The Boy who went to the North Wind,

A Scandinavian Story

“Go you now to the safe and get some meal,” said the mother of the Boy. “And mind that you carry it carefully, for there is but little left.”

So the Boy went to the safe to get the meal, but as he came back with it the North Wind blew it away, and he went home empty-handed, and there was no meal in the house that day.

The next morning the mother sent the Boy to the safe again, and once more the North Wind came and took the meal.

On the third day it was as before. Then the Boy said: “I will go to the North Wind and demand that he give back my meal, for we have nothing to eat in the house.”

So the boy started and went far, far to the country where the North Wind abode; and when he had come there the North Wind said:

“I give you greeting and thanks for your coming. What can I do for you?”

The Boy answered: “I give you back your greeting, and I am come for the meal which you have taken away from me, for we have none left in the house.”

Then he told how for three days the North Wind had come and taken the meal as he returned with it from the safe, and now there was nothing to eat in the house.

“I have not got your meal,” said the North Wind, “but I will give you a magic cloth which, whenever you say to it, ‘Cloth, serve forth a dinner,’ will provide you with all that you can  eat and drink in a moment.”

So the boy took the cloth and started for his home, but as he had a long way to go he stopped over night at an inn, and, being hungry, and wanting to test the cloth, he sat down at a table and unfolded it before him, saying: “Cloth, serve forth a dinner.” Immediately there was served upon the cloth all sorts of good things to eat—such food as the Boy had never eaten before in his life.

“It is indeed a magic cloth,” said the Boy, when, the dinner eaten, he folded the cloth carefully and put it under his pillow before he slept.

Now, the inn-keeper had been a witness to the thing which had happened, and had heard the words which the Boy said to the cloth, so he decided that he must possess so wonderful a thing as that, for it would save him much labor. Accordingly, after the Boy had gone to sleep, he stole quietly into the room and slipped the wallet from under the Boy’s pillow and put into it a cloth of his own exactly like it.

When the Boy reached home the next day his mother asked him if he had been to the North Wind, and if he had brought back the meal.

The Boy said: “The North Wind was glad to see me, and thanked me for coming, but said he did not have the meal. Instead, he gave me a magic cloth, so that we need never be hungry again, for it will serve us a dinner at any time we bid it.”

So he took the cloth from his wallet and unfolded it on the table, as he had done at the inn, and said: “Cloth, serve forth a dinner.” But, as it was not a magic cloth, nothing happened.

Then the Boy said that he would go again to the North Wind and tell him that his cloth would not do as it was bidden. So he journeyed far to the home of the North Wind, and the North Wind said: “I give you greeting and thanks for your coming. What can I do for you?”

Then the boy told him how he had come before to ask him for the meal which the North Wind had taken, and the North Wind had given him a magic cloth which should serve forth a dinner when it was bidden; but that, though at the inn the cloth had served forth a dinner, when he reached his home it had not done so, and there was nothing to eat in the house.

Then said the North Wind: “I have no meal to give you, but I will give you a ram which, whenever you say to it, ‘Ram, Ram, coin money,’ will coin gold ducats before you.”

So the Boy took the ram and started for home; but as it was a long way he stopped at the same inn on his way home, and being anxious to try the skill of the ram, and needing to pay his bill to the inn-keeper he said to it: “Ram, Ram, coin money.” And the ram coined golden ducats until the Boy told it to stop.

“Now,” thought the observing inn-keeper, “this is a famous ram indeed. I must have this ram, and I will not need to work at all.”

So when the Boy had gone to bed, leaving the ram safely tied in his room, the inn-keeper slipped in quietly, leading another ram which could not coin ducats, which he left in place of the ram which the North Wind had given to the Boy.

And when the Boy reached home his mother asked him if he had brought back the meal this time. And the Boy answered: “The North Wind was glad to see me, and thanked me for coming, but he said that he did not have the meal. But he gave me a ram, which, when I bid it, ‘Ram, Ram, coin money,’ coins golden ducats, so that we will not be hungry any more, for we can buy what we need.”

Then he led forth the ram into the room and said to it: “Ram, Ram, coin money.” And the ram, not being a magic ram, did nothing but stand in the middle of the room and stare at him.

Now the Boy was angry, and he said: “I will go to the North Wind and tell him that his ram is worth nothing, and that I want my rights for the meal which he has taken.”

So back he went to the North Wind, and when he had told his story the North Wind said: “I have nothing that I can give you but that old stick in the bag yonder. But when you say to it, ‘Stick, come forth and lay on,’ it lays on unceasingly until you say to it, ‘Stick, stop.’”

So the Boy took the bag with the stick right willingly, for he had by this time a fair idea of the cause of his trouble; and he stopped that night at the inn as he had done before. Though he did not call forth his magic stick, the inn-keeper knew by the way in which he cared for his bag that he had some special treasure, and decided that the Boy was a simple fellow, and that he must have this too, whatever it was in the bag.

So when the Boy had gone to his room the man slipped in quietly and reached his hand under the Boy’s pillow, where the bag lay. But the Boy had not gone to sleep this time, and when he felt the hand under his pillow he said, “Stick, come forth and lay on.”

And the stick came forth and began to lay on about the inn-keeper’s head, and so hard did it strike that the inn-keeper soon besought the Boy to bid it stop—for the stick would respond only to the owner. But the Boy would not bid the stick to stop until the inn-keeper had been  roundly punished for his stealings, and had promised to return the magic cloth and the magic ram. When he had these again in his possession the Boy bade the stick return to the bag, and the next morning he went on to his home.

And when he had laid the cloth on the table and said to it, “Cloth, serve forth a dinner,” and the cloth had served forth a dinner, and he and his mother had eaten; and he had said to the ram, “Ram, Ram, coin money,” and the ram had coined golden ducats until he bade it to stop; and he had put the stick in a safe place where it could always do his bidding, he and his mother had plenty, and were well paid for the meal which the North Wind had taken.