Thursday, August 24, 2017
 

The Tale of Ashlad and Redfoks

“‘We have worked quite well together, come and work for me,’ that is what the troll said to me.

“I was willing enough, and when they reached the troll’s house in the mountain, the troll was to make up the fire, while I went to fetch water for our supper.  There stood two iron pails so big and heavy, that I could not so much as lift them from the ground.

“I said to him, ‘Bah! It isn’t worth my while to touch these thimbles.  I will just go and fetch the spring itself.’

“‘Nay, nay, dear friend!’ said the troll, ‘I can’t afford to lose my spring, just you make up the fire, and I’ll go and fetch the water.’ So when he came back with the water, the troll said, ‘before we cook supper the cows must be put back in the barn.  The dog will show you the way.’

“Off we went, me and the dog, Hops, up to the barn. There was no door on the barn and I quickly realized that the troll just picked up the building and set it over the cows. Then Hops squeezed inside under some loose boards. ‘Hops will show you the way, indeed,’ I said.  So I chopped the cows into pieces and tossed the pieces in under the loose board. Then Hops and I returned to the house where the troll was building the cook fire.

“‘Are the cows put away already?’ asked the troll.

“‘Yes,’ I answered, ‘but first I split them up.’

“The troll said, ‘You finish up cooking, and brew a barrel of malt, put plenty of hops in it.  Then make a goat bridge so that they can cross the marsh, they are hungry.’ Then the troll set off to check on his cows.

“I brewed the malt and when I saw Hops, I tossed him in the barrel. Then, I went out to the marsh and slaughtered the troll’s three goats.  I turned them on their backs with their legs sticking up and put them in the water, the biggest one in the middle. Then I waited for the troll.

“When the troll saw his goats had been killed, he was quite angered, but without uttering a word, he went across the bridge and on to the house with me following.

“‘Is supper ready?’ bellowed the troll gruffly.

“‘Yes, made just as you directed,’ I said.

“The troll picked up a ladle and was about to taste the drink when the ladle came up full of bones. ‘I think these belong to Hops!’ he shrieked.

“‘You said plenty of hops,’ I said.

“The troll then went to his house and kicked a great heap of bones out of his way and pulled out an enormous sleigh. He then heaped up great piles of gold and silver and finely wrought things and pushed the sleigh out the door.

“‘I can stand it no longer,’ he said, ‘I am moving from this mountain. Here is payment for your king.’ With that he pushed the great sleigh down the mountain.”

The king interrupted, “And where is this great sled filled with treasure?”

Espen then presented the great sleigh for all to see.

Meanwhile, the troll disappeared over the mountain, to the place where Ashlad had taken that score of cattle, far up to the new howe Espen had built on the far end of the ridge, with a splendid ocean view.

The folk then began to be noisy and merry, to drink and dance at the feast that had been prepared in Espen’s honor. They feasted on goat meat and beef and enjoyed quite a strong brew.

The king then said, “We shall see what we shall see,” and invited Espen to join him, and he was given the place on the king’s bench by his right side, opposite his youngest daughter.

After the feast, Espen gathered a heaping bowl of stew and took it into the forest for the woodwife.