The steward stepped forward and reported, "The rumors prove true. A girl of that description has indeed been lurking in the cookhouse, but hasn't been seen since last evening. She's gone now. Left nothing behind but this." The man held out a grubby length of cloth woven in brown and russet hues.
Jorunn sucked in a breath. Her shawl! It looked so shabby amid all the finery worn here at the high table.
Lady Rimhildr's shoulders went stiff as a wooden yoke. "I know this piece!" she hissed, and fingered an edge. "Once was my own. Cast off years ago, before-- So it's true. A daughter of that thief, sent to prowl for more takings. When you catch her--" Menace prickled in the old woman's voice.
"She's already gone. I searched well. One of them saw her with snowshoes. Spoke of leaving at first light. Though why she'd leave her shawl behind--"
"Stole a better one, I'll wager." Rimhildr's jaw jutted, Jorunn could tell even from this angle. "Send a boy after my sons. Give them her description. They can keep an eye out for the shiftless wretch while they're tracking the troll."
"What would you want done with her should they catch her?"
"Feed her to the ogre, for all I care."
The steward bundled up the shawl. "What shall I do with this?" he asked.
Rimhildr jerked her head. "Burn it. Nei, nei, not in the hall-hearth. Throw it on one of the bonfires. I don't want that stink in here - the stink of treachery."
Jorunn lurched one step forward, raising her hand. Burn it? Not her mother's shawl, cast to the flames!
But she couldn't claim it without claiming Rimhildr's wrath as well.
Jorunn clutched her drop spindle, sagged backwards, leaned against one of the roof posts. Her snowshoes snatched away, and now her shawl. How was she to make her way in the world, shorn like a sheep in spring?
folktales from Telemark
the province of Norway that provides the setting
for the first chapters of TROLL AND TRYLLERI
retold by Joyce Holt
a cliffside on the Lofoten Islands
folktale from Dølor in Lunneherad, Telemark
Aslak sank onto a boulder at the foot of the cliff, head clenched between hands. Three days searching. Three days shouting until the steep slopes rang.
How much longer could he go on?
"Until my feet wear out," he vowed, hoarse as a raven. "Sigrid, oh Sigrid, where have you gone?"
As if in answer came a muffled sound from the depths of the berg, from within the cliff wall. Weeping, wailing. Sigrid's voice, he'd know it anywhere!
Beyond the rock wall, within the mountain. Sigrid had been berg-taken! The tusse-folk, the elves who dwell in the wilds, had stolen his lovely Sigrid.
Aslak leapt up and raced down the mountainside. He passed his younger daughter, herding sheep. He passed his sons, chopping firewood. He passed his wife, hoeing in the barley. He dashed into the cabin, fetched his hunting gun, grabbed his grandfather's ancient tin and ran out the door.
Across the upper fields he pounded, through the heavy forest, over the high pastures, up to the same cliff wall. With weary legs a-tremble he halted, panting, listening.
There it came again. Sigrid's voice, sobbing in despair. "Nothing left," she moaned, "nothing left for me to do but cry my eyes out! * "
Aslak loaded the gun with rusty iron pellets. He cocked, aimed, and fired the round over the looming cliff. The gunshot echoed like the crack of a giant's whip.
"In the old days," his grandfather had told him when presenting the tin of ammunition, "if you came across a herd of tusse-cattle, you could take them for your own by throwing an iron knife over the cows. Iron breaks the spells of witches and ghosts and trolls, you know. I wouldn't be surprised if iron pellets do the same as an iron blade."
They did. In the blink of an eye, Sigrid stood before Aslak, dressed in a wedding gown of flowing silk, her flaxen hair combed long and free, crowned with a wreath of twined silver. Silver ornaments dangled from its rim. Silver glinted around her neck. "Father, oh Father!" Sigrid cried, and leapt into his embrace.
Aslak wrapped her tight, rocked her back-and-forth, crooning in her ear, "I found you, I found you!" Arm in arm they set off for home. Sigrid told of the old tusse-fellow who meant to take her as his bride. With a catch in her voice, she told how helpless she had felt, trapped within the mountain.
forest above Homme farm, up the dale from Kviteseid
As they passed through the darkest stretch of forest, a musical voice called out from the shadows. "You've taken the bride. Give back the silver, for we only had it on loan."
Aslak made no answer, just hurried their way back out into the bright sunlight.
The tusse cried after them, "Keep the silver then, but you'll get no joy of it! * "
Aslak hid that wealth of silver in a storage loft built on a rocky outcropping. Next year, a fire burned out of control and demolished the loft. The silver melted and ran down the rock face. You can still see the mark it left behind.
* dialogue taken straight from the folktale
storage loft at Moen farm, up the dale from Kviteseid
Svånaug clapped hands over her ear-flaps. "Racket!" she howled. "Racket, racket, clamor and din! They're at it again!"
Her husband Jøron rolled over in their bed of young spruce trees, piled deep in a corner of the cave. He burrowed his head into the bedding, dislodging several families of weasels. "Racket," grumbled his voice from the depths.
Svånaug clambered to her feet and stomped to the cave entrance. The last rays of sunset stabbed at her eyes. She flinched from both light and sound. Bells rang in the clear mountain air. She shaded her eyes with one huge clawed hand and glared down the steep hillside toward a headland across the water.
"Full moon clamor," she growled. "New moon clamor. Half moon clamor. Can't get good long sleep, all that racket coming every five days."
"Seven," rumbled Jøron beneath the bed-trees. "Addle-head! You can't count."
"Why they come addle our quiet? We here first! Puny little man-things."
Jøron sat up. He shook his head, aching at the noise. A badger flew out of his mane and scrabbled away.
Svånaug harrumphed, crossed her furry arms, lashed her long tail. "We here first! Been here five hunnert years."
"Seven hunnert," Jøron grumbled as blissful dusk settled over the mountains.
Svånaug stomped about, gesturing with wild arm swings that knocked rocks from the walls. "Five hunnert, seven hunnert, many hunnert, we been here longer! Need our quiet! They got no right! Making all that racket." She snorted. "No more. I shut them up. I smash that silly wooden tower with bell round its neck." She lurched out of the cave into the twilight, glanced around, picked out a boulder, and wrested it from its cradle in the loamy forest duff.
Jøron staggered out of the cave just as his wife hurled the boulder toward the headland.
The missile whistled through the air, arcing over the steep flank of the ridge, plummeting down and down until it smacked into the still surface of the inlet. Water spewed like the spouting of a fjord serpent.
Jøron bellowed a laugh. "You throw like a wretch!" he guffawed. "Look! You make new island."
Svånaug stomped in wrath. "Wretch? Call me that, I throw you!" She grabbed at her husband but he dodged.
"Wretch, wretch, wretch!" he taunted. "Watch me. I throw now." He wrenched from the hillside a boulder half again as large as his wife's. "Watch! I strong as Thor!" His pelt rippled with massive muscles, bunching as he hoisted, bulging as hurled.
The boulder howled through the air, high, spinning, heeling over, plunging toward the church on the headland.
Another geyser plumed the air as Jøron's throw fell short. Waves dashed up the banks of the inlet, then curled back down the strand. Ripples danced and softened, running together.
The bells still rang.
"Now there be three islands," Svånaug said.
"Two," said Jøron. "Addle-head can't count."
Local folktale explaining origin of two islands off Kviteseid.
Only one remains after the waterway was cleared for ferry traffic in the 1800's.
View down the dale toward Sundkilen, an inlet from Kviteseidvatn.
The trolls' lair was supposed to be up the hills on the left.
The church that annoyed them so sat on the peninsula
just to the right of center, near top of photo.
Trolls were supposed to hate Christianity and anything connected with it,
especially the clanging of church bells.