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Danish Elf Midwife

According to ‘The Science of Fairy Tales’ (1891) by Edwin Sidney Hartland ‘A Danish tradition tells of a woman who was taken by an elf on Christmas Eve down into the earth to attend his wife. As soon as the elf-wife was delivered her husband took the child away; for if he could find two newly married persons in the bridal bed, before they had repeated their Paternoster, he could, by laying the child between them, procure for it all the good fortune intended for the newly wedded pair. During his absence the elf-wife took the opportunity of instructing her helper as to her conduct when he returned; and the first and chief point of her advice was to eat nothing that was offered her. The elf-wife was herself a Christian woman who had been inveigled down into the dwellings of the elves, she had eaten, and therefore had never escaped again. On the elf's return, accordingly, the midwife refused food, and he said: "They did not strike thee on the mouth who taught thee that."



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