' I have learned to love what is Norwegian,' said she, ' and I will never marry unless I can go to Norway.'
But the youngest sister whispered to the old King, 1 That's only because she has heard in a Norwegian song, that when the world sinks down the cliffs of Norway will remain standing like monuments, and so she wants to get up there, because she is afraid of perishing.'
1 Ho ! ho ! ' said the old gnome, ' is that the reason ? But what can the seventh and last do ? '
' The sixth comes before the seventh ! ' said the Elf King, for he could count. But the sixth would not come out.
' I can only tell people the truth !' said she. ' Nobody cares for me, and I have enough to do to sew my shroud.'
Now came the seventh and last, and what could she do ? Why, she could tell stories, as many as she wished.
' Here are all my five fingers,' said the old gnome ; ' tell me one for each.'
And she took him by the wrist, and he laughed till it clucked within him ; and when she came to the ring finger, which had a ring round its waist, just as if it knew there was to be a wedding, the old gnome said,
' Hold fast what you have : the hand is yours ; I'll have you for my own wife.'
And the elf girl said that the story of the ring finger and of little Peter Play man, the fifth, were still wanting.
' We'll hear those in winter,' said the gnome, ' and we'll hear about the pine tree, and about the birch, and about the fairies' gifts, and about the biting frost. You shall tell your tales, for no one up there knows how to do that well; and then we'll sit in the stone chamber where the pine logs burn, and drink mead out of the horns of the old Norwegian Kings—Necken has given me a couple ; and when we sit there, and the Brownie comes on a visit, he'll sing you all the songs of the milking-girls in the mountains. That will be merry. The salmon will spring in the waterfall, and beat against the stone walls, but he shall not come in.'
1 Yes, it's very good living in Norway; but where are the lads ? '
Yes, where were they ? They were running about in