ONCE upon a time there was a mill, in which it was impossible to grind flour, because such strange things kept happening there. But there was a poor woman who was in urgent need of a little meal one evening, and she asked whether they would not allow her to grind a little flour during the night. "For heaven's sake," said the mill-owner, "that is quite impossible! There are ghosts enough in the mill as it is." But the woman said that she must grind a little; for she did not have a pinch of flour in the house with which to make mush, and there was nothing for her children to eat. So at last he allowed her to go to the mill at night and grind some flour. When she came, she lit a fire under a big tar-barrel that was standing there; got the mill going, sat down by the fire, and began to knit. After a time a girl came in and nodded to her. "Good evening!" said she to the woman. "Good evening!" said the woman; kept her seat, and went on knitting. But then the girl who had come in began to pull apart the fire on the hearth. The woman built it up again.
"What is your name?" asked the girl from underground.
"Self is my name," said the woman.
That seemed a curious name to the girl, and she once more began to pull the fire apart. Then the woman grew angry and began to scold, and built it all up again. Thus they went on for a good while; but at last, while they were in the midst of their pulling apart and building up of the fire, the woman upset the tar-barrel on the girl from underground. Then the latter screamed and ran away, crying:
"Father, father! Self burned me!"
"Nonsense, if self did it, then self must suffer for it!" came the answer from below the hill.
"Self Did It" (Asbjörnsen, Huldreeventyr, I, p. 10. From the vicinity of Sandakar, told by a half-grown boy) belongs to the cycle of the Polyphemus fairy-tales, with a possible glimmer of the old belief that beings low in the mythological scale are most easily controlled by fire.
Self Did It
Norwegian Fairy Book, The
Frederick A. Stokes Company
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