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True and Untrue and Other Norse Tales

True and Untrue and Other Norse Tales

Copyright Date: 1972
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    True and Untrue and Other Norse Tales
    Book Description:

    A selection of Norwegian folktales chosen by Sigrid Undset, True and Untrue and Other Norse Tales is based on the classic folklore collected by Pieter Christian Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe. These wonderful stories tell of worlds similar to our own, worlds with love and hate, sorrow and joy, humor and pathos. Beginning with brothers named True and Untrue, the book takes readers through tales of princes and princesses, giants and trolls, husbands and wives, and a castle that is "East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon." Strikingly illustrated by Frederick T. Chapman while under fire in Italy during the Second World War and with a remarkable foreword by Undset, True and Untrue and Other Norse Tales has a story for everyone.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8480-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[viii])
  3. The Adventure Story of the Folk Tale — A Foreword
    (pp. 1-27)
    Sigrid Undset

    If you like folk tales and if you have read the folk tales of different nations, you will have noticed the family likeness among a number of stories from countries separated by thousands of miles of land and ocean. You may have wondered how it could happen, that much the same kind of tales should be told in almost every corner of the globe. Is it because all men are brothers under the skin, and the things that matter the most to all of us are in the end very much the same, so that when we invent stories about...

  4. True and Untrue
    (pp. 28-36)

    Once on a time there were two brothers; one was called True, and the other Untrue. True was always upright and good towards all, but Untrue was bad and full of lies, so that one could believe what he said. Their mother was a widow, hadn’t much to live on; so when her sons had grown up, she was forced to send them away to earn their bread in the world. Each took a little scrip with some food in it, and then they went their way.

    Now, when they had walked till evening, they sat down a windfall in...

  5. The Mastermaid
    (pp. 37-56)

    Once on a time there was a king who had several sons — I don’t know how many there were — but the youngest had no rest at home, for nothing else would please him but to out into the world and try his luck, and after a long time king was forced to give him leave to go. Now, after he had travelled some days, he came one night to a Giant’s house, and there he got a place in the Giant’s service. In the morning the Giant went off to herd his goats, and as he left the yard, he...

  6. Soria Moria Castle
    (pp. 57-71)

    Once on a time there was a poor couple who had a son whose name was Halvor. Ever since he was a little boy he would turn his hand to nothing, but just sat and groped about in the ashes. His father and mother often put him out to learn this trade or that, but Halvor could stay nowhere; for, when he had been there a day or two, he would run away from his master, and never stop till he was sitting again in the ingle, poking about in the cinders.

    Well, one day a skipper came and asked...

  7. The Seven Foals
    (pp. 72-82)

    Once on a time there was a poor couple who lived in a wretched hut, far far away in the wood. How they lived I can’t tell, but I’m sure it was from hand to mouth, and hard work even then; for they had three sons, and the youngest of them was the Ashlad, of course, for he did little else than lie there and poke about in the ashes.

    One day the eldest lad said he would go out to earn his bread, and he soon got leave, and wandered out into the world. There he walked and walked...

  8. Dapplegrim
    (pp. 83-96)

    Once on a time there was a rich couple who had twelve sons; but the youngest, when he was grown up, said he wouldn’t stay any longer at home, but be off into the world to try his luck. His father and mother said he did very well at home, and had better stay where he was. But no, he couldn’t rest; away he must and would go. So at last they gave him leave. And when he had walked a good bit, he came to a king’s palace, where he asked for a place, and got it.

    Now the...

  9. Farmer Weathersky
    (pp. 97-107)

    Once on a time there was a man and his wife, who had an only son, and his name was John. The old dame thought it high time for her son to go out into the world to learn a trade, and bade her husband be off with him.

    “But whatever you do,” she said, “mind you bind him to someone who can teach him to be master above all masters”; and with that she put some food and a roll of tobacco into a bag, and packed them off.

    Well! they went to many masters; but one and all...

  10. The Giant Who Had No Heart in His Body
    (pp. 108-117)

    Once on a time there was a king who had seven sons, and he loved them so much that he could never bear to be without them all at once, but one must always be with him. Now, when they were grown up, six were to set off to woo, but as for the youngest, his father kept him at home, and the others were to bring back a princess for him to the palace. So the king gave the six the finest clothes you ever set eyes on, so fine that the light gleamed from them a long way...

  11. The Big Bird Dan
    (pp. 118-131)

    Once on a time there was a king who had twelve daughters, and he was so fond of them they must always be at his side; but every day at noon, while the King slept, the Princesses went out to take a walk. So once, while the King was taking his noontide nap, and the Princesses had gone to take their walk, all at once they were missing, and worse, they never came home again. Then there was great grief and sorrow all over the land, but the most sorry of all was the King. He sent messengers out throughout...

  12. The Boy With the Ale Keg
    (pp. 132-136)

    Once there was a boy who had served for a long time with a man of the North country. That man was past master at brewing beer, his ale was so incredibly good it was quite matchless. When the boy was about to leave and the man had to pay him his wages he said he wanted nothing but a keg of the Christmas ale. Well, he got it and went his way, and he carried it with him for a long time. But the longer he carried it, the heavier the ale keg felt, and he began to look...

  13. The Blacksmith They Were Afraid to Receive in Hell
    (pp. 137-146)

    Once on a time, in the days when our Lord and St. Peter used to wander on earth, they came to a smith’s house. He had made a bargain with the Devil that the fiend should have him after seven years, but during that time he was to be master of all masters in his trade, and to this bargain both he and the Devil had signed their names. So he had struck up in great letters over the door of his forge,

    Here dwells the Master over all Masters.

    Now, when our Lord passed by and saw that, he...

  14. Gertrude’s Bird
    (pp. 147-148)

    In those days when our Lord and St. Peter wandered upon earth, they came once to an old wife’s house, who sat baking. Her name was Gertrude, and she had a red mutch on her head. They had walked a long way, and were both hungry, and our Lord begged hard for a bannock to stay their hunger. Yes, they should have it. So she took a little tiny piece of dough and rolled it out, but as she rolled it, it grew and grew till it covered the whole griddle.

    Nay, that was too big; they couldn’t have that....

  15. Why the Sea is Salt
    (pp. 149-155)

    Once on a time, but it was a long, long time ago, there were two brothers, one rich and one poor. Now, one Christmas eve, the poor one hadn’t so much as a crumb in the house, either of meat or bread, so he went to his brother to ask him for something to keep Christmas with, in God’s name. It was not the first time his brother had been forced to help him, and you may fancy he wasn’t very glad to see his face, but he said,

    “If you will do what I ask you to do, I’ll...

  16. Buttercup
    (pp. 156-160)

    Once on a time there was a wife who sat and baked. Now, you must know that this woman had a little son, who was so plump and fat, and so fond of good things, that they called him Buttercup; she had a dog, too, whose name was Goldtooth, and as she was baking, all at once Goldtooth began to bark.

    “Run out, Buttercup, there’s a dear!” said the wife, “and see what Goldtooth is barking at.”

    So the boy ran out, and came back crying out,

    “Oh, God save me. Here comes a great big witch, with her head...

  17. Herding the King’s Hares
    (pp. 161-172)

    Once there was a farmer who had turned over his farm to his oldest son. But he had three more sons. Their names were Per, Paal, and Espen Ashlad. They stayed at home with their father and wouldn’t do a thing, for they fared too well. And they thought themselves too good for anything, and nothing was good enough for them.

    But then, at long last, it came to Per’s ears that the King wanted a shepherd to herd his hares, and so he told his father that that was where he wanted to go, that was just the thing...

  18. The Ashlad Who Made the Princess Say, “You Lie.”
    (pp. 173-175)

    Once on a time there was a king who had a daughter, and she was such a dreadful story teller that the like of her was not to be found far or near. So the King gave out, that if anyone could tell such a string of lies as would get her to say, “you lie,” he should have her to wife, and half the kingdom besides. Well, many came, as you may fancy, to try their luck, for everyone would have been very glad to have the Princess, to say nothing of the kingdom; but they all cut a...

  19. Well Done and Ill Paid
    (pp. 176-179)

    Once on a time there was a man, who had to drive his sledge to the wood for fuel. So a bear met him.

    “Out with your horse,” said the bear, “or I’ll strike all your sheep dead by summer.”

    “Oh! heaven help me then,” said the man ; “there’s not a stick of firewood in the house; you must let me drive home a load of fuel, else we shall be frozen to death. I’ll bring the horse to you tomorrow morning.”

    Yes! on those terms he might drive the wood home; that was a bargain. But Bruin said,...

  20. Why the Bear is Stumpy-Tailed
    (pp. 180-181)

    One day the bear met the fox, who came slinking along with a string of fish he had stolen.

    “Whence did you get those from?” asked the bear.

    “Oh! my Lord Bruin, I’ve been out fishing and caught them,” said the fox.

    So the bear had a mind to learn to fish too, and bade the fox tell him how he was to set about it.

    “Oh, it’s an easy craft for you,” answered the fox, “and soon learned. You’ve only got to go upon the ice, and cut a hole and stick your tail down into it; and so...

  21. The Fox as Herdsman
    (pp. 182-183)

    Once on a time there was a woman who went out to hire a herdsman, and she met a bear.

    “Whither away, Goody?” said Bruin.

    “Oh, I’m going out to hire a herdsman,” answered the woman.

    “Why not have me for a herdsman?” said Bruin.

    “Well, why not?” said the woman. “If you only knew how to call the flock; just let me hear.”

    “OW, OW! “growled the bear.

    “No, no! I won’t have you,” said the woman, as soon as she heard him say that, and ofif she went on her way.

    So, when she had gone a bit...

  22. Gudbrand on the Hillside
    (pp. 184-189)

    Once on a time there was a man whose name was Gudbrand. He had a farm which lay far, far away upon a hillside, and so they called him Gudbrand on the Hillside.

    Now, you must know this man and his good wife lived so happily together, and understood one another so well, that all the husband did the wife thought so well done there was nothing like it in the world, and she was always glad whatever he turned his hand to. The farm was their own land, and they had a hundred dollars lying at the bottom of...

  23. Little Frikk and his Fiddle
    (pp. 190-197)

    Once upon a time there was a poor crofter who had an only son. The boy was puny and of indifferent health, so that he was too frail to go out as a day laborer. He was called Frikk, and since he was also small of stature they called him Litde Frikk.

    In his home food was scarce, so the father went around the countryside and tried to find somebody who would hire the boy as shepherd or errand boy. But nobody wanted his son, until at last he came to the sheriff: he was willing to take him on,...

  24. The Husband Who Was to Mind the House
    (pp. 198-201)

    Once on a time there was a man, so surly and cross, he never thought his wife did anything right in the house. So, one evening, in haymaking time, he came home, scolding and swearing, and making a racket.

    “Goodness me, don’t be so angry, there’s a good man,“said his wife. “Tomorrow let’s change our work, I’ll go out with the mowers and mow, and you shall mind the house at home.”

    Yes! the husband thought that would do very well. He was quite willing, he. said.

    So, early next morning, his wife took a scythe over her shoulder, and...

  25. Not a Pin to Choose Between Them
    (pp. 202-208)

    Once on a time there was a man, and he had a wife. Now this couple wanted to sow their fields, but they had neidier seed-corn nor money to buy it with. But they had a cow, and the man was to drive it into town and sell it, to get money to buy corn for seed. But when it came to the pinch, the wife dared not let her husband start for fear he should spend the money in drink, so she set off herself with the cow, and took besides a hen witii her.

    Close by the town...

  26. The Squire’s Bride
    (pp. 209-212)

    Once upon a time there was a wealthy squire who owned a large manor. He had silver in his chests and money that he loaned out at interest, but he lacked one thing, because he was a widower. One day the daughter of a neighboring farmer came to work on the manor. The squire liked her very much, and since she was the child of poor people, he thought he had only to hint at marriage, and she would agree on the spot. So he told her that it had occurred to him that maybe he had better marry again....

  27. The Master Thief
    (pp. 213-232)

    Once upon a time there was a poor cottager who had three sons. He had nothing to leave them when he died, and no money with which to put them to any trade, so that he did not know what to make of them. At last he said he would give them leave to take to anything each liked best, and to go whithersoever they pleased, and he would go with them a bit of the way; and so he did. He went with them till they came to a place where three roads met, and there each of them...

  28. The Parson and the Sexton
    (pp. 233-235)

    Once upon a time there was a Parson, who thought he was such a big shot, he roared from afar, when he saw somebody driving towards him on the highroad: “Give way, give way, here comes the Parson in person.”

    One day when he travelled along and made a nuisance of himself, he met the King. “Give way, give way,” he roared from afar. But the King drove on, and this time it was the Parson who had to give way and turn his horse out into the roadside. But when the King came up alongside the Parson he said...

  29. East O’ the Sun and West O’ the Moon
    (pp. 236-249)

    Once on a time there was a poor husbandman who had so many children that he hadn’t much of either food or clothing to give them. Pretty children they all were, but the prettiest was the youngest daughter, who was so lovely there was no end to her loveliness.

    So one day, ’twas on a Thursday evening late in the fall of the year, the weather was wild and rough outside, and it was cruelly dark, and the rain fell and the wind blew, till the walls of the cottage shook again. There they all sat round the fire busy...

  30. The Reward of the World
    (pp. 250-254)

    Once upon a time there was a man who went out in the woods to cut some rafters. But he could not find the kind of trees he needed—long, slim and straight, until he came high upon the mountainside, beneath a great scree. There he heard cries and wailing, as if somebody was in the throes of death. He went up to see, what this might be, whether somebody needed help. Then he heard, the cries came from underneath a large flat stone in the scree—it was so heavy, it would take several men to lift it. But...

  31. Back Matter
    (pp. 255-255)