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Farmer Weatherbeard-- two texts

Here are two versions of Asbjiornsen's traditional folktale Farmer Weatherbeard (sometimes translated Farmer Weathersky) side by side. On the left is an approximate transcript of an evolved oral performance, on the right the classic 19rh century text from which it sprang. As often seems to happen when I look back like this, some of the differences surprise me.

I remember making some changes in a deliberate way. For example, in performance it quickly becomes clear that the succession of old women with long noses sets up a payoff. It's clear to me now that there's a payoff in the text, a kind of switcheroo: crone draws water; crone draws water; crone-- what?-- pokes up the fire, that's how tough her nose was. You could get a laugh with it, once you got it going right. But thirty years ago I couldn't see how to make that work. Instead I went for a build, geometrically increasing their ages-- "Three hundred years!" "Nine hundred years!" "Eighty-one hundred years!" (cries of astonishment from a young audience.)

There is much more added content in my version than I realised. I never planned or wrote out the new material, it bubbled up unconsciously during performance in a process involving memory-lapses, creative urges, and audience responses. Storytelling is a time-binding activity; the added words don't make the story seem longer in performance, just the opposite. I only kept new stuff that increased transparency, focus, grip, and speed.

But some of the variations-- I swear!-- must be due to my beginning with some text other than the classic Dasent translation. I have not been able to find this text, but it surely exists! For example, the eagle's escape flight is quite different in my telling than Dasent's. Among other things, I have the old man cry out, three times, "It's Farmer Weatherbeard and a thousand men behind him!" There's nothing like that in Dasent, and it's not something I'd make up. I found it difficult to say, even after altering the original phrase, which was "and a thousand men before him!" (Somehow it seemed to work better once I put the commander in front of his army, Tolkien style.) My eagle never sat on a rock. My Farmer Weatherbeard wrings the necks of the attacking birds hiimself. I did not make these things up, I am -- almost-- positive. If anybody knows of an old text that agrees with me in these respects, please let me know, it's driving me crazy.

-----------------------TimJ-----------------------

 

 

As told by Tim Jennings (more or less.)

There was an old man, an old woman, and their son; they were what they used to call peasants, that is, they were poor tenant farmers, only instead of some bank or corporation that owned the land it was a squire or lord.

And one day the old woman turned to the old man and said, "Old man!" She said, "You take our boy out and you apprentice him to someone. I don't want him to be a farmer when he grows up, there's no future in it. You apprentice him to some trade."

"All right," says the old man. "Who do you want me to apprentice him to?"

"Oh, that don't matter," she says.

"You're making it easy, for once," he says.

"Just remember one thing," she says.

"I was afraid of that," he says.

"When he's done with his apprenticeship, he's not just to be a master of his trade. No, no. He's to be a master of all masters."

"A master of all masters!?" says the old man. "Well, I'll do what I can, but..."

“You’ll do better than that," she says. "You take our boy out, and don't come back until you done what I told you to do!" And she packed them a lunch, and a change of clothes, and a roll of tobacco, and she (little kick) kicked them out the door.

Well the two of them went all over the place, asking everybody, and everybody said the same thing, which was: "Yes, I could use an apprentice. And your boy looks like he'd be a good one. But I'll tell you right now, I can only make him as good as I am, and I am no master of all masters!"

 

 

 

Asbjornsen text, translated by George Dasent

Once on a time there was a man and his wife, who had an only son, and his name was Jack.

 

The old dame thought it high time for her son to go out into the world to learn a trade, and bade her husband be off with him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

"But all you do," she said, "mind you bind him to some one who can teach him to be master above all masters;"

 

 

and with that she put some food and a roll of tobacco into a bag, and packed them off.

 

Well, they went to many masters; but one and all said they could make the lad as good as themselves, but better they couldn't make him. So when the man came home again to his wife with that answer, she said,—

"I don't care what you make of him; but this I say and stick to, you must bind him to some one where he can learn to be master above all masters;" and with that she packed up more food and another roll of tobacco, and father and son had to be off again.

 

 

So the two of them were sitting by the side of the road-- they knew better than to go home-- when they heard a rumble of wheels, and a thunder of hoofs, and way down the road, coming towards them in a cloud of dust, they saw a big black wagon, drawn by nine big black horses, and standing up in the driver's seat was a tall, powerfully built, sinister-looking man, with a hood, and a cloak, and a patch over one eye. And he was cracking the whip! Cracking the whip! He saw them by the side of the road, he (pulled the reins,) says:

"Whoa! What's the matter with you down there?"

"Oh, the old woman says I have to apprentice the boy here to be a master of all masters, I can't find anybody to do it."

"That's all right," says the stranger. "I'll do it!"

And he reached down, picked the boy up by one arm, swung him, legs kicking, as if he weighed nothing at all, dropped him in the seat next to him, cracked the whip, and the horses took off--- straight up into the air.

"Wait!" says the old man.

"Whoa!" (says the stranger, and horses and wagon stopped halfway to the sky. He called down) ”what do you want this time?"

"Who are you, anyway?"

"I'm Farmer Weatherbeard!" and he cracked the whip, and the horses took off up into the sky, and were gone.

Well, the man sat there for awhile, (scratching his head,) wondering what to do next. After awhile he says, ”Well," he says, "I did what I was supposed to do. I guess I can go home."

When he got there, the old lady met him at the door.

"Well?"

"Well, I did what you said."

"He's apprenticed, is he?”

“Yes, he is.”

"He's going to be a master of all masters?"

“Yes, he is.”

"Well all right! Come on in (and sit down). Who’d you apprentice him to?"

"Farmer Weatherbeard."

"Farmer Weatherbeard? Farmer Weatherbeard??? What does he do?”

"Well.... I don't know."

"You don't know? Where does he live?"

"I don't know that either."

"You don't?? Well, who is he????"

"I don't know that either!"

"Get out!" she says. "Get out! And don't come back until you found out what you done with our boy!"

And she packed him a change of clothes, and she packed him a lunch, and a roll of tobacco, and she (little kick) kicked him out the door.

 

Now when they had walked a while they got upon the ice, and there they met a man who came whisking along in a sledge, and drove a black horse.

 

 

"Whither away?" said the man.

"Well," said the father, "I'm going to bind my son to some one who is good to teach him a trade; but my old dame comes of such fine folk, she will have him taught to be master above all masters."

"Well met then," said the driver; "I'm just the man for your money, for I'm looking out for such an apprentice. Up with you behind!" he added to the lad, and whisk! off they went, both of them, and sledge and horse, right up into the air.

 

"Nay, nay!" cried the lad's father, "you haven't told me your name, nor where you live."

"Oh!" said the master, "I'm at home alike north and south, east and west, and my name's Farmer Weathersky. In a year and a day you may come here again, and then I'll tell you if I like him." So away they went through the air, and were soon out of sight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So when the man got home, his old dame asked what had become of her son.

 

 

 

 

 

"Well," said the man, "Heaven knows, I'm sure I don't. They went up aloft;" and so he told her what had happened.

 

But when the old dame heard that her husband couldn't tell at all when her son's apprenticeship would be out, nor  whither he had gone,

 

she packed him off again,

and gave him another bag of food and another roll of tobacco.

 

 

Man walked all over the place asking everybody---

"Excuse me, do you know where Farmer Weatherbeard lives?"

"No I don't."

"Do you know where Farmer Weatherbeard lives?"

"Never heard of him."

"Do you know where Farmer Weatherbeard lives?"

"Weatherby? Weatherboard? can't say that I do."

Until finally

"Do you know where Farmer Weatherbeard lives?”

"Farmer Weatherbeard?? Hah! You’re getting kinda old to still believe in Farmer Weatherbeard, aintcha fella?"

So he knew he was on the right track. And he kept going that way, which was North, until he found himself wandering for months through a vast trackless pine forest. Hadn't seen anybody for days. It was starting to get dark, and he saw a light, between the trees. And he followed the light, until he came out into a little clearing. And in the clearing there was a little house, and a well, and an old woman with a lonnnnnnnnggggg noooossssseeee. It was so long, she was drawing the water out of the well with her nose.

"Evening, Granny!"

"Granny! Nobody's called me Granny for three hundred years!"

"Three hundred years! You must know a lot. Do you know where Farmer Weatherbeard lives?"

"No, I don't."

Well, now the man suddenly felt very tired. "Listen," he said. "I'm not as old as you are, but I'm too old to sleep in the forest again. Can I spend the night on the floor of your cabin?"

"Spend the night on the floor of my cabin? Why, certainly---- NOT!!! I don't know you from Adam young man! The nerve of some people! What next, what next?" and she started to go up onto her porch.

"Well," says the old man, I don't know what I'm going to do!" And while he was thinking what to do next, he took out his pipe, and he filled it with tobacco, and lit it, and blew out some smoke, and that old woman caught one sniff of the tobacco smoke and her (big) nostrils went (flapping in and out:) WHOOM-WHOOM. WHOOM-WHOOM. And her hair stood on end. And her whole body began to quiver. And a little bit of drool came out of the corner of her mouth.

Well, the old man thought she probably wanted some of the tobacco. In those days, ladies took tobacco as snuff, so he took out his knife and he minced up a bit of tobacco, handed it out to her. And she snatched it away from him, and pushed it up her nose as far as it would go— about half way up to the elbow— then she started laughing and singing and dancing, and jumping for joy. She was so pleased, she let him spend the night. And the next day she took him out to a field.

 

So, when he had walked a bit,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

he came to a great wood, which stretched on and on all day as he walked through it. When it got dark he saw a great light, and he went towards it. After a long, long time he came to a little hut under a rock, and outside stood an old hag drawing water out of a well with her nose, so long was it.

 

 

"Good evening, mother!" said the man.

"The same to you," said the old hag. "It's hundreds of years since any one called me mother."

 

 

 

"Can I have lodging here to-night?" asked the man.

"No, that you can't," said she.

 

 

But then the man pulled out his roll of tobacco, lighted his pipe

and gave the old dame a whiff

 

and a pinch of snuff.

Then she was so happy she began to dance for joy, and the end was, she gave the man leave to stop the night.

 

She told him, ”Listen, sonny," she says. "I have power over everything that lives on the land. And if your Farmer Weatherbeard lives on the land, we'll soon find out where." And she took up a set of bagpipes she had, and she blew them up (whoof whooof whooof) and she started to play.

Anybody like bagpipe music? — Well, don’t expect too much, here, these are crazy old antique pipes, and she was playing one of those archaic Norwegian slow airs that you have to have lived in Norway for 300 years to make head or tail of. But she liked it!

(ludicrous bagpipe imitation)

And as she was playing, the grass shifted and sifted, and sifted and shifted, and all the animals who live on the land came out and started dancing around her. They were forming squares, they were forming facing lines, they were jitterbugging around two by two, they were boogying around one by one. And one by one each animal came up to her, and one by one she asked them: "Do you know where Farmer Weatherbeard lives?" And one by one, they'd say "No." Every last one of them said, "No."

So she put down her pipes and told the old man, "Now, don't despair. We know something now we didn't know before. We know he don't live on the land. That narrows things down quite a bit. You’d best go see my sister. She lives so far away from here, you'd never get there on foot. But take my horse, you'll be there by dark."

And she picked him up, and she put him on her horse, and gave it a slap, and they rode like the wind. And when the landscape stopped being a blur, he was in a little clearing, with a house and a well and an old woman with a long nose, drawing the water out of the well with her nose.

"Evening, granny," he says.

"Granny??? Nobody's called me Granny for the last nine hundred years!"

"Nine hundred years?" he says. "You must know a lot. Do you know where Farmer Weatherbeard lives?"

"No I don't."

"Well, can I spend the night?"

"No you can't."

"I don't know what I'm going to do." This was stretching the truth, he had a pretty good idea of what he was going to do, and he went ahead and did it. Filled his pip, blew out the smoke, her nostrils went (woomp woomp) hair stood on end, trembled all over, little bit of drool,

he minced up the tobacco and she pushed it up her nose as far as it would go

and started laughing and choking and sneezing and spitting and dancing for joy, she was so pleased she let him spend the night, and the next day, she took him to a fjord.

—In Norway, they have these things called fjords, they’re like steep banked river valleys, only it’s not rivers running through them, it’s the ocean—

She says, "Listen sonny, I have power over everything that lives in the water. And if your Farmer Weatherbeard lives in the water, we'll soon find out where!" And she started playing her bagpipes, and everything that lives in the water came up to the surface and started swimming around on their tails. And she asked each one of them, "Do you know where Farmer Weatherbeard lives," and every one said, "No." Every last one of them said "No."

She told the old man, "Now, don't despair. We know he don't live on the land, we know he don't live in the water. You'd best go see my sister. She lives so far from here, you'd never get there on foot, but take my horse and you'll be there by dark."

She picked him up and put him on her horse, gave it a slap and they rode like the wind. And when the landscape stopped being a blur, they were in a little clearing with a house and a well and an old woman with a long nose, she was drawing the water out of the well with her nose.

"Hello Granny."

"Granny!!!! Nobody's called me Granny for the last eighty-one hundred years!!"

"Do you know where Farmer Weatherbeard lives?" "No." "Can I spend the night?" "No" "I don't know what I'm going to do."

This was a lie. He knew exactly what he was going to do, and so do you, he took out his tobacco, filled the pipe, lit it, blew out the smoke, her nostrils flared whoooom-whooom, hair on end, quivered all over, little bit of drool, gave her the snuff, pushed it up her nose as far as it would go and was sneezing and laughing and spitting and snorting and dancing for joy, she was so pleased she let him spend the night. And the next day, she took him out to a cliff.

"Listen, Sonny, I have power over everything that lives in the air. And if your Farmer Weatherbeard lives in the air, we'll soon find out where." She started playing her bagpipes, and the air was dark with birds swooping down from the sky. And one by one they came up.

(cooing) “H'lloooooooooo. H’llooooooooooo."

"Hello, do you know where Farmer Weatherbeard lives?

(cooing) "Nooooooooo. Noooooooooo."

(cawing) "Hi! Hi!"

"Hello, do you know where Farmer Weatherbeard lives?"

(cawing) "Naw! Naw!"

Asked every one of those birds, and every one of them said, no.

She told the old man, "Now don't despair!" (And I say to you too, don’t despair.) "There's one bird ain't got here yet, and that's the one that's most likely to know. We'll wait, it'll get here."

 

So next morning he began to ask after Farmer Weathersky. "No, she never heard tell of him, but she ruled over all the four-footed beasts; perhaps some of them might know him." So she played them all home with a pipe she had,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and asked them all, but there wasn't one of them who knew anything about Farmer Weathersky.

"Well," said the old hag, "there are three sisters of us; maybe one of the other two knows where he lives. I'll lend you my horse and sledge, and then you'll beat her house by night; but it's at least three hundred miles off, the nearest way."

 

Then the man started off, and at night reached the house, and when he came there, there stood another old hag before the door, drawing water out of the well with her nose.

"Good evening, mother!" said the man.

"The same to you," said she; "it's hundreds of years since any one called me mother."

 

"Can I lodge here to-night?" asked the man.

"No," said the old hag.

 

 

But he took out his roll of tobacco, lighted his pipe, and gave the old dame a whiff,

 

and a good pinch of snuff besides on the back of her hand.

Then she was so happy that she began to jump and dance for joy, and so the man got leave to stay the night. When that was over, he began to ask after Farmer Weathersky. "No, she had never heard tell of him;

 

 

but she ruled all the fish in the sea; perhaps some of them might know something about him." So she played them all home with a pipe she had,

and asked them, but there wasn't one of them who knew anything about Farmer Weathersky.

"Well, well!" said the old hag, "there's one sister of us left; maybe she knows something about him. She lives six hundred miles off, but I'll lend you my horse and sledge, and then you'll get there by nightfall.

 

Then the man started off, and reached the house by nightfall, and there he found another old hag who stood before the grate, and stirred the fire with her nose, so long and tough it was.

"Good evening, mother!" said the man.

"The same to you," said the old hag; "it's hundreds of years since any one called me mother."

"Can I lodge here to-night?" asked the man.

"No," said the old hag.

Then the man pulled out his roll of tobacco again, and lighted his pipe, and gave the old hag such a pinch of snuff  it covered the whole back of her hand. Then she got so happy she began to dance for joy, and so the man got leave to stay.

But when the night was over, he began to ask after Farmer Weathersky. She never heard tell of him, she said;

but she ruled over all the birds of the air, and so she played them all home with a pipe she had, and when she had mustered them all

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the Eagle was missing.

 

And they waited, and they waited, and sure enough, just before dark, here came the eagle. But it wasn't flying like an eagle, it was flying more like a slowed-down woodpecker, flap its wings and sink. Flap its wings and sink. Finally they could see why: it was so tired, it could hardly fly at all, its tongue was hanging out of the corner of its beak, finally for the last few feet it just folded its wings and dropped --- whoomp!

"(Pant pant pant) I'm sorry (pant pant pant) I'm so late but (pant pant pant) I was all the way up at Farmer Weatherbeard's when I heard your call, and it's taken me this long to get back."

"Oh," says the old man. You know where Farmer Weatherbeard lives."

"(pant pant) Yes," says the eagle. "(pant pant) I just (pant pant) got back."

"Well, I've been looking for somebody like you!" says the old man. "I don't know how long it's been, years ago maybe, I apprenticed my son to Farmer Weatherbeard. Ever since then I've been trying to..."

"Your son!" says the eagle. "Apprenticed to Farmer Weatherbeard! Oh that's no good! We can't have that! We've got to get him out of there! I'd take you right now, there's no time to be lost, but I'm too tired, we'd never make it. I'll rest up overnight, I'll take you first thing in the morning."

So the two of them rested overnight, and the next day the old woman plucked three feathers off the eagle's back, then put the man in their place. The eagle took off.

 

But a little while after he came flying home,

 

 

and when she asked him, he said he had just come straight from Farmer Weathersky.

 

 

 

 

Then the old hag said he must guide the man thither; but the Eagle said he must have something to eat first, and besides he must rest till the next day; he was so tired with flying that long way, he could scarce rise from the earth.

So when he had eaten his fill and taken a good rest, the old hag pulled a feather out of the Eagle's tail, and put the man there in its stead; so the Eagle flew off with the man,

 

They flew up and around, up and around. Past the clouds. Past the moon. Past the sun. Past the stars. They flew until there was nothing. They flew through nothing for a long time, until finally they saw a speck in the distance. When they got closer, they saw they it was a wooden platform. The eagle landed on the platform and they started walking, steps echoing underfoot, then there was gravel and dirt, and grass, and bushes and trees, and there was a whole country up there. And in the middle of the country stood a great tall building, built like a barn, but higher, and narrower, and grander, with carvings all over the outside, and heaps of dead bodies out in the yard.

The eagle said, "You go in there, and you'll see heaps of sleeping creatures. Don't worry, so long as you don't talk, they won't wake up. Go to the biggest and ugliest one of them. That's Farmer Weatherbeard in his real form. Pluck three feathers from the top of his head, put them in your pocket. Go to the table, take a handful of crumbs. Come back outside, pick three pebbles up off the ground, put them in your pocket. Go to the stable, open the stable door, throw the crumbs down on the doorstep. Pick three splinters off the doorframe, put them in your pocket. Whatever comes out of there, grab it, and run back here with it, and we'll get out of here as fast as we can."

So the man nodded, and went up to the big double doors and pushed them open, and came into a big wooden hall, with rafters and little windows up near the top, and heaps of giant sleeping creatures lying slumped all over the floor, . He walked around them, and through them, and right on top of them, but he didn't talk, and they didn't wake up.

He went to the biggest and ugliest one of them, slumped in a chair, snoring loudly, that was Farmer Weatherbeard in his real form. (Snoring loudly.) The old man went behind and plucked the first feather.

"AH," (reacting as Weatherbeard, then resume snoring..)

He plucked the second feather.

“ARRR!— ahhh" (half standing up, then slumping back down, snoring again.)

The old man plucked the third feather

"ARRRRRRRRRR!" (Stand up, eyes half open, yawn, fall back into the chair again, snoring loudly.)

The old man put the feathers in his pocket, went to the table and took a handful of crumbs. He went outside, picked three pebbles up off the ground and put them in his pocket. Went to the stable, opened the stable door, threw the crumbs on the doorstep, picked ... three... splinters off of the doorframe, put them in his pocket.

A rabbit came out and started eating the crumbs.

The old man grabbed up the rabbit, put it in his shirt, ran back to the eagle, and they took off.

and flew, and flew,

but they didn't reach Farmer Weathersky's house before midnight.

 

So when they got there, the Eagle said,—

"There are heaps of dead bodies lying about outside,

but you mustn't mind them. Inside the house every man Jack of them are so sound asleep, 'twill be hard work to wake them; but you must go straight to the table drawer, and take out of it three crumbs of bread, and when you hear some one snoring loud, pull three feathers out of his head; he won't wake for all that."

 

 

 

So the man did as he was told, and after he had taken the crumbs of bread,

 

he pulled out the first feather.

 

"OOF!" growled Farmer Weathersky, for it was he who snored.

 

So the man pulled out another feather.

"OOF!" he growled again.

But when he pulled out the third, Farmer Weathersky roared so, the man thought roof and wall would have flown asunder, but for all that the snorer slept on.

After that the Eagle told him what he was to do. He went to the yard, and there at the stable-door he stumbled against a big gray stone, and that he lifted up; underneath it lay three chips of wood, and those he picked up too; then he knocked at the stable-door, and it opened of itself. Then he threw down the three crumbs of bread, and a hare came and ate them up; that hare he caught and kept. After that the Eagle bade him pull three feathers out of his tail, and put the hare, the stone, the chips, and himself there instead, and then he would fly away home with them all.

After a few minute of flying, the eagle said, "Look back behind us, see if you can see anything behind us."

"No," said the old man, "there's nothing there.”

“It's just a matter of time," said the eagle. "Look back now, can you see anything now?”

"Well, there's a speck."

"That's Farmer Weatherbeard," said the eagle. "I'll have to fly even faster." He flew even fast— so fast that the tears left the corners of the old man's eyes and turned into trails of vapor behind them. "Look back now, can you see anything now?"

"It's Farmer Weatherbeard," says the old man, " and a thousand men behind him!"

"Quick," said the eagle, "throw out the feathers."

So the old man went to his pocket and threw out the feathers. And as they fell they turned into a huge flock of giant black crows. They all flew straight down at Farmer Weatherbeard, with their beaks snapping and their claws snatching.

Farmer Weatherbeard had to beat them down, beat them down, wring their necks, wring their necks, until there were piles of them around, piles of them around him.

That took a little while, gave the other two a little head start.

"Look back now," says the eagle, "can you see anything now?"

"No," says the old man, "nothing back there."

"Look back now, can you see anything now?"

"There's a speck."

"Look back now, can you see anything now?"

"It's Farmer Weatherbeard, and a thousand men behind him!"

"Quick," said the eagle. "Throw out the splinters!"

 

So the old man threw out the splinters, and as they fell, they turned into a giant pine forest, every tree was this big around, and only that much space between them.

Farmer Weatherbeard had to go all the way back home and get his ax, then come back and hew a swathe through that forest, big enough for him and his thousand men. That took a little while, gave the other two a little head start.

"Look back now!"

"There's nothing."

"Look back now!"

"There's a speck."

"Look back now!"

"It's Farmer Weatherbeard, and a thousand men behind him!"

"Quick," said the eagle, "throw out the pebbles."

The old man threw out the pebbles, and as they fell, they turned into a giant mountain range, bigger than any mountains ever seen before.

Farner Weatherbeard had to go all the way back home and get his mining equipment, come all the way back and and drill a tunnel through the mountains big enough for him and his thousand men; halfway through, he fell and broke his leg, and had to go all the way back home to get it set. That gave the other two the time they needed.

The Eagle flew down and around, down and around, landed outside the old man's cottage. The old man jumped off. The eagle said, "Put the rabbit on your doorstep. Sprinkle a little churchyard dirt on its head, see what happens." And the eagle flew off-- so fast, and so completely, that it flew right out of the story.

The old man got a handful of churchyard dirt, put the rabbit on his doorstep, and started sprinkling. And as he did, the rabbit settled back on its haunches and seemed to stretch, and its ears drew in, and its face got flatter, and its whiskers drew in and its eyes got more human, and when he was done, there stood his son.

So when the Eagle had flown a long way, he lighted on a rock to rest.

"Do you see anything?" it asked.

"Yes," said the man; "I see a flock of crows coming flying after us."

"We'd better be off again, then," said the Eagle, who flew away. After a while it asked again,—

"Do you see anything now?"

"Yes," said the man; "now the crows are close behind us."

 

 

"Drop now the three feathers you pulled out of his head," said the Eagle.

Well, the man dropped the feathers, and as soon as ever he dropped them they became a flock of ravens which drove the crows home again.

 

 

 

Then the Eagle flew on far away with the man, and at last it lighted on another stone to rest. "Do you see anything?" it said.

"I'm not sure," said the man; "I fancy I see something coming far far away."

"We'd better get on then," said the Eagle; and after a while it said again—

"Do you see anything?"

"Yes," said the man; "now he's close at our heels."

"Now you must let fall the chips of wood which you took from under the gray stone at the stable door," said the Eagle.

Yes, the man let them fall, and they grew at once up into tall thick wood, so that Farmer Weathersky had to go back home to fetch an axe to hew his way through. While he did this, the Eagle flew ever so far, but when it got tired, it lighted on a fir to rest.

 

 

"Do you see anything?" it said.

"Well, I'm not sure," said the man; "but I fancy I catch a glimpse of something far away."

"We'd best be off then," said the Eagle; and off it flew as fast as it could. After a while it said,—

"Do you see anything now?"

"Yes; now he's close behind us," said the man.

"Now, you must drop the big stone you lifted up at the stable door," said the Eagle.

The man did so, and as it fell, it became a great high mountain,

 

which Farmer Weathersky had to break his way through. When he had got half through the mountain, he tripped and broke one of his legs, and so he had to limp home again and patch it up.

 

But while he was doing this, the Eagle flew away to the  man's house with him and the hare, and as soon as they got home,

 

the man went into the churchyard and sprinkled Christian mould over the hare, and lo! it turned into "Jack," his son.

And his son said, "Pop, you got me out of there just in the nick of time. I am now a Master of All Masters. We don't have to be poor, ever again. And here's how it's going to work:

“We’re going to go the fair tomorrow, but I’m not going to look like this, I’m going to be a giant black horse. You’re going to sell me to the highest bidder. That’ll be Farmer Weatherbeard in disguise again, but don’t worry. As long as you remember one thing I’ll be safe enough.

“Don’t sell the bridle! I’ll be wearing a fancy bridle, as long as you keep that back I’ll be able to change back, and come back, we can do this as often as we want, we’ll be rich. But if you forget— if you let that go— I’ll be stuck as a horse, and you’ll never see me again.

The old man nodded, and they went to the fair the next day. Everybody wanted to buy the horse, but the one talking the most money was a tall, powerfully built, sinister looking man with a hood, and a cloak, and a patch over one eye.

Well, you may fancy the old dame was glad to get her son again, but still she wasn't easy in her mind about his trade, and she wouldn't rest till he gave her a proof that he was "master above all masters."

So when the fair came round, the lad changed himself into a bay horse, and told his father to lead him to the fair.

 

"Now, when any one comes," he said, "to buy me, you may ask a hundred dollars for me; but mind you don't forget to take the headstall off me; if you do, Farmer Weathersky will keep me for ever, for he it is who will come to deal with you."

So it turned out. Up came a horse-dealer, who had a great wish to deal for the horse, and he gave a hundred dollars down for him; but when the bargain was struck, and Jack's father had pocketed the money, the horse-dealer wanted to have the headstall.

"Nay, nay!" said the man, "there's nothing about that in the bargain; and besides, you can't have the headstall, for I've other horses at home to bring to town to-morrow."

So each went his way, but they hadn't gone far before Jack took his own shape and ran away, and when his father got home, there sat Jack in the ingle.

Next day he turned himself into a brown horse, and told his father to drive him to the fair.

"And when any one comes to buy me, you may ask two hundred dollars for me—he'll give that and treat you besides: but whatever you do, and however much you drink, don't forget to take the headstall off me, else you'll never set eyes on me again."

So all happened as he had said; the man got two hundred dollars for the horse and a glass of drink besides, and when the buyer and seller parted, it was as much as he could do to remember to take off the headstall. But, the buyer and the horse hadn't got far on the road before Jack took his own shape, and when the man got home, there sat Jack in the ingle.

The third day it was the same story over again; the lad turned himself into a black horse, and told his father some one would come and bid three hundred dollars for him, and fill his skin with meat and drink besides; but however much he ate or drank, he was to mind and not forget to take the headstall off, else he'd have to stay with Farmer Weathersky all his life long.

"No, no; I'll not forget, never fear," said the man.

“I don’t do business out in the street,” he said, “come on, I’ll buy you dinner.”

They went into a restaurant, and Farmer Weatherbeard ordered dish after dish, glass after glass, bottle after bottle; he kept the old man up hour after hour; his head was spinning, his eyes were drooping. Well after midnight, Farmer Weatherbeard brought out the contract. “Sign here!” The old man put his mark at the bottom— and he sold the bridle!

Farmer Weatherbeard jumped on the horse. “Now I’ve got you!” He dug his spurs in until the blood ran, and he rode that horse cruelly, hour after hour full speed, with never a break, never a pause, never a drink.

Well into the next day, they stopped at an inn. Farmer Weatherbeard took the horse into the stable and he backed it into the stall, so its tail was at the manger, and at its head he put a bucket of red-hot coals. “There! If you’re hungry enough, if you’re thirsty enough, have all you want.” And he strode off into the inn.

Fortunately, there was a stable girl there who didn’t like to see animals treated that way, and didn’t care if she got into trouble about it. “I’ll see you get something!” She moved the bucket of coals, turned the horse around, slipped off the bridle, the horse turned back into the boy, he took to his heels. Farmer Weatherbeard knew the instant the change took place, he came running out of the inn— “I’m after you!”

The boy was running past a pond. He jumped into the pond, turned into a trout, started swimming away. Farmer Weathebeard jumped in after him, turned into a pike, with rows of teeth, started swimming after the trout.

The trout broke the surface, turned into a swall, flew up in the housetops. The pike broke the surface, turned into a falcon, went flying around, flying around, looking for the swallow.

The swallow flew by a window, there was a princess on the other side of the window, she threw the window up, the bird came in, she threw the window down, just as the falcon came stooping down, but all it could do was rattle its beak against the glass, bang its wings against the glass, and it flew off again.

The bird turned into the boy, told the princess everything that had happened.

So when he came to the fair, he got three hundred dollars for the horse,

and as it wasn't to be a dry bargain, Farmer Weathersky made him drink so much that he quite forgot to take the headstall off,

 

 

and away went Farmer Weathersky with the horse.

 

Now when he had gone a little way, Farmer Weathersky thought he would just stop and have another glass of brandy; so he put a barrel of red-hot nails under his horse's nose, and a sieve of oats under his tail, hung the halter upon a hook, and went into the inn. So the horse stood there, and stamped and pawed, and snorted and reared. Just then out came a lassie, who thought it a shame to treat a horse so.

"Oh, poor beastie," she said, "what a cruel master you must have to treat you so," and as she said this she pulled the halter off the hook, so that the horse might turn round and taste the oats.

"I'm after you," roared Farmer Weathersky, who came rushing out of the door.

But the horse had already shaken off the headstall, and jumped into a duck-pond, where he turned himself into a tiny fish. In went Farmer Weathersky after him, and turned himself into a great pike. Then Jack turned himself into a dove, and Farmer Weathersky made himself into a hawk, and chased and struck at the dove. But just then a Princess stood at the window of the palace and saw this struggle.

"Ah! poor dove," she cried, "if you only knew what I know, you'd fly to me through this window."

So the dove came flying in through the window

 

and turned itself into Jack again, who told his own tale.

 

The princess said, “Quick, turn yourself into a ring, I’ll hide you on my finger.” “

No,” says the boy. “Farmer Weatherbeard will make your father sick, then he’ll come as a doctor and say he needs the ring for the medicine.”

 

“Well, if that happens, I’ll say my mother gave me this ring, and that I promised I’d never part with it, that I’d keep it forever to remember her by.”

The boy couldn’t think of anything else to do. He turned himself into a ring, she put it on her finger. And everything happened exactly as the boy had foretold.

The old king got sick. None of the doctors could do anything for him. Farmer Weatherbeard came as a doctor.

The king sent for the princess.

“Daughter, give this man your ring.”

“Oh no, I can’t do that. My mother gave me this ring, and I promised her I’d keep it forever to remember her by.”

“Daughter, your mother died some years ago. I’m sick now. Give him the ring!”

She said (twisting the ring around and around) “It's stuck on my finger, I can’t get it off!”

Farmer Weatherbeard said, “I’ll get it off.”

“No, wait, I’ll go over to the fireplace here and slip it off with ashes. Oh! It fell off!” (She piled ashes on top of it.) “I can’t find it, it’s lost in the ashes.”

Farmer Weatherbeard came running across the room, turning into a rooster as he ran. The rooster ran into the fireplace, scratched and peered, scratched and peered, looking for the ring. The ring turned into a fox, and (clap!) bit off the rooster’s head.

And that was

the end!

of Farmer Weatherbeard

"Turn yourself into a gold ring, and put yourself on my finger," said the Princess.

"Nay, nay!" said Jack, "that'll never do, for then Farmer Weathersky will make the King sick, and then there'll be no one who can make him well again till Farmer Weathersky comes and cures him, and then, for his fee, he'll ask for that gold ring."

"Then I'll say I had it from my mother, and can't part with it," said the Princess.

Well, Jack turned himself into a gold ring, and put himself on the Princess' finger, and so Farmer Weathersky couldn't get at him. But then followed what the lad had foretold;

the King fell sick, and there wasn't a doctor in the kingdom who could cure him till Farmer Weathersky came, and he asked for the ring off the Princess' finger for his fee.

So the King sent a messenger to the Princess for the ring;

 

but the Princess said she wouldn't part with it, her mother had left it her.

When the King heard that, he flew into a rage, and said he would have the ring, whoever left it to her.

"Well," said the Princess, "it's no good being cross about it. I can't get it off, and if you must have the ring, you must take my finger too."

"If you'll let me try, I'll soon get the ring off," said Farmer Weathersky.

"No, thanks, I'll try myself," said the Princess, and flew off to the grate and put ashes on her finger. Then the ring slipped off and was lost among the ashes

So Farmer Weathersky turned himself into a cock, who scratched and pecked after the ring in the grate, till he was up to the ears in ashes. But while he was doing this, Jack turned himself into a fox, and bit off the cock's head,

and so if the Evil One was in Farmer Weathersky,

it is all over with him now.

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