In 1824 and in order to help him concentrate on his studies, twelve-year-old Per Christen Asbjørnsen was sent from Christiania to a country boarding school run by Mr Støren, the vicar of Stubdal. In 'A Summer Night in Krogskogen', one of the collection of Norwegian folk tales, he tells how, after he'd been there two years, he chose a different way to go back to school after a brief stay at home. The collection was originally published, by Asbjørnsen and his school friend Jørgen Moe, between 1841 and 1844, but became really famous when the artists of the Norwegian romantic school illustrated it for an edition in 1878.

'A Summer Night in Krogskogen' is a local tale that has not previously been published in English. The Friends of the Lysaker River Basin present it to the reader as a taste of the folklore of the woodcutting era in the Basin that prevailed from the 1700's until the 1940's.

The veracity of the story has often been questioned. Contradictory evidence exists as to Per Christian’s whereabouts the summer after he turned 14. Some think that the story has been composed out of episodes on several trips through Krokskogen. However, one feature that does give the description a documentary flavour is its tame ending. This is definitely not embellished; in fact it is a good reason for no translation having been included in any of the English collections of “Norwegian Fairytales”.

The translation was edited by Mr David Ashton, a freelance writer living in Melbourne, Australia.

A Summer Night in Krokskogen[1]

[translated from Samlede Eventyrer (Collected Norwegian Fairy Tales) by Per Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe]

As a fourteen year-old lad, I arrived at Øvre Lyse[2], the last farm in Sørkedal, on a Saturday afternoon just after midsummer. I had often driven or walked the high road between Kristiania and Ringerike, but after a short visit home I had, for a change, taken the road past Bogstad to Lyse, so as to take the foot path through the northern part of Krokskogen to the timber conveyor[3] at Aasa.

At Lyse all the farm doors were open, but I looked in vain into the living room, kitchen and barn for somebody I could ask for a drink to slake my thirst and for directions.

There was no one home but a black cat that sat and stretched itself in front of the fire, and a white rooster that strutted and stalked back and forth under the veranda, crowing all the time as if to say "I am the greatest!" Countless numbers of swallows had taken up residence in the barn and under the eaves. Drawn by the wealth of insects near the forest, they circled and dived in the sunshine.

Tired from the walk and the heat, I threw myself down on a shady bank of grass in the farmyard. There I lay and half-dozed until I was startled by a rasping female voice coaxing and scolding the farm's herd of grunting piglets.

Following the sound, I found a greying blonde, barefoot farmer's wife. She stood bent over the trough that the small noisy animals pressed against, biting and tearing at each other and shrieking in expectation of food.

My inquiry for directions was answered by a question in return. Without straightening up she turned her head halfway from her pets to stare up at me. "Where's he from, then?"

Having received a satisfactory reply, she continued talking to both me and the piglets.
"So – he's training for the priesthood with the vicar of Ringerike – well, I'll be … – 'the way to Stubdal in Aasa?' he says,  – – – look at that, you, won't you let the others in – – – yes, I'll tell him exactly, I will. The most direct way goes straight through the forest to the conveyor, it does."

Since these directions struck me as much too vague for a forest path two leagues long, I asked if I couldn't, for a price, have a youngster show me the way.

"Oh, Lordie, is that how it is?" she said, as she came out of the pigsty into the farmyard. "Them's so busy with hay-cutting that they barely ha' time t'eat. But there's a path directly through the forest and I'll tell him so plainly that he'll get the picture."

"First he climbs the path and all the hills up that ridge yonder, and when he gets to the top, he'll find a broad path straight to Heggelia. He keeps this river here on his left all the way. But over by Heggelia it is sort of twisty and turny and then disappears for a bit, and if you don't know your way it isn't so easy; but he'll find Heggelia because it lies by the lake."

"After that he walks around Heggelia lake till he gets to the dam; a little dam with a small lake and a bit of a bridge as they call it; from there he goes to the left and then to the right and comes to the wide path that goes straight to Stubdal in Aasa."

Although these directions weren't entirely satisfactory either, especially as this was the first time I had been so far from the high road, I took to the road and my concerns soon vanished. From the ridge I caught glimpses of the valley between the trunks of the tall pine and spruce trees, with the river winding like a silver ribbon between copses and meadows.

Here and there down on the green slopes were typically Norwegian red-painted farms where the farmhands and girls cut the hay. Smoke rose from some chimneys, blue and wispy against the dark green, spruce-covered mountains. There was such peace over the valley that one would not credit that the capital city lay so near.

From well up on to the ridge I could hear a hunting horn and the baying of dogs, but the sound faded away until only the faintest ringing reached my ears. I could now hear the river too, rushing away down to my left. Soon the trail led down towards it and the slopes on either side came together, so that I walked through a deep and shadowy vale with the river taking up the whole valley floor. Then the path left the river again and really did twist and turn, bending first this way then that, becoming in places quite indiscernible.

It led upwards, and after crossing a small ridge, I saw two forest ponds twinkling through the pine trees, and next to one of them, a cabin on a grassy slope, yellow in the evening sun. In the shadow of the slope stood patches of bracken. Willow herbs protruded between the stones with their tall red flowers, and wolfsbane raised their dark and poisonous heads even higher, nodding in the breeze to the cuckoo's call, as if counting the days they had left to live.

On the green slopes rowan and bird cherry stood in their summer glory. They spread a lively, refreshing perfume, and their white petals floated over the cabin's reflection in the water, which on all other sides was surrounded by spruce and moss-covered rocks.

No one was home in the cabin, and all the doors were locked and bolted. I knocked loudly, but there was no answer. I sat down on a stone and waited a while, but still no one came. As the evening grew darker, I felt that I could wait no longer, and walked on.

The forest was much darker now, but soon I came to a wooden dam across a stream between two ponds. This must be where I was to go to the left then take off to the right. I crossed over, but on this side of the dam I could only find smooth, wet, slippery rocks with no sign of a path; whereas on the right-hand side of the dam there was a well-used path.

I checked both sides several times, and although it contradicted the directions I'd received, I chose the clearest path, which kept to the right-hand side of the stream.

As long as it followed the dark pond the trail was easy to follow – but suddenly it turned away in a direction that seemed to be exactly opposite to the way I should go, and disappeared in a tangle of animal tracks deep in the dark wood.

Completely exhausted by my anxious, wild searching, I threw myself down on the soft moss to rest for moment, but tiredness won over my fear of the forest and I soon fell asleep.

I don't know how long I dozed, but I started on hearing a wild shriek, which rang in my ears after I wakened. But then I heard a red robin and a song thrush, and those cheery sounds comforted me, making me feel that I wasn't alone after all.

The sky was overcast and that deepened the gloom of the forest. A fine drizzle fell, giving renewed life to the all that grew and filling the air with a fresh spicy aroma. But the rain also wakened all the night sounds of the forest. Among the treetops above me I heard a hollow metallic clang, like the croaking of a frog, and a shrill whistling and chirping.

Around me, hundreds of horsetail ferns swirled, but what scared me most were the sounds that one second were beside me and the next, far away. There were wild and desperate shrieks and flapping wings, then a distant warning cry before all went quiet again.

I was by now in the grip of an indescribable fear, freezing at every noise, with my fear intensified by the darkness of the forest. Everything I saw or glimpsed was distorted, moving and alive, and it was as though a thousand arms and legs reached out for the lost wanderer.

In my fright I was reliving all my childhood fairy tales; in the darkness around me, the whole forest was full of trolls and witches and teasing dwarfs.

I began to run for my life, but as I ran new shapes appeared, even more horrifying and twisted, and I felt the grasp of their hands. Suddenly I heard a footstep: something or someone stepped heavily on a twig. I saw or thought I saw something big and black; it came closer with a pair of eyes like glowing stars in the night. My hair stood on end. I could see no way to avoid the danger, and in an unconscious effort to give myself courage, I screamed, "If you're human, tell me the way to Stubdal."

The answer I got was a hollow growl, and the wanderer left the way he'd come with more cracking and snapping of branches. I stood there and listened to the heavy footsteps, mumbling to myself: "If only it were light and I had a gun, then you'd have caught a bullet, bear, because you scared me."

This wish and the childish threat helped to ease my fear, and I strode confidently on over the soft moss. There was no longer any trace of a track or path, but it became lighter between the tree trunks. The forest was thinning out, and I stood on an incline leading down towards a large lake surrounded by conifers that vanished into the night mist on the far side.

The purple glow of the north-western sky was reflected in the dark surface of the water, over which bats circled and flapped. High in the air above, large birds sped away over the water, making the teasing sound and piercing whistle that had so scared me. And now I realised that I had turned north-east instead of west.

As I wondered whether I should wait here until the sun came up or try to find my way back to the dam in the half-light, I was heartened by a glimpse of a fire between the trees on the near side of the lake.

I hurried on, but soon discovered it was further than I'd first imagined, for after three-quarters of a mile a deep valley still separated me from the firelight. With a great effort I forced my way down through the fallen branches and up over the rough ground. But when I emerged on the other side there was still a long stretch of dry, open pine forest where the trees stood in rows like columns and the earth creaked beneath my step.

At the edge of the pines, a small stream rushed down the hill and alder and spruce took over. On a green patch on the far side of the stream, a large bonfire flared and burned, casting a red glow between the trunks. In the warmth sat a dark figure, which, because of its position between me and the fire, looked supernatural.

Tales of Krokskogen's robbers filled my head and I was on the point of running away, but when I saw a lean-to by the fire, with two fellows sitting in front of it and several axes sunk into the stump of a felled pine, I realised they were timber cutters.

The dark figure was an old man. I saw his lips moving as he spoke, and in his hand he had a short pipe from which he now and then took a strong draw to keep it alight.

As I approached, either the story was over or he was interrupted, for he pushed his pipe into the ashes – it had gone out – and then smoked steadily as if listening to what a fourth man, who now appeared, had to say. This fourth fellow was a big red-headed ruffian; he must have been one of the gang, because he had no hat and only a long Icelandic singlet and came carrying a water bucket from the stream. He looked scared.

The old man turned, and as I crossed the stream, I saw him from the side in the clear light of the fire. He was small, with a long crooked nose. He wore a blue woollen cap with a red brim which could barely cope with his unruly, greying fringe. His wide jacket of dark grey felt with worn velvet edging made him seem even more hunchbacked than he actually was.

The last man to arrive seemed to be talking about a bear. "Should we believe that?" said the old man. "What'd he be doing there? It must have been something else you heard because there's nought for him t'eat among the pines – the bear that is", he added. "I think ya havin' us on, Per,", he said then continued with an aside, "There's a saying that red hair and pine trees don't grow well on good soil! If we'd been in Bjonnholt or Styggdal, yeah. Knut here and I both heard him and saw him over there the other day – but here – hell, nae; and he'd never come so close to the fire. Y've scared y'self for nothing!"

"Nah, my dear Tor Lerberg, I'm a mountain man. I hear'd him rustling and crackling among the pines,", answered the other, in somewhat offended tones.

"Oh, sure", said Tor, keeping it up. "It must have been a very big bear, my lad."

At this point I went over and said that it was presumably me he had heard. I told him how I had taken the wrong way and how frightened I had been, asked where I was now and if one of them could show me the way to Stubdal, and complained bitterly about being hungry and tired.

My arrival caused no little wonder among them; not that they said much, but they looked curiously at me and listened intently to what I had to say. The oldest, whom I'd heard called Tor Lerberg, listened especially closely. It seemed he was in the habit of thinking out loud, for he sat and mumbled to himself; and from the utterances I made out from time to time, I could almost follow his line of thought.

"No, no, that was wrong: that's where he should have crossed over - yeah, over the dam, that's the way to Stubdale – he really has got h'self lost – He's very young, but he ain't scared. That was the woodcock – and that was the nightjar – yeah, it's a strange sound if y've never heard it before. Oh, yeah, the grebe has a hellish shriek when it's cold, dark and drizzling. Hey - he did meet the bear – he's quite a lad!"

"Aha", I said bravely, trying to show that I was as brave as the man who met a bear sleeping on a sunny bank. "If it had been light, and if I had been a marksman, and if I had had a loaded shotgun and if I had managed to fire it, then I believe that bear would have lain dead on the spot."

"Fair enough! Ha ha ha!" said Tor Lerberg and chuckled. The others joined in. "He certainly would have killed the bear, ha ha ha!"

"But now he's come to Storflåtan[4]," he said, after I had explained where I was trying to go. "It's the biggest lake in the woods here, and when it gets light, we'll be able to help him on his way, for we have a boat, and once he's over the water it ain't far to Stubdal."

"But now he can stay and bed down and have a bite to eat, I think. I've nothin' but pease and rotten pork, and that's not what such a lad is used to, but he's hungry, so … yeah, he's lucky; he can have some fish. I've just dropped the line in the lake and caught a big trout."

I thanked him for the offer, and he asked one of the others to take a fish off the cobble that hung on a tree and fry it in the embers.

Meanwhile he questioned me on this and that. When he was done I hopped into my food with relish. It turned out that he'd come to the end of the story he'd been telling when I came.

"Tell us 'bout what happened to y'father, when he was cutting timber," he said to one of the younger blokes, a heavily built fellow with a fearless expression, who was at least twenty.

"Yeah, that's soon told," said the boy. "Dad was cutting for the farmer at Ask over Lier way, and was working up in Ask Woods. In the evening he went down to a cabin down by the village, and stayed with Helge Myra – you knew Helge Myra, didn't you, Tor Lerberg?"

"Anyway, one day he rested too long after his midday meal and dozed off, and when he woke up the sun was already on the hilltops. He wanted to cut as much wood as possible, so he quickly began chopping."

"It went really well for a while and the chips flew as he chopped. It started to get dark, but he wanted to cut one last small spruce. However, before he struck the first blow, the head flew off the handle. He started looking for it, and finally found it in a swampy hole."

"Just then he thought he heard someone calling his name, not that he could imagine who it could be, for there was no one else around for miles. He listened and listened, but heard nothing, and concluded that he'd just imagined it."

"He began chopping again, but once again the head flew off. After a long hunt he found it again, but when he was about to start on t'other side, he heard a voice coming from the rockface: 'Halvor, Halvor, you've come early and you've stayed late!'

"'When I heard that,' he said, 'it was as though both my knees gave way, and I could hardly get the axe out of the trunk. Once I started running, I didn't stop till I got down to Helge's cabin.'"

"Yeah, I've heard that one before", said Tor Lerberg; "but it weren't that I meant; t'was the time he was at the wedding in the barn at Kilebakken."

"Now that time, yeah, that was sumth'n. T'was in the spring, right before Easter in eighteen hundred and fifteen, when Dad lived up on Oppen-Eia; the snow wasn't gone yet. He was off in the woods cutting firewood and bringing it home. He went up on the ridge over by the Ådal road, where he found a dead pine and began cutting it up."

"As he chopped he noticed that all the nearby pines were dead. As he stood there wondering why, a line of eleven horses, all of them greys, rode up. He thought it looked like a bridal party."

"'Where are you from?,' he asked. 'We're from Ulsnabben in Østhalla,' said one of them. 'We're heading to Veien Farm for the nuptial homecoming brew. The lead driver is the priest, those behind him are the bridal couple and I'm the father-in-law. You can stand on the sled with me if you like.'"

"When they had gone a bit further, the father-in-law asked: 'Would you take these two sacks, go to Veien Farm and measure up two barrels of potatoes for us when we come back?' 'Can do', he said. He stood up on the sled until they came to a place he thought he knew, just north of Kilebakken, where the old open barn stood."

"They couldn't see the barn, but they could see a big building and they went in.  They were met out on the path by a group of people who offered them drinks. They were about to pour one for Dad too, but he declined. 'I'm in my working clothes,' he said, 'and I'd feel out of place drinking with you'. One of them said: 'Let the old fellow be. Take a horse and follow him home.'"

"They put him on a sled behind one of the greys, and one of the party joined him. By the time they reached the gully north of Oppenhagan – there's still a sand quarry there – he felt quite dizzy and as though he was sitting with a bucket over his head. After a while the feeling passed and he came back to his senses. When he looked for his axe it was still stuck in the pine he had been chopping."

"When he got home he was so completely confused that he didn't know how many days he'd been away, but he actually hadn't been gone longer than morning to evening. He wasn't quite right for a long time afterwards."

"Strange things happen in the woods," began Tor Lerberg, "and I can't say that I haven't seen a bit myself  – yeah, weird like - and if you care to sit up a bit longer, I'll tell you about what happened to me – here in Krogskogen."

Of course they all wanted to hear more; the next day was Sunday so it was no matter if they didn't do anything then.

"It is getting on for ten-twelve years back", he began. "I had a charcoal kiln in the wood up by Kampenhaug[5]. In the winter, I'd live there and I had two horses and carried coal down to Bærumsverk[6]."

"One day I stayed a bit late at the works 'cos I met some mates from up in Ringerike[7]. We'd talked and had a drink or two – spirits – so I wasn't back at the kiln until nearly ten o'clock. I fired up a new charge in the kiln so I could see to load the wagon, 'cos it were pitch black. I'd load up in the evening, 'cos I had to leave at three in the morning, if I were to get down to the works and back before dark – yeah, to the kiln.

"When I'd got it burning proper, I began with the loading. But just as I turned towards the heat again to take a new shovelful, by Christ! - a whole drift of snow came blowing in so every bit of coal sizzled and went out.  I thought to myself: 'By Christ, now I've made the old rock troll cross by coming home late and disturbing her evening.'"

"I started up the kiln again, but then the coal kept sticking to the shovel so at least half of it ended up outside the cart. Finally I got the wagon filled and began securing the load. That morning I'd put new willow bindings on the cart, but by Christ, they broke one after the other. So I set about attaching new bindings and I finally got the load ready. I fed the horse, and crept into my hut to sleep. But do you think I woke at three? I didn't wake at all before dawn, and even then my head and body both felt very heavy."

"When I went out to get myself something to eat and give something to the horses, both stalls in the pine shack were empty, and the horses were gone. I was bloody angry and swore, and set out to track them. There'd been new snow overnight, so I could see that they hadn't gone down to the village or to the works. But there were tracks of two horses and two broad, short feet going north."

"I followed them for three miles through the snow and then the tracks separated: one horse went east and the other west, but the footprints were gone. I had to plough on after the one horse, take it down to the cabin and tie it up and feed it and then go back after Blakken[8]."

"I got back to the kiln with her and spent the rest of the day cutting wood, so the horses didn't have to go down to the works that day. But I prayed to the Lord to stop me should I ever disturb the old rock troll again – in the evening that is.

"We all make promises like that: and even if we keep them till Christmas, it doesn't mean they'll keep till Michaelmas!"

"Two years later I was in Krestiania. It was late in the evening before I left town, but I wanted to be home that night, and I had a horse. I took the road by Bogstad, Sørkedalsveien, and through the woods - it were the most direct way to Åsfjerding, as you know."

"It was grey and nasty weather and already half-dark when I left. But as I crossed the little bridge just past Heggelia, I saw a man coming directly towards me. Though he wasn't tall, he was powerfully built; his shoulders were as broad as a barn door and his fists were nearly ten inches wide. In one hand he carried a hide sack and he talked to himself as he walked."

"As I came closer, his eyes sparked like a charcoal fire and they were as large as pewter plates. His hair and his beard stood out like pigs' bristles. He was a real ugly devil so I began to pray the little I knew. As I got to '… in Jesus name, Amen,' he suddenly sank down into the ground."

"I rode on for a stretch, humming a hymn, when all at once I saw the same fellow calling me from up on the hill. Now there were sparks flying from his hair as well as his eyes. I began to say the Lord's prayer again and when I got to '… and deliver us from evil' and then said 'Amen in Jesus' name', he was gone."

"But before I'd gone another mile, I met the same devil again, this time on a footbridge. Now there was lightning flashing from his beard as well as his eyes and hair, and he shook and stamped so that blue, yellow and red flames glowed out of him and crackled horribly."

"By now I was angry. 'Get right back to your hole in hell, you damned rock troll!' I said to the man, and he disappeared on the spot. But as fast as I rode, he kept after me and I was afraid I'd meet him yet again."

"When I got to Lauvlia, I went to the house of a fellow I knew who was staying while he cut timber. I knocked and asked to stay over until it was light, but do think he'd let me in? That Per said that I should travel during daylight like proper people, so I didn't have to wander the roads and beg for shelter."

"'Thanks for the advice, my dear Per', I said, but he wouldn't change his mind. Then I knew that the devil had been there and scared him and put him up to it, and I had to move on. So as I went on my way I sang "A little Child, a little Child" so loudly that it echoed from the hills, and I went on singing it until I reached Stubdal, where they let me stay – but by then the night was almost over."

His storytelling like his speech was slow and full of expression. He had a habit of often repeating a word or part of a sentence, or adding an unnecessary comment each time he took a long draw on his pipe to keep it alight. As happy as I was now that all fear and danger were forgotten, I almost couldn't stop myself laughing, so comical it seemed. That was also the reason his story didn't make the impression on me that one might expect, given what I'd just been through.

During Tor Lerberg's tale, a creature had appeared from the log shack; he must have lain there asleep. I didn't know quite what to make of him. He was closer than anyone I'd then met to my idea of a rock troll. He was a thin, small, wrinkled man with his head cocked to one side, with red eyes and a nose like a parrot's beak. His mouth was pursed, as if he were about to spit in my eye.

He sat there pulling faces, making grimaces with his protruding lower lip, and it seemed all the while that he disliked Tor Lerberg's story, because he shook his head disapprovingly at every syllable.

But when he opened his mouth and began to speak, every thought of his troll-like nature disappeared. If he were supernatural, then he had to be a pixie or a foolish forest elf. In fact he was no more than the complete caricature of a peasant farmer. He lisped a little as he embellished his own tale with shakes of his head even more than he did at the others'.

In what he had to tell there was such an absent-minded use of numbers and weights and measures, a mixing-up of thoughts and ideas, that at first it was almost impossible to make out what he really meant. Assertions, each more preposterous than the last, came tumbling in a torrent, all stuttering and stammering.

"You must bloody well think we're dumb enough to believe all these lies and gossip!" was the first interjection. "Of course, I believe it," replied Tor Lerberg with a little grin to the others that said, "Now you're going to hear some good stories".

"I can't damn well see how you can sit there and tell us that you've seen these things y'self. You're s'posed to be a smart man, but you trot out more nonsense than my black mare," the creature continued.

The others laughed, but Tor obviously knew the man and didn't react to the accusations. He changed tack by asking if he had the same black mare as when he got married.

"You damn well know that a toothless old mare can't live to be really old. But Little Blackie was as good a horse as any you could shoe and she drew a good load uphill."

"She really must have been good then," said Tor Lerberg and the others laughed till they shook. "Was it with her that you went up to Braness and picked up that big iron griddle for the Bærum works? Tell us about that trip."

"Oh, yes! What we gotta do, we gotta do," he replied, and pulling a coal out of the embers to light the scraw with which he had just filled his pipe, he began.

"We weren't long married and I had a good little mare that I was to go to Braness with. And I'd promised Sisle, the missus, that I'd buy her some dress material – you know the missus, don't you Tor? She's a great one for baking; she baked with oatmeal like they do in Braness. Yep, she baked over seven score a day, and they'd reckon she'd baked over four hundred in a week. And I'd been promising her that dress material ever since I began courting her."

"So I bought it, and then loaded the cart with ninety hundredweight of goods for the Bærum works, and bought a griddle that was ten miles across and real thick like a griddle should be. I went up all the hills by Jonsrud and the mare barely raised a puff. Then I called in on Ola at his farm - he's a right fine fellow and his missus is, too."

"I tied the mare to the load as a good travelling man should, but Ola came out and said: 'Don't do that - the lad'll stable her. You come in with me.' So I went into the kitchen and over to the stove to warm myself, as a travelling man does. 'No, come into the lounge,' said Ola. So I went into the lounge and sat down by the oven."

"'In came his missus with two enormous sandwiches on each side of a plate. I took one and ate it up. 'The other's for you, too,' said his missus. Then Ola called to his missus: 'Would you get us something hot to drink, too?' She came rushing in with a brew so strong that it stood up in the cup. I wanted to leave. 'No,' said Ola, 'you’ll stay to dinner now'. I sat and wondered and wondered about what dinner would be like.

"Then the missus came in with a piglet on a tray, roasted whole with cloves and trimmings and looking as if it were actually still alive. Then she came rushing in again with two enormous bottles of spirits and set them out. Then she sat herself across from me, not across from her husband like she ought to do."

"She began to carve the roast, but the knife slipped and the slice of meat ended up on the floor. 'You take that piece, Ola,' said his missus. 'No, I’ll take that,' I said. I had to take it, of course, being the visitor."

"So we ate, both the roast and the trimmings, and while we sat and ate, we drank dram upon dram. Ola felt ill, but I kept on eating. No matter how poorly he looked, I ate on. I managed well, despite being a bit poorly myself, but it didn’t go down too well with Ola."

"So I thanked them, and then went like the devil to get away from the farm. I went straight to Skarud without a break, and the mare barely raised a single puff.”


Safely back at his school in Stubdal, Per Christen Asbjørnsen met a new boy, Jørgen Moe. During the 1830's and 1840's they worked in different parts of the country and noted down local folk tales. Inspired by the Brothers Grimm they published them progressively and in a collected edition in 1851. The most famous is Three Billy Goats Gruff.

Asbjørnsen also wrote nature and travel books about Norway. Moe become a minister of the church and took over his father's parish.

[1] Krokskogen – a forested area north-west of Oslo, the northern part of the Lysaker river basin

[2] Upper Lyse (pron. 'lyoosa'), see the map.

[3] Between 1810 and 1850 timber for the sawmills along Lysakerelva was cut in forests far to the north and west, floated across Steinsfjord and drawn 250 meters up to the head waters of the catchment by kjerraten, a shute along which 11 water-driven chains dragged logs the three kilometers to Damtjern.

[4] Storflåtan – 'the big float' – is the largest lake along the old timber floating route through Nordmarka.

[5] See the map.

[6] The old iron works on the Lomme river, now restored as a crafts and gift market.

[7] The district between Steinsfjord and Hønefoss

[8] 'Blakken' is the name for a horse ­– like 'Dobbin' in English.

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