Interpretation by Allomotifs
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One of the best known of all traditional fairy tales is that of “The Forgotten Fiancée.” It may be told in the following manner:
A man and his wife cross a bridge after sundown. Their carriage suddenly stands still and a troll comes up. He will release them only if they promise him what the wife is carrying under her apron. They must do so. In due time she gives birth to a son, who must then go to the troll when he is 12 years old.
The boy is given three tasks, each to be completed before sundown on pain of death. The first is to clean a sheepcote that has not been cleaned for 24 years. He cries because the task is impossible. The girl who brings his food promises to help if he will be faithful to her. He promises and she sets the dung fork working by magic. Next he is to fell a large stand of wood, and when the girl has done this for him, he is to plow and harrow the land he has cleared, sow it with rye, harvest, thresh the grain, and bake three loaves, all before sundown. He succeeds, thanks to the girl.
She says the troll is angry now, and they decide to flee together. First she spits at three places and when the troll’s wife dreams that they have fled and calls, the spittle answers. The fourth time she realizes that they are gone and sends the troll to catch them. The girl turns herself into a bush and the boy into a rose on the bush. The troll is deceived and returns empty-handed. His wife explains the deception and sends him off again. This time the girl turns herself into a church and the boy into a priest and the troll is again 236deceived. The third time the troll’s wife goes herself. The girl turns herself into a pond and the boy into a drake, but she is not deceived. She lies down to drink the pond dry, but she bursts and they are saved.
The boy goes to his parents’ home and the girl warns him not to let anyone kiss him. But his mother kisses him while he sleeps and when he wakes up he has forgotten his fiancée. After some time he is engaged to be married to another girl.
When his first fiancée realizes that he is not coming back to fetch her, she takes lodging with an old woman and works as a seamstress. In preparation for the wedding, the farmhands at the boy’s farm want to have new shirts sewn. They go one by one to the seamstress. When they express their wish to sleep with her, she is apparently willing enough, but she tricks the first into spending all night holding on to a latch, the second into holding on to a fire tong, and the third into chasing a calf all night.
When the bridegroom is to drive to church, the doubletree breaks and all substitutes break, too. The first farmhand tells about the latch and is sent to borrow it. Next, the pole breaks and they have to borrow the firetong. Finally, the carriage is stuck and they must borrow the calf. In return the girl is invited to the wedding. She insists on sitting next to the bridegroom.
At the wedding feast, she feeds her doves three times. Each time the male takes more grain than the female and each time she cries, “You fail her as my sweetheart failed me!” The bridegroom recognizes her and marries her instead of the other girl.