Site Map
Danish Folktales
Section › 4   Set    Search  Previous Next

Reservations   Contents    

  1. The Hill-Man Invited to the Christening
  2. Toller's Neighbours
  3. The Magician's Pupil

The Hill-Man Invited to the Christening

The hill-people are very frightened during thunder. So when they see bad weather coming on, they hurry to seek shelter in their hills. They cannot stand the sound of drums either, for they take it to be the rolling of thunder.

Once there was a farmer who lived in great friendship and concord with a hill-man, whose hill was in his lands. One time when the farmer's wife was about to have a child, the farmer understood that he could not well avoid inviting the hill-man to the christening. Inviting the hill-man, however, might bring the farmer into ill repute with the priest and the other people of the village, so he grew anxious and did not know just how to solve this problem. He kept pondering deeply, but in vain, how he might get out of this dilemma, when it came into his head to ask the advice of the boy that kept his pigs. The boy was clever, and had often helped him before. The pig-boy at once undertook to arrange the matter with the hill-man without offending him.

When it was night, he took a sack on his shoulder, went to the hill-man's hill, knocked, and was let in. He told how the farmer was going to have a boy christened, and asked the hill-man on his behalf to come and attend the christening. The hill-man thanked him, and said:

"I think it is but right I should give you a christening present."

With these words he opened his money-chests, bidding the boy hold up his sack while he poured money into it.

"Is there enough now?" said he, when he had put a lot into it.

"Many give more, few give less," replied the boy.

The hill-man once more fell to filling the sack, and again asked:

"Is there enough now?"

The boy lifted the sack a little off the ground to see if he was able to carry any more, and then answered:

"It is about what most people give."

On this the hill-man emptied the whole chest into the bag, and once more asked:

"Is there enough now?"

The boy now saw that there was as much in the sack as he would be able to carry, so he answered:

"No one gives more, most people give less."

"Come now," said the hill-man, "let us hear who else is to be at the christening."

"Ah," said the boy, "we are to have a great many villagers and other guests coming, and a band to play drums."

"Drums!" repeated the troll in alarm. "No, no! Thank you, I shall stay at home in that case. Give my best respects to your master. Say I thank him for the invitation, but I cannot come. Once I went out to take a little walk, when some people began to beat a drum. I hurried home, but when I got to my door, they flung the drum-stick after me and broke one of my shins. I have been lame of that leg ever since, and shall take good care in future to avoid that sort of music."

So saying he helped the boy to put the sack on his back, once more charging him to present his best respects to his master.



Toller's Neighbours

Once on a time a young man and a young girl were in service together at a mansion down near Klode Mill, in the district of Lysgaard. They became attached to each other, and as they both were honest and faithful servants, their master and mistress had a great regard for them, and gave them a wedding dinner the day they were married. Their master gave them also a little cottage with a little field, and there they went to live.

This cottage lay in the middle of a wild heath, and the surrounding country was in bad repute; for in the neighbourhood were a number of old grave-mounds, which it was said were inhabited by the mount-folk; though Toller, so the peasant was called, cared little for that.

"When one only trusts in God," thought Toller, "and does what is just and right to all men, one need not be afraid of anything."

They had now taken possession of their cottage and moved in all their little property. When the man and his wife, late one evening, were sitting talking together as to how they could best manage to get on in the world, they heard a knock at the door, and on Toller opening it, in walked a little little man, and wished them "Good evening." He had a red cap on his head, a long beard and long hair, a large hump on his back, and a leathern apron before him, in which was stuck a hammer. At once they knew him to be a troll; but he looked so good-natured and friendly that they were not at all afraid of him.

"Now hear, Toller," said the little stranger, "I see well enough that you know who I am, and matters stand thus I am a poor little hill-man, to whom people have left no other habitation on earth than the graves of fallen warriors, or mounds, where the rays of the sun never can shine down on us. We have heard that you have come to live here, and our king is fearful that you will do us harm, and even destroy us. He has therefore sent me up to you this evening that I should beg of you, as amicably as I could, to allow us to hold our dwellings in peace. You shall never be annoyed by us, or disturbed by us in your pursuits."

"Be quite at your ease, good man," said Toller, "I have never injured any of God's creatures willingly, and the world is large enough for us all, I believe; and I think we can manage to agree, without the one having any need to do mischief to the other."

"Well, thank God!" exclaimed the little man, beginning in his joy to dance about the room, "that is excellent, and we will in return do you all the good in our power, and that you will soon discover; but now I must depart."

"Will you not first take a spoonful of supper with us?" asked the wife, setting a dish of porridge down on the stool near the window; for the man of the mount was so little that he could not reach up to the table.

"No, I thank you," said the mannikin,"our king is impatient for my return and it would be a pity to let him wait for the good news I have to tell him." Hereupon the little man bade them farewell and went his way.

From that day forwards Toller lived in peace and concord with the little people of the mount. They could see them go in and out of their mounds in daylight, and no one ever did anything to vex them. At length they became so familiar that they went in and out of Toller's house, just as if it had been their own. Sometimes it happened that they would borrow a pot or a copper-kettle from the kitchen, but always brought it back again, and set it carefully on the same spot from which they had taken it. They also did all the service they could in return. When the spring came, they would come out of their mounds in the night, gather all the stones off the arable land, and lay them in a heap along the furrows. At harvest time they would pick up all the ears of corn, that nothing might be lost to Toller. All this was observed by the farmer, who, when in bed, or when he read his evening prayer, often thanked the Almighty for having given him the mount-folk for neighbours. At Easter and Whitsuntide, or in the Christmas holidays, he always set a dish of nice milk-porridge fur them, as good as it could be made, out on the mound.

Once, after having given birth to a daughter, his wife was so ill that Toller thought she was near her end. He consulted all the cunning people in the district, but no one knew what to prescribe for her recovery. He sat up every night and watched over the sufferer, that he might be at hand to administer to her wants. Once he fell asleep, and on opening his eyes again towards morning, he saw the room full of the mount-folk: one sat and rocked the baby, another was busy in cleaning the room, a third stood by the pillow of the sick woman and made a drink of some herbs, which he gave his wife. As soon as they noticed that Toller was awake they all ran out of the room; but from that night the poor woman began to mend, and before a fortnight was past she was able to leave her bed and go about her household work, well and cheerful as before.

Another time, Toller was in trouble for want of money to get his horses shod before he went to the town. He talked the matter over with his wife, and they knew not well what course to adopt. But when they were in bed his wife said, "Are you asleep, Toller?"

"No," he answered, "what is it?"

"I think," said she, "there is something the matter with the horses in the stable, they are making such a disturbance."

Toller rose, lighted his lantern, and went to the stable, and, on opening the door, found it full of the little mount-folk. They had made the horses lie down, because the mannikins could not reach up to them. Some were employed in taking off the old shoes, some were filing the heads of the nails, while others were tacking on the new shoes, and the next morning, when Toller took his horses to water, he found them shod so beautifully that the best of smiths could not have shod them better.

In this manner the mount-folk and Toller rendered all the good services they could to each other, and many years passed pleasantly. Toller began to grow an old man, his daughter was grown up, and his circumstances were better every year. Instead of the little cottage in which he began the world, he now owned a large and handsome house, and the naked wild heath was converted into fruitful arable land.

One evening just before bedtime, someone knocked at the door, and the man of the mount walked in. Toller and his wife looked at him with surprise; for the mannikin was not in his usual dress. He wore on his head a shaggy cap, a woollen kerchief round his throat, and a great sheep- skin cloak covered his body. In his hand he had a stick, and his countenance was very sorrowful. He brought a greeting to Toller from the king, who asked that he, his wife, and little Inger would come over to them in the mount that evening, for the king had a matter of importance that he wished to talk with him about. Tears ran down the little man's cheeks while he said this, and when Toller tried to comfort him, and inquired into the source of his trouble, the man of the mount only wept the more, but would not impart the cause of his grief.

Toller, his wife, and daughter then went over to the mount. On descending into the cave, they found it decorated with bunches of sweet willow, crowfoots, and other flowers, that were to be found on the heath. A large table was spread from one end of the cave to the other. When the peasant and his family entered, they were placed at the head of the table by the side of the king. The little folk also took their places, and began to eat, but they were far from being as cheerful as usual; they sat and sighed and hung down their heads; and it was easy to see that something had gone amiss with them.

When the repast was finished, the king said to Toller: "I invited you to come over to us because we all wished to thank you for having been so kind and friendly to us during the whole time we have been neighbours. But now there are so many churches built in the land, and all of them have such great bells, which ring so loud morning and evening, that we can bear it no longer; we are therefore going to leave Jutland and pass over to Norway, as the greater number of our people have done long ago. We now wish you farewell, Toller, as we must part."

When the king had said this, all the mount-folk came and took Toller by the hand, and bade him farewell, and the same to his wife. When they came to Inger, they said, "To you, dear Inger, we will give a remembrance of us, that you may think of the little mount-people when they are far away." And as they said this, each took up a stone from the ground and threw it into Inger's apron. They left the mount one by one, with the king leading the way.

Toller and his family remained standing on the mount as long as they could discern them. They saw the little trolls wandering over the heath, each with a wallet on his back and a stick in his hand. When they had gone a good part of the way, to where the road leads down to the sea, they all turned round once more, and waved their hands, to say farewell. Then they disappeared, and Toller saw them no more. Sorrowfully he returned to his home.

The next morning Inger saw that all the small stones the mount-folk had thrown into her apron shone and sparkled, and were real precious stones. Some were blue, others brown, white, and black, and it was the trolls who had imparted the colour of their eyes to the stones, that Inger might remember them when they were gone; and all the precious stones which we now see, shine and sparkle only because the mount-folk have given them the colour of their eyes, and it was some of these beautiful precious stones which they once gave to Inger.



The Magician's Pupil

There was once a peasant who had a son, whom, when of a proper age, his father apprenticed to a trade; but the boy, who had no inclination for work, always ran home again to his parents; at this the father was much troubled, not knowing what course to pursue. One day he entered a church, where, after repeating the Lord's Prayer, he said, "To what trade shall I apprentice my son? He runs away from every place."

The clerk, who happened at that moment to be standing behind the altar, hearing the peasant utter these words, called out in answer: "Teach him witchcraft; teach him witchcraft!"

The peasant, who did not see the clerk, thought it was our Lord who gave him this advice, and determined to follow it.

The next day he said to his son, that he should go with him, and he would find him a new situation. After walking a good way into the country, they met with a shepherd tending his flock.

"Where are you going to, good man?" inquire I the shepherd.

"I am in search of a master, who can teach my son the black art," answered the peasant.

"You may soon find him," said the shepherd; "keep straight on and you will come to the greatest wizard that is to be found in all the land."

The peasant thanked him for this information, and went on. Soon after, he came to a large forest, in the middle of which stood the wizard's house. He knocked at the door, and asked the troll -man whether he had any inclination to take a boy as a pupil.

"Yes," answered the other; "but not for a less term than four years. And we will make this agreement that at the end of that time you shall come to my place. If you can find your son, he shall belong to you, but if not, he must remain in my house and serve me for the rest of his life."

The peasant agreed to these conditions, and returned home alone. At the end of a week he began to look for his son's return; thinking that in this, as in all former cases, he would run away from his master. But he did not come back, and his mother began to cry, and say her husband had not acted rightly in giving their child into the power of the evil one, and that they should never see him more.

When four years had gone, the peasant set out on a journey to the magician's, as they had agreed on. A little before he reached the forest, he met the same shepherd, who instructed him how to act to get his son back.

"When you get there," said he, "you must at night keep your eyes constantly turned towards the fireplace, and take care not to fall asleep, for then the troll-man will convey you back to your own house, and afterwards say you did not come at the appointed time. Tomorrow you will see three dogs in the yard, eating milk-porridge out of a dish. The middle one is your son, and he is the one you must choose."

The peasant thanked the shepherd for telling, and bade him farewell.

When he entered the house of the magician, everything took place as the shepherd had said. He was led into the yard, where he saw three dogs. Two of them were handsome with smooth skins, but the third was lean and looked ill. When the peasant patted the dogs, the two handsome ones growled at him, but the lean one, on the contrary, wagged his tail.

"Can you now tell me which of these three dogs is your son?" said the troll-man; "if so you can take him with you; if not, he belongs to me."

"Well then I will choose the one that appears the most friendly," answered the peasant; "although he looks less handsome than the others."

"That is a sensible choice," said the troll-man; "he knew what he was about who gave you that advice."

The peasant was then allowed to take his son home with him. So, putting a cord round his neck, he went his way, bewailing that his son was changed into a dog.

"Oh, why are you bewailing so?" asked the shepherd as he came out, of the forest, "it appears to me you have not been so very unlucky."

When he had gone a little way, the dog said to him: "Now you shall see that my learning has been of some use to me. I will soon change myself into a little tiny dog, and then you must sell me to those who are coming past."

The dog did as he said, and became a beautiful little creature. Soon afterwards a carriage came rolling along with some great folks in it. When they saw the beautiful little dog that ran playing along the road and heard that it was for sale, they bought it of the peasant for a considerable sum. At the same moment the son changed his father into a hare, which he caused to run across the road, while he was taken up by those who had bought him.

When they saw the hare they set the dog after it, and scarcely had they done so, than both hare and dog ran into the wood and disappeared. Now the boy changed himself again, and this time both he and his father assumed human forms. The old man began cutting twigs and his son helped him.

When the people in the carriage missed the little dog, they got out to seek after it, and asked the old man and his son if they had seen anything of a little dog that had run away. The boy directed them further into the wood, and he and his father returned home, and lived well on the money they had received by selling the dog.

When all the money was spent, both father and son resolved on going out again in search of adventures.

"Now I will turn myself into a boar," said the youth, "and you must put a cord round my leg and take me to Horsens market for sale; but remember to throw the cord over my right ear at the moment you sell me, and then I shall be home again as soon as you."

The peasant did as his son directed him, and went to market; but he set so high a price on the boar that no one would buy it. So he kept standing in the market till the afternoon was far advanced. At last there came an old man who bought the boar of him. This was no other than the magician, who, angry that the father had got back his son, had never ceased seeking after them from the time they had left his house.

When the peasant had sold his boar he threw the cord over its right ear as the lad had told him, and in the same moment the animal vanished; and when the peasant reached his own door he again saw his son sitting at the table.

They now lived a pleasant, merry life till all the money was spent, and then again set out on fresh adventures. This time the son changed himself into a bull, first reminding his father to throw the rope over his right ear as soon as he was sold. At the market he met with the same old man, and soon came to an agreement with him about the price of the bull. While they were drinking a glass together in the alehouse, the father threw the rope over the bull's right horn, and when the magician went to fetch his purchase it had vanished, and the peasant on reaching home again found his son sitting by his mother at the table.

The third time the lad turned himself into a horse, and the magician was again in the market and bought him.

"You have already tricked me twice," said he to the peasant; "but it shall not happen again." Before he paid down the money he hired a stable and fastened the horse in, so that it was impossible for the peasant to throw the rein over the animal's right ear. The old man nevertheless returned home, in the hope that this time also he should find his son; but he was disappointed, for no lad was there. The magician in the meantime mounted the horse and rode off. He well knew whom he had bought, and determined that the boy should pay with his life the deception he had practised on him. He led the horse through swamps and pools, and galloped at a pace that, had he long continued it, he must have ridden the animal to death. But the horse was a hard trotter, and the magician was old. He grew so tired at at last that he had to ride home.

When he arrived at his house, he put a magic bridle on the horse and shut him in a dark stable without giving him anything either to eat or drink. When some time had elapsed, he said to the servant-maid: "Go out and see how the horse is."

When the girl came into the stable, the changed boy - who had been the girl's sweetheart while he was in the troll's house - began to moan piteously, and begged her to give him a pail of water. She did so, and on her return told her master that the horse was well.

Some time after the master again desired her to go out and see if the horse were not yet dead. When she entered the stable the poor animal begged her to loose the rein and the girths, which were strapped so tight that he could hardly draw breath. The girl did as she was asked, and no sooner was it done than the boy changed himself into a hare and ran out of the stable. The magician, who was sitting in the window, was at once aware of what had happened on seeing the hare go springing across the yard, and, instantly changing himself into a dog, went in pursuit of it.

When they had run many miles over corn-fields and meadows, the boy's strength began to fail and the magician gained more and more on him. The hare then changed itself into a dove, but the magician as quickly turned himself into a hawk and pursued him afresh.

In this manner they flew towards a palace where a princess was sitting at a window. When she saw a hawk in chase of a dove she opened the window, and at once the dove flew into the room, and then changed itself into a gold ring. The magician now became a prince, and went into the apartment for catching the dove. When he could not find it, he asked permission to see her gold rings. The princess showed them to him, but let one fall into the fire. The troll-man at once drew it out. In doing so he burnt his fingers, and had to let it fall on the floor.

The boy now changed himself into a grain of corn. At the same moment the magician became a hen, in order to eat the corn, hut scarcely had he done so than the boy became a hawk and killed him.

He then went to the forest, fetched all the magician's gold and silver, and from that day lived in wealth and happiness with his parents.

Notes to Danish folktales



Danish folktales and fairy tales, tales of Denmark, To top    Section     Set    Next

Danish folktales and fairy tales, tales of Denmark. User's Guide   ᴥ    Disclaimer 
© 2007–2018, Tormod Kinnes [Email]