The Wonderful Iron Pot,

A Scandinavian Story

Once upon a time a little boy and his mother lived together in a small brown house at the foot of a hill. They were very poor, for the boy’s father was dead, and the rich man who lived at the top of the hill had taken everything that they had, except one cow.

At last it came that there was nothing in the house to eat, and the mother said: “Now we will have to sell the cow.”

So she told the little boy to take the cow to town and sell it, and the boy put a rope around the cow’s neck and started off down the road.

He had not gone far before he met a man with a cloak over him and carrying something under it. He asked the little boy where he was going, and the boy told him that there was nothing to eat in the house and he was trying to sell the cow.

“Will you sell her to me?” asked the man.

“What will you give me for her?” asked the little boy.

“I will give you an iron pot,” said the man.

Now, the little boy knew that he ought not to sell the cow for an iron pot, and he quickly said he would not, but as he spoke he heard a tiny voice under the man’s cloak saying: “Buy me! Buy me!” So he told the stranger that he might have the cow.

The man took the rope in his hands, and gave the little boy the iron pot, and he took it and went home again.

“And what did you get for the cow?” asked his mother.

By this time the boy was very much ashamed of having sold the cow for an iron pot, and he hung his head when his mother asked him what he had gotten. They were about to throw the pot away, for, as the mother said, there was nothing to cook in it, when they heard a tiny voice say: “Put me over the fire and put in water.”

So the mother put the little pot over the fire and put in water, which, indeed, was all that she had to put in. And soon the water in the pot began to bubble and to boil, and the little pot said: “I skip! I skip!”

“How far do you skip, little Pot?” asked the mother.

“I skip to the house of the rich man at the top of the hill,” said the pot.

And the little pot began to skip, skip, first on one of its three legs and then on another, skippity skip, skippity skip, until it came to the house of the rich man at the top of the hill, and it skipped right into the kitchen of the rich man’s house where his wife was making a pudding. All at once she looked up and saw the little iron pot on the table, where it had skipped in at the window, and right in front of her, and she said:

“Oh, where did you come from, little Pot? You are just what I want to put my pudding in.”

So she put the pudding into the little iron pot, and as soon as the pudding was in and safely covered up, the little pot began to skip, skip, first on one of its three legs and then on another, skippity skip, skippity skip, down the hill, and though the farmer’s wife ran after, she could not catch it, and away it went straight to the little brown house at the bottom of the hill.

So the little boy and his mother had pudding to eat for dinner.

The next morning the little pot begged to be put on the fire, and as soon as the water began to bubble and to boil, it called, “I skip! I skip!”

“How far do you skip, little Pot?” asked the mother.

“I skip to the barn of the rich man at the top of the hill,” said the little pot.

And the little pot began to skip, skip, first on one of its three legs and then on another, skippity skip, skippity skip, until it came to the barn of the rich man at the top of the hill. And in the barn the thrashers were thrashing the wheat, and the little pot skipped right out on the thrashing floor.

“Oh,” said one of the men, “Where did you come from, little Pot? You are just the thing to hold some of this wheat.”

So the man began pouring the wheat into the pot, and poured and poured until the little pot seemed quite full, but still there was room, so the man poured until all the wheat was in the pot.  Then the little pot began to skip, skip, first on one of its three legs and then on another, skippity skip, skippity skip, out of the barn and out on the road. And though all of the men ran after it they could not catch it, and it skipped down the hill to the little brown house.

So the little boy and his mother had plenty of white bread to eat.

The next morning the little pot begged to be put on the fire, and as soon as the water began to bubble and to boil it began to skip, skip, skippity skip, skippity skip, until it came to the bank of the rich man, and it skipped right into the window where the rich man sat with all his money spread out on his desk. And as he counted he looked up and saw the little iron pot standing in front of him, and he said, “Where did you come from, little Pot? You are just the thing for me to put my money into.”

Then he began to pile his money into the iron pot, and though it was soon full there was yet more room, and he piled more and more, until at last all his money was in the iron pot. Then the little pot began to skip, skip, skippity skip, skippity skip, right out of the bank and down the street and straight on till it came to the little brown house at the bottom of the hill. And though the rich man ran after it he could not catch it, and so all the money that he had taken from the little boy and his mother was carried back to them in the little iron pot.

The next morning the little pot begged to be put on the fire again, and the mother said: “Why should you be put on the fire, little Pot? Have we not everything that we want?” But the little pot still wanted to be put on the fire; and at last, when the mother had put in the water and made the fire, and the water began to bubble and to boil, the little pot said: “I skip! I skip!”

And the mother said: “How far do you skip, little Pot?”

“I skip to the end of the world,” said the little pot. And it began to skip, skip, first on one of its three legs and then on another, skippity skip, skippity skip, until it came to the top of the hill, and there was the rich man hunting for his money. And when he saw the little iron pot he cried out: “There is the pot that stole my money!” And he caught up with the pot and put his hand into it to take out his money, but his hand could not find the money; so he put his head in to look for it, and he could not see it; next he climbed into the pot, and then it began to skip, skip, far away up the hill and up the mountain, and away to the end of the world.