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  1. Sweet-Laden with Good Milk
  2. Knös
  3. Great Misfortune

Sweet-Laden with Good Milk

Many years ago a servant girl went into the woods one day to find the cattle. The animals usually grazed in the woods around Soasan. While she was looking for them, she saw two pair of pigmies, a boy and girl, sitting under the shadow of a large pine tree.

"It is best to be polite when on the trolls' own ground," thought the girl. So she addressed the troll infants in a very friendly way and invited each to partake of some bread and butter that she had with her in her little bag. The children had very large mouths, and ate with exceeding greed.

When the girl was about to leave she heard a voice saying, "As you have taken pity on my children, you shall escape searching after the cows from now on. Go home! They stand at the gate."

From that day the girl no longer had to search for the cows; they came to the gate every night of their own accord, sweet-laden with good milk.



Once on 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 he was no more than five years old he was grown, and taller than the tallest man. And he ate plenty too, swallowing a whole batch of bread at a single sitting.

*Knös is Swedish for such as troll, horrible, powerful and mighty man or boy - and also able, powerful and rich man - TK.

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 250 kilograms the first year, one of 500 kilograms the second year, and one of 750 kilograms 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 got 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 fire-wood 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, the two young oxen he was to drive, were standing there patiently 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. He got there long before the rest, for they had to chop down the trees, saw them up and load them on the carts.

Next 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 first he had to be decently provisioned for his journey. He was allowed to go into the storehouse 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.

When he came to a thicket 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. The reason was that once when the king was sailing out at sea, a sea troll had called up a terrible storm, 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 wagonload 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. 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 250 kilograms at his side, and with it he chopped off all five of the troll's heads, and the princess was free. And then Knös left the place.

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 asked to be let off for the day. He went to the sea-shore and asked 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.

This time Knös had his sword of 500 kilograms at his side, and he cut off all ten of the troll's heads. And so the second princess was freed. Again Knös left, while Red Peter very soon 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 asked 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 750 kilogram at his side, and with it he cut off all the troll's heads. But the sword was fifteen grams too light, so 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 you are speaking of," said Knös, "come, let us travel together."

And so they wandered on.

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 travelled 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. They decided to go and ask for a drink there. Now this was the very castle in which the troll lived.

First the man who had carried the church, went, and when he entered the castle, there sat the troll with the princess on his lap. She was very sad. The man asked for something to drink.

"Help yourself, the goblet is on the table!" said the troll.

But the man got nothing to drink, for though he could move the goblet from its place, he could not raise it.

Then the man who had carried a hill of stone went into the castle and asked for a drink.

"Help yourself, the goblet is on the table!" said the troll.

This one got nothing to drink either, for though he could move the goblet from its place, he could not raise it.

Then Knös went into the castle. 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 how happy everyone was! The other princesses recognised 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, and 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.


Great Misfortune

A good old woman once told: "When Lucifer was cast out of heaven on account of his pride, he fell to the earth. There were other spirits too that were cast out with him. Some ended on dry land, some fell into the sea, some into forests and some on mountains. Where they fell, there they remained and found there their field of action. Thus there are sea nymphs, mountain fairies, wood fairies, elves and other spirits.

On that day two spirits fell on the rock where this old manor house now stands. A long time later an owner of this estate wished to build himself a house and to have a solid foundation for it, and so he chose this rock.

The mountain king inside it was much displeased with this, but his wife, who was of a milder disposition, pacified him and urged him to wait and do their neighbours no harm still.

When the house was finished, the man married a beautiful young lady who filled their house with sunshine and joy. But one day when the young wife was alone in her workroom, a little woman all at once stood before her. Bowing, she said, "My mistress bids that you visit her, and directs me to say to you that if you consent she will reward you richly."

The young wife wondered much, but promised to follow. The little woman led the way downstairs to the cellar, where she opened a door, until now undiscovered, and revealed a passage into the mountain. Entering the passage, which was long and dark, she finally emerged into a large, well-lighted cave and saw a little woman lying sick and labouring in childbirth. The visiting lady was able to still the pains of the suffering woman, and in return she was given a box filled with precious stones, pearls and jewels. "Take this as a memory of your visit to me," said the woman. Then she saw to it that the young wife was escorted safely back to her own room again.

Time sped on. Everything went well, and in due time the young wife herself became the mother of two beautiful sons. One day while she was away, the boys discovered her hidden box. They had just begun to play with it when their father and she entered. He began at once to question her about the jewels.

"Your curiosity will bring us greater misfortune than you have dreamed of," she said, for she was obliged not to tell.

A few days later an island rose out of a lake nearby. The lord of the manor was eager to go to and inspect it. He wanted his wife and boys to go with him. But his wife foresaw misfortune, and opposed the idea with all her energy and even begged and prayed her husband to postpone his visit, but without avail.

But in the end the man took with him the boys and rowed out to the island. Just as the boat touched the enchanted island the boys jumped onto it, and at the same moment the island and the boys vanished from the father's sight, and were seen no more.

The poor mother mourned herself to death, and the father went to foreign lands, where he also died.



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