Norwegian Fairy Book, The | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in October 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.

Pastor and the Sexton, The

ONCE upon a time there was a pastor who was such a boor that when any one was driving toward him along the highway, he would shout to them, while still some distance off: "Get out of the way! Get out of the pastor's way!" One day, while he was doing this, along came the king. "Get out of the way! Get out of the way!" shouted the pastor. But the king drove as he had a mind to, and he drove so fast that this time it was the pastor who had to get out of the way, and when the king passed him, he called out: "See that you come to me at the castle to-morrow, and if you cannot answer three questions I put to you, then you will have to take off your pastor's gown as a punishment for your arrogance!"

              This sounded different from what the pastor was used to hearing. Shout and bluster, and completely forget himself in his arrogance, that he knew how to do; but returning a plain answer to a plain question was not his strong point. So he went to the sexton, who was supposed to have more in his upper story than the pastor. He told him he did not venture to go to the castle, because "a fool can ask more than ten wise men can answer," said he, and he induced the sexton to go in his stead.

              The sexton set forth, and came to the castle dressed in the pastor's gown and ruff. The king received him out in the entrance with crown and scepter, and was so splendidly dressed that he fairly gleamed and shone.

              "Well, are you here?" Yes, indeed, there he was. "First tell me," said the king, "the distance from East to West." "It is one day's journey," said the sexton.

              "And how is that?" asked the king. "Well, the sun rises in the East and goes down in the West, and manages to do so nicely in the course of a single day," said the sexton.

              "Good," said the king, "but now tell me how much I am worth, just as I stand."

              "Well, if our Lord Christ himself was valued at thirty pieces of silver, then I can hardly value you at more than twenty-nine," said the sexton.

              "Well and good," said the king, "but since you are so wondrous wise, tell me what I am thinking now."

              "Ah, my lord king, you are probably thinking that this is the pastor who is standing before you, but there you are greatly mistaken, for I am the sexton."

              "Then drive straight home, and be the pastor, and the pastor shall be the sexton," said the king, and that is what happened, too.


The droll tale of "The Pastor and the Sexton" is widely known and emphasizes in humorous guise the value of politeness and consideration, as well as a ready wit. (Asbjörnsen, N.F.E., p. 126, No. 86. From Valsers.)

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Pastor and the Sexton, The
Tale Author/Editor: Stroebe, Klara
Book Title: Norwegian Fairy Book, The
Book Author/Editor: Stroebe, Klara
Publisher: Frederick A. Stokes Company
Publication City: New York
Year of Publication: 1922
Country of Origin: Norway
Classification: unclassified

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