THE SWEDISH FAIRY BOOK
FREDERICK H. MARTENS
WITH EIGHT ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOR BY
GEORGE W. HOOD
FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY
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.
|Lasse, My Thrall!
|Finn, the Giant, and the Minster of Lund
|The Skalunda Giant
|Silverwhite and Lillwacker
|The Girl and the Snake
|Faithful and Unfaithful
|Starkad and Bale
|First Born, First Wed
|The Lame Dog
|The Mount of the Golden Queen
|The Princess and the Glass Mountain
|Tales of the Trolls
|Charcoal Nils and the Troll-Woman
|The Three Dogs
|The Poor Devil
|How Smaland and Schonen Came To Be
|The Evil One and Kitta Grau
|The Lady of Pintorp
|The Specter in Fjelkinge
|The Rooster, the Hand-Mill and the Swarm of Hornets
|The Man Who Died on Holy Innocents' Day
THE SWEDISH FAIRY BOOK
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
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
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
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
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.
"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
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
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.
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.)
LASSE, MY THRALL!
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
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
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
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
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
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.
"This is very strange," thought he, and sent for
his courtiers. They came without delay, bowing and
"Do you see the castle yonder?" said the king.
Their eyes grew as large as saucers and they
Yes, indeed, they saw the castle.
"Who has dared to build such a castle on my
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
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
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
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
more the duke looked at her, the better she pleased
"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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
"Do you see the castle over yonder?" asked the
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
spot; but no, there was not a sign of either son-in-law
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
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
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
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
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.
"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
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.
FINN, THE GIANT, AND THE MINSTER OF LUND
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
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
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
"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
THE SKALUNDA GIANT
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.
"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
"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
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
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
"That I cannot do" returned the other, "because
she has a bit of bread in the form of a cross in her
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
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
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
"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).
SILVERWHITE AND LILLWACKER
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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 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
"THEN SILVERWHITE DREW HIS SWORD WITH A GREAT SWEEP AND
RUSHED UPON THE SEA-TROLL."
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?"
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
"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
"Are you not frightened?" asked the giant.
"Of you? Certainly not!" was the youth's reply.
"Then we will fight with one another!" proposed
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"Ouch, ouch!" cried Stompe Pilt, "are you still
not angry enough for us to come to blows?"
"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
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).
THE GIRL AND THE SNAKE
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.
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
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
"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.
FAITHFUL AND UNFAITHFUL
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
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.
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
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:
"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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
"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 AND BALE
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
One morning Starkad climbed the Klefberg in
Tuna, and called over to Bale: "Bale in Balbo, are
"Red Fellow!" answered Bale, nine miles away,
"the sun and I wake together! But how goes it with
"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
The following morning Bale in Balbo stood on a
hill in Borgsjo and called: "Red Fellow! Are you
"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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
The king's daughter was now filled with eagerness,
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
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
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
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.
"SO HEARTFELT WAS HER HAPPINESS THAT SHE FORGOT EVERYTHING
ELSE IN THE WORLD."
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
FIRST BORN, FIRST WED
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
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
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
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,
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.
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
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
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:
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
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 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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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."
"A SHRINE ADORNED WITH GOLD AND PRECIOUS STONES
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
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).
THE LAME DOG
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
"THE LION TURNED INTO A HANDSOME YOUNG PRINCE."
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."
THE MOUNT OF THE GOLDEN QUEEN
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
THE PRINCESS AND THE GLASS MOUNTAIN
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
it was the same youth who had ridden up the Glass
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
TALES OF THE TROLLS
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
CHARCOAL NILS AND THE TROLL-WOMAN
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
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
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
Preoccupied with this and other thoughts, he forgot
while returning to his kiln, that he had promised
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
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
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
"Turn back, turn back!" cried the mother. "And
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.
THE THREE DOGS
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
"HE SAW A GIRL SITTING IN THE MOUNTAIN HALL, WEAVING A WEB OF
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
THE POOR DEVIL
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
"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,
But when the peasant came back and saw the
cow on dry land, he said: "Thank God, she's out
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.
HOW SMALAND AND SCHONEN CAME TO BE
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
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
THE EVIL ONE AND KITTA GRAU
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
"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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
THE LADY OF PINTORP
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
THE SPECTRE IN FJELKINGE
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
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
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
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
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
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.
THE ROOSTER, THE HAND-MILL AND THE SWARM
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
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 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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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,
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
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.
THE MAN WHO DIED ON HOLY INNOCENTS' DAY
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
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