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"Småguttene som traff trollene på Hedalsskogen" is a Norwegian fairy tale, collected by Asbjørnsen and Moe in the early 1840s. It is translated from original, Norwegian version (from Project Runeberg) by me.


Once upon a time somewhere up in Vågå in Gudbrandsdalen, there lived a couple of poor people. They had many children, and two of their sons who were sort of half adult, had to travel around the countryside begging. This made them familiar with roads and paths, and they knew how to walk to Hedalen.

They wanted to go there. They had heard that some falconers had built a cabin at Mæla; they wanted to pass by and see the birds and how they caught them, so they took the path over Langmyrene ("The long marshes"). But autumn was coming fast and people had gone home from the farms1; therefore there was nowhere to get house or food. They had to continue towards Hedalen; but it was just a small path, and when darkness came they lost the path and they couldn't find the falconer's cabin either, and before they knew it they were in the thick Bjølstad forest. When they understood that they couldn't get further, they lit a fire and built a pine cover; they had brought a small axe. And then they tore up heather and moss and made themselves a bed. A while after they had gone to bed, they heard someone sniffing and snuffing strongly. The boys listened, trying to find out if it was an animal or a forest troll they heard. But the thing turned louder and said:

"I smell Christian blood here!"

Then they heard footsteps so heavy that the earth shook, and now they knew the trolls were out.

"God help us, what do we do now?" said the youngest buy to his brother.

"Oh, you just stand under that fir and be prepared to run away when you see them coming, and I'll take the small axe," said the other.

Just then they saw the trolls coming, and they were so large and huge that their heads were as high up as the tops of the firs. But the three of them only had one eye, and they took turns using it; they had a hole in their foreheads that they could put it in, controlling it with a hand; the one in front had the eye and the others followed behind, holding on to the first.

"Run away!" said the oldest boy; "but don't run far, before you see how it goes; since they have the eye so high, they'll have problems seeing me behind them."

Yes, the brother ran, and the trolls came after. Meanwhile the eldest boy came in behind them and chopped the rear troll in the foot, so it started a horrible scream, and the first was so scared that it startled and dropped the eye, and the boy wasn't late in picking it up. It was larger than two dishes together, and it was so clear that in spite of the completely dark night, it became like the middle of the day when he looked through it.

When the trolls noticed that he had taken their eye and damaged one of them, they started threatening with all the pain in the world, if he didn't give the eye back immediately.

"I'm not afraid of trolls and threats," said the boy. "Now I have three eyes alone, and you three have none, and two of you have to carry the third."

"If we don't get our eye back on the double, you will turn into sticks and stones!" the trolls screamed.

But the boy wasn't afraid of bragging or magic, he said; if he wasn't left alone, he would chop all three of them down, so they would have to creep and crawl along the ground.

When the trolls heard this, they were afraid and started saying good words. They begged quite beautifully for him to return the eye, and he would get both gold and silver and everything he wanted. The boy thought that was quite good, but he wanted his gold and silver first, and he said that if one of them would go home to get enough gold and silver for him and his brother to fill their bags, and in addition give them two steel bows, they would get the eye back, but for now he wanted to keep it.

The trolls whined about it, and said that none of them could go, when they didn't have the eye to see with; but then one of them started screaming for the wife, 'cause they shared one wife as well. After a while the answer came from a mountain far to the north. The trolls said that she was to come with two steel bows and two buckets filled with gold and silver, and it didn't last long before she came, I think; and when she heard what had happened, she started threatening with troll magic as well. But the trolls were scared and told her to beware of the little wasp, she couldn't be sure he wouldn't take her eye as well. Then she threw the buckets with silver and gold and the bows to the boys, and took the trolls home to the mountain, and since then no one has heard anything about trolls in the Hedal forest smelling Christian blood.

1: Traditionally, mountain farms ("seter") in Norway would only be populated during summer.

More fairy tales, please!

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