"Dukken i gresset" is a Norwegian fairy tale collected as part of Asbjørnsen and Moe's "Norske folkeeventyr" (Norwegian Folk Tales, 1841-44). The original was found at Project Runeberg and translated to English by me.


There was once a king who had twelve sons. When they grew up, he told each of them to go out into the world and find a wife; but she had to be able to spin and weave and sew a shirt in one day, otherwise he wouldn't want her as his son's wife. Each of the sons was given a horse and a new armour, and they went out into the world to look for wives; but when they had come a while, they said that they didn't want Askeladden to come along, because he wasn't good for anything. Yes, Askeladden had to stay behind, there was no helping it, and he didn't know what to do or where to turn; he got so sad that he dismounted and sat down in the grass, crying. But when he had been sitting there for a short while, one of the tufts of grass started moving, and a small white thing appeared. As it came closer, Askeladden saw that it was a beautiful little girl; but she was so incredibly small. She came over and asked him if he wanted to come down and see the Doll in the Grass. Yes, he did, so he did.

When he got down there, the Doll in the Grass sat on a chair; she was so lovely, all dressed up, and she asked Askeladden where he was going, and what his business was.

He told her that there were twelve brothers of them, and that the king had given them horses and armour and told them to go out into the world to find themselves wives, and that she had to be able to spin and weave and sew a shirt in a day; "but if you can, and you want to be my wife, I don't want to travel any further," Askeladden said to the Doll in the Grass. Yes, she would like that, and she hurried up spinning, weaving and sewing a shirt, but it turned out incredibly small, no larger than this - - -.

Askeladden went home with this shirt; but when he arrived, he was shameful over how small it was; nonetheless, the king said that he could have her, and Askeladden went happily back to pick up his little girlfriend. When he came to the Doll in the Grass, he wanted to take her up on his horse to sit with him; but no, she didn't want to; she said she wanted to sit in a silver spoon, and she herself had two small, white horses that would pull her. So they set off, him on the horse and she in a silver spoon, and the horses who pulled her were two small, white mice; but Askeladden always kept to the other side of the road, being scared that he would ride on her; she was so small. When they had gone a while along the road, they came to a large lake. There, Askeladden's horse got scared, and it jumped over to the other side of the road and hit the spoon, so the Doll in the Grass fell into the water. Askeladden was terrified, he didn't know how to get her up again; but after a while, a merman appeared with her, and now she had become as large as another adult, and even lovlier than before. So he put her in front of her on his horse and rode home.

When Askeladden came home, all his brothers had arrived with their girlfriends; but they were all so ugly, and so bad that they already had started pulling their bouyfriends' hair; they were wearing tarred hats, and soot and tar had dripped down their faces, making them even worse looking. When the brothers saw Askeladden's girlfriend, they were very jealous; but the king loved them both so much that he chased all the other ones out, and then there was a marriage between Askeladden and the Doll in the Grass, and they lived well for a long, long time, and if they're not dead yet, they're still alive today.

Tell me another story, please!

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