IN those days when our Lord and St. Peter wandered upon earth, they came once to an old wife's house, who sat baking. Her name was Gertrude, and she had a red mutch on her head. They had walked a long way, and were both hungry, and our Lord begged hard for a bannock to stay their hunger. Yes, they should have it. So she took a tiny little piece of dough and rolled it out, but as she rolled it, it grew and grew till it covered the whole griddle.
Nay, that was too big; they couldn't have that. So she took a tinier bit still; but when that was rolled out it covered the whole griddle just the same, and that bannock was too big, she said; they couldn't have that either.
The third time she took a still tinier bitso tiny you could scarce see it; but it was the same story over againthe bannock was too big.
"Well," said Gertrude, "I can't give you anything; you must just go without, for all these bannocks are too big."
Then our Lord waxed wroth, and said,
"Since you love me so little as to grudge me a morsel of food, you shall have this punishment,you shall become a bird, and seek your food between bark and bole, and never get a drop to drink save when it rains."
He had scarce said the last word before she was turned into a great black woodpecker, or Gertrude's bird, and flew from her kneading-trough right up the chimney; and till this very day you may see her flying about, with her red mutch on her head, and her body all black, because of the soot in the chimney; and so she hacks and taps away at the trees for her food, and whistles when rain is coming, for she is ever athirst, and then she looks for a drop to cool her tongue.
Asbjørnsen, Peter Christen and Moe, Jorgen. East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon. George Webbe Dasent, translator. Popular Tales from the Norse. Edinburgh: David Douglass, 1888.
Also available in reprint under:
Dasent, George Webbe. East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon. New York: Dover, 1970. Amazon.com: Buy the book in paperback.