Homepage   |   Georgian Toasts   |   Ulf Ärnström   |   E-mail   |   Homepage in swedish   
 


Stories


Nail Soup - swedish folk-tale
Axe Soup - an estonian version


Nail Soup

- traditional swedish folk-tale

This story was used in connection with a nordic storytelling day on spring equinox 2002. More information can be found on
http://hem.fyristorg.com/kulturkemi/engindex.htm
or by e-mailing Ulf Ärnström on anansi@live.se
It can be distributed freely with this copyright notice intact.


Once upon a time there was a tramp walking through a deep forest. He made his living selling a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Now he was cold and tired and hungry and what was even worse, he had nothing left to sell. All he owned were the ragged clothes he wore and an old, bent nail.

When he came out of the forest he saw a little cottage, with smoke rising from the chimney. He knocked on the door, the door opened and a woman looked at him suspiciously.
- Please, could you be as good as to give a poor man shelter for the night, he asked.
- I know your kind, she said, if I let you in you won´t leave before you have eaten everything I have. And I tell you, I´m so poor I haven´t had a bite for three days. So you just go away!
But the tramp was a clever fellow, and the woman was so greedy that she immediately invited him when he said that of course he didn´t want to eat the little she had. On the contrary, he wanted her to share his evening meal.
- But first I want to see the food you say you want to share, she said.
- This is all I need, he said, and took an old, bent nail out of his pocket. Just bring me a pot and some water, and I´ll cook the best soup you ever tasted with this nail.
The woman brought a pot and looked with amazement as the tramp made a fire, cooked some water and dropped the nail in it.
- The soup might be a little thin, he said, you see I have been using the nail for seven days now. It is a pity you don´t have a little salt, that would surely make the soup taste like a soup fit for any gentleman´s house. But what we lack, we don´t have.
- Now that I come to think of it, said the woman. I might have a little salt left since Christmas.
- How lucky, said the tramp and put the salt in the pot. Well I was thinking that perhaps you could even serve this soup to the priest, if we only had some vegetables also. But what we lack, we don´t have.
- Now that I come to think of it, said the woman. I might have some vegetables in the cellar.
The tramp praised the wisdom of the woman and the excellent taste of the soup.
- I think it would even be fit to serve the king, if we only had a little meat to add, said the tramp. But there is no use longing for the impossible. What we lack, we don´t have.
- Now that I come to think of it, said the woman. There might be some dried meat left somewhere.
The tramp happily added the meat to the by now sweet-smelling soup, the woman made the table with her finest silver spoons and her best plates. When she came to think of it, there was actually some wine left since her husband´s funeral.

So she felt almost like a queen when they shared the soup the tramp had cooked with his nail. The next morning the tramp left without his nail, because the woman wouldn´t let him go before he agreed to sell it. And still to this day, the nail has been very useful. Not only can you make a wonderful soup, but you can also use it for cooking tales with. True, what we lack we don't have, but if you add a little of this and a little of that it will certainly be a story fit for telling to a king!

© 2002 Ulf Ärnström      >>> to the top of the page



Axe Soup

- an estonian folk-tale

This story was used in connection with a nordic storytelling day on spring equinox 2002. More information can be found on
http://hem.fyristorg.com/kulturkemi/engindex.htm
or by e-mailing Ulf Ärnström on anansi@live.se
It can be distributed freely with this copyright notice intact.


There was a soldier, who had served his time and now he went home. Near the forest he saw a little cottage and he decided to ask for a night’s lodging. The hostess opened the door but said:
- I would give to you the lodging gladly, but I have nothing to offer to eat for you. I´m so sorry!
- I don’t need any food, said the soldier. If you only have an old axe, then I could cook some good axe soup.
The woman was so surprised, she sought an old axe. The soldier washed it and put it in the pot. After some time he tasted the soup and said:
- Very rank, if we have a little piece of pork, then it wouldn´t be so rank.
When the hostess went out to bring the pork from the storeroom, the soldier threw the axe out. When the pork had boiled some minutes he tasted again:
- Still rank. The pork only doesn’t help. We need a piece of mutton. And he got a piece of mutton, too. After tasting it he said:
- Still rank. Have you a bit ground barley?
The woman had.
- Very strange, still rank. Maybe you have two or three potatoes? Potatoes are always most bland. It can take this rank less. And they added the potatoes, too.

Then the woman asked:
- How did you speak there in the war? In the Russian language, too?
- Yes, Russian language was there, too, said the soldier.
- Well, and how it was?
- Very easy. A button is "puugovits". And the mitten is "ruukovits".
- But the waggon?
- "A vot jeeto vangirka."
- But the hymn-book?
- "A jeeto laulupanka (songbank)".

[the preceding part is a play with words which is really untranslatable. You have to make up your own, in your own language. Then you can also choose how "daring" you want this part to be]

Then the soldier looked at the soup and said:
- O my God! During the time when we learnt Russian, the axe was so boiled, that there is nothing left. Not a piece of it!
Then the host came back at home and the wife told him happily how they cooked the axe soup. They ate and it tasted very good. The host said:
- It’s so good, that it could carry the tongue down.
His wife said:
- It’s so good that it could carry the teeth down.

["to carry the tongue etc down" is an exact translation of an estonian expression which of course means that it tastes delicious!]

And the man and the woman thanked the soldier for teaching them to cook the axe soup. And they believed that it was a real axe soup and so they believe until today.

© Piret Päär 2002      >>> to the top of the page


 
 
  Homepage   |   Georgian Toasts   |   Ulf Ärnström   |   E-mail   |   Homepage in swedish    Site Meter