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Soria Moria Castle

They chattered much about many things, and told Halvor of this and of that, and at last he asked them if they had never had any child.

`Yes,' they said; they had had a boy who was called Halvor, but they did not know where he had gone, and they could not even say whether he were dead or alive.

`Could I be he?' said Halvor.

`I should know him well enough,' said the old woman rising. `Our Halvor was so idle and slothful that he never did anything at all, and he was so ragged that one hole ran into another all over his clothes. Such a fellow as he was could never turn into such a man as you are, sir.'

In a short time the old woman had to go to the fireplace to stir the fire, and when the blaze lit up Halvor, as it used to do when he was at home raking up the ashes, she knew him again.

`Good Heavens! is that you, Halvor?' said she, and such great gladness fell on the old parents that there were no bounds to it. And now he had to relate everything that had befallen him, and the old woman was so delighted with him that she would take him up to the farm at once to show him to the girls who had formerly looked down on him so. She went there first, and Halvor followed her. When she got there she told them how Halvor had come home again, and now they should just see how magnificent he was. `He looks like a prince,' she said.

`We shall see that he is just the same ragamuffin that he was before,' said the girls, tossing their heads.

At that same moment Halvor entered, and the girls were so astonished that they left their kirtles lying in the chimney corner, and ran away in nothing but their petticoats. When they came in again they were so shamefaced that they hardly dared to look at Halvor, towards whom they had always been so proud and haughty before.

`Ay, ay! you have always thought that you were so pretty and dainty that no one was equal to you,' said Halvor, `but you should just see the eldest Princess whom I set free. You look like herds- women compared with her, and the second Princess is also much prettier than you; but the youngest, who is my sweetheart, is more beautiful than either sun or moon.

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