O' the Sun and West O' the Moon
The Parson and the Clerk
The Parson and the Clerk
ONCE on a time there was a sheep who stood in the pen to be fattened.
So he lived well and was stuffed and crammed with everything that was good, till one day the dairymaid came to give him still more food. Then she said, "Eat away, sheep, you won't be here much longer, we are going to kill you to-morrow."
The sheep thought over this for a while, and then he ate till he was ready to burst; and when he was crammed full, he butted out the door of the pen, and took his way to the neighboring farm. There he went to see a pig whom he had known out on the common, and with whom he had always been very friendly.
"Good-day," said the sheep, "do you know why it is you are so well off, and why it is they fatten you and take such pains with you?"
"No, I don't," said the pig.
"Well, I know; they are going to kill and eat you," said the sheep.
"Are they?" said the pig, "and what is there to be done about it?"
"If you will do as I do," said the sheep, "we'll go off to the wood, build us a house, and set up for ourselves."
Yes, the pig was willing enough. "Good company is such a comfort," he said, and so the two set off.
When they had gone a bit they met a goose.
"Good-day, good sirs, and whither away so fast to-day?" said the goose.
"Good-day, good-day," said the sheep, "we are going to set up for ourselves in the wood, for you know every man's house is his castle."
"Well," said the goose, "I should so much like a home of my own, too. May I go with you?"
"With gossip and gabble is built neither house nor stable," said the pig, "let us know what you can do."
"I can pluck moss and stuff it into the seams between the planks, and the house will be tight and warm."
Yes, they would give him leave, for, above all things, piggy wished to be warm and comfortable.
So, when they had gone a bit farther-the goose had hard work to walk so fast-they met a hare, who came frisking out of the wood.
"Good-day, good sirs," she said, "how far are you trotting to-day?"
"Good-day, good-day," said the sheep, "we're going to the wood to build us a house and set up for ourselves, for, you know, try all the world around, there's nothing like home."
"As for that," said the hare, "I have a house in every bush, but yet, I have often said in winter, 'If I only live till summer I'll build me a house,' and so I have half a mind to go with you and build one, after all."
"Yes," said the pig, "if we ever get into trouble we might use you to scare away the dogs, for I don't fancy you could help us in house-building."
"Don't make fun of me. I have teeth to gnaw pegs and paws to drive them into the wall, so I can very well set up to be carpenter," said the hare.
So he too got leave to go with them and help to build their house, and there was nothing more to be said about it.
When they had gone a bit farther they met a cock.
"Good-day, good sirs," said the cock, "whither are you going to-day, gentlemen?"
"Good-day, good-day," said the sheep, "we are going off to the wood to build a house and set up for ourselves, for you know, ''Tis good to travel east and west, but after all a home is best.'"
"Well," said the cock, "if I might have leave to join such a gallant company, I also would like to go to the wood and build a house."
"Ay, ay!" said the pig, "but how can you help us build a house?"
"Oh," said the cock, "what would you do without a cock? I am up early, and I wake every one."
"Very true," said the pig, "let him come with us. Sleep is the biggest thief," he said, "he thinks nothing of stealing half one's life."
So they all set off to the wood together, and built a house.
The pig hewed the timber, and the sheep drew it home; the hare was carpenter, and gnawed pegs and bolts and hammered them into the walls and roof; the goose plucked moss and stuffed it into the seams; the cock crew, and looked out that they did not oversleep themselves in the morning; and when the house was ready, and the roof lined with birch bark and thatched with turf, there they lived by themselves and were merry and well.
But you must know that a bit farther on in the wood was a wolf's den, and there lived two graylegs. When they saw that a new house had been built near by, they wanted to become acquainted with their neighbors. One of them made up an errand and went into the new house and asked for a light for his pipe. But as soon as he got inside the door the sheep gave him such a butt that he fell head foremost into the hearth. Then the pig began to bite him, and the goose to nip and peck him, and the cock upon the roost to crow and chatter, and as for the hare, he was so frightened that he ran about aloft and on the floor and scratched and scrambled in every corner of the house.
So after a time the wolf came out.
"Well," said the one who waited for him outside, "you must have been well received since you stayed so long. But what became of the light? You have neither pipe nor smoke."
"Yes, yes," said the other, "a pleasant company indeed. As soon as I got inside the door, the shoemaker began to beat me with his last, so that I fell head foremost into the open fire, and there sat two smiths who blew the bellows, and made the sparks fly, and struck and punched me with red-hot tongs and pincers. As for the hunter, he went scrambling about looking for his gun, and it was good luck he did not find it. And all the while there was another who sat up under the roof and slapped his arms and cried out, 'Drag him hither, drag him hither!' That was what he screamed, and if he had only got hold of me, I should never have come out alive."
The wolves never went calling on their neighbors any more.
THE PARSON AND THE CLERK
One day when he was driving along and behaving so, he met the king. "Out of the way! Out of the way!" he bawled a long way off. But the king drove on and held his own; so it was the parson who had to turn his horse aside that time, and when the king came up beside him, he said, "To-morrow you shall come to me at the palace, and if you can't answer three questions which I shall ask you, you shall lose your office for your pride's sake."
This was something quite different from what the parson was wont to hear. He could bawl and bully, shout and scold. All that he could do, but question and answer were not in his line. So he set off to the clerk, who was said to be worth more than the parson, and told him he had no mind to go to the king. "For one fool can ask more than ten wise men can answer;" and the end was, he got the clerk to go in his place.
Yes, the clerk set off and came to the palace in the parson's clothes. There the king met him out on the porch with crown and sceptre, and he was so grand he fairly glittered and gleamed. "Well, are you there?" said the king.
"Tell me first," said the king, "how far the east is from the west?"
"Just a day's journey," said the clerk.
"How is that?" asked the king.
"Don't you know," said the clerk, "that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, and he does it just nicely in a day?"
"Very well!" said the king, "but tell me now what you think I am worth, as you see me stand here?"
"Well," said the clerk, "our Lord was valued at thirty pieces of silver, so I don't think I can set your price higher than twenty-nine."
"All very fine!" said the king, "but, as you are so wise, perhaps you can tell me what I am thinking about now?"
"Oh!" said the clerk, "you are thinking it's the parson who stands before you, but there's where you are mistaken, for I am the clerk."
"Be off home with you," said the king, "and be you parson, and let him be clerk." And so it was.
Thorne-Thomsen, Gudrun. East O' the Sun and West O' the Moon. Chicago: Row, Peterson and Company, 1912.