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Main > Norway folktales > Fairy tale "The widow's son"

The widow's son

Once on a time there was a poor, poor Widow, who had an only Son. She dragged on with the boy till he had been confirmed, and then she said she couldn’t feed him any longer, he must just go out and earn his own bread. So the lad wandered out into the world, and when he had walked a day or so, a strange man met him.

“Whither away?” asked the man.

“Oh, I’m going out into the world to try and get a place,” said the lad.

“Will you come and serve me?” said the man.

“Oh, yes; just as soon you as any one else,” said the lad.

“Well, you’ll have a good place with me,” said the man; “for you’ll only have to keep me company, and do nothing at all else beside.”

So the lad stopped with him, and lived on the fat of the land, both in meat and drink, and had little or nothing to do; but he never saw a living soul in that man’s house.

So one day the man said:

“Now, I’m going off for eight days, and that time you’ll have to spend here all alone; but you must not go into any one of these four rooms here. If you do, I’ll take your life when I come back.”

“No,” said the lad, he’d be sure not to do that. But when the man had been gone three or four days, the lad couldn’t bear it any longer, but went into the first room, and when he got inside he looked round, but he saw nothing but a shelf over the door where a bramble-bush rod lay.

Well, indeed! thought the lad; a pretty thing to forbid my seeing this.

So when the eight days were out, the man came home, and the first thing he said was:

“You haven’t been into any of these rooms, of course.”

“No, no; that I haven’t,” said the lad.

“I’ll soon see that,” said the man, and went at once into the room where the lad had been.

“Nay, but you have been in here,” said he; “and now you shall lose your life.”

Then the lad begged and prayed so hard that he got off with his life, but the man gave him a good thrashing. And when it was over, they were as good friends as ever.

Some time after the man set off again, and said he should be away fourteen days; but before he went he forbade the lad to go into any of the rooms he had not been in before; as for that he had been in, he might go into that, and welcome.

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