The Red Fairy Book
Soria Moria Castle
THERE was once upon a time a couple of folks who had a son called Halvor. Ever since
he had been a little boy he had been unwilling to do any work, and had just sat raking
about among the ashes. His parents sent him away to learn several things, but Halvor
stayed nowhere, for when he had been gone two or three days he always ran away from
his master, hurried off home, and sat down in the chimney corner to grub among the
One day, however, a sea captain came and asked Halvor if he hadn't a fancy to come with
him and go to sea, and behold foreign lands. And Halvor had a fancy for that, so he was
not long in getting ready.
How long they sailed I have no idea, but after a long, long time there was a terrible storm,
and when it was over and all had become calm again, they knew not where they were, for
they had been driven away to a strange coast of which none of them had any knowledge.
As there was no wind at all they lay there becalmed, and Halvor asked the skipper to give
him leave to go on shore to look about him, for he would much rather do that than lie
there and sleep.
`Dost thou think that thou art fit to go where people can see thee?' said the skipper; `thou
hast no clothes but those rags thou art going about in!'
Halvor still begged for leave, and at last got it, but he was to come back at once if the
wind began to rise.
So he went on shore, and it was a delightful country; whithersoever he went there were
wide plains with fields and meadows, but as for people, there were none to be seen. The
wind began to rise, but Halvor thought that he had not seen enough yet, and that he would
like to walk about a little longer, to try if he could not meet somebody. So after a while
he came to a great highway, which was so smooth that an egg might have been rolled
along it without breaking. Halvor followed this, and when evening drew near he saw a
big castle far away in the distance, and there were lights in it. So as he had now been
walking the whole day and had not brought anything to eat away with him, he was
frightfully hungry. Nevertheless, the nearer he came to the castle the more afraid he was.
A fire was burning in the castle, and Halvor went into the kitchen, which was more
magnificent than any kitchen he had ever yet beheld. There were vessels of gold and
silver, but not one human being was to be seen. When Halvor had stood there for some
time, and no one had come out, he went in and opened a door, and inside a Princess was
sitting at her wheel spinning.
`Nay!' she cried, `can Christian folk dare to come hither? But the best thing that you can
do is to go away again, for if not the Troll will devour you. A Troll with three heads lives