juli 25, 2003

A troll mother walked out one day

I was in the London Library yesterday, which is the most magical building in London. Up on the fifth floor, at the top of the literature stacks, three floors above English literature, two floors above the French, the Latin, and the Greek, there is a Swedish section where I have not been for years. Because I shall be off in a Norwegian forest for the first ten days of August, I came wandering up there with previous plunder (an 1893 volume of Coleridge's essays, Yeats' autobiographical novel The Speckled Bird, and his 1935 Collected Poems). And there I found a collection of Selma Lagerl�f's short stories, Troll och M�nniskor, or Trolls and Humans. Here's how one starts.

A Troll woman was walking through the woods with her child in a birchbark papoose on her back. He was big and ugly, with bristly hair, teeth sharp as needles and a claw on his little finger; of course the troll woman thought that no baby could be lovelier.

After a while she came to a place where the woods thinned out a little. There was a road here, pitted and slippery with tree roots, and on this road a peasant and his wife came riding.

The moment the troll woman caught sight of them she wanted to slip back into the trees so they wouldn't see her, but then she noticed that the peasant wife had a child in her arms, and she changed her mind. 'I want to see if the human child is as beautiful as my own', she thought, and hunched up behind a big hazel bush which grew close to the roadside.

But when they rode past her, she looked out too far in her eagerness and the horses caught sight of her big, black troll's head. They reared and bolted. Both the peasant and his wife were nearly thrown. They gave a cry of horror, bent forward over their reins, and in the next moment, they had vanished.

The troll woman whimpered with frustration, because she had hardly caught a glimpse of the human baby. But she was immediately delighted again, for there was the child, lying on the ground at her feet ....
Posted by andrewb at juli 25, 2003 03:19 EM | TrackBack
argh! what happens next, you cruel man? Posted by: quinn at juli 25, 2003 05:50 EM