Once on a time there was an old widow who had one son; and as she was poorly and weak, her son had to go up into the safe to fetch meal for cooking; but when he got outside the safe, and was just going down the steps, there came the North Wind puffing and blowing, caught up the meal, and so away with it through the air. Then the boy went back into the safe for more; but when he came out again on the steps, if the North Wind didn’t come again and carry off the meal with a puff; and more than that, he did so the third time. At this the boy got very angry; and as he thought it hard that the North Wind should behave so, he thought he’d just look him up, and ask him to give up his meal.
“Oh!” answered the boy, “I only wished to ask you to be so Good as to let me have back that meal you took from me on the safe steps, for we haven’t much to live on; and if you’re to go on snapping up the morsel we have there’ll be nothing for it but to starve.”
“I haven’t got your meal,” said the North Wind; “but if you are in such need, I’ll give you a cloth which will get you everything you want, if you only say, “Cloth, spread yourself, and serve up all kind of Good dishes!””
With this the boy was well content. But, as the way was so long he couldn’t get home in one day, so he turned into an inn on the way; and when they were going to sit down to supper, he laid the cloth on a table which stood in the corner and said,
“Cloth, spread yourself, and serve up all kinds of Good dishes.”
He had hardly said so before the cloth did as it was bid; and all who stood by thought it a fine thing, but most of all the landlady. So, when all were fast asleep, at dead of night, she took the boy’s cloth, and put another in its stead, just like the one he had got from the North Wind, but which couldn’t so much as serve up a bit of dry bread.
“Now,” said he, “I’ve been to the North Wind’s house, and a Good fellow he is, for he gave me this cloth, and when I only say to it, “Cloth, spread yourself, and serve up all kind of Good dishes,” I get any sort of food I please.”
So he came to where the North Wind lived late in the afternoon.
Before he called for anything, he tried the truth of what the North Wind had said of the ram, and found it all right; but when the landlord saw that, he thought it was a famous ram, and, when the boy had fallen asleep, he took another which couldn’t coin gold ducats, and changed the two.
“well,” said the North Wind; “I’ve nothing else to give you but that old stick in the corner yonder; but it’s a stick of that kind that if you say “stick, stick, lay on!” it lays on till you say “stick, stick, now stop.””
So, as the way was long, the boy turned in this night too to the landlord; but as he could pretty well guess how things stood as to the cloth and the ram, he lay down at once on the bench and began to snore, as if he were asleep.
Now the landlord, who easily saw that the stick must be worth something, hunted up one which was like it, and when he heard the boy snore, was going to change the two, but just as the landlord was about to take it the boy bawled out, “stick, stick! lay on!”