Vätters in the Northern belief, are sprites that live under ground, but often appear above, and then in human form so perfect that they have many times been mistaken for mankind. They live, as do the trolls and giants, in mountains, but more often move from one to another, and it is mostly during these journeys that they are seen.
When the parish of Ockilbo was first settled, the vätters were so plentiful that a peasant who fixed his abode near the Rönn Hills was forced to build his windows high up near the eaves of his cottage to escape seeing the troublesome multitude of these beings that continually swarmed around.
Despite the disposition of the cottager to have nothing to do with the vätters, he could not avoid getting into complications with them at times.
One evening, when the wife went to drive the goats into the goat house, she saw among hers two strange goats, having horse hoofs instead of cloven hoofs, as should be. Do her utmost, it was impossible to separate them from the others. They pressed on, and were locked up with the rest.
In the night she was awakened by a heavy pounding on the walls, and a voice from without called, "Let us be neighbourly, mother, and return my goats to me."
The woman dressed herself and hastened to the goat house, where the strange animals were making a dreadful uproar. On her opening the door, they sprang out and hurried to the forest. From it, she heard the vätters shouting and calling them.
Thus a friendly feeling was forever established between the cottager and the vätters, and from that day there were no more disturbances.
The Lapps, like other people, have their legends, and some reflect national characteristics of the Lapp folk.
Before the Lord destroyed mankind, so says the Lapp legend, there were people in Samelads (Lappland), but when the Flood came on the earth every living creature perished except two, a brother and sister, whom God led to a high mountain, Passevare, "The Holy Mountain."
When the waters had subsided and the land was again dry, the brother and sister separated and went in opposite directions in search of others, if any might be left. After three years of fruitless search they met, and, recognizing each other, they once more went into the world, to meet again in three years, but, recognizing one another now too, they parted a third time. When they met at the end of these three years neither knew the other. Afterwards they lived together, and from them came the Lapps and Swedes.
At first Lapps and Swedes were as one people and of the same parentage, but during a severe storm the one became frightened, and hurried under a board. From this came the Swedes, who live in houses.
In the Skalunda Mountain, near the sea and the church, there once lived a giant in the early days, who did not feel comfortable after the church had been built there, for he was troubled by the church bells. At length he decided that he could no longer stand the ringing; so he left the place and settled down on an island in the North Sea.
Once on a time a ship was wrecked on this island, and among those saved were several people from Skalunda.
"Where do you come from?" asked the giant, who by now had grown old and blind, and sat warming himself before a log fire.
"We are from Skalunda," said one of the saved men.
"Give me your hand, so that I may feel whether there is still warm blood to be found in Sweden," 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 answered.
"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 myself."
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 box for the altar of the church and a girdle that Karin was to wear to remember him by. "But do not open the box before you set in on the alter," he cautioned strongly. "If you do as I bid you," the giant added, "you will find a key beneath the left wing of the church. Take the key with you to Skalunda Mountain. There you will see a door. Open it with the key. When you are inside you will meet two black dogs. Do not be afraid of them, but press on into the room. There you will find a table with many beautiful silver vessels on it. You may take the largest of them, but if you take anything more, misfortune will overtake you."
The men took the box and the girdle and kept all this in mind. But they came near the Skalunda mountain on their homeward voyage, all the people on the ship decided to throw the box overboard onto a small island nearby, for they did not trust the giant full well. This was done, and at once the island was in flames, and even today it is brown and desolate as if a fire had recently swept it.
Then, when they came to Karin in Stommen, they handed over the belt to her and told what the giant had told them. 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 huge that one of the best springs in Stommen flows from one of the rootholes to this very day.
Two similar tales are forged into one here. The other tale is "Puke Mountain". - Ed.