Found a reasonably decent translation of 'Norwegian Folk Tales' by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe. The 36 stories in this collection were translated by Pat Shaw Iversen and Carl Norman, illustrated in black and white by Erik Werenskiold and Theodor Kittelsen. The edition I hold was published by Pantheon Books like, two decades ago. The English is still awkward, but it will do.
The problem is, I don't like reading about helpless princesses and brave but unwarrior-like witty and clever underdogs typically portrayed by an Askeladden (The Ash Lad) who is usually the youngest of three brothers. I prefer reading about Trolls. After about the ten-thousandth time of reading about Kings offering their daughters and half their lands to worthy suitors for whatever reason (i.e, kill the Troll, make the princess laugh or out-talk her and have the last word), I almost nodded off. This was an exceedingly difficult book to plough through in one sitting.
Luckily the second half of the book involves more animals. I'm sure there're worthy mores in these tales. But I'm not about to dissect them. I just want to read them as folktales and keep it at that. It certainly offers an insight to the habits of Norwegian society back then, but it's of no way indicative of modern day values. I like them when they're a tad dark, like how fairy tales should all be. Yes, NOT DISNEY. If you ever ask me to read fairy tales to a child, I'm probably going to twist them so darkly that no child will go to sleep comforted. :P
Since there're so many private jokes about ducks and the girlfriend is highly tickled by all things fowl-foul that I've been stalking- the ducks, and those that have been stalking me- the pigeons, I shall extract a paragraph from the last tale in this book where our hero is the long-suffering Princess. It's titled 'The Twelve Wild Ducks' (De tolv villender) by Asbjørnsen. You must have heard this one- of a Princess who set out to save her 12 older brothers who were transformed into wild ducks upon her birth, blessed and cursed by a Troll-hag. She had to weave and sew 12 shirts of nettles, neither smile nor weep and stay silent for three years. Of course it ended in happiness with a loving husband and three alive children, 12 freed human brothers and a dead evil Old Queen.
The king took them back to his stepmother, and asked her what punishment she thought fit for one who could have he heart to betray an innocent queen and three such lovely children?
Dem tok kongen med seg og bar dem bort til stemor sin og spurte henne, hva straff hun syntes den burde få som kunne ha hjerte til å forråde en uskyldig dronning og tre så velsignede barn.
"Anyone who did that should be tied to twelve wild horses and torn to bits," said the old queen.
"Den burde spennes mellom tolv utemte hester, så de hver tok sitt stykke," sa den gamle dronningen.
"You have declared your own punishment," said the young king, "and such shall be your fate."
And so the wicked old queen was tied to twelve wild horses, and torn to bits.
"Du har selv sagt dommen, og selv skal du få lide den med," sa kongen, og så ble den gamle slemme dronningen spent mellom tolv utemte hester, som hver tok sitt stykke av henne.
But Snow-White-Rose-Red, the king, and their children, and the twelve princes, all rode back to her parents and told them what had happened. So there was great rejoicing throughout the whole kingdom, because the princess was freed and had freed her twelve brothers too.
Men Snehvit og Rosenrød tok kongen og barna sine og de tolv prinsene, og så reiste de hjem til foreldrene og fortalte det som hadde hendt dem, og nå ble det stor fryd og glede over hele kongeriket, for det prinsessen var frelst og hadde frelst de tolv brødrene sine også.