ASPENCLOG'S mother was an aspen-tree. He slew the man who had chopped her down. Then he went to the king and asked whether he could give him work. He wanted no other pay than the right to give the king three good thumps on the back when there was no more work for him to do. The king agreed to this condition, for he thought he would always have enough work for him to do. Then he sent him to the forest to gather wood. But Aspenclog piled up such a tremendous load that two horses could not pull the wagon. So he took two polar bears, harnessed them to the wagon, drove it home, and left the bears in the stable, where they ate up all the king's cattle.
Then he was told to keep a mill grinding which the evil one often brought to a stop. No sooner had Aspenclog commenced to grind than, sure enough, the mill stopped. Aspenclog took a candle and made a search. No doubt of it, the evil one had wedged his leg between the mill-stones. No sooner had Aspenclog seen the leg, than he chopped it off with his club. Then the evil one came hobbling up on one leg, and begged fearfully and tearfully for the leg he had lost. No, he could not have it, said the youth, unless he gave him a bushel of money for it. But when the evil one had to pay Aspenclog the money, he thought to cheat him, and said that they would wager bushel against bushel, as to which of them could throw the highest. They argued a while about which was to throw first. At last Aspenclog had to begin. Now the evil one had a ball with which they were to throw. Aspenclog stood a long time looking at the moon. "Why do you do that?" asked the evil one. "Well, I would like to see whether I cannot throw the ball into the moon," said Aspenclog. "Do you see those black spots? Those are the balls I have already thrown up into the moon." Then the evil one was afraid of losing his ball, and he did not dare to let Aspenclog throw.
So they wagered bushel against bushel as to which one of them could blow the highest note. "You may blow first," said Aspenclog. "No, you!" Finally it was decided that Aspenclog should blow first. Then he went to a hill, took an enormous fir-tree and wound it around his horn like a reed. "Why do you do that?" asked the evil one. "Well, if I don't, the horn will burst when I blow it," was Aspenclog's answer. Now the evil one began to get frightened, and Aspenclog came home with half a ton of money.
But soon the king had no corn left to grind. And war broke out in the land. "Now he will have work enough to last him a lifetime," thought the king. And he told Aspenclog to go out against the enemy. Aspenclog was quite ready to do so; but wanted to have plenty of provisions to take with him. Then he set forth, and when he saw the enemy he sat down to eat. The enemy shot at him as hard as they could, but their bullets did not touch him. When Aspenclog had satisfied his hunger, he stood up, tore out an enormous oak by the roots, and lay about him with it. Before very long he had hewn down all of the enemy. Then he went back home to the king.
"Have you any more work for me?" he asked. "No, now I have no work left," said the king. "Then I will give you three good thumps on the back," said Aspenclog. The king begged permission to bolster himself up with pillows. "Yes, take as many as you want," said Aspenclog. Then he thumped, and at his first thump the king burst into pieces.
"Aspenclog" (Kristoffer Janson, Folkeeventyr, uppskrivene i Sandeherad, Christiania, 1878, No. 8, p. 29) is a giant related to Murmur Goose-Egg, of whom we have still to hear. The laconic account of his origin is one of the beliefs of primitive peoples: that the first human beings were descended from trees, and the Voluspa even calls the first two human beings Aspen and Elm (Ask and Embla). Aspenclog is one of these mysterious tree-people.
Norwegian Fairy Book, The
Frederick A. Stokes Company
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