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Troll Labor


Thomas Keightley in his The Fairy Mythology, Illustrative of the Romance and Superstition of Various Countries (1850) gives the following account which was narrated in the form of a legal declaration.

In the year 1660, when I and my wife had gone to my farm (fäboderne), which is three quarters of a mile from Ragunda parsonage, and we were sitting there and talking a while, late in the evening, there came a little man in at the door, who begged of my wife to go and aid his wife, who was just then in the pains of labor. The fellow was of small size, of a dark complexion, and dressed in old gray clothes.

My wife and I sat a while, and wondered at the man; for we were aware that he was a troll, and we had heard tell that such like, called by the peasantry Vettar (spirits), always used to keep in the farmhouses, when people left them in harvest time. But when he had urged his request four or five times, and we thought on what evil the country folk say that they have at times suffered from the Vettar, when they have chanced to swear at them, or with uncivil words bid them go to hell, I took the resolution to read some prayers over my wife, and to bless her, and bid her in God's name go with him.

She took in haste some old linen with her, and went along with him, and I remained sitting there. When she returned, she told me, that when she went with the man out at the gate, it seemed to her as if she was carried for a time along in the wind, and so she came to a room, on one side of which was a little dark chamber, in which his wife lay in bed in great agony. My wife went up to her, and, after a little while, aided her till she brought forth the child after the same manner as other human beings. The man then offered her food, and when she refused it, he thanked her, and accompanied her out, and then she was carried along, in the same way in the wind, and after a while came again to the gate, just at ten o'clock.

Meanwhile, a quantity of old pieces and clippings of silver were laid on a shelf, in the sitting room, and my wife found them next day, when she was putting the room in order. It is to be supposed that they were laid there by the Vettar.

That it in truth so happened, I witness, by inscribing my name.

Ragunda, the 12th of April, 1671.

Pet. Rahm.

In ‘The Science of Fairy Tales’ (1891), Edwin Sidney Hartland refers to the same case though does not give the wording to the declaration.


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