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Main > Sweden folktales > Fairy tale "Charcoal Nils and the Troll-Woman"

Charcoal Nils and the Troll-Woman

The charcoal-burner did as the old man told him, saddled his horse, paying strict attention that there were no loops in saddle or bridle, rode across the ice through the wood to his kiln, and told the troll-woman and her children to get in. Then he quickly turned back through the wood, out on the ice, and there let his horse run as fast as he could. When he reached the middle of the lake, he saw a pack of wolves running along in the direction of Aboda-land, at the northern end of the lake, and heading for the ice. Then he tore the saddle-harness from the traces, so that the wagon with the troll-folk was left standing on the bare ice, and rode as fast as his horse could carry him for the opposite shore. When the trolls saw the wolves they began to scream.

"Turn back, turn back!" cried the mother. "And if you will not for my sake, then at least do so for the sake of Vipa (Peewee), your youngest daughter!" But Charcoal Nils rode for the shore without looking back. Then he heard the troll-woman calling on others for aid.

"Brother in the Harsberg, Sister in Stripa, Cousin in Ringfels; Take the loop and pull!"

"There is no loop to pull!" came the answer from deep within the Harsberg. "Then catch him at Harkallarn." "He is not riding in that direction." The reply came from Ringfels.

And indeed Charcoal Nils did not ride in that direction; but over stick and stone straight to his own home. Yet when he reached his own courtyard, the horse fell, and a shot from the trolls tore away a corner of the stable. Nils shortly after fell sick, and had to lie a-bed for a number of weeks. When he was well again he sold his forest land, and worked the little farm by the cottage until his death. So that was one occasion when the troll-folk came off second best.


In "Charcoal Nils and the Troll-Woman" (Hofberg, p. 148. From Vestmanland) we have the story of a strange union. Malicious as the troll-folk are, when a marriage takes place between a troll-woman and a human being, the woman is beyond reproach, good and kind, the only reproach that can be made her is that she is not a Christian.

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