Following a traditional fairytale "recipe", the story takes center stage in a magical world, where the hero needs to battle a varity of opponents, as well as solving a set of impossible tasks before achieving honor and prosperity. This tale contains all necessities that befits a classic; a megalomaniac and condescending king, a beautiful princess and an underestimated, happy-go-lucky underdog.
Opposed to the story of The Boy, the Troll and the Porridge Eating Contest were the hero conquers the hungry troll all on his own, he is in this fairytale well safeguarded by a varity of helpers. Some of you might already be familiar with this concept, perhaps after reading the tale of The Boy Who Was Never Afraid. Helpers are one of the main features of the construction of the fairytale, often reflecting the weaker citizens of society, while there is additionally a subtle ridicule of those in power. In this tale, the Ashlad emerge as a picture perfect example of may come of life, if one dares to be open to new opportunities and new acquaintances, For each person he meets on his search towards prosperity possess a magical ability, all of which turn out to be quite handy in the end.
(Note: I am well aware of the fact that the princess is ultimately deprived of having a say here; princesses emerge quite often as "giveaway goodies" in these stories. A thorough justification is therefore in order, and is as we speak on my bucket list. That being said, back to business):
Once upon a time there was a king, and this king had heard of a ship that went just as fast at land as it did on water; he would like to have a ship like that, and to whoever who could build it, he promised his daughter and half the kingdom as well. And this he had proclaimed in all the churches throughout the land. Word spread across the land, and many were those who tried, for half the kingdom could be a good ting to possess, as well as the king's daughter; all those who tried however, failed miserably.
Once upon a time, there was a king... Illustration by Theodor Kittelsen
Then there were three brothers living in a parish away in the woods; the oldest was named Per, the other was called Pål and the youngest was Espen, also called Ashlad, for he was always sitting by the hearth, digging in the ashes. But on one Sunday, the king's proclamation was made about the ship he wanted, Espen was accidentaly at church. When he came home and shared the news, Per, who was the oldest, asked their mother for some food; for now he wanted to try his look and build the ship, to win the king's daughter and half the Kingdom.
As soon as he got the knapsack on his back , he strode off. On the way he met an crooked old man.
"Where are you going?" said the man.
"I'm going to the woods and make a trough to my father, he does not like to eat with the rest of us," he replied.
"Trough, it is!" said the man. "What are you in your bag?"
"Manure," said Per.
"Manure it is!" replied the man.
Then Per strode off to the oak forest and chopped with all of the strength he could muster. But no matter what he did, and how hard he tried, the only thing that became of the wood, was troughs. When it was time for dinner, he wanted something to eat, and opened his knapsack. But it was not his mother's food that was in i - the only thing he could find was manure. Now he had nothing to eat, nothing came of the boat, and he was sick and tired of trying. So Per took his ax and his knapsack , and returned home to his mother.
Then it was Pål who wanting to tempt his luck; perhaps he could build the ship, and win the king's daughter and half the kingdom. He asked his mother for some provisions, took his knapsack and strode off. On his way he met the crooked old man.
"Where are you going?" asked the man.
"Oh, I'll go to the woods and make a trough for our little pig," he said.
"Trough it will be!" said the man. "And what's in your bag?"
"Manure," replied Pål.
"Manure it will be!" said the man.
And so Pål strode into the woods, and began to chop down the trees, and started building the ship. But no matter how much he tried, nothing became of it, but a pig trough. He did not give up however, and persisted his venture for some time. Late in the afternoon, it was time to eat, as he had gotten hungry; when he picked up his knapsack however, not as much as a food crumb was left. Pål became so angry that he wrung the sack inside out and dashed it against a stump, took his ax and strode on home to his mother.
When Pål had returned, it was the Ashlad who wanted to try his luck, and asked his mother for a snackpack. "Maybe I could build a ship and win the king's daughter and half the kingdom," he said.
"Like that would ever happen," his mother replied; "You who have never done anything but dig in the ashes. No, you do not get any food!"
But the Ashlad did not care; he sticked to his guns and at long last his mother agreed to let him go. Stoc-still, she refused to grant provisions him, but he managed to snatch with him a couple of potato cakes and a drop of lukewarm beer.
When he was well on his way, he met the same old, crooked little man as his brothers:
When they had sailed a bit farther, they found a man who was lying on a sunny hill, sippng on an ale tap.
"Who are you?" Said Espen Ashlad, "and for what reason do you lie here, sipping on an ale tap?"
"Oh, when you do not have a barrel, then the tap will have to do," said the man; "I'm so thirsty for beer and wine, I can never get enough," he said, and then he asked if he was could join the ship.
"Do you want to join, then climb in," Askeladden said.
That he would, he climbed in, and for the ride he took with him his tap.
When they were well on their way, they saw someone who lay with one ear to the ground and listened.
What sort of fellow are you, and what's the good of lying on the ground listening?" said Espen Ash Lad. "I', listening to the grass, for my hearing is so good that I can hear it grow," he said, and then he asked if he could come along on the ship. There was no refusing him. "If you want to come along, just climb in," said the Ashlad. Yes that he'd like, and so he climbed aboard.
When they had sailed a bit farther, they came to a man who was standing and aiming a gun. "What sort of fellow are you, and what's the good of standing and aiming like that?" said the Ask Lad. "My sight is so keen," he said, "That without difficulty I can shoot straight to the world's end." Then he asked if he could join the ship. "Do you want to join, then climb in," Askeladden said. Indeed, he would like that , and so he climbed in.
When they had sailed a bit farther, they came to a man hopping about on his one foot, and on the other he had seven hundredweights. "What sort of fellow are you, and what's the good of hopping about on one foot, with seven hundred-weight on the other?" "I'm so fleet footed," he said, "that if I walked on both feet, I'd come to the end of the world in less than five minutes." Then he asked if he could come along on the ship. "If you want to come along, just climb in," said the Ash Lad. Yes that he would like, and so he climbed up in the ship to join the Asklad and his companions.
When they had sailed a bit further, they met a man who stood holding his hand over his mouth. "What sort of fellow are you," said the Ashlad, " and what's the good of standing like that and holding your hand over your mouth?" he said. "Oh, I've got seven summers and fifteen winters inside my body!" he said, "so I'd better hold my mouth, for if I let them out all at once, they'd put an end to the world right away," he said, and then he asked if he could come along. "If you want to come along, just climb in," said the Ash Lad. Yes, he'd like to come along, so he climbed aboard the ship with the others.
When they had sailed for quite while, they finally came to the king's manor. The Asklad strode right in to the king and said that the ship was standing ready in the yard, and now he wanted the king's daughter, just as the king had promised.
The king wasn't any too pleased about this, for the Ashlad didn't look as if he was worth very much. He was both black and sooty, and the king hardly wanted to give his daughter to such a tramp. So he said he'd have to wait a while. He couldn't have the princess before he had emptied a storehouse of the king's, which had three hundred barrels of meat in it. "It's all the same - if you can get it done by this time tomorrow, you shall have her," said the king. "I'll have to try," said the Ask Lad, "but I suppose I'll be allowed to take one of my comrades along, won't I?" That he could do - he could even take all six with him, said the king, for he thought the task was downright impossible.
The Ashlad only took with the man who ate gray stone, and was always so hungry for meat. And when they unlocked the storehouse next day, there was nothing left but six small shoulders of salt mutton, one for each of the others on board. Then the Ashlad strode in to the king and told him that the storehouse was empty, and now he must surely get the king's daughter. The king went out to the storehouse and, quite right, empty it was. But the Ashlad was still black and sooty, and the king thought it was really too bad that such a tramp should wed his daughter. So he said he had a cellar full of beer and old wine - three hundred barrels of each - which he wanted to have drunk up first. "And it's a sure thing, if you're man enough to drink them up by this time tomorrow, then you shall have her," said the king. "I'll have to try," said the Ash Lad. "But I suppose I'll be allowed take one of my comrades along, won't I?" "Yes, certainly," said the king. He felt he had so much beer and wines that they would be well taken care of - all seven! The Ashlad took with him the man who sucked the tap, and always thirsted after beer; and then the king locked them down in the cellar. There the man drank barrel after barrel, as long as there was anything left. But in the last one he left a drop, so there would be a couple of tankards for his comrades.
In the morning the cellar was unlocked, and straight-away the Ashlad strode in to the king and said he had dealt with the beer and wine, and now he surely must get the king's daughter, just as he had been promised. "Well, first I must go down to the cellar and see," said the king, for he didn't believe it. When he came to the cellar, there was nothing but empty barrels. But the Ashlad was still black and sooty, and the king felt it was unseemly to have such a son-in-law. Just the same, he said, if the boy could fetch water from the world's end for the princess's tea in ten minutes, then he should get both her and half the kingdom! For that was surely impossible, he believed.
"I'll have to try," said the Ashlad. So he got hold of the one who hopped on one foot and had seven hundred weights on the other, and said he must kick off the weight and use both legs as he could, for he had to have water from the world's end for the princess's tea in ten minutes.
The man took off the weights, got a pail, and set out - and gone he was in a flash. But time dragged on and on - seven long and seven broad - and he didn't come back. As last there were only three minutes before the time was up, and the king was as delighted as if he had been given a shilling.
|Gone he was in a flash. Illustration by Theodor Kittelsen|
But then the Ashlad shouted to the man who could hear the grass grow, and told him to listen to find out what had become of the other. "He has fallen asleep beside the well," he said. "I can hear him snoring, and there's a troll combing his hair." So the Ashlad shouted to the one who could shoot straight to the world's end, and bade him put a shot the troll. Indeedm that he could do! He shot him right in the eye. The troll let out a roar, so the man who was to fetch the tea-water woke up at once. And when he came to the king's manor, there was still a minute of the ten left.
The Ashlad strode in to the king and said that there was the water, and now he surely must get the king's daughter, there was certainly no more to be said about that. But the king thought that he was as black and sooty, and did not care to have him as a son-in-law. Now he had three hundreds cords of wood, with which he was going to dry the grain in the bathhouse, "If you're man enough to sit in there while it burns up, then you shall have her, I give you my word" he said. "I'll have to try," said the Ashlad, "but I suppose I can take one of my comrades along with me, can't I?" "Yes, all six if you like," said the king, for he thought it would be hot enough for them all.
The Ashlad took with him the man who had the fifteen winters and seven summers in his body, and strode into the bathhouse the evening. But the king had got such a roaring fire going that they could easily have cast stoves of iron. They could not get out, for no sooner were they in than the king barred the door and put on a couple of extra padlocks. So the Ashlad said:" You'll have to let out six or seven winters so there'll be a passable summer warmth."
Then they managed to endure in there, but as night was drawing on, it became quite chilly. So the Ashlad told him to warm it up a bit with a couple of summers, and then they slept until well into the next day. But when they heard the king rummaging about outside, the Ashlad said, "Now you must let out a couple more winters, but do it so that the last one goes right in his face."
|The man with the fifteen winters in his body let go the last one right in the king's face. Illustration by Theodor Kittelsen|
And so he did, and when the king opened up the bathhouse, thinking they were there burnt to a cinder, they sat shivering and freezing so their teeth were chattering, and the man with the fifteen winters in his body let go the last one right in the king's face, so a big chilblain appeared. "Do I get the king's daughter now?» said the Ashlad. "Yes, take her and keep her, and take the kingdom too!" He dared not to say "No" any longer. So they threw a wedding, and reveled and made merry, and fired off shots to scare away the troll hags. And, as they were rushing about groping for a bullet wadding, they mistook me for one, and gave me porridge in a flask and milk in a basket, and shot me straight here so I could tell you how it all came about.
The translation is a combination of my own making, and an existing version available on http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~norway/GoodHelpers.htm
For the Norwegian original version, visit http://runeberg.org/folkeven/099.html