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Main > Scandinavian folktales > Fairy tale "How a lad stole the giant's treasure"

How a lad stole the giant's treasure

Once upon a time there lived a peasant who had three sons. The two elder ones used to go with him to the field and to the forest, and helped him in his work, but the youngest remained at home with his mother, to help her in the house. His brothers despised him for doing this, and whenever they had a chance they used him badly.

At length the father and mother died, and the sons divided the property among them. As might have been looked for, the elder brothers took all that was of any value for themselves, leaving nothing to the youngest but an old cracked kneading-trough, which neither of them thought worth the having.

"The old trough," said one of the brothers, "will do very well for our young brother, for he is always baking and scrubbing."

The boy thought this, as was only natural, a poor thing to inherit, but he could do nothing, and he now recognised that it would be no use his remaining at home, so he wished his brothers good-bye, and went off to seek his fortune. On coming to the side of a lake he made his trough water-tight with oakum, and converted it into a little boat. Then he found two sticks, and using these as oars rowed away.

When he had crossed the water, he saw a large palace, and entering it, he asked to speak with the king. The king questioned him respecting his family and the purpose of his visit.

"I," said the boy, "am the son of a poor peasant, and all I have in the world is an old kneading-trough. I have come here to seek work."

The king laughed when he heard this.

"Indeed," said he, "you have not inherited much, but fortune works many a change."

He took the lad to be one of his servants, and he became a favourite for his courage and honesty.

Now the king who owned this palace had an only daughter, who was so beautiful and so clever that she was talked of all through the kingdom, and many came from the east and from the west to ask her hand in marriage. The princess, however, rejected them all, saying that none should have her for his wife unless he brought her for a wedding-present four valuable things belonging to a giant who lived on the other side of the lake.

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