november 30, 2005

A fresh round of betting

The housekeeper, silent as a flickering shadow, left the door to the gambling room and passed into the larder, where she stood with her nose pressed against the little window which opened on the hall.

There stood Silfverbrandt bent over the house troll. The Old Father held a little lantern, which cast a faint light in the dark hall.

“What will you give me, if I arrange for you to win back the estate?” he asked/

“I will give you whatever you want” said Silfverbrandt.

The house troll dig in his pocket and pulled out a pair of dice. “If I lend you these dice, and you play with them tonight, I’m sire that you’ll win back the estate.”

Silfverbrandt stretched out his hand. “Give me! Gimme!” he said.

“You can have them on one condition,” said the troll: “tomorrow you must play a game with me, for a stake that I will decide.”

Just then the poor owl screeched: Silfverbrandt startled at the loud and ghastly noise, and waited like a nervous horse for more.

The old housekeeper saw the house troll’s eyes glitter with hatred and spite. She wanted to break the window glass and call out to her master to be careful, and not to pledge anything – but before she could move, the house troll looked up at her with a glare so terrible that she dared not even shiver.

But even Silfverbrandt seemed to have glimpsed something dreadful in the house troll. He withdrew his hand and was about to return to the gambling room when he paused again.

“I don’t know why I should think you evil, Old Father, when you have always cared so much for the estate,” he said. “You can’t wish me any harm. So give me the dice. In the morning, we’ll do whatever you want, if only I can make sure, tonight, that Duwe ends up just as poor as he was when he walked into this hall yesterday evening.”

The next moment, he was back in the main room.

“I’m not sitting here any longer, listening to the owl screeching, without gambling at all”, said Duwe. “I’m going to bed.”

“Asren’t you going to win that little island with the spruce tree off me first?” said Silfverbrandt as he sat down to the table. He took up the little dice cup and shook it once more. They played round after round, and this time, Silfverbrandt won every time. While they played, the storm died down, the owl returned to her nest, and old housekeeper, exhausted, staggered off to bed, but Silfverbrandt didn’t rest until he had won back field after field, meadow after meadow, woodland after woodland, and village after village, until at last the whole of Töreby estate belonged to him again.

It was a beautiful morning when the storm had passed away: a domed blue sky, crisp autumn air, and the lake as clear and smooth as glass. The old housekeeper was summoned to her master before he had risen

When she opened the door of his bedchamber, she thought she saw something small and grey hurrying past. She only glimpsed enough to shudder away from it. Then it was gone.

Posted by andrewb at november 30, 2005 08:27 EM