Site Map
Swedish Folktales
Section › 2   Set    Search  Previous Next

Reservations   Contents    

  1. The Evil One and Kitta Grau
  2. Torre Jeppe
  3. The Rooster, the Hand-Mill, and the Swarm of Hornets

The Evil One and Kitta Grau

One day the devil met the conniving Kitta Grau. "Where have you been, old man?" asked Kitta Grau, for she recognized him.

"Well," said the evil one, "I have been out on the farmstead where the newly wedded couple live. This is the third time I have tried to sow dissension between them, but they think so much of each other that it is a sheer impossibility."

"You talk like a real stupid. That is something I could bring about the very first time I went there," said Kitta Grau.

"If you can do that, you shall have a splendid pair of shoes," was the evil one's reply.

"Mind you keep your word!" said Kitta, and turned toward the farmstead.

There the woman was home alone; for her husband had gone to the forest. Kitta said to the young wife, "You really have a splendid husband."

"And that is the truth," the woman answered, "for he grants my every wish before it is spoken."

"But take my word for it," said Kitta, "there is still a bit of deceit in him - He has a pair of long hairs under his chin. If you could get at them with a razor, and cut them off while he is asleep, then he would be altogether without malice."

"Well," said the woman, "if that will help, I will be sure to keep an eye open after dinner and attend to it, for then he always takes a little noonday nap."

Then Kitta Grau went out into the forest to the husband and said good-day to him. "You really have a very good wife," said Kitta.

"She could not be bettered," answered the husband.

"Well you might be mistaken for all that," said Kitta. "When you come home, be on your guard, for when you go to take your noon-day nap, she has in mind to cut your throat. So be sure not to go to sleep."

The husband did not think much of the matter; but still he thanked Kitta Grau for her trouble. Then he went home and ate his dinner, laid down and pretended to fall asleep at once.

Thereupon his wife went to his shaving-kit, took out his razor, went softly up to him and took hold of his chin with her hand. Up flew the man.

"Do you want to murder me?" he cried, and gave his wife such a thump that she measured her full length on the floor. And from that day forward there was no peace in the house.

Now Kitta Gran was to receive her reward from the evil one. But he was so afraid of her that he did not venture to give her the shoes until he stood on one side of a stream and he on the other, and then he passed them over to her on a long pole.

"You are ever so much worse than I am," he told Kitta Grau.

The devil had made a bargain with a merchant. He had promised him that all goods that the merchant could buy, he should also sell again within three weeks' time at a handsome profit each time. This was to go on for many years, but if he had prospered from it, after seven years he was to be the devil's own.

And the merchant did prosper; for no matter what manner of old trash the merchant bought, and if it were no more than an old worn-out fur coat, he was always able to sell it again, and always at a profit.

Kitta Grau came into his shop and showed him the handsome shoes the evil one had given her.

So the merchant said, "May heaven keep me from him! He will surely fetch me when the time comes; for I have made a pact with him; and I have been unable to buy anything without selling it again in three weeks' time."

Then Kitta Grau said, "Buy me, for I am sure no one will buy me from you!" And that is what the merchant did. He bought Kitta, had her disrobe and cover herself with tar, and roll in a pile of feathers. Then he put her in a glass cage as though she were a bird.

Now the first week went by, and the second week went by, and the third week went by, and no one appeared who wanted to buy the curious bird. And then, in due time, came the evil one, and wanted to fetch his merchant.

"Have patience," said the merchant, "I still have something I have bought, but have not been able to sell again in three weeks' time."

"That is something I'd like to see," said the black man. Then the merchant showed him Kitta Grau, sitting in her glass cage. But no sooner had the evil one seen the handsome bird than he cried:

"Oh, I see! It is you, Kitta Grau! No one who knows you would buy you!"

And with that he hurried on his way.

Thus Kitta Grau could help evil and help good.


Torre Jeppe

In a church-nave a spectre sat night by night, and the spectre's name was Torre Jeppe. He was a dried-up corpse that could not decay. One night three tailors were working at a farmstead in the neighbourhood. They were laughing and joking, and among other things they asked the girl in the house, who was known to be brave, what they would have to give her to go to church and fetch back Torre Jeppe.

She could trust herself to do it, was her answer; but they must give her a dress of homespun wool for her trouble. That she should surely have, said the tailors, for they did not believe the girl would dare such a venture. Yet she took the tailors at their word and went.

When she reached the church, she took Torre Jeppe on her back, carried him home and sat him down on the bench beside the tailors. They timidly moved away, but Torre Jeppe moved after them, and looked at them with his big eyes until they nearly lost their reason. In their terror they begged the girl in the name of God to deliver them from the spectre. They would gladly give her another dress if she would only carry the dead man away again.

They had no need to tell her twice, for she took Torre Jeppe on her back and dragged him away again. But when she tried to set him down in the place where she had found him, he did not want to let her go; but clasped his arms firmly about her neck. In vain she said to him several times, "Torre Jeppe, let me go!"

At last he said, "I will not let you go until you promise me that you will go this very night to the brook and ask three times: "Anna Persdaughter, do you forgive Torre Jeppe?"

The girl promised to do as he said, and he at once released her. The brook was a good mile off; but she went there and asked three times in a loud voice, as she had promised: ''Anna Persdaughter, do you forgive Torre Jeppe?"

When she had called the third time a woman's voice answered from out of the water, "If God has forgiven him, then I, too, forgive him!"

When the girl came back to the church, Torre Jeppe asked eagerly, "What did she say?"

"If God has forgiven you, then she, too, will forgive you!"

Then Torre Jeppe thanked her and said, "Come back again before sunrise, and you will get a reward for the service to me."

The girl went back at sunrise, and in the place where the phantom had been sitting, she found a bushel of silver coins. She also got the two dresses the tailors had promised her. But Torre Jeppe was never seen again.


The Rooster, the Hand-Mill, and the Swarm of Hornets

Once on a time there was a peasant who wanted to go to sell a pig. After he had gone a while, he met a man who asked him where he was going with his pig.

"I want to sell it," answered the peasant, "but I do not know what to do to get rid of it."

"Go to the devil," said the man, "he will be the first to rid you of it."

So the peasant kept on along the broad highway.

When he came to the devil's place, there stood a man out by the woodpile making wood. The peasant went to him and asked whether he could tell him if they wanted to buy a pig in the devil's place. "I'll go in and ask," said the man, "if you will make wood in my stead while I am gone."

"Yes, I will do that gladly," said the peasant, took the axe, stood at the woodpile and began to make wood. He worked and worked until evening came; but the man did not return to tell him whether they would or would not buy a pig in the devil's place.

At length another man came that way, and the peasant asked him whether he would make wood in his stead, for it was impossible to lay down the axe unless another took it up and went on working. The man took the axe and stood there making wood, and the peasant went into the devil's place himself, and asked whether anyone wanted to buy a pig.

A crowd as large as that at a fair at once gathered, and all wanted to buy the pig. Then the peasant thought, "Whoever pays the most, gets it."

And one would overbid another, offering far more than a whole herd of pigs were worth. At last a gentleman came along. He whispered something to the peasant, and told him to come along with him; and he could have all the money he wanted.

So when they had reached the gentleman's house, and the peasant had given him the pig, he received in payment a rooster who would lay silver coins as often as he was told to do so. Then the peasant went his way, well content with his bargain.

But on the way home he stayed overnight at a tavern kept by an old woman. And he was so exceedingly happy about his splendid rooster, that he had to boast about him to the old woman, and show her how he went about laying silver coins.

At night, when the peasant was fast asleep, the old woman came and took away his rooster, and put another in its place.

No sooner did the peasant awake in the morning than he wanted to set his rooster to work. "Lay quickly, rooster of mine! Lay big silver coins, my rooster!"

But the rooster could lay no silver coins at all, and only answered "Kikeriki! Kikeriki! Kikeriki!"

Then the peasant fell into a rage, wandered back to the devil's place, complained about the rooster, and told how absolutely worthless he was. He was kindly received, and the same gentleman gave him a hand-mill. When he called out "Mill grind!" to it, it would grind as much meal as he wanted it to, and would not stop until he said, "Mill, stop grinding!" And the mill would grind out every kind of meal for which he asked.

When the peasant set out for home, he reached the same tavern at which he had already put up in the evening, so he turned in and decided to stay overnight.

He was so pleased with the mill that it was impossible for him to hold his tongue; so he told the old woman what a valuable mill he had, and showed her how it worked. But during the night, while he was asleep, the old woman came and stole his mill and put another in its place.

When the peasant awoke in the morning, he was in a great hurry to test his mill; but he could not make it obey. "Mill grind!" he cried. But the mill stood still. Then he said, "Dear mill, grind wheat meal!" but it had no effect. "Then grind rye meal!" he shouted; but that did not help, either. "Well, then, grind peas!" But the mill did not seem to hear; but stood as still as though it had never turned a single time in all its life.

Then the peasant took the road back to the devil's place again, and at once hunted up the gentleman who had purchased his pig, and told him the mill would grind no more meal.

"Do not grieve about that," said the gentleman, and gave him a large, large hornets' nest, full of hornets, who flew out in swarms and stung anyone whom they were told to sting, until one said "Stop!" to them.

Now when the peasant again came to the old woman, he told her he had a swarm of hornets who obeyed his commands. "Heavens above!" cried the woman, "that's something worthwhile seeing!"

"You may see it without any trouble," answered the peasant, and at once called, "Out, out, my hornets and sting the old woman!"

And at once the entire swarm fell on the old woman, who began to scream pitifully. She begged the peasant to please call back his hornets, and said she was only too willing to give back the rooster and the mill she had taken.

The peasant did not object to this; but ordered his hornets to leave the old woman alone, and fly back into their house. Then he went home with his rooster, his mill and his hornets, became a rich man and lived happily until he died. And he was in the habit of saying, "They have a big fair in the devil's place, and you find real decent people there, and above all, a liberal gentleman, with whom it is a pleasure to do business."



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]