Danish Fairy and Folk Tales/Never Mind the Money

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THERE was once a man who had three daughters, each of whom was married to a mountain troll. Their father once wished to pay them a visit, and before he went away his wife handed him a rather dry loaf of bread. When he had walked along for a while he became tired and hungry, so he seated himself on the eastern slope of a hill, and commenced eating his dry bread. The hill was suddenly opened, and his oldest daughter appeared before him, saying: "Why do you not come in and see me, father?" "Well," answered her father, "had I known that you were living here, and if I had seen any entrance, I should have walked in."

Soon afterwards the troll returned home. His wife told him that her father had come, and asked him to go and buy meat for a soup. "Oh, we may have that much more easily," said he, whereupon he ran a large iron nail into a heavy piece of timber and knocked his head against it, tearing large pieces of meat out of his cheeks. He seemed to suffer no inconvenience from this, and they all had a wholesome soup. Afterwards the troll gave the old man a sack filled with money, whereupon they separated, the man returning home. When he arrived not very far from his house, he suddenly remembered that one of his cows was sick, so he left the sack in the road, and, hurrying on, asked his wife if the cow had died.

"What are you thinking of!" exclaimed she; "no cow has died." "Well," answered he, "then you must come out and help me carry in a sack of money." "A sack of money!" repeated his wife, very much astonished. "Yes," replied he, "a sack of money, indeed. Is that so remarkable?" Although she did not trust his story, she obeyed, and followed him to the place. But when they arrived there no money was to be found. A thief, in the mean time, had carried it away. Now the wife became angry and grumbled at her husband. "Well, well," he said; "never mind the money! I learned something which I will not forget." "What did you learn?" inquired she. "Never mind!" repeated he. "I will not forget it."

Some time after, the man desired to visit his second oldest daughter. His wife again handed him a loaf of dry bread, and when he became hungry and thirsty he seated himself on the eastern side of a hill and commenced eating. While he was thus engaged his second oldest daughter came out of the hill and asked him to step in, which he did cheerfully enough. Soon afterwards the troll, her husband, returned home. It had become dark, so his wife asked him to go and buy some candles. "Candles!" he repeated, "those we have already." Upon this he thrust his fingers into the fire. When he drew them out they were themselves luminous, without being hurt, in any respect, by the flames. The old man was now given two sacks filled with money, and stumbled homeward. When he came near his house, he again remembered that his cow was yet sick; he therefore left the sacks in the middle of the road, ran on home, and asked his wife if the animal had recovered. "What is the matter with you?" said his wife. "Why do you come running as if the house were ready to fall? You need not trouble yourself a bit; the cow is well." He then asked her to assist him in carrying home the two sacks of money. Although she did not believe his tale, he pleaded and talked until she consented to follow him. But when they arrived at the place a thief had again been there, and the money was gone. No wonder that the wife abused her husband. He said, however, only these words: "Well, you don't know what I have learned!"

In a short time the man prepared himself to visit his youngest daughter. When he arrived at a hill, he sat down and ate some of the dry bread which his wife had given him. His daughter came forth immediately—this was the southern side of the hill—and took him into her dwelling. Soon her husband, the troll, made his appearance. As they needed fish, his wife wished him to go and buy some. He answered, however, that they might procure some much more easily: she must give him her winnowing-trough and her bale. Upon this the troll and his wife seated themselves in the trough and put to sea. When they had arrived at a short distance from the shore the troll asked: "Are my eyes green?" "No," answered his wife, "not yet." When they had proceeded a little farther he repeated his question. "Yes," answered she; "now they are green." The troll immediately jumped into the water and baled so many fish out of the sea into the trough that soon it could hold no more. When they had landed, the whole company had a hearty meal. The troll finally gave his father-in-law three sacks filled with money, and with these he started home.

When he had almost reached his house, he thought once more of the cow. Placing the sacks of money on the ground, and his wooden shoes on top of them, to prevent their being stolen, he hastened to his house, asking if the cow were still alive. In the mean time, however, the same thief that had been there before had his eye upon the money. He stole it all, leaving the wooden shoes behind him. When the couple came out for the sacks and found nothing but this pair of old shoes, the wife scolded at a great rate. Her husband remained quiet, however, saying only: "Never mind the money! I have learned a good lesson." "What did you learn?" asked she; "it would be well worth knowing." "Yes," replied he, "you will know some day!"

Some time afterwards the wife wished for some soup, and said to her husband: "Will you not go to town and buy a good piece of soup-meat?" "We don't need to buy it," answered he, "it may be had more easily;" whereupon he knocked his head against a large nail in the wall. The blood streamed from a wound in his forehead, and he was obliged to remain in bed for a long time thereafter. After he had finally recovered, one day it was found that there were no candles in the house, so his wife asked him to go and buy some. "No," said he, "that is unnecessary;" whereupon he thrust his hand into the fire. Of course he was severely burned and obliged to figure on the sick-list for another length of time.

When he was up again, it one day happened that they wished for some fish. Now the man determined to show what he had learned; he asked for his wife's winnowing-trough and a bale, and they both put to sea. In a little while the man asked: "Are my eyes green?" "No," answered his wife, "how could they be green?" When they had gone a little farther he repeated his question. "What nonsense!" exclaimed she. "How could they ever become green?" "My dear wife," said he again, "will you not be good and say they are green?" "Why, yes; they are green," answered she.

As soon as the man heard this, out he jumped into the sea, with his bale, in order to bring up the fish. He was obliged, however, to stay where he was, and was never seen again.