Multilingual Folk Tale Database


Author: Asbjørnsen & Moe - 1841

Translated into English
  by George Dasent - 1859

Original title (Norwegian):
Presten og klokkeren

Country of origin: Norway

Story type: The king and the abbot (ATU 922)


English - aligned

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The Priest And The Clerk

Asbjørnsen & Moe / George Dasent

Once on a time there was a priest, who was such a bully, that he bawled out, ever so far off, whenever he met anyone driving on the king's highway,--

'Out of the way, out of the way! Here comes the priest!'

One day when he was driving along and behaving so, he met the king himself.

'Out of the way, out of the way,' he bawled a long way off. But the king drove on and kept his own; so that time it was the priest who had to turn his horse aside, and when the king came alongside him, he said, 'To-morrow you shall come to me to the palace, and if you can't answer three questions which I will set you, you shall lose hood and gown for your pride's sake.'

This was something else than the priest was wont to hear. He could bawl and bully, shout, and behave worse than badly. All THAT he could do, but question and answer was out of his power. So he set off to the clerk who was said to be better in a gown than the priest himself, and told him he had no mind to go to the king.

'For one fool can ask more than ten wise men can answer;' and the end was, he got the clerk to go in his stead.

Yes! The clerk set off, and came to the palace in the priest's gown and hood. There the king met him out in the porch with crown and sceptre, and was so grand it glittered and gleamed from him.

'Well! Are you there?' said the king.

Yes; he was there, sure enough.

'Tell me first,' said the king; 'how far the east is from the west?'

'Just a day's journey,' said the clerk.

'How is that?' asked the king.

'Don't you know,' said the clerk, 'that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, and he does it just nicely in one day.'

'Very well!' said the king; 'but tell me now what you think I am worth, as you see me stand here?'

'Well,' said the clerk; 'Our Lord was valued at thirty pieces of silver, so I don't think I can set your price higher than twenty-nine.'

'All very fine!' said the king; 'but as you are so wise, perhaps you can tell me what I am thinking about now?'

'Oh!' said the clerk; 'you are thinking it's the priest who stands before you, but so help me, if you don't think wrong, for I am the clerk.'

'Be off home with you,' said the king, 'and be you priest, and let him be clerk,' and so it was.