A Frenchman once remarked: "The table is the only place where one is not bored for the first hour." Every rose has its thorn There's fuzz on all the peaches. There never was a dinner yet Without some lengthy speeches. ... Read more of AFTER DINNER SPEECHES at Free Jokes.caInformational Site Network Informational
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How The Stalos Were Tricked

from The Orange Fairy Book





'Mother, I have seen such a wonderful man,' said a little boy one day,
as he entered a hut in Lapland, bearing in his arms the bundle of
sticks he had been sent out to gather.

'Have you, my son; and what was he like?' asked the mother, as she took
off the child's sheepskin coat and shook it on the doorstep.

'Well, I was tired of stooping for the sticks, and was leaning against
a tree to rest, when I heard a noise of 'sh-'sh, among the dead leaves.
I thought perhaps it was a wolf, so I stood very still. But soon
there came past a tall man--oh! twice as tall as father--with a long
red beard and a red tunic fastened with a silver girdle, from which
hung a silver-handled knife. Behind him followed a great dog, which
looked stronger than any wolf, or even a bear. But why are you so
pale, mother?'

'It was the Stalo,' replied she, her voice trembling; 'Stalo the
man-eater! You did well to hide, or you might never had come back.
But, remember that, though he is so tall and strong, he is very stupid,
and many a Lapp has escaped from his clutches by playing him some
clever trick.'

Not long after the mother and son had held this talk, it began to be
whispered in the forest that the children of an old man called Patto
had vanished one by one, no one knew whither. The unhappy father
searched the country for miles round without being able to find as much
as a shoe or a handkerchief, to show him where they had passed, but at
length a little boy came with news that he had seen the Stalo hiding
behind a well, near which the children used to play. The boy had
waited behind a clump of bushes to see what would happen, and by-and-by
he noticed that the Stalo had laid a cunning trap in the path to the
well, and that anybody who fell over it would roll into the water and
drown there.

And, as he watched, Patto's youngest daughter ran gaily down the path,
till her foot caught in the strings that were stretched across the
steepest place. She slipped and fell, and in another instant had
rolled into the water within reach of the Stalo.

As soon as Patto heard this tale his heart was filled with rage, and he
vowed to have his revenge. So he straightway took an old fur coat from
the hook where it hung, and putting it on went out into the forest.
When he reached the path that led to the well he looked hastily round
to be sure that no one was watching him, then laid himself down as if
he had been caught in the snare and had rolled into the well, though he
took care to keep his head out of the water.

Very soon he heard a 'sh-'sh of the leaves, and there was the Stalo
pushing his way through the undergrowth to see what chance he had of a
dinner. At the first glimpse of Patto's head in the well he laughed
loudly, crying:

'Ha! ha! This time it is the old ass! I wonder how he will taste?' And
drawing Patto out of the well, he flung him across his shoulders and
carried him home. Then he tied a cord round him and hung him over the
fire to roast, while he finished a box that he was making before the
door of the hut, which he meant to hold Patto's flesh when it was
cooked. In a very short time the box was so nearly done that it only
wanted a little more chipping out with an axe; but this part of the
work was easier accomplished indoors, and he called to one of his sons
who were lounging inside to bring him the tool.

The young man looked everywhere, but he could not find the axe, for the
very good reason that Patto had managed to pick it up and hide it in
his clothes.

'Stupid fellow! what is the use of you?' grumbled his father angrily;
and he bade first one and then another of his sons to fetch him the
tool, but they had no better success than their brother.

'I must come myself, I suppose!' said Stalo, putting aside the box.
But, meanwhile, Patto had slipped from the hook and concealed himself
behind the door, so that, as Stalo stepped in, his prisoner raised the
axe, and with one blow the ogre's head was rolling on the ground. His
sons were so frightened at the sight that they all ran away.

And in this manner Patto avenged his dead children.

But though Stalo was dead, his three sons were still living, and not
very far off either. They had gone to their mother, who was tending
some reindeer on the pastures, and told her that by some magic, they
knew not what, their father's head had rolled from his body, and they
had been so afraid that something dreadful would happen to them that
they had come to take refuge with her. The ogress said nothing. Long
ago she had found out how stupid her sons were, so she just sent them
out to milk the reindeer, while she returned to the other house to bury
her husband's body.

Now, three days' journey from the hut on the pastures two brothers
Sodno dwelt in a small cottage with their sister Lyma, who tended a
large herd of reindeer while they were out hunting. Of late it had
been whispered from one to another that the three young Stalos were to
be seen on the pastures, but the Sodno brothers did not disturb
themselves, the danger seemed too far away.

Unluckily, however, one day, when Lyma was left by herself in the hut,
the three Stalos came down and carried her and the reindeer off to
their own cottage. The country was very lonely, and perhaps no one
would have known in which direction she had gone had not the girl
managed to tie a ball of thread to the handle of a door at the back of
the cottage and let it trail behind her. Of course the ball was not
long enough to go all the way, but it lay on the edge of a snowy track
which led straight to the Stalos' house.

When the brothers returned from their hunting they found both the hut
and the sheds empty. Loudly they cried: 'Lyma! Lyma!' But no voice
answered them; and they fell to searching all about, lest perchance
their sister might have dropped some clue to guide them. At length
their eyes dropped on the thread which lay on the snow, and they set
out to follow it.

On and on they went, and when at length the thread stopped the brothers
knew that another day's journey would bring them to the Stalos'
dwelling. Of course they did not dare to approach it openly, for the
Stalos had the strength of giants, and besides, there were three of
them; so the two Sodnos climbed into a big bushy tree which overhung a
well.

'Perhaps our sister may be sent to draw water here,' they said to each
other.

But it was not till the moon had risen that the sister came, and as she
let down her bucket into the well, the leaves seemed to whisper 'Lyma!
Lyma!'

The girl started and looked up, but could see nothing, and in a moment
the voice came again.

'Be careful--take no notice, fill your buckets, but listen carefully
all the while, and we will tell you what to do so that you may escape
yourself and set free the reindeer also.'

So Lyman bent over the well lower than before, and seemed busier than
ever.

'You know,' said her brother, 'that when a Stalo finds that anything
has been dropped into his food he will not eat a morsel, but throws it
to his dogs. Now, after the pot has been hanging some time over the
fire, and the broth is nearly cooked, just rake up the log of wood so
that some of the ashes fly into the pot. The Stalo will soon notice
this, and will call you to give all the food to the dogs; but, instead,
you must bring it straight to us, as it is three days since we have
eaten or drunk. That is all you need do for the present.'

Then Lyma took up her buckets and carried them into the house, and did
as her brothers had told her. They were so hungry that they ate the
food up greedily without speaking, but when there was nothing left in
the pot, the eldest one said:

'Listen carefully to what I have to tell you. After the eldest Stalo
has cooked and eaten a fresh supper, he will go to bed and sleep so
soundly that not even a witch could wake him. You can hear him snoring
a mile off, and then you must go into his room and pull off the iron
mantle that covers him, and put it on the fire till it is almost red
hot. When that is done, come to us and we will give you further
directions.'

'I will obey you in everything, dear brothers,' answered Lyman; and so
she did.

It had happened that on this very evening the Stalos had driven in some
of the reindeer from the pasture, and had tied them up to the wall of
the house so that they might be handy to kill for next day's dinner.
The two Sodnos had seen what they were doing, and where the beasts were
secured; so, at midnight, when all was still, they crept down from
their tree and seized the reindeer by the horns which were locked
together. The animals were frightened, and began to neigh and kick, as
if they were fighting together, and the noise became so great that even
the eldest Stalo was awakened by it, and that was a thing which had
never occurred before. Raising himself in his bed, he called to his
youngest brother to go out and separate the reindeer or they would
certainly kill themselves.

The young Stalo did as he was bid, and left the house; but no sooner
was he out of the door than he was stabbed to the heart by one of the
Sodnos, and fell without a groan. Then they went back to worry the
reindeer, and the noise became as great as ever, and a second time the
Stalo awoke.

'The boy does not seem to be able to part the beasts,' he cried to his
second brother; 'go and help him, or I shall never get to sleep.' So
the brother went, and in an instant was struck dead as he left the
house by the sword of the eldest Sodno. The Stalo waited in bed a
little longer for things to get quiet, but as the clatter of the
reindeer's horns was as bad as ever, he rose angrily from his bed
muttering to himself:

'It is extraordinary that they cannot unlock themselves; but as no one
else seems able to help them I suppose I must go and do it.'

Rubbing his eyes, he stood up on the floor and stretched his great arms
and gave a yawn which shook the walls. The Sodnos heard it below, and
posted themselves, one at the big door and one at the little door at
the back, for they did not know what their enemy would come out at.

The Stalo put out his hand to take his iron mantle from the bed, where
it always lay, but the mantle was no there. He wondered where it could
be, and who could have moved it, and after searching through all the
rooms, he found it hanging over the kitchen fire. But the first touch
burnt him so badly that he let it alone, and went with nothing, except
a stick in his hand, through the back door.

The young Sodno was standing ready for him, and as the Stalo passed the
threshold struck him such a blow on the head that he rolled over with a
crash and never stirred again. The two Sodnos did not trouble about
him, but quickly stripped the younger Stalos of their clothes, in which
they dressed themselves. Then they sat still till the dawn should
break and they could find out from the Stalos' mother where the
treasure was hidden.

With the first rays of the sun the young Sodno went upstairs and
entered the old woman's room. She was already up and dressed, and
sitting by the window knitting, and the young man crept in softly and
crouched down on the floor, laying his head on her lap. For a while he
kept silence, then he whispered gently:

'Tell me, dear mother, where did my eldest brother conceal his riches?'

'What a strange question! Surely you must know,' answered she.

'No, I have forgotten; my memory is so bad.'

'He dug a hole under the doorstep and placed it there,' said she. And
there was another pause.

By-and-by the Sodno asked again:

'And where may my second brother's money be?'

'Don't you know that either?' cried the mother in surprise.

'Oh, yes; I did once. But since I fell upon my head I can remember
nothing.'

'It is behind the oven,' answered she. And again was silence.

'Mother, dear mother,' said the young man at last, 'I am almost afraid
to ask you; but I really have grown so stupid of late. Where did I
hide my own money?'

But at this question the old woman flew into a passion, and vowed that
if she could find a rod she would bring his memory back to him.
Luckily, no rod was within her reach, and the Sodno managed, after a
little, to coax her back into good humour, and at length she told him
that the youngest Stalo had buried his treasure under the very place
where she was sitting.

'Dear mother,' said Lyman, who had come in unseen, and was kneeling in
front of the fire. 'Dear mother, do you know who it is you have been
talking with?'

The old woman started, but answered quietly:

'It is a Sodno, I suppose?'

'You have guessed right,' replied Lyma.

The mother of the Stalos looked round for her iron cane, which she
always used to kill her victims, but it was not there, for Lyma had put
it in the fire.

'Where is my iron cane?' asked the old woman.

'There!' answered Lyma, pointing to the flames.

The old woman sprang forwards and seized it, but her clothes caught
fire, and in a few minutes she was burned to ashes.

So the Sodno brothers found the treasure, and they carried it, and
their sister and the reindeer, to their own home, and were the richest
men in all Lapland.

[From Lapplandische Marchen, J. C. Poestion.]





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