East of the Sun and West of the Moon: A Norwegian Fairy Tale


"East of the Sun and West of the Moon" is a fairy tale from Norway. A poor family is visited one night by a white bear who promises to make them rich if they will give him their youngest daughter. At first the girl refuses, but over several days she is persuaded to go with the bear. She is carried away on his back to a marvelous castle, where she learns that the bear turns into a prince at night. Growing lonely at the castle, she persuades the bear to let her visit her family. The bear warns her not to let her Mother speak to her alone. But the girl is not able to resist her mother. The mother declares the bear must be a troll and gives her daughter a tallow candle with which to observe him at night—but on no account to spill any of the tallow. The girl waits until the prince is asleep and lights the candle. The prince is so handsome that she falls in love with him... but accidentally spills three drops of tallow on his shirt. The prince wakes up and is horrified at what she has done. Now he must return to his stepmother's castle which lies east of the sun and west of the moon and marry the troll princess who has a nose three ells long. The girl, devastated, determines to follow him, if only she can find the way...