The Ash Lad Who Made the Princess Say, “You’re a Liar!”

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The Ash Lad 1Who Made the Princess Say, ‘You’re a Liar!'” is a Norwegian fairy tale. It was popularized by the folklorists Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe, who played a crucial role in collecting and preserving Norwegian folk tales in the 19th century.

Their work, often referred to as “Asbjørnsen and Moe,” is similar to the role of the Brothers Grimm in Germany. They gathered these tales from oral traditions and published them, helping to keep Norway’s rich folklore alive for future generations.

Here is a short retelling of the story:

In a kingdom far away, there was a princess who never laughed. The king promised that anyone who could make her laugh would marry her and inherit the kingdom. Many tried and failed, for the princess was as serious as she was fair.

In the same kingdom, there lived a young man known as the Ash Lad. Unlike his bolder brothers, he was often underestimated, always sitting by the hearth, poking the ashes. Yet, he was clever and kind-hearted.

One day, he told his father, “I’d like to try my luck with the princess.”

His father chuckled, “You, my boy? Well, why not? Sometimes wisdom comes from unexpected places.”

The Ash Lad set out with two items: a tattered cloak and a wooden spoon. When he approached the castle, he wore the cloak and started cooking a broth with the spoon near the princess’s window.

The princess, curious, peered out and asked, “What are you doing?”

“I’m brewing a broth with my magic spoon,” the Ash Lad replied with a twinkle in his eye. “It can fill anyone’s belly, no matter how large the crowd.”

“That’s impossible,” said the princess, but her interest was piqued.

The Ash Lad continued, “And this cloak can hide an entire army!”

The princess laughed, “You’re a liar!”

But as she uttered those words, the Ash Lad revealed his brothers hidden under the large cloak. The courtyard was suddenly filled with men, seemingly appearing from nowhere.

The princess was astonished and laughed heartily, realizing the clever trick. The Ash Lad’s wit and charm had broken through her solemn demeanor.

The king, true to his word, declared, “You have made my daughter laugh and proved yourself both clever and brave. You shall marry her, as promised.”

The Ash Lad and the princess were married in a grand celebration. His cleverness and kind heart won not only the challenge but also the love of the princess. The kingdom rejoiced for they had found a true and wise ruler in the Ash Lad.

From The Dictionary

  1. The term “Ash Lad” refers to a character archetype commonly found in Scandinavian folklore, particularly in Norwegian fairy tales. Known as “Askeladden” in Norwegian, the Ash Lad is typically depicted as the youngest son in a family, often overlooked, underestimated, and sometimes even considered a bit of a fool or simpleton. He’s usually portrayed as sitting by the fireplace, poking the ashes — hence the name “Ash Lad.”
    Despite his humble appearance and status, the Ash Lad is characterized by his cleverness, resourcefulness, kindness, and often a good heart. He stands out from his brothers or peers, who might be physically stronger or more conventionally heroic, by using his wits and ingenuity to solve problems, outsmart antagonists, or achieve what others believe to be impossible. ↩︎

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