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"Gjertrudsfuglen" is a Norwegian fairy tale from Asbjørnsen and Moe's Norwegian Folk Tales (collected in 1841-1844). The original, Norwegian text was found at Project Runeberg and translated to/retold in English by me.


In the good old days when Our Lord and St. Peter were walking the earth, they once came to a woman who was baking. Her name was Gertrude, and she was wearing a red hat. Since they had walked far and were both hungry, Our Lord asked her kindly for a lefse to taste. Yes, of course he could. But she took a tiny little piece to roll; still it became so large that it filled the whole griddle. No, this lefse was too big; he couldn't have it. She took an even smaller piece; but when she had rolled it and put in on the griddle, that was also too big for him to have. The third time she took an even smaller piece, an incredibly small one; but even this time the lefse was way too big.

"Then I don't have anything to give you," said Gertrude. "You'll have to leave without a taste, because the lefses keep getting too big."

Then Our Lord turned angry and said: "Because you welcomed me to so little, you will be punished like this: You will turn into a bird, and get your dry food between bark and wood, and you won't drink more often than every time it rains."

And not before he had said the last word, she turned into The Gertrude Bird and flew from the griddle and up the chimney. And even today you can see her flying around with her red hat and black body, sooted from the chimney. She keeps picking the trees for food, and cheeps towards the rain; she is always thirsty and waits for a drink.

More fairy tales, please!

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