ONCE upon a time there was a big wedding at a certain farmstead, and a certain cottager was on his way to the wedding-feast. As he chanced to cross a field, he found a milk-strainer, such as are usually made of cows' tails, and looking just like an old brown rag. He picked it up, for he thought it could be washed, and then he would give it to his wife for a dish-rag. But when he came to the house where they were celebrating the wedding, it seemed as though no one saw him. The bride and groom nodded to the rest of the guests, they spoke to them and poured for them; but he got neither greeting nor drink. Then the chief cook came and asked the other folk to sit down to the table; but he was not asked, nor did he get anything to eat. For he did not care to sit down of his own accord when no one had asked him. At last he grew angry and thought: "I might as well go home, for not a soul pays a bit of attention to me here." When he reached home, he said: "Good evening, here I am back again."
"For heaven's sake, are you back again?" asked his wife.
"Yes, there was no one there who paid any attention to me, or even so much as looked at me," said the man, "and when people show me so little consideration, it seems as though I have nothing to look for there."
"But where are you? I can hear you, but I cannot see you!" cried his wife.
The man was invisible, for what he had found was a huldre hat.
"What are you talking about? Can't you see me? Have you lost your wits?" asked the man. "There is an old hair strainer for you. I found it outside on the ground," said he, and he threw it on the bench. And then his wife saw him; but at the same moment the hat of the huldres disappeared, for he should only have loaned it, not given it away. Now the man saw how everything had come about, and went back to the wedding-feast. And this time he was received in right friendly fashion, and was asked to drink, and to seat himself at the table.
A favorite jewel among the treasures of the underground world plays the leading part of the tale: "The Hat of the Huldres" (Asbjörnsen, Huldreeventyr, I, p. 157; from the vicinity of Eidsvold, told by an old peasant woman). Often appearing in legend proper as the tarn-cap, it here finds a more humble place in everyday life, neither ennobled by legendary dignity, nor diversified by the rich incident of fairy-tale. The entertaining picture here afforded of its powers shows them all the more clearly.
Hat of the Huldres, The
Norwegian Fairy Book, The
Frederick A. Stokes Company
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