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Norwegian fairy tale collected by Asbjørnsen and Moe in the 1840s. As usual, translated from the original text by me.

Note: Bamse Brakar is a common name for the bear in Norwegian tales, just like the fox is called Mikkel Rev.


There was once a farmer who went into the mountain for a load of leaves for his livestock in the winter. When he came to the leaf-piles, he used his horse to back his sleigh up to the pile, and started throwing leaves into it. But there was a bear who was hibernating in the pile, and when the man started throwing leaves around, the bear woke up and ran out, landing on the sleigh. When the horse smelled the bear, he was frightened and ran off, as if he'd stolen both bear and sleigh.

They say that the bear isn't easily scared; but he wasn't pleased with the ride he got this time, he held on the best i could, looking this way and that for an opportunity to jump off; but he wasn't used to driving, and didn't find a chance.

When he had driven a while, he met a merchant.

"Where in God's name is the bailiff going today?" said the merchant; "he must have little time and a long way to go, since he drives so fast?"

But the bear didn't answer, he had enough with holding on.

A while later he met a poor old woman. She greeted and nodded and asked for a shilling in God's name. The bear didn't say anything, but held on and drove further.

Still later, he met Mikkel Rev.

"Hey, are you out driving?" Mikkel shouted; "hang on, let me hitch a ride!"

The bear didn't speak a word, but kept holding, driving as fast as the horse would run.

"Well, if you won't bring me with you, I predict that tomorrow you'll be hanging bare-backed," the fox shouted after him.

The bear didn't hear a word Mikkel said; he drove just as fast. But when the horse reached the farm, he ran straight into the stable so fast that he undressed from both straps and sleigh, and the bear hit his skull in the doorway so hard that he died on the spot.

The farmer continued throwing leaves, until he thought he had a full load on the sleigh; but when he was going to fasten the load, he had neither horse nor sleigh. So he had to walk off, trying to find his horse again.

After a while, he met the merchant.

"Have you seen a horse and sleigh?" he asked the merchant.

"No," said the merchant, "but I met the bailiff earlier; he went so fast, he was probably going to fleece someone."

A while later he met the poor old woman.

"Have you met a horse and sleigh?" he asked the woman.

"No," she said; but I met the priest earlier; he went so fast, he must have been going to a funeral.

After a while the farmer met the fox.

"Have you met a horse and sleigh?" said the farmer.

"Yes," said Mikkel; but Bamse Brakar was on it, driving like he had stolen both horse and bridle."

"The devil take him! He'll probably drive the horse dead," said the farmer.

"So pull his pelt off and fry him," said Mikkel. "But if you get your horse back, I could use a ride over the mountain," said the fox, "I might like to try how it is to have four legs in front of you."

"How much will you pay for the ride?" said the farmer

"You can have wet and dry, whatever you want," said the fox; "you'll get as much from me as from Bamse Brakar; he's bad at paying when he gets a ride."

"Yes, I'll give you a ride across the mountain," said the farmer, "if you meet me here tomorrow at this time." He understood that Mikkel was taking him for a fool and doing his fox play.

So the next day, he brought a loaded shotgun on the sleigh, and when Mikkel came and thought he would get a free ride, he got a load of buckshot instead. Then the farmer flayed him, and now he had both bear pelt and fox pelt.

More fairy tales, please!

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