The Master Maid
The Master Maid is a Norwegian fairy tale collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe in their Norske Folkeeventyr. "Master" indicates "superior, skilled." Jørgen Moe wrote the tale down from the storyteller Anne Godlid in Seljord on a short visit in the autumn of 1842.
A king's youngest son set out to seek his fortune and was hired by a giant. The first morning, the giant went out to bring his goats to pasture and ordered the son to clean out the stables and to not go into any of the rooms about the one where he slept.
The son disobeys and finds three pots bubbling with no fire, and one turns things into copper, the second into silver, and the third into gold. Past them, he finds, in one room, the Master Maid. She warns him that cleaning the stables as ordinary people do causes ten shovelfuls to fly back in for every one he takes out, but if he shovels with the handle, he will be able to do it. He talks with her the day long, and they agree to marry. In the evening, he set to his task. He finds that she is telling the truth, and succeeds. The giant accuses him of having spoken with the Master Maid and the prince denies it.
The next day, the giant orders him to bring in a horse from pasture. The Master Maid warns him that it breaths fire, but if he uses a bit, hanging behind the door, he will succeed. When he does, the giant accuses him of speaking with the Master Maid again, and the prince denies it.
The third day, the giant orders him to go to Hell and get his fire tax. The Master Maid tells him the directions, and that he should ask for as much as he can carry. He retrieves it, though the man who lets him says it was well that he did not ask for a horse-load. The giant accuses him of speaking with the Master Maid again, and the prince denies it.
The fourth day, the giant brings him to the Master Maid and orders her to kill him and make him into a stew. Then he lays down to sleep. The Master Maid cuts her finger and lets three drops of blood fall on to a stool. Then she puts all sorts of rubbish into a stew pot and sets it to stew. Taking a chest full of golddust, a lump of salt, a flask of water, a golden apple, and two golden chickens, she sets out with the prince. They reach the sea and start sailing over it.
The giant asks, three times, whether the stew is done, and the drops of blood answer him. The third says that it is done. The giant gets up and tries some, and realizes what the Master Maid has done.
Seeing them sailing, he sets a monster to drink up the sea, but the Master Maid has the prince throw down the salt, and it transforms into a mountain, cutting off the water. The giant sends for a monster to bore through the hill, but when he reaches the other side, the Master Maid has the prince refill the ocean by pouring the flask of water into it. The monster drinks it up again, but before the giant can catch the couple, they reach the prince's father's lands.
The prince is unwilling that she should walk into his father's castle and proposes that he should fetch a coach and seven to carry her. She says that he will forget her, and he says that he will never. She makes him promise to go straight home and only fetch the horses, neither speaking to anyone nor eating anything.
He finds a wedding party for one of his brothers, and sets about getting the coach. The wedding guests, finding he will not come in, go out with food, and when he is about to ride off, the bride's sister rolls an apple to him, and he bites it and forgets the Master Maid.
The Master Maid finds a dirty old hut, where an old woman lives, to stay. She says she will clean it up and puts gold in the pot on the fires. The gold bubbles up and gilds the cottage. The old woman is so frightened she flees, and the Master Maid lives there.
A constable finds her and wants her to marry him. She sends him off for a sackful of gold, and then she says she must bank the fire. The constable says he will do it, and once he has the poker, she says that he will hold it, and it will hold him, and he will shovel red-hot coals over himself all night. And so he does.
A clerk finds her the same manner. When he has brought the money, she says she must shut the door. The clerk says he will, and once he has the door latch, the Master Maid says that he will hold it, and it will hold him, and he will go back and forth all night. And so he does.
A sheriff finds her in the same manner. When he has brought the money, she says she must bring in a calf. The sheriff says he will, and once he has it by the tail, the Master Maid says that he will hold it, and it will hold him, and he will tour the world all night. And so he does.
The next morning, her prince was to marry, to the bride's sister who had rolled the apple to him, but as the coach was setting out, a harness pin broke, and so did any pin they replaced it with. The constable says that if they borrowed the poker from the Master Maid, that will hold, and they do so, and it does.
But the coach bottom broke, and so did any bottom they replaced it with. The clerk says that if they borrowed the door from the Master Maid, that will hold, and they do so, and it does.
But then the horses would not pull, no matter how hard they were whipped. The sheriff says that if they borrowed the calf from the Master Maid, it will pull the coach, and they do so, and it does.
The prince insists on inviting the Master Maid to the wedding feast.
The Master Maid puts the golden apple on the table and then the golden chickens, which start to fight over the apple. The prince comments on it, and the Master Maid says that it was just as they fought to get away from the giant, and his memory is restored, so he marries the Master Maid instead of the bride's sister.
In a version collected by Joseph Jacobs, the giant tricks the king into giving him his son, by demanding as payment the first thing to meet him when he returns, and the Master Maid wins her way to the prince not by repairing the carriage but by tricking her way into the prince's room, as in East of the Sun and West of the Moon.
In The Brown Bear of Norway, a variant of East of the Moon and West of the Sun, the heroine also must deal with the impudent servants when she reaches the castle where the prince lives and can not get in.
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