The Princess Who Could Not Be Silenced

Retold by Gudrun Thorne-Thomsen

There was once a King, and he had a daughter who was so cross and crooked in her words that no one could silence her, and so he gave it out that he who could do it should marry the princess and have half the kingdom, too. There were plenty of those who wanted to try it, I can tell you, for it is not every day that you can get a princess and half a kingdom. The gate to the King's palace did not stand still a minute. They came in great crowds from the East and the West, both riding and walking. But there was not one of them who could silence the princess.

At last the king had it given out that those who tried, and failed, should have both ears marked with the big redhot iron with which he marked his sheep. He was not going to have all that flurry and worry for nothing.

Well, there were three brothers, who had heard about the princess, and, as they did not fare very well at home, they thought they had better set out to try their luck and see if they could not win the princess and half the kingdom. They were friends and good fellows, all three of them, and they set off together.

When they had walked a bit of the way, Boots picked up something.

"I've found—I've found something!" he cried.

"What did you find!" asked the brothers.

"I found a dead crow," said he.

"Ugh! Throw it away! What would you do with that?" said the brothers, who always thought they knew a great deal.

"Oh, I haven't much to carry, I might as well carry this," said Boots.

So when they had walked on a bit, Boots again picked up something.

"I've found—I've found something!" he cried.

"What have you found now?" said the brothers.

"I found a willow twig," said he.

"Dear, what do you want with that? Throw it away!" said they.

"Oh, I haven't much to carry, I might as well carry that," said Boots.

So when they had walked a bit, Boots picked up something again. "Oh, lads, I've found—I've found something!" he cried.

"Well, well, what did you find this time?" asked the brothers.

"A piece of a broken saucer," said he.

"Oh, what is the use of that? Throw it away!" said they.

"Oh, I haven't much to carry, I might as well carry that," said Boots.

And when they had walked a bit further, Boots stooped down again and picked up something else.

"I've found—I've found something, lads!" he cried.

"And what is it now?" said they.

"Two goat horns," said Boots.

"Oh! Throw them away. What could you do with them?" said they.

"Oh, I haven't much to carry, I might as well carry them," said Boots.

In a little while he found something again.

"Oh, lads, see, I've found—I've found something," he cried.

"Dear, dear, what wonderful things you do find! What is it now?" said the brothers.

"I've found a wedge," said he.

"Oh, throw it away. What do you want with that?" said they.

"Oh, I haven't much to carry, I might as well carry that," said Boots.

And now, as they walked over the fields close up to the King's palace,
Boots bent down again and held something in his fingers.

"Oh, lads, lads, see what I've found!" he cried.

"If you only found a little common sense, it would be good for you," said they. "Well, let's see what it is now."

"A worn-out shoe sole," said he.

"Pshaw! Well, that was something to pick up! Throw it away! What do you want with that?" said the brothers.

"Oh, I haven't much to carry, I might as well carry that, if I am to win the princess and half the kingdom," said Boots.

"Yes, you are likely to do that—you," said they.

And now they came to the King's palace. The eldest one went in first.

"Good-day," said he.

"Good-day to you," said the princess, and she twisted and turned.

"It's awfully hot here," said he.

"It is hotter over there in the hearth," said the princess. There lay the red-hot iron ready awaiting. When he saw that he forgot every word he was going to say, and so it was all over with him.

And now came the next oldest one.

"Good-day," said he.

"Good-day to you," said she, and she turned and twisted herself.

"It's awfully hot here," said he.

"It's hotter over there in the hearth," said she. And when he looked at the red-hot iron he, too, couldn't get a word out, and so they marked his ears and sent him home again.

Then it was Boots' turn.

"Good-day," said he.

"Good-day to you," said she, and she twisted and turned again.

"It's nice and warm in here," said Boots.

"It's hotter in the hearth," said she, and she was no sweeter, now the third one had come.

"That's good, I may bake my crow there, then?" asked he.

"I'm afraid she'll burst," said the princess.

"There's no danger; I'll wind this willow twig around," said the lad.

"It's too loose," said she.

"I'll stick this wedge in," said the lad, and took out the wedge.

"The fat will drop off," said the princess.

"I'll hold this under," said the lad, and pulled out the broken bit of the saucer.

"You are crooked in your words, that you are," said the princess.

"No, I'm not crooked, but this is crooked," said the lad, and he showed her the goat's horn.

"Well, I never saw the equal to that!" cried the princess.

"Oh, here is the equal to it," said he, and pulled out the other.

"Now, you think you'll wear out my soul, don't you?" said she.

"No, I won't wear out your soul, for I have a sole that's worn out already," said the lad, and pulled out the shoe sole.

Then the princess hadn't a word to say.

"Now, you're mine," said Boots.

And so she was.