaps
before long she may like better to be mine than
So he went to her. Then she asked him what he had to
do that day.
 "Oh! not very dangerous work, I fancy," said the King's
son. "I have only to go up the mountain-side after his
"Well, how do you mean to set about it?" asked the
"Oh! there is no great art in riding a horse home," said
the King's son. "I think I must have ridden friskier
horses before now."
"Yes, but it is not so easy a thing as you think to ride
the horse home," said the Master-maid; "but I will teach
you what to do. When you go near it, fire will burst out
of its nostrils like flames from a pine torch: but be very
careful, and take the bridle which is hanging by the door
there, and fling the bit straight into its jaws, and then it
will become so tame that you will be able to do what you
like with it." He said he would bear this in mind, and
then he again sat in there the whole day by the Master-maid,
and they chatted and talked of one thing and
another, but the first thing and the last now was, how
happy and delightful it would be if they could but marry
each other, and get safely away from the giant; and the
Prince would have forgotten both the mountain-side and
the horse if the Master-maid had not reminded him of
them as evening drew near, and said that now it would be
better if he went to fetch the horse before the giant came.
So he did this, and took the bridle which was hanging on
a crook, and strode up the mountain-side, and it was not
long before he met with the horse, and fire and red flames
streamed forth out of its nostrils. But the youth carefully
watched his opportunity, and just as it was rushing
at him with open jaws he threw the bit straight into its
mouth, and the horse stood as quiet as a young lamb, and
there was no difficulty at all in getting it home to the
stable. Then the Prince went back into his room again,
and began to hum and to sing.
Toward evening the giant came home. "Have you
fetched the horse back from the mountain-side?" he
"That I have, master; it was an amusing horse to ride,
but I rode him straight home, and put him in the stable
too," said the Prince.
"I will see about that," said the giant, and went out to
the stable, but the horse was standing there just as the
Prince had said. "You have certainly been talking with
my Master-maid, for you never got that out of your own
head," said the giant again.
"Yesterday, master, you talked about this
Master-maid, and to-day you are talking about her; ah! heaven
bless you, master, why will you not show me the thing?
for it would be a real pleasure to me to see it," said the
Prince, who again pretended to be silly and stupid.
 "Oh! you will see her quite soon enough," said the
On the morning of the third day the giant again had to
go into the wood with the goats. "To-day you must go
underground and fetch my taxes," he said to the Prince.
"When you have done this, you may rest for the remainder
of the day, for you shall see what an easy master you
have come to," and then he went away.
"Well, however easy a master you may be, you set me
very hard work to do," thought the Prince; "but I will
see if I cannot find your Master-maid; you say she is
yours, but for all that she may be able to tell me what to
do now," and he went to her. So, when the Master-maid
asked him what the giant had set him to do that
day, he told her that he was to go underground and get
"And how will you set about that?" said the Master-maid.
"Oh! you must tell me how to do it," said the Prince,
"for I have never yet been underground, and even if I
knew the way I do not know how much I am to demand."
"Oh! yes, I will soon tell you that; you must go to the
rock there under the mountain-ridge, and take the club
that is there, and knock on the rocky wall," said the
Master-maid. "Then someone will come out who will
sparkle with fire: you shall tell him your errand, and
when he asks you how much you want to have you are to
say: 'As much as I can carry.'"
"Yes, I will keep that in mind," said he, and then he
sat there with the Master-maid the whole day, until night
drew near, and he would gladly have stayed there till
now if the Master-maid had not reminded him that it was
time to be off to fetch the taxes before the giant came.
So he set out on his way, and did exactly what the
Master-maid had told him. He went to the rocky wall,
and took the club, and knocked on it. Then came one so
full of sparks that they flew both out of his eyes and his
nose. "What do you want?" said he.
"I was to come here for the giant, and demand the tax
for him," said the King's son.
"How much are you to have then?" said the other.
"I ask for no more than I am able
to carry with me," said the Prince.
"It is well for you that you have not asked for a
horse-load," said he who had come out of the rock. "But now
come in with me."
This the Prince did, and what a quantity of gold and
 saw! It was lying inside the mountain like heaps
of stones in a waste place, and he got a load that was as
large as he was able to carry, and with that he went his
way. So in the evening, when the giant came home with
the goats, the Prince went into the chamber and hummed
and sang again as he had done on the other two evenings.
 "Have you been for the tax?" said the giant.
"Yes, that I have, master," said the Prince.
"Where have you put it then?" said the giant again.
"The bag of gold is standing there on the bench," said
"I will see about that," said the giant, and went away
to the bench, but the bag was standing there, and it was
so full that gold and silver dropped out when the giant
untied the string.
"You have certainly been talking with my
Master-maid!" said the giant, "and if you have I will wring your
"Master-maid?" said the Prince; "yesterday my master
talked about this Master-maid, and to-day he is talking
about her again, and the first day of all it was talk of the
same kind. I do wish I could see the thing
myself," said he.
"Yes, yes, wait till to-morrow," said the giant, "and
then I myself will take you to her."
"Ah! master, I thank you—but you are only mocking
me," said the King's son.
Next day the giant took him to the Master-maid.
"Now you shall kill him, and boil him in the great big
cauldron you know of, and when you have got the broth
ready give me a call," said the giant; then he lay down on
the bench to sleep, and almost immediately began to
snore so that it sounded like thunder among the hills.
So the Master-maid took a knife, and cut the Prince's
little finger, and dropped three drops of blood upon a
wooden stool; then she took all the old rags, and
shoe-soles, and all the rubbish she could lay hands on, and put
them in the cauldron; and then she filled a chest with gold
dust, and a lump of salt, and a water-flask which was
hanging by the door, and she also took with her a golden
apple, and two gold chickens; and then she and the Prince
went away with all the speed they could, and when they
had gone a little way they came to the sea, and then they
sailed, but where they got the ship from I have never been
able to learn.
Now, when the giant had slept a good long time, he
began to stretch himself on the bench on which he was
lying. "Will it soon boil?" said he
"It is just beginning," said the first drop of blood on the
So the giant lay down to sleep again, and slept for a
long, long time. Then he began to move about a little
again. "Will it soon be ready now?" said he, but he did
not look up this time any more than he had done the first
time, for he was still half asleep.
"Half done!" said the second drop of blood, and the
 believed it was the Master-maid again, and turned
himself on the bench, and lay down to sleep once more.
When he had slept again for many hours, he began to
move and stretch himself. "Is it not done yet?" said he.
"It is quite ready," said the third drop of blood. Then
the giant began to sit up and rub his eyes, but he could
not see who it was who had spoken to him, so he asked
for the Master-maid, and called her. But there was no
one to give him an answer.
"Ah! well, she has just stolen out for a little," thought
the giant, and he took a spoon, and went off to the
cauldron to have a taste; but there was nothing in it but
shoe-soles, and rags, and such trumpery as that, and all
was boiled up together, so that he could not tell whether
it was porridge or milk pottage. When he saw this, he
understood what had happened, and fell into such a rage
that he hardly knew what he was doing. Away he went
after the Prince and the Master-maid so fast that the
wind whistled behind him, and it was not long before he
came to the water, but he could not get over it. "Well,
well, I will soon find a cure for that: I have only to call my
river-sucker," said the giant, and he did call him. So his
river-sucker came and lay down, and drank one, two,
three draughts, and with that the water in the sea fell so
low that the giant saw the Master-maid and the Prince
out on the sea in their ship. "Now you must throw out
the lump of salt," said the Master-maid, and the Prince
did so, and it grew up into such a great high mountain
right across the sea that the giant could not come over
it, and the river-sucker could not drink any more water.
"Well, well, I will soon find a cure for that," said the
giant, so he called to his hill-borer to come and bore
through the mountain so that the river-sucker might be
able to drink up the water again. But just as the hole
was made, and the river-sucker was beginning to drink,
the Master-maid told the Prince to throw one or two
drops out of the flask, and when he did this the sea
instantly became full of water again, and before the
river-sucker could take one drink they reached the land and
were in safety. So they determined to go home to the
Prince's father, but the Prince would on no account
permit the Master-maid to walk there, for he thought that
it was unbecoming either for her or for him to go on foot.
"Wait here the least little bit of time, while I go home
for the seven horses which stand in my father's stable," said
he; "it is not far off, and I shall not be long away,
but I will not let my betrothed bride go on foot to the
 "Oh! no, do not go, for if you go home to the King's
palace you will forget me, I foresee that."
"How could I forget you? We have suffered so much
evil together, and love each other so much," said the
Prince; and he insisted on going home for the coach with
the seven horses, and she was to wait for him there, by
the sea-shore. So at last the Master-maid had to yield,
for he was so absolutely determined to do it. "But when
you get there you must not even give yourself time to
greet anyone, but go straight into the stable, and take the
horses, and put them in the coach, and drive back as
quickly as you can. For they will all come round about
you; but you must behave just as if you did not see them,
and on no account must you taste anything, for if you
do it will cause great misery both to you and to me," said
she; and this he promised.
But when he got home to the King's palace one of his
brothers was just going to be married, and the bride and
all her kith and kin had come to the palace; so they all
thronged round him, and questioned him about this and
that, and wanted him to go in with them; but he behaved
as if he did not see them, and went straight
 to the stable,
and got out the horses and began to harness them. When
they saw that they could not by any means prevail on
him to go in with them, they came out to him with meat
and drink, and the best of everything that they had
prepared for the wedding; but the Prince refused to touch
anything, and would do nothing but put the horses in as
quickly as he could. At last, however, the bride's sister
rolled an apple across the yard to him, and said: "As you
won't eat anything else, you may like to take a bite of
that, for you must be both hungry and thirsty after your
long journey." And he took up the apple and bit a piece
out of it. But no sooner had he got the piece of apple in
his mouth than he forgot the Master-maid and that he
was to go back in the coach to fetch her.
"I think I must be mad! what do I want with this
coach and horses?" said he; and then he put the horses
back into the stable, and went into the King's palace, and
there it was settled that he should marry the bride's
sister, who had rolled the apple to him.
The Master-maid sat by the sea-shore for a long, long
time, waiting for the Prince, but no Prince came. So she
went away, and when she had walked a short distance she
came to a little hut which stood all alone in a small wood,
hard by the King's palace. She entered it and asked if she
might be allowed to stay there. The hut belonged to an
old crone, who was also an ill-tempered and malicious
troll. At first she would not let the Master-maid remain
with her; but at last, after a long time, by means of good
words and good payment, she obtained leave. But the
hut was as dirty and black inside as a pigstye, so the
Master-maid said that she would smarten it up a little,
that it might look a little more like what other people's
houses looked inside. The old crone did not like this
either. She scowled, and was very cross, but the Master-maid did
not trouble herself about that. She took out her
chest of gold, and flung a handful of it or so into the fire,
and the gold boiled up and poured out over the whole of
the hut, until every part of it both inside and out was
gilded. But when the gold began to bubble up the old hag
grew so terrified that she fled as if the Evil One himself
were pursuing her, and she did not remember to stoop
down as she went through the doorway, and so she split
her head and died. Next morning the sheriff came travelling
by there. He was greatly astonished when he saw the
gold hut shining and glittering there in the copse, and he
was still more astonished when he went in and caught
sight of the beautiful young maiden who
 was sitting there;
he fell in love with her at once, and straightway on the
spot he begged her, both prettily and kindly, to marry
"Well, but have you a great deal of money?" said the
"Oh! yes; so far as that is concerned, I am not ill
off," said the sheriff. So now he had to go home to get the
money, and in the evening he came back, bringing with
him a bag with two bushels in it, which he set down on
the bench. Well, as he had such a fine lot of money, the
Master-maid said she would have him, so they sat down
But scarcely had they sat down together before the
Master-maid wanted to jump up again. "I have forgotten
to see to the fire," she said.
"Why should you jump up to do that?" said the sheriff;
"I will do that!" So he jumped up, and went to the chimney
in one bound.
"Just tell me when you have got hold
of the shovel," said the Master-maid.
"Well, I have hold of it now," said the sheriff.
"Then you may hold the shovel, and the shovel you,
and pour red-hot coals over you, till day dawns," said the
Master-maid. So the sheriff had to stand there the whole
night and pour red-hot coals over himself, and, no matter
how much he cried and begged and entreated, the red-hot
coals did not grow the colder for that. When the day
began to dawn, and he had power to throw down the
shovel, he did not stay long where he was, but ran away
as fast as he possibly could; and everyone who met him
stared and looked after him, for he was flying as if he
were mad, and he could not have looked worse if he had
been both flayed and tanned, and everyone wondered
where he had been, but for very shame he would tell
The next day the attorney came riding by the place
where the Master-maid dwelt. He saw how brightly the
hut shone and gleamed through the wood, and he too
went into it to see who lived there, and when he entered
and saw the beautiful young maiden he fell even more in
love with her than the sheriff had done, and began to woo
her at once. So the Master-maid asked him, as she had
asked the sheriff, if he had a great deal of money, and the
attorney said he was not ill off for that, and would at once
go home to get it; and at night he came with a great big
sack of money—this time it was a four-bushel sack—and
set it on the bench by the Master-maid. So she promised
to have him, and he sat down on the
 bench by her to
arrange about it, but suddenly she said that she had
forgotten to lock the door of the porch that night, and must
"Why should you do that?" said the attorney; "sit still,
I will do it."
So he was on his feet in a moment, and out in the porch.
"Tell me when you have got hold of the
door-latch," said the Master-maid.
"I have hold of it now," cried the attorney.
"Then you may hold the door, and the door you, and
may you go between wall and wall till day dawns."
What a dance the attorney had that night! He had
never had such a waltz before, and he never wished to
have such a dance again. Sometimes he was in front of
the door, and sometimes the door was in front of him, and
it went from one side of the porch to the other, till the
attorney was well-nigh beaten to death. At first he began
to abuse the Master-maid, and then to beg and pray, but
the door did not care for anything but keeping him where
he was till break of day.
As soon as the door let go its hold of him, off went the
attorney. He forgot who ought to be paid off for what
he had suffered, he forgot both his sack of money and his
wooing, for he was so afraid lest the house-door should
come dancing after him. Everyone who met him stared
and looked after him, for he was flying like a madman,
and he could not have looked worse if a herd of rams had
been butting at him all night long.
On the third day the bailiff came by, and he too saw
the gold house in the little wood, and he too felt that he
must go and see who lived there; and when he caught
sight of the Master-maid he became so much in love with
her that he wooed her almost before he greeted her.
The Master-maid answered him as she had answered
the other two, that if he had a great deal of money, she
would have him. "So far as that is concerned, I am not ill
off," said the bailiff; so he was at once told to go home and
fetch it, and this he did. At night he came back, and he
had a still larger sack of money with him than the
attorney had brought; it must have been at least six
bushels, and he set it down on the bench. So it was
settled that he was to have the Master-maid. But hardly
had they sat down together before she said that she had
forgotten to bring in the calf, and must go out to put it
in the byre.
 "No, indeed, you shall not do that," said the bailiff; "I
am the one to do that." And, big and fat as he was, he
went out as briskly as a boy.
"Tell me when you have got hold of the calf's
tail," said the Master-maid.
"I have hold of it now," cried the bailiff.
"Then may you hold the calf's tail, and the calf's tail
hold you, and may you go round the world together till
day dawns!" said the Master-maid. So the bailiff had to
bestir himself, for the calf went over rough and smooth,
over hill and dale, and, the more the bailiff cried and
screamed, the faster the calf went. When daylight began
to appear, the bailiff was half dead; and so glad was he to
leave loose of the calf's tail that he forgot the sack of
money and all else. He walked now slowly—more slowly
than the sheriff and the attorney had done, but, the
slower he went, the more time had everyone to stare and
look at him; and they used it too, and no one can imagine
how tired out and ragged he looked after his dance with
On the following day the wedding was to take place in
the King's palace, and the elder brother was to drive to
church with his bride, and the brother who had been with
the giant with her sister. But when they had seated
themselves in the coach and were about to drive off from
the palace one of the trace-pins broke, and, though they
made one, two, and three to put in its place, that did not
help them, for each broke in turn, no matter what kind
of wood they
 used to make them of. This went on for a
long time, and they could not get away from the palace,
so they were all in great trouble. Then the sheriff said
(for he too had been bidden to the wedding at Court):
"Yonder away in the thicket dwells a maiden, and if you
can but get her to lend you the handle of the shovel that she
uses to make up her fire I know very well that it will hold
fast." So they sent off a messenger to the thicket, and
begged so prettily that they might have the loan of her
shovel-handle of which the sheriff had spoken that they
were not refused; so now they had a trace-pin which
would not snap in two.
But all at once, just as they were starting, the bottom
of the coach fell in pieces. They made a new bottom as
fast as they could, but, no matter how they nailed it
together, or what kind of wood they used, no sooner had
they got the new bottom into the coach and were about
to drive off than it broke again, so that they were still
worse off than when they had broken the trace-pin. Then
the attorney said, for he too was at the wedding in the
palace: "Away there in the thicket dwells a maiden, and
if you could but get her to lend you one-half of her porch-door
I am certain that it will hold together." So they
again sent a messenger to the thicket, and begged so
prettily for the loan of the gilded porch-door of which the
attorney had told them that they got it at once. They
were just setting out again, but now the horses were not
able to draw the coach. They had six horses already, and
now they put in eight, and then ten, and then twelve, but
the more they put in, and the more the coachman whipped
them, the less good it did; and the coach never stirred
from the spot. It was already beginning to be late in the
day, and to church they must and would go, so everyone
who was in the palace was in a state of great distress. Then the
bailiff spoke up and said: "Out there in the gilded cottage
in the thicket dwells a girl, and if you could but get her
to lend you her calf I know it could draw the coach, even
if it were as heavy as a mountain." They all thought
that it was ridiculous to be drawn to church by a calf,
but there was nothing else for it but to send a messenger
once more, and beg as prettily as they could, on behalf of
the King, that she would let them have the loan of the
calf that the bailiff had told them about.
The Master-maid let them have it immediately—this time also she
would not say "no."
Then they harnessed the calf to see if the coach would
move; and away it went, over rough and smooth, over
stock and stone, so that they could scarcely breathe, and
sometimes they were on the
 ground, and sometimes up in
the air; and when they came to the church the coach began
to go round and round like a spinning-wheel, and it
was with the utmost difficulty and danger that they were
able to get out of the coach and into the church. And
when they went back again the coach went quicker still,
so that most of them did not know how they got back to
the palace at all.
When they had seated themselves at the table the
Prince who had been in service with the giant said that
he thought they ought to have invited the maiden who
had lent them the shovel-handle, and the porch-door, and
the calf up to the palace, "for," said he, "if we had not got
these three things, we should never have got away from
The King also thought that this was both just and
proper, so he sent five of his best men down to the gilded
hut, to greet the maiden courteously from the King, and
to beg her to be so good as to come up to the palace to
dinner at mid-day.
"Greet the King, and tell him that, if he is too good to
come to me, I am too good to come to him," replied the
So the King had to go himself, and the Master-maid
went with him immediately, and, as the King believed
that she was more than she appeared to be, he seated her
in the place of honour by the youngest bridegroom. When
they had sat at the table for a short time, the Master-maid
took out the cock, and the hen, and the golden
apple which she had brought away with her from the
giant's house, and
 set them on the table in front of her,
and instantly the cock and the hen began to fight with
each other for the golden apple.
"Oh! look how those two there are fighting for the
golden apple," said the King's son.
"Yes, and so did we two fight to get out that time when
we were in the mountain," said the Master-maid.
So the Prince knew her again, and you may imagine
how delighted he was. He ordered the troll-witch who had
rolled the apple to him to be torn in pieces between
four-and-twenty horses, so that not a bit of her was left, and
then for the first time they began really to keep the
wedding, and, weary as they were, the sheriff, the attorney,
and the bailiff kept it up too.