Good Afternoon, Sir - Axe Helve

The very idea of thinking up dialogues, just to see them break down when exposed to "users", is old in common folklore. Here is an old Danish version, but other variants exist.

Once upon a time a ferryman who was hard of hearing climbed a tree in order to cut off a branch.

Then he saw two men in the distance walking in the direction of the ferry. However, he did not want the foreigners to notice that he was deaf.

Thus he said to himself, "After all, I know what they'll say. First they'll ask me what I'm going to use the branch for. Then I'll answer, 'An axe helve' Then they'll probably ask how much wood I'm going to cut off. To this I'll answer, 'Up to this knot' Then they'll probably tell me what brings them here and they'll ask for permission to borrow my boat to row across the water so that they do not have to make the long detour. To this I'll answer, 'She is leaking' When they cannot have the boat, they'll probably want to borrow my horses and then I'll answer, 'Both of them are with foal' So when they cannot have them either, I think they'll ask where the road to the town is. To this I'll answer, 'Between the two willows'"

However, the two men were a couple of young fellows who had heard that the ferryman had two pretty daughters, and they had come to visit them.

"Good afternoon, sir," they said.

"An axe helve," said the man.

"May it stick in your throat," one of the fellows said.

"Up to this knot," the man answered.

"Is your wife at home?" the other fellow asked.

"No, she is leaking," said the man.

"How are your daughters?" they shouted.

"They are with foal both of them," the man answered.

"If only you were hanged," the two fellows shouted.

"Between the two willows," the ferryman said and pointed in that direction.

And then he started cutting again.

Translation by Hans & Laila Dybkjær of Danish original from: Preben Ramløv: Danske folkeeventyr, Gyldendal 1964