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  1. The Trolls and the Large Stone
  2. The Trolls of Skurugata
  3. Madam Maagimy

The Trolls and the Large Stone

On the estates of Ljungby lies a large stone. In olden times the trolls used to gather there with dancing and games, and thus celebrate their Christmas.

One Christmas night as the lady of the estate sat sitting in her mansion and listened to the merry-making of the trolls under the stone, she got curious to know more about the beings. Therefore she gathered her menservants and promised the best horse in her stables to him who would ride to the stone at vesper hour and bring her a full account of the doings there.

One of the servants was a daring young fellow. He accepted the offer and a little later set out on his way. At the stone he discovered it was lifted from the ground, supported on pillars of bright metal, and under it the trolls were in the middle of their revelry.

A young troll woman noticed the horseman and left the others to offer the newcomer a drinking horn and pipe. She placed them in the young man's hand, with directions to first drink from the horn to the health of the Mountain King, then blow three times on the pipe. At the same time she whispered some words of caution to him. As a result he threw the contents of the horn over his shoulder and set off at the utmost speed over fields and meadows toward home. The trolls followed him closely with great clamour, but he flew before them across the drawbridge, which was at once pulled up after him. Then the fellow could place the horn and pipe in the hands of his mistress.

Outside, across the moat, the trolls now promised the lady great happiness and riches if she would return to them their horn and pipe. If not, they went on, great misfortune and destruction would overtake her and her family, and it would get especially hard with the young man who had dared to take with him the two articles.

The young man died in three days, and the horse he rode fell dead a day later.

Now, several years later the priest of the parish borrowed the strange articles to show them to his brothers-in-law who were then visiting him. During the night, the light of a candle awakened the priest's mother-in-law in her room. The bed curtains were drawn back and on her bed a basket was dropped. In it sat five small children, who cried in chorus, "You, who are noted for your kindness, please return to us our horn!"

She asked them why they desired it and what value it had to them. They answered, "For our people's sake."

When she would no longer listen to their pleading, they left, saying they would come again three nights later. So they did. This time the priest's mother-in-law woke up in the middle of the night to find a great number of little men in her chamber. Among them was the troll king himself. Softly he neared the bed, holding forth a horn richly adorned with gold chains and massive gold buttons, which he proffered the lady in exchange for the genuine horn. But she could not be persuaded, so in the end the trolls had to leave her, quietly and sorrowfully.

Soon afterwards it was reported that a peasant's child had been carried off by the trolls. The people took to ringing the church bells until the child was returned to its mother. The boy then told that the trolls were not pretty, but had large noses and mouths. The couple beneath the large stone used to suck the moisture from the food of mankind and so sustain themselves. He also told they were often at variance with each other.

However, both the boy and his mother were in time found disposed to superstition, and that their understandings were as feeble as their bodies, a local nobleman concluded after investigating them and their claims.


The Trolls of Skurugata

Skurugata is a street-like chasm cut through one of the granite mountains in the parish of Eksjo. Its walls are some forty meter high at most, and it is almost three kilometres long.

There was once a hunter named Pelle Katt, who one day went to Skurugata to shoot woodcock, but though it was the mating season, when birds are ordinarily plenty and tame, the hunt was unsuccessful. Then, as he passed the mouth of Skurugata, a woman stepped out of it. She was small and peculiar and carried a little poodle dog in her arms.

"You can shoot this dog," said she, approaching Pelle.

After tying the animal to a tree, the little woman disappeared between the mountains and Pelle raised his gun and sent a charge of shot through the dog's head. But what a sight met his gaze when the smoke had disappeared. There lay his own little child wrapped in a dog's hide.

Pelle Katt's habits were not the best. Now, for the first time in his life, he was crestfallen.

"What have I now done!" he cried and perspired from every pore.

"Here you have your reward," said the troll woman, who now reappeared and threw a dollar piece to Pelle. In a rage, Pelle threw the dollar piece after her, at the same time calling out: "I will take no pay from you for such a deed. Here you have your gift back."

A hoarse laugh answered from the mountain.

Pelle went home. The child was absent. His wife cried, but Pelle kept still and went to the alehouse. He had no money to buy brandy for in an attempt to drown his sorrows, but after his old custom he stuck his fingers in his vest pocket. There was the dollar piece that he had recently cast from him. He dropped it on the alehouse counter and received a drink. When he became sober, the coin was again found in his pocket, and later when he searched his pocket for money. So he went on drinking more and more daily, till, finally, he drank himself into that sleep that knows no waking.


Madam Maagimy

Madam Maagimi was a very clever and rich troll woman who once lived in the hill-range not far from the city of Eksjo. She had a very bad temper, so those who angered her, were duly punished.

A poor woman lived in the hills too. Late one evening a knock was heard on her hut door.

"Come in," answered the old woman, wondering who her visitor might be.

"Here is work for you from the mistress of the mountain," a voice said from outside. "I will not come in. Spin beautiful yarn, but do not wet the threads with spittle. The madam will not tolerate that."

"Where shall I leave the yarn?" asked the trembling woman.

"Go straight forward into the woods, where you will find a smooth green lawn. Put the yarn there and next day you shall have your pay."

The old woman began at once to spin the flax that she found outside the cottage door, and took care to wet the thread with water only. The yarn was soon finished and she went into the woods until she came to a beautiful glade encircled by high trees. She there laid down the yarn. Next day she went again to the spot and found a new bundle of flax, and several silver pieces.

Now the woman got silver money enough to call herself rich. However, she also got greedy. At last, she did not follow the troll instructions, but spun the yarn according to general custom, wetting the thread with her spittle.

Later that day she placed the yarn in the glade as many times before. But next day, when she went to the glade to get her reward again, she was not able to find the glade. In the end she went astray, and could not find her way home until a whole day later. There she found, when she sat down to count over her money, that all the silver pieces had been changed into small stones. The old woman died some time after in great poverty and distress.



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