Tales of the Trolls,
translated by Frederick H. Martens
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.
It was at length sold at auction in 1838, and melted
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
"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