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  1. Starkad and Bale
  2. The Lady of Pintorp
  3. The Man Who Died on Holy Innocents' Day

Starkad and Bale

The renowned warrior-hero of the North, Starkad, had offended a princess. Therefore the king had become displeased with him. To escape the king's wrath he wandered northward, where he took up his abode at Eude in Tuna. It is related in the folk stories that he then took the name of "Thrall of the Alders," or "Red Fellow."

In Balbo, nine miles away, lived another warrior, Bale. He was a good friend to Starkad, and a companion in arms.

One morning, Starkad climbed to the top of Klefberg in Tuna, and addressed Bale thus, "Bale in Balbo, are you awake?"

"Red Fellow," answered Bale, nine miles away, "the sun and I always awake at the same time; but how is it with you?"

"Poorly enough! I have only salmon for breakfast, dinner and supper. Bring me a piece of meat, will you."

"All right!" answered Bale, and in a few hours arrived in Tuna with an elk under each arm.

The following morning Bale stood on a mountain in Balbo and shouted, "Red Fellow, are you awake?"

"The sun and I awake always at the same time," answered Starkad, "but how is it with you?"

"Oh, I have nothing but meat to eat elk for breakfast, elk for dinner and elk for supper, come, therefore, and bring me a fish-tail."

"All right," said Starkad, and in a little while he was with his friend, bearing a barrel of salmon under each arm.

In this way the warriors kept each other supplied with fresh game from forest and sea, and spread terror throughout the countryside. But one evening as they were returning from a plundering expedition to the sea, a black cloud appeared, and it began to thunder and lighten. Both hastened on the way, but reached no further than to Vattjom. Starkad was struck dead by lightning there. His companion buried him in a hill. Around it he placed five stones, two at his feet, one at each shoulder and one at his head, marking to this day the grave of Starkad, forty feet long.

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The Lady of Pintorp

WHERE today a castellate building towers between spreading parks and gardens on the estate of Eriksberg, there lay in ancient times a holding known as Pintorp; with which legend has associated the gruesome tale of the lady of Pintorp.

In Pintorp, the legend says, there lived a nobleman. He died in his youth and 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. Beneath her castle she had deep subterranean dungeons, and in them languished many innocent people. She set vicious dogs at children and beggars, and if anyone did not come to work at the right time, he was sure to go home in the evening with whip marks across his back.

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 on 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, unless our Lord helps me," sighed the unfortunate man, and told of the task his mistress had imposed on him.

"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 castle."

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 knees, Svante?"

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 give it to her. 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 chambermaid, 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 chambermaid 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 and flame.

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 servants 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.

NOTE. It has been claimed that the evil woman was a historical figure, the wife of the royal counselor Erik Gyllenstjerna.

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The Man Who Died on Holy Innocents' Day

ONCE on 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 worthwhile 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.

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