"Mannen som skulle stelle hjemme" is a Norwegian fairy tale from Asbjørnsen and Moe's Norwegian Folk Tales (1841-1844). The original Norwegian text has been found at Project Runeberg and has been translated to English by me.


Once upon a time, there was a man who was grumpy and angry, and never thought his wife did enough around the house. Then one evening in harvest, he came home shouting and cursing everything.

"Dear, don't be so grumpy," said the wife; "tomorrow we will change work; I'll go out and help with the harvest, and you can tend the house.

Yes, the man was pleased, he would like that.

Early next morning the wife took the scythe over her shoulder and went to the field to cut hay, and the man would tend the house. First he wanted to churn butter; but when he had churned for a while, he was thirsty and went down to the cellar to pour himself a beer. While pouring, he heard that the pig had entered the house. He ran up the stairs with the barrel plug in his hand, up the cellar stairs as fast as he could, to stop the pig from pushing the churn over; but when he saw that the pig had already done that and was licking up the cream running over the floor, he was so mad that he completely forgot the beer barrel, and ran after the pig as fast as he could. He reached it at the door and gave it a thorough kick, so it fell over and stayed down. Now he remembered that he held the barrel plug in his hand; but when he came down in the celler, the barrel was empty.

He then went back to the milk shed and fetched enough cream to fill the churn, and then he started churning; because he wanted butter for dinner. When he had churned for a while, he remembered that the cow was still inside and hadn't been given food or drink, even though it was full day now. He thought it would be far to take it to the field, but he could release it on the roof, he thought: the building had a turf roof1, with lots of good grass. The house was in a steep slope, and if he put a plank over to the roof, he thought he would get the cow up. But he didn't dare to let go of the churn, because the little child was crawling around the floor; he would push it over. So he put the churn on his back; but then he was going to give the cow a drink first, before letting it up on the roof. Oh yes, he took a bucket to get water from the well, but leaning over the edge of the well, the cream flowed out of the churn and down his neck.

It was soon dinner time, and he didn't have any butter yet; then he thought he should boil some porridge, and hung a pot of water on the fireplace. When he had done that, he remembered that the cow could fall of the roof and break a leg or its neck; so he went up to tie it. He tied one end of the rope around the cow's neck, dropped the other end down through the chimney, and then tied it around his leg, because the water was already boiling and he had to start making the porridge. While doing that, the cow fell off anyway, and pulled the man up through the chimney; he was stuck, and the cow hung outside the wall between heaven and earth, and couldn't get up or down.

The wife had waited for seven long and seven wide2 for the man to come and call her home for dinner; but it lasted long, and he didn't come. Finally she thought it lasted too long and went home. When she saw the cow hanging outside, she went over and cut the rope with the scythe; the man fell down the chimney, and when the wife entered, he was on his head in the pot of porridge.

1: Traditional roofing, where you keep turf with growing grass on your roof.
2: Typical fairy tale expression. Means a long time.

More fairy tales, please!

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