Once on a time there was a princess who was so proud and pert that no suitor was good enough for her. She made game of them all, and sent them about their business, one after the other; but though she was so proud, still new suitors kept on coming to the palace, for she was a beauty, the wicked hussey! So one day there came a prince to woo her, and his name was Hacon Grizzlebeard; but the first night he was there, the princess bade the king’s fool cut off the ears of one of the prince’s horses, and slit the jaws of the other up to the ears. When the prince went out to drive next day the princess stood in the porch and looked at him.
“Well!” she cried, “I never saw the like of this in all my life; the keen north wind that blows here has taken the ears off one of your horses, and the other has stood by and gaped at what was going on till his jaws have split right up to his ears.”
And with that she burst out into a roar of laughter, ran in, slammed to the door, and let him drive off.
So he drove home; but as he went, he thought to himself that he would pay her off one day. After a bit, he put on a great beard of moss, threw a great fur cloak over his clothes, and dressed himself up just like any beggar. He went to a goldsmith and bought a golden spinning wheel, and sat down with it under the princess’ window, and began to file away at his spinning wheel, and to turn it this way and that, for it wasn’t quite in order, and besides, it wanted a stand.
“Hutetutetutetu! It is so cold; do let me in,” he cried.
“Oh, hutetutetutetu! It is so bitter cold, pray do let me in,” said Hacon Grizzlebeard again.
There was no help for it. She had to let him in, and when he was, he lay on the ground and slept like a top.
Some time after, Hacon came again with the stand to the spinning wheel, and sat down under the princess’ window and began to file at it, for it was not quite fit for use. When she heard him filing, she threw up the window and began to talk to him, and to ask what he had there.
Well, she gave him leave, only he was to be sure to lie still, and not to shiver and call out “hutetu,” or any such stuff. Hacon Grizzlebeard promised fair enough, but as the night wore on he began to shiver and shake, and to ask whether he might not come nearer, and lie on the floor alongside the princess’ bed.
It was a long while before Hacon Grizzlebeard came again; but when he came he had with him a golden wool-winder, and he sat down and began to file away at it under the princess’ window. Then came the old story over again. When the princess heard what was going on, she came to the window and asked him how he did, and whether he would sell the golden wool-winder?
“It is not to be had for money; but if you’ll give me leave to sleep tonight in your bed-room, with my head on your bedstead, you shall have it for nothing,” said Hacon Grizzlebeard. “Well, she would give him leave, if he only gave his word to be quiet and make no noise. So he said he would do his best to be still; but as the night wore on he began to shiver and shake, so that his teeth chattered again.
“Hutetutetutetu!” said Hacon. “Do let me get into bed. Hutetutetutetu.”
“Hutetutetutetu! Let me get into bed,” said Hacon Grizzlebeard, who kept on shivering so that the whole room shook. Well, there was no help for it; she had to let him get into bed, where he slept both sound and soft; but a little while after the princess had a child, at which the king grew so wild with rage, that he was near making an end of both mother and babe.
Just after this happened, came Hacon Grizzlebeard tramping that way once more, as if by chance, and took his seat down in the kitchen, like any other beggar.
So she got leave to be with the beggar, as she called him, and they walked a long, long way, though she was but a poor hand at tramping. When she passed out of her father’s land into another, she asked whose it was?
“Oh, this is Hacon Grizzlebeard’s, if you must know,” said he.
So, whenever they came to grand castles, and woods, and parks, and she asked whose they were, the beggar’s answer was still the same: “Oh, they are Hacon Grizzlebeard’s.” And the princess was in a sad way that she had not chosen the man who had such broad lands. Last of all they came to a palace, where he said he was known, and where he thought he could get her work, so that they might have something to live on; so he built up a cabin by the wood-side for them to dwell in; and every day he went to the king’s palace, as he said, to hew wood and draw water for the cook, and when he came back he brought a few scraps of meat; but they did not go very far.
“Well, you have made me do what it went against my heart to do. This is the first time I ever stole, and this shall be the last;” and with that she told him how it had gone with her, and what the prince had said.
A few days after Hacon Grizzlebeard came home at even and said:
Well, there was no help for it; the prince had said it, and go she must. As for not knowing how, she was only to do what the others did, and at the same time Hacon bade her steal some sausages for him.
“Nay, but I can’t steal them,” she said; “you know how it went last time.”
When she was Well on her way, Hacon ran by a short cut, reached the palace long before her, threw off his skin cloak and false beard, and stood in the kitchen with his royal robes before she came in. So the princess stood by when the pig was killed, and made sausages with the rest, and did as Hacon bade her, and stuffed her pockets full of sausages. But when she was about to go home at even, the prince said:
When she was gone, he changed his clothes again, ran by the short cut, and when she reached the cabin, there he was before her. Then she told him the whole story, and swore, through thick and thin, it should be the last time he got her to do such a thing.
“Our prince is going to be married, but the bride is sick, so the tailor can’t measure her for her wedding gown. And the prince’s will is, that you should go up to the palace and be measured instead of the bride; for he says you are just the same height and shape. But after you have been measured, mind you don’t go away; you can stand about, you know, and when the tailor cuts out the gown, you can snap up the largest pieces, and bring them home for a waistcoat for me.”
“Nay, but I can’t steal,” she said; “besides, you know how it went last time.”
“You can learn then,” said Hacon, “and you may have better luck, perhaps.”
She thought it bad, but still she went and did as she was told. She stood by while the tailor was cutting out the gown, and she swept down all the biggest scraps, and stuffed them into her pockets; and when she was going away, the prince said:
So it went now just as it had gone before, and when she got back to the cabin, the beggar was there before her.
“Oh, Heaven help me,” she said; “you will be the death of me at last by making me nothing but what is wicked. The prince was in such a towering rage that he threatened me both with the constable and cage.”
Some time after, Hacon came home to the cabin at even and said:
“Now, the prince’s will is, that you should go up to the palace and stand for the bride, old lass! For the bride is still sick, and keeps her bed; but he won’t put off the wedding; and he says, you are so like her, that no one could tell one from the other; so tomorrow you must get ready to go to the palace.”
The bridal train went to church, where she stood for the bride, and when they came back, there was dancing and merriment in the palace. But just as she was in the midst of dancing with the prince, she saw a gleam of light through the window, and lo! the cabin by the wood-side was all one bright flame.
“Oh, the beggar and the babe and the cabin,” she screamed out, and was just going to swoon away.
“Here is the beggar and there is the babe, and so let the cabin burn away,” said Hacon Grizzlebeard.
Then she knew him again, and after that the mirth and merriment began in right earnest; but since that I have never heard tell anything more about them.