ENGLISH

The devil and his grandmother

DANSK

Djævelen og hans bedstemor


There was a great war, and the King had many soldiers, but gave them small pay, so small that they could not live upon it, so three of them agreed among themselves to desert. One of them said to the others, "If we are caught we shall be hanged on the gallows; how shall we manage it?" Another said, "Look at that great cornfield, if we were to hide ourselves there, no one could find us; the troops are not allowed to enter it, and to-morrow they are to march away." They crept into the corn, only the troops did not march away, but remained lying all round about it. They stayed in the corn for two days and two nights, and were so hungry that they all but died, but if they had come out, their death would have been certain. Then said they, "What is the use of our deserting if we have to perish miserably here?" But now a fiery dragon came flying through the air, and it came down to them, and asked why they had concealed themselves there? They answered, "We are three soldiers who have deserted because the pay was so bad, and now we shall have to die of hunger if we stay here, or to dangle on the gallows if we go out." - "If you will serve me for seven years," said the dragon, "I will convey you through the army so that no one shall seize you." - "We have no choice and are compelled to accept," they replied. Then the dragon caught hold of them with his claws, and carried them away through the air over the army, and put them down again on the earth far from it; but the dragon was no other than the Devil. He gave them a small whip and said, "Whip with it and crack it, and then as much gold will spring up round about as you can wish for; then you can live like great lords, keep horses, and drive your carriages, but when the seven years have come to an end, you are my property." Then he put before them a book which they were all three forced to sign. "I will, however, then set you a riddle," said he, "and if you can guess that, you shall be free, and released from my power." Then the dragon flew away from them, and they went away with their whip, had gold in plenty, ordered themselves rich apparel, and travelled about the world. Wherever they were they lived in pleasure and magnificence, rode on horseback, drove in carriages, ate and drank, but did nothing wicked. The time slipped quickly away, and when the seven years were coming to an end, two of them were terribly anxious and alarmed; but the third took the affair easily, and said, "Brothers, fear nothing, my head is sharp enough, I shall guess the riddle." They went out into the open country and sat down, and the two pulled sorrowful faces. Then an aged woman came up to them who inquired why they were so sad? "Alas!" said they, "how can that concern you? After all, you cannot help us." - "Who knows?" said she. "confide your trouble to me." So they told her that they had been the Devil's servants for nearly seven years, and that he had provided them with gold as plentifully as if it had been blackberries, but that they had sold themselves to him, and were forfeited to him, if at the end of the seven years they could not guess a riddle." The old woman said, "If you are to be saved, one of you must go into the forest, there he will come to a fallen rock which looks like a little house, he must enter that, and then he will obtain help." The two melancholy ones thought to themselves, "That will still not save us," and stayed where they were, but the third, the merry one, got up and walked on in the forest until he found the rock-house. In the little house, however, a very aged woman was sitting, who was the Devil's grandmother, and asked the soldier where he came from, and what he wanted there? He told her everything that had happened, and as he pleased her well, she had pity on him, and said she would help him. She lifted up a great stone which lay above a cellar, and said, "Conceal thyself there, thou canst hear everything that is said here; only sit still, and do not stir. When the dragon comes, I will question him about the riddle, he tells everything to me, so listen carefully to his answer." At twelve o'clock at night, the dragon came flying thither, and asked for his dinner. The grandmother laid the table, and served up food and drink, so that he was pleased, and they ate and drank together. In the course of conversation, she asked him what kind of a day he had had, and how many souls he had got? "Nothing went very well to-day," he answered, "but I have laid hold of three soldiers, I have them safe." - "Indeed! three soldiers, that's something like, but they may escape you yet." The Devil said mockingly, "They are mine! I will set them a riddle, which they will never in this world be able to guess!" - "What riddle is that?" she inquired. "I will tell you. In the great North Sea lies a dead dog-fish, that shall be your roast meat, and the rib of a whale shall be your silver spoon, and a hollow old horse's hoof shall be your wine-glass." When the Devil had gone to bed, the old grandmother raised up the stone, and let out the soldier. "Hast thou paid particular attention to everything?" - "Yes," said he, "I know enough, and will contrive to save myself." Then he had to go back another way, through the window, secretly and with all speed to his companions. He told them how the Devil had been overreached by the old grandmother, and how he had learned the answer to the riddle from him. Then they were all joyous, and of good cheer, and took the whip and whipped so much gold for themselves that it ran all over the ground. When the seven years had fully gone by, the Devil came with the book, showed the signatures, and said, "I will take you with me to hell. There you shall have a meal! If you can guess what kind of roast meat you will have to eat, you shall be free and released from your bargain, and may keep the whip as well." Then the first soldier began and said, "In the great North Sea lies a dead dog-fish, that no doubt is the roast meat." The Devil was angry, and began to mutter, "Hm! hm! hm!" And asked the second, "But what will your spoon be?" - "The rib of a whale, that is to be our silver spoon." The Devil made a wry face, again growled, "Hm! hm! hm!" and said to the third, "And do you also know what your wine-glass is to be?" - "An old horse's hoof is to be our wineglass." Then the Devil flew away with a loud cry, and had no more power over them, but the three kept the whip, whipped as much money for themselves with it as they wanted, and lived happily to their end.
Engang var der krig i landet. Kongen havde mange soldater, men han gav dem ikke så meget sold, at de kunne leve af det. Tre af dem blev da enige om at rejse bort sammen. "Hvis de finder os, bliver vi klynget op i et træ," sagde den ene, "hvordan skal vi egentlig bære os ad?" - "Kan I se den mark derhenne," sagde den anden, "når vi skjuler os der, er der ikke et menneske, som kan finde os. Soldaterne tør ikke gå derind, og i morgen drager hæren videre." De krøb så ind i kornet, men hæren blev ganske roligt liggende rundt om. To hele døgn sad de inde på marken. De var halvt døde af slut, men de turde ikke komme frem, for så havde døden været dem vis. "Hvad kan det nu nytte os, at vi er sluppet bort," sagde en af dem, "vi må dog lide en ynkelig død her." Imidlertid kom en inddrage flyvende, dalede ned og spurgte, hvorfor de havde gemt sig der. "Vi er soldater, som er løbet bort, fordi vi fik sådan knap løn," svarede den ene," men nu dør vi af sult, hvis vi bliver her, og går vi frem, kommer vi til at dingle i galgen." - "Vil I tjene mig i syv år," sagde dragen, "så skal jeg føre jer midt igennem hæren, uden at nogen får fat på jer." - "Her er intet valg, vi er nødt til at sige ja," svarede soldaterne. Dragen greb dem da i sine klør, førte dem gennem luften, henover hæren, og satte dem ned igen, langt borte fra den. Dragen var imidlertid ingen anden end djævelen. Han gav dem hver en lille pisk og sagde: "Når I slår et knald med den, kan I få lige så mange penge, I vil have. I kan leve som fornemme herrer, holde hest og vogn, men efter syv års forløb er I mine." De måtte nu alle tre skrive deres navn i en bog. "Jeg vil dog først give jer en gåde," sagde djævelen, "og hvis I kan gætte den, skal I være jeres egne herrer igen." Dragen fløj nu bort igen, og de rejste af sted med deres pisk, og havde fuldt op af penge. De købte sig kostbare klæder, og hvor de kom hen, levede de i fryd og glæde, kørte i deres egen vogn, spiste og drak, men gjorde ikke noget ondt. Tiden gik hurtigt for dem, og da de syv år næsten var gået, blev de to forfærdelig angst, men den tredie tog sagen let og sagde: "Vær nu ikke bange. Jeg er ikke tabt bag af en vogn, jeg skal nok gætte den gåde." De satte sig ude på marken, og de to hang rigtignok svært med næbbet. Mens de sad der, kom en gammel kone gående forbi og spurgte, hvad der var i vejen med dem. "Hvad kan det nytte at fortælle jer det, I kan jo dog ikke hjælpe os," sagde de. "Hvem ved," svarede hun, "betro kun jeres sorg til mig." De fortalte hende nu, at de i omtrent syv år havde tjent djævelen. De havde haft fuldt op af penge men til gengæld havde de forskrevet sig til ham, og var nu hans med hud og hår, hvis de ikke kunne gætte en gåde. "Hvis jeg skal kunne hjælpe jer, må en af jer gå ud i skoven," sagde den gamle, "der kommer han til en sammenstyrtet klippevæg, der ser ud som et lille hus. Der skal han gå ind, så vil han blive hjulpet." - "Det vil såmænd ikke nytte noget," tænkte de to bedrøvede, og blev siddende derude, men den tredie rejste sig og gik ind i skoven, til han kom til klippehytten. Derinde sad en ældgammel kone. Det var djævelens bedstemor, og hun spurgte, hvor han kom fra, og hvad han ville her. Han fortalte hende alt, hvad der var sket, og da hun syntes godt om han, fik hun ondt af ham og sagde, at hun ville hjælpe ham. Hun løftede en stor sten op og sagde: "Kryb ned i kælderen her, så kan du høre alt, hvad der bliver sagt heroppe. Lig ganske stille, uden at røre dig. Når dragen så kommer, vil jeg spørge ham om gåden, og mig fortæller han alting. Læg så mærke til, hvad han svarer." Ved midnat kom dragen og ville have mad. Bedstemoderen dækkede bord og satte mad og drikke frem, og de spiste og drak rigtig fornøjede. I samtalens løb spurgte hun, hvordan dagen var gået, og hvor mange sjæle han havde fået fat på. "I dag har jeg ikke rigtig haft held med mig," svarede han, "men jeg ved da, at jeg nu sikkert får fat i tre soldater." - "Soldater," sagde den gamle, "det er nogle egne fyre. De kan såmænd slippe fra dig endnu." - "Nej, det kan de ikke," svarede djævelen hånligt, "jeg giver dem en gåde, som de aldrig kan gætte." - "Hvad er det da for en?" spurgte hun. "Det skal jeg såmænd sige dig," svarede han, "jeg spørger dem, hvad for en steg de får her, og så skal de svare, at ude i Nordhavet ligger der en død havkat, et hvalfiskeribben skal de bruge som ske og en gammel, hul hestehov som glas." Da djævelen var gået i seng, løftede den gamle bedstemor stenen op, og soldaten kravlede frem. "Har du forstået det altsammen?" spurgte hun. "Ja, nu skal jeg nok klare mig," svarede han. Han måtte nu kravle ud ad vinduet og skynde sig en anden vej hjem til sine kammerater. Han fortalte dem nu, hvordan djævelen var blevet narret af sin gamle bedstemor, så at han nu vidste løsningen på gåden. Da blev de allesammen glade, tog piskene frem og knaldede med dem, så pengene sprang og hoppede på jorden. Da de syv år var forbi, kom djævelen med bogen, viste dem deres underskrifter og sagde: "Jeg vil nu tage jer med til helvede, og der skal I få noget at spise. Kan I gætte, hvad for en steg, I skal have, så skal I være fri, og oven i købet få lov til at beholde piskene." - "Ude i Nordhavet ligger der en død havkat, det er vel den, vi skal have," sagde den første. Djævelen rømmede sig gnavent og spurgte den anden: "Hvad for en ske skal I spise med?" - "Et hvalfiskeribben," svarede den anden. Djævelen skar nogle slemme ansigter og brummede vredt: "Ved I også, hvad I skal drikke af?" spurgte han den tredie. "Vi skal bruge en gammel, udhulet hestehov til vinglas," svarede den tredie. Djævelen fløj skrigende af sted, for nu havde han ikke mere magt over dem. Soldaterne beholdt piskene, knaldede så mange penge frem, de lystede, og levede fornøjede og glade, til de døde.





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