"Stabbursnøkkelen i rokkehodet" is a Norwegian fairy tale from Asbjørnsen and Moe's "Norwegian Folk Tales" (1841-1844). The original was found at Project Runeberg and retold in English by me for E2. Enjoy!

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There was once a rich farm-boy who went out to propose. He had been told about a girl who was both pretty and beautiful, good at tending the house and great at cooking. He went to her, because this was the kind of girl he wanted. The people at the farm probably understood what his intention was; they asked him to sit down and they talked for a while, as custom says, and then they offered him a drink while they made the food. The boy had plenty of time to look around the living-room; in a corner he noticed a rock, and the head of the rock was full of linen.

"Who's spinning on the rock?" the boy asked.

"Oh, that would be our daughter," said the wife in the house.

"There's a good amount of linen there," said the boy; "that must surely take more than a day?" he said.

"Oh no," said the wife, "she will easily do it in a day, maybe less."

It was more than he had heard and asked that someone could spin so quickly, the boy thought.

But as the food was to be carried in, he found himself alone in the room again for a short while; then he saw a large, old key on the window sill. He took it and put it inside the rock head, hiding it inside the linen. Then they ate and drank and were merry, and when he thought he had enough, he thanked them for his stay and left. They asked him to come again soon, and he promised so; but he didn't deliver his proposal, even though he liked the girl quite well.

After a long time, he returned to the farm; they received him even better then the first time. But as they started talking, the wife said:

"Do you know, the last time you were here, something really strange happened; a key we had just disappeared, we still haven't been able to find it."

The boy walked over to the rock, standing there in the corner with as much linen as last time, and felt around under the rock head.

"Here's the key," he said; "and I don't think you earn much from spinning, when the Rock Day lasts from Michael's Mass till Easter."

So he thanked for his stay, and didn't deliver his proposal this time either.

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More fairy tales here!

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