The three little men in the wood


De tre små mænd i skoven

There was once a man, whose wife was dead, and a woman, whose husband was dead; and the man had a daughter, and so had the woman. The girls were acquainted with each other, and used to play together sometimes in the woman's house. So the woman said to the man's daughter, "Listen to me, tell your father that I will marry him, and then you shall have milk to wash in every morning and wine to drink, and my daughter shall have water to wash in and water to drink." The girl went home and told her father what the woman had said.

The man said, "What shall I do! Marriage is a joy, and also a torment." At last, as he could come to no conclusion, he took off his boot, and said to his daughter, "Take this boot, it has a hole in the sole; go up with it into the loft, hang it on the big nail and pour water in it. If it holds water, I will once more take to me a wife; if it lets out the water, so will I not."

The girl did as she was told, but the water held the hole together, and the boot was full up to the top. So she went and told her father how it was. And he went up to see with his own eyes, and as there was no mistake about it, he went to the widow and courted her, and then they had the wedding.

The next morning, when the two girls awoke, there stood by the bedside of the man's daughter milk to wash in and wine to drink, and by the bedside of the woman's daughter there stood water to wash in and water to drink. On the second morning there stood water to wash in and water to drink for both of them alike. On the third morning there stood water to wash in and water to drink for the man's daughter, and milk to wash in and wine to drink for the woman's daughter; and so it remained ever after. The woman hated her stepdaughter, and never knew how to treat her badly enough from one day to another. And she was jealous because her stepdaughter was pleasant and pretty, and her real daughter was ugly and hateful.

Once in winter, when it was freezing hard, and snow lay deep on hill and valley, the woman made a frock out of paper, called her stepdaughter, and said, "Here, put on this frock, go out into the wood and fetch me a basket of strawberries; I have a great wish for some."

"Oh dear," said the girl, "there are no strawberries to be found in winter; the ground is frozen, and the snow covers everything. And why should I go in the paper frock? it is so cold out of doors that one's breath is frozen; the wind will blow through it, and the thorns will tear it off my back!"

"How dare you contradict me!" cried the stepmother, "be off, and don't let me see you again till you bring me a basket of strawberries." Then she gave her a little piece of hard bread, and said, "That will do for you to eat during the day," and she thought to herself, "She is sure to be frozen or starved to death out of doors, and I shall never set eyes on her again."

So the girl went obediently, put on the paper frock, and started out with the basket. The snow was lying everywhere, far and wide, and there was not a blade of green to be seen. When she entered the wood she saw a little house with three little men peeping out of it. She wished them good day, and knocked modestly at the door. They called her in, and she came into the room and sat down by the side of the oven to warm herself and eat her breakfast. The little men said, "Give us some of it."

"Willingly," answered she, breaking her little piece of bread in two, and giving them half. They then said, "What are you doing here in the wood this winter time in your little thin frock?"

"Oh," answered she, "I have to get a basket of strawberries, and I must not go home without them." When she had eaten her bread they gave her a broom, and told her to go and sweep the snow away from the back door. When she had gone outside to do it the little men talked among themselves about what they should do for her, as she was so good and pretty, and had shared her bread with them. Then the first one said, "She shall grow prettier every day." The second said, "Each time she speaks a piece of gold shall fall from her mouth." The third said, "A king shall come and take her for his wife."

In the meanwhile the girl was doing as the little men had told her, and had cleared the snow from the back of the little house, and what do you suppose she found? fine ripe strawberries, showing dark red against the snow! Then she joyfully filled her little basket full, thanked the little men, shook hands with them all, and ran home in haste to bring her stepmother the thing she longed for. As she went in and said, "Good evening," a piece of gold fell from her mouth at once. Then she related all that had happened to her in the wood, and at each word that she spoke gold pieces fell out of her mouth, so that soon they were scattered all over the room.

"Just look at her pride and conceit!" cried the stepsister, "throwing money about in this way!" but in her heart she was jealous because of it, and wanted to go too into the wood to fetch strawberries. But the mother said, "No, my dear little daughter, it is too cold, you will be frozen to death." But she left her no peace, so at last the mother gave in, got her a splendid fur coat to put on, and gave her bread and butter and cakes to eat on the way.

The girl went into the wood and walked straight up to the little house. The three little men peeped out again, but she gave them no greeting, and without looking round or taking any notice of them she came stumping into the room, sat herself down by the oven, and began to eat her bread and butter and cakes.

"Give us some of that," cried the little men, but she answered, "I've not enough for myself; how can I give away any?" Now when she had done with her eating, they said, "Here is a broom, go and sweep all clean by the back door."

"Oh, go and do it yourselves," answered she; "I am not your housemaid." But when she saw that they were not going to give her anything, she went out to the door. Then the three little men said among themselves, "What shall we do to her, because she is so unpleasant, and has such a wicked jealous heart, grudging everybody everything?" The first said, "She shall grow uglier every day." The second said, "Each time she speaks a toad shall jump out of her mouth at every word." The third said, "She shall die a miserable death."

The girl was looking outside for strawberries, but as she found none, she went sulkily home. And directly she opened her mouth to tell her mother what had happened to her in the wood a toad sprang out of her mouth at each word, so that every one who came near her was quite disgusted.

The stepmother became more and more set against the man's daughter, whose beauty increased day by day, and her only thought was how to do her some injury. So at last she took a kettle, set it on the fire, and scalded some yarn in it. When it was ready she hung it over the poor girl's shoulder, and gave her an axe, and she was to go to the frozen river and break a hole in the ice, and there to rinse the yarn. She obeyed, and went and hewed a hole in the ice, and as she was about it there came by a splendid coach, in which the King sat. The coach stood still, and the King said, "My child, who art thou, and what art thou doing there?"

She answered, "I am a poor girl, and am rinsing yarn." Then the King felt pity for her, and as he saw that she was very beautiful, he said, "Will you go with me?"

"Oh yes, with all my heart," answered she; and she felt very glad to be out of the way of her mother and sister.

So she stepped into the coach and went off with the King; and when they reached his castle the wedding was celebrated with great splendour, as the little men in the wood had foretold.
At the end of a year the young Queen had a son; and as the stepmother had heard of her great good fortune she came with her daughter to the castle, as if merely to pay the King and Queen a visit. One day, when the King had gone out, and when nobody was about, the bad woman took the Queen by the head, and her daughter took her by the heels, and dragged her out of bed, and threw her out of the window into a stream that flowed beneath it. Then the old woman put her ugly daughter in the bed, and covered her up to her chin.

When the King came back, and wanted to talk to his wife a little, the old woman cried, "Stop, stop! she is sleeping nicely; she must be kept quiet to day." The King dreamt of nothing wrong, and came again the next morning; and as he spoke to his wife, and she answered him, there jumped each time out of her mouth a toad instead of the piece of gold as heretofore. Then he asked why that should be, and the old woman said it was because of her great weakness, and that it would pass away.

But in the night, the boy who slept in the kitchen saw how something in the likeness of a duck swam up the gutter, and said,

"My King, what mak'st thou?
Sleepest thou, or wak'st thou?"

But there was no answer. Then it said,

"What cheer my two guests keep they?"

So the kitchen-boy answered,

"In bed all soundly sleep they."

It asked again,

"And my little baby, how does he?"

And he answered,

"He sleeps in his cradle quietly."

Then the duck took the shape of the Queen and went to the child, and gave him to drink, smoothed his little bed, covered him up again, and then, in the likeness of a duck, swam back down the gutter. In this way she came two nights, and on the third she said to the kitchen-boy, "Go and tell the King to brandish his sword three times over me on the threshold!" Then the kitchen-boy ran and told the King, and he came with his sword and brandished it three times over the duck, and at the third time his wife stood before him living, and hearty, and sound, as she had been before.

The King was greatly rejoiced, but he hid the Queen in a chamber until the Sunday came when the child was to be baptized. And after the baptism he said, "What does that person deserve who drags another out of; bed and throws him in the water?"

And the old woman answered, "No better than to be put into a cask with iron nails in it, and to be rolled in it down the hill into the water." Then said the King, "You have spoken your own sentence;"and he ordered a cask to be fetched, and the old woman and her daughter were put into it, and the top hammered down, and the cask was rolled down the hill into the river.
Der var engang en mand, hvis kone døde, og en kone, hvis mand døde. Manden havde en datter, og konen havde også en datter. Pigebørnene kendte hinanden, og en dag da de havde været ude at spadsere sammen, gik de hjem til konen. Hun sagde så til mandens datter: "Sig til din far, at hvis han gifter sig med mig, så skal du hver morgen vaske dig i mælk og drikke vin, men min datter skal vaske sig i vand og drikke vand." Pigen gik hjem og fortalte sin far, hvad konen havde sagt. "Ja, hvad skal jeg gøre," sagde han, "ægteskaber bringer både glæde og sorg." Da han ikke kunne blive enig med sig selv, tog han en støvle og sagde: "Tag denne støvle og hæng den ud på det store søm. Den har hul i bunden, og nu skal du hælde vand i og se, om det løber ud. Løber det ikke ud, så gifter jeg mig, ellers lader jeg være." Pigen gjorde som han sagde, men vandet fik hullet til at skrumpe sammen, og støvlen blev fuld til randen. Hun gik ind og fortalte sin far, hvordan det var gået, og da han havde set efter selv, og set, at det var rigtig nok friede han til enken, og så holdt de bryllup.

Da pigerne stod op dagen efter, stod der mælk til at vaske sig i og vin til at drikke til mandens datter og vand til at vaske sig i og vand til at drikke til konens datter. Den næste dag stod der vand såvel til den ene som til den anden. Den tredie dag stod der vand til mandens datter og mælk og vin til konens datter, og sådan blev det for fremtiden. Konen hadede sin steddatter som pesten og vidste ikke alt det onde, hun ville gøre hende. Hun var også misundelig, fordi hendes steddatter var smuk og hendes egen datter så grim som en ulykke.

En gang midt om vinteren, da det havde frosset stærkt, og sneen lå højt over bjerg og dal, lavede konen en kjole af avispapir, kaldte på steddatteren og sagde: "Tag denne kjole på og gå ud i skoven og pluk mig nogle jordbær. Jeg har sådan en lyst til jordbær." - "Gud forbarme sig," sagde pigen, "om vinteren vokser der jo ingen jordbær. Jorden er frosset og der er sne overalt. Og hvorfor skal jeg tage den papirskjole på? Det er så koldt, at ens ånde bliver til is. Vinden vil jo blæse lige igennem den og tornene rive den itu." - "Vil du lade være at sige mig imod," sagde stedmoderen. "Se til du kommer af sted i en fart, og vov ikke at komme hjem uden jordbærrene." Hun gav hende et stykke stenhårdt brød: "Det kan du spise i dag," sagde hun. Men ved sig selv tænkte hun: Hun dør nok derude af kulde og sult.

Pigen tog lydig papirskjolen på og begav sig på vej med en lille kurv på armen. Hun øj nede ikke andet end sne, ikke et eneste sted stak et grønt græsstrå hovedet op. Da hun kom ud i skoven, så hun tre små mænd, der kiggede ud af et lille hus. Hun sagde goddag og bankede beskedent på. "Kom ind," råbte de, og hun gik ind og satte sig ved ovnen for at varme sig og spise sin frokost. "Giv os lidt med," sagde de små mænd. "Med fornøjelse," sagde hun, og gav dem det halve af brødet. "Hvad vil du herude midt om vinteren med den tynde kjole på?" spurgte de. "Jeg skal hente jordbær," svarede hun, "og jeg tør ikke komme hjem, før jeg har fundet nogle." Da hun havde spist, gav de hende en kost og sagde: "Fej sneen væk fra døren." Mens hun var derude, sagde de til hinanden: "Hvad skal vi give hende, fordi hun er så sød og god har delt sin mad med os." - "Jeg giver hende, at hun bliver smukkere for hver dag, der går," sagde den første. "Og jeg giver hende, at der falder guldstykker ud af munden på hende for hvert ord, hun siger," sagde den anden. "Jeg giver hende en konge til mand," sagde den tredie.

Pigen fejede imidlertid sneen væk, som mændene havde sagt, og inde under den fandt hun de dejligste mørkerøde jordbær. Henrykt plukkede hun kurven fuld, gav de små mænd hånden og takkede dem mange gange og skyndte sig hjem for at bringe sin stedmor bærrene. Da hun trådte ind og sagde godaften, faldt der er guldstykke ud af munden på hende. Hun fortalte nu, hvordan det var gået hende i skoven, men for hvert ord, hun sagde, faldt guldstykkerne ud af hendes mund. "Sikken en ødselhed at drysse pengene sådan rundt på gulvet," råbte stedsøsteren, men i sit stille sind var hun misundelig og ville også ud i skoven og plukke jordbær. Hendes mor syntes, at det var alt for koldt, men hun havde hverken rist eller ro, og moderen måtte til sidste give efter. Hun syede hende første en dejlig varm pels og gav hende kager og smørrebrød med.

Pigen gik ud i skoven og kom også til det lille hus. De tre små mænd kiggede ud, men hun nikkede ikke til dem, og uden at se til højre eller venstre eller sige goddag gik hun lige ind i stuen, satte sig ved ovnen og begyndte at spise sine kager. "Giv os lidt med," bad de små mænd, men hun svarede: "Jeg kan virkelig ikke undvære noget, der er knap nok til mig selv." Da hun havde spist, gav de hende en kost og sagde: "Gå ud og fej sneen væk fra døren." - "Fej selv," svarede hun, "jeg er ikke jeres pige." Da hun mærkede, at hun ikke fik noget, gik hun sin vej. "Hvad skal vi give hende, fordi hun er så ond og gerrig," sagde de små mænd til hinanden, da hun var borte. "Jeg giver hende, at hun bliver grimmere for hver dag, der går," sagde den første. "Jeg giver hende, at der springer en skruptudse ud af munden på hende for hvert ord, hun siger," sagde den anden. "Hun skal få en hård død," sagde den tredie. Pigen søgte imidlertid efter jordbær udenfor, og da hun ingen fandt, gik hun ærgerlig hjem. Da hun nu ville fortælle sin mor, hvordan det var gået hende, sprang der en skruptudse ud af hendes mund for hvert ord, hun sagde, og alle mennesker fattede afsky for hende.

Mandens datter blev imidlertid smukkere for hver dag, der gik, og stedmoderen ærgrede sig mere og mere og tænkte kun på, hvordan hun skulle gøre hende fortræd. En dag tog hun en kedel, satte den på ilden og kogte garn deri. Da det var kogt, kaldte hun på den stakkels pige, gav hende en økse og befalede hende at gå ned og hugge hul i isen og skylle garnet. Hun gjorde, som stedmoderen sagde, og da hun stod nede på isen og var ved at hugge hul i den, kom en konge kørende forbi i en prægtig vogn. Han standsede og spurgte: "Hvem er du mit barn, og hvad bestiller du her?" - "Jeg er en fattig pige, der skyller garn," svarede hun. Kongen fik ondt af hende, og da han så, hvor smuk hun var, spurgte han: "Vil du følge med mig?" - "Inderlig gerne," svarede hun, glad over at kunne slippe bort fra moderen og søsteren.

Hun satte sig så op i kongens vogn, og de kørte hjem til hans slot, hvor brylluppet blev fejret med stor pragt. Et år efter fødte dronningen en søn. Da stedmoderen hørte, hvordan hun havde haft lykken med sig, gik hun med sin datter op på slottet og lod, som hun ville besøge hende. Men en dag, da kongen var gået ud, og der ikke var nogen i nærheden, tog den onde kvinde dronningen ved hovedet og datteren tog hende i benene, og så kastede de hende ud af vinduet i floden, der løb forbi. Derpå lagde den grimme datter sig i sengen, og moderen dækkede noget over hendes hovede. Da kongen kom hjem og ville tale med sin kone, sagde den gamle: "Det kan ikke gå an. I må lade hende have ro i dag, hun ligger i stærk sved." Kongen tænkte ikke noget ved det og kom først igen den næste morgen. Men for hvert ord, hans kone sagde, sprang der en skruptudse ud af hendes mund, mens der ellers plejede at falde guldstykker. Da han spurgte, hvor det kunne være, sagde den gamle, at det gik nok over. Det kom af den stærke sved.

Om natten så kokkedrengen en and komme svømmende ind ad vaskerenden. Den sagde:

"Hvad gør vel min konge i denne sene stund?
Er han vågen eller hviler han trygt i nattens blund?"

Og da han ikke svarede, sagde den:

"Hvad gør alle mine gæster i det store, smukke slot?"

Kokkedrengen svarede da:

"De ligger vel i sengen og sover fast og godt."

Den spurgte så igen:

"Og hvad gør min egen lille elskede dreng?"

Og han svarede:

"Han sover lunt og blødt i sin hvide silke seng."

Derpå forvandledes den til dronningen og tog barnet i vuggen, gav det at drikke og puslede det og blev så igen til en and og svømmede bort. Den kom to nætter endnu, og den sidste nat sagde den til kokkedrengen: "Gå ind og sig til kongen, at han skal tage sit sværd og svinge det tre gange over mit hoved." Kokkedrengen skyndte sig ind til kongen, der kom ud og gjorde som anden havde sagt, og da han svang sværdet tredie gang, stod hans dronning sund og frisk for ham.

Kongen var nu meget glad, men han skjulte dronningen i et værelse til om søndagen, da barnet skulle døbes. Da det var døbt spurgte han stedmoderen: "Hvad skal der gøres ved den, der tager en anden ud af sengen og kaster den i vandet." - "Han skal sættes i en tønde, der er fuld af søm indvendig, og trilles ned ad et bjerg og ud i vandet," sagde den gamle. Men kongen sagde: "Du har fældet din egen dom," og lod den gamle og datteren putte i en tønde, der blev rullet ned ad bjerget, og trillede i floden.

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