The collector of fairytales, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, is on one of his trips around Norway. It is winter, the snow lies deep across the landscape, cloaking bushes and trees in troll-like shapes. He has trudged a long way, and sits down to rest a while and write down a fairytale he has just heard told:
Once upon a time there was a man out travelling. Late in the evening he arrived at a large farm. He was both tired and hungry, so he asked a man who was outside sawing wood if he could put him up for the night.
The man said that if it was up to him he could stay the night, but he wasn't the father of the house, so the traveller should go into the smithy and talk to his father and see what could be done. So the man went into the smithy and asked the man working there for lodging for the night. But no, he wasn't the father of the house either, but his father was in the parlour, and the traveller should ask him.
The man went into the parlour and asked again, but got the same answer from the old creature sitting there. He was not the father of the house either, but his father was sitting in the chair, so it was best to ask him. And the traveller, now growing impatient, asked the aged creature in the chair for lodging, but as he wasn't the father of the house, he sent the traveller to the bedroom where his father was lying - perhaps he could help.
The man did just that, but the ancient fellow with the ear trumpet reckoned it was not up to him, and it were better he asked his father lying there in the cradle. Now quite alarmed, the man went over to the cradle and had to chalk his request on a board, so deaf was the shrivelled up little man, who just shook his head and grunted that his father was hanging on the wall, and it was he that was father of the house. Now quite out of his wits, the traveller caught sight of a tiny little creature inside a horn hanging on the wall. He gesticulated wildly to indicate his request and finally got a tiny squeak from the horn: "Why, yes, son".
Then in came both food and drink and a good bed so the man finally got lodging for the night.