Thord of Throstestad

One man was named Thord; he lived on Throstestad at Höfdestrand in the Skagefjord. He had a strange disposition, it seemed to people. It happened one winter that he went from home to the Trading-Place in such a heavy snowfall that he thought it was no weather to find a way. He was carrying a sack of goods, and with this he went down over the marshes; for from there it is not far to Hofsos. When he had gone a little way he lost his way, but continued his trek until evening; then he thought he saw a few stalls; they were so high that he marveled; he went and found the windows lighted up. He went to a window and saw people inside who were having fun playing strings and dancing. Then he approached the door and knocked. Immediately a man in a coat came to the door and asked what he wants. Thord said what it was like to have lost his way, and also said that he would like shelter if it could be done. The other replied that he might well get it. “Now follow me in with your sack of goods. Tomorrow I will trade with you, and I suppose you will like trading here no less than in Hofsos.’ Thord could hardly believe his eyes; it was all like a dream to him. The man in the coat led him into the room it was all like a dream to him. The man in the coat led him into the room it was all like a dream to him. The man in the coat led him into the room[49] in, though not finely dressed; there were many people, the woman of the house, the children and the servants, and all were very well dressed and sang and were merry.

The man in the coat or the master of the house said softly to his wife, but loud enough for the man to hear: “A lost wanderer has come, he is tired and needs something to strengthen himself. Give him a drink, darling.’ She felt sorry for him, poor thing; she got up quickly and fetched good and plentiful food for him. But the master of the house came with two cups, poured them out, emptied one cup himself and asked Thord to empty the other. He did, and he believed he had never drunk such good wine in his life. It was great fun and Thord never got bored, although he found his adventure a bit odd. He got cup after cup and started to get drunk. Then he was put in a good bed and slept off his intoxication at night. The next morning he had food and wine again,

Then the master of the house went out with him and asked him if he would trade, to which Thord replied ‘Yes’. They then went to the general store, which had all kinds of goods. Thord had his wares weighed, and the merchant gave him half times more than was usually given at Hofsos. Thord now received grain in his sack, linen[50] and various odds and ends that he might need. All he got for half the usual price, and when he had finished the merchant gave him a large cloth for his wife and white bread for his children, and said that Thord should now be rewarded for having once saved his son from peril would have. Thord did not think it was so, but the merchant said it was so. ‘You were once below Thordshofde with several men; you wanted to go over to Drangö and lay and waited for a good wind. Your comrades amused themselves by throwing stones and aiming at a rock; but it was warm sunny weather that day, and my son had therefore lain down under the rock; for he was tired and had been awake all night. You forbade them to throw stones and said that such stones have no purpose. Well they stopped then, but they scoffed at your whims and said that you had always been a queer man. And if you hadn’t stopped them, they would have killed my son.”

After this conversation, Thord prepared to go home; for now it was clear weather. He said goodbye to everyone; but the merchant put him on his way, wished him a happy journey, and then returned home.

Thord was now moving on towards home, but when he wanted to look at the trading place again, discovered[51] he nothing but Thordshöfde, which lay not far ahead; He was very surprised at this, went home, found his wife and told her everything, showed her the goods and gave her the cloth. She was delighted and thanked her husband for the gift. Thord’s wares traveled far to be seen, and nothing like them had ever been seen in this country, and perhaps their like could not be found if one looked in many places.

Thord never saw the merchant or his people again. But he had something to show for the wares as long as he lived.


The cradle
Kirstine, who lived at Klein-Thveraa, told of her mother, who was clairvoyant, that once as a child she was in the meadow and saw two women coming down the mountain, with between them a male who was something wore. As they drew near she saw that it was a cradle with something red spread over it. Then they took the man and bled him hard until he gradually became smaller and finally a dwarf. Then they began kneading him until he was no bigger than a baby. Then they laid him in the cradle, spread the red cloth over it, carried it between them, and with all this headed for the courtyard.

Then the girl told her mother what she had seen, but she made a hasty turn, ran home and, in front of the women of honour, came to a cradle that she had left outside in the yard. When the women of grace saw this, they immediately took the child out of the cradle, beat it and pushed it in front of them. With this treatment, the dwarf grew in the twinkling of an eye until it was what it was originally; then he followed them up the mountain, and there they all three disappeared.


The Changeling of Sogn
The Sogn farm was once inhabited by two farmers; one half-farmer had a son who was thought not to be very bright; for he could neither read nor write nor do anything else, but always lay in bed and ate, as it seemed to the people, for two. The boy who was most likely to be believed to be a changeling; but it took quite a while before one was quite sure of that.

When he had reached the age of confirmation, it so happened one winter that all the people except himself had gone out of the bath-room to go about their business; but he lay in his bed, as he was accustomed to do. In the same bathroom, however, the wife of the other farmer lay in childbirth, and the child lay beside her. When the people had gone out, the woman who had recently given birth heard the boys yawning so violently that she began to feel uneasy and trembled at the sight of his uncanny behavior. Then she heard him begin tossing and stretching in bed; then she saw that he sat up in bed and stretched himself so high that he reached the ceiling of the bathroom. But it had a gallery on one side, and high up in the rafters were small crossbeams.[54] again, and he leaned his head up against a cross-beam, so that when he yawned he had it in the middle of his gullet, in such a way that the upper part of his mouth lay on top, but the lower part under the beam; He was otherwise so terribly ugly and abominable to look at that the woman was frightened to death and cried out in terror at what she had seen, and because she knew she was alone with him in the bathroom; and long after that uncanny face she was very timid. But no sooner had the woman uttered this cry than he collapsed, as if struck by a bullet, and crawled into bed and settled himself before the people came in again.

From that day on there was no longer any doubt that the boy was a changeling.


The seaman
There is an old saying in this country: “Then the seaman laughed.” The origin of this, it is said, is that a farmer once caught a sea dwarf, who called himself the seaman, and had a large head and long hands from the loins down but he resembled a seal. He didn’t want to tell the farmer anything, so the farmer brought him ashore against his will.

The peasant woman, who was young and high-spirited, came down to the sea and greeted him with rejoicing, kissing and stroking him. He was very pleased about this, and he praised her greatly; but he beat his dog when he wanted to show his joy at his homecoming. The seaman saw that and laughed. The farmer asked what it was laughing about. “About your stupidity,” it replied.

As the farmer was walking home from the sea, he tripped over a hummock and fell. He cursed the mound of earth a hundred times because it had been created and had just been given its place in its field. Then the little seaman, who was reluctant to be carried, laughed and said: “The farmer is a slob!”

The farmer kept the seaman with him for three days. A few tradesmen came to him to sell their wares. Never had the farmer like that[56] thick-soled and solid grease-leather boots such as he wanted, but these tradesmen thought they had the best. The farmer had hundreds of pairs of boots to choose from, but found them all too thin to hold up. Then the little seaman laughed and said: “Some people make mistakes, even if they think they are clever.”

Neither in good nor in ill would the little seaman utter any more wisdom than has already been related; but on condition that it be taken back to the same place in the sea where it had been fished up, it said, it would sit on the farmer’s oar and answer all his questions, but otherwise it would remain silent.

So after the lapse of three days the farmer did as the sea-man wished, and now that he was sitting on the oar, the farmer asked him what the fishermen had to do to get a good catch. The sea-man replied: ‘Fish-hooks must be forged from chewed and kneaded iron, and the smithy must be where the roar of river and sea can be heard; the fishing-hook must be hardened in the foam of a horse, and for the fishing-line gray bullskin and a raw-horseskin line must be taken. The bait must be a bird’s heart and flounder meat, but human flesh must be put in the middle of the hook. If you don’t catch fish like that[57] you only have a short lifetime. But the fisherman’s hook must be bent outwards.”

The farmer then asked what foolishness he laughed at when he praised his wife but hit the dog. The sea-man replied, “About your stupidity, farmer! Because your dog loves you more than his own life! But your wife wishes you death and is the most dissolute woman. The mound of earth you cursed was your mound of money, and it contained much wealth. That’s why you were a fool, farmer, and that’s why I laughed at you. And the black shoes would have lasted you all your life, for you have not many days left to go, and actually they might be enough for you for three days.”

Then the sea-man jumped down from the rudder blade, and so they parted. And it happened just as the seaman had said.


The Nöck
The farmers of the district should repair the fence of the church on Bard in Fljot. Early one morning everyone was there except for an old man who was considered a bit mischievous and unsociable. It was nearly noon, but the old man didn’t come, and the others thought he was a long time coming. About noon, however, they finally saw him coming, leading a gray horse behind him by the bridle. When the old man came, he was greeted with abuse by those who had come earlier because he was late for work, which suited him just as well as the others; but he took it very calmly and only asked what he had to do; and it so happened that he had to go with those in the party who had to carry the bits of peat and clods of clay from which the fence was to be made,

The Gray was very vicious and bad to the other horses, biting and hitting them and tearing himself away from them, and the end of the story was that none of the other horses could defend himself. The people who owned it thought it was a great loss, and they agreed that the greater the burden should be imposed on it, but that was of little help. It bore its double burden with the same ease with which it had borne its previous burdens, and[59] he did not stop his misbehaviour until he had chased away all the other horses and was left alone.

Then the old man took the horse and put on its back as great a burden as all the horses had been given to carry together, and then walked back and forth with the horse, which now behaved quite calmly. In this way he brought everything that was needed to repair the fence. But when he had finished the work, he took the bridle off the horse and, letting go, hit it on the loins with it. But the little gray didn’t particularly like that; it kicked out from behind and kicked both hind legs into the piece of fencing that had been erected during the day; As a result, a large piece of the fence fell out, and no matter how many times the hole was later filled in, it never really held up, which is why a fence door to the church was later put up at this point.

But the last thing you saw of the horse’s drifting was that it would leap as soon as it felt free, and it didn’t stop until it had dived into the Holtesee.

And then everyone understood that it had been Nöck.