Charcoal Nils and the Troll-Woman
He began to wonder whether there were not some hocus-pocus about the charcoal-burning, and whether it were not due to the forest woman, who aided him so willingly.
Preoccupied with this and other thoughts, he forgot while returning to his kiln, that he had promised the strange woman at the very beginning, when she had first helped him, that, whenever he had been home and was returning to the kiln, he would rap three times with his ax against an old pine-tree not far from it. On this occasion, as we have said, he forgot the sign, and as a result he saw something that nearly robbed him of his wits.
As he drew near the kiln, he saw it all aflame, and around it stood the three children and their mother, and they were clearing out the kiln. They were pulling down and putting out so that flames, smoke and ashes whirled sky-high, but instead of the spruce-branches that were generally used to put out the fire, they had bushy tails which they dipped in the snow!
When Charcoal Nils had looked on for a while, he slunk back to the old pine-tree, and made its trunk echo to the sound of his three ax-strokes till one could hear them on the Harsberg. Then he went to the kiln, as though he had seen nothing, and all went on as before. The kiln was glowing with a handsome, even glow, and the tall woman was about and working as usual.
As soon as she saw Charcoal Nils, she came back with her pressing demand that he take her home to his little house, and that they live there.
"Yes, that shall come about," said Nils to console her, and turned back home to fetch a horse. But instead he went out on the headline of Kallernäs, on the eastern shore of Lake Rasval, where a wise man lived, and asked the latter what he should do.
The old man advised him to go home and hitch his horse to his charcoal-wagon, but to hitch the horse in such wise that there would be not a single loop either in the harness or traces. Then he was to mount the horse and ride back to the kiln without stopping, have the troll-woman and her children get into the wagon, and at once drive out on the ice with them.
The Story of the Three Calenders, Sons of Kings, and of Five Ladies of Bagdad
Category: Arabic folktales
Read times: 12