H, WHEN HE was to have a proper meal of porridge, it would take twelve barrels of meal to make it, thought the youngster; but when he had put that away, he could wait awhile, of course, for his next meal.
It took some time to boil such a dish of porridge, and meantime he was to bring in a little firewood for the cook. He put a lot of wood on a sledge, but when he was coming through the door with it he was a little rough and careless again. The house got almost out of shape, and all the joists creaked; he was very near dragging down the whole palace. When the porridge was nearly ready, they sent him out to call the people home from the fields. He shouted so that the mountains and hills around rang with echoes, but the people did not come quick enough for him. He came to blows with them, and killed twelve of them.
"You have killed twelve men," said the king; "and you eat for many times twelve; but how many do you work for?"
"For many times twelve as well," answered the youngster.
When he had finished his porridge, he was to go into the barn to thrash. He took one of the rafters from the roof and made a flail out of it, and when the roof was about to fall in, he took a big pine tree with branches and all and put it up instead of the rafter. So he went on thrashing the grain and the straw and the hay all together. This was doing more damage than good, for the corn and the chaff flew about together, and a cloud of dust arose over the whole palace.
When he had nearly finished thrashing, enemies came into the country, as a war was coming on. So the king told the youngster that he should take men with him to go and meet the enemy and fight them, for the king thought they would surely kill him.
No, he would not have any men with him to be cut to pieces; he would fight by himself, answered the youngster.
"So much the better," thought the king; "the sooner I shall get rid of him; but he must have a proper club."
They sent for the smith; he forged a club which weighed a hundredweight. "A very nice thing to crack nuts with," said the youngster. So the smith made one of three hundredweight. "It would be very well for hammering nails into boots," was the answer. Well, the smith could not make a bigger one with the men he had. So the youngster set out for the smithy himself, and made a club that weighed five tons, and it took a hundred men to turn it on the anvil. "That one might do for lack of a better," thought the youngster. He wanted next a bag with some provisions; they had to make one out of fifteen oxhides, and they filled it with food, and away he went down the hill with the bag on his back and the club on his shoulder.
When he came so far that the enemy saw him, they sent a soldier to ask him if he was going to fight them.
"Yes; but wait a little till I have had something to eat," said the youngster. He threw himself down on the grass and began to eat with the big bag of food in front of him.
But the enemy would not wait, and commenced to fire at him at once, till it rained and hailed around him with bullets.
"I don't mind these crowberries a bit," said the youngster, and went on eating harder than ever. Neither lead nor iron took any effect upon him, and his bag with food in front of him guarded him against the bullets as if it were a rampart.
So they commenced throwing bomb-shells and firing cannons at him. He only grinned a little every time he felt them.
"They don't hurt me a bit," he said. But just then he got a bomb-shell right down his windpipe.
"Fy!" he shouted, and spat it out again; but then a chain-shot made its way into his butter-can, and another carried away the piece of food he held between his fingers.
That made him angry; he got up and took his big club and struck the ground with it, asking them if they wanted to take the food out of his mouth, and what they meant by blowing crowberries at him with those pea-shooters of theirs. He then struck the ground again till the hills and rocks rattled and shook, and sent the enemy flying in the air like chaff. This finished the war.
When he came home again, and asked for more work, the king was taken quite aback, for he thought he should have got rid of him in the war. He knew of nothing else but to send him on a message to the devil.
"You had better go to the devil and ask him for my ground-rent," he said. The youngster took his bag on his back, and started at once. He was not long in getting there, but the devil was gone to court, and there was no one at home but his mother, and she said that she had never heard talk of any ground-rent. He had better call again another time.
"Yes, call again to-morrow is always the cry," he said; but he was not going to be made a fool of, he told her. He was there, and there he would remain till he got the ground-rent. He had plenty of time to wait. But when he had finished all the food in his bag, the time hung heavy on his hands, and then he asked the old lady for the ground-rent again. She had better pay it now, he said.
"No, she was going to do nothing of the sort," she said. Her words were as firm as the old fir tree just outside the gates, which was so big that fifteen men could scarcely span it.
But the youngster climbed right up in the top of it and twisted and turned it as if it was a willow, and then he asked her if she was going to pay the ground-rent now.