Trolls are troublesome creatures who feature in the folktales of Scandanavia. In this story they get a well deserved fright from a bear whom they mistake for a cat.
Story adapted by Bertie.
Read by Natasha.
Proofread by Jana Elizabeth.
Pictures by Adavi Ramudu,
Adavi Ramudu's pictures come to us thanks to a collaboration with Kottapalli , a free monthly magazine for children in the Telugu language. Telugu has around 72 million speakers, mainly in the Southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
This is Natasha, and here in London, it’s dark and wintry. We have had Halloween. We have done fireworks night, and that means that Christmas must be on its way. What’s that sound? Sleigh bells tinkling I think. It must be closer than I thought. Well to get us in the mood for the festive season, Bertie’s asked me to read you a folktale that is set on Christmas Eve. It comes from snowy Norway.
Once upon a time, a hunter caught a perfectly white bear cub. He brought him up almost like a baby, and taught him to do tricks; like walk on his hind legs. When he grew to full size, he was so tame that he let his owner ride on his back. The hunter decided to make a Christmas present of this handsome and wonderful animal to the King of Denmark. He felt sure he would receive a fine reward.
Late in the year, he set off across Norway. The blizzards and the poor weather held him up, and on Christmas Eve, he was still crossing the mountain range of central Norway known as 'The Doverfell.' He needed somewhere to shelter for the night, and was relieved when he came across a cottage. He spoke to the owner, whose name was Halvor, and said:
“I am travelling to Copenhagen with this fine animal as a present for the King of Denmark. Can you find a corner of your house for us to stay in this Christmas night?”
The man looked out into the cold winter night and said: “Heaven; never help me if what I say isn’t true, but I can’t let you stay here tonight, for every Christmas Eve we are invaded by a pack of trolls. We are forced to flee the house ourselves, and cannot contemplate letting a guest face such horrors.”
“Is that all?” exclaimed the hunter. “We have no fear of trolls. Let my pet sleep under the stove, and I’ll take a side room.”
“Well if that’s what you wish,” said the house owner, “but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Inside, the family were setting out a Christmas feast on the table, with Yule Porridge, boiled fish, pickled cabbage, and reindeer meat. All this was for the trolls who would be there later. The family went to sleep in the barn, and the bear and the hunter settled down for the night in the house. Towards midnight, the trolls arrived. And what a pack they were! Some were large, some were small. Some had long tails, some had none at all. Some had long, long noses. But not one of them had any manners at all. They ate and drank, sang, and danced, lept around, knocked things over, smashed glasses, and created havok. Eventually, a young troll spotted the bear underneath the stove. He took a bit of sausage, put it on a fork, and poked it against the bears' nose saying:
“Here kitty, kitty, have a piece of sausage.”
There is one thing you should never do to a bear - and that is wake him up!
The great white bear rose to his feet and growled a terrific growl, and chased the trolls out of the cottage.
The following day, the hunter and his bear recounted the story of the trolls, before resuming their journey to Copenhagen to visit the King of Denmark.
A year later, around midday on Christmas Eve, the owner of the house was gathering wood for the fire. He expected the trolls to visit as usual, and was preparing everything for their comfort. As he was chopping, he heard a voice from the woods saying:
He turned around and saw a troll.
“Halvor, have you still got that big cat of yours?” asked the ugly little fellow.
“Yes,” said Halvor. “She’s lying under the stove, and since last year she’s had seven kittens and they’ve all grown up to be bigger and worse tempered than she is.”
“Well we are very sorry,” said the troll. “But we won’t be visiting you for Christmas any more.”
And Halvor laughed because it was the best Christmas present he could have wished for.