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Norwegian fairy tale from Asbjørnsen and Moe, collected in the early 1840s. The original ("Prinsessen som ingen kunne målbinde") was found at Project Runeberg and translated to (retold in) English by me for E2.

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There was once a king; he had a daughter who was so difficult and foul-mouthed that no-one could silence her, and therefore he promised that whoever could shut her up, would get the princess and half the kingdom with her.

There were enough people who wanted to try, I believe; you can't get the daughter of a king and half a kingdom every day. The king's gate wouldn't stand still, people came in flocks from east and west, riding and walking. But no-one could silence the princess. In the end, the king said that anyone who tried, but failed, would be branded on both ears. He didn't want people running around his place for nothing.

Then three brothers heard about the princess, and since they didn't have much at home, they wanted to try their luck and see if they could win the princess and half the land. They were good friends, so they went off together.

When they had walked a while, Askeladden found a dead magpie.

"Look at what I found!" he shouted.

"What did you find?" asked his brothers.

"I found a dead magpie," he said.

"Yuck, throw it away! What do you want that for?" said the two, always believing themselves the wisest.

"Oh, I have things to do, and this will do," said Askeladden.

When they had walked another while, Askeladden found an old ring of birch1; he picked it up.

"Look at what I found!" he shouted.

"What did you find now?" said his brothers.

"I found a ring of birch," he answered.

"Humph! What do you want that for? Throw it away!" said the two.

"I have things to do, and this will do," said Askeladden.

When they had walked for another while, he found a pottery shard; he picked that up as well.

"Hey guys, look at what I found!" he said.

"Now what did you find?" asked the brothers.

"A shard of pottery," he said.

"Huh! That's something to pick up! Throw it away!" they said.

"Oh, I have things to do, and this will do," said Askeladden.

A bit further on, he found a crooked ram's horn, and soon he found the other.

"Look at what I found, guys!" he shouted.

"What did you find now then?" said his brothers.

"To ram's horns," answered Askeladden.

"Throw them away! What are you doing with them?" they said contemptuously.

"No, I have things to do, and these will do," said Askeladden.

Later he found a wedge.

"Hey guys, look at what I found!" he said.

"It's incredible how much you find! What did you find now?" said the elder ones.

"I found a wedge," he answered.

"Oh, throw it away! What do you want it for?" they said.

"Oh, I have things to do, and this will do," said Askeladden.

When they crossed the fields by the king's farm - where they had just spread fresh dung - he bent over and picked up an old, worn out sole of a shoe.

"Wow, guys, look at what I found!" he said.

"If only you found some sense before you arrived!" the two said. "What did you find now?"

"A worn out sole," he answered

"Ick! As if that's something you need to pick up! Throw it away! What do you want it for?" said the brothers.

"Oh, I have things to do, and this will do, if I'm to win the princess and half the kingdom," said Askeladden.

"Yes, you look like you will!" the two said sarcastically.

So they went in to see the princess. First the eldest.

"Good day," he said.

"Good day to you too," she answered and turned in her seat.

"It's very warm in here," he said.

"It's warmer in the coals," answered the princess; the brand was lying there, ready to be used on him. When he saw that, he couldn't say a word, and he failed.

It didn't go better with the second brother.

"Good day," he said.

"Good day to you too," she said and turned in her seat.

"It's very warm in here," he said.

"It's warmer in the coals," she answered. Then he swallowed his tongue as well, and the brand was pulled out again.

Then Askeladden entered.

"Good day," he said.

"Good day to you too," she said and turned in her seat.

"It's nice and warm in here," he said.

"It's warmer in the coals," she answered; she wasn't nicer that the first time.

"Then maybe I can fry my magpie there?" he asked, pulling out his first find.

"I'm afraid she'll burst," said the king's daughter.

"Not to worry, I'll put this birch ring around it," said the boy.

"It's too wide," she said.

"I'll use this wedge," said the boy.

"The fat will drip out of her," said the princess.

"I'll hold this underneath," answered the boy, showing his broken pottery.

"Your words are all crooked," said the princess.

"No, I'm not crooked, but this is crooked," answered the boy, pulling out one of the ram's horns.

"I've never seen anything like this!" yelled the princess.

"Here's one like it," said the boy, and pulled out the other horn.

"You're trying to wear me out, aren't you?" she said.

"No, but this is worn out," answered the boy, pulling out the sole.

The princess didn't know what to say.

"You're mine now," said Askeladden, and he got her and half the country in addition.

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"Please, grandad! Tell us another fairy tale!"

Notes:
1: A "vidjespenning" is a traditional ring weaved with soft birch twigs. The ring could typically have a diameter of 10-20 cm, and could be used as ski bindings, to tie things together, as a door handle, etc.

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