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"Presten og klokkeren" is a Norwegian fairy tale from Asbjørnsen and Moe's Norwegian Folk Tales, collected in the early 1840s. The Norwegian text was found at Project Runeberg and translated by me for E2.


There was once a priest who was so self-righteous that he would shout from a long way away if he was driving and met someone coming the other way: "Get out of the way, out of the way, the priest himself is coming!"

Once he did this shouting, he met the king. "Out of the way, out of the way!" he screamed from afar. But the king kept on driving straight ahead, so this time the priest had to yield; and when they came up side to side, he said: "Tomorrow you will come to the estate, and if you can't answer three questions I will give you, you will lose both robe and ruff for your arrogance."

That was different to what the priest was used to. Shouting and going on about things was something he knew; but questions and answers wasn't his style. So he went to the bell ringer, who was known to wear the robe better that the priest. He told him he didn't want to go, "since a fool can ask more than ten wise men can answer," he said, and he made the bell ringer go instead.

Well, the bell ringer traveled, and reached the estate with the priest's robe and ruff. The king accepted him, with crown and scepter, looking so good he was shining.

"Now, are you there?" said the king.

Yes, he was, for sure.

"Tell me first," said the king, "how long is it from east to west?"

"It's a day travel," said the bell ringer.

"How is that?" asked the king.

"We-ell, the sun gets up in the east and goes down in the west, and she does it all in one day," said the bell ringer.

"Okay," said the king. "But tell me," he said, "what do you think I'm worth, as you see me now?"

"Oh, Christ was valued at thirty pieces of silver, so I don't dare to value you higher than twenty-nine," said the bell ringer.

"There, there!" said the king. Since you are so wise, tell me what I'm thinking now!"

"Oh, you're thinking the priest is in front of you, but I'll be shamed if you're not wrong; it's the bell ringer," he said.

"Then go home, and be the priest and let him be the bell ringer," said the king, and that's how it became.

More fairy tales, please!

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