Site Map
Swedish Folktales
Section › 2   Set    Search  Previous Next

Reservations   Contents    

  1. The Young Maiden's Fiancé
  2. Stand the Toil
  3. Two Troll Hats

The Young Maiden's Fiancé

On a small headland that juts from the north into Lake Gelloy, lies an old mansion. A long time ago there lived a knight here. He had a wife and an only child, a beautiful daughter named Malfrid. The fame of her beauty travelled far, alluring many suitors to her feet. However, Malfrid was unmoved by their attentions and turned them away, one after the other.

One day a stately knight who had just returned from foreign lands, drew up in the court- yard, and some weeks later they were engaged to be married. But before the marriage the uptight knight wanted to go to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage, and year after year passed with no word from him. They started to think he was dead. The roses of the young maiden's cheeks faded. Her mother then betrothed her to someone else.

The new couple were duly wed one day, but just as the wedding guests sat themselves at table, a knight rode into the court at great speed. The knight reproached Malfrid's mother for getting his fiancé married to another and cut her head off. The bride too sank under his sword, and the bridegroom.

The murderous knight flung himself on his horse and rode away into the dark forest, but his conscience allowed him no rest. Then, one day while he was lying hidden in the barn, a milkmaid came in the morning to milk the cows. She began to sing "Knight Killer's Song". He listened with great interest. When the last verse was over, he cried out in a loud voice: "Some is true and some is false."

Thoroughly frightened, the girl sprang into the house and related what had happened. In haste, the people gathered around the barn, and he crawled from his shelter and said he was guilty of killing his fiancé and some others, and requested them to take him to the churchyard. There he sank to the earth a corpse.


Stand the Toil

A family of peasants had a daughter, Elsa. She was the only child. When she grew old enough, her well-meaning parents sent her to the city to learn how to sew, and also city manners and customs. But in the city she acquired little other knowledge than how to adorn herself, and to scorn housework and manual labour.

When she was twenty years old, she married a young farmer. In the beginning all was pleasure, but she soon began to weary with her many household duties. Early one morning, shortly before Christmas, there was life and activity in the farmyard. Elsa had hardly risen from bed when a servant sprang in and said, "Dear mistress, get ready our haversacks, for we are going to the woods, and we must be off if we are to get back before evening."

"Dear mother, the leaven is working," called one of the servant girls, and if you will come out now we will have more than usually good bread."

The butcher who had already stuck a large hog and several small pigs, had just stepped in to get the accustomed dram, when an old woman came rushing after material for candlewicks. Lastly came her husband and was impatient because the servant had not yet started for the woods.

"My departed mother,'' he said with kindly earnestness, "always prepared everything the night before when people were expected to go to work early in the morning, and I have asked you to do likewise, Elsa. But do not forget the loom, my dear; there are now only a few yards of cloth remaining to be woven, and it will not do to allow it to lie in the way over the holidays."

Now, wholly out of patience, Elsa rushed in a rage out of the kitchen to the house where the loom stood, slammed the door furiously behind her and cast herself weeping on a sofa.

"No!" shrieked she. "I won't endure this drudgery any longer. Who could have thought that Gunner would make a common housewife of me, to wear my life out thus? Is there nobody who can help and comfort me?"

"I can," answered a solemn voice, and before her stood a white-haired man with a broad- brimmed hat on his head. "Don't be alarmed," he went on, "I came to proffer you the help you have just wished for. I know your family to the tenth and eleventh generations. Your first ancestor bade me stand godfather to his first-born. I could not be present at the christening, but I gave a suitable godfather's present, for I would by no means be the meanest. The silver I then gave was unfortunately a blessing for no one, for it begot only pride and laziness. Your family long ago lost the riches, but the pride and laziness remain.

"Nevertheless I will help you, for you are at heart good and honest.

"You complain at the life of drudgery you are compelled to lead," he went on after a short silence, "because you are not used to work. But I shall give you ten obedient servants, who shall be at your bidding and faithfully serve you in all your undertakings." Then he shook his cloak, and ten comical little creatures hopped out and began to put the room in order.

"Reach here your fingers," commanded the old man. Tremblingly, Elsa extended her hand; and the old man said, "Hop My Thumb, Lick the Pot, Long Pole, Heart in Hand, Little Peter Funny Man - Away, all of you, to your places." In a moment the little servants had disappeared into Elsa's fingers, and the old man had disappeared.

The young wife sat a long time staring at her hands, but soon she experienced a wonderful desire to work.

"Here I sit and dream," she burst forth with unusual cheerfulness and courage, "and it is already seven o'clock while outside all are waiting for me." And Elsa hastened out to superintend the occupations of her servants. Not for that day alone, but for all time thereafter Elsa entered into her duties with as much pleasure as she would formerly have found in a dance. No one knew what had happened, but all marvelled at the sudden change. None was, however, more pleased and satisfied with the young wife than herself. From now on she just needed to work, and under her hands everything flourished, bringing wealth and happiness to the young couple.


Two Troll Hats

In times gone by, a mountain king named Grim lived in a castle on a mountain. He was ugly and crafty, and robbed people of whatever fell in his way. For this purpose he had two hats. When he put on his flat hat, both he and his companions became invisible; and the other hat, an oven pipe hat, let the wearer see things that otherwise were invisible.

In those days a farmer of Grimland prepared a wedding for his daughter, invited guests from near and far to the festivities. But he did not invite the mountain king. The king did not seem to be offended at this, but, on the wedding day he put on his flat hat and came to the wedding fist with all his people, and nobody saw them.

When the wedding guests sat themselves at table everything that was brought in vanished, both food and drink, to the great astonishment of all, as they could not understand where it disappeared. But a young peasant suspected the trolls were at the bottom of it, and rode straightway to the mountain. On the steps stood the mountain queen, beautiful and fine. She was alone there. Now she asked the rider how things were going at the wedding feast in Grimland.

"The food is salt and the oil is sour," he answered. "That stingy farmer has hidden the wine and meat in the cellar where no one can find it. Now, if you give me the tall hat, he could find the hiding-place."

Without mistrust the queen gave him the enchanted hat, and the young peasant hastened back to the festivities. Entering the hall, he donned the hat and saw at once the mountain king and his followers sitting among the guests, seizing on everything as fast as brought in. The peasant drew his sword, and commanded the others to do likewise.

"Stab as I stab and cut as I cut," he cried, and began to slash around the table. The other guests followed his example and slew the mountain king and all his followers. From that time, no one has lived in the castle on the mountain but the queen.



Swedish folktales, fairy tales and legends of Sweden, Swedish tales retold, To top    Section     Set    Next

Swedish folktales, fairy tales and legends of Sweden, Swedish tales retold. User's Guide   ᴥ    Disclaimer 
© 2007–2018, Tormod Kinnes [Email]