Tales from Denmark (Andrew Lang)

Week 11: More European Fairy Tales - Assignments - Reading - Resources - Images


I Know What I Have Learned

Reading time: 3 minutes. Word count: 600 words.

So things are now going very well for the man: in the first episode, he loses a sack of money, and in the second episode he loses two sacks of money. Now in the third episode, he is going to lose a lot more than just two sacks of money! Remember: the husband keeps telling the wife that he has learned some things she doesn't know. And now he is going to show her just what he has learned! But let's see what he learns when he visits his third daughter...
A third time the man set out--to visit his eldest daughter. When he came to a mound he sat down on the east side of it and ate the dry bread which his wife had given him to take with him. The daughter then came out of the mound and invited her father to come inside.

In a little the troll came home, and his wife asked him to go and buy some fish.

'We can get them much more easily than that,' said the troll. 'Give me your dough trough and your ladle.'

They seated themselves in the trough, and rowed out on the lake which was beside the mound. When they had got out a little way the troll said to his wife, 'Are my eyes green?'

'No, not yet,' said she.

He rowed on a little further and asked again, 'Are my eyes not green yet?'

'Yes,' said his wife, 'they are green now.'

Then the troll sprang into the water and ladled up so many fish that in a short time the trough could hold no more. They then rowed home again, and had a good meal off the fish.

The old man now got three sacks full of money, and set off home with them. When he was almost home the cow again came into his head, and he laid down the money. This time, however, he took his wooden shoes and laid them above the money, thinking that no one would take it after that. Then he ran home and asked his wife whether the cow had calved. It had not, and she scolded him again for behaving in this way, but in the end he persuaded her to go with him to help him with the three sacks of money.

When they came to the spot they found only the wooden shoes, for a thief had come along in the meantime and taken all the money. The woman was very angry, and broke out upon her husband; but he took it all very quietly, and only said, 'Hang the money! I know what I have learned.'

'What have you learned I should like to know?' said his wife.

'You will see that yet,' said the man.

One day his wife took a fancy for broth, and said to him, 'Oh, go to the village, and buy a piece of beef to make broth.'

'There's no need of that,' said he; 'we can get it an easier way.' With that he drove a spike into a beam, and ran his head against it, and in consequence had to lie in bed for a long time afterwards.

After he had recovered from this his wife asked him one day to go and buy candles, as they had none.

'No,' he said, 'there's no need for that;' and he stuck his hand into the fire. This also made him take to bed for a good while.

When he had got better again his wife one day wanted fish, and asked him to go and buy some. The man, however, wished again to show what he had learned, so he asked her to come along with him and bring her dough trough and a ladle. They both seated themselves in this, and rowed upon the lake. When they had got out a little way the man said, 'Are my eyes green?'

'No,' said his wife; 'why should they be?'

They rowed a little further out, and he asked again, 'Are my eyes not green yet?'

'What nonsense is this?' said she; 'why should they be green?'

'Oh, my dear,' said he, 'can't you just say that they are green?'

'Very well,' said she, 'they are green.'

As soon as he heard this he sprang out into the water with the ladle for the fishes, but he just got leave to stay there with them!


Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:

  • what happened when the mantried to get beef broth the way the troll did?
  • what happened when he tried to get light the way the troll did?
  • what happened when he tried to go fishing the way the troll did?

Source: Andrew Lang: Pink Fairy Book (1897). Weblink.


Modern Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.
Page last updated: October 9, 2004 12:52 PM