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The Adventurous Lad

Once upon a time there was an old woman who had a son, and as she was very weak and feeble, she sent her son across the yard to the store-house to fetch the meal for the porridge dinner. But when he got outside on the steps, the north wind came rushing past, took the meal out of the bowl he held, and away it flew through the air.

The lad went back into the store-house to fetch more meal, but when he came out on the steps the north wind came whistling past, and away went the meal once again; and when the lad went back the third time for the meal, the north wind played over again the same trick on him. The lad grew angry at this, so he made up his mnd to give the north wind a call, and ask for his meal back.

Well, the lad started off upon his journey, but it was a long way, and he walked and walked – and came at last to the north wind.

"Good Day," said the lad, "and thanks unto you for calling to see me on the morn-tide."

"Good Day," answered the north wind – his voice as harsh and gruff as one could expect – "no thanks required. What do you want to visit me so?"

"Oh," said the lad, "I was only going to ask you to be good enough to let me have back that meal which you took from me on the steps of our store-house because we haven't much to eat, and if you are going to go on in this way, and take what little we do have, we shall surely starve."

"I have no meal to give," said the north wind, "but since you are so hard up for food stores, you shall have a table-cloth, which shall provide you with everything you need, if you only say, 'Cloth, spread yourself and serve up all kinds of fine dishes!'"

The lad was well satisfied with this. But as the way was so long that he couldn't get home till late, he stopped for the night at a roadside inn, and when they were going to have supper, he put the cloth on a table which stood in the corner, and said, "Cloth, spread yourself, and serve up all kinds of fine dishes."

He had scarcely said these words before the cloth did as it was told, and all in the room thought it was a very grand item to have, but no one liked it better than the innkeeper's wife. She thought that would be the very best thing for her. It would save her such a lot of trouble in frying and boiling food-stuffs, setting the table with linens and silver, and so on.

So in the middle of the night, when all were asleep, she took the cloth from the lad, and put another one in its stead, looking just like the one he had got from the north wind, but her cloth couldn't, of course, serve up as much as an oatmeal cake.

When the lad awoke in the morn, he took the cloth and set out upon his journey, and that day he got back to his mother.

"Well," said he, "I have been to the north wind, I have! He is a decent fellow, I think, because he gave me this cloth, and I have only to say, 'Cloth, spread yourself, and serve up all kinds of fine dishes,' and then I get the very best of everything I want to eat and drink."

"Ah, indeed! I daresay," said the mother, "but I don't believe it, till I see the truth of it with mine own eyes."

So the lad lost no time, but took a table, laid the cloth upon it, and said, "Cloth, spread yourself, and serve up all kinds of fine dishes," but the cloth didn't serve up so much as a dry crust.

"Ah, well!" said the lad, "there's no help for it, I must go to the north wind again," and straight-away he went. Towards even-tide, he came to where the north wind lived.

"Good Even-tide," said the lad.

"Good Even-tide," returned the north wind.

"I want my rights for the meal you took from us," said the lad, "for that cloth you gave unto me is not good for anything."

"I haven't got any meal," said the north wind, "but here is a goat for you, which makes only golden ducats, if you but say,'Goat of mine, make monies!'"

That pleased the lad greatly, but as it was too late to get home that day, he went into the same inn where he had earlier been the night. But before he called for anything, he wanted to try the goat and see if it was true what the north wind had said about it, and sure enough the goat made only golden ducats.

But when the innkeeper saw what kind of goat the lad had, he thought this was a goat worth having, so when the lad had fallen asleep, he took another goat which couldn't make any golden ducats, or any other monies for that matter, and put that in its place.

Next morn the lad started off to home, and when he came in to his mother, he said, "The north wind is a good fellow after all; for this time he has given me a goat that makes only golden ducats, if I only say, 'Goat of mine, make monies!'"

"Ah, to be sure!" said his mother, "that's all rubbish, – but I don't believe it, till I see the truth of it with mine own eyes."

"Goat of mine, make monies!" cried the lad aloud, but not a shilling could the goat make.

So the lad went back again to the north wind, and said that the goat wasn't worth anything, and he wasn't going to be done out of his meal, not he!

"Well," said the north wind, "I have nothing else to give unto you but that old stick over there in the corner; but it is a good stick, and if you only say, 'Stick of mine, lay on!,' it lays on, till you say, 'Stick of mine, leave off!'"

So the lad gratefully accepted the stick and thanked the north wind for all its decent goodness towards him and headed off to home.

But as it was a long way to home, the lad went into the the old inn where he had slept before; and as he pretty well guessed how it was that he had lost the cloth and the goat, he lay down at once upon the bench and began snoring as if he were asleep.

The innkeeper, upon seeing this, thought that the stick must also be good for something as were the cloth and goat before, and began looking for another like it to put in its place, and was going to change the sticks while the lad was snoring away. But just as the innkeeper was going to take hold the stick, the lad cried out, "Stick of mine, lay on!," and the stick began beating the innkeeper all about, till he was jumping over chairs and tables, all the while shouting and yelling; "Oh dear! Oh dear! Tell the stick to leave off!, or else it will surely kill me dead!, you shall have both your cloth and your goat back once again!"

When the lad thought that the innkeeper had had enough, he said, "Stick of mine, leave off!,"and then taking his cloth and putting it in his pocket, and with the stick in hand, and leading the goat by a string in the other hand, he started off to home.

And now, thought the lad, he had been very well paid indeed for the meal he had lost to the north wind.

Source: Scandinavian Folk and Fairy Tales: 1936


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