Fairy Tales from the Swedish of G. Djurklou | Annotated Tale

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

"All I Possess!"

THERE was once a farmer who was so stingy and close fisted that he could scarcely find it in his heart to eat anything; and as for giving anything away to anybody, that was quite out of the question. He also wanted to accustom his wife to do without eating, but it fared with her as with the pedlar's mare; she died from an over-dose of that doctrine, and so he had to find another wife in her stead.

                And although he was what he was, there were plenty of girls who made themselves agreeable to him and were willing to begin where his wife had left off. For you must know he was rich, the ugly fellow, and it was his money they were after, although they knew they would have to suffer a little in return.

                But he was not satisfied with any of them, for if they ate ever so little, they were sure to want something to eat. Those who were stout and comely would be too expensive to keep, and those who were thin and slender were sure to have a big appetite; so he was not able to find any one to his liking, although he had been all over the parish looking for one.

                But the lad on the farm came to his assistance. He had heard of a girl in one of the neighbouring parishes, who was not even able to eat as much as a whole pea at one meal, but made it do for two.

                The farmer was glad to hear of this; she was the girl he would like to have, and although she was somewhat deaf, so that she never heard more than half of what people said to her, he lost no time in proposing to the girl. Her father and mother said yes at once, seeing that the suitor was so rich, and it did not take him long to persuade the girl herself. A husband she must have some time or other, and so they clinched the matter, and the farmer entered into wedlock for the second time.

                But after a time he began to wonder how his wife really managed to keep alive, for he noticed that she never took a morsel of food, or even drank so much as a drop of water, and this he thought was altogether too little. But she seemed to thrive very well for all that, and he even thought she was getting a little stouter.

                "I wonder if she's deceiving me?" he thought.

                So one day, when he was driving home from his work in the fields, he happened to meet his wife, who was coming from the cowshed with the milk.

                "I wonder if she doesn't take a sip of the milk when she is straining it," he thought, and so he asked the lad to help him up on the roof and pull the damper aside, for he wanted to look down the chimney and see what his wife was doing. And this he did. He climbed up on the roof and put his head down the chimney, peering and prying all he could.

                The lad then went in to his mistress.

                "Master is now looking down the chimney," he said.

                "Down the chimney?" said the wife. "Well, then you must put some faggots on the hearth and make a fire."

                "I daren't," said the lad.

                "If you daren't, I dare," said the woman, and so she made a fire and blew into it.

                The farmer began shouting, for the smoke was nearly suffocating him.

                "Bless me, is that you, husband?" said his wife.

                "Yes, of course it is," said the farmer.

                "What are you hanging there for?" she said.

                "Oh, I was longing so much for you, wifey, that I went the shortest way," he said, and then he fell down on the hearth, and burned himself a good deal.

                Some days passed and his wife neither ate nor drank, but if she did not grow stouter she did not become thinner.

                "I wonder if she doesn't eat some of the bacon when she goes to the storehouse," he thought; and so he stole into the storehouse and ripped up one end of a large feather bed which was lying there. He crept into it and asked the lad to sew the ticking together again.

                The lad did as he was bid, and then he went in to his mistress.

                "Master is now lying inside the feather bed in the storehouse," he said.

                "Inside the feather bed in the storehouse?" said the wife. "You must go and beat it well, so that neither dust nor moths get into it," she said, and so she took down a couple of stout hazel sticks and gave them to the lad.

                "I daren't," said the lad.

                "If you daren't, I dare," said the wife, and she went to the storehouse and began to beat the feather bed with all her might, so that the feathers flew about, and the farmer began shouting, for the blows hit him right across his face.

                "Bless me, is that you, husband?" said the woman.

                "Yes, of course it is," said the farmer.

                "What are you lying there for?" said his wife.

                "I thought I would lie on something better than straw for once," said the husband. They then ripped open the feather bed, and when he came out the blood was still streaming down his face.

                Some days then passed and the wife neither ate nor drank, but her husband thought she was growing still stouter and more cheerful than ever.

                "The devil knows what's at the bottom of all this," he thought. "I wonder if she drinks the beer when she goes into the cellar?"

                And so he went down into the cellar and knocked the bottom out of an empty beer-barrel, and then he crept into the barrel, and asked the lad to put the bottom in again. The lad did as he was bid, and then he went in to his mistress.

                "Master is now lying in the beer-barrel in the cellar," said the lad.

                "In the beer-barrel in the cellar?" said the wife. "You must fill it with boiling juniper lye, for it's getting sour and leaky," she said.

                "I daren't," said the lad.

                "If you daren't, I dare," said the wife, and so she began boiling juniper lye, and then she poured it into the barrel. The farmer began to shout, but she poured a whole kettleful into the barrel, and yet another after that.

                The man went on shouting louder and louder.

                "Bless me, is that you, husband?" said the wife.

                "Yes, of course it is," yelled the farmer.

                "What are you lying there for?" said his wife.

                But the farmer was not able to give any answer. He only moaned and groaned, for he was terribly scalded, and when they got him out of the barrel he was more dead than alive, and they had to carry him to his bed.

                He now wished to see the parson, and while the lad went to fetch him the wife began to prepare some tasty dishes and to make cheese cakes and other nice things for the parson, so that he should not go away with an empty stomach.

                But when the farmer saw how lavish she was in preparing all the dishes he shouted still louder than when he was scalded:

                "All I possess! All I possess!" he cried, for he now believed they were going to eat up everything he had, and he knew that both the parson and the clerk were people who could make themselves at home and make a clean sweep of the table.

                When the parson arrived the farmer was still shouting:

                "All I possess! All I possess!"

                "What is it your husband is saying?" said the parson.

                "Oh, my husband is so terribly good and kind," said the wife. "He means that I shall have all he possesses," she said.

                "His words must then be considered and looked upon as an intimation of his last will and testament," said the parson.

                "Just so!" said the wife.

                "All I possess! All I possess!" cried the farmer, and then he died.

                His wife then had him buried, and afterwards she went to the proper authorities about her husband's affairs. And as both the parson and the clerk could give evidence that the farmer's last words were that she should have all he possessed she got it all. And when a year was gone she married the lad on the farm, but whether after that time she was just as hard of hearing I have never heard.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: "All I Possess!"
Tale Author/Editor: Djurklou, Nils Gabriel
Book Title: Fairy Tales from the Swedish of G. Djurklou
Book Author/Editor: Djurklou, Nils Gabriel
Publisher: William Heinemann
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1901
Country of Origin: Sweden
Classification: ATU 1305: The Miser and His Gold

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