Multilingual Folk Tale Database


Information

Author: Asbjørnsen & Moe - 1841

Translated into English
  by George Dasent - 1859

Original title (Norwegian):
Den syvende far i huset

Country of origin: Norway

Story type: The Oldest on the Farm (ATU 726)

Translations

English - aligned


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The Father Of The Family

Asbjørnsen & Moe / George Dasent

Once on a time there was a man who was out on a journey; so at last he came to a big and a fine farm, and there was a house so grand that it might well have been a little palace.

'Here it would be good to get leave to spend the night,' said the man to himself, as he went inside the gate. Hard by stood an old man with grey hair and beard, who was hewing wood.

'Good evening, father,' said the wayfarer. 'Can I have house-room here to-night?'

'I'm not father in the house,' said the grey-beard. 'Go into the kitchen, and talk to my father.'

The wayfarer went into the kitchen, and there he met a man who was still older, and he lay on his knees before the hearth, and was blowing up the fire.

'Good evening, father,' said the wayfarer. 'Can I get house-room to-night?'

I'm not father in the house,' said the old man; 'but go in and talk to my father. You'll find him sitting at the table in the parlour.'

So the wayfarer went into the parlour, and talked to him who sat at the table. He was much older than either of the other two, and there he sat, with his teeth chattering, and shivered and shook, and read out of a big book, almost like a little child.

'Good evening, father,' said the man. 'Will you let me have house-room here to-night?'

'I'm not father in the house,' said the man who sat at the table, whose teeth chattered, and who shivered and shook; 'but speak to my father yonder--he who sits on the bench.'

So the wayfarer went to him who sat on the bench, and he was trying to fill himself a pipe of tobacco; but he was so withered up and his hands shook so with the palsy that he could scarce hold the pipe.

'Good evening, father,' said the wayfarer again. 'Can I get house-room here to-night?'

'I'm not father in the house,' said the old withered fellow; 'but speak to my father, who lies in bed yonder.'

So the wayfarer went to the bed, and there lay an old, old man, who but for his pair of big staring eyes scarcely looked alive.

'Good evening, father,' said the wayfarer. 'Can I get house-room here to-night?'

'I'm not father in the house,' said the old carle with the big eyes; 'but go and speak to my father, who lies yonder in the cradle.'

Yes, the wayfarer went to the cradle, and there lay a carle as old as the hills, so withered and shrivelled he was no bigger than a baby, and it was hard to tell that there was any life in him, except that there was a sound of breathing every now and then in his throat.

'Good evening, father,' said the wayfarer. 'May I have house-room here to-night?'

It was long before he got an answer, and still longer before the carle brought it out; but the end was he said, as all the rest, that he was not father in the house. 'But go,' said he, 'and speak to my father--you'll find him hanging up in the horn yonder against the wall.'

So the wayfarer stared about round the walls, and at last he caught sight of the horn; but when he looked for him who hung in it he looked more like a film of ashes that had the likeness of a man's face. Then he was so frightened that he screamed out,--

'Good evening, father! will you let me have house-room here to-night?'

Then a chirping came out of the horn like a little tom-tit, and it was-all he could do to make out that the chirping meant, 'YES, MY CHILD.'

And now a table came in which was covered with the costliest dishes, and with ale and brandy; and when he had eaten and drank there came in a good bed, with reindeer skins; and the wayfarer was so very glad because he had at last found the right father in the house.