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THE JUNIOR CLASSICS

 

THE DOLL IN THE GRASS

By P. C. Asbjornsen

ONCE upon a time there was a king who had twelve sons. When they were
grown up he told them they must go out into the world and find
themselves wives, who must all be able to spin and weave and make a
shirt in one day, else he would not have them for daughters-in-law. He
gave each of his sons a horse and a new suit of armor, and so they set
out in the world to look for wives.

When they had traveled a bit on the way they said they would not take
Ashiepattle with them, for he was good for nothing. Ashiepattle must
stop behind; there was no help for it. He did not know what he should
do or which way he should turn; he became so sad that he got off the
horse and sat down on the grass and began to cry.

When he had sat a while one of the tussocks among the grass began to
move, and out of it came a small white figure; as it came nearer
Ashiepattle saw that it was a beautiful little girl, but she was so
tiny, so very, very tiny.

She went up to him and asked him if he would come below and pay a visit
to the doll in the grass.

Yes, that he would; and so he did. When he came down below, the doll
in the grass was sitting in a chair dressed very finely and looking
still more beautiful. She asked Ashiepattle where he was going and
what was his errand.

He told her they were twelve brothers, and that the king had given them
each a horse and a suit of armor, and told them to go out in the world
and find themselves wives, but they must all be able to spin and weave
and make a shirt in a day.

"If you can do that and will become my wife, I will not travel any
farther," said Ashiepattle to the doll in the grass.

Yes, that she would, and she set to work at once to get the shirt spun,
woven, and made; but it was so tiny, so very, very tiny, no bigger
than-so!

Ashiepattle then returned home, taking the shirt with him; but when he
brought it out he felt very shy because it was so small. But the king
said he could have her for all that, and you can imagine how happy and
joyful Ashiepattle became.

The road did not seem long to him as he set out to fetch his little
sweetheart. When he came to the doll in the grass he wanted her to sit
with him on his horse; but no, that she wouldn't; she said she would
sit and drive in a silver spoon, and she had two small while horses
which would draw her. So they set out, he on his horse and she in the
silver spoon; and the horses which drew her were two small white mice.

Ashiepattle always kept to one side of the road, for he was so afraid
he should ride over her; she was so very, very tiny.

When they had traveled a bit on the way they came to a large lake;
there Ashiepattle's horse took fright and shied over to the other side
of the road, and upset the spoon, so that the doll in the grass fell
into the water. Ashiepattle became very sad, for he did not know how
he should get her out again; but after a while a merman brought her up.

But now she had become just as big as any other grown-up being and was
much more beautiful than she was before. So he placed her in front of
him on the horse and rode home.

When Ashiepattle got there all his brothers had also returned, each
with a sweetheart; but they were so ugly and ill-favored and bad-
tempered that they had come to blows with their sweethearts on their
way home. On their heads they had hats which were painted with tar and
soot, and this had run from their hats down their faces, so that they
were still uglier and more ill-favored to behold.

When the brothers saw Ashiepattle's sweetheart they all became envious
of him, but the king was so pleased with Ashiepattle and his sweetheart
that he drove all the others away, and so Ashiepattle was married to
the doll in the grass; and afterward they lived happy and comfortable
for a long, long while; and if they are not dead, they must be still
alive.



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