Page:Danske Folkeæventyr ved Svend Grundtvig.djvu/55

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Esben Ashpuffer

With illustrations by Hans Nik. Hansen.

Once there was a king who had an only daughter. She was pretty as well as clever, but horribly stuck up, so jeering and foul-mouthed that all the princes who came to sue for her hand, they soon got their fill, and in time they turned away and journeyed back home again the way they had come.

The King at last was fed up with this: now there was no one of her rank who wanted to have anything to do with her; and so he swore that she would take the man, whoever he might be, who succeeded in making her shut up.—"Well, let them give it a try," said the Princess; "but if they fail they'll be hanged."—"Well, all right!" said the King, and so it was decided, and it was posted on all the street corners, and read to church congregations throughout the land, that that's how it would be.

There were many young lads who were brave enough to try, and thought that their mouths were up to the task, and that here they would make their fortune. But they came in plenty of time: when they had to face off with her in a verbal duel, one on one, they would become tongue-tied, but never her, and so they had to go out by the other door and were hanged, one after the other.