Norwegian fairy tale from Asbjørnsen and Moe's collections. The original story was found at Project Runeberg and translated to English by me for the enjoyment of E2 noders.

Peik is a fairly normal Norwegian name.


There was once a man and a wife; they had a son and a daughter who were twins; and they were so identical that they could not be told apart other than by their clothes. They called the boy Peik. He wasn't much use while the parents were alive; he didn't want to do anything but make fun of people, and he was so full of tricks that no one was left alone. But when the parents died, it turned even worse; he didn't want to do anything; he just ended what they had left behind, and got into trouble with everyone. His sister was struggling and working all she could, but it didn't help, and then she told him how wrong this was, that he didn't want to work, and asked:

"What will we live off, when you've spent it all?"

"Then I'll go out and con someone," said Peik.

When there was no more inheritance, they had no more; so Peik went off, and he walked and walked until he came to the king's estate. The king stood outside, and when he saw the boy, he said:

"Where are you going today, Peik?"

"Oh, I was looking for someone to con," said Peik.

"Can't you con me, then?" said the king.

"No, I'm afraid I can't, because I forgot my con sticks at home," said Peik.

"Can't you go and get them?" said the king; "I'd like to see whether you're such a jester as people say," he said.

"I'm no good at walking," said Peik.

"I'll lend you horse and saddle," said the king.

"I'm no good at riding either," said Peik.

"We'll lift you up in the saddle," said the king, "then you can just hang on."

Yes, Peik scratched his head and let them lift him up; there he sat sagging from one side to the other, so the king could see him, and the king laughed until his eyes were watering; he had never seen such a poor rider before. But when Peik had entered the forest behind the hill, so the king no longer could see him, he sat like he was nailed there, and rode off as if he'd stolen both horse and bridle, and when he came into town, he sold both the horse and the saddle.

Meanwhile, the king walked around, waiting for Peik to come back with his con sticks, and laughed to himself when he remembered how pathetic he had looked, sitting on the horse like a sack of hay not knowing which side to fall to. But it lasted for seven long and seven broad, and no Peik turned up; so eventually, the king understood that he had been fooled and had both his horse and saddle stolen, even though Peik didn't have his con sticks. Now the king got cross and set off to take Peik's life.

But Peik was prepared, and had told his sister to set some water on for boiling. Just as the king came, Peik pulled the pan off the fire and put it on the chopping block, making porridge there.

The king saw this, and stared in wonder, forgetting what he was there for.

"What do you want for that pan?" he said.

"I can't live without it," said Peik.

"Why not?" said the king; "I'll make up for it properly," he said.

"Yes, it saves me trouble and money, rent for forest, salary for choppers and drivers," said Peik.

"That doesn't matter, I'll give you a hundred thaler," said the king; "you conned me for horse and saddle, and bridle too; but I'll forget about that when I get that pan," he said.

Well, he was allowed to buy the pan.

When the king came home, he asked strangers in for dinner; but the food would be made in the new pan, and he took it out and put it in the middle of the floor. The strangers thought the king had gone out of his mind, and nudged each other and sniggered, while he walked around the pan, saying "Yes, wait a minute; yes, just wait a minute, it will boil soon." But it didn't. Soon, he understood that Peik had been out with his con sticks and fooled him again, and then he set off to kill him.

When the king arrived, Peik stood out by the barn.

"She wouldn't boil?" he said.

"No, she wouldn't," said the king; "and you will pay for it," he said, and started pulling out his knife.

"I believe you when you say that," said Peik; "because you should have bought the chopping block."

"I wonder, are you serving me lies?" said the king.

"It's the block that's the matter; she won't boil without it," said Peik.

What did he want for it?

It was worth three hundred thaler; but since it was him, he could have it for two, said Peik.

So he got the chopping block and went home, asked strangers in for dinner and set the pan on the block in the middle of the room. The strangers thought he'd gone completely mad, and they were laughing behind his back, and he walked around the pan, saying: "Wait for it, she's going to boil, she's going to boil"; but having the pan on the block worked no better than when it was on the floor.

Then he realised that Peik had used his con sticks this time too. He pulled his hair and set off immediately to kill him, and this time he wouldn't spare him whether he sounded well or bad.

But Peik had prepared to receive the king again. He butchered a ram, put blood in it's stomach, tucked it into his sister's dress and told her what to say.

"Where is Peik!" yelled the king; he was so mad that his voice was shivering.

He's so ill that he can hardly move," she said, "he said he would try to get some sleep."

"You better wake him," said the king.

No, she didn't dare, he was so angry.

"And I am even angrier," said the king, "and if you don't wake him, I'll..." he said, touching the knife at his side.

No, she'd go and wake him. But Peik turned around in bed, pulled out a little knife and cut her in the ram's stomach, so the blood squirted out of her dress and she fell over on the floor as if she were dead.

"What a devil you are, Peik!" said the king; "you cut your sister to death, and in front of the king himself at that!" he said.

"It doesn't matter about the body as long as there's weather in my nose," said Peik, and pulled out a ram's horn, which he started blowing, and when he had honked a bridal suite, he poked the horn at her and blew life into her again.

"Save me, Peik! Can you kill people and blow life back into them again?"

"Yes, what would I do otherwise?" said Peik; "I would kill everyone I came near. You see, I'm quite angry by nature," he said.

"Yes, I'm angry, too," said the king, "and I must have that horn; I will pay you a hundred thaler for it, and I'll forgive you that you fooled me for the horse, and that you conned me with the pan and the block and the whole thing."

Peik had trouble seeing it go, but since it was the king, he could have it. And the king took it, and went home as fast as he could, and as soon has he was home, he had to try it out. He started an argument with his queen and their oldest daughter, and they argued back and disagreed with him; but before they knew it, he pulled out his knife and stabbed them to death, and everyone else ran away scared.

The king walked around for a while, talking about how it didn't matter about the bodies as long as there was weather in him, and other such things that had poured out of Peik's mouth, and then he pulled out the horn and started blowing; but as much as he blew, both that day and the other, he couldn't blow life into them; they were dead and they remained dead, both the queen and the daughter, and he had to put them into the ground and hold their funeral.

Then he went to Peik again and wanted to kill him; but Peik had his runes out, so he knew the king was coming, and he told his sister:

"Now you swap clothes with me and go away for a while, and take everything we own with you."

Yes, she swapped clothes with him and packed up and left as soon as she could, and Peik was left there alone in the girl's clothes.

"Where is Peik?" said the king as he came hard and brutal through the door.

"He went away," said Peik in his sister's clothes. "Yes, had he been home, I would have killed him," said the king; "it's not worth saving the life of such a man," he said.

"He had his runes out, and knew that the king would come for his life because of the con sticks he had been out with, but he left me here both foodless and penniless," said Peik, and made himself as pretty and nice as a girl.

"Why don't you join me to my estates; it's not worth sitting here starving," said the king.

Yes, he'd love to, and the king took him with him, and let him learn all things and kept him like his own daughter, and it was almost as if the king had all his three daughters again, because Peik stitched and sewed and sang and played with the others, and was with them both late and early.

After a while, a king's son came there to propose.

"Yes, I have three daughters," said the king, "it's up to you which one you want."

He was allowed up to the sewing chambers to talk and get to know them. Yes, he liked Peik the best and threw a silk garment into his lap. Then they had to brew and bake and prepare for wedding, and his family and the king's men arrived and started partying and drinking. But when the evening came the first day of the wedding, Peik didn't dare to stay anymore. He went off, so the bride couldn't be found; but worse than that; both the king's daughters were suddenly in pain, and before they knew it, two small princes came to the world, so the people had to go home in the middle of the party.

The king were both grieved and were angry, and wondered how this could have happened.

Then he mounted his horse and rode out, because he found it too hard and sad to stay at home; but when he came out on a field, Peik was there on a rock, playing the harmonica.

"Are you sitting here, Peik?" said the king.

"Oh yes, where should I sit otherwise?" said Peik.

"You have fooled me thoroughly again and again," said the king; "but come home to me now, and I will kill you."

"Yes, that's how it goes," said Peik, "when I don't have any other choice, I guess I have to," he said.

When he came to the estate, they prepared a barrel to put Peik in, and when it was done, they drove it up to a tall mountain; there he would lie for three days and consider what he had done, before they would push him out and into the fjord.

The third day a rich man came past, and Peik sat inside the barrel, singing: "To heaven and to paradise, to heaven and to paradise I'll go; but I don't want, no I don't want to be an angel."

When the man heard that, he asked what he could do to go instead.

It had to be a lot, said Peik, because it wasn't every day that someone offered a ride to heaven.

The man would give him everything he owned, and he knocked the bottom out and crawled into the barrel instead of Peik.

"Good luck on the journey," said the king, he thought Peik was inside; "now you'll go faster to the fjord than if you drove there, and now we get an end to you and your con sticks," he said.

Before the barrel was half way down the mountain, there wasn't a stump left of it or the man inside. But when the king came home to the estates, Peik was there before him, and sat in front of it, playing the harmonica.

"Are you sitting there, Peik?" said the king.

"Oh yes, I'm sitting here, where would I sit otherwise?" said Peik. "I can probably get house here for all my horses and livestock and all my money?"

"Where did I push you, so you got all that wealth?" asked the king.

"Oh, you pushed me into the fjord," said Peik, "and when I came to the bottom, there was enough to take, both horses and cattle, both gold and goods; they went in herds and lay in heaps as large as houses," he said.

"What do you want to push me the same way?" said the king.

"Oh, it won't cost you anything," said Peik; "you didn't charge me, so I won't charge you either."

Then he put the king in a barrel and rolled him out, and when he had given him a free ride down the mountain, he went home to the estates. There he married the youngest daughter. From then on, he ruled land and country, but he hid his con sticks, and hid them well, so no one heard or asked more about Peik, only about the king himself.


You can find more fairy tales here.


  • themanwho says re Peik: Beautiful wu! Thankyou!
  • gitm says Re: Peik. That's great stuff. I love folklore, and your Norwegian stories are totally new to me. Keep up the good work!
  • wertperch says re Peik: Excellent story! Quite the joker...