Your Hen Is in the Mountain
Norway

Once upon a time there was an old widow who lived, with her three daughters, far away from the rest of the world, next to a mountain. She was so poor that her only animal was a single hen, which she prized as the apple of her eye. It was always cackling at her heels, and she was always running to look after it. One day, all at once, the hen was gone. The old woman went out, and walked around and around the cottage, looking and calling for her hen, but it was gone, and could not be found.

So the woman said to her oldest daughter, “You must just go out and see if you can find our hen, for we must have it back, even if we have to fetch it out of the mountain.”

The daughter was ready enough to go, so she set off and walked up and down, and looked and called, but she could not find the hen. Suddenly, just as she was about to give up the hunt, she heard someone calling out from a cleft in the rock:

Your hen is in the mountain!
Your hen is in the mountain!

So she went into the cleft to see what it was, but she had barely set foot inside, when she fell through a trapdoor, deep, deep down, into an underground cavern. When she got to the bottom she went through many rooms, each finer than the one before it; but in the innermost room of all, a large ugly troll came to her and asked, “Will you be my sweetheart?”

“No! I will not,” she said. She wouldn’t have him for any price! All she wanted was to get above ground again as fast as ever she could, and to find her lost hen. Then the troll got so angry that he picked her up, twisted her head off, and then threw both the head and body into the cellar.

While this was going on, her mother sat at home waiting and waiting, but no daughter came. After she had waited a bit longer, and neither heard nor saw anything of her daughter, she told her middle daughter to go out and look for her sister, and, she added, “Give our hen a call at the same time.”

So the second sister had to set off, and the very same thing happened to her. She was looking and calling, and suddenly she too heard a voice calling from from the cleft in the rock:

Your hen is in the mountain!
Your hen is in the mountain!

She thought that this was strange, and went to see what it was. She too fell through the trapdoor, deep, deep down, into the cavern. She too went from room to room, and in the innermost one the troll came to her and asked if she would be his sweetheart? No, she would not. All she wanted was to get above ground again, and hunt for her lost hen. The troll got angry, and picked her up, twisted her head off, and threw both head and body into the cellar.

Now, when the old woman had sat and waited seven lengths and seven breadths for her second daughter, and could neither see nor hear anything of her, she said to the youngest, “Now, you must go out and look for your sisters. It was silly to lose the hen, but it would be sillier still to lose both your sisters. Of course, you can give the hen a call at the same time.” You see, the old woman’s heart was still set on her hen.

Yes, the youngest was ready to go, and she walked up and down, hunting for her sisters and calling the hen, but she could neither see nor hear anything of them. She too came to the cleft in the rock, and heard something say:

Your hen is in the mountain!
Your hen is in the mountain!

She thought that this was strange, so she too went to see what it was, and she too fell through the trapdoor, deep, deep down, into a cavern. When she reached the bottom she went from one room to another, each grander than the one before it; but she wasn’t at all afraid, and took time to look carefully about her. As she was peeping into this and that, she saw the trapdoor into the cellar, and looked down it, and what should she see there but her dead sisters. She barely had time to slam to the trapdoor before the troll came to her and asked, “Will you be my sweetheart?”

“With all my heart,” answered the girl, for she saw very well how it had gone with her sisters. When the troll heard that, he brought her the finest clothes in the world. Indeed, she had only to ask, and she got whatever she wanted, because the troll was so glad that someone would be his sweetheart.

One day, after she had been there a little while, she was looking very gloomy and downcast, so the troll asked her what was the matter, and why she was so sad.

“Ah!” said the girl, “it’s because I can’t get home to my mother. I know that she has very little to eat and drink, and she has no one with her.”

“Well!” said the troll, “I can’t let you go to see her; but just stuff some meat and drink into a sack, and I’ll carry it to her.”

With many thanks, she said that she would do that. However, she put a lot of gold and silver into the bottom of the sack, then laid a little food on top. She told the ogre the sack was ready, but that he must be sure not to look into it. He gave his word not to look inside, and set off. As the troll walked off, she peeped out at him through a chink in the trapdoor. When he had gone a little way, he said, “This sack is very heavy. I’ll just see what is inside.” He was about to untie the the sack, when the girl called out to him, “I can still see you! I can still see you!”

“The devil you can!” said the troll; “you must have mighty sharp eyes!” And the troll did not try to look into it again. When he reached the widow’s cottage, he threw the sack in through the cottage door, saying, “Here you have meat and drink from your daughter; she doesn’t want for anything.”

After the girl had been in the mountain a good bit longer, one day a billy goat fell down the trapdoor.

“Who sent for you, you long bearded beast!” said the troll, in an awful rage, and he picked up the goat, twisted his head off, and threw him into the cellar.

“Oh!” said the girl, “why did you do that? I might have had the goat to play with down here.”

“Well!” said the troll, “you don’t need to be so down in the mouth about it. I can bring the billy goat back to life again.”

So saying, he took down a flask that was hanging on the wall, put the billy goat’s head on his body again, and smeared it with some ointment from flask, and he was as well and as lively as before.

“Aha!” said the girl to herself; “that flask is worth something — that it is.”

When she had been in the mountain some time longer, on a day when the troll was away, she took her oldest sister, put her head on her shoulders, smeared her with some of the ointment from the flask, just as she had seen the troll do with the billy goat, and in an instant her sister came to life again.

The girl stuffed her into a sack, laid a little food over her, and when the troll came home, she said to him, “Dear friend! Now do go home to my mother with a morsel of food again. I’m certain that the poor thing is both hungry and thirsty, and besides that, she’s all alone in the world. But you must not look into the sack.”

He said that he would carry the sack, and that he would not look into it. But when he had gone a little way, he thought that the sack was getting very heavy; and when he had gone a bit further he said to himself, “Come what will, I must see what’s inside this sack, for however sharp her eyes may be, she can’t see me all this way off.”

But just as he was about to untie the sack, the girl inside the sack called out, “I can still see you! I can still see you!”

“The devil you can!” said the ogre; “then you must have mighty sharp eyes,” for he thought it was the girl inside the mountain who was speaking. So he didn’t dare so much as to peep into the sack again, but carried it straight to her mother as fast as he could, and when he got to the cottage door he threw it in through the door, and cried out, “Here you have meat and drink from your daughter; she wants for nothing.”

When the girl had been in the mountain a while longer, she did the very same thing with her other sister. She put her head on her shoulders, smeared her with ointment from the flask, brought her to life, and put her into the sack. This time she crammed in also as much gold and silver as the sack would hold, laying just a little food on top.

“Dear friend,” she said to the troll, “you really must run home to my mother with a little food again; and don’t look into the sack.”

Yes, the troll was eager to do as she wished, and he gave his word too that he wouldn’t look into the sack; but when he had gone a little way he began to think that the sack was getting very heavy, and when he had gone a bit further, he could scarce stagger along under it, so he set it down, and was just about to untie the string and look into it, when the girl inside the sack cried out, “I can still see you! I can still see you!”

“The devil you can,” said the troll, “then you must have mighty sharp eyes.”

Well, he did not dare to try to look into the sack, but hurried straight to the girl’s mother. When he got to the cottage he threw the sack in through the door, and roared out, “Here you have food from your daughter; she wants for nothing!”

After the girl had been there a good while longer, on a day when the troll had decided to go out for the day, the girl pretended to be sick. She moaned and complained. “There’s no need for you to come home before twelve o’clock tonight,” she said, “for I won’t be able to have supper ready before then. I’m just too sick!”

As soon as the troll was out of the house, she stuffed some of her clothes with straw, and stood this straw girl in the corner by the chimney, with a broom in her hand, so that it looked just as though she herself were standing there. After that she stole off home, and got a marksman to stay in the cottage with her mother.

So when the clock struck twelve, or thereabouts, the troll came home, and the first thing he said to the straw girl was, “Give me something to eat.”

But she did not answer him.

“Give me something to eat, I say!” called out the troll, “for I am almost starved.”

But she did not have a word for him.

“Give me something to eat!” roared out the ogre the third time. “I think you’d better open your ears and hear what I say, or else I’ll wake you up, I will!”

But the girl stood just as still as ever; so he flew into a rage, and gave her such a slap in the face, that the straw flew all about the room. When he saw that he had been tricked, he began to hunt everywhere. When he came to the cellar, and found both the girl’s sisters missing, he soon figured out what had happened, and ran off to the cottage, saying, “I’ll soon pay her for this!”

But when he reached the cottage, the marksman fired off his piece. The troll did not dare go into the house, for he thought it was thunder. So he set off for home again as fast as he could run; but just as he reached the trapdoor, the sun rose and he exploded.

There’s a lot of gold and silver down there still, if you only knew where the trapdoor is!

* Source: Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe, Popular Tales from the Norse, translated by George Webbe Dasent (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1859), pp. 16-24.

* Translation revised by D. L. Ashliman. Note that Dasent changes the title of this story to “The Old Dame and Her Hen.” A literal translation of the original title would be “The Hen Is Tripping in the Mountain.”

* Link to the text in the original Norwegian: Høna tripper i berget, Norske Folkeeventyr (Christiania [Oslo], 1842-1852).

* Return to the table of contents.

Sumber : http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0311.html#hen

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