translated by Frederick H. Martens
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.
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
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 latter no more felt the kick than if it had been a flea-bite,
and kept right on working.
"THE RICH MAN HAD TO GO ALONG HANGING TO HIM LIKE A HAWSER."
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.