Norwegian fairy tale from Asbjørnsen and Moe's "Norske folkeeventyr" (Norwegian Folk Tales), collected in 1841-1844. The original text ("Vel gjort og ille lønnet") was found at Project Runeberg and is in the public domain. It is translated to English by me for E2.


There was once a man who were going into the forest for firewood. Then he met a bear.

"Give me your horse, or I'll kill all your sheep come summer," said the bear.

"Oh dear, oh dear!" said the man, "there's not a stick to burn at home; you have to let me drive home with a load of wood, otherwise we'll freeze to death; I'll come back with the horse for you tomorrow."

Yes, he would be allowed this, they agreed, but if he didn't come back, the bear said the man would lose all his sheep come summer.

The man gathered wood and went home, but he wasn't very pleased with the agreement, as anyone will know. Then he met a fox.

"What are you so grumpy about?" asked the fox.

"Oh, I met a bear," said the man, "and I had to promise to give him my horse tomorrow at this time, and he said if he didn't get it, he would tear up all my sheep come summer."

"Oh, not worse," said the fox. "If you give me your fattest ram, I'll get you out of it."

Yes, the man promised, and he would keep this promise, he said.

"When you come to the bear with your horse tomorrow," said the fox, "I'll shout from up on the hill here, and when the bear asks what it is, you'll tell him it's Per the hunter, the best marksman in the world, - and after that you're on your own."

The man went out the next day, and when he met the bear, someone shouted from the hill.

"What's that?" said the bear.

"Oh, that's Per the hunter, the best marksman in the world," said the man. "I recognise his voice," he said.

"Have you seen a bear here, Erik?" the forest called.

"Say no!" said the bear.

"No, I haven't seen any bear," said Erik.

"What's that next to your sledge then?" the forest called.

"Say it's an old fir stump," whispered the bear.

"Oh, it's just an old fir stump," said Erik.

"We usually put stumps like that on the sledge where I come from," the forest yelled; "if you need, I'll come over and help you."

"Say that you'll be fine, and put me on the sledge," said the bear.

"No thanks, I'll be fine," said the man and pushed the bear onto the sledge.

"We usually tie stumps like that down where I come from," the forest called. "Do you want any help?" it asked.

"Say you'll be fine, and tie me down," said the bear.

"No thanks, I'll be fine," said the man, and started tying down the bear with all the ropes he had, so he couldn't move a paw.

"We usually put the axe in those stumps after we've tied them down, where I come from," the forest yelled; "then you get better control downhill," it said.

"Pretend to put the axe in me," the bear whispered.

Then the man took the axe and split the bear's skull in to so it died immediately, and he and the fox were now good friends; but when they came to the farm, the fox said: "I'd like to follow you in, but I don't like your dogs. I'll just stay here until you bring the ram; please take a really fat one."

Yes, the man promised, and thanked him for the help. When he had stabled the horse, he walked over to the sheep pen.

"Where are you going?" asked his wife.

"Oh, I'm going over to the sheep pen to get a fat ram for the nice fox who saved our horse," said the man, "I promised him one."

"Damn if we're giving that thieving fox a ram," said the wife. "We have the horse, and the bear as well, and the fox has probably stolen more geese from us than the ram is worth, and if he hasn't, he will," she said. "No, take a few of the angriest dogs in your bag and bring them to him, then maybe we'll get rid of that thief," said the wife.

The man thought this was good advice, and took two angry, red dogs, put them in his bag and went off.

"Do you have the ram?" said the fox.

"Yes, come and get it," said the man, opening the bag to let the dogs out.

"Oof!" said the fox and jumped; "it's true what they say, that well done is badly rewarded, and now I also see that a friend is your worst enemy," he said as the dogs set after him.


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