- East of the Sun and West of the Moon - Part 1 of 4
Once upon a time, there was a poor man. He had so many children that he didn't have much food or clothing to give them.
One day, on an evening late in the fall, the weather was so wild and rough outside, and it was so dark. The rain fell, and the wind blew until the walls of the cottage shook. The family all sat around the fire, busy with this and that. But just then, something gave three taps on the window. Then the father went out to see what was there. When he got outside, he saw a great big White Bear.
"Good evening!" said the White Bear.
"The same to you," said the man.
"Can I stay here for the night? I can't travel home in this horrible weather," said the Bear.
The man replied. "I have many children and a small house. The house is full. But I have a warm and cozy barn. If you would like to stay in the barn, you are welcome to do so. And please join us for dinner."
"Thank you," said the White Bear. The family and the Bear ate dinner together. The food was simple, but it was delicious.
Then the man showed the White Bear to the barn. The Bear said, "Thank you for dinner. It was the most delicious dinner I have ever had!"
The man said, "My daughter is a talented cook. She made dinner for all of us tonight."
"If your daughter is willing, I would like to hire her to be a chef at my castle. I pay very well. And I can give your family a bigger house," the Bear said.
The next day, the man asked his daughter if she would like to move to the castle to be a chef.
The girl said 'No!' right away, so the man told the White Bear that he should come again the next Thursday evening and get an answer. He talked to his daughter and told her about all the money she would make as a chef at the castle. So, she changed her mind. She dressed in her nicest clothes and was ready to go. She didn't have many possessions to pack in her small bag anyway.
The next Thursday evening, the White Bear returned. The girl jumped onto his back with her small bag, and off they went. So, when they had gone a bit of the way, the White Bear said:
"Are you afraid?"
No! she was not afraid.
"Well! Hold tight to my shaggy fur, and then there's nothing to fear," said the Bear.
So she rode a long, long way until they came to a great, steep hill. The White Bear gave a knock on the gate, the door opened. They went into the castle, where many rooms were all lit up, rooms shining bright with silver and gold. The White Bear showed the girl to the kitchen. She met the other chefs.
The girl cooked many delicious meals at the castle, and she and the White Bear became best friends.
But something strange happened at night. Every night, when the girl walked to her room, she walked past the castle library. In the library, she saw a young man she had never met before. And he looked similar to the White Bear.
Overall, the girl was happy cooking at the castle. But she did miss her family.
The White Bear suggested she go home to visit her family. However, he said the girl must not talk with her mother alone.
So, one Sunday, the White Bear came and said now they could set off to see her father and mother. Well, off they started, she sitting on his back, and they went far. At last, they came to a big house, and there was her family waiting for her.
"This is where your father and mother live now," said the White Bear, "don't forget what I told you. Don't talk to your mother alone, or else you'll make us both unlucky."
Then, when she went in to see her father and mother, there was such joy, there was no end to it. Now, they had everything they wished, as good as good could be, and they all wanted to know how she was doing.
Well, she said, it was wonderful to live in the castle. She had all she wished. Then in the afternoon, after they had finished dinner, it happened as the White Bear had said. Her mother wanted to talk with her alone in her bedroom. She remembered what the White Bear had said, and she wouldn't go upstairs.
"Oh! We'll talk about it later," she said. But somehow or another, her mother got a chance to talk with her, and she had to tell her mother the whole story. So, she told her mother that sometimes she saw an unfamiliar young man who looked like the White Bear.
"Oh my!" said her mother. "It might be a troll! But now I'll teach you how to check. I'll give you a candle, which you can carry home in your bag. Just light the candle while he is asleep to see if he is a troll."
The girl took the candle and hid it in her bag.