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Main > Norway folktales > Fairy tale "The lad who went to the north wind"

The lad who went to the north wind

Once on a time there was an old widow who had one son; and as she was poorly and weak, her son had to go up into the safe to fetch meal for cooking; but when he got outside the safe, and was just going down the steps, there came the North Wind puffing and blowing, caught up the meal, and so away with it through the air. Then the Lad went back into the safe for more; but when he came out again on the steps, if the North Wind didn’t come again and carry off the meal with a puff: and, more than that, he did so the third time. At this the Lad got very angry; and as he thought it hard that the North Wind should behave so, he thought he’d just look him up, and ask him to give up his meal.

So off he went, but the way was long, and he walked and walked; but at last he came to the North Wind’s house.

“Good day!” said the Lad, “and thank you for coming to see us yesterday.”

“Good Day!” answered the North Wind, for his voice was loud and gruff, “and thanks for coming to see me. What do you Want?”

“Oh!” answered the Lad, “I only wished to ask you to be so good as to let me have back that meal you took from me on the safe steps, for we haven’t much to live on; and if you’re to go on snapping up the morsel we have, there’ll be nothing for it but to starve.”

“I haven’t got your meal,” said the North Wind; “but if you are in such need, I’ll give you a cloth which will get you everything you want, if you only say, ‘Cloth, spread yourself, and serve up all kinds of good dishes!’”

With this the Lad was well content. But, as the way was so long he couldn’t get home in one day, so he turned into an inn on the way; and when they were going to sit down to supper he laid the cloth on a table which stood in the corner, and said:

“Cloth, spread yourself, and serve up all kinds of good dishes.”

He had scarce said so before the cloth did as it was bid; and all who stood by thought it a fine thing, but most of all the landlady. So, when all were fast asleep at dead of night, she took the Lad’s cloth, and put another in its stead, just like the one he had got from the North Wind, but which couldn’t so much as serve up a bit of dry bread.

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