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Chicken Grethe's Family

In those days the dog's chain used to reach clear across the gateway. By way of the tower one came to the stone-flagged passage that led to the living quarters. The windows were narrow and the panes quite small, even in the great hall where they used to dance. But, in the days of the last Grubbes, there had been no dancing for as far back as a man could remember, though an old kettledrum that had been used in the orchestra still remained in the hall. And there was also a curiously carved cupboard in which the rare flower bulbs were stored, for Lady Grubbe took pleasure in planting and in cultivating flowers and trees. Her husband preferred to hunt wild boars and wolves, and his little daughter, Marie, always rode with him. When she was no more than five years old, she sat proudly on horseback and gazed fearlessly about with her great dark eyes. She delighted in cracking her whip among the hounds, though her father would rather have seen her lash out among the peasant boys who came to stare at the gentry.

The peasant who lived in a clay hut near the castle had a son named Soren, who was of the same age as the well-born little lady. He knew how to climb trees, and he had to bring bird nests down to her. The birds screamed as loud as they could scream, and one of the largest of them struck him so hard right above his eye that blood ran down, and they thought at first that he had lost and eye, but it had not been injured. Marie Grubbe called him "her Soren," a sign of high favor which once served to protect even his father, poor Jon. When he had done something wrong one day, Jon was condemned to ride the wooden horse. This contrivance stood in the yard, with four poles for legs, and for its back a single small rail which Jon had to straddle. Lest he ride it too comfortably, heavy bricks were tied to his feet. He made such agonized faces that little Soren wept and went down on his knees to beg. Marie to have his father released. She instantly commanded that his father should be taken down.

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Category: Scandinavian folktales
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