Norwegian fairy tale from Asbjørnsen and Moe's collection ("Norske folkeeventyr", 1841-1844). The original ("Han far sjøl i stua") was found at Project Runeberg and retold in English by me.


There was once a man who lived in a forest. He had many sheep and goats, but they were never safe from the gray one. "I'll trick the gray beast," he eventually decided, and started digging a wolf trap. When he had dug deep enough, he set a pole in the middle of the hole, and on top of this pole he put a plate. On the plate he set a little dog, and then he covered the grave with pine branches and twigs, and on top of that he spread snow, so the beast wouldn't see there was a hole underneath.

When night came, the little dog got tired of standing there. "Woof, woof, woof!" he said, barking at the moon. Then a fox came along, thinking he would get a meal, and he did a jump - straight into the trap. A bit later that night, the little dog got hungry, and he started barking: "Woof, woof, woof!" he said. Right then, a gray one came along. He thought he'd get a nice steak and did a jump - straight into the wolf trap.

When morning twilight came, the north wind came with it, and it turned so cold that the little dog started freezing and shivering, and he was all tired and hungry. "Woof, woof, woof, woof!" he said, barking away. Then a bear came along and thought he'd get a little morning snack. He crawled out on the branches - and fell straight into the wolf trap.

A bit later that morning, and old tramp wife came along; she was on the way between farms with a big bag on her back. When she saw the little dog barking, se had to walk over and see whether any animals were caught in the wolf trap that night. She kneeled down and had a look.

"Are you in the trap now, Mikkel?" she said the fox, whom she saw first. "That's what you deserve, you chicken thief! - You too, gray beast?" she said to the wolf; "have you torn goat and sheep apart, you'll now be tortured to death. - Oh dear, Bamse! Are you in there as well, mare flayer? Well cut you and flay you, and put your skull up on the wall!" shouted the woman eagerly, shaking her fist at the bear. But then her bag fell forwards over her head, and the wife fell - straight into the wolf trap.

Then they sat there all four, staring at each other from their corners: the fox in one corner, the wolf in the other, the bear in the third, and the wife in the fourth.

But when morning turned to day, Mikkel started shaking and skipping around; he probably thought he'd try to get out. But the wife said: "Sit still, you fidget-arse, do you have ants in the pants? Look at the father of the house, he's as sturdy as a priest," - 'cause now she thought she should make friends with the bear.

But then the man who owned the trap came along. First he pulled the wife up, and then he killed all the animals, sparing neither the father of the house or the beast or Mikkel Fidget-arse. That night he thought he got a good catch.


What's the moral? Don't ask me, read another fairy tale instead!

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