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Norwegian fairy tale from Asbjørnsen and Moe's "Norwegian Folk Tales" (1841-1844). The original ("Askeladden som kappåt med trollet") was (as always) found at Project Runeberg and translated by me for E2.

Askeladden (means something like "Ash boy") is a favourite character in Norwegian fairy tales, being the unlikely but clever hero.

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There was once a farmer who had three sons; he was poor and old and in poor health, and his sons didn't want to work much. A large, good forest belonged to the farm, and the father wanted the boys to go lumbering to pay off some of the debt.

After a long time he got them to listen, and the oldest went out lumbering first. When he came into the woods and started chopping a bearded spruce, a large, huge troll came over to him. "If you are lumbering in my forest, I will kill you!" said the troll. When the boy heard, he threw his axe aside and ran home as fast as he could. He barely had any breath when he came home and told what had happened; but the father said he had the heart of a hare; the trolls had never scared him away from the forest when he was young, he said.

The next day, the other son set off, and the same thing happened. When he had chopped the spruce a few times, the troll came to him and said: "If you are lumbering in my forest, I will kill you!" The boy hardly dared look at him, he threw away his axe and ran off, just like his brother and just as fast. When he came home, his father got angry and said that the trolls never scared him when he was young.

The third day, Askeladden wanted to try.

"You?!" said the two elder brothers, "as if, you've never even been out the front door!"

Askeladden didn't answer, but just asked for some proper provisions to bring. His mother was making cheese, but it wasn't ready yet. Still, he got some of it in his pouch and set off.

When he had been chopping a short while, the troll came to him and said: "If you are lumbering in my forest, I will kill you!"

But the boy wasn't slow; he ran for his pouch and brought out the cheese, squeezing it so the whey squirted from it. "If you don't shut up," he shouted at the troll, "I'll squeeze you like I squeeze water from this rock!"

"No please, spare me," said the troll, "I'll help you chop."

On that promise, the boy spared him, and the troll was a good lumberer, so they chopped down a lot of trees that day.

When night came, the troll said: "You can come home with me, it is closer to my place than your place."

The boy joined him, and when they came home the troll, the troll made a fire, while the boy was to go for water for porridge; there were two iron buckets there, so large and heavy that he couldn't even budge them.

The boy said: "It's not worth it to use these thimbles; I'll go out and get the whole well."

"No, please," said the troll, "I can't lose my well; you light the fire, and I'll get the water."

When he came back with the water, they boiled a porridge in an enourmous pot.

"I say," said the boy, "if you think like me, we shall have an eating competition."

"Oh yes!" said the troll; he thought that was something he would surely win.

They sat down by the table; but the boy sneakily tied his leather pouch on his stomach, and then he put more porride into the pouch than he ate himself. When the pouch was full, he took out his knife and cut a gash in the pouch. The troll looked at him, but didn't say anything.

When they had eaten another while, the troll put his spoon away. "No, I can't eat any more," he said.

"Of course you can!" answered the boy; "I'm not even half full, myself. Do like me, and cut a hole in your stomach, then you'll eat as much as you want."

"But doesn't that hurt immensely?" asked the troll.

"Oh, nothing to speak of," said the boy.

So the troll did like the boy said, and anyone knows he payed with his life. But the boy took all the silver and gold he found in the mountain1 and brought it home. With that, they would be able to make payments on the debt.

Note 1: Which is where the trolls live, silly!

More fairy tales, please!

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