Introduction | Cumulative | Explanatory | Talking Animals | Numbskulls | Fairy Tales


So, um, a lot of you probably know I?m a storyteller, and now actually, also, well actually, I have my degree in applied linguistics. But I did my degree, advanced degree in using storytelling to teach English to speakers of other languages. And I have studied folklore at the University of Oslo and I studied it also at the University of Minnesota. So this is some- thing I know a lot about. It?s kind of almost hard for me to narrow it down, something that you could get a PhD in if you want to, to get you interested and thinking about it for one hour.

When I say the word folklore, folk tales, what are some of the things that you?ve been learning about that you know already? There are legends … sure there are legends. That?s a kind of folklore.

Folklore is like a big subject matter, like when you have English, it?s com- posed of a lot of different things. (Talking to Student) You … are you just scratching your neck? I guess that?s allowed. Anything else? That?s all you know? Aren?t you an advanced English class? All you know is that there are legends? There?s got to be more. Come on.

There?s myths too. Thank you very much. Legends, myths…fables. What? And there are folk tales, which is you know, so…Legends, myths, fables, folk tales. There?s actually … if you were to get a PhD you get to study fun things like how rumors are spread, or how gossip starts, or graffiti, or you get to study folk life, how people celebrate various kinds of customs, you know, and how that gets passed on and so on and so forth. It?s really a lot of stuff. And um, the thing that I?ve always focused in on is folk tales.

Fables, you know, are short stories with animals in them. They?re differ- ent from other kinds of stories because they always, the animal isn?t just an animal. It stands for something. So a lion stands for royalty or kingliness and a sheep stands for meekness, and a fox stands for cleverness, and everything stands for something. And they always have a moral at the end.

So even though they?re very short, little kids never get them. They?re not really very good for little kids, you know. Even though a lot of people think so because they?re short. What?s the difference between a myth and a folktale?

Student: A myth, like, explains how something happens…. a long, long time ago.

Sometimes, but not always. There?s one big difference. Got to have that on the clear. Myths, and I didn?t get to, I was going to, I brought some myths that I?m working on. But myths always have gods in them. They can seem a lot like these other stories but they always, and they do often explain how things got to be, but they have gods. So Zeus or you know, Hermes, or you know, Hercules, or any one of those guys, and if you?re in the Norse myths, I know you learned about Odin, the head of the gods. The day Wednesday day comes from Odin because Odin?s old name was Wodin, so Wednesday is Wodin?s Day. Thursday is Thor?s Day. So that?s named after Thor, the thunder god, that?s my next manuscript I?m working on, stories of Thor the thunder god, very good stories. Oh, the best! Thursday. and Friday is named after another god, the chief of the lesser god named Fre, so it?s Fre?s Day. Friday, it became in time.

All the other words we got from the Vikings were things like murder, blood, axe, slaughter, pillage, plunder, all those things, ?cause you know what those guys are like. But actually all those words that are “g-g-g-” sound like that, slaughter, kill, those are all Viking words. Isn?t that terrible?

So that?s the big difference between myths and folk tales. Is they?re very similar but these have gods. What about a legend? That?s where you were at. It was supposed to have happened a long time ago. And it explains how something got to be the way it was. It?s supposed to be true.  Back to Top

Cumulative Genre

So what I wanted to talk to you about today, was, uh, I?m an expert, of course, in Norwegian and Scandinavian folklore because I?m a native of Norway. I?m still not a U.S. citizen. So that?s my area of expertise. And I wanted to tell you something about the types of the folk tales and you might have learned about some of them. And I?ll give you some examples.

So folk tales, just like folklore can be broken down, folk tales can be broken down in different types. And in the days before television, before radio, before going to the movies, or plays or theater, or what you guys do for entertainment, people sat around telling stories. So they were in a way the movies or the television, before books, and before all of those things were invented. All right?

So a lot of people, especially adults, for some reason think that all folk tales are meant for little kids. And that?s – can I use the word baloney? – That?s a bunch of baloney. Absolutely not true. Folk tales were meant for everybody, kind of the way television is meant for everybody, but just as in the case is for television, there were certain types of stories that you would tell just when all the little kids were also awake, you know, like after school. Right? The shows that are on after school are very different from the shows that are on at say 9 or 10 o?clock at night. You all agree? Yeah. It?s exactly the same with folk tales. So there?s some … you know you may think that this belongs to the ancient world, but actually, it?s not that different.

So the tales that were told when the little kids were still awake were first of all a kind of story which we?ll call a cumulative. And a lot of you know those stories. Have you heard a story about, um, the pancake, or “The House That Jack Built”? What happens is you have the addition of one detail after another so it doesn?t have as much of a story line, but the fun of it is kind of the addition of details.

A story that I often tell for very little kids, and oh they just love it because you know how little kids always say I?m going to eat you up, they always like stuff that has to do with food, is a story called the Fat Cat. I would normally only tell this for, this is the kind of television, or kind of story, that?s really good for 2 to 5 or 2 to 6 years of age. And I?ll just sort of very briefly tell you parts of that story so you can get an idea of it. It?s a story I love to tell called the Fat Cat, so that you have a clear picture in your head.

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, there was an old woman who had a cat. Well, one day, she made herself a nice big pot of gruel. As she was about to sit down to eat the gruel, she realized, oh, she didn?t have any cream or sugar. It was going to taste terrible! So she said to her cat, “I?m going to run over to the neighbors and get some cream and sugar. You stay here and don?t get close to the gruel.” So she left.

As soon as she was out the door, the cat walked up to the gruel, (sniff sound) sniffed it and thought “Ooh, that smells so good” (sniff) and he thought “Oh, she?ll never be able to tell!” so he went (slurp sound) and he took a little lick … “So tasty!” So he bent down and (slurp) took another and (slurp-lick-slurp-slurp) … before he knew it, he had eaten up all the gruel.

He was still hungry. So he ate the pot as well. Well, just then the old woman walked in the door. And she looked at her cat and said “(gasp) My little cat, you are very fat! What have you been eating?”

“And the cat said, I ate the gruel and the pot. And now I?m going to eat you!” (Munch-gulp sounds) If you were a little kid you?d be squealing by now. “Ahhh!” You?ve got to get into it! But he was still hungry, so he walked out of the house, down the road, until he met Skalinkulot. And Skalinkulot said “My little cat, you are very fat. What have you been eat- ing?”

And the cat said, “I ate the gruel, and the pot, and the old woman too, and now I?m going to eat you!” (Growl-munch-gulp eat sounds) And he ate Skalinkulot. But he was still hungry. So he walked on down the road, and down the road, until he met Skahotentot.

And Skahotentot looked at this fat cat and said “My little cat, you are so fat, what have you been eating?” And the cat said…if you were little, you?d go, “I ate the gruel, and the pot and the old woman too, and Skahotentot and now I?m going to eat you too!” (um yum yum, munch crunch) and he ate up the Skahotentot. But can you believe it he was still hungry?

So he waddled on down the road, and down the road he went until he met five birds in a flock. And the five birds said, “My little cat you are so fat, what have you been eating?” And the cat said, … and you know the drill. “I ate the gruel and the pot and the old woman too. Skalinkulot, Skahotentot and now I?m going to eat you!” And he ate the five birds in the flock.

So he keeps on going, next he meets seven girls dancing, the old lady with the pink parasol, the parson with the crooked staff. Each time the thing gets longer and longer and longer. Finally he meets a woodcutter. And the woodcutter is a smart little guy. “You are so fat, what have you been eating?” And the cat said “I ate the gruel and the pot and the old woman too, Skalinkulot, Skahotentot, five birds in a flock, seven girls dancing, the old woman with a pink parasol, the parson with a crooked staff, and now I?m going to eat you!”

“Oh, no you are not!” said the woodcutter. And he got out his axe and he sliced a great big hole in the cat?s tummy and out jumped the parson with the crooked staff, the old woman with the pink parasol, the seven girls dancing, five birds in a flock, Skahotentot, Skalinkulot, the woman jumped out and grabbed her pot and ran home as fast as she could go.

So the woodcutter took the cat, stitched up its stomach and put a great big Band-Aid on it and brought him home to live. And that night the cat had such a bad stomach ache that he promised himself he would never eat that much again ever. And he never did. And don?t you do that either.

Oh, Snipp snapp snute her er eventyret ute! Which is Norwegian and means “Snip, snap, snout, this tale is told out.” Which you?re going to have to learn.

Snipp (Class repeats) Snapp (Class repeats) Snute (Class repeats) Her (Class repeats) Er (Class Repeats) eventyret (Class repeats) ute. (Class repeats.)

When your parents say to you “What did you learn in school today, dear?” You can say “I learned Norwegian.”

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Explanatory Genre

Another kind of story that?s very popular with both younger and older kids and often borders on the area of myth is a story that?s called explanatory story. And they?re called explanatory because they explain how something gets to be the way they are. You?ve heard a lot of native American stories, maybe, that explains different natural phenomena, why trees, why birch bark has black spots on it, or why the sun and the moon live in the sky.

I told a story that I really like to the other class that is the story of how Bear got a stubby tail. That?s a classic Norwegian story. And what?s cool about it is you can find a very similar version of it in Native American collec- tions of stories, which shows you how universal some of these stories are. Do a lot of you know that story, about Bear? I?ll tell it. It?s very short.

Once upon a time, one year, they got this really early winter. It came way earlier than any animals expected. And it was really rough on Bear be- cause he had not planned ahead of time, he had not eaten enough food and now he needed to go hibernate, and he was just starving. You cant? sleep when you?re hungry! He was lying on a rock one day and he was mad, be- cause the lakes were frozen over, all the berries and roots and everything was covered under layers of ice and snow and he didn?t know how he was going to get through the winter. He was lying there feeling all grumpy and growly and suddenly, he sees Mr. Fox! A fox comes walking by and he?s got this huge stringer of fish in his mouth! He can?t believe it!

He goes, “Mr. Fox, where did you get that fish?” “Why,” said the fox, “I went ice fishing.”

“How?d you do that?” said the bear. “It?s easy for you. What you do is you go out on to the lake, and dig a hole in the ice, and then you take your tail” – and he pointed to bear?s tail, for in those days bear had beautiful bushy tails to match the rest of him – “you take your tail and you stick it in the hole and you sit down and you wait. You?ve got to be really quiet and you mustn?t move, because if you do you?re going to scare away the fish. After awhile, it?s going to start to hurt on your tail and that?s a good sign because that means the fish are biting. When it hurts so much that you think you don?t need any more fish, you?ve got to jerk up as fast as you can so the fish won?t have time to let go. And then you?ll get all the fish you can eat.”

“Great idea!” said Bear. “I?m going.” And he jumped off of his rock and lumbered on to the ice and dug a nice big hole in it. He took his big beautiful tail and stuck it inside the hole, and he sat down, waiting. “Ah, I?m so hungry, I can?t wait.”

After awhile, he went, “oh, ho, that hurt. That was probably a pike. Pretty sharp teeth there. Oh! Probably a sturgeon. Oo-hoo-hoo! Some lake trout and probably walleye too! Oh-how-ow!” He said, “This is probably more than I know how to eat! I?ll be okay.” When he finally had sat there long enough and it hurt so bad he couldn?t stand it, he jerked up and he jerked his tail right off. The ice had frozen solid around his tail, so that when he jerked up, he ripped his tail off. And all that bear was left with was this stubby little stump of a tail. And from that day on, bear has had only a little stumpy tail to this very day.

Snipp snapp snute her er eventyret ute!

You can do better. Some of you are a little too quiet!

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Talking Animals Genre

The next one is the talking animals, stories like The Three Pigs, or The Three Bears, or Henny Penny, Goosey Loosey, and all of those kinds, the Brer Rabbit stories, the Ananzi stories … my very favorite one which all of you ought to know, but I don?t know if I?ve told it to you … If I have, I haven?t told it for so many years, I?m going to do it anyway, is the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff. (Pause) You must have. I know you have. It?s very short so I have time.

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago in a far, far away country called Norway there lived three goats and the name of all three goats was The Billy Goats Gruff. Now these goats had a huge problem because in order to go up into the mountains to get grass, which is nice and juicy up there, they had to go across the bridge. And underneath this bridge lived the most hideous troll you have ever laid your eyes on. He was a huge, enormous creature with eyes as big as pewter plates and a nose as long as a poker. But there was no way around it. Across the bridge they had to go.

So the first one to go across the bridge was the teeniest and the tiniest of the three little goats and when he walked across the bridge he made a teeny tiny noise like this, “trip,trap, trip, trap …”

“WHO?S STEPPING OVER MY BRIDGE?” roared the troll.

“I-I-it?s o-only me, I?m the t-teeniest, tiniest of the three little billy goats and I?m on my way up into the mountains to get f-f-fat.”


“P-please, d-don?t eat me up. Wh-why don?t you w-wait a little while ?til my brother comes. He?s really a lot bigger and f-f-fatter than I am.”

“ALL RIGHT THEN!” roared the troll. And off ran that little goat as fast as he could go.

Now the next one to go across the bridge was the second of the three goats. And when he walked across the bridge he made a sound like this, he went “Trip, Trap. Trip, trap.”

“WHO?S STEPPING OVER MY BRIDGE?” roared the troll.

“Ho-ho-hit?s only me, I-I?m the second of the three b-billy goats and I?m on my way up into the mountains to get f-f-fat.”


“Oh, please don?t eat me. Why don?t you wait a little while until my b- b-big brother comes? He?s really a lot bigger and f-fatter and t-t-t-tastier too.”

“ALL RIGHT THEN!” roared the troll. And off ran that little goat as fast as he could go.

Now the next one to go across the bridge was the biggest of the three goats. He was just huge. His fur was shimmering and shining and he had these two gigantic horns in front of his head and he was so heavy that when he walked across the bridge, it sounded like thunder. And it went “TRIP, TRAP, TRIP, TRAP, TRIP … “WHO?S STEPPING OVER MY BRIDGE?” roared the troll. “It?s me. I?m the biggest of the three Billy Goats Gruff and I?m on my way up into the mountains to get fat.”


“Well, why don?t you come along. I?ve got two spears, with those I?ll poke out your eyeball and ears. I?ve got two curly stones with those I?ll break your body and bones. And he went at that troll and he broke every bone in his body and poked his eyes out and he shoved him way down into the river. And then he went with his brothers up into the mountains where they ate and got so big and so fat that if the fat hasn?t fallen off them yet, why, they?re still there.

Snipp snapp snute her er eventyret ute! All right! You?re doing good.
So what kinds of movies or TV shows do you have that are about talking

animals today? (Inaudible student response) Okay, what else? Think of all those Disney movies? Bambi, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast … yeah, that?s more, yeah, we?ll get to that one. No,not the Cinderella… those are not just talking animals.

Think of … Winnie the Pooh? That?s…that?s talking toys. That?s called a fantasy. And the difference is they?re based on a book which has a known author. So those are not out of the oral tradition. Remember the difference is author versus no author. All folk tales have no known author that we know about. So good observation but they belong in the literary fantasy genre, not in the traditional folk tale. Because Winnie the Pooh is written by A.A. Milne, remember?

What?s the one with the dog and the cat that disappeared over the moun- tains you know and got lost and all that stuff… “Homeward Bound!” that was a good example. There?s a million Disney movies based on exactly that kind of a theme. So that?s a very popular one.

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Numbskulls Genre

Another one that I think you also see a lot of today are the ones that are called uh, numbskull. Can you read my handwriting? That?s a “U” when I put that. Sometimes they?re called noodlehead stories, too. And they?re stories about people who think they?re kind of clever but they?re actually very, very stupid. And they get into one scrape after another. Because what they think is a clever idea turns out to be a really bad idea.

There?s this very famous Norwegian story about the man who was going to keep house, or another very famous, sometimes they?re called “Jack” tales, and in Latin America, they?re always stories about a character named Pedro, he?s always very…and in Germany he?s always called Hans, and in England, there?s a very funny story called The Three Sillies. And I don?t have time to tell you the whole story, but I?ll get you the general idea.

It?s about a young woman who?s being courted by this guy. And so her parents have him over for dinner, and they serve him this nice meal, but he runs out of beer. So she of course jumps up and says, let me refill this. So she takes the mug and goes down into the basement where they have a big keg, and she opens up the tap and puts the mug underneath, but it?s a very slow drip.

So she sits down on the stairs to wait. And she?s sitting there she?s kind of looking around, and she sees that there?s an axe stuck in the beam in the ceiling. And she goes, “(gasp) What if me and my sweetheart were to get married and what if we had a little child and that child was a little boy and what if he came down here one day to get some, you know, ale for his father, and what if the axe got loose from the ceiling and hit him in the head? It could kill him! Boo-hoo, … so she just starts bawling at the thought of what possibly could happen one day, and forgets to come upstairs with the beer.

So her mother wants to know what?s going on so she comes downstairs … “Sweetheart, what?s the matter?” And she says “I came down here and I?m noticing the axe stuck in the beam of the ceiling and thought what if me and my sweetheart get married and we have a little boy one day and he comes down here to fetch some beer for his father and what if the axe got loose from the ceiling, it could kill him!” And the mother says, (sob sob sob) “That?s terrible!” So then she starts crying too. These people are not too bright. (laughs)

So then of course the father comes down, and there?s his wife and there?s his daughter, there?s beer spilling all over the place, and then he goes, “What happened?” and he gets the whole story and goes (gasp) (sob sob) and he starts crying.

So now the sweetheart?s sitting all alone upstairs, you know, “where are they all?” so he goes downstairs to see what happened. And so they tell him this whole story and he cannot believe it. And he goes, “Oh my God, you three are the silliest people I?ve ever met in my life and I am leaving and I?m never coming back unless I meet three sillies sillier than the three of you are.” And he just storms out of the house, and of course, now they really fall to crying because the girl has lost her sweetheart.

But he goes off on his way, sort of shaking his head, and he comes to this farm. And he sees this very strange sight. There?s this farmer and he?s try- ing to push his cow up a ladder on to the sod roof. And he goes, “What are you doing?” And the farmer says, “Isn?t it obvious? There?s green grass right here on my roof. Why should I take the cow for a mile?s walk to the pasture when I could just put him up here on the roof?” said the man. “Uh, aren?t you afraid it?s going to fall off?”

“Not at all,” says the man. “I?m just going to tie rope around his neck, put it down the chimney, I?ll go inside, tie the other end of the rope to my leg, and I?ll go about doing my business.” Well, the man doesn?t think it?s so good, but he sort of waits around to see what happens. And after a couple of hours of shoving this poor cow up a ladder, he finally gets the cow up, ties the rope around his neck, drops it down the chimney, ties the other end to his, you know, and starts to cook and you know, meddle around, and of course it doesn?t last very long before the cow falls off the roof and there?s no gentle tug on the leg … instead the man goes flunk – shooting up the chimney, gets stuck, and would have in all likelihood suffocated up there, and the cow strangled, if the man hadn?t cut the rope and let them both fall down. So he just shakes his head and goes “That?s one big silly.”

And he walks on and finds and inn for the night. Well, it?s full, so he has to share the room with another man, which is fine, ?cause he?s really tired, goes to bed, early the next morning, he wakes up, there?s this huge racket. He rubs his eyes and looks and here?s this guy, and he?s like, had his pair of pants hanging there, and he?s in his underwear, and he?s taking this run- ning start, and he?s leaping trying to leap into the pants (crash – rip) and he can?t do it of course. Back and forth, back and forth, finally, the man says, what are you doing?

“You know, they?re such a complicated invention these kinds of pants. You know it takes me the better part of a morning to put them on, every single day.”

“Oh,” says the man, “I can?t believe this. Has it never occurred to you that you could sit down on your bed and just take the pants and put one leg in at a time and then stand up and pull them up?”

“Wow,” said the man. “That is brilliant. I never thought of that.” So you know, another big silly.

He gets to another town, and here the people are up in arms at the end of the day because they think the moon has fallen into a pond. Of course it?s just a reflection. When he tries to explain it, he gets chased out of town. So now he?s met more than three sillies sillier than the three at home, so he has got to go home and marry his sweetheart because he is a man of his word. But as to whether or not they were happy, that?s another tale to tell.

So that?s the kind of story that?s called a numbskull story. And I think there?s a lot of television shows … I just watched “Home Improvement” the other day and it struck me that “Home Improvement” is one numbskull tale. Can you think of any others? (Student Response) Tweety Bird?s a good example. (Student Response) Tom and Jerry, very good example. How about “The Simpsons”? That?s often that way. Any others? I think sometimes, that “Seinfeld,” especially George, ha ha! George has a lot of schemes that are just exactly like this, right? So there?s very many shows on television. Nearly all sitcoms have a lot of that kind of element in it.

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Fairy Tales Genre

Then, the last kind of story, is the most traditional of the stories, and they?re the ones that are often referred to as the fairy tales, even though they don?t have any fairies in it. You know, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, a lot of … Hmmm? All of those stories fall into that theme of the fairy tales.

And here is where you see all of these values and things very typical of stories. Every culture in the world no matter where you go have these kinds of stories. This is not unique to Norway, or Europe, or the Americas, you find them everywhere in the world. And the other thing you find that?s very typical are certain kinds of values and certain ideas and themes that are repeated. And one of them that you see a lot of, in this is, the youngest child triumphs against all odds. Right? Everybody else thinks the youngest kid is stupid, isn?t going to make it, turns out to be the hero. Just like in “Home Alone”? “Home Alone” is a modern fairy tale. Very much so. That?s why it was so popular. …

So you have, there?s always the number three that?s repeated, things tend to happen in threes. As you?ve noticed, all stories begin and end with a formula. “Once upon a time, a long, long time ago …” Right? Always begins that way. And in English they end, “And they lived happily ever after.” In Norway, that?s the formula we use. (Points to “Snipp, Snapp, Snute on Board) Okay, so they always have a traditional beginning and a traditional ending.

You?ll find that all the characters are stereotypes. You?re either young or you?re old, you?re good or you?re bad, you?re pretty or you?re ugly, you?re mean or kind, you know, you?re either generous, or not. Love always conquers hate, greed is contrasted with generosity, you see all those kinds of things are repeated again and again and again in those stories.

And I wanted to tell you…is it 30 or 35? It used to be 35. Okay, so hopefully, I?ll get it in just as the bell rings.

I?ll tell you one last story, which is a classic fairy tale of that genre. And most countries of the world have Cinderella stories and Norway does not. Norway has Cinderlad, or Ashlad stories. Okay, so it?s never a girl, it?s a boy. And he doesn?t have to battle evil stepmothers, he has to battle trolls, because you know this is Norway. So I?m going to end with that story.

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago in a far, far away country called Norway, there lived a father and a mother who had three sons. The father was a woodcutter who did a great job cutting down all these huge trees around his property. But one day when he was out in the woods, he was going at it so vigorously he threw his back out and could just hardly walk home. He just crawled home, into bed, hoping to get better, but weeks went by, and nothing improved. Finally, they ran out of money, and almost out of food, and there weren?t any banks, or social security, or social services to help anybody in those days, so you know, either he was going to get his sons to work, or they were going to starve.

So, he thought, “Pffft. You guys got to work.” And they?re like, “No, Dad, you?re just 60 years old, you?re not that old, you?ll get better in no time, we don?t want to chop down trees, it?s too much work, it?s boring, and besides, there?s trolls out there.” The father couldn?t believe it. He said, “Come on, don?t tell me you?re frightened of trolls. When I was your age, I dealt with trolls all the time. Those creatures are stupid! Don?t you know?” They were whining, but he was going after them, and told them about how they could do it, and finally he got them around to his way of thinking.

So the first one to go out was the oldest. He was a very cool kid, definitely

cool. He rolled up his sleeves, pulled up an axe, walked off into the woods. After awhile, he got to a place where there were really big, big trees. So he got his axe, and he started to get ready to chop. Ooh! He had no sooner cut the first blow then out of the woods comes this great big huge troll, screaming and roaring at him. “If you?re cutting down my trees I?m going to kill you and eat you!”

And the boy was so frightened he flung his axe aside, he ran home as fast as he could and when he got home, he was sweating and panting and said “Mom, Dad, you don?t know how lucky you are that I?m still alive! There was this great big huge troll and he was ready to kill me and eat me!”

“I can?t believe it! You call yourself my son and you run away from the troll? Why, when I was your age, I dealt with trolls all the time, but you, you just stick your tail between your legs like a cowardly dog. I?m ashamed to call you my son.” There wasn?t much the boy could say to that so he went over to the corner and sat down.

So the next one to go out was the second brother, equally cool, got another axe, off into the woods, got to that place and started chopping. Ohh! He had no sooner struck the first blow when out of the woods again comes this great big huge troll, screaming and roaring “If you?re cutting down my trees I?m going to kill you and eat you up!” and he just flung his axe and he ran home and he was out of breath, sweating, crying, “Mom, Dad, you don?t know how lucky you are I?m still alive! There?s a troll out there and he wanted to kill me and eat me!”

The father said … “You call yourself my son and you run away from a troll. I can?t believe it. You know when I was your age I dealt with those creatures all the time, but you, you?re nothing but a chicken.” There wasn?t much he could say so he went over to the corner and sat down.

Well now, the next one to go out was the youngest of the three, and him they had nicknamed the Ashlad because he liked to sit around and poke in the ashes. Oh, the brothers teased him to no end. They said “What? You go out and deal with a troll? Get serious! We all know the only thing you?re good for is sitting around at the fireplace poking in the ashes, or hanging on to your mama?s skirt! Give us a break!”

But he didn?t pay any attention. He just went to his mother and asked for some food, some provisions. She had not much, but she had some big juicy white cheese curds that she gave him. And these he put in his backpack, put his pack on, got another axe, and walked off into the woods.

There he found those big trees, put his backpack down, got the axe and started to chop. Ooh! He had no sooner struck the first blow when again out of the woods comes this great big huge troll. “If you?re cutting down my trees I?m going to kill you and eat you!”

But this boy, he wasn?t as slow-witted as the others. He went over to his backpack, got out one of his cheese curds and held it up saying, “If you don?t watch it, I?m going to squeeze you the way I?m squeezing the water out of this white rock I have here!”

“Oh, ho-ho, I didn?t know you were so strong. Uh, listen, would you spare my life if I help you cut down the trees?”

“Well, sure, that?s a good idea. Suit yourself.” So that?s what they did. They cut down trees for the rest of that day, and when they were all done, the troll, very hungry by now, said “oh, ho-ho-ho, why don?t you come to my place and we?ll have a bite to eat together?”

“Good idea,” said the Ashlad, because there was nothing at his house. So off they went, through the woods, until they got to the mountain in the blue where the troll lived. And they went inside and the troll said “Now I would like a nice pot of porridge. So why don?t you go outside and get the bucket and get water from the well and I?ll make up fire.”

So the Ashlad went outside, but when he saw the bucket, it was the hugest thing, it was made out of cast iron and he couldn?t even budge it. So he had to think really fast. After a bit he had an idea and he said, “Hey, you know I don?t think there?s any point going for water in that little thimble of a bucket you have out there. I?m bringing in the whole well.”

“Oh, no, no, no, I can?t afford to lose my water. Listen, forget about it. Why don?t you just make up the fire, and I will go and get water in the bucket.”

“Well, suit yourself,” said the Ashlad. So that?s what they did.The Ashlad made up the fire, the troll got the big huge bucket and filled it with water and they filled that whole thing with porridge.And when they were ready to sit down, the troll said, “Ho-ho, this will be nice! I?m so hungry!” and he grabbed that big pot and he carried it over.

And before he sat down, the Ashlad said, “Hey, how about it? Why don?t you and I have an eating competition?”

“Whoa-ho! That?s a great idea!” thought the troll. “I?m on!” And he thought he was going to have a nice piece of Ashlad for dessert. So he sat right down in front of that great big pot.

But before the Ashlad sat down, he snuck over, and he got his backpack, and he tied it around his stomach with the pack part in the front, and then he sat down to eat. And they ate, and they ate, and they ate.

And after awhile, instead of the food going in his mouth, he opened the pack, and put his food in the pack. And when the pack was full, he got out his knife, and he ripped a hole in it, and then he continued filling it.

The troll saw something was going on, but he was too stupid to figure out what it was. So he just kept on eating and eating and eating and finally said “I am sorry, I can?t eat another bite.”

“Come on! I?m not even half full yet!” said the Ashlad. “I don?t get it! How do you do it! You …. How could you eat so much?”

“Well it?s easy. You get out your knife, you put it to your stomach, and you rip a hole in your stomach. And that way you can eat as much as you want.””Uh, won?t that hurt?”

“Big old guy like you? I don?t think so.”

“Oh,” said the troll. And of course he didn?t want to be a lesser man. So he got out his knife, he put it too his stomach and he ripped a hole in it! With that he fell over dead as a doornail, crumbled up into a thousands of pieces of rock, so it looked like gravel on the floor there, and the Ashlad was safe. And he jumped down from his seat, ran inside the castle, and got all the gold and diamonds and silver that he could carry, out of the castle and brought it home to his parents. And with that, they lived in the greatest of comfort and safety to the end of their days.

Snipp snapp snute her er eventyret ute! I did it! I got it done in time. I had to shorten it a little bit. It worked. So there?s a classic, you know, sort of youngest kid. Everybody thinks he?s stupid and he turns out to figure it out.

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Posted in: Goats, Trolls & Numbskulls