The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Swedish Fairy Book, by Various

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Title: The Swedish Fairy Book

Author: Various

Editor: Clara Stroebe

Illustrator: George W. Hood

Translator: Frederick H. Martens

Release Date: August 24, 2011 [EBook #37193]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


Produced by David Edwards, Matthew Wheaton and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
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Copyright, 1921, by
Frederick A. Stokes Company

All Rights Reserved


Printed in the United States of America


The following volume of Swedish fairy-tales represents a careful choice, after the best original sources, of those examples of their kind which not only appeared most colorful and entertaining, but also most racially Swedish in their flavor. For the fairy-tales of each of the three Scandinavian countries, Sweden, Denmark and Norway, have a distinct local color of their own. The wealth of material available has made it possible to give due representation to most types of fairy-tales, from the stories of older origin, the tales of giant, troll, and werewolf, to such delightful tales as "Lasse, My Thrall", and "The Princess and the Glass Mountain," colored with the rich and ornate stylistic garb of medieval chivalric poesy. There has been no attempt to "rewrite" these charming folk-and fairy-tales in the translation. They have been faithfully narrated in the simple, naive manner which their traditional rendering demands. And this is one reason, perhaps, why they should appeal to young American readers—for young America by instinct takes kindly to that which is straightforward and sincere, in the realm of fairy-tale as in life itself.

Frederick H. Martens


I Knös 1
II Lasse, My Thrall! 11
III Finn, the Giant, and the Minster of Lund 32
IV The Skalunda Giant 35
V Yuletide Specters 37
VI Silverwhite and Lillwacker 40
VII Stompe Pilt 57
VIII The Girl and the Snake 60
IX Faithful and Unfaithful 62
X Starkad and Bale 74
XI The Werewolf 76
XII First Born, First Wed 93
XIII The Lame Dog 112
XIV The Mount of the Golden Queen 124
XV Old Hopgiant 129
XVI The Princess and the Glass Mountain 132
XVII Queen Crane 150
XVIII Tales of the Trolls 159
XIX Charcoal Nils and the Troll-Woman 162
XX The Three Dogs 167
XXI The Poor Devil 187
XXII How Smaland and Schonen Came To Be 188
XXIII The Evil One and Kitta Grau 190
XXIV The Lady of Pintorp 194
XXV The Specter in Fjelkinge 199
XXVI The Rooster, the Hand-Mill and the Swarm of Hornets 202
XXVII Torre Jeppe 207
XXVIII The Man Who Died on Holy Innocents' Day 210


"No sooner had he spoken the words than he was lying in the most magnificent room he had ever seen" Frontispiece
"Then Silverwhite drew his sword with a great sweep, and rushed upon the sea-troll" 44
"The pike rose to the surface with the golden keys in his mouth" 70
"So heartfelt was her happiness that she forgot everything else in the world" 84
"A shrine adorned with gold and precious stones appeared" 110
"The lion turned into a handsome young prince" 122
"The rich man had to go along hanging to him like a hawser" 130
"He saw a girl sitting in the mountain hall, weaving a web of gold" 178





Once upon a time there was a poor widow, who found an egg under a pile of brush as she was gathering kindlings in the forest. She took it and placed it under a goose, and when the goose had hatched it, a little boy slipped out of the shell. The widow had him baptized Knös, and such a lad was a rarity; for when no more than five years old he was grown, and taller than the tallest man. And he ate in proportion, for he would swallow a whole batch of bread at a single sitting, and at last the poor widow had to go to the commissioners for the relief of the poor in order to get food for him. But the town authorities said she must apprentice the boy at a trade, for he was big enough and strong enough to earn his own keep.

So Knös was apprenticed to a smith for three years. For his pay he asked a suit of clothes and a sword each year: a sword of five hundredweights the first year, one of ten hundredweights the second[4] year, and one of fifteen hundredweights the third year. But after he had been in the smithy only a few days, the smith was glad to give him all three suits and all three swords at once; for he smashed all his iron and steel to bits.

Knös received his suits and swords, went to a knight's estate, and hired himself out as a serving-man. Once he was told to go to the forest to gather firewood with the rest of the men, but sat at the table eating long after the others had driven off and when he had at last satisfied his hunger and was ready to start, he saw the two young oxen he was to drive waiting for him. But he let them stand and went into the forest, seized the two largest trees growing there, tore them out by the roots, took one tree under each arm, and carried them back to the estate. And he got there long before the rest, for they had to chop down the trees, saw them up and load them on the carts.

On the following day Knös had to thresh. First he hunted up the largest stone he could find, and rolled it around on the grain, so that all the corn was loosened from the ears. Then he had to separate the grain from the chaff. So he made a hole in each side of the roof of the barn, and stood outside the barn and blew, and the chaff and straw flew out into the yard, and the corn remained lying in a heap on the floor. His master happened to come along, laid a ladder against the barn, climbed[5] up and looked down into one of the holes. But Knös was still blowing, and the wind caught his master, and he fell down and was nearly killed on the stone pavement of the court.

"He's a dangerous fellow," thought his master. It would be a good thing to be rid of him, otherwise he might do away with all of them; and besides, he ate so that it was all one could do to keep him fed. So he called Knös in, and paid him his wages for the full year, on condition that he leave. Knös agreed, but said he must first be decently provisioned for his journey.

So he was allowed to go into the store-house himself, and there he hoisted a flitch of bacon on each shoulder, slid a batch of bread under each arm, and took leave. But his master loosed the vicious bull on him. Knös, however, grasped him by the horns, and flung him over his shoulder, and thus he went off. Then he came to a thicket where he slaughtered the bull, roasted him and ate him together with a batch of bread. And when he had done this he had about taken the edge off his hunger.

Then he came to the king's court, where great sorrow reigned because, once upon a time, when the king was sailing out at sea, a sea troll had called up a terrible tempest, so that the ship was about to sink. In order to escape with his life, the king had to promise the sea troll to give him whatever first came his way when he reached shore. The king[6] thought his hunting dog would be the first to come running to meet him, as usual; but instead his three young daughters came rowing out to meet him in a boat. This filled the king with grief, and he vowed that whoever delivered his daughters should have one of them for a bride, whichever one he might choose. But the only man who seemed to want to earn the reward was a tailor, named Red Peter.

Knös was given a place at the king's court, and his duty was to help the cook. But he asked to be let off on the day the troll was to come and carry away the oldest princess, and they were glad to let him go; for when he had to rinse the dishes he broke the king's vessels of gold and silver; and when he was told to bring firewood, he brought in a whole wagon-load at once, so that the doors flew from their hinges.

The princess stood on the sea-shore and wept and wrung her hands; for she could see what she had to expect. Nor did she have much confidence in Red Peter, who sat on a willow-stump, with a rusty old sabre in his hand. Then Knös came and tried to comfort the princess as well as he knew how, and asked her whether she would comb his hair. Yes, he might lay his head in her lap, and she combed his hair. Suddenly there was a dreadful roaring out at sea. It was the troll who was coming along, and he had five heads. Red Peter was so frightened that he rolled off his willow-stump. "Knös, is that you?" cried the troll. "Yes," said Knös. "Haul[7] me up on the shore!" said the troll. "Pay out the cable!" said Knös. Then he hauled the troll ashore; but he had his sword of five hundredweights at his side, and with it he chopped off all five of the troll's heads, and the princess was free. But when Knös had gone off, Red Peter put his sabre to the breast of the princess, and told her he would kill her unless she said he was her deliverer.

Then came the turn of the second princess. Once more Red Peter sat on the willow-stump with his rusty sabre, and Knös asking to be let off for the day, went to the sea-shore and begged the princess to comb his hair, which she did. Then along came the troll, and this time he had ten heads. "Knös, is that you?" asked the troll. "Yes," said Knös. "Haul me ashore!" said the troll. "Pay out the cable!" said Knös. And this time Knös had his sword of ten hundredweights at his side, and he cut off all ten of the troll's heads. And so the second princess was freed. But Red Peter held his sabre at the princess' breast, and forced her to say that he had delivered her.

Now it was the turn of the youngest princess. When it was time for the troll to come, Red Peter was sitting on his willow-stump, and Knös came and begged the princess to comb his hair, and she did so. This time the troll had fifteen heads.

"Knös, is that you?" asked the troll. "Yes," said Knös. "Haul me ashore!" said the troll.[8] "Pay out the cable," said Knös. Knös had his sword of fifteen hundredweights at his side, and with it he cut off all the troll's heads. But the fifteen hundredweights were half-an-ounce short, and the heads grew on again, and the troll took the princess, and carried her off with him.

One day as Knös was going along, he met a man carrying a church on his back. "You are a strong man, you are!" said Knös. "No, I am not strong," said he, "but Knös at the king's court, he is strong; for he can take steel and iron, and weld them together with his hands as though they were clay." "Well, I'm the man of whom you are speaking," said Knös, "come, let us travel together." And so they wandered on.

Then they met a man who carried a mountain of stone on his back. "You are strong, you are!" said Knös. "No, I'm not strong," said the man with the mountain of stone, "but Knös at the king's court, he is strong; for he can weld together steel and iron with his hands as though they were clay."

"Well, I am that Knös, come let us travel together," said Knös. So all three of them traveled along together. Knös took them for a sea-trip; but I think they had to leave the church and the hill of stone ashore. While they were sailing they grew thirsty, and lay alongside an island, and there on the island stood a castle, to which they decided to go[9] and ask for a drink. Now this was the very castle in which the troll lived.

First the man with the church went, and when he entered the castle, there sat the troll with the princess on his lap, and she was very sad. He asked for something to drink. "Help yourself, the goblet is on the table!" said the troll. But he got nothing to drink, for though he could move the goblet from its place, he could not raise it.

Then the man with the hill of stone went into the castle and asked for a drink. "Help yourself, the goblet is on the table!" said the troll. And he got nothing to drink either, for though he could move the goblet from its place, he could not raise it.

Then Knös himself went into the castle, and the princess was full of joy and leaped down from the troll's lap when she saw it was he. Knös asked for a drink. "Help yourself," said the troll, "the goblet is on the table!" And Knös took the goblet and emptied it at a single draught. Then he hit the troll across the head with the goblet, so that he rolled from the chair and died.

Knös took the princess back to the royal palace, and O, how happy every one was! The other princesses recognized Knös again, for they had woven silk ribbons into his hair when they had combed it; but he could only marry one of the princesses, whichever one he preferred, so he chose the youngest.[10] And when the king died, Knös inherited the kingdom.

As for Red Peter, he had to go into the nail-barrel.

And now you know all that I know.


The leading personage of our first story, Knös (Tecknigar og Toner ur skanska allmogenslif, Lund, 1889, p. 14. From Gudmundstorp, Froste Harad) is one of those heroes of gigantic build, beloved of the North, who even when he eats, accomplishes deeds such as the old Norsemen told of their god Thor: the motive of the goblet with which the hero slays the giant, has been used in the Hymiskvida. (Comp. with v. d. Leyen, Märchen in den Göttsagen der Edda, p. 40.)




Once upon a time there was a prince or a duke or whatever you choose to call him, but at any rate a noble tremendously high-born, who did not want to stay at home. And so he traveled about the world, and wherever he went he was well received, and hobnobbed with the very finest people; for he had an unheard of amount of money. He at once found friends and acquaintances, no matter where he came; for whoever has a full trough can always find pigs to thrust their snouts into it. But since he handled his money as he did, it grew less and less, and at last he was left high and dry, without a red cent. And there was an end to all his many friends; for they did just as the pigs do. When he had been well fleeced, they began to snivel and grunt, and soon scattered, each about his own business. And there he stood, after having been led about by the nose, abandoned by all. All had been glad to help him get rid of his money; but none were willing to help him regain it, so there was nothing left for him to do but to wander back home[12] again like a journeyman apprentice, and beg his way as he went.

Late one evening he found himself in a big forest, without any idea as to where he might spend the night. And as he was looking around, his glance happened to fall on an old hut, peeping out from among the bushes. Of course an old hut was no lodging for such a fine gentleman; but when we cannot have what we want, we must take what we can get, and since there was no help for it, he went into the hut. There was not even a cat in it, not even a stool to sit on. But against one wall there was a great chest. What might there be in the chest? Suppose there were a few moldy crusts of bread in it? They would taste good to him, for he had not been given a single thing all day long, and he was so hungry that his inwards stuck to his ribs. He opened the chest. But within the chest was another chest, and in that chest still another chest, and so it went, one always smaller than the other, until they were nothing but little boxes. And the more there were of them the more trouble he took to open them; for whatever was hidden away so carefully must be something exceptionally beautiful, thought he.

At last he came to a tiny box, and in the tiny box was a slip of paper—and that was all he had for his pains! At first he was much depressed. But all at once, he saw that something was written on the[13] piece of paper, and on closer examination he was even able to spell out the words, though they had a strange appearance. And he read:

"Lasse, my thrall!"

No sooner had he spoken these words than something answered, close to his ear:

"What does my master command?"

He looked around, but saw no one. That's strange, thought he, and once more read aloud:

"Lasse, my thrall!"

And just as before came the answer:

"What does my master command?"

"If there be some one about who hears what I say, he might be kind enough to get me a little something to eat," said he; and at that very moment a table, covered with all the good things to eat that one could imagine, was standing in the hut. He at once began to eat and drink and did well by himself. I have never had a better meal in my life, thought he. And when his hunger was completely satisfied, he grew sleepy and took up his scrap of paper again.

"Lasse, my thrall!"

"What does my master command?"

"Now that you have brought me food and drink, you must also bring me a bed in which to sleep. But it must be a very fine bed," said he; for as you may well imagine, his ideas were more top-lofty now that he had eaten well. His command was at once obeyed; and a bed so fine and handsome stood in the[14] hut, that a king might have been glad to have found such sleeping accommodations. Now this was all very well and good; but the good can always be bettered, and when he had lain down, he decided that, after all, the hut was far too wretched for such a fine bed. He took up the scrap of paper:

"Lasse, my thrall!"

"What does my master command?"

"If you can produce such a meal, and such a bed here in the wild wood, you must surely be able to give me a better room; for you know I am one of those who are used to sleeping in a castle, with golden mirrors and rugs of gold brocade and luxuries and conveniences of every kind," said he. And no sooner had he spoken the words, than he was lying in the most magnificent room he had ever seen.

Now matters were arranged to suit him, and he was quite content as he turned his face to the wall and closed his eyes.

But the room he had slept in was not the end of his magnificence. When he woke the following morning and looked around, he saw that he had been sleeping in a great castle. There was one room after another, and wherever he went walls and ceilings were covered with ornaments and decorations of every kind, all glittering so splendidly when the rays of the sun fell on them that he had to put his hand to his eyes; for wherever he looked everything sparkled with gold and silver. Then he glanced out[15] of the window and first began to realize how really beautiful everything was. Gone were the fir-trees and juniper bushes, and in their place showed the loveliest garden one might wish to see, filled with beautiful trees and roses of every variety, in bush and tree form. But there was not a human being in sight, not even a cat. Yet he found it quite natural that everything should be so fine, and that he should once more have become a great lord.

He took up the scrap of paper:

"Lasse, my thrall!"

"What does my master command?"

"Now that you have provided me with food and a castle in which to dwell, I am going to stay here, because it suits me," said he, "but I cannot live here all alone in this fashion. I must have serving-men and serving-maids, at my command." And so it was. Servants and lackeys and maids and serving-women of every description arrived, and some of them bowed and others courtseyed, and now the duke really began to feel content.

Now it happened that another great castle lay on the opposite side of the forest, in which dwelt a king who owned the forest, and many broad acres of field and meadow round about. And when the king came and happened to look out of his window, he saw the new castle, on whose roof the golden weathercocks were swinging to and fro, from time to time, shining in his eyes.[16]

"This is very strange," thought he, and sent for his courtiers. They came without delay, bowing and scraping.

"Do you see the castle yonder?" said the king.

Their eyes grew as large as saucers and they looked.

Yes, indeed, they saw the castle.

"Who has dared to build such a castle on my ground?"

The courtiers bowed and scraped, but did not know. So the king sent for his soldiers. They came tramping in and presented arms.

"Send out all my soldiers and horsemen," said the king, "tear down the castle instantly, hang whoever built it, and see to this at once."

The soldiers assembled in the greatest haste and set forth. The drummers beat their drums and the trumpeters blew their trumpets, and the other musicians practiced their art, each in his own way; so that the duke heard them long before they came in sight. But this was not the first time he had heard music of this sort, and he knew what it meant, so once more he took up the scrap of paper:

"Lasse, my thrall!"

"What does my master command?"

"There are soldiers coming," said he, "and now you must provide me with soldiers and horsemen until I have twice as many as the folk on the other side of the forest. And sabers and pistols and[17] muskets and cannon, and all that goes with them—but you must be quick about it!"

Quick it was, and when the duke looked out there was a countless host of soldiers drawn up around the castle.

When the king's people arrived, they stopped and did not dare advance. But the duke was by no means shy. He went at once to the king's captain and asked him what he wanted.

The captain repeated his instructions.

"They will not gain you anything," said the duke. "You can see how many soldiers I have, and if the king chooses to listen to me, we can agree to become friends, I will aid him against all his enemies, and what we undertake will succeed." The captain was pleased with this proposal, so the duke invited him to the castle, together with all his officers, and his soldiers were given a swallow or two of something wet and plenty to eat along with it. But while the duke and the officers were eating and drinking, there was more or less talk, and the duke learned that the king had a daughter, as yet unmarried and so lovely that her like had never been seen. And the more they brought the king's officers to eat, the stronger they inclined to the opinion that the king's daughter would make a good wife for the duke. And as they talked about it, the duke himself began to think it over. The worst of it was, said the officers, that she was very haughty, and[18] never even deigned to look at a man. But the duke only laughed. "If it be no worse than that," he said, "it is a trouble that may be cured."

When at last the soldiers had stowed away as much as they could hold, they shouted hurrah until they woke the echoes in the hills, and marched away. One may imagine what a fine parade march it was, for some of them had grown a little loose-jointed in the knees. The duke charged them to carry his greetings to the king, and say that he would soon pay him a visit.

When the duke was alone once more, he began to think of the princess again, and whether she were really as beautiful as the soldiers had said. He decided he would like to find out for himself. Since so many strange things had happened that day, it was quite possible, thought he.

"Lasse, my thrall!"

"What does my master command?"

"Only that you bring the king's daughter here, as soon as she has fallen asleep," said he. "But mind that she does not wake up, either on her way here, or on her way back." And before long there lay the princess on the bed. She was sleeping soundly, and looked charming as she lay there asleep. One had to admit that she was as sweet as sugar. The duke walked all around her; but she appeared just as beautiful from one side as from the other, and the[19] more the duke looked at her, the better she pleased him.

"Lasse, my thrall!"

"What does my master command?"

"Now you must take the princess home again," said he, "because now I know what she looks like and to-morrow I shall sue for her hand."

The following morning the king stepped to the window. "Now I shall not have to see that castle across the way," he thought to himself. But the evil one must have had a hand in the matter—there stood the castle just as before, and the sun was shining brightly on its roof, and the weather-vanes were sending beams into his eyes.

The king once more fell into a rage, and shouted for all his people, who hurried to him with more than usual rapidity. The courtiers bowed and scraped and the soldiers marched in parade step and presented arms.

"Do you see that castle there?" roared the king.

They stretched their necks, their eyes grew large as saucers and they looked.

Yes, indeed, they saw it.

"Did I not order you to tear down that castle and hang its builder?" he said.

This they could not deny; but now the captain himself stepped forward and told what had occurred, and what an alarming number of soldiers[20] the duke had, and how magnificent his castle was.

Then he also repeated what the duke had said, and that he had sent his greetings to the king.

All this made the king somewhat dizzy, and he had to set his crown on the table and scratch his head. It was beyond his comprehension—for all that he was a king; since he could have sworn that it had all come to pass in the course of a single night, and if the duke were not the devil himself, he was at least a magician.

And as he sat there and thought, the princess came in.

"God greet you, father," she said, "I had a most strange and lovely dream last night."

"And what did you dream, my girl?" said the king.

"O, I dreamt that I was in the new castle over yonder, and there was a duke, handsome and so splendid beyond anything I could have imagined, and now I want a husband."

"What, you want a husband, and you have never even deigned to look at a man; that is very strange!" said the king.

"Be that as it may," said the princess, "but that is how I feel now; and I want a husband, and the duke is the husband I want," she concluded.

The king simply could not get over the astonishment the duke had caused him.

Suddenly he heard an extraordinary beating of[21] drums, and sounding of trumpets and other instruments of every kind. And a message came that the duke had arrived with a great retinue, all so magnificently attired that every seam of their dresses was sparkling with gold and silver. The king, in his crown and finest robe of state, stood looking down the stairway, and the princess was all the more in favor of carrying out her idea as quickly as possible.

The duke greeted the king pleasantly, and the king returned his greeting in the same way, and discussing their affairs together they became good friends. There was a great banquet, and the duke sat beside the princess at the table. What they said to each other I do not know, but the duke knew so well how to talk that, no matter what he said, the princess could not say no, and so he went to the king and begged for her hand. The king could not exactly refuse it, for the duke was the kind of a man whom it was better to have for a friend than for an enemy; but he could not give his answer out of hand, either. First he wished to see the duke's castle, and know how matters stood with regard to this, that and the other—which was natural.

So it was agreed that they should pay the duke a visit and bring the princess with them, in order that she might examine his possessions, and with that they parted.

When the duke reached home, Lasse had a lively[22] time of it, for he was given any number of commissions. But he rushed about, carrying them out, and everything was arranged so satisfactorily that when the king arrived with his daughter, a thousand pens could not have described it. They went through all the rooms and looked around, and everything was as it should be, and even better thought the king, who was very happy. Then the wedding was celebrated and when it was over, and the duke returned home with his young wife, he, too, gave a splendid banquet, and that is how it went.

After some time had passed, the duke one evening heard the words:

"Is my master content now?" It was Lasse, though the duke could not see him.

"I am well content," answered the duke, "for you have brought me all that I have."

"But what did I get for it?" said Lasse.

"Nothing," replied the duke, "but, heaven above, what was I to give you, who are not flesh and blood, and whom I cannot even see," said he. "Yet if there be anything I can do for you, why let me know what it is, and I will do it."

"I would very much like to have the little scrap of paper that you keep in the box," said Lasse.

"If that is all you want, and if such a trifle is of any service to you, your wish shall be granted, for I believe I know the words by heart now," said the duke.[23]

Lasse thanked him, and said all the duke need do, would be to lay the paper on the chair beside his bed, when he went to sleep, and that he would fetch it during the night.

This the duke did, and then he went to bed and fell asleep.

But toward morning the duke woke up, freezing so that his teeth chattered, and when he had fully opened his eyes, he saw that he had been stripped of everything, and had scarcely a shirt to his name. And instead of lying in the handsome bed in the handsome bed-room in the magnificent castle, he lay on the big chest in the old hut. He at once called out:

"Lasse, my thrall!" But there was no answer.

Then he cried again:

"Lasse, my thrall!" Again there was no answer. So he called out as loudly as he could:

"Lasse, my thrall!" But this third call was also in vain.

Now he began to realize what had happened, and that Lasse, when he obtained the scrap of paper, no longer had to serve him, and that he himself had made this possible. But now things were as they were, and there stood the duke in the old hut, with scarcely a shirt to his name. The princess herself was not much better off, though she had kept her clothes; for they had been given her by her father, and Lasse had no power over them.[24]

Now the duke had to explain everything to the princess, and beg her to leave him, since it would be best if he tried to get along as well as he could himself, said he. But this the princess would not do. She had a better memory for what the pastor had said when he married them, she told him, and that she was never, never to leave him.

At length the king awoke in his castle, and when he looked out of the window, he saw not a single stone of the other castle in which his son-in-law and his daughter lived. He grew uneasy and sent for his courtiers.

They came in, bowing and scraping.

"Do you see the castle there, on the other side of the forest?" he asked. They stretched their necks and opened their eyes. But they could see nothing.

"What has become of it?" said the king. But this question they were unable to answer.

In a short time the king and his entire court set out, passed through the forest, and when they came to the place where the castle, with its great gardens, should have been standing, they saw nothing but juniper-bushes and scrub-pines. And then they happened to see the little hut amid the brush. He went in and—O the poor king!—what did he see?

There stood his son-in-law, with scarcely a shirt to his name, and his daughter, and she had none too much to wear, and was crying and sniveling at a fearful rate. "For heaven's sake, what is the[25] trouble here?" said the king. But he received no answer; for the duke would rather have died than have told him the whole story.

The king urged and pressed him, first amiably, then in anger; but the duke remained obstinate and would have nothing to say. Then the king fell into a rage, which is not very surprising, for now he realized that this fine duke was not what he purported to be, and he therefore ordered him to be hung, and hung on the spot. It is true that the princess pleaded earnestly for him, but tears and prayers were useless now, for he was a rascal and should die a rascal's death—thus spake the king.

And so it was. The king's people set up a gallows and put a rope around the duke's neck. But as they were leading him to the gallows, the princess got hold of the hangman and gave him a gratuity, for which they were to arrange matters in such wise that the duke need not die. And toward evening they were to cut him down, and he and the princess would disappear. So the bargain was made. In the meantime they strung him up and then the king, together with his court and all the people, went away.

Now the duke was at the end of his rope. Yet he had time enough to reflect about his mistake in not contenting himself with an inch instead of reaching out at once for an ell; and that he had so foolishly given back the scrap of paper to Lasse annoyed him[26] most of all. If I only had it again, I would show every one that adversity has made me wise, he thought to himself. But when the horse is stolen we close the stable door. And that is the way of the world.

And then he dangled his legs, since for the time being there was nothing else for him to do.

It had been a long, hard day for him, and he was not sorry when he saw the sun sinking behind the forest. But just as the sun was setting he suddenly heard a most tremendous Yo ho! and when he looked down there were seven carts of worn-out shoes coming along the road, and a-top the last cart was a little old man in gray, with a night-cap on his head. He had the face of some horrible specter, and was not much better to look at in other respects.

He drove straight up to the gallows, and stopped when he was directly beneath them, looked up at the duke and laughed—the horrible old creature!

"And is this the measure of your stupidity?" he said, "but then what is a fellow of your sort to do with his stupidity, if he does not put it to some use?"—and then he laughed again. "Yes, there you hang, and here I am carting off all the shoes I wore out going about on your silly errands. I wonder, sometimes, whether you can actually read what is written on that scrap of paper, and whether you recognize it," said he, laughing again, indulging[27] in all sorts of horse-play, and waving the scrap of paper under the duke's nose.

But all who are hanging on the gallows are not dead, and this time Lasse was the greater fool of the two.

The duke snatched—and tore the scrap of paper from his hand!

"Lasse, my thrall!"

"What does my master command?"

"Cut me down from the gallows at once, and restore the castle and everything else just as it was before, then when it is dark, bring the princess back to it."

Everything was attended to with alarming rapidity, and soon all was exactly as it had been before Lasse had decamped.

When the king awoke the following morning, he looked out of the window as usual, and there the castle was standing as before, with its weathercocks gleaming handsomely in the sunlight. He sent for his courtiers, and they came in bowing and scraping.

"Do you see the castle over yonder?" asked the king.

They stretched their necks, and gazed and stared. Yes, indeed, they could see the castle.

Then the king sent for the princess; but she was not there. Thereupon the king set off to see whether his son-in-law was hanging in the appointed[28] spot; but no, there was not a sign of either son-in-law or gallows.

Then he had to take off his crown and scratch his head. Yet that did not change matters, and he could not for the life of him understand why things should be as they were. Finally he set out with his entire court, and when they reached the spot where the castle should have been standing, there it stood.

The gardens and the roses were just as they had been, and the duke's servitors were to be seen in swarms beneath the trees. His son-in-law in person, together with his daughter, dressed in the finest clothes, came down the stairs to meet him.

The devil has a hand in it, thought the king; and so strange did all seem to him that he did not trust the evidence of his own eyes.

"God greet you and welcome, father!" said the duke. The king could only stare at him. "Are you, are you my son-in-law?" he asked.

"Why, of course," said the duke, "who else am I supposed to be?"

"Did I not have you strung up yesterday as a thief and a vagabond?" inquired the king.

"I really believe father has gone out of his mind on the way over to us," said the duke and laughed.

"Does father think that I would allow myself to be hanged so easily? Or is there any one present who dare suppose such a thing?" he said, and looked them straight in the eye, so that they knew[29] he was looking at them. They bent their backs and bowed and scraped.

"And who can imagine any such thing? How could it be possible? Or should there be any one present who dare say that the king wishes me ill, let him speak out," said the duke, and gazed at them with even greater keenness than before. All bent their backs and bowed and scraped.

How should any of them come to any such conclusion? No, none of them were foolish to such a degree, they said.

Now the king was really at a loss to know what to think. When he looked at the duke he felt sure that he could never have wished to harm him, and yet—he was not quite sure.

"Was I not here yesterday, and was not the whole castle gone, and had not an old hut taken its place, and did I not enter the hut and see you standing there with scarcely a shirt to your name?" he asked.

"How father talks," said the duke. "I am afraid, very much afraid, that trolls have blinded you, and led you astray in the forest. What do you think?" he said and turned to the courtiers.

They at once bowed and cringed fifty times in succession, and took the duke's side, as stands to reason.

The king rubbed his eyes and looked around.

"It must be as you say," he told the duke, "and I believe that I have recovered my reason, and have[30] found my eyes again. And it would have been a sin and shame had I had you hung," said he. Then he grew joyful and no one gave the matter further thought.

But adversity teaches one to be wise, so people say, and the duke now began to attend to most things himself, and to see to it that Lasse did not have to wear out so many pairs of shoes. The king at once bestowed half the kingdom upon him, which gave him plenty to do, and people said that one would have to look far in order to find a better ruler.

Then Lasse came to the duke one day, and though he did not look much better than before, he was more civil and did not venture to grin and carry on.

"You no longer need my help," said he, "for though formerly I used to wear out all my shoes, I now cannot even wear out a single pair, and I almost believe my legs are moss-grown. Will you not discharge me?"

The duke thought he could. "I have taken great pains to spare you, and I really believe that I can get along without you," he replied. "But the castle here and all the other things I could not well dispense with, since I never again could find an architect like yourself, and you may take for granted that I have no wish to ornament the gallows-tree a second time. Therefore I will not, of my own free will, give you back the scrap of paper," said he.[31]

"While it is in your possession I have nothing to fear," answered Lasse.

"But should the paper fall into other hands, then I should have to begin to run and work all over again and that, just that, is what I would like to prevent. When a fellow has been working a thousand years, as I have, he is bound to grow weary at last."

So they came to the conclusion that the duke should put the scrap of paper in its little box and bury it seven ells underground, beneath a stone that had grown there and would remain there as well. Then they thanked each other for pleasant comradeship and separated. The duke did as he had agreed to do, and no one saw him hide the box. He lived happily with his princess, and was blessed with sons and daughters. When the king died, he inherited the whole kingdom and, as you may imagine, he was none the worse off thereby, and no doubt he is still living and ruling there, unless he has died.

As to the little box containing the scrap of paper, many are still digging and searching for it.


Extremely popular in Sweden, and delightfully told is "Lasse, my thrall." (Djurklau, Sagor och Aefventyr pa Svenska Landsmal. Stockholm, 1883. Set down in the dialect of Nerike). It is the old story of Aladdin and the wonderful lamp, but recounted in quite an original form.




There stands in the university town of Schonen, the town of Lund, the seat of the first archbishopric in all Scandinavia, a stately Romanic minster, with a large, handsome crypt beneath the choir. The opinion is universal that the minster will never be altogether finished, but that something will always be lacking about the structure. The reason is said to be as follows:

When St. Lawrence came to Lund to preach the Gospel, he wanted to build a church; but did not know how he was to obtain the means to do so.

While he was cudgelling his brains about it, a giant came to him and offered to build the church on condition that St. Lawrence tell him his name before the church was completed. But should St. Lawrence be unable to do so, the giant was to receive either the sun, the moon or St. Lawrence's eyes. The saint agreed to his proposal.

The building of the church made rapid progress, and ere long it was nearly finished. St. Lawrence thought ruefully about his prospects, for he did not know the giant's name; yet at the same time he did[33] not relish losing his eyes. And it happened that while he was walking without the town, much concerned about the outcome of the affair, he grew weary, and sat down on a hill to rest. As he sat there he heard a child crying within the hill, and a woman's voice began to sing:

"Sleep, sleep, my baby dear,
To-morrow your father, Finn, will be here;
Then sun and moon you shall have from the skies
To play with, or else St. Lawrence's eyes."

When St. Lawrence heard that he was happy; for now he knew the giant's name. He ran back quickly to town, and went to the church. There sat the giant on the roof, just about to set the last stone in place, when at that very moment the saint called out:

"Finn, Finn,
Take care how you put the stone in!"

Then the giant flung the stone from him, full of rage, said that the church should never be finished, and with that he disappeared. Since then something has always been missing from the church.

Others say that the giant and his wife rushed down into the crypt in their rage, and each seizing a column were about to tear down the church, when they were turned into stone, and may be seen to this day standing beside the columns they had grasped.[34]


"Finn, the Giant, and the Minster of Lund" (retold by Dr. v. Sydow-Lund, after variants in his collection), is the world-famous tale of the giant master-builder, which appears here as a legend, and is connected with various celebrated churches, as for instance the Minster of Drontheim. Its close is an inversion of the motive of guessing a name, which we have already encountered in the Danish fairy-tale "Trillevip."




In the Skalunda mountain, near the church, there once lived a giant in the early days, who no longer felt comfortable after the church had been built there. At length he decided that he could no longer stand the ringing of the church bells; so he emigrated and settled down on an island far out in the North Sea. Once upon a time a ship was wrecked on this island, and among those saved were several people from Skalunda.

"Whence do you hail?" asked the giant, who by now had grown old and blind, and sat warming himself before a log fire.

"We are from Skalunda, if you wish to know," said one of the men saved.

"Give me your hand, so that I may feel whether there is still warm blood to be found in the Swedish land," said the giant.

The man, who feared to shake hands with the giant, drew a red-hot bar of iron from the fire and handed it to him. He seized it firmly, and pressed it so hard that the molten iron ran down between his fingers.[36]

"Yes, there is still warm blood to be found in Sweden," said he. "And tell me," he continued, "is Skalunda mountain still standing?"

"No, the hens have scratched it away," the man answered.

"How could it last?" said the giant. "My wife and daughter piled it up in the course of a single Sunday morning. But surely the Hallenberg and the Hunneberg are still standing, for those I built myself."

When the man had confirmed this, the giant wanted to know whether Karin was still living in Stommen. And when they told him that she was, he gave them a girdle, and with it the message that Karin was to wear it in remembrance of him.

The men took the girdle and gave it to Karin upon their return home; but before Karin put it on, she clasped it around the oak-tree that grew in the court. No sooner had she done so than the oak tore itself out of the ground, and flew to the North, borne away by the storm-wind. In the place where it had stood was a deep pit, and the roots of the tree were so enormous that one of the best springs in Stommen flows from one of the root-holes to this very day.


"The Skalunda Giant" (Hofberg, Svenska Folksagner, Stockholm, 1882, p. 98) has a near relative in the Norwegian mountain giant of Mesingeberg, of whom Asbjörnsen tells.




Once upon a time there lived two peasants on a homestead called Vaderas, just as there are two peasants living on it now. In those days the roads were good, and the women were in the habit of riding when they wanted to go to church.

One Christmas the two women agreed that they would ride to Christmas night mass, and whichever one of them woke up at the right time was to call the other, for in those days there was no such thing as a watch. It was about midnight when one of the women thought she heard a voice from the window, calling: "I am going to set out now." She got up hurriedly and dressed herself, so that she might be able to ride with the other woman; but since there was no time to eat, she took a piece of bread from the table along with her. In those times it was customary to bake the bread in the shape of a cross. It was a piece of this kind that the woman took and put in her pocket, in order to eat it underway. She rode as fast as she could, to catch up with her friend, but could not overtake her. The way led over a little stream which flows into Vidostern Lake, and[38] across the stream was a bridge, known as the Earth Bridge, and on the bridge stood two witch trolls, busy washing. As the woman came riding across the bridge, one of the witch trolls called out to the other, "Hurry, and tear her head from her shoulders!"

"That I cannot do" returned the other, "because she has a bit of bread in the form of a cross in her pocket."

The woman, who had been unable to catch up with her neighbor, reached the church at Hanger alone.

The church was full of lights, as was always the case when the Christmas mass was said. As quickly as ever she could the woman tied up her horse, and hurriedly entered the church. It seemed to her that the church was crowded with people; but all of them were headless, and at the altar stood the priest, in full canonicals but without a head. In her haste she did not at once see how things were; but sat down in her accustomed place. As she sat down it seemed to her that some one said: "If I had not stood godfather to you when you were christened, I would do away with you as you sit there, and now hurry and make yourself scarce, or it will be the worse for you!" Then she realized that things were not as they should be, and ran out hastily.

When she came into the church-yard, it seemed to her as though she were surrounded by a great[39] crowd of people. In those days people wore broad mantles of unbleached wool, woven at home, and white in color. She was wearing one of these mantles and the specters seized it. But she flung it away from her and managed to escape from the church-yard, and run to the poor-house and wake the people there. It is said it was then one o'clock at night.

So she sat and waited for the early mass at four o'clock in the morning. And when day finally dawned, they found a little piece of her mantle on every grave in the church-yard.

A similar experience befell a man and his wife who lived in a hut known as Ingas, below Mosled.

They were no more than an hour ahead of time; but when they reached the church at Hanger, they thought the service had already begun, and wanted to enter at once; but the church was barred and bolted, and the phantom service of the dead was nearing its end. And when the actual mass began, there was found lying at every place some of the earth from the graves of those who shortly before had been worshiping. The man and his wife thereupon fell grievously ill, because they had disturbed the dead.


"Yuletide Spectres." The tale of the weird service of the dead on Christmas night is common throughout Scandinavia. (From an mss. communicated by Dr. v. Sydow-Lund).




Once upon a time there was a king, who had a queen whom he loved with a great love. But after a time the queen died, and all he had left was an only daughter. And now that the king was a widower, his whole heart went out to the little princess, whom he cherished as the apple of his eye. And the king's young daughter grew up into the most lovely maiden ever known.

When the princess had seen the snows of fifteen winters, it happened that a great war broke out, and that her father had to march against the foe.

But there was no one to whom the king could entrust his daughter while he was away at war; so he had a great tower built out in the forest, provided it with a plenteous store of supplies, and in it shut up his daughter and a maid. And he had it proclaimed that every man, no matter who he might be, was forbidden to approach the tower in which he had placed his daughter and the maid, under pain of death.

Now the king thought he had taken every precaution to protect his daughter, and went off to[41] war. In the meantime the princess and her maid sat in the tower. But in the city there were a number of brave young sons of kings, as well as other young men, who would have liked to have talked to the beautiful maiden. And when they found that this was forbidden them, they conceived a great hatred for the king. At length they took counsel with an old woman who was wiser than most folk, and told her to arrange matters in such wise that the king's daughter and her maid might come into disrepute, without their having anything to do with it. The old hag promised to help them, enchanted some apples, laid them in a basket, and went to the lonely tower in which the maidens lived.

When the king's daughter and her maid saw the old woman, who was sitting beneath the window, they felt a great longing to try the beautiful apples.

So they called out and asked how much she wanted for her precious apples; but the old woman said they were not for sale. Yet as the girls kept on pleading with her, the old woman said she would make each of them a present of an apple; they only need let down a little basket from the tower. The princess and her maid, in all innocence, did as the troll-woman told them, and each received an apple. But the enchanted fruit had a strange effect, for in due course of time heaven sent them each a child. The king's daughter called her son Silverwhite, and the[42] son of her maid received the name of Lillwacker.

The two boys grew up larger and stronger than other children, and were very handsome as well. They looked as much alike as one cherry-pit does to another, and one could easily see that they were related.

Seven years had passed, and the king was expected home from the war. Then both girls were terrified, and they took counsel together as to how they might hide their children. When at length they could find no other way out of the difficulty, they very sorrowfully bade their children farewell, and let them down from the tower at night, to seek their fortune in the wide, wide world. At parting the king's daughter gave Silverwhite a costly knife; but the maid had nothing to give her son.

The two foster-brethren now wandered out into the world. After they had gone a while, they came to a dark forest. And in this forest they met a man, strange-looking and very tall. He wore two swords at his side, and was accompanied by six great dogs. He gave them a friendly greeting:

"Good-day, little fellows, whence do you come and whither do you go?" The boys told him they came from a high tower, and were going out into the world to seek their fortune. The man replied:

"If such be the case, I know more about your origin than any one else. And that you may have something by which to remember your father, I will[43] give each of you a sword and three dogs. But you must promise me one thing, that you will never part from your dogs; but take them with you wherever you go." The boys thanked the man for his kind gifts, and promised to do as he had told them. Then they bade him farewell and went their way.

When they had traveled for some time they reached a cross-road. Then Silverwhite said:

"It seems to me that it would be the best for us to try our luck singly, so let us part." Lillwacker answered: "Your advice is good; but how am I to know whether or not you are doing well out in the world?"

"I will give you a token by which you may tell," said Silverwhite, "so long as the water runs clear in this spring you will know that I am alive; but if it turns red and roiled, it will mean that I am dead." Silverwhite then drew runes in the water of the spring, said farewell to his brother, and each of them went on alone. Lillwacker soon came to a king's court, and took service there; but every morning he would go to the spring to see how his brother fared.

Silverwhite continued to wander over hill and dale, until he reached a great city. But the whole city was in mourning, the houses were hung in black, and all the inhabitants went about full of grief and care, as though some great misfortune had occurred.

Silverwhite went though the city and inquired[44] as to the cause of all the unhappiness he saw. They answered: "You must have come from far away, since you do not know that the king and queen were in danger of being drowned at sea, and he had to promise to give up their three daughters in order to escape. To-morrow morning the sea-troll is coming to carry off the oldest princess." This news pleased Silverwhite; for he saw a fine opportunity to wealth and fame, should fortune favor him.

The next morning Silverwhite hung his sword at his side, called his dogs to him, and wandered down to the sea-shore alone. And as he sat on the strand he saw the king's daughter led out of the city, and with her went a courtier, who had promised to rescue her. But the princess was very sad and cried bitterly. Then Silverwhite stepped up to her with a polite greeting. When the king's daughter and her escort saw the fearless youth, they were much frightened, because they thought he was the sea-troll. The courtier was so alarmed that he ran away and took refuge in a tree. When Silverwhite saw how frightened the princess was, he said: "Lovely maiden, do not fear me, for I will do you no harm." The king's daughter answered:

"Are you the troll who is coming to carry me away?" "No," said Silverwhite, "I have come to rescue you." Then the princess was glad to think that such a brave hero was going to defend [45]her, and they had a long, friendly talk. At the same time Silverwhite begged the king's daughter to comb his hair. She complied with his request, and Silverwhite laid his head in her lap; but when he did so the princess drew a golden ring from her finger and, unbeknown to him, wound it into his locks.



Suddenly the sea-troll rose from the deeps, setting the waves whirling and foaming far and near. When the troll saw Silverwhite, he grew angry and said: "Why do you sit there beside my princess?" The youth replied: "It seems to me that she is my princess, not yours." The sea-troll answered: "Time enough to see which of us is right; but first our dogs shall fight." Silverwhite was nothing loath, and set his dogs at the dogs of the troll, and there was a fierce struggle. But at last the youth's dogs got the upper hand and bit the dogs of the sea-troll to death. Then Silverwhite drew his sword with a great sweep, rushed upon the sea-troll, and gave him such a tremendous blow that the monster's head rolled on the sand. The troll gave a fearsome cry, and flung himself back into the sea, so that the water spurted to the very skies. Thereupon the youth drew out his silver-mounted knife, cut out the troll's eyes and put them in his pocket. Then he saluted the lovely princess and went away.

Now when the battle was over and the youth had[46] disappeared, the courtier crawled down from his tree, and threatened to kill the princess if she did not say before all the people that he, and none other, had rescued her. The king's daughter did not dare refuse, since she feared for her life. So she returned to her father's castle with the courtier, where they were received with great distinction.

And joy reigned throughout the land when the news spread that the oldest princess had been rescued from the troll.

On the following day everything repeated itself. Silverwhite went down to the strand and met the second princess, just as she was to be delivered to the troll.

And when the king's daughter and her escort saw him, they were very much frightened, thinking he was the sea-troll. And the courtier climbed a tree, just as he had before; but the princess granted the youth's petition, combed his hair as her sister had done, and also wound her gold ring into his long curls.

After a time there was a great tumult out at sea, and a sea-troll rose from the waves. He had three heads and three dogs. But Silverwhite's dogs overcame those of the troll, and the youth killed the troll himself with his sword. Thereupon he took out his silver-mounted knife, cut out the troll's eyes, and went his way. But the courtier lost no time. He climbed down from his tree and[47] forced the princess to promise to say that he, and none other, had rescued her. Then they returned to the castle, where the courtier was acclaimed as the greatest of heroes.

On the third day Silverwhite hung his sword at his side, called his three dogs to him, and again wandered down to the sea-shore. As he was sitting by the strand, he saw the youngest princess led out of the city, and with her the daring courtier who claimed to have rescued her sisters. But the princess was very sad and cried bitterly. Then Silverwhite stepped up and greeted the lovely maiden politely. Now when the king's daughter and her escort saw the handsome youth, they were very much frightened, for they believed him to be the sea-troll, and the courtier ran away and hid in a high tree that grew near the strand. When Silverwhite noticed the maiden's terror, he said:

"Lovely maiden, do not fear me, for I will do you no harm." The king's daughter answered: "Are you the troll who is coming to carry me away?" "No," said Silverwhite, "I have come to rescue you." Then the princess was very glad to have such a brave hero fight for her, and they had a long, friendly talk with each other. At the same time Silverwhite begged the lovely maiden to do him a favor and comb his hair. This the king's daughter was most willing to do, and Silverwhite laid his head in her lap. But when the princess saw[48] the gold rings her sisters had wound in his locks, she was much surprised, and added her own to the others.

Suddenly the sea-troll came shooting up out of the deep with a terrific noise, so that waves and foam spurted to the very skies. This time the monster had six heads and nine dogs. When the troll saw Silverwhite sitting with the king's daughter, he fell into a rage and cried: "What are you doing with my princess?" The youth answered: "It seems to me that she is my princess rather than yours." Thereupon the troll said: "Time enough to see which of us is right; but first our dogs shall fight each other." Silverwhite did not delay, but set his dogs at the sea-dogs, and they had a battle royal. But in the end the youth's dogs got the upper hand and bit all nine of the sea-dogs to death. Finally Silverwhite drew out his bare sword, flung himself upon the sea-troll, and stretched all six of his heads on the sand with a single blow. The monster uttered a terrible cry, and rushed back into the sea so that the water spurted to the heavens. Then the youth drew his silver-mounted knife, cut out all twelve of the troll's eyes, saluted the king's young daughter, and hastily went away.

Now that the battle was over, and the youth had disappeared, the courtier climbed down from his tree, drew his sword and threatened to kill the princess unless she promised to say that he had[49] rescued her from the troll, as he had her sisters.

The king's daughter did not dare refuse, since she feared for her life. So they went back to the castle together, and when the king saw that they had returned in safety, without so much as a scratch, he and the whole court were full of joy, and they were accorded great honors. And at court the courtier was quite another fellow from the one who had hid away in the tree. The king had a splendid banquet prepared, with amusements and games, and the sound of string music and dancing, and bestowed the hand of his youngest daughter on the courtier in reward for his bravey.

In the midst of the wedding festivities, when the king and his whole court were seated at table, the door opened, and in came Silverwhite with his dogs.

The youth stepped boldly into the hall of state and greeted the king. And when the three princesses saw who it was, they were full of joy, leaped up from their places, and ran over to him, much to the king's surprise, who asked what it all meant. Then the youngest princess told him all that had happened, from beginning to end, and that Silverwhite had rescued them, while the courtier sat in a tree. To prove it beyond any chance of doubt, each of the king's daughters showed her father the ring she had wound in Silverwhite's locks. But the king still did not know quite what to think of it all, until Silverwhite said: "My lord king! In order that[50] you need not doubt what your daughters have told you, I will show you the eyes of the sea-trolls whom I slew." Then the king and all the rest saw that the princesses had told the truth. The traitorous courtier received his just punishment; but Silverwhite was paid every honor, and was given the youngest daughter and half of the kingdom with her.

After the wedding Silverwhite established himself with his young bride in a large castle belonging to the king, and there they lived quietly and happily.

One night, when all were sleeping, it chanced that he heard a knocking at the window, and a voice which said: "Come, Silverwhite, I have to talk to you!" The king, who did not want to wake his young wife, rose hastily, girded on his sword, called his dogs and went out. When he reached the open air, there stood a huge and savage-looking troll. The troll said: "Silverwhite, you have slain my three brothers, and I have come to bid you go down to the sea-shore with me, that we may fight with one another." This proposal suited the youth, and he followed the troll without protest. When they reached the sea-shore, there lay three great dogs belonging to the troll. Silverwhite at once set his dogs at the troll-dogs, and after a hard struggle the latter had to give in. The young king drew his sword, bravely attacked the troll and dealt him many a mighty blow. It was a tremendous[51] battle. But when the troll noticed he was getting the worst of it, he grew frightened, quickly ran to a high tree, and clambered into it. Silverwhite and the dogs ran after him, the dogs barking as loudly as they could. Then the troll begged for his life and said: "Dear Silverwhite, I will take wergild for my brothers, only bid your dogs be still, so that we may talk." The king bade his dogs be still, but in vain, they only barked the more loudly. Then the troll tore three hairs from his head, handed them to Silverwhite and said: "Lay a hair on each of the dogs, and then they will be as quiet as can be." The king did so and at once the dogs fell silent, and lay motionless as though they had grown fast to the ground. Now Silverwhite realized that he had been deceived; but it was too late. The troll was already descending from the tree, and he drew his sword and again began to fight. But they had exchanged no more than a few blows, before Silverwhite received a mortal wound, and lay on the earth in a pool of blood.

But now we must tell about Lillwacker. The next morning he went to the spring by the cross-road and found it red with blood. Then he knew that Silverwhite was dead. He called his dogs, hung his sword at his side, and went on until he came to a great city. And the city was in festal array, the streets were crowded with people, and the houses were hung with scarlet cloths and[52] splendid rugs. Lillwacker asked why everybody was so happy, and they said: "You must hail from distant parts, since you do not know that a famous hero has come here by the name of Silverwhite, who has rescued our three princesses, and is now the king's son-in-law." Lillwacker then inquired how it had all come about, and then went his way, reaching the royal castle in which Silverwhite dwelt with his beautiful queen in the evening.

When Lillwacker entered the castle gate, all greeted him as though he had been the king. For he resembled his foster-brother so closely that none could tell one from the other. When the youth came to the queen's room, she also took him for Silverwhite. She went up to him and said: "My lord king, where have you been so long? I have been awaiting you with great anxiety." Lillwacker said little, and was very taciturn. Then he lay down on a couch in a corner of the queen's room.

The young woman did not know what to think of his actions; for her husband did not act queerly at other times. But she thought: "One should not try to discover the secrets of others," and said nothing.

In the night, when all were sleeping, there was a knocking at the window, and a voice cried: "Come, Lillwacker, I have to talk to you!" The youth rose hastily, took his good sword, called his dogs[53] and went. When he reached the open air, there stood the same troll who had slain Silverwhite. He said: "Come with me, Lillwacker, and then you shall see your foster-brother!" To this Lillwacker at once agreed, and the troll led the way. When they came to the sea-shore, there lay the three great dogs whom the troll had brought with him. Somewhat further away, where they had fought, lay Silverwhite in a pool of blood, and beside him his dogs were stretched out on the ground as though they had taken root in it. Then Lillwacker saw how everything had happened, and thought that he would gladly venture his life, if he might in some way call his brother back from the dead. He at once set his dogs at the troll-dogs, and they had a hard struggle, in which Lillwacker's dogs won the victory. Then the youth drew his sword, and attacked the troll with mighty blows. But when the troll saw that he was getting the worst of it, he took refuge in a lofty tree. Lillwacker and his dogs ran after him and the dogs barked loudly.

Then the troll humbly begged for his life, and said: "Dear Lillwacker, I will give you wergild for your brother, only bid your dogs be still, so that we may talk." At the same time the troll handed him three hairs from his head and added: "Lay one of these hairs on each of your dogs, and then they will soon be quiet." But Lillwacker saw through his cunning scheme, took the three hairs[54] and laid them on the troll-dogs, which at once fell on the ground and lay like dead.

When the troll saw that his attempt had failed, he was much alarmed and said: "Dearest Lillwacker, I will give you wergild for your brother, if you will only leave me alone." But the youth answered:

"What is there you can give me that will compensate for my brother's life?" The troll replied: "Here are two flasks. In one is a liquid which, if you anoint a dead man with it, it will restore him to life; but as to the liquid in the other flask, if you moisten anything with it, and some one touches the place you have moistened, he will be unable to move from the spot. I think it would be hard to find anything more precious than the liquid in these flasks." Lillwacker said: "Your proposal suits me, and I will accept it. But there is something else you must promise to do: that you will release my brother's dogs." The troll agreed, climbed down from the tree, breathed on the dogs and thus freed them. Then Lillwacker took the two flasks and went away from the sea-shore with the troll. After they had gone a while they came to a great flat stone, lying near the highway. Lillwacker hastened on in advance and moistened it with liquid from the second flask. Then, as he was going by, Lillwacker suddenly set all six of his dogs at the troll, who stepped back and touched the stone. There he stuck, and could move neither forward nor backward. After[55] a time the sun rose and shone on the stone. And when the troll saw the sun he burst—and was as dead as a doornail!

Lillwacker now ran back to his brother and sprinkled him with the liquid in the other flask, so that he came to life again, and they were both very happy, as may well be imagined. The two foster-brothers then returned to the castle, recounting the story of their experiences and adventures on the way. Lillwacker told how he had been taken for his brother. He even mentioned that he had lain down on a couch in a corner of the queen's room, and that she had never suspected that he was not her rightful husband. But when Silverwhite heard that, he thought that Lillwacker had offended against the queen's dignity, and he grew angry and fell into such a rage that he drew his sword, and thrust it into his brother's breast. Lillwacker fell to earth dead, and Silverwhite went home to the castle alone. But Lillwacker's dogs would not leave their master, and lay around him, whining and licking his wound.

In the evening, when the young king and his wife retired, the queen asked him why he had been so taciturn and serious the evening before. Then the queen said: "I am very curious to know what has befallen you during the last few days, but what I would like to know most of all, is why you lay down on a couch in a corner of my room the other night?"[56] Now it was clear to Silverwhite that the brother he had slain was innocent of all offense, and he felt bitter regret at having repaid his faithfulness so badly. So King Silverwhite at once rose and went to the place where his brother was lying. He poured the water of life from his flask and anointed his brother's wound, and in a moment Lillwacker was alive again, and the two brother's went joyfully back to the castle.

When they got there, Silverwhite told his queen how Lillwacker had rescued him from death, and all the rest of their adventures, and all were happy at the royal court, and they paid the youth the greatest honors and compliments. After he had stayed there a time he sued for the hand of the second princess and obtained it. Thereupon the wedding was celebrated with great pomp, and Silverwhite divided his half of the kingdom with his foster-brother. The two brothers continued to live together in peace and unity, and if they have not died, they are living still.


From a venerable Indo-Germanic source comes the widely circulated story of "Silverwhite and Lillwacker," the faithful brothers (Hyltén-Cavallius and Stephens, Svenska Folkasagor och Aefventyr, Stockholm, 1848, p. 58. From Vermland).




Not far from Baalsberg, near Filkestad in the Willandsharad, there is a hill in which a giant named Stompe Pilt once used to live.

It happened one day that a goat-herd was driving his flock up the hill in which Stompe Pilt dwelt.

"Who is there?" cried the giant, and rushed out of his hill with a hunk of flint-rock in his fist.

"I am, if that's what you want to know!" shouted the shepherd-lad and continued driving his goats up the hill.

"If you come here, I will squash you as I squash this stone!" cried the giant and he crushed it into fine sand between his fingers.

"And I will squash you till the water runs out, just as I squash this stone!" answered the shepherd-lad, drawing a fresh cheese from his pocket, and pressing it hard, so that the water ran from his fingers.

"Are you not frightened?" asked the giant.

"Of you? Certainly not!" was the youth's reply.

"Then we will fight with one another!" proposed the giant.[58]

"As you choose," replied the shepherd, "but first we must abuse each other so that we can get into a proper rage, because as we abuse each other we will grow angry, and when we are angry we will fight!"

"But I shall begin by abusing you," said the giant.

"As you choose," said the youth, "but then it will be my turn."

"May a troll with a crooked nose take you!" yelled the giant.

"May a flying devil carry you off!" answered the shepherd and he shot a sharp arrow against the giant's body with his bow.

"What was that?" asked the giant, and tried to pull the arrow out of his body.

"That was a word of abuse," said the shepherd.

"How does it come to have feathers?" asked the giant.

"The better to fly with," answered the shepherd.

"Why does it stick so tight?" the giant continued.

"Because it has taken root in your body," was the shepherd's answer.

"Have you any other abusive words of the same sort?" asked the giant. "Here is another one," replied the youth, and shot another arrow into the giant.

"Ouch, ouch!" cried Stompe Pilt, "are you still not angry enough for us to come to blows?"[59]

"No, I have not abused you enough as yet," said the shepherd and aimed another arrow.

"Lead your goats wherever you choose! If I cannot stand your abusive words, I surely will not be able to bear up against your blows," cried Stompe Pilt, and jumped back into his hill.

And that is how the shepherd gained the victory, because he was brave and did not let the stupid giant frighten him.


An entertaining parody of the serious tale of David and Goliath is the story of the little shepherd boy's fight with the giant Stompe Pilt. (Hofberg, p. 10).




Once upon a time there was a girl who was to go to the wood and drive the cattle home; but she did not find the herd, and losing her way instead, came to a great hill. It had gates and doors and she went in. There stood a table covered with all sorts of good things to eat. And there stood a bed as well, and in the bed lay a great snake. The snake said to the girl: "Sit down, if you choose! Eat, if you choose! Come and lie down in the bed, if you choose! But if you do not choose, then do not do so." So the girl did nothing at all. At last the snake said: "Some people are coming now who want you to dance with them. But do not go along with them." Straightway people arrived who wanted to dance with the girl; but she would hear nothing of it. Then they began to eat and drink; but the girl left the hill and went home. The following day she again went to the wood to look for the cattle, did not find them, lost her way again, and came to the same hill. This time she also entered, and found everything as it had been the first time, the well-spread table and the bed with the snake in it.[61] And the snake said to her, as before: "Sit down, if you choose! Eat, if you choose! Come, and lie down in the bed if you choose! But if you do not choose, then do not do so! Now a great many more people are coming who will want to dance with you, but do not go with them." The snake had scarcely concluded before a great many people arrived, who began to dance, eat and drink; but the girl did not keep them company, instead she left the hill and went home.

On the third day when she once more went to the wood, everything happened exactly as on the first and second day. The snake invited her to eat and drink, and this time she did so, with a hearty appetite. Then the snake told her to lie down beside him and the girl obeyed. Then the snake said: "Put your arm about me!" She did so. "And now kiss me," said the snake, "but if you are afraid, put your apron between us." The girl did so, and in a moment the snake was turned into a marvellously handsome youth, who was really a prince, bewitched in the form of a snake by magic spells, and now delivered by the girl's courage. Then both of them went away and there was nothing further heard of them.


"The Girl and the Snake" (From Södermanland. From the mss. collection of the metallurgist Gustav Erikson, communicated to Dr. v. Sydow-Lund) shows distinctive Scandinavian features; though it falls short of the richness and depth of the celebrated Danish fairy-tale "King Dragon," whose germ idea is the same.




Once upon a time there was a couple of humble cottagers who had no children until, at last, the man's wife was blessed with a boy, which made both of them very happy. They named him Faithful and when he was christened a huldra came to the hut, seated herself beside the child's cradle, and foretold that he would meet with good fortune. "What is more," she said, "when he is fifteen years of age, I will make him a present of a horse with many rare qualities, a horse that has the gift of speech!" And with that the huldra turned and went away.

The boy grew up and became strong and powerful. And when he had passed his fifteenth year, a strange old man came up to their hut one day, knocked, and said that the horse he was leading had been sent by his queen, and that henceforward it was to belong to Faithful, as she had promised. Then the ancient man departed; but the beautiful horse was admired by all, and Faithful learned to love it more with every passing day.[63]

At length he grew weary of home. "I must away and try my fortune in the world," said he, and his parents did not like to object; for there was not much to wish for at home. So he led his dear horse from the stable, swung himself into the saddle, and rode hurriedly into the wood. He rode on and on, and had already covered a good bit of ground, when he saw two lions engaged in a struggle with a tiger, and they were well-nigh overcome. "Make haste to take your bow," said the horse, "shoot the tiger and deliver the two lions!" "Yes, that's what I will do," said the youth, fitted an arrow to the bow-string, and in a moment the tiger lay prone on the ground. The two lions drew nearer, nuzzled their preserver in a friendly and grateful manner, and then hastened back to their cave.

Faithful now rode along for a long time among the great trees until he suddenly spied two terrified white doves fleeing from a hawk who was on the point of catching them. "Make haste to take your bow," said the horse, "shoot the hawk and save the two doves!" "Yes, that's what I'll do," said the youth. He fitted an arrow to the bow-string, and in a moment the hawk lay prone on the ground. But the two doves flew nearer, fluttered about their deliverer in a tame and grateful manner, and then hurried back to their nest.

The youth pressed on through the wood and by[64] now was far, far from home. But his horse did not tire easily, and ran on with him until they came to a great lake. There he saw a gull rise up from the water, holding a pike in its claws. "Make haste to take your bow," said the horse, "shoot the gull and save the pike!" "Yes, that's what I'll do," answered the youth, fitted an arrow to his bow-string, and in a moment the gull was threshing the ground with its wings, mortally wounded. But the pike who had been saved swam nearer, gave his deliverer a friendly, grateful glance, and then dove down to join his fellows beneath the waves.

Faithful rode on again, and before evening came to a great castle. He at once had himself announced to the king, and begged that the latter would take him into his service. "What kind of a place do you want?" asked the king, who was inclined to look with favor on the bold horseman.

"I should like to be a groom," was Faithful's answer, "but first of all I must have stable-room and fodder for my horse." "That you shall have," said the king, and the youth was taken on as a groom, and served so long and so well, that every one in the castle liked him, and the king in particular praised him highly.

But among the other servitors was one named Unfaithful who was jealous of Faithful, and did what he could to harm him; for he thought to himself:[65]

"Then I would be rid of him, and need not see him continue to rise in my lord's favor." Now it happened that the king was very sad, for he had lost his queen, whom a troll had stolen from the castle. It is true that the queen had not taken pleasure in the king's society, and that she did not love him. Still the king longed for her greatly, and often spoke of it to Unfaithful his servant. So one day Unfaithful said: "My lord need distress himself no longer, for Faithful has been boasting to me that he could rescue your beautiful queen from the hands of the troll." "If he has done so," replied the king, "then he must keep his word."

He straightway ordered Faithful to be brought before him, and threatened him with death if he did not at once hurry into the hill and bring back the wife of whom he had been robbed. If he were successful great honor should be his reward. In vain Faithful denied what Unfaithful had said of him, the king stuck to his demand, and the youth withdrew, convinced that he had not long to live. Then he went to the stable to bid farewell to his beautiful horse, and stood beside him and wept. "What grieves you so?" asked the horse. Then the youth told him of all that had happened, and said that this was probably the last time he would be able to visit him. "If it be no more than that," said the horse, "there is a way to help you. Up in[66] the garret of the castle there is an old fiddle, take it with you and play it when you come to the place where the queen is kept. And fashion for yourself armor of steel wire, and set knives into it everywhere, and then, when you see the troll open his jaws, descend into his maw, and thus slay him. But you must have no fear, and must trust me to show you the way." These words filled the youth with fresh courage, he went to the king and received permission to leave, secretly fashioned his steel armor, took the old fiddle from the garret of the castle, led his dear horse out of the stable, and without delay set forth for the troll's hill.

Before long he saw it, and rode directly to the troll's abode. When he came near, he saw the troll, who had crept out of his castle, lying stretched out at the entrance to his cave, fast asleep, and snoring so powerfully that the whole hill shook. But his mouth was wide open, and his maw was so tremendous that it was easy for the youth to crawl into it. He did so, for he was not afraid, and made his way into the troll's inwards where he was so active that the troll was soon killed. Then Faithful crept out again, laid aside his armor, and entered the troll's castle. Within the great golden hall sat the captive queen, fettered with seven strong chains of gold. Faithful could not break the strong chains; but he took up his fiddle and played such tender music on[67] it, that the golden chains were moved, and one after another, fell from the queen, until she was able to rise and was free once more. She looked at the courageous youth with joy and gratitude, and felt very kindly toward him, because he was so handsome and courteous. And the queen was perfectly willing to return with him to the king's castle.

The return of the queen gave rise to great joy, and Faithful received the promised reward from the king. But now the queen treated her husband with even less consideration than before. She would not exchange a word with him, she did not laugh, and locked herself up in her room with her gloomy thoughts. This greatly vexed the king, and one day he asked the queen why she was so sad: "Well," said she, "I cannot be happy unless I have the beautiful golden hall which I had in the hill at the troll's; for a hall like that is to be found nowhere else."

"It will be no easy matter to obtain it for you," said the king, "and I cannot promise you that anyone will be able to do it." But when he complained of his difficulty to his servant Unfaithful, the latter answered: "The chances of success are not so bad, for Faithful said he could easily bring the troll's golden hall to the castle." Faithful was at once sent for, and the king commanded him, as he loved[68] his life, to make good his word and bring the golden hall from the troll's hill. It was in vain that Faithful denied Unfaithful's assertions: go he must, and bring back the golden hall.

Inconsolable, he went to his beautiful horse, wept and wanted to say farewell to him forever. "What troubles you?" asked the horse. And the youth replied: "Unfaithful has again been telling lies about me, and if I do not bring the troll's golden hall to the queen, my life will be forfeited." "Is it nothing more serious than that?" said the horse. "See that you obtain a great ship, take your fiddle with you and play the golden hall out of the hill, then hitch the troll's horses before it, and you will be able to bring the glistening hall here without trouble."

Then Faithful felt somewhat better, did as the horse had told him, and was successful in reaching the great hill. And as he stood there playing the fiddle, the golden hall heard him, and was drawn to the sounding music, and it moved slowly, slowly, until it stood outside the hill. It was built of virgin gold, like a house by itself, and under it were many wheels. Then the youth took the troll's horses, put them to the golden hall, and thus brought it aboard his ship. Soon he had crossed the lake, and brought it along safely so that it reached the castle without damage, to the great joy of the queen. Yet despite[69] the fact, she was as weary of everything as she had been before, never spoke to her husband, the king, and no one ever saw her laugh.

Now the king grew even more vexed than he had been, and again asked her why she seemed so sad. "Ah, how can I be happy unless I have the two colts that used to belong to me, when I stayed at the troll's! Such handsome steeds are to be seen nowhere else!" "It will be anything but easy to obtain for you what you want," declared the king, "for they were untamed, and long ago must have run far away into the wild-wood." Then he left her, sadly, and did not know what to do. But Unfaithful said: "Let my lord give himself no concern, for Faithful has declared he could easily secure both of the troll's colts." Faithful was at once sent for, and the king threatened him with death, if he did not show his powers in the matter of the colts. But should he succeed in catching them, then he would be rewarded.

Now Faithful knew quite well that he could not hope to catch the troll's wild colts, and he once more turned to the stable in order to bid farewell to the huldra's gift. "Why do you weep over such a trifle?" said the horse. "Hurry to the wood, play your fiddle, and all will be well!" Faithful did as he was told, and after a while the two lions whom he had rescued came leaping toward him, listened to[70] his playing and asked him whether he was in distress. "Yes, indeed," said Faithful, and told them what he had to do. They at once ran back into the wood, one to one side and the other to the other, and returned quickly, driving the two colts before them. Then Faithful played his fiddle and the colts followed him, so that he soon reached the king's castle in safety, and could deliver the steeds to the queen.

The king now expected that his wife would be gay and happy. But she did not change, never addressed a word to him, and only seemed a little less sad when she happened to speak to the daring youth.

Then the king asked her to tell him what she lacked, and why she was so discontented. She answered: "I have secured the colts of the troll, and I often sit in the glittering hall of gold; but I can open none of the handsome chests that are filled to the brim with my valuables, because I have no keys. And if I do not get the keys again, how can I be happy?" "And where may the keys be?" asked the king. "In the lake by the troll's hill," said the queen, "for that is where I threw them when Faithful brought me here." "This is a ticklish affair, this business of those keys you want!" said the king. "And I can scarcely promise that you will ever see them again." In spite of this, however, he was willing to make an attempt, and talked it over with [71]his servant Unfaithful. "Why, that is easily done," said the latter, "for Faithful boasted to me that he could get the queen's keys without any difficulty if he wished." "Then I shall compel him to keep his word," said the king. And he at once ordered Faithful, on pain of death, to get the queen's keys out of the lake by the troll's hill without delay.

"The pike rose to the surface with the golden keys
in his mouth."

"The pike rose to the surface with the golden keys in his mouth." —Page 71

This time the youth was not so depressed, for he thought to himself: "My wise horse will be able to help me." And so he was, for he advised him to go along playing his fiddle, and to wait for what might happen. After the youth had played for a while, the pike he had saved thrust his head out of the water, recognized him, and asked whether he could be of any service to him. "Yes, indeed!" said the youth, and told him what it was he wanted. The pike at once dived, quickly rose to the surface of the water with the golden keys in his mouth, and gave them to his deliverer. The latter hastened back with them, and now the queen could open the great chests in the golden hall to her heart's content.

Notwithstanding, the king's wife was as sorrowful as ever, and when the king complained about it to Unfaithful, the latter said: "No doubt it is because she loves Faithful. I would therefore advise that my lord have him beheaded. Then there will be a change." This advice suited the king well, and he determined to carry it out shortly. But one day[72] Faithful's horse said to him: "The king is going to have your head chopped off. So hurry to the wood, play your fiddle, and beg the two doves to bring you a bottle of the water of life. Then go to the queen and ask her to set your head on your body and to sprinkle you with the water when you have been beheaded." Faithful did so. He went to the wood that very day with his fiddle, and before long the two doves were fluttering around him, and shortly after brought back the bottle filled with the water of life. He took it back home with him and gave it to the queen, so that she might sprinkle him with it after he had been beheaded. She did so, and at once Faithful rose again, as full of life as ever; but far better looking. The king was astonished at what he had seen, and told the queen to cut off his own head and then sprinkle him with the water. She at once seized the sword, and in a moment the king's head rolled to the ground. But she sprinkled none of the water of life upon it, and the king's body was quickly carried out and buried. Then the queen and Faithful celebrated their wedding with great pomp; but Unfaithful was banished from the land and went away in disgrace. The wise horse dwelt contentedly in a wonderful chamber, and the king and queen kept the magic fiddle, the golden hall, and the troll's other valuables, and lived in peace and happiness day after day.[73]


"Faithful and Unfaithful" (From the Hyìtén-Cavallius mss. collection), is a distant offshoot, and one complicated with other motives, of a cycle in which even the Tristan legend is represented, the fairy-tale of the golden-haired maiden and the water of life and death. (Reinhold Köhler, Kleinere Schriften, II, p. 328).




Starkad, the hero of the legends, the bravest warrior in the army of the North, had fallen into disgrace with the king because of a certain princess, so he wandered up into Norland, and settled down at Rude in Tuna, where he was known as the Thrall of the Alders or the Red Fellow.

In Balbo, nine miles from Rude, dwelt another hero, Bale, a good friend and companion-at-arms of Starkad.

One morning Starkad climbed the Klefberg in Tuna, and called over to Bale: "Bale in Balbo, are you awake?"

"Red Fellow!" answered Bale, nine miles away, "the sun and I wake together! But how goes it with you?"

"None too well. I eat salmon morning, noon and night. Come over with a bit of meat!"

"I'll come!" Bale called back, and in a few hours time he was down in Tuna with an elk under each arm.

The following morning Bale in Balbo stood on a[75] hill in Borgsjo and called: "Red Fellow! Are you awake?"

"The sun and I wake together!" answered Starkad. "And how goes it with you?"

"Alas, I have nothing to eat but meat! Elk in the morning, elk at noon and elk at night. Come over and bring a fish-tail along with you!"

"I'm coming!" called out Starkad, and in a short time he had joined his friend with a barrel of salmon under each arm.

In this fashion the two friends provided themselves with all the game to be found in the woods and in the water, and spread terror and destruction throughout the countryside. But one evening, when they were just returning to the sea from an excursion, a black cloud came up, and a tempest broke. They hurried along as fast as they could; but got no further than Vattjom, where a flash of lightning struck Starkad and flung him to the ground. His friend and companion-at-arms buried him beneath a stone cairn, about which he set five rocks: two at his feet, two at his shoulders, and one at his head; and that grave, measuring twenty ells in length, may still be seen near the river.


In "Starkad and Bale" (Hofberg, p. 181. From Medelpad, after ancient traditional sources) humorous feats of gigantic strength are ascribed to the most famous hero of Northern legend, Starkad, who was brought up by Odin himself.




Once upon a time there was a king, who reigned over a great kingdom. He had a queen, but only a single daughter, a girl. In consequence the little girl was the apple of her parents' eyes; they loved her above everything else in the world, and their dearest thought was the pleasure they would take in her when she was older. But the unexpected often happens; for before the king's daughter began to grow up, the queen her mother fell ill and died. It is not hard to imagine the grief that reigned, not alone in the royal castle, but throughout the land; for the queen had been beloved of all. The king grieved so that he would not marry again, and his one joy was the little princess.

A long time passed, and with each succeeding day the king's daughter grew taller and more beautiful, and her father granted her every wish. Now there were a number of women who had nothing to do but wait on the princess and carry out her commands. Among them was a woman who had formerly married and had two daughters. She had an engaging[77] appearance, a smooth tongue and a winning way of talking, and she was as soft and pliable as silk; but at heart she was full of machinations and falseness. Now when the queen died, she at once began to plan how she might marry the king, so that her daughters might be kept like royal princesses. With this end in view, she drew the young princess to her, paid her the most fulsome compliments on everything she said and did, and was forever bringing the conversation around to how happy she would be were the king to take another wife. There was much said on this head, early and late, and before very long the princess came to believe that the woman knew all there was to know about everything. So she asked her what sort of a woman the king ought to choose for a wife. The woman answered as sweet as honey: "It is not my affair to give advice in this matter; yet he should choose for queen some one who is kind to the little princess. For one thing I know, and that is, were I fortunate enough to be chosen, my one thought would be to do all I could for the little princess, and if she wished to wash her hands, one of my daughters would have to hold the wash-bowl and the other hand her the towel." This and much more she told the king's daughter, and the princess believed it, as children will.

From that day forward the princess gave her father no peace, and begged him again and again to[78] marry the good court lady. Yet he did not want to marry her. But the king's daughter gave him no rest; but urged him again and again, as the false court lady had persuaded her to do. Finally, one day, when she again brought up the matter, the king cried: "I can see you will end by having your own way about this, even though it be entirely against my will. But I will do so only on one condition." "What is the condition?" asked the princess. "If I marry again," said the king, "it is only because of your ceaseless pleading. Therefore you must promise that, if in the future you are not satisfied with your step-mother or your step-sisters, not a single lament or complaint on your part reaches my ears." This she promised the king, and it was agreed that he should marry the court lady and make her queen of the whole country.

As time passed on, the king's daughter had grown to be the most beautiful maiden to be found far and wide; the queen's daughters, on the other hand, were homely, evil of disposition, and no one knew any good of them. Hence it was not surprising that many youths came from East and West to sue for the princess's hand; but that none of them took any interest in the queen's daughters. This made the step-mother very angry; but she concealed her rage, and was as sweet and friendly as ever. Among the wooers was a king's son from another country.[79] He was young and brave, and since he loved the princess dearly, she accepted his proposal and they plighted their troth. The queen observed this with an angry eye, for it would have pleased her had the prince chosen one of her own daughters. She therefor made up her mind that the young pair should never be happy together, and from that time on thought only of how she might part them from each other.

An opportunity soon offered itself. News came that the enemy had entered the land, and the king was compelled to go to war. Now the princess began to find out the kind of step-mother she had. For no sooner had the king departed than the queen showed her true nature, and was just as harsh and unkind as she formerly had pretended to be friendly and obliging. Not a day went by without her scolding and threatening the princess; and the queen's daughters were every bit as malicious as their mother. But the king's son, the lover of the princess, found himself in even worse position. He had gone hunting one day, had lost his way, and could not find his people. Then the queen used her black arts and turned him into a werewolf, to wander through the forest for the remainder of his life in that shape. When evening came and there was no sign of the prince, his people returned home, and one can imagine what sorrow they caused when the princess[80] learned how the hunt had ended. She grieved, wept day and night, and was not to be consoled. But the queen laughed at her grief, and her heart was filled with joy to think that all had turned out exactly as she wished.

Now it chanced one day, as the king's daughter was sitting alone in her room, that she thought she would go herself into the forest where the prince had disappeared. She went to her step-mother and begged permission to go out into the forest, in order to forget her surpassing grief. The queen did not want to grant her request, for she always preferred saying no to yes. But the princess begged her so winningly that at last she was unable to say no, and she ordered one of her daughters to go along with her and watch her. That caused a great deal of discussion, for neither of the step-daughters wanted to go with her; each made all sorts of excuses, and asked what pleasures were there in going with the king's daughter, who did nothing but cry. But the queen had the last word in the end, and ordered that one of her daughters must accompany the princess, even though it be against her will. So the girls wandered out of the castle into the forest. The king's daughter walked among the trees, and listened to the song of the birds, and thought of her lover, for whom she longed, and who was now no longer there. And the queen's daughter followed her, vexed, in her[81] malice, with the king's daughter and her sorrow.

After they had walked a while, they came to a little hut, lying deep in the dark forest. By then the king's daughter was very thirsty, and wanted to go into the little hut with her step-sister, in order to get a drink of water. But the queen's daughter was much annoyed and said: "Is it not enough for me to be running around here in the wilderness with you? Now you even want me, who am a princess, to enter that wretched little hut. No, I will not step a foot over the threshold! If you want to go in, why go in alone!" The king's daughter lost no time; but did as her step-sister advised, and stepped into the little hut. When she entered she saw an old woman sitting there on a bench, so enfeebled by age that her head shook. The princess spoke to her in her usual friendly way: "Good evening, motherkin. May I ask you for a drink of water?" "You are heartily welcome to it," said the old woman. "Who may you be, that step beneath my lowly roof and greet me in so winning a way?" The king's daughter told her who she was, and that she had gone out to relieve her heart, in order to forget her great grief. "And what may your great grief be?" asked the old woman. "No doubt it is my fate to grieve," said the princess, "and I can never be happy again. I have lost my only love, and God alone knows whether I shall ever see him again." And she also[82] told her why it was, and the tears ran down her cheeks in streams, so that any one would have felt sorry for her. When she had ended the old woman said: "You did well in confiding your sorrow to me. I have lived long and may be able to give you a bit of good advice. When you leave here you will see a lily growing from the ground. This lily is not like other lilies, however, but has many strange virtues. Run quickly over to it, and pick it. If you can do that then you need not worry, for then one will appear who will tell you what to do." Then they parted and the king's daughter thanked her and went her way; while the old woman sat on the bench and wagged her head. But the queen's daughter had been standing without the hut the entire time, vexing herself, and grumbling because the king's daughter had taken so long.

So when the latter stepped out, she had to listen to all sorts of abuse from her step-sister, as was to be expected. Yet she paid no attention to her, and thought only of how she might find the flower of which the old woman had spoken. They went through the forest, and suddenly she saw a beautiful white lily growing in their very path. She was much pleased and ran up at once to pick it; but that very moment it disappeared and reappeared somewhat further away.

The king's daughter was now filled with eagerness,[83] no longer listened to her step-sister's calls, and kept right on running; yet each time when she stooped to pick the lily, it suddenly disappeared and reappeared somewhat further away. Thus it went for some time, and the princess was drawn further and further into the deep forest. But the lily continued to stand, and disappear and move further away, and each time the flower seemed larger and more beautiful than before. At length the princess came to a high hill, and as she looked toward its summit, there stood the lily high on the naked rock, glittering as white and radiant as the brightest star. The king's daughter now began to climb the hill, and in her eagerness she paid no attention to stones nor steepness. And when at last she reached the summit of the hill, lo and behold! the lily no longer evaded her grasp; but remained where it was, and the princess stooped and picked it and hid it in her bosom, and so heartfelt was her happiness that she forgot her step-sisters and everything else in the world.

For a long time she did not tire of looking at the beautiful flower. Then she suddenly began to wonder what her step-mother would say when she came home after having remained out so long. And she looked around, in order to find the way back to the castle. But as she looked around, behold, the sun had set and no more than a little strip of daylight[84] rested on the summit of the hill. Below her lay the forest, so dark and shadowed that she had no faith in her ability to find the homeward path. And now she grew very sad, for she could think of nothing better to do than to spend the night on the hill-top. She seated herself on the rock, put her hand to her cheek, cried, and thought of her unkind step-mother and step-sisters, and of all the harsh words she would have to endure when she returned. And she thought of her father, the king, who was away at war, and of the love of her heart, whom she would never see again; and she grieved so bitterly that she did not even know she wept. Night came and darkness, and the stars rose, and still the princess sat in the same spot and wept. And while she sat there, lost in her thoughts, she heard a voice say: "Good evening, lovely maiden! Why do you sit here so sad and lonely?" She stood up hastily, and felt much embarrassed, which was not surprising. When she looked around there was nothing to be seen but a tiny old man, who nodded to her and seemed to be very humble. She answered: "Yes, it is no doubt my fate to grieve, and never be happy again. I have lost my dearest love, and now I have lost my way in the forest, and am afraid of being devoured by wild beasts." "As to that," said the old man, "you need have no fear. If you will do exactly as I say, I will help [85]you." This made the princess happy; for she felt that all the rest of the world had abandoned her. Then the old man drew out flint and steel and said: "Lovely maiden, you must first build a fire." She did as he told her, gathered moss, brush and dry sticks, struck sparks and lit such a fire on the hill-top that the flame blazed up to the skies. That done the old man said: "Go on a bit and you will find a kettle of tar, and bring the kettle to me." This the king's daughter did. The old man continued: "Now put the kettle on the fire." And the princess did that as well. When the tar began to boil, the old man said: "Now throw your white lily into the kettle." The princess thought this a harsh command, and earnestly begged to be allowed to keep the lily. But the old man said: "Did you not promise to obey my every command? Do as I tell you or you will regret it." The king's daughter turned away her eyes, and threw the lily into the boiling tar; but it was altogether against her will, so fond had she grown of the beautiful flower.



The moment she did so a hollow roar, like that of some wild beast, sounded from the forest. It came nearer, and turned into such a terrible howling that all the surrounding hills reëchoed it. Finally there was a cracking and breaking among the trees, the bushes were thrust aside, and the princess saw a great grey wolf come running out of the forest and[86] straight up the hill. She was much frightened and would gladly have run away, had she been able. But the old man said: "Make haste, run to the edge of the hill and the moment the wolf comes along, upset the kettle on him!" The princess was terrified, and hardly knew what she was about; yet she did as the old man said, took the kettle, ran to the edge of the hill, and poured its contents over the wolf just as he was about to run up. And then a strange thing happened: no sooner had she done so, than the wolf was transformed, cast off his thick grey pelt, and in place of the horrible wild beast, there stood a handsome young man, looking up to the hill. And when the king's daughter collected herself and looked at him, she saw that it was really and truly her lover, who had been turned into a werewolf.

It is easy to imagine how the princess felt. She opened her arms, and could neither ask questions nor reply to them, so moved and delighted was she. But the prince ran hastily up the hill, embraced her tenderly, and thanked her for delivering him. Nor did he forget the little old man, but thanked him with many civil expressions for his powerful aid. Then they sat down together on the hill-top, and had a pleasant talk. The prince told how he had been turned into a wolf, and of all he had suffered while running about in the forest; and the princess[87] told of her grief, and the many tears she had shed while he had been gone. So they sat the whole night through, and never noticed it until the stars grew pale and it was light enough to see. When the sun rose, they saw that a broad path led from the hill-top straight to the royal castle; for they had a view of the whole surrounding country from the hill-top. Then the old man said: "Lovely maiden, turn around! Do you see anything out yonder?" "Yes," said the princess, "I see a horseman on a foaming horse, riding as fast as he can." Then the old man said: "He is a messenger sent on ahead by the king your father. And your father with all his army is following him." That pleased the princess above all things, and she wanted to descend the hill at once to meet her father. But the old man detained her and said: "Wait a while, it is too early yet. Let us wait and see how everything turns out."

Time passed and the sun was shining brightly, and its rays fell straight on the royal castle down below. Then the old man said: "Lovely maiden, turn around! Do you see anything down below?" "Yes," replied the princess, "I see a number of people coming out of my father's castle, and some are going along the road, and others into the forest." The old man said: "Those are your step-mother's servants. She has sent some to meet the[88] king and welcome him; but she has sent others to the forest to look for you." At these words the princess grew uneasy, and wished to go down to the queen's servants. But the old man withheld her and said: "Wait a while, and let us first see how everything turns out."

More time passed, and the king's daughter was still looking down the road from which the king would appear, when the old man said: "Lovely maiden, turn around! Do you see anything down below?" "Yes," answered the princess, "there is a great commotion in my father's castle, and they are hanging it with black." The old man said: "That is your step-mother and her people. They will assure your father that you are dead." Then the king's daughter felt bitter anguish, and she implored from the depths of her heart: "Let me go, let me go, so that I may spare my father this anguish!" But the old man detained her and said: "No, wait, it is still too early. Let us first see how everything turns out."

Again time passed, the sun lay high above the fields, and the warm air blew over meadow and forest. The royal maid and youth still sat on the hill-top with the old man, where we had left them. Then they saw a little cloud rise against the horizon, far away in the distance, and the little cloud grew larger and larger, and came nearer and nearer[89] along the road, and as it moved one could see it was agleam with weapons, and nodding helmets, and waving flags, one could hear the rattle of swords, and the neighing of horses, and finally recognize the banner of the king. It is not hard to imagine how pleased the king's daughter was, and how she insisted on going down and greeting her father. But the old man held her back and said: "Lovely maiden, turn around! Do you see anything happening at the castle?" "Yes," answered the princess, "I can see my step-mother and step-sisters coming out, dressed in mourning, holding white kerchiefs to their faces, and weeping bitterly." The old man answered: "Now they are pretending to weep because of your death. Wait just a little while longer. We have not yet seen how everything will turn out."

After a time the old man said again: "Lovely maiden, turn around! Do you see anything down below?" "Yes," said the princess, "I see people bringing a black coffin—now my father is having it opened. Look, the queen and her daughters are down on their knees, and my father is threatening them with his sword!" Then the old man said: "Your father wished to see your body, and so your evil step-mother had to confess the truth." When the princess heard that she said earnestly: "Let me go, let me go, so that I may comfort my father in[90] his great sorrow!" But the old man held her back and said: "Take my advice and stay here a little while longer. We have not yet seen how everything will turn out."

Again time went by, and the king's daughter and the prince and the old man were still sitting on the hill-top. Then the old man said: "Lovely maiden, turn around! Do you see anything down below?" "Yes," answered the princess, "I see my father and my step-sisters and my step-mother with all their following moving this way." The old man said: "Now they have started out to look for you. Go down and bring up the wolf's pelt in the gorge." The king's daughter did as he told her. The old man continued: "Now stand at the edge of the hill." And the princess did that, too. Now one could see the queen and her daughters coming along the way, and stopping just below the hill. Then the old man said: "Now throw down the wolf's pelt!" The princess obeyed him, and threw down the wolf's pelt according to his command. It fell directly on the evil queen and her daughters. And then a most wonderful thing happened: no sooner had the pelt touched the three evil women than they immediately changed shape, and turning into three horrible werewolves, they ran away as fast as they could into the forest, howling dreadfully.

No more had this happened than the king himself[91] arrived at the foot of the hill with his whole retinue. When he looked up and recognized the princess, he could not at first believe his eyes; but stood motionless, thinking her a vision. Then the old man cried: "Lovely maiden, now hasten, run down and make your father happy!" There was no need to tell the princess twice. She took her lover by the hand and they ran down the hill. When they came to the king, the princess ran on ahead, fell on her father's neck, and wept with joy. And the young prince wept as well, and the king himself wept; and their meeting was a pleasant sight for every one. There was great joy and many embraces, and the princess told of her evil step-mother and step-sisters and of her lover, and all that she had suffered, and of the old man who had helped them in such a wonderful way. But when the king turned around to thank the old man he had completely vanished, and from that day on no one could say who he had been or what had become of him.

The king and his whole retinue now returned to the castle, where the king had a splendid banquet prepared, to which he invited all the able and distinguished people throughout the kingdom, and bestowed his daughter on the young prince. And the wedding was celebrated with gladness and music and amusements of every kind for many days. I was there, too, and when I rode through the forest[92] I met a wolf with two young wolves, and they showed me their teeth and seemed very angry. And I was told they were none other than the evil step-mother and her two daughters.


In "The Werewolf," the basic idea is the deliverance from animal form through a maiden's self-sacrificing love (Hyìtén-Cavallius and Stephens, p. 312. From Upland), and the Teutonic belief in human beings who could change themselves into wolves is clearly marked.




Once upon a time there was a king who had a three-year old son, and was obliged to go to war against another king. Then, when his ships sailed home again after he had gained a splendid victory, a storm broke out and his whole fleet was near sinking. But the king vowed he would sacrifice to the sea-queen the first male creature that came to meet him when he reached land and entered his capital. Thereby the whole fleet reached the harbor in safety. But the five-year old prince, who had not seen his father for the past two years, and who was delighted with the thunder of the cannon as the ships came in, secretly slipped away from his attendants, and ran to the landing; and when the king came ashore he was the first to cast himself into his arms, weeping with joy. The king was frightened when he thought of the sea-queen; but he thought that, after all, the prince was only a child, and at any rate he could sacrifice the next person to step up to him after the prince. But from that time on no one could make a successful sea-trip, and the people began to murmur because the king had not kept the[94] promise he had made the sea-queen. But the king and queen never allowed the prince out without a great escort, and he was never permitted to enter a ship, for all his desire to do so. After a few years they gradually forgot the sea-queen, and when the prince was ten years old, a little brother came to join him. Not long after the older of the princes was out walking with his tutor and several other gentlemen. And when they reached the end of the royal gardens by the sea-shore—it was a summer's day, unusually clear—they were suddenly enveloped by a thick cloud, which disappeared as swiftly as it had come. And when it vanished, the prince was no longer there; nor did he return, to the great sorrow of the king, the queen and the whole country. In the meantime the young prince who was now the sole heir to the crown and kingdom grew up; and when he was sixteen, they began to think of finding a wife for him. For the old king and queen wished to see him marry the daughter of some powerful monarch to whom they were allied, before they died. With this in view, letters were written and embassies sent out to the most distant countries.

While these negotiations were being conducted, it began to be said that the sea-shore was haunted; various people had heard cries, and several who had walked by the sea-shore late in the evening had fallen ill. At length no one ventured to go there[95] after eleven at night, because a voice kept crying from out at sea: "First born, first wed!" And when some one did venture nearer he did so at the risk of his life. At last these complaints came to the king's ear; he called together his council, and it was decided to question a wise woman, who had already foretold many mysterious happenings, which had all taken place exactly as she had said they would. When the wise woman was brought before the king she said it was the prince who had been taken into the sea who was calling, and that they would have to find him a bride, young, beautiful, and belonging to one of the noblest families of the land, and she must be no less than fifteen and no more than seventeen years old. That seemed a serious difficulty; for no one wished to give their daughter to a sea-king.

Yet, when there was no end to the cries and the commotion, the wise woman said, that first it might be well to build a little house by the sea, perhaps then the turmoil might die away. At any rate, she said, no phantoms would haunt the place while the building was in progress. Hence no more than four workmen need be employed, and they might first prepare a site, then lay the stone foundation, and finally erect the small house, comprising no more than two pleasant, handsome rooms, one behind the other, and a good floor. The house was carefully[96] erected, and the royal architect himself had to superintend the work, so that everything might be done as well as possible. And while the building was going on, there were no mysterious noises, and every one could travel peacefully along the sea-shore. For that reason the four workmen did not hurry with their work; yet not one of them could stay away for a day, because when they did the tumult along the shore would begin again, and one could hear the cries: "First born, first wed!" When the little house was finally completed, the best carpenters came and worked in it, then painters and other craftsmen, and at last it was furnished, because when the work stopped for no more than a single day the cries were heard again by night. The rooms were fitted out as sumptuously as possible, and a great mirror was hung in the drawing-room. According to the instructions of the wise woman, it was hung in such wise that from the bed in the bed-room, even though one's face were turned to the wall, one could still see who stepped over the threshold into the drawing-room; for the door between each room was always to stand open.

When all was finished, and the little house had been arranged with regal splendor, the cries of "First born, first wed!" again began to sound from the shore. And it was found necessary, though all were unwilling, to follow the wise woman's counsel,[97] and choose three of the loveliest maidens between the ages of fifteen and seventeen, belonging to the first families of the land. They were to be taken to the castle, said the wise woman, and to be treated like ladies of the blood royal, and one after another they were to be sent to the little house by the sea-shore; for should one of them find favor in the eyes of the sea-prince, then the commotion and turmoil would surely cease. In the meantime the negotiations for the marriage of the younger prince were continued, and the bride selected for him was soon expected to arrive. So the girls were also chosen for the sea-prince. The three chosen, as well as their parents, were quite inconsolable over their fate; even the fact that they were to be treated like princesses did not console them; yet had they not yielded it would have been all the worse for them and for the whole land. The first girl destined to sleep in the sea-palace was the oldest, and when she sought out the wise woman, and asked her advice, the latter said she should lie down in the handsome bed; but should turn her face to the wall, and under no circumstances turn around curiously, and try and see what was going on. She had only the right to behold what she saw reflected in the mirror in the drawing-room as she lay with her face to the wall. At ten o'clock that night the royal sea-bride was led with great pomp to the little house.[98]

Her relatives and the court said farewell to her with many tears, left her before eleven, locked the door on the outside, and took the keys with them to the castle. The wise woman was also there, consoled the people, and assured them that if the maiden only forbore to speak, and did not turn around, she would come out in the morning fresh and blooming. The poor girl prayed and wept until she grew sleepy; but toward twelve o'clock the outer door suddenly opened, and then the door of the drawing-room. She was startled and filled with fear when, her face turned toward the wall, she saw in the great mirror, how a tall, well-built youth entered, from whose garments the water ran in streams to the floor. He shook himself as though freezing, and said "Uh hu!" Then he went to the window, and there laid down an unusually large and handsome apple, and hung a bottle in the casement. Next he stepped to the bed, bent over the sleeping girl and looked at her, strode up and down a few times, shaking the water from his clothes and saying "Uh hu!" Then he went back to the bed, undressed hurriedly, lay down and fell asleep. The poor girl, had not been sleeping; but had only closed her eyes when the prince bent over her. Now she was glad to think he was fast asleep, and forgot the wise woman's warning not to turn around. Her curiosity got the better of her, and she wanted to[99] find out if this were a real human being. She turned around softly, lest she wake him; but just as she sat up quietly in bed, in order to take a good look at her neighbor, he swiftly seized her right hand, hewed it off, and flung it under the bed. Then he at once lay down and fell asleep again. As soon as it was day, he rose, dressed without casting even a glance at the bed, took the bottle and the apple from the window, went hastily out and locked the door after him. One can imagine how the poor girl suffered in the meantime, and when her friends and relatives came to fetch her they found her weeping and robbed of her hand. She was brought to the castle and the wise woman sent for, and overwhelmed with bitter reproaches. But she said that if the maiden had not turned around, and had overcome her curiosity, she would not have lost her hand. They were to treat her as though she were really and truly a princess; but that it would be as much as her life were worth to allow her to return to the neighborhood of the little house.

The two girls were all the more discouraged by this mishap, and thought themselves condemned to death, though the wise woman consoled them as well as she knew how. The second promised her faithfully not to turn around; yet it happened with her as it had with the first. The prince came in at twelve o'clock dripping, shook himself so that the water[100] flew about, said "Uh hu!" went to the window, laid down the beautiful apple, hung up the bottle, came into the bed-room, bent over the bed, strode up and down a few times, said "Uh hu!" hastily undressed, and at once fell asleep. Her curiosity gained the upper hand, and when she made sure that he was sleeping soundly, she carefully turned around in order to look at him. But he seized her right hand, hewed it off and cast it under the bed, and then laid down again and slept on. At dawn he rose, dressed without casting a glance at the bed, took the apple and the bottle, went out and locked the door after him. When her friends and relatives came to fetch the girl in the morning, they found her weeping and without a right hand. She was taken to the castle, where she found herself just as little welcome as her predecessor, and the wise woman insisted that the girl must have turned around, though at first she denied it absolutely.

Then the youngest, sweetest and loveliest of the three maidens had to go to the sea-castle amid the mourning of the entire court. The wise woman accompanied her, and implored her not to turn around; since there was no other means of protection against the spell.

The maiden promised to heed her warning, and said that she would pray God to help her if she were plagued with curiosity. All happened as before:[101] the prince came on the stroke of twelve, dripping wet, said "Uh hu!" shook himself, laid the apple on the window, hung up the bottle, went into the bed-room, bent over the bed, strode up and down for a few times, said "Uh hu!" undressed, and at once fell asleep. The poor girl was half-dead with fear and terror, and prayed and struggled against her curiosity till at length she fell asleep, and did not awake until the prince rose and dressed. He stepped up to the bed, bent over it for a moment, went out, turned at the door and took the bottle and the apple, and then locked the door after him. In the morning the entire court, the girl's parents and the wise woman came to fetch her. She came to meet them weeping with joy, and was conducted to the castle in triumph and with joy indescribable. The king and queen embraced her, and she was paid the same honors destined for the princess who was to arrive in the course of the next few days to marry the heir to the throne. Now the maiden had to sleep every night in the little house by the strand, and every evening the prince came in with his apple and his bottle, and every morning went away at dawn. But it seemed to her that each succeeding evening and morning he looked at her a little longer; though she, always silent, timid, and turned toward the wall, did not dare see more than her mirror showed her of[102] his coming and going. But the two other girls, who had lost their hands, and who now no longer lived in the castle, were jealous of the honor shown the youngest, and threatened to have her done away with if she did not restore their hands. The maiden went weeping to the wise woman; and the latter said that when the prince had lain down as usual she should say—keeping her face turned toward the wall:

"The maidens twain will see me slain,
Or else have back their hands again!"

But she was to offer no further information nor say another word. With a beating heart the poor girl waited until the prince came, and when he had bent over the bed longer than usual, sighed, then hastily undressed and lain down, the maiden said, quivering and trembling:

"The maidens twain will see me slain,
Or else have back their hands again!"

The prince at once replied: "Take the hands—they are lying under the bed—and the bottle hanging in the window, and pour some of the contents of the bottle on their arms and hands, join them together, bind them up, take away the bandages in three days' time and the hands will have been healed!" The maiden made no reply and fell asleep.[103] In the morning the prince rose as usual, stepped over to the bed several times and looked at her from its foot; but she did not dare look up, and closed her eyes. He sighed, took his apple; but left the bottle, and went. When the maiden rose she did as he had told her, and in three days' time removed the bandages, and the girls' hands were well and whole.

Now the foreign princess arrived and the wedding was to be celebrated as soon as possible. Yet she was not fitted out with any more magnificence than the bride of the sea-prince, and both were equally honored by the king and court. This annoyed the two other girls, and they again threatened to have the youngest done away with if she did not let them taste the apple which the prince always brought with him. Again the maiden sought the advice of the wise woman, in whom she had confidence. And that night, when the prince had lain down, she said:

"The maidens twain will see me slain,
Or else your apple they would gain!"

Then the prince said: "Take the apple lying in the window, and when you go out, lay it on the ground and follow wherever it may roll. And when it stops, pick as many apples as you wish, and return the same way you came." The maiden[104] made no reply, and fell asleep. On the following morning it seemed harder than ever for the prince to resolve to go away. He appeared excited and restless, sighed often, bent over the maiden several times, went into the living room, then turned around and looked at her once more. Finally, when the sun rose, he hurried out and locked the door after him. When the maiden rose, she could not help weeping, for she had really begun to love the prince.

Then she took the apple, and when she was outside the door, laid it on the ground, and it rolled and rolled, and she followed it, a long, long way, to a region unknown to her. There she came to a high garden wall, over which hung the branches of trees, loaded with beautiful fruit. Finally she reached a great portal, adorned with gold and splendid ornaments, which opened of its own accord as the apple rolled up to it. And the apple rolled through the portal and the maiden followed it into the garden, which was the most beautiful she ever had seen. The apple rolled over to a low-growing tree weighed with the most magnificent apples, and there it stopped. The maiden picked all that her silken apron would hold, and turned to see from which direction she had come, and where the portal stood through which she would have to pass on her way back. But the garden was so lovely that she felt like enjoying its charms a while longer, and without[105] thinking of the prince's words, she touched the apple with her foot, and it began to roll again. Suddenly the portal closed with a great crash. Then the maiden was much frightened, and regretted having done what had been forbidden her; yet now she could not get out, and was compelled to follow the apple once more. It rolled far into the beautiful garden and stopped at a little fire-place, where stood two kettles of water, one small, the other large. There was a great fire burning under the large kettle; but only a weak fire beneath the smaller one. Now when the apple stopped there the maiden did not know what to do. Then it occurred to her to scrape away the fire beneath the large kettle and thrust it under the little one; and soon the kettle over the small fire began to boil and the kettle over the large one simmered down. But she could not stay there. And since she had already disobeyed the order given her, she expected to die, nothing less, and was quite resigned to do so, because she had lost all hope of winning the prince.

So she gave the apple another push, and it rolled into a meadow in the middle of the garden, and there lay two little children, asleep, with the hot sun beating straight down upon them. The maiden felt sorry for the children, and she took her apron and laid it over them to protect them from[106] the sun, and only kept the apples she could put in her little basket. But she could not stay here either, so again she touched the apple, and it rolled on and before she knew it the girl found herself by the sea-shore. There, under a shady tree lay the prince asleep; while beside him sat the sea-queen. Both rose when the maiden drew near, and the prince looked at her with alarm and tenderness in his flashing eyes. Then he leaped into the sea, and the white foam closed over him. But the sea-queen was enraged and seized the girl, who thought that her last moment had struck, and begged for a merciful death. The sea-queen looked at her, and asked her who had given her permission to pass beyond the apple-tree. The maiden confessed her disobedience, and said that she had done so without meaning any harm, whereupon the sea-queen said she would see how she had conducted herself and punish her accordingly. Thereupon the sea-queen gave the apple a push, and it rolled back through the portal to the apple-tree. The sea-queen saw that the apple-tree was uninjured, again pushed the apple and it rolled on to the little fire-place. But when the sea-queen saw the small kettle boiling furiously, while the large one was growing cold, she became very angry, seized the girl's arm savagely and rising to her full height, asked: "What have you dared do here? How dared[107] you take the fire from under my kettle and put it under your own?" The maiden did not know that she had done anything wrong, and said that she did not know why. Then the sea-queen replied: "The large kettle signified the love between the prince and myself; the small one the love between the prince and you. Since you have taken the fire from under my kettle and laid it under your own, the prince is now violently in love with you, while his love for me is well-nigh extinguished. "Look," she cried, angrily, "now my kettle has stopped boiling altogether, and yours is boiling over! But I will see what other harm you have done and punish you accordingly." And the sea-queen again pushed the apple with her foot, and it rolled to the sleeping children, who had been covered with the apron. Then the sea-queen said: "Did you do that?" "Yes," replied the maiden, weeping, "but I meant no harm. I covered the little ones with my apron so that the sun might not burn down on them so fiercely, and I left with them the apples I could not put in my basket." The sea-queen said: "This deed and your truthfulness are your salvation. I see that you have a kind heart. These children belong to me and to the prince; but since he now loves you more than he does me, I will resign him to you. Go back to the castle and there say what I tell you: that your wedding with my prince[108] is to be celebrated at the same time as that of his younger brother. And all your jewels, your ornaments, your wedding-dress and your bridal chair, are to be exactly like those of the other princess. From the moment on that the priest blesses the prince and yourself I have no further power over him. But since I have seen to it that he has all the qualities which adorn a ruler, I demand that he be made the heir to his father's kingdom; for he is the oldest son. The younger prince may rule over the kingdom which his bride brings him. All this you must tell them, for only under these conditions will I release the prince. And when you are arrayed in your bridal finery, come to me here, without anyone's knowledge, so that I may see how they have adorned you. Here is the apple which will show you the way without any one being able to tell where you go." With that the sea-queen parted from her, and gave the apple a push. It rolled out of the garden and to the castle, where the maiden, with mingled joy and terror, delivered the sea-queen's message to the king, and told him what she demanded for the prince. The king gladly promised all that was desired, and great preparations were at once made for the double wedding. Two bridal chairs were set up side by side, two wedding gowns, and two sets of jewels exactly similar were made ready. When the maiden had been dressed [109]in her bridal finery she pretended to have forgotten something, which she had to fetch from a lower floor, went downstairs with her apple, and laid it on the ground. It at once rolled to the spot by the sea-shore where she had found the sea-queen and the prince, and where the sea-queen was now awaiting her. "It is well that you have come," said the sea-queen, "for the slightest disobedience would have meant misfortune for you! But how do you look? Are you dressed just as the princess is? And has the princess no better clothes or jewels?" The maiden answered timidly, that they were dressed exactly alike. Then the sea-queen tore her gown from her body, unclasped the jewels from her hair and flinging them on the ground cried: "Is that the way the bride of my prince should look! Since I have given him to you I will give you my bridal outfit as well." And with that she raised up a sod beneath the great tree, and a shrine adorned with gold and precious stones appeared, from which she drew out her bridal outfit, which fitted the maiden as though made for her. And it was so costly and so covered with gems that the maiden was almost blinded by its radiance. The crown, too, glowed with light, and was set with the most wonderful emeralds, and all was magnificent beyond what any princess had ever worn. "Now," said the sea-queen, when she had[110] finished adorning the maiden, "now go back to the castle, and show them how I was dressed when I wedded the prince. All this I give as a free gift to you and your descendants; but you must always conduct yourself so that the prince will be content with you, and you must make his happiness your first thought all your life long."



This the maiden promised, with honest tears, and the sea-queen bade her go. When she was again in the castle, all were astonished at the beauty and costliness of her dress and jewels, in comparison to which those of the other princess were as nothing. The treasures of the whole kingdom would not have sufficed to pay for such a bridal outfit. And none any longer dared envy the lovely maiden, for never had a princess brought a richer bridal dower into the country. Now all went in solemn procession to the church, and the priests stood before the bridal chairs with their books open, and waited for the prince who, according to the sea-queen's word, would not come until the blessing was to be spoken. They waited impatiently, and the king finally told one of the greatest nobles to seat himself in the bridal chair in the prince's place, which he did. But the very moment the priest began to pray, the two wings of the church portal quickly flew open, and a tall, strong, handsome man with flashing eyes, royally[111] clad, came in, stepped up to the bridal chair, thrust his proxy out so hastily that he nearly fell, and cried: "This is my place! Now, priest, speak the blessing!" While the blessing was spoken the prince became quiet again, and then greeted his parents and the whole court with joy, and before all embraced his wife, who now for the first time ventured to take a good look at him. Thenceforward the prince was like any other human being, and in the end he inherited his father's kingdom, and became a great and world-renowned ruler, beloved by his subjects, and adored by his wife. They lived long and happily, and their descendants are still the rulers of the land over which he reigned.


"First Born, First Wed" is a purely Swedish, and decidedly characteristic treatment of a similar motive of redemption. (From the mss. collection of Hyltén-Cavallius and Stephens, communicated by Dr. v. Sydow-Lund).




Once upon a time there lived a king, like many others. He had three daughters, who were young and beautiful to such a degree that it would have been difficult to have found handsomer maidens. Yet there was a great difference among them; for the two older sisters were haughty in their thoughts and manners; while the youngest was sweet and friendly, and everyone liked her. Besides, she was fair as the day and delicate as the snow, and far more beautiful than either of her sisters.

One day the king's daughters were sitting together in their room, and their talk happened to turn on their husbands-to-be. The oldest said: "If I ever marry, my husband must have golden hair and a a golden beard!" And the second exclaimed: "And mine must have silver hair and a silver beard!" But the youngest princess held her tongue and said nothing. Then her sisters asked her whether she did not want to wish for a husband. "No," she answered, "but if fate should give me a husband, I will be content to take him as he is, and were he no[113] more than a lame dog." Then the two other princesses laughed and joked about it, and told her the day might easily come when she would change her mind.

But many speak truth and do not know it! Thus it chanced with the king's daughters; since before the year had come to an end, each had the suitor for whom she had wished. A man with golden hair and golden beard sued for the oldest princess and won her consent to his suit. And a man with silver hair and a silver beard sued for the second and she became his bride; but the youngest princess had no other suitor than a lame dog. Then she recalled her talk with her sisters in their room, and thought to herself: "May God aid me in the marriage into which I must enter!" Yet she would not break the word she had once passed; but followed her sisters' example and accepted the dog. The wedding lasted a number of days and was celebrated with great pomp and splendor. But while the guests danced and amused themselves, the youngest princess sat apart and wept, and when the others were laughing, her tears flowed till it made one sad to see them.

After the wedding the newly married pairs were each to drive off to their castle. And the two older princesses each drove off in a splendidly decorated coach, with a large retinue, and all sorts of honors. But the youngest had to go afoot, since her husband, the dog, had neither coach nor driver. When they[114] had wandered long and far, they came to a great forest, so great that it seemed endless; but the dog limped along in advance, and the king's daughter followed after, weeping. And as they went along she suddenly saw a magnificent castle lying before them, and round about it were beautiful meadows and green woods, all of them most enjoyable to see. The princess stopped and asked to whom the great mansion might belong. "That," said the dog, "is our home. We will live here, and you shall rule it as you see fit." Then the maiden laughed amid her tears, and could not overcome her surprise at all she saw. The dog added: "I have but a single request to make to you, and that you must not refuse to grant." "What is your request?" asked the princess. "You must promise me," said the dog, "that you will never look at me while I am asleep: otherwise you are free to do whatever you wish." The princess gladly promised to grant his request, and so they went to the great castle. And if the castle was magnificent from without, it was still more magnificent within. It was so full of gold and silver that the precious metals gleamed from every corner; and there was such abundance of supplies of every kind, and of so many other things, that everything in the world one might have wished to have was already there. The princess spent the live-long day running from one room to another, and each was[115] handsomer than the one she had just entered. But when evening came and she went to bed, the dog crept into his own, and then she noticed that he was not a dog; but a human being. Yet she said not a word, because she remembered her promise, and did not wish to cross her husband's will.

Thus some time passed. The princess dwelt in the beautiful castle, and had everything her heart might desire. But every day the dog ran off, and did not reappear until it was evening and the sun had set. Then he returned home, and was always so kind and friendly that it would have been a fine thing had other men done half as well. The princess now began to feel a great affection for him, and quite forgot he was only a lame dog; for the proverb says: "Love is blind." Yet time passed slowly because she was so much alone, and she often thought of visiting her sisters and seeing how they were. She spoke of it to her husband, and begged his permission to make the journey. No sooner had the dog heard her wish than he at once granted it, and even accompanied her some distance, in order to show her the way out of the wood.

When the king's daughters were once reunited, they were naturally very happy, and there were a great many questions asked about matters old and new. And marriage was also discussed. The oldest princess said: "It was silly of me to wish for a[116] husband with golden hair and golden beard; for mine is worse than the veriest troll, and I have not known a happy day since we married." And the second went on: "Yes, and I am no better off; for although I have a husband with silver hair and a silver beard, he dislikes me so heartily that he begrudges me a single hour of happiness." Then her sisters turned to the youngest princess and asked how she fared. "Well," was her answer, "I really cannot complain; for though I only got a lame dog, he is such a dear good fellow and so kind to me that it would be hard to find a better husband." The other princesses were much surprised to hear this, and did not stop prying and questioning, and their sister answered all their questions faithfully. When they heard how splendidly she lived in the great castle, they grew jealous because she was so much better off than they were. And they insisted on knowing whether there was not some one little thing of which she could complain. "No," said the king's daughter, "I can only praise my husband for his kindness and amiability, and there is but one thing lacking to make me perfectly happy." "What is it?" "What is it?" cried both sisters with a single voice. "Every night, when he comes home," said the princess, "he turns into a human being, and I am sorry that I can never see what he really looks like." Then both sisters again with one voice, began to scold the dog loudly; because he[117] had a secret which he kept from his wife. And since her sisters now continually spoke about it, her own curiosity awoke once more, she forgot her husband's command, and asked how she might manage to see him without his knowing it. "O," said the oldest princess, "nothing easier! Here is a little lamp, which you must hide carefully. Then you need only get up at night when he is asleep, and light the lamp in order to see him in his true shape." This advice seemed good to the king's daughter; she took the lamp, hid it in her breast, and promised to do all that her sisters had counseled.

When the time came for them to part, the youngest princess went back to her beautiful castle. The day passed like every other day. When evening came at last and the dog had gone to bed, the princess was so driven by curiosity that she could hardly wait until he had fallen asleep. Then she rose, softly, lit her lamp, and drew near the bed to look at him while he slept. But no one can describe her astonishment when throwing the light on the bed, she saw no lame dog lying there; but the handsomest youth her eyes had ever beheld. She could not stop looking at him; but sat up all night bending over his pillow, and the more she looked at him the handsomer he seemed to grow, until she forgot everything else in the world. At last the morning came. And as the first star began to pale in the dawn, the youth began to grow restless and awaken.[118] The princess much frightened, blew out her lamp and lay down in her bed. The youth thought she was sleeping and did not wish to wake her, so he rose quietly, assumed his other shape, went away and did not appear again all day long.

And when evening came and it grew late, everything happened as before. The dog came home from the forest and was very tired. But no sooner had he fallen asleep than the princess rose carefully, lit her lamp and came over to look at him. And when she cast the light on his bed it seemed to her as though the youth had grown even handsomer than the day before, and the longer she looked the more handsome he became; until she had to laugh and weep from sheer love and longing. She could not take her eyes from him, and sat all night long bent over his pillow, forgetful of her promise and all else, only to be able to look at him. With the first ray of dawn the youth began to stir and awake. Then the princess was again frightened, quickly blew out her lamp and lay down in her bed. The youth thought she was sleeping, and not wishing to waken her, rose softly, assumed his other shape, went away and was gone for the entire day.

At length it grew late again, evening came and the dog returned home from the forest as usual. But again the princess could not control her curiosity; no sooner was her husband sleeping than she rose[119] quietly, lit her lamp, and drew near carefully in order to look at him while he slept. And when the light fell on the youth, he appeared to be handsomer than ever before, and the longer she looked the more handsome he grew, until her heart burned in her breast, and she forgot all else in the world looking at him. She could not take her eyes from him, and sat up all night bending over his pillow. And when morning came and the sun rose, the youth began to move and awaken. Then the princess was much frightened, because she had paid no heed to the passing of time, and she tried to put out her lamp quickly. But her hand trembled, and a warm drop of oil fell on the youth and he awoke. When he saw what she had done, he leaped up, terrified, instantly turned into a lame dog, and limped out into the forest. But the princess felt so remorseful that she nearly lost her senses, and she ran after him, wringing her hands and weeping bitterly, and begging him to return. But he did not come back.

The king's daughter now wandered over hill and dale, along many a road new to her, in order to find her husband, and her tears flowed the while till it would have moved a stone. But the dog was gone and stayed gone, though she looked for him North and South. When she saw that she could not find him, she thought she would return to her handsome castle. But there she was just as unfortunate.[120] The castle was nowhere to be seen, and wherever she went she was surrounded by a forest black as coal. Then she came to the conclusion that the whole world had abandoned her, sat down on a stone, wept bitterly, and thought how much rather she would die than live without her husband. At that a little toad hopped out from under the stone, and said: "Lovely maiden, why do you sit here and weep?" And the princess answered: "It is my hard fate to weep and never be happy again. First of all I have lost the love of my heart, and now I can no longer find my way back to the castle. So I must perish of hunger here, or else be devoured by wild beasts." "O," said the toad, "if that is all that troubles you, I can help you! If you will promise to be my dearest friend, I will show you the way." But that the princess did not want to do. She replied: "Ask of me what you will, save that alone. I have never loved any one more than my lame dog, and so long as I live will never love any one else better." With that she rose, wept bitterly, and continued her way. But the toad looked after her in a friendly manner, laughed to himself, and once more crept under his stone.

After the king's daughter had wandered on for a long, long way, and still saw nothing but forest and wilderness, she grew very tired. She once more sat down on a stone, rested her chin on her[121] hand, and prayed for death, since it was no longer possible for her to live with her husband. Suddenly there was a rustling in the bushes, and she saw a big gray wolf coming directly toward her. She was much frightened, since her one thought was that the wolf intended to devour her. But the wolf stopped, wagged his tail, and said: "Proud maiden, why do you sit here and weep so bitterly?" The princess answered: "It is my hard fate to weep and never be happy again. First of all I have lost my heart's dearest, and now I cannot find my way back to the castle and must perish of hunger, or be devoured by wild beasts." "O," said the wolf, "if that is all that troubles you, I can help you! Let me be your best friend and I will show you the way." But that did not suit the princess, and she replied: "Ask of me what you will, save that alone. I have never loved any one more than my lame dog, and so long as I live I will never love any one else better." With that she rose, weeping bitterly, and continued on her way. But the wolf looked after her in a friendly manner, laughed to himself and ran off hastily.

After the princess had once more wandered for a long time in the wilderness, she was again so wearied and exhausted that she could not go on. She sat down on a stone, wrung her hands, and wished for death, since she could no longer live with her husband.[122] At that moment she heard a hollow roaring that made the earth tremble, and a monstrous big lion appeared and came directly toward her. Now she was much frightened; for what else could she think but that the lion would tear her to pieces? But the beast was so weighed down with heavy iron chains that he could scarcely drag himself along, and the chains clashed at either side when he moved. When the lion finally reached the princess he stopped, wagged his tail, and asked: "Beautiful maiden, why do you sit here and weep so bitterly?" The princess answered: "It is my hard fate to weep and never be happy again. First of all I have lost my heart's dearest, and now I cannot find my way to the castle, and must perish of hunger, or be devoured by wild beasts." "O," said the lion, "if that is all that troubles you, I can help you! If you will loose my chains and make me your best friend, I will show you the way." But the princess was so terrified that she could not answer the lion, far less venture to draw near him. Then she heard a clear voice sounding from the forest: it was a little nightingale, who sat among the branches and sang:

"Maiden, maiden, loose his chains!"

Then she felt sorry for the lion, grew braver, went up to him, unloosed his chains and said: "Your chains I can loose for you; but I can never be your [123]best friend. For I have never loved any one more than my lame dog and will never love any one else better." And then a wondrous thing took place: at the very moment the last chain fell from him, the lion turned into a handsome young prince, and when the princess looked at him more closely, it was none other than her heart's dearest, who before had been a dog. She sank to the ground, clasped his knees, and begged him not to leave her again. But the prince raised her with deep affection, took her in his arms and said: "No, now we shall never more be parted, for I am released from my enchantment, and have proved your faith toward me in every way."



Then there was joy indescribable. And the prince took his young wife home to the beautiful castle, and there he became king and she was his queen. And if they have not died they are living there to this very day.


The story of "The Lame Dog," the bride of the dog, has long been popular in Scandinavia (Hyltén-Cavallius and Stephens, p. 381. From South Smaland). Saxo, to whom it was familiar, calls its heroes Otherus and Syritha, and even in the Edda there is an echo of it in the tale of Freya and Odr. In Denmark the same story is told under the title of "The Dearest Friend."




Once upon a time a lad who tended the cattle in the wood was eating his noon-tide meal in a clearing in the forest. As he was sitting there he saw a rat run into a juniper-bush. His curiosity led him to look for it; but as he bent over, down he went, head over heels, and fell asleep. And he dreamed that he was going to find the princess on the Mount of the Golden Queen; but that he did not know the way.

The following day he once more pastured his cattle in the wood, when he came to the same clearing, and again ate his dinner there. And again he saw the rat and went to look for it, and again when he bent down he went head over heels, and fell fast asleep. And again he dreamed of the princess on the Mount of the Golden Queen, and that in order to get her he would need seventy pounds of iron and a pair of iron shoes. He awoke and it was all a dream; but by now he had made up his mind to find the Mount of the Golden Queen, and he went home with his herd. On the third day, when he led[125] out his cattle, he could not reach the clearing of his happy dream too soon. Again the rat showed itself and when he went to look for it, he fell asleep as he had done each preceding day. And again he dreamed of the princess on the Mount of the Golden Queen, and that she came to him, and laid a letter and a band of gold in his pocket. Then he awoke and to his indescribable surprise, he found in his pocket both of the things of which he had dreamed, the letter and the band. Now he had no time to attend to the cattle any longer, but drove them straight home. Then he went into the stable, led out a horse, sold it, and bought seventy pounds of iron and a pair of iron shoes with the money. He made the thole-pins out of the iron, put on his iron shoes, and set forth. For a time he traveled by land; but at last he came to the lake which he had to cross. He saw naught but water before and behind him, and rowing so long and steadily that he wore out one thole-pin after another, he at length reached land, and a green meadow, where no trees grew. He walked all around the meadow, and at last found a mound of earth from which smoke was rising. When he looked more closely, out came a woman who was nine yards long. He asked her to tell him the way to the Mount of the Golden Queen. But she replied: "That I do not know. Go ask my sister, who is nine yards taller than I am, and who lives[126] in an earth-mound which you can find without any trouble." So he left her and came to a mound of earth that looked just like the first, and from which smoke was also rising. A woman at once came out who was tremendously tall, and of her he asked the way to the Mount of the Golden Queen. "That I do not know," said she. "Go ask my brother, who is nine yards taller than I am, and who lives in a hill a little further away." So he came to the hill, from which smoke was also rising, and knocked. A man at once came out who was a veritable giant, for he was twenty-seven yards in length, and of him he asked the way to the Mount of the Golden Queen. Then the giant took a whistle and whistled in every direction, to call together all the animals to be found on the earth. And all the animals came from the woods, foremost among them a bear. The giant asked him about the Mount of the Golden Queen, but he knew nothing of it. Again the giant blew his whistle in every direction to call together all the fishes to be found in the waters. They came at once, and he asked them about the Mount of the Golden Queen; but they knew nothing of it. Once more the giant blew his whistle in every direction, and called together all the birds of the air. They came, and he asked the eagle about the Mount of the Golden Queen, and whether he knew where it might be. The eagle said: "Yes!" "Well then, take this[127] lad there," said the giant "but do not treat him unkindly!" This the eagle promised, allowed the youth to seat himself on his back, and then off they were through the air, over fields and forests, hill and dale, and before long they were above the ocean, and could see nothing but sky and water. Then the eagle dipped the youth in the ocean up to his ankles and asked: "Are you afraid?" "No," said the youth. Then the eagle flew on a while, and again dipped the youth into the water, up to his knees and said: "Are you afraid?" "Yes," answered the youth, "but the giant said you were not to treat me unkindly." "Are you really afraid?" asked the eagle once more. "Yes," answered the youth. Then the eagle said: "The fear you now feel is the very same fear I felt when the princess thrust the letter and the golden band into your pocket." And with that they had reached a large, high mountain in one side of which was a great iron door. They knocked, and a serving-maid appeared to open the door and admit them. The youth remained and was well received; but the eagle said farewell and flew back to his native land. The youth asked for a drink, and he was at once handed a beaker containing a refreshing draught. When he had emptied it and returned the beaker, he let the golden band drop into it. And when the maid brought back the beaker to her mistress—who was[128] the princess of the Mount of the Golden Queen—the latter looked into the beaker, and behold, there lay a golden band which she recognized as her own. So she asked: "Is there some one here?" and when the maid answered in the affirmative, the princess said: "Bid him come in!" And as soon as the youth entered she asked him if he chanced to have a letter. The youth drew out the letter he had received in so strange a manner, and gave it to the princess. And when she had read it she cried, full of joy: "Now I am delivered!" And at that very moment the mountain turned into a most handsome castle, with all sorts of precious things, servants, and every sort of convenience, each for its own purpose. (Whether the princess and the youth married the story does not say; yet we must take for granted that a wedding is the proper end for the fairy-tale).


A distinctly visionary story is the fairy-tale of "The Mount of the Golden Queen." (From Södermanland, from the collection of the metallurgic Gustav Erikson, communicated by Dr. v. Sydow-Lund) whose hero sets out on a laborious, world-wide quest that finally brings him to the destined goal.




Once upon a time there were two neighbors: one of them rich and the other poor. They owned a great meadow in common, which they were supposed to mow together and then divide the hay.

But the rich neighbor wanted the meadow for himself alone, and told the poor one that he would drive him out of house and home if he did not come to an agreement with him that whichever one of them mowed the largest stretch of the meadowland in a single day, should receive the entire meadow.

Now the rich neighbor got together as many mowers as ever he could; but the poor one could not hire a single man. At last he despaired altogether and wept, because he did not know how he could manage to get so much as a bit of hay for the cow.

Then it was that a large man stepped up to him and said: "Do not grieve so. I can tell you what you ought to do. When the mowing begins, just call out 'Old Hopgiant!' three times in succession, and you'll not be at a loss, as you shall see for yourself." And with that he disappeared.[130]

Then the poor man's heart grew less heavy, and he gave over worrying. So one fine day his rich neighbor came along with no fewer than twenty farmhands, and they mowed down one swath after another. But the poor neighbor did not even take the trouble to begin when he saw how the others took hold, and that he himself would not be able to do anything alone.

Then the big man occurred to him, and he called out: "Old Hopgiant!" But no one came, and the mowers all laughed at him and mocked him, thinking he had gone out of his mind. Then he called again: "Old Hopgiant!" And, just as before, there was no hopgiant to be seen. And the mowers could scarcely swing their scythes; for they were laughing fit to split.

And then he cried for the third time: "Old Hopgiant!" And there appeared a fellow of truly horrible size, with a scythe as large as a ship's mast.

And now the merriment of the rich peasant's mowers came to an end. For when the giant began to mow and fling about his scythe, they were frightened at the strength he put into his work. And before they knew it he had mown half the meadow.

Then the rich neighbor fell into a rage, rushed up and gave the giant a good kick. But that did not help him, for his foot stuck to the giant, while the [131]latter no more felt the kick than if it had been a flea-bite, and kept right on working.



Then the rich neighbor thought of a scheme to get free, and gave the giant a kick with his other foot; but this foot also stuck fast, and there he hung like a tick. Old Hopgiant mowed the whole meadow, and then flew up into the air, and the rich man had to go along hanging to him like a hawser. And thus the poor neighbor was left sole master of the place.


A genuine folk-tale figure is "Old Hopgiant." (Bondeson, Svenska Folksagor, Stockholm, 1882, p. 41. From Dalsland) in which a wonderful giant being comes to a poor peasant's assistance, and rescues him from his oppressor.




Once upon a time there was a king who took such a joy in the chase, that he knew no greater pleasure than hunting wild beasts. Early and late he camped in the forest with hawk and hound, and good fortune always followed his hunting. But it chanced one day that he could rouse no game, although he had tried in every direction since morning. And then, when evening was coming on, and he was about to ride home, he saw a dwarf or wild man running through the forest before him. The king at once spurred on his horse, rode after the dwarf, seized him and he was surprised at his strange appearance; for he was small and ugly, like a troll, and his hair was as stiff as bean-straw. But no matter what the king said to him, he would return no answer, nor say a single word one way or another. This angered the king, who was already out of sorts because of his ill-success at the hunt, and he ordered his people to seize the wild man and guard him carefully lest he escape. Then the king rode home.

Now his people said to him: "You should keep the[133] wild man a captive here at your court, in order that the whole country may talk of what a mighty huntsman you are. Only you should guard him so that he does not escape; because he is of a sly and treacherous disposition." When the king had listened to them he said nothing for a long time. Then he replied: "I will do as you say, and if the wild man escape, it shall be no fault of mine. But I vow that whoever lets him go shall die without mercy, and though he were my own son!"

The following morning, as soon as the king awoke, he remembered his vow.

He at once sent for wood and beams, and had a small house or cage built quite close to the castle. The small house was built of great timbers, and protected by strong locks and bolts, so that none could break in; and a peephole was left in the middle of the wall through which food might be thrust.

When everything was completed the king had the wild man led up, placed in the small house, and he himself took and kept the key. There the dwarf had to sit a prisoner, day and night, and the people came afoot and a-horseback to gaze at him. Yet no one ever heard him complain, or so much as utter a single word.

Thus matters went for some time. Then a war broke out in the land, and the king had to take the field. At parting he said to the queen: "You must[134] rule the kingdom now in my stead, and I leave land and people in your care. But there is one thing you must promise me you will do: that you will guard the wild man securely so that he does not escape while I am away." The queen promised to do her best in all respects, and the king gave her the key to the cage. Thereupon he had his long galleys, his "sea-wolves," push out from the shore, hoisted sail, and took his course far, far away to the other country.

The king and queen had only one child, a prince who was still small; yet great in promise. Now when the king had gone, it chanced one day that the little fellow was wandering about the royal courtyard, and came to the wild man's cage. And he began to play with an apple of gold he had. And while he was playing with it, it happened that suddenly the apple fell through the window in the wall of the cage. The wild man at once appeared and threw back the apple. This seemed a merry game to the little fellow: he threw the apple in again, and the wild man threw it out again, and thus they played for a long time. Yet for all the game had been so pleasant, it turned to sorrow in the end: for the wild man kept the apple of gold, and would not give it back again. And when all was of no avail, neither threats nor prayers, the little fellow at last began to weep. Then the wild man said: "Your father did ill to capture me, and you will never get your apple of gold[135] again, unless you let me out." The little fellow answered: "And how can I let you out? Just you give me back my apple again, my apple of gold!" Then the wild man said: "You must do what I now tell you. Go up to your mother, the queen, and beg her to comb your hair. Then see to it that you take the key from her girdle, and come down and unlock the door. After that you can return the key in the same way, without any one knowing anything about it."

After the wild man had talked to the boy in this way, he finally did as he said, went up to his mother, begged her to comb his hair, and took the key from her girdle. Then he ran down to the cage and opened the door. And when they parted, the dwarf said: "Here is your apple of gold, that I promised to give back to you, and I thank you for setting me free. And another time when you have need of me, I will help you in turn." And with that he ran off on his own way. But the prince went back to his mother, and returned the key in the same way he had taken it.

When they learned at the king's court that the wild man had broken out, there was great commotion, and the queen sent people over hill and dale to look for him. But he was gone and he stayed gone. Thus matters went for a while and the queen grew more and more unhappy; for she expected her husband to return every day. And when he did reach shore[136] his first question was whether the wild man had been well guarded. Then the queen had to confess how matters stood, and told him how everything had happened. But the king was enraged beyond measure, and said he would punish the malefactor, no matter who he might be. And he ordered a great investigation at his court, and every human being in it had to testify. But no one knew anything. At last the little prince also had to come forward. And as he stood before the king he said: "I know that I have deserved my father's anger; yet I cannot hide the truth; for I let out the wild man." Then the queen turned white, and the others as well, for there was not one who was not fond of the prince. At last the king spoke: "Never shall it be said of me that I was false to my vow, even for the sake of my own flesh and blood! No, you must die the death you have deserved." And with that he gave the order to take the prince to the forest and kill him. And they were to bring back the boy's heart as a sign that his command had been obeyed.

Now sorrow unheard of reigned among the people, and all pleaded for the little prince. But the king's word could not be recalled. His serving-men did not dare disobey, took the boy in their midst, and set forth. And when they had gone a long way into the forest, they saw a swine-herd tending his pigs. Then one said to another: "It does not seem right[137] to me to lay hand on the king's son; let us buy a pig instead and take its heart, then all will believe it is the heart of the prince." The other serving-men thought that he spoke wisely, so they bought a pig from the swine-herd, led it into the wood, butchered it and took its heart. Then they told the prince to go his way and never return. They themselves went back to the king's castle, and it is easy to imagine what grief they caused when they told of the prince's death.

The king's son did what the serving-men had told him. He kept on wandering as far as he could, and never had any other food than the nuts and wild berries that grow in the forest. And when he had wandered far and long, he came to a mountain upon whose very top stood a fir-tree. Said he to himself: "After all, I might as well climb the fir-tree and see whether I can find a path anywhere." No sooner said than done: he climbed the tree. And as he sat in the very top of its crown, and looked about on every side, he saw a large and splendid royal castle rising in the distance, and gleaming in the sun. Then he grew very happy and at once set forth in that direction. On the way he met a farm-hand who was ploughing, and begged him to change clothes with him, which he did. Thus fitted out he at last reached the king's castle, went in, asked for a place, and was taken on as a herdsman, to tend the king's[138] cattle. Now he went to the forest early and late, and in the course of time forgot his grief, grew up, and became so tall and brave that his equal could not be found.

And now our story turns to the king who was reigning at the splendid castle. He had been married, and he had an only daughter. She was lovelier by far than other maidens, and had so kind and cheerful a disposition that whoever could some day take her to his home might well consider himself fortunate. Now when the princess had completed her fifteenth year, a quite unheard of swarm of suitors made their appearance, as may well be imagined; and for all that she said no to all of them, they only increased in number. At last the princess said: "None other shall win me save he who can ride up the high Glass Mountain in full armor!" The king thought this a good suggestion. He approved of his daughter's wish, and had proclaimed throughout the kingdom that none other should have the princess save he who could ride up the Glass Mountain.

And when the day set by the king had arrived, the princess was led up the Glass Mountain. There she sat on its highest peak, with a golden crown on her head, and a golden apple in her hand, and she looked so immeasurably lovely that there was no one who would not have liked to risk his life for her. Just below the foot of the hill all the suitors assembled[139] with splendid horses and glittering armor, that shone like fire in the sun, and from round about the people flocked together in great crowds to watch their tilting. And when everything was ready, the signal was given by horns and trumpets, and then the suitors, one after another, raced up the mountain with all their might. But the mountain was high, as slippery as ice, and besides it was steep beyond all measure. Not one of the suitors rode up more than a little way, before he tumbled down again, head over heels, and it might well happen that arms and legs were broken in the process. This made so great a noise, together with the neighing of the horses, the shouting of the people, and the clash of arms, that the tumult and the shouting could be heard far away.

And while all this was going on, the king's son was rambling about with his oxen, deep in the wood. But when he heard the tumult and the clashing of arms, he sat down on a stone, leaned his cheek on his hand, and became lost in thought. For it had occurred to him how gladly he would have fared forth with the rest. Suddenly he heard footsteps and when he looked up, the wild man was standing before him. "Thank you for the last time!" said he, "and why do you sit here so lonely and full of sorrow?" "Well," said the prince, "I have no choice but to be sad and joyless. Because of you I am a fugitive from the land of my father, and now I have not even[140] a horse and armor to ride up the Glass Mountain and fight for the princess." "Ah," said the wild man, "if that be all you want, then I can help you! You helped me once before and now I will help you in turn." Then he took the prince by the hand, led him deep down into the earth into his cave, and behold, there hung a suit of armor forged out of the hardest steel, and so bright that a blue gleam played all around it. Right beside it stood a splendid steed, saddled and bridled, pawing the earth with his steel hoofs, and champing his bit till the white foam dropped to the ground. The wild man said: "Now get quickly into your armor, ride out and try your luck! In the meantime I will tend your oxen." The prince did not wait to be told a second time; but put on helmet and armor, buckled on his spurs, hung his sword at his side, and felt as light in his steel armor as a bird in the air. Then he leaped into the saddle so that every clasp and buckle rang, laid his reins on the neck of his steed, and rode hastily toward the mountain.

The princess's suitors were about to give up the contest, for none of them had won the prize, though each had done his best. And while they stood there thinking it over, and saying that perhaps fortune would favor them another time, they suddenly saw a youth ride out of the wood straight toward the mountain. He was clad in steel from head to foot, with[141] helmet on head, sword in belt and shield on arm, and he sat his horse with such knightly grace that it was a pleasure to look at him. At once all eyes were turned to the strange knight, and all asked who he might be; for none had ever seen him before. Yet they had had but little time to talk and question, for no sooner had he cleared the wood, than he rose in his stirrups, gave his horse the spurs, and shot forward like an arrow straight up the Glass Mountain. Yet he did not ride up all the way; but when he had reached the middle of the steep ascent, he suddenly flung around his steed and rode down again, so that the sparks flew from his horse's hoofs. Then he disappeared in the wood like a bird in flight. One may imagine the excitement which now seized upon all the people, and there was not one who did not admire the strange knight. All agreed they had never seen a braver knight.

Time passed, and the princess's suitors decided to try their luck a second time. The king's daughter was once more led up the Glass Mountain, with great pomp and richly gowned, and was seated on its topmost peak, with the golden crown on her head, and a golden apple in her hand. At the foot of the hill gathered all the suitors with handsome horses and splendid armor, and round about stood all the people to watch the contest. When all was ready the signal was given by horns and trumpets, and at[142] the same moment the suitors, one after another, darted up the mountain with all their might. But all took place as at the first time. The mountain was high, and as slippery as ice, and besides, it was steep beyond all measure; not one rode up more than a little way before tumbling down again head over heels. Meanwhile there was much noise, and the horses neighed, and the people shouted, and the armor clashed, so that the tumult and the shouting sounded far into the deep wood.

And while all this was going on, the young prince was tending his oxen, which was his duty. But when he heard the tumult and the clashing of arms, he sat down on a stone, leaned his cheek on his hand, and wept; for he thought of the king's beautiful daughter, and it occurred to him how much he would like to take part and ride with the rest. That very moment he heard footsteps and when he looked up, the wild man was standing before him. "Good-day!" said the wild man, "and why do you sit here so lonely and full of sorrow?" Thereupon the prince replied: "I have no choice but to be sad and joyless. Because of you I am a fugitive from the land of my father, and now I have not even a horse and armor to ride up the mountain and fight for the princess!" "Ah," said the wild man, "if that be all you want, then I can help you! You helped me once before, and now I will help you in turn." Then[143] he took the prince by the hand, led him deep down in the earth into his cave, and there on the wall hung a suit of armor altogether forged of the clearest silver, and so bright that it shone afar. Right beside it stood a snow-white steed, saddled and bridled, pawing the earth with his silver hoofs, and champing his bit till the foam dropped to the ground. The wild man said: "Now get quickly into your armor, ride out and try your luck! In the meantime I will tend your oxen." The prince did not wait to be told a second time; but put on his helmet and armor in all haste, securely buckled on his spurs, hung his sword at his side, and felt as light in his silver armor as a bird in the air. Then he leaped into the saddle so that every clasp and buckle rang, laid his reins on the neck of his steed, and rode hastily toward the Glass Mountain.

The princess's suitors were about to give over the contest, for none of them had won the prize, though each had played a man's part. And while they stood there thinking it over, and saying that perhaps fortune would favor them the next time, they suddenly saw a youth ride out of the wood, straight toward the mountain. He was clad in silver from head to foot, with helmet on head, shield on arm, and sword at side, and he sat his horse with such knightly grace that a braver-looking youth had probably never been seen. At once all eyes were turned toward him,[144] and the people noticed that he was the same knight who had appeared before. But the prince did not leave them much time for wonderment; for no sooner had he reached the plain, than he rose in his stirrups, spurred on his horse, and rode like fire straight up the steep mountain. Yet he did not ride quite up to the top; but when he had come to its crest, he greeted the princess with great courtesy, flung about his steed, and rode down the mountain again till the sparks flew about his horse's hoofs. Then he disappeared into the wood as the storm flies. As one may imagine, the people's excitement was even greater than the first time, and there was not one who did not admire the strange knight. And all were agreed that a more splendid steed or a handsomer youth were nowhere to be found.

Time passed, and the king set a day when his daughter's suitors were to make a third trial. The princess was now once more led to the Glass Mountain, and seated herself on its highest peak, with the golden crown and the golden apple, as she had before. At the foot of the mountain gathered the whole swarm of suitors, with splendid horses and polished armor, handsome beyond anything seen thus far, and round about the people flocked together to watch the contest. When all was ready the suitors, one after another, darted up the mountain with all their might. The mountain[145] was as smooth as ice, and besides, it was steep beyond all measure; so that not one rode up more than a little way, before tumbling down again, head over heels. This made a great noise, the horses neighed, the people shouted, and the armor clashed, till the tumult and the shouting echoed far into the wood.

While this was all taking place the king's son was busy tending his oxen as usual. And when he once more heard the noise and the clash of arms, he sat down on a stone, leaned his cheek on his hand, and wept bitterly. Then he thought of the lovely princess, and would gladly have ventured his life to win her. That very moment the wild man was standing before him: "Good-day!" said the wild man, "And why do you sit here so lonely and full of sorrow?" "I have no choice but to be sad and joyless," said the prince. "Because of you I am a fugitive from the land of my father, and now I have not even a sword and armor to ride up the mountain and fight for the princess!" "Ah," said the wild man, "if that be all that troubles you I can help you! You helped me once before, and now I will help you in turn." With that he took the prince by the hand, led him into his cave deep down under the earth, and showed him a suit of armor all forged of the purest gold, and gleaming so brightly that its golden glow shone far[146] and wide. Beside it stood a magnificent steed, saddled and bridled, pawing the earth with its golden hoofs, and champing its bit until the foam fell to the ground. The wild man said: "Now get quickly into your armor, ride out and try your luck! In the meantime I will tend your oxen." And to tell the truth, the prince was not lazy; but put on his helmet and armor, buckled on his golden spurs, hung his sword at his side, and felt as light in his golden armor as a bird in the air. Then he leaped into the saddle, so that every clasp and buckle rang, laid his reins on the neck of his steed, and rode hastily toward the mountain.

The princess's suitors were about to give up the contest; for none of them had won the prize, though each had done his best. And while they stood there thinking over what was to be done, they suddenly saw a youth come riding out of the wood, straight toward the mountain. He was clad in gold from head to foot, with the golden helmet on his head, the golden shield on his arm, and the golden sword at his side, and so knightly was his bearing that a bolder warrior could not have been met with in all the wide world. At once all eyes were turned toward him, and one could see that he was the same youth who had already appeared at different times. But the prince gave them but little time to question and wonder; for no sooner had he reached the plain[147] than he gave his horse the spurs, and shot up the steep mountain like a flash of lightning. When he had reached its highest peak, he greeted the beautiful princess with great courtesy, kneeled before her, and received the golden apple from her hand. Then he flung about his steed, and rode down the Glass Mountain again, so that the sparks flew about the golden hoofs of his horse, and a long ribbon of golden light gleamed behind him. At last he disappeared in the wood like a star. What a commotion now reigned about the mountain! The people broke forth into cheers that could be heard far away, horns sounded, trumpets called, horses neighed, arms clashed, and the king had proclaimed far and near that the unknown golden knight had won the prize.

Now all that was wanting was some information about the golden knight; for no one knew him; and all the people expected that he would at once make his appearance at the castle. But he did not come. This caused great surprise, and the princess grew pale and ill. But the king was put out, and the suitors murmured and found fault day by day. And at length, when they were all at their wits' end, the king had a great meeting announced at his castle, which every man, high and low, was to attend; so that the princess might choose among them herself. There was no one who was not glad to go[148] for the princess's sake, and also because it was a royal command, and a countless number of people gathered together. And when they had all assembled, the princess came out of the castle with great pomp, and followed by her maids, passed through the entire multitude. But no matter how much she looked about her on every side, she did not find the one for whom she was looking. When she reached the last row she saw a man who stood quite hidden by the crowd. He had a flat cap and a wide gray mantle such as shepherds wear; but its hood was drawn up so that his face could not be seen. At once the princess ran up to him, drew down his hood, fell upon his neck and cried: "Here he is! Here he is!" Then all the people laughed; for they saw that it was the king's herdsman, and the king himself called out: "May God console me for the son-in-law who is to be my portion!" The man, however, was not at all abashed, but replied: "O, you need not worry about that at all! I am just as much a king's son as you are a king!"

With that he flung aside his wide mantle. And there were none left to laugh; for instead of the grey herdsman, there stood a handsome prince, clad in gold from head to foot, and holding the princess's golden apple in his hand. And all could see that[149] it was the same youth who had ridden up the Glass Mountain.

Then they prepared a feast whose like had never before been seen, and the prince received the king's daughter, and with her half of the kingdom. Thenceforward they lived happily in their kingdom, and if they have not died they are living there still. But nothing more was ever heard of the wild man. And that is the end.


Very popular throughout the North is "The Princess on the Glass Mountain." (Hyltén-Cavallius and Stephens, p. 390, somewhat abridged) who may be looked upon as a relative of the Brunhilde of heroic legend, who may be brought down from her inaccessible height only by the bravest of the brave. The "wild man" who appears in the part of a magician to aid the hero, is a familiar figure in Northern legend. King Harald Harfagr, according to the "Book of Flateyar," released a "wild man" of this kind from captivity at his father's court, when a boy of five.




Once upon a time there was a poor, poor boy. He went to the king and begged to be taken into service as a shepherd, and all called him "Sheep-Peter." While he was herding his sheep, he used to amuse himself with his crossbow. One day he saw a crane sitting in an oak-tree, and wanted to shoot her. The crane, however, hopped down further and further, and at last settled in the lowest branches. Then she said: "If you promise not to shoot me, I will help you whenever you are in trouble. You need only to call out: 'God aid me, and Queen Crane stay by me, and I will succeed!'" With that the bird flew away.

At length war broke out and the king had to take the field. Then Sheep-Peter came to the king and asked whether he might not be allowed to go along to war. They gave him an old nag to ride, and he rode into a swamp along the highway, and there the horse died. So he sat down and clicked with his tongue; but the horse would not move. And the[151] people who rode by had their sport with him; while the youth pretended to feel sad.

When the people had all passed by, the youth went to the oak in which the Queen Crane dwelt. Here he was given a black steed, a suit of brazen armor, and a silver sword. Thus he rode to battle and got there as quickly as he could wish. Then he said: "God aid me, and Queen Crane stay by me, and I will succeed!" With that he killed all the enemy and rode away again. But the king thought that an angel had come to help him, and wanted to hold him back. The youth, however, rode quickly back to the oak, took off his armor, went down to the swamp, and once more began to click to his horse. When the people rode by they laughed and said: "You were not along to-day, so you missed seeing how an angel came and killed all the enemy." And the youth pretended to feel sad, so sad.

The following day the king once more had to take the field. And Sheep-Peter came to him and said he wanted to go along. So they gave him an old nag to ride, and he rode into a swamp beside the highway. Then he sat down and clicked with his tongue; but the horse would not move. When the people rode by they had their sport with him; but the youth pretended to feel sad, so sad. When the people had gone by, he went to the oak in which the[152] Queen Crane dwelt, and was given a white steed, a suit of silver armor, and a golden sword. Thus equipped he rode to battle. When he arrived he said: "God aid me, and Queen Crane ... and I will succeed!" But he had forgotten to say "stay by me," and so he was shot in the leg. But the king took out his handkerchief, and tied up his leg. Then the youth said once more: "God aid me, and Queen Crane stay by me, and I will succeed!" And he slew all of the enemy. Then the king thought he was an angel from heaven, and wanted to hold him. But the youth rode quickly to the oak, took off his armor, and then went down to his nag in the swamp and tried to get it to move, while the soldiers were passing. They laughed and said: "You were not along to-day, and did not see how an angel came from heaven and killed all of the enemy." The youth pretended to be very sad.

On the third day all happened as before. The king took the field. The youth was given a wretched nag and rode it into a swamp beside the highway. Then he began to click with his tongue but the nag would not go on, and the people who rode past laughed at him. He pretended to feel very sad; but when the people had passed, he went to the oak in which Queen Crane dwelt, and she gave him a red steed, a golden sword, and a golden suit of armor.[153] Thus equipped he rode to war, and all happened as before. He said: "God aid me, and Queen Crane stay by me, and I will succeed!" and slew all the enemy. The king thought he was an angel from heaven and wanted to hold him back by all means; but the youth rode quickly to the oak, took off his armor, and rode down to the swamp where he had his three nags. He hid the king's handkerchief, and when the people passed by he was clicking with his tongue as usual.

Now the king had three princesses, and they were to be carried off by three meer-women. So the king had it proclaimed that whoever could rescue them should receive one of them for a wife. When the day came on which the oldest princess was to be carried away, Sheep-Peter received a steed, a suit of armor and a sword from Queen Crane. With them he rode to the castle, fetched the princess, took her before him on his steed, and then lay down on the sea-shore to sleep. He had a dog with him as well. And while he slept the princess wove her hair-ribbon into his hair. Suddenly the meer-woman appeared, and she awakened him and bade him mount his steed. Many people had been standing there; but when the meer-woman appeared they all took fright, and climbed into tall trees. But the youth said: "God aid me, and Queen Crane stay by me, and I will succeed!" And then he slew the[154] meer-woman. Thereupon he rode quickly back to Queen Crane, took off his armor, and herded his sheep again. But among the on-lookers had been a nobleman, who threatened the princess, and forced her to say that he had rescued her. And from Sheep-Peter no one heard a word.

On the following day the second princess was to be carried off. So Sheep-Peter went to Queen Crane, who gave him a steed, a suit of armor and a sword, and with them he rode to the castle, and fetched the second princess. When they reached the sea-shore the meer-woman had not yet appeared. So the youth lay down to sleep and said to the princess: "Wake me when the meer-woman comes, and if you cannot wake me, then tell my horse." With that he fell asleep, and meanwhile the princess wove a string of pearls into his hair. When the meer-woman came, the princess tried to wake him; but he would not wake up at all, and so she told the horse to waken him. And the horse did wake him. The great lords, however, who were standing about, climbed into the trees out of pure fright when the meer-woman appeared. The youth took the princess on his steed, cried: "God aid me, and Queen Crane stay by me, and I will succeed!" and with that he slew the meer-woman. Then he rode quickly back to Queen Crane, took off his armor, and led his flock out to pasture. But among the on-lookers had[155] been a count, who threatened the princess, and said he would thrust her through with his sword if she did not swear he had rescued her. The princess did so out of fear; but from Sheep-Peter no one heard a word.

On the third day the same thing happened. Sheep-Peter was given a suit of armor, a sword and a steed by Queen Crane, and fetched the youngest princess. When he lay down on the sea-shore to sleep, he said to her: "When the meer-woman comes, wake me, and if you cannot wake me, then tell the horse to wake me, and if the horse cannot wake me, then ask the dog to wake me." When the meer-woman came, neither the princess nor the horse was able to wake him, and they had to call the dog to help them. At last he woke up, took the princess on his horse, cried: "God aid me, and Queen Crane stay by me, and I will succeed!" and slew the meer-woman. Then he rode back again to Queen Crane, took off his armor and let his flock out to pasture.

Not long after, the deliverers of the princesses were to come to the castle and be married. But first the king asked his daughters which of the three each wanted to have. So the oldest said: "The gentleman from court," and the second said: "the count," but the third said "Sheep-Peter." Then the king was very angry with his youngest daughter; for he did not believe for a moment that Sheep-Peter[156] had delivered her. But she insisted and said she would take no one else. The king then presented an apple of pure gold to the count and the court gentleman; but Sheep-Peter got nothing.

Now all three of them were to hold a three-days' shooting-match, in order to see which was the best shot; for the king hoped that Sheep-Peter would make a proper laughing-stock of himself, and drop far behind the others without any effort on their part. But Sheep-Peter was so good a marksman that he hit everything at which he aimed. And the very first day he shot a great deal, while the others shot but little. Then they bought the game he had shot from him, and gave him a golden apple for it. The same thing happened the second day, and thus he got the other gold apple. But when Peter came home on the evening of the first and second day, he had only a crow dangling from his blunderbuss. And when he met the king, he threw the crow to the ground and cried: "There is my whole bag!"

On the third day all went as before. Sheep-Peter hit everything at which he aimed; but the others scored no hits. Then Sheep-Peter promised them all he had bagged, if they would let him write what he chose on their necks. They agreed to the bargain, and he wrote on the neck of each: "A thief and a rascal." Then all three went home, and again Peter had no more than a crow to show.[157]

At night all three of them slept together in one room. When they woke in the morning, the king came in to them, said good-morning, and asked how they were. But he was much surprised to see that Sheep-Peter was keeping them company. Then the youth said: "I was in the war, and slew all of the enemy!" "Ah!" said the king, "you did not do that, it was an angel from heaven; for you were sitting in the swamp." Then Sheep-Peter drew out the king's handkerchief, and then the king recognized him. Then the herdsman said: "I also delivered the princesses!" But the king would not believe that, and laughed at him. And then the youngest princess came along and told how it all had happened.

And the youth took out the ribands of the other princesses, and the king had to believe that this, too, was true. Then, Peter continued: "I also shot all the game!" And again the king would not believe him and said: "Nonsense, why you never brought home anything of an evening but a wretched crow!" Then Peter produced the golden apples: "I was given this one for the first day, and the other for the second." "And what did you get for the third?" asked the king. Then the shepherd showed him what he had written on the necks of the other suitors. And when the king saw that, he had to believe him. And so he really got the youngest[158] princess, and with her half of the kingdom, and after the king's death, all of it. But the two sham heroes got nothing at all, and had only their trouble for their pains.


"Queen Crane" is also a very popular Northern fairy-tale. (From the collection of Hyltén-Cavallius and Stephens, communicated by Dr. v. Sydow-Lund). It is another of those tales with a presumably witless hero, but with a motive generally unknown: a bird bestows weapons and armor on the poor boy; while ordinarily this is done by a troll, a horse, or the spirit of one departed.





A peasant from Jursagard in the parish of Hanger had gone to the forest the day before Christmas, and started out for home late in the evening. He had just about reached the Klintaberg when he heard some one call out: "Tell the malt-swine to come home, for her child has fallen into the fire!" When the peasant reached home, there stood his wife, who had been brewing the Yuletide ale, and she was complaining that though she brewed and brewed, it did not have the right flavor. Then he told her what had been shouted at him from the hill, and that very moment a troll-witch, whom they had not noticed before, darted down from the stove and made off in a great hurry. And when they looked closer, they found that she had left behind a great kettle full of the best malt, which she had gathered during the brewing. And that was the reason the poor woman had not been able to give her brew the right flavor. The kettle was large, made of ornamented metal, and was long preserved in Hanger.[160] It was at length sold at auction in 1838, and melted down.


In former days, when a child came into the world, his mother was known as a "heathen," until she could take him to church to be christened. And it was not safe for her to leave the house unless she carried steel about her in some shape or form. Now once there was one of these "heathen" women in Norra Ryd, in the parish of Hanger, who prepared lunch for the mowers, and went out and called them in to eat. Then one of the mowers said to her: "I cannot come, for my sheaf is not yet bound." "I will bind it for you," said the woman. The mowers went in and ate, but saw no more of her. They went back into the field, and were about to take up their work again, but still neither saw nor heard her. They began to search, and hunted for a number of days; but all in vain. Time passed, till it was late in the fall. One day the weather was clear and sunny. To this very day there is a cotter's hut, called Kusabo, that stands on a hill named Kusas, and the cotter who lived there went to look for a horse. And there on the hillside he saw the woman sitting who had disappeared, and she was sewing. It was not far from Kusabo to Norra Ryd, so he recognized her at once. He said[161] "O, you poor thing, and here you sit!" "Yes," said she, "but you must never mention it to Lars"—that was her husband—"for I shall never return from this place. Even now I am only allowed to sit outside for a little while."


Once upon a time a girl was hunting for berries on Kusabo mountain, and was taken into the hill. But she wept, night and day, which disgruntled the trolls, and they let her out again. But just as they were letting her out, one of the trolls hit her such a blow on the back that she was hump-backed for the rest of her life. She herself used to tell how she had been kept in the hill.


Primitive faith and superstition are reflected in these three "Tales of the Trolls" (communicated from mss. belonging to Dr. v. Sydow-Lund). The first is also current in Norway; the others tell of women who have been bergtagen, "taken into the mountain." It is not so long since that every humped back, every weak mind, in short, every ill that had no visible explanation, was ascribed to the troll folk.




In the old days there lived on a headland that juts out into the northwestern corner of Lake Rasval, in the neighborhood of the Linde mining-district, a charcoal-burner named Nils, generally known as Charcoal Nils. He let a farm-hand attend to his little plot of land, and he himself made his home in the forest, where he chopped wood in the summer and burned it to charcoal in the winter. Yet no matter how hard he struggled, his work was unblessed with reward, and no one ever spoke of him save as poor Charcoal Nils.

One day, when he was on the opposite shore of the lake, near the gloomy Harsberg, a strange woman came up to him, and asked whether he needed some one to help him with his charcoal burning.

"Yes, indeed," said he, "help would be welcome." So she began to gather blocks of wood and tree-trunks, more than Charcoal Nils could have dragged together with his horse, and by noon there was enough wood for a new kiln. When evening came, she asked the charcoal-burner whether he were[163] satisfied with the day's work she had done, and if she were to come back the next day.

That suited the charcoal-burner perfectly, and she came back the next day and all the following ones. And when the kiln had been burned out she helped Nils clear it, and never before had he had such a quantity of charcoal, nor charcoal of so fine a quality.

So she became his wife and lived with him in the wood for three years. They had three children, yet this worried Nils but little, seeing that she looked after them, and they gave him no trouble.

But when the fourth year came, she grew more exacting, and insisted on going back to his home with him, and living with him there. Nils wished to hear nothing about this; yet since she was so useful to him in his charcoal-burning, he did not betray his feelings, and said he would think it over.

It happened one Sunday that he went to church—where he had not been for many years, and what he heard there brought up thoughts he had not known since the innocent days of his childhood. He began to wonder whether there were not some hocus-pocus about the charcoal-burning, and whether it were not due to the forest woman, who aided him so willingly.

Preoccupied with this and other thoughts, he forgot while returning to his kiln, that he had promised[164] the strange woman at the very beginning, when she had first helped him, that, whenever he had been home and was returning to the kiln, he would rap three times with his ax against an old pine-tree not far from it. On this occasion, as we have said, he forgot the sign, and as a result he saw something that nearly robbed him of his wits.

As he drew near the kiln, he saw it all aflame, and around it stood the three children and their mother, and they were clearing out the kiln. They were pulling down and putting out so that flames, smoke and ashes whirled sky-high, but instead of the spruce-branches that were generally used to put out the fire, they had bushy tails which they dipped in the snow!

When Charcoal Nils had looked on for a while, he slunk back to the old pine-tree, and made its trunk echo to the sound of his three ax-strokes till one could hear them on the Harsberg. Then he went to the kiln, as though he had seen nothing, and all went on as before. The kiln was glowing with a handsome, even glow, and the tall woman was about and working as usual.

As soon as she saw Charcoal Nils, she came back with her pressing demand that he take her home to his little house, and that they live there.

"Yes, that shall come about," said Nils to console her, and turned back home to fetch a horse. But[165] instead he went out on the headline of Kallernäs, on the eastern shore of Lake Rasval, where a wise man lived, and asked the latter what he should do.

The old man advised him to go home and hitch his horse to his charcoal-wagon, but to hitch the horse in such wise that there would be not a single loop either in the harness or traces. Then he was to mount the horse and ride back to the kiln without stopping, have the troll-woman and her children get into the wagon, and at once drive out on the ice with them.

The charcoal-burner did as the old man told him, saddled his horse, paying strict attention that there were no loops in saddle or bridle, rode across the ice through the wood to his kiln, and told the troll-woman and her children to get in. Then he quickly turned back through the wood, out on the ice, and there let his horse run as fast as he could. When he reached the middle of the lake, he saw a pack of wolves running along in the direction of Aboda-land, at the northern end of the lake, and heading for the ice. Then he tore the saddle-harness from the traces, so that the wagon with the troll-folk was left standing on the bare ice, and rode as fast as his horse could carry him for the opposite shore. When the trolls saw the wolves they began to scream.

"Turn back, turn back!" cried the mother. "And[166] if you will not for my sake, then at least do so for the sake of Vipa (Peewee), your youngest daughter!" But Charcoal Nils rode for the shore without looking back. Then he heard the troll-woman calling on others for aid.

"Brother in the Harsberg,
Sister in Stripa,
Cousin in Ringfels;
Take the loop and pull!"

"There is no loop to pull!" came the answer from deep within the Harsberg. "Then catch him at Harkallarn." "He is not riding in that direction." The reply came from Ringfels.

And indeed Charcoal Nils did not ride in that direction; but over stick and stone straight to his own home. Yet when he reached his own courtyard, the horse fell, and a shot from the trolls tore away a corner of the stable. Nils shortly after fell sick, and had to lie a-bed for a number of weeks. When he was well again he sold his forest land, and worked the little farm by the cottage until his death. So that was one occasion when the troll-folk came off second best.


In "Charcoal Nils and the Troll-Woman" (Hofberg, p. 148. From Vestmanland) we have the story of a strange union. Malicious as the troll-folk are, when a marriage takes place between a troll-woman and a human being, the woman is beyond reproach, good and kind, the only reproach that can be made her is that she is not a Christian.




Once upon a time there was a king who went forth into the world and fetched back a beautiful queen. And after they had been married a while God gave them a little daughter. Then there was great rejoicing in the city and throughout the country, for the people wished their king all that was good, since he was kind and just. While the child lay in its cradle, a strange-looking old woman entered the room, and no one knew who she was nor whence she came. The old woman spoke a verse over the child, and said that she must not be allowed out under the open sky until she were full fifteen years of age, since otherwise the mountain troll would fetch her. When the king heard this he took her words to heart, and posted guards to watch over the little princess so that she would not get out under the open sky.

Some time afterward God gave the royal pair another little daughter, and again the whole kingdom rejoiced. But the wise old woman once more put in an appearance, and warned the king not to let the princess out under the open sky until she[168] were full fifteen years of age. And then, after a time, God gave the royal pair a third daughter. This time, too, the old woman appeared, and repeated what she had already twice said. Then the king was much grieved; for he loved his children above everything in the world. Therefore he gave strict orders that the three princesses were always to be kept beneath the roof of the castle, and that none were to dare transgress against this command.

Now a long time passed, and the king's daughters grew up and became the most beautiful maidens of whom one has ever heard tell. Then war broke out and the king, their father, had to leave them. One day, while he was away at war, the three princesses were sitting in the window and looking out, watching the sun shine on the little flowers in the garden. And they felt a great desire to play with the lovely flowers, and begged their guards to let them go into the garden for a little while. But this their guards would not allow, for they feared the king's anger. Yet the king's daughters pleaded so very sweetly that they could not deny their pleas and they let them have their way. But the princesses did not have long to walk about, for no sooner were they beneath the open sky, than a cloud came suddenly down, and bore them off, and all attempts to regain possession of them were fruitless; though search was made in every direction.[169]

Then the whole kingdom mourned and grieved, and one may imagine that the king was anything but happy when he returned home and learned all that had happened. Yet what is done cannot be undone, and in the end they had to resign themselves to it. And since the king knew of no other way to help himself, he had proclaimed throughout the kingdom that whoever would deliver his three daughters out of the power of the mountain troll should have one of them for his bride, and with her half of the kingdom. When this became known in foreign lands, many youths set forth with horses and followers to seek the princesses. At the king's court were two princes who also went forth to see whether fortune would be kind to them. They armed themselves in the best possible way with coats of mail and costly weapons, and bragged and boasted that they would not return without having done what they set out to do.

And now we will let the king's sons ride out over the world on their quest, while we turn to other people. Far, far out in the wild wood there lived a poor widow, who had an only son who drove his mother's pigs to pasture every day. And as he crossed the fields, he whittled himself a flute, and amused himself playing it. And he played so sweetly that he warmed the cockles of the hearts of all those who heard him.[170]

Now it chanced that the young swine-herd once sat in the wood blowing his flute, while his three pigs were digging under the pine-roots. And an old, old man came along, with a beard so long and so broad that it hung far below his girdle. The old man had a large, powerful dog with him. When the youth saw the great dog, he thought to himself: "If a fellow had a dog like that to keep him company here in the wilderness, he might consider himself lucky." And when the old man noticed this, he began: "That is why I have come, for I want to exchange my dog for one of your pigs." The youth was at once willing, and closed the bargain. He received the great dog, and gave up the gray pig in place of it. Then the old man went his way. But as he left he said: "You have reason to be satisfied with our exchange, for that dog is not like other dogs. His name is 'Take Hold!' and whatever you tell him to take hold of he will seize, even though it were the grimmest of trolls." Thereupon they parted, and the youth thought that fortune had indeed favored him.

In the evening he called his dog and drove his pigs home. But when his old mother heard that he had given away the gray pig for a dog, she was angry beyond measure, and gave her son a good drubbing. The youth told her to calm herself; but all in vain, the longer it lasted the more furious she[171] became. Then, since he did not know what else to do, he called out to his dog: "Take hold!" At once the dog ran up, seized the old mother and held her so tightly that she could not move. But otherwise he did her no harm. And now she had to promise her son to make the best of the matter, and then they were friends once more.

The following day the youth went to the wood again, with his dog and the two pigs. After a time he sat down and played his flute as usual, and the dog danced to his playing with such skill, that it was nothing short of a miracle. And as he was sitting there, the old man with the gray beard came out of the wood again, and with him another dog, no smaller than the first. When the youth saw the handsome beast he thought to himself: "If a fellow had that dog to keep him company here where it is so lonely, he need have no fear." When the old man noticed this, he began: "That is why I have come, for I want to exchange my dog for one of your pigs." The youth did not lose any time, but agreed to close the bargain. He received the great dog, and gave up one of his pigs in place of it. Then the old man went his way. Yet before he left he added: "You have reason to be well satisfied with your purchase, for this dog is not like the other dogs. His name is 'Tear!' and if you give him something to tear, he will tear it to pieces, even[172] though it were the grimmest of trolls." Then they parted. But the youth was happy in the idea that he had made a capital exchange; although he knew that his old mother would not be content with it. And when evening came, and the youth went home, his old mother was no less angry than she had been before. But this time she did not venture to beat her son, because she was afraid of the great dogs. Yet, as is usual, when women have scolded long enough, they stop of their own accord—and that is what happened in this case. The youth and his mother made peace with each other; though the mother thought to herself that the damage done could not well be repaired.

On the third day the youth went into the wood again with his pig and two dogs. He felt very happy, seated himself on a tree-stump and played his flute as usual. And the dogs danced to his playing with such skill that it was a pleasure to watch them. As the youth was sitting there in peace and quiet, the old gray-beard once more came out of the wood. This time he had a third dog with him, who was as large as both the others together. When the youth saw the handsome animal he could not help but think: "If a fellow had this dog to keep him company in the wilderness, he would have no cause for complaint." The old man at once began: "That is why I have come, in order to sell my dog, for I[173] can see you would like to have him." The youth was at once willing and agreed to close the bargain. So he received the great dog and gave up his last pig in place of it. Then the old man went his way. Yet before he went he said: "You will be satisfied with your exchange, for this dog is not like other dogs. His name is 'Hark!' and his hearing is so keen that he hears everything that happens, though it be happening many miles away. He even hears the grass and the trees grow." Then they parted in the friendliest spirit. But the youth was happy in the thought that now he need fear nothing in the world. And then, when evening came on, and the swine-herd went home, his mother was very sad to think that her son had sold all they possessed. But the youth told her to be of good courage, since he would see to it that they did not suffer want. And when he spoke to her in such a cheerful manner, she grew content again, and decided that he had spoken in wise and manly fashion. Then when day dawned the youth went hunting with his dogs, and came back at evening with as much game as he could possibly carry. And he continued to go hunting in this way for a time until his old mother's store-room was well provided with meat and all sorts of good things. Then he bade his mother a fond farewell, called his dogs, and said he was going to wander out into the world and try his fortune.[174]

And he fared forth over mountains and tangled ways, and came into the heart of a sombre forest. There he met the gray-beard of whom I have already told you. And when he met him the youth was much pleased, and said: "Good-day, grandfather, and thanks for the last time!" And the old man replied: "Good-day to you, and whither away?" The youth answered: "I am wandering out into the world to see what fortune has in store for me." Then the old man said: "Keep right on going till you come to the royal castle, and there your fortune will take a turn." And with that they parted. The youth followed the old man's advice and for a time wandered on straight ahead. When he came to a tavern he played his flute and let his dogs dance, and was never at a lack for bed and board, and whatever else he might want.

After he had wandered long and far, he at length came to a great city, whose streets were filled with people. The youth wondered what it all meant, and at last reached the spot where, to the sound of bell, the king's proclamation was being cried—that whoever should deliver the three princesses out of the power of the troll, would receive one of them, and half the kingdom as well. Now he understood what the old man had meant. He called his dogs, and went to the king's castle. But there all had been grief and mourning since the day the king's[175] daughters had disappeared. And of them all the king and queen were the most sorrowful. Then the youth went to the keeper of the door, and asked him whether he might play and show his dogs before the king. The courtiers were willing, for they hoped it might make him feel more cheerful. So he was admitted and allowed to show his tricks. And when the king had heard him play, and had seen the skillful dancing of his dogs, he grew quite merry, and none had seen him as happy during all the seven long years that had passed since he had lost his daughters.

When the dance was over, the king asked the youth what he asked as a reward for having given him such a pleasure. The youth answered: "My lord king, I did not come to you to win gold and gear. But I have another request to make: that you allow me to set out and search for your three daughters, carried away by a mountain troll." When the king heard this his thoughts once more grew gloomy, and he replied: "You need not even think of delivering my daughters. It is no child's play, and your betters have already attempted it in vain. Yet should it really come to pass that you deliver one of the princesses, you may be sure that I will not break my word." So he took leave of the king and set forth. And he decided to take no rest until he had found what he sought.[176]

Now he passed through many broad kingdoms without meeting with any special adventures. And wherever he went his dogs followed him. "Hark!" ran along and listened for anything worth hearing to be heard around them; "Take Hold!" carried his master's knapsack and "Tear!" who was the strongest, carried his master when the latter was weary. One day "Hark!" came running up hastily, and told his master that he had gone to a high mountain, and had heard the king's daughter, who sat within it and span, and that the troll was not at home. This greatly pleased the youth, and he hurried toward the mountain together with his three dogs. When they got there "Hark!" said: "There is no time to lose. The troll is only ten miles away, and I can already hear the golden horse-shoes of his steed ringing on the stones." The youth now ordered his dogs to break down the door into the mountain, and they did. And as he stepped into the mountain he saw a lovely maiden, sitting in the mountain-hall, winding a golden thread on a golden spindle. The youth went up and greeted the lovely girl. Then the king's daughter was much surprised and said: "Who are you that dare to venture into the giant's hall? During all the seven long years I have been sitting here in the mountain I have never yet seen a human being." And she added: "For heaven's sake hasten away before[177] the troll returns home, or else your life will be forfeit!" But the youth was unafraid, and said that he would await the giant's return without fear.

While they were talking together, the giant came riding along on his colt shod with gold. When he saw the gate standing open he grew furiously angry and shouted till the whole mountain shook: "Who has broken my mountain door?" The youth boldly answered: "I did, and now I shall break you as well! 'Take Hold!' seize him! 'Tear!' and 'Hark!' tear him into a thousand pieces." No sooner had he spoken than the dogs rushed up, fell upon the giant and tore him into countless pieces. Then the princess was happy beyond measure and said: "God be praised, now I am freed!" And she fell upon the youth's neck and gave him a kiss. But he did not wish to stay there any longer, saddled the giant's colt, loaded it with all the gold and gear he found in the mountain, and hastily went away with the king's beautiful daughter.

They passed on together a long distance. Then, one day, "Hark!" who always ran ahead scouting, came quickly back to his master, and told him he had been near a high mountain, and had heard the king's second daughter sitting within it winding golden yarn, and that the troll himself was not at home. This was very welcome news for the youth, and he hurried toward the mountain with his faithful dogs.[178] Now when they drew near "Hark!" said: "There is no time to lose. The giant is only eight miles away, and I can already hear the golden horse-shoes of his steed ringing on the stones." The youth at once ordered his dogs to break down the door into the mountain, no matter which way. And when he stepped into the interior of the mountain he saw a lovely maiden sitting in the mountain hall, winding golden yarn on a golden windle. The youth went up and greeted the lovely girl. The king's daughter was much surprised and said: "Who are you that dare to venture into the giant's hall? During all the seven years I have been sitting here in the mountain I have never yet seen a human being." And she added: "For heaven's sake, hasten away, for if the troll comes your life will be forfeit!" But the youth told her why he had come, and said that he would await the troll's return quite undisturbed.

While they were still talking together, the giant came riding on his steed shod with gold, and drew up outside the mountain. When he noticed that the great door was open, he grew furiously angry, and shouted till the mountain trembled to its very roots. He said: "Who has broken my mountain door?" The youth boldly answered: "I have, and now I shall break you as well! 'Take Hold,' seize him! 'Tear!' and 'Hark!' tear him into a [179]thousand pieces!" The dogs at once rushed up, threw themselves upon the giant, and tore him into as many pieces as leaves fall in the autumn. Then the king's daughter was happy beyond measure and cried: "God be praised, now I am freed!" and she fell upon the youth's neck and gave him a kiss. But he led the princess to her sister, and one can imagine-how glad they were to see each other again. Then the youth packed up all the treasures he found in the mountain hall, loaded them on the giant's steed, and went his way with the king's two daughters. And they wandered along for a long time. Then, one day, "Hark!" who always ran ahead scouting, came hastily to his master and told him that he had been near a high mountain, and had heard the king's third daughter sitting within and weaving a web of gold, and that the troll was not at home. This was very welcome news for the youth, and he hastened toward the mountain, followed by his three dogs. When he drew near "Hark!" said: "There is no time to lose, for the giant is only five miles away. I can already hear the golden horse-shoes of his steed ringing on the stones." Then the youth at once ordered his dogs to break down the door into the mountain, by hook or by crook. And when he stepped into the mountain, he saw a girl sitting in the mountain hall, weaving a web of gold. But this maiden was lovely[180] beyond all measure, with a loveliness exceeding all the youth had ever thought to find on earth. He now went up and greeted the lovely maiden. Then the king's daughter was much surprised and said: "Who are you that dare to venture into the giant's hall? During all the seven long years I have been sitting here in the mountain I have never yet seen a human being." And she added: "For heaven's sake, hasten away before the troll comes, or else your life will be forfeit!" But the youth was full of confidence, and said he would gladly venture his life for the king's lovely daughter.



While they were still talking the giant came riding along on his colt shod with gold, and drew up at the foot of the mountain. When he went in he saw that uninvited guests had arrived, and was much frightened; for well he knew of the fate that had befallen his brothers. He therefore thought it advisable to fall back upon cunning and treachery, for he had not dared to venture on open battle. For that reason he made many fine speeches, and was very friendly and smooth with the youth. Then he told the king's daughter to prepare a meal in order to show his guest all hospitality.

And since the troll knew so well how to talk, the youth allowed himself to be beguiled by his smooth words, and forgot to be on his guard. He sat down to the table with the giant; but the king's daughter[181] wept secretly, and the dogs were very restless; though no one paid them any attention.

When the giant and his guest had finished their meal, the youth said: "Now that I have satisfied my hunger, give me something to quench my thirst!" The giant replied: "On the mountain-top is a spring in which bubbles the clearest wine; but I have no one to fetch it." The youth answered: "If that be all that is lacking, one of my dogs can go up." Then the giant laughed in his false heart, for nothing suited him better than to have the youth send away his dogs. The youth ordered "Take Hold!" to go to the spring, and the giant handed him a great tankard. The dog went; yet it was easy to see that he did not go willingly; and the time passed and passed and he did not return.

After a while the giant said: "I wonder why your dog stays away so long? Perhaps you would let another of your dogs go and help him; for the way is long and the tankard is heavy." The youth did not suspect any trickery and agreed. He told "Tear!" to go and see why "Take Hold!" had not yet come. The dog wagged his tail, and did not want to leave his master. But the youth did not notice it and drove him off himself. Then the giant laughed heartily, and the king's daughter wept, yet the youth paid no attention; but was merry and at his ease, played with his sword, and dreamed of no danger.[182]

Thus a long time passed; but nothing was heard of the wine nor of the dogs. Then the giant said: "I can see that your dogs do not do as you bid them, otherwise we should not have to sit here and thirst. I think it would be well if you let 'Hark!' go up and see why they do not come back." The youth agreed, and told his third dog to hurry to the spring. But "Hark!" did not want to, and instead crept whining to his master's feet. Then the youth grew angry and drove him off by force. And when he reached the top of the mountain he shared the fate of the others, a high wall rose round about him, and he was made a prisoner by the giant's magic power.

Now that all three dogs were gone, the giant rose, and suddenly looked altogether different. He took down a long sword from the wall, and said: "Now I will do what my brothers did not do, and you must die at once, for you are in my power!" Then the youth was frightened, and he regretted he had allowed his dogs to leave him. He said: "I do not ask for my life, since in any event the time will come when I must die. But I would like to repeat the Lord's prayer, and play a psalm on my flute, for such is the custom in my country." The giant granted his prayer, but said that he would not wait long. So the youth kneeled and began to blow his flute till it sounded over hill and dale. And that very moment the magic wall was broken and the[183] dogs were freed. They came rushing on like the storm-wind, and fell upon the mountain troll. The youth at once rose and said: "'Take Hold!', seize him! 'Tear!' and 'Hark!' tear him into a thousand pieces!" Then the dogs flung themselves on the giant and tore him into countless pieces. Then the youth took all the treasures that lay in the mountain, hitched the giant's horses to a gilded wagon, and drove off as fast as he could.

Now when the king's daughters met again there was great joy, as may well be imagined, and all thanked the youth for delivering them out of the power of the mountain trolls. But the youth fell deeply in love with the youngest princess, and they promised to be true to each other. So the king's daughters passed on their way with music and merriment of every kind, and the youth served them with all the honor and courtesy due maidens of gentle birth. And while they were underway the princesses toyed with the youth's hair, and each tied her golden ring in his locks for remembrance.

One day while they were still underway, they met two wanderers, who were traveling the same road. The clothes of the two strangers were torn and their feet were sore, and their whole appearance showed that they had a long journey behind them. The youth stopped his wagon, and asked them who they were and whence they came. The strangers answered[184] that they were two princes, and had gone forth to search for the three maidens in the mountain. But fortune had not favored them; and now they had to return home more like journeymen than kings' sons. When the youth heard this he felt sorry for the two wanderers, and asked whether they would like to ride with him in his handsome wagon. The princes thanked him profusely for his offer. They drove on together, and came to the kingdom over which the father of the princesses reigned.

Now when the princes learned that the youth had delivered the king's three daughters, a great jealousy took possession of them, and they thought of how badly they had fared in their own venture. And they took counsel together as to how they might get the better of the youth, and win power and glory for themselves. But they hid their evil plot till a favorable opportunity offered for carrying it out. Then they suddenly threw themselves on their comrade, seized him by the throat and strangled him. And then they threatened to kill the princesses if they did not swear to keep silence. And since the king's daughters were in the power of the princes, they did not dare say no. But they felt very sorry for the youth who had given up his life for them, and the youngest princess mourned with all her heart, and all her happiness was at an end.[185]

After this great wrong the princes drove to the royal castle, and one may well imagine how happy the king was to get back his three daughters. In the meantime the poor youth lay like dead off in a gorge in the forest. Yet he was not quite dead, and his faithful dogs lay about him, kept him warm, and licked his wounds. And they did not stop until their master came back to life again. When he was once more well and strong he set out, and after many difficulties came to the royal castle in which the princesses dwelt.

When he came in the whole court was full of joy and merriment, and from the king's hall came the sound of dancing and string music. That surprised him greatly, and he asked what it all meant. The serving-man answered: "You must come from far away, since you do not know that the king has regained his daughters who were in the power of the mountain troll. This is the oldest princess's wedding-day."

The youth then asked after the youngest princess, and when she was to marry. But the serving-man said that she did not want a husband, and wept the live-long day, though no one knew why. Then the youth felt happy once more; for now he knew that she loved him, and had kept faith with him.

The youth now went to the keeper of the door, and bade him tell the king that a guest had arrived[186] who would add to the merriment of the wedding festivities by showing his dogs. This was to the king's liking, and he ordered that the stranger receive the best possible treatment. And when the youth stepped into the hall, the whole wedding company were astounded by his skill and his manly bearing, and all agreed that so handsome a youth was rarely seen. But no sooner had the king's three daughters recognized him, than they jumped up from the table, and flung themselves on his neck. And then the princes thought it best to make themselves scarce. But the king's daughters told how the youth had freed them, and the rest of their adventures; and to make quite certain they looked for their rings among his locks.

Now when the king heard of the trickery and treachery the two strange princes had used, he grew very angry and had them driven ignominously forth from the castle. But he received the brave youth with great honor, as he had deserved, and he was married to the king's youngest daughter that selfsame day. After the king's death the youth was chosen king of all the land, and a gallant king he was. And there he lives with his beautiful queen, and is reigning there happily to this very day. And that is all I have to do with it.


"The Three Dogs" (Hyltén-Cavallius and Stephens, p. 195. From West Gotland). Fairy tales have a high opinion of the power of music, for the magic of the flute-playing breaks the evil spell of the troll, just as in the story of "Faithful and Unfaithful," the sound of the fiddle makes the troll's golden hall come out of the mountain.




Once upon a time there was a peasant, who led his cow to pasture in the spring, and prayed God to have her in His care.

The evil one was sitting in a bush, heard him, and said to himself: "When things turn out well, they thank God for it; but if anything goes wrong, then I am always to blame!"

A few days later the cow strayed into a swamp. And when the peasant came and saw her he said: "Look at that! The devil has had his finger in the pie again!"

"Just what I might have expected," thought the devil in his bush. Then the peasant went off to fetch people to help drag the cow out. But in the meantime the devil slipped from his bush and helped out the cow, for he thought:

"Now he will have something to thank me for, too."

But when the peasant came back and saw the cow on dry land, he said: "Thank God, she's out again!"


The little story of "The Poor Devil." (Bondeson, p. 212. From Smaland) which shows him attempting to rival God, is at once humorous and philosophical.




The Smalanders declare:

At the time when our Lord created the earth, he made a level and fruitful stretch of land, and that was Schonen. But the devil had been busy in the meantime, and had created Smaland, a barren region consisting mainly of hills and swamps. When our Lord saw it, it looked very hopeless to him, and he strewed the bits of earth that remained in his apron out over it, and created the Smalanders. They turned out to be a fine race of men, handsome and strong and able to take care of themselves in any situation. It is said to this very day, that if you take a Smalander and set him down on a rock in the sea, he will still manage to save himself. But in the meantime the devil had been down in Schonen, and had created the people who live there, and that is why they are so slow, boastful and servile. But the people of Schonen say:

Once as our Lord and St. Peter were walking together, they heard a terrible commotion in a forest. "Go see what is happening there," said[189] our Lord. St. Peter went. And there was the devil and a Smalander, who were pummeling each other with might and main. St. Peter tried to separate them; but they paid no attention to him. So he took his sword and chopped off both their heads. And he told our Lord what he had seen and done: "No, that was not well done," the latter replied, "go and put back their heads where they were, and touch the wounds with your sword, and both will come to life again." St. Peter did so, but he exchanged heads. Since that time the Smalanders all have a bit of the devil about them, and those who know the devil, will tell you that he is more or less like the Smalanders.


The unfruitful district of Smaland and the lazy and servile people of Schonen (as retold and communicated by Dr. v. Sydow-Lund), are supposed to be creative efforts of the devil, at least so the Danes and Swedes were wont to say, and Selma Lagerlöf has repeated it after them with variants. But the people of Schonen lost no time in inventing a close relationship between the Smalanders and the devil.




One day the devil met Kitta Grau:

"Where have you been, old man?" asked Kitta Grau, for she recognized him.

"Well," said the evil one, "I have been out on the farmstead where the newly wedded couple live. This is the third time I have tried to sow dissension between them; but they think so much of each other that it is a sheer impossibility."

"You talk like a real stupid. That is something I could bring about the very first time I went there," said Kitta Grau.

"If you can do that, you shall have a splendid pair of shoes," was the evil one's reply.

"Mind you keep your word!" said Kitta, and turned toward the farmstead.

There the woman was home alone; for her husband had gone to the forest. Kitta said to the young wife:

"You really have a splendid husband."

"And that is the truth," the woman replied, "for he grants my every wish before it is spoken."

"But take my word for it," said Kitta, "there is[191] still a bit of deceit in him. He has a pair of long hairs under his chin—if you could get at them with a razor, and cut them off while he is asleep, then he would be altogether without malice."

"Well," said the woman, "if that will help, I will be sure to keep an eye open after dinner and attend to it, for then he always takes a little noon-day nap."

Then Kitta Grau went out into the forest to the husband and bade him good-day.

"You really have a very good wife," said Kitta.

"She could not be bettered," replied the husband.

"Well you might be mistaken for all that," said Kitta. "When you come home, be on your guard, for when you go to take your noon-day nap, she has in mind to cut your throat. So be sure not to go to sleep."

The husband did not think much of the matter; but still he thanked Kitta Grau for her trouble.

Then he went home and ate his dinner, laid down and pretended to fall asleep at once.

Thereupon his wife went to his shaving-kit, took out his razor, went softly up to him and took hold of his chin with her hand.

Up flew the man.

"Do you want to murder me?" he cried, and gave his wife such a thump that she measured her full length on the floor.[192]

And from that day forward there was no peace in the house. Now Kitta Grau was to receive her reward from the evil one. But he was so afraid of her that he did not venture to give her the shoes until he stood on one side of a stream, while she stood on the other, and then he passed them over to her on a long pole.

"You are ever so much worse than I am," he told Kitta Grau.

The black man had made a bargain with a merchant. He had promised him that all goods which he might buy he should sell again within three weeks' time at a handsome profit. But, if he had prospered, after seven years had passed he was to be the devil's own. And he did prosper; for no matter what manner of old trash the merchant bought, and if it were no more than an old worn-out fur coat, he was always able to sell it again, and always at a profit.

Kitta Grau came into his shop and showed him the handsome shoes the evil one had given her.

So the merchant said:

"May heaven keep me from him! He will surely fetch me when the time comes; for I have made a pact with him; and I have been unable to buy anything without selling it again in three weeks' time."

Then Kitta Grau said: "Buy me, for I am sure no one will buy me from you!" And that is what[193] the merchant did. He bought Kitta, had her disrobe and cover herself with tar, and roll in a pile of feathers. Then he put her in a glass cage as though she were a bird.

Now the first week went by, and the second week went by, and the third week went by, and no one appeared who wanted to buy the curious bird. And then, in due time, came the evil one, and wanted to fetch his merchant.

"Have patience," said the merchant, "I still have something I have bought, but have not been able to sell again in three weeks' time."

"That is something I'd like to see," said the black man. Then the merchant showed him Kitta Grau, sitting in her glass cage. But no sooner had the evil one seen the handsome bird than he cried:

"Oh, I see! It is you Kitta Grau! No one who knows you would buy you!"

And with that he hurried on his way.

Thus Kitta Grau could help do evil, and help do good.


The story of "The Evil One and Kitta Grau." (Bondeson, p. 206. From Halland) shows that it is child's play for an evil woman to accomplish what the devil himself cannot do. Yet some one has made an addition which redounds to Kitta's credit, and which makes her one of the heroines of fairy-tale who know how to take advantage of the evil one.




Where to-day a castellate building towers between spreading parks and gardens on the noble estate of Eriksberg, there lay in ancient times a holding known as Pintorp; with which legend has associated the gruesome tale of the lady of Pintorp.

In Pintorp—so the legend says—there dwelt a nobleman who, dying in his youth, left all his goods and gear to his widow. Yet instead of being a kind mistress to her many dependents, she exploited them in every way, and ill-treated them shamefully. Beneath her castle she had deep subterranean dungeons, in which languished many innocent people. She set vicious dogs at children and beggars, and if any one did not come to work at the right time, he was sure to go home in the evening with weals on his back.

Once, early in the morning, when the men came to work, the Lady of Pintorp was standing on the castle steps, and saw a poor farm-hand belonging to the estate come too late. Foaming with rage, she[195] overwhelmed him with abuse and reproaches, and ordered him to chop down the largest oak on the whole estate, and bring it, crown foremost, to the castle court before evening. And if he did not carry out her command to the very letter—so she said—she would drive him from his hut without mercy, and all that he had should fall to the estate.

With heavy thoughts of the severe judgment passed upon him, the farm-hand went to the wood; and there he met an old man who asked him why he was so unhappy.

"Because it is all up with me, if our Lord in His mercy do not help me," sighed the unfortunate man, and told of the task his mistress had imposed on him.

"Do not worry," said the unknown, "Chop down this oak, seat yourself on the trunk, and Erik Gyllenstjerna and Svante Banér will take it to the castle."

The farm hand did as the old man told him, began to hew to the line, and sure enough, at the third stroke the tree fell with a tremendous crash. Then he seated himself on the trunk, facing the crown, and at once the tree began to move, as though drawn by horses. Soon it rushed along so swiftly that posts and garden-palings flew out of the way like splinters, and soon they had reached the castle. At the moment the tree-top struck the castle-gate, one[196] of the invisible bearers stumbled, and a voice was heard saying: "What, are you falling on your knees, Svante?"

The Lady of Pintorp, who was standing on the steps, knew well who was helping the man; yet instead of feeling regret, she began to curse and scold, and finally threatened to imprison the farm-hand.

Then the earth quaked so that the walls of the castle shook, and a black coach, drawn by two black horses, stopped before the castle. A fine gentleman, clad in black, descended from the coach, bowed to the lady and bade her make ready and follow him. Trembling—for she knew well who the stranger must be—she begged for a three years' respite; but the black gentleman would not grant her request. Then she asked for three months, and that he refused as well. Finally she begged for three weeks, and then for three days; but only three minutes were allowed her to put her house in order.

When she saw there was no help for it, she begged that at least her chaplain, her chamber-maid, and her valet be allowed to accompany her. This request was granted, and they entered the carriage. The horses at once started off, and the carriage drove away so swiftly, that the people at the castle saw no more than a black streak.

When the woman and her companions had thus driven a while, they came to a splendid castle, and[197] the gentleman in black led them up the steps. Above, in the great hall, the woman laid off her costly garments and put on a coarse coat and wooden shoes. Then he combed her hair three times, till she could no longer bear it, and danced with her three times until she was exhausted.

After the first dance the Lady begged to be allowed to give her golden ring to her valet, and it burned his finger like fire. After the second dance she gave her chamber-maid her bunch of keys, and that seared the girl's hand like red-hot iron. But after the third dance, a trap-door opened in the floor, and the Lady disappeared in a cloud of smoke and flame.

The chaplain, who was standing nearest her, looked down curiously into the opening into which his mistress had sunk; and a spark shot up from the depths, and flew into his eye, so that he was blind in one eye for the rest of his life.

When it was all over, the black gentleman allowed the servitors to drive home again; but expressly forbade them to look around. They hastily entered the coach, the road was broad and even, and the horses ran rapidly. But when they had gone a while, the chamber-maid could no longer control her curiosity, and looked around. That very minute horses, coach and the road itself were gone, the travellers found themselves in a wild forest, and[198] it cost them three years to get out again, and make their way back to Pintorp.


In "The Lady of Pintorp" (Hofberg, p. 157) the devil appears in all his grewsome Satanic majesty. It has been claimed that the evil woman was a historical figure, the wife of the royal counselor Erik Gyllenstjerna.




During the first half of the eighteenth century, several large estates in Schonen were the property of the family of Barnekow, or rather, of its most distinguished representative at that time, Margaret Barnekow, daughter of the famous captain and governor-general Count Rutger of Aschenberg, and the wife of Colonel Kjell Kristofer Barnekow. A widow at twenty-nine, she herself took over the management of her large properties, and gave therein evidence of invincible courage, an inexhaustible capacity for work, and a tireless solicitude for all her many dependents and servitors.

While traveling about her estates, Madame Margaret one evening came to the tavern in Fjelkinge, and was quartered for the night in a room that had the name of being haunted. Some years before a traveler had lain in the same room and presumably had been murdered: at any rate the man himself and all his belongings had disappeared without leaving a trace, and the mystery had never been explained. Since that time the room had been[200] haunted, and those who knew about it preferred to travel a post-station further in the dark, rather than pass the night in the room in question. But Margaret Barnekow did not do so. She had already shown greater courage in greater contingencies, and chose this particular room to sleep in without any fear.

She let the lamp burn and fell asleep, after she had said her evening prayer. On the stroke of twelve she awoke, just as some planks were raised in the floor; and up rose a bleeding phantom whose head, split wide open, hung down on his shoulder.

"Noble lady," whispered the specter, "prepare a grave in consecrated earth for a murdered man, and deliver his murderer to the judgment which is his due!"

God-fearing and unafraid, Madame Margaret beckoned the phantom nearer, and he told her he had already addressed the same prayer to various other people; but that none had had the courage to grant it. Then Madame Margaret drew a gold ring from her finger, laid it on the gaping wound, and tied up the head of the murdered man with her kerchief. With a glance of unspeakable gratitude he told her the murderer's name, and disappeared beneath the floor without a sound.

The following morning Madame Margaret sent for the sheriff of the district to come to the tavern with[201] some of his people, informed him of what had happened to her during the night, and ordered those present to tear up the floor. And there they found, buried in the earth, the remains of a body and, in a wound in its head, the Countess's ring, and tied about its head, her kerchief. One of the bystanders grew pale at the sight, and fell senseless to the ground. When he came to his senses, he confessed that he had murdered the traveler and robbed him of his belongings. He was condemned to death for his crime, and the body of the murdered man was buried in the village church-yard.

The ring, of peculiar shape, and its setting bearing a large gray stone, is still preserved in the Barnekow family, and magic virtues in cases of sickness, fire and other misfortunes are ascribed to it. And when one of the Barnekows dies, it is said that a red spot, like a drop of blood, appears on the stone.


"The Spectre in Fjelkinge" (Hofberg, p. 21) is founded on the ancient belief that innocent blood which has been shed calls for atonement, and the one who has been unjustly murdered cannot rest until the deed has been brought to light.




Once upon a time there was a peasant who wanted to go to sell a pig. After he had gone a while, he met a man who asked him where he was going with his pig. "I want to sell it," answered the peasant, "but I do not know what to do to get rid of it." "Go to the devil," said the man, "he will be the first to rid you of it." So the peasant kept on along the broad highway.

When he came to the devil's place, there stood a man out by the wood-pile making wood. The peasant went to him and asked whether he could tell him if they wanted to buy a pig in the devil's place. "I'll go in and ask," said the man, "if you will make wood in my stead while I am gone." "Yes, I will do that gladly," said the peasant, took the ax, stood at the wood-pile and began to make wood. And he worked and worked until evening came; but the man did not return to tell him whether they would or would not buy a pig in the devil's place.[203]

At length another man came that way, and the peasant asked him whether he would make wood in his stead, for it was impossible to lay down the ax unless another took it up and went on working. So the man took the ax and stood there making wood, and the peasant went into the devil's place himself, and asked whether any one wanted to buy a pig.

A crowd as large as that at a fair at once gathered, and all wanted to buy the pig. Then the peasant thought: "Whoever pays the most, gets it." And one would overbid another, offering far more than a whole herd of pigs were worth. But at last a gentleman came along who whispered something to the peasant, and told him to come along with him; and he could have all the money he wanted.

So when they had reached the gentleman's house, and the peasant had given him the pig, he received in payment a rooster who would lay silver coins as often as he was told to do so. Then the peasant went his way, well content with his bargain. But on the way home he stayed overnight at a tavern kept by an old woman. And he was so exceedingly happy about his splendid rooster, that he had to boast about him to the old woman, and show her how he went about laying silver coins. And at night, when the peasant was fast asleep, the old woman came and took away his rooster, and put[204] another in its place. No sooner did the peasant awake in the morning than he wanted to set his rooster to work. "Lay quickly, rooster of mine! Lay big silver coins, my rooster!" But the rooster could lay no silver coins at all, and only answered "Kikeriki! Kikeriki! Kikeriki!" Then the peasant fell into a rage, wandered back to the devil's place, complained about the rooster, and told how absolutely worthless he was. He was kindly received, and the same gentleman gave him a hand-mill. When he called out "Mill grind!" to it, it would grind as much meal as he wanted it to, and would not stop until he said: "Mill, stop grinding!" And the mill would grind out every kind of meal for which he asked.

When the peasant set out for home, he reached the same tavern at which he had already put up in the evening, so he turned in and decided to stay over night. He was so pleased with the mill that it was impossible for him to hold his tongue; so he told the old woman what a valuable mill he had, and showed her how it worked. But during the night, while he was asleep, the old woman came and stole his mill and put another in its place.

When the peasant awoke in the morning, he was in a great hurry to test his mill; but he could not make it obey. "Mill grind!" he cried. But the mill stood still. Then he said: "Dear mill, grind[205] wheat meal!" but it had no effect. "Then grind rye meal!" he shouted; but that did not help, either. "Well, then, grind peas!" But the mill did not seem to hear; but stood as still as though it had never turned a single time in all its life. Then the peasant took the road back to the devil's place again, and at once hunted up the gentleman who had purchased his pig, and told him the mill would grind no more meal.

"Do not grieve about that," said the gentleman, and gave him a large, large hornets' nest, full of hornets, who flew out in swarms and stung any one whom they were told to sting, until one said "stop!" to them. Now when the peasant again came to the old woman, he told her he had a swarm of hornets who obeyed his commands. "Heavens above!" cried the woman, "that's something worth while seeing!" "You may see it without any trouble," replied the peasant, and at once called: "Out, out, my hornets and sting the old woman!" And at once the entire swarm fell upon the old woman, who began to scream pitifully. She begged the peasant to please call back his hornets, and said she was only too willing to give back the rooster and the mill she had taken.

The peasant did not object to this; but ordered his hornets to leave the old woman alone, and fly back into their house. Then he went home with his[206] rooster, his mill and his hornets, became a rich man and lived happily until he died. And he was in the habit of saying: "They have a big fair in the devil's place, and you find real decent people there, and above all, a liberal gentleman, with whom it is a pleasure to do business."


In "The Rooster, the Hand-Mill and the Swarm of Hornets" (Mss. record by Stephens, from Wermland, communicated by Dr. v. Sydow-Lund) a poor peasant received three splendid gifts in the devil's place. The rooster who lays gold coins is a widely known magic bird, and the magic mill is also met with in the North.




In a church-nave a specter sat night by night, and the specter's name was Torre Jeppe. He was a dried-up corpse that could not decay. One night three tailors were working at a farmstead in the neighborhood. They were laughing and joking, and among other things they asked the girl in the house, who was known to be brave, what they would have to give her to go to church and fetch back Torre Jeppe. She could trust herself to do it, was her answer; but they must give her a dress of home-spun wool for her trouble. That she should surely have, said the tailors, for they did not believe the girl would dare such a venture. Yet she took the tailors at their word and really went.

When she reached the church, she took Torre Jeppe on her back, carried him home and sat him down on the bench beside the tailors. They timidly moved away; but Torre Jeppe moved after them, and looked at them with his big eyes until they nearly lost their reason. In their terror they begged the girl in the name of God to deliver them from the[208] specter. They would gladly give her another dress if she would only carry the dead man away again. They had no need to tell her twice, for she took Torre Jeppe on her back, and dragged him away again.

But when she tried to set him down in the place where she had found him, he did not want to let her go; but clasped his arms firmly about her neck. In vain she said to him several times: "Torre Jeppe, let me go!" At last he said: "I will not let you go until you promise me that you will go this very night to the brook and ask three times: 'Anna Perstochter, do you forgive Torre Jeppe?'" The girl promised to do as he said, and he at once released her. The brook was a good mile off; but she went there and asked three times in a loud voice, as she had promised: "Anna Perstochter, do you forgive Torre Jeppe?" And when she had called the third time a woman's voice replied from out of the water: "If God has forgiven him, then I, too, forgive him!"

When the girl came back to the church Torre Jeppe asked eagerly: "What did she say?" "Well, if God has forgiven you, then she, too, will forgive you!" Then Torre Jeppe thanked her and said: "Come back again before sunrise, and you shall receive your reward for the service you have done me." The girl went back at sunrise, and in the[209] place where the phantom had been sitting she found a bushel of silver coin. In addition she received the two dresses promised her by the tailors. But Torre Jeppe was never seen again.


"Torre Jeppe" (retold and communicated by Dr. v. Sydow-Lund, after mss. version of Hyltén-Cavallius and Stephens) is a ghost-story founded on the old belief that a wrong done torments the doer even after death, that he tried to atone for it, and that then only can he enter on his eternal rest.




Once upon a time there was a man named Kalle Kula. He was a wild fellow, and had committed many a grievous crime during his life. When he came to die, and his wife took up the Bible to pray for him as he was lying there, he said, "No, this is Holy Innocents' Day, and it is not worth while reading from the Bible for me. You had better go into the kitchen instead, and bake waffles. I shall die this very day, and then you must lay a bundle of waffles in my coffin." The woman went into the kitchen and baked the waffles; but when she came back to him again he was dead. So Kalle Kula was laid in the coffin with a bundle of waffles beside him.

Then he came to the gates of Paradise with his little bundle of waffles under his arm and knocked. But St. Peter said to him: "You have no business here, with all the crimes you have committed." "Yes, that may well be so, but I died on Holy Innocents' Day," said Kalle Kula, "so at least I may look in and see the innocent children?" St. Peter could not refuse him, and opened the door a little way. Kalle Kula took advantage of the moment[211] and cried: "Come, you little holy innocents, you shall have waffles!" And as they had not been given any waffles in Paradise, they all came rushing up, so that the door flew wide open, and then Kalle Kula crept in.

But St. Peter went to our Lord, told him what had happened, and asked what was to be done. "The best thing is to let your lawyer attend to it," said our Lord, "because lawyers usually know all about evicting people." St. Peter searched everywhere, but could not find a lawyer. Then he went back to our Lord and reported to him that it was impossible to find a single lawyer in all Paradise, and Kalle Kula was allowed to remain where he was.

If you tie a thief and a miller and a lawyer together and roll the whole bundle down a hill—no matter how you roll it—you can always be sure that whoever is on top is a thief.


This story, part fairy-tale, part legend, "The Man Who Died on Holy Innocents' Day" (communicated by Dr. v. Sydow-Lund) has a Danish variant. Its innocently malicious humor is worthy of Gottfried Keller.


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