The Lady of Pintorp,
translated by Frederick H. Martens
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
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
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
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
"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
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
of the invisible bearers stumbled, and a voice was
heard saying: "What, are you falling on your
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
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
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
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