The origin of the Huldre Folk: The Huldre Minister

Collected by J. Skar in Gamalt fra Setesdal (1903) Translated by Pat Shaw Iverson

There was once a farm up in the highlands, far to the east, and there folks had quite a lot of dealings with the huldre-folk, for a tusse was in the habit of coming there and borrowing one thing or another from the man of the farm. The minister heard tell of this, and so one day he took it upon himself to journey up to this man and ask if there was anything to what people were saying.

"Yes," said the man. "If you'll sit down for about an hour, you'll see him. He's borrowed a pot of ale, and the next time the clock strikes, he's coming back with it." The minister sat down, and when the clock struck, the tusse came. When he saw a stranger there, he put the pot of ale on the table, bowed to the man, and wanted to go out again wright away. But the minister got there first and blocked the door. He started talking to the tusse. He preached a sermon from the New Testament, he told of "the little babe"; he took everything from the beginning and explained and held forth as though he wanted to convert the tusse, for he probably thought it was a devil. The tusse struggled and wanted to go out, but the minister held onto the latch and quoted and talked from the scriptures, from the one to the other.

The tusse never answered a word, but at last he said, "I'm not so learned that I can talk with you," he said, "but if you sit down and wait a bit, I'll fetch my brother. He's a minister just like you." He promised that the brother really would come, but the minister dared not let him out; he was afraid he would get away from them.

"You can safely let him go," said the man. "If he's promised his brother will come, then he'll come all right. He never lies." So the parson sat down and waited, and after he had been sitting there for a while, the tusse minister came, in frock and ruff collar, and with the Bible in his hand.

"Do you know the book of Genesis?" asked the tusse. Yes, that he did.

"It says there that, in the beginning, God created a man and a woman. Do you know that?" Yes, he knew that too, and then the tusse showed him what it said in the scriptures. "But when the world had been created according to the second chapter God then made a woman out of Adam's rib. Do you know that?" said the tusse. Yes, that he knew.

Then the tusse said, "That woman, who was created in the very beginning, was Adam's equal in every way, and would never be under him in anything. She considered herself as just as good a creation as he. But God said that it wasn't good for man and woman to be equal, and so he sent her and her offspring away, and put them into the hills to live. They are without sin, and they stay there inside the hills, except when they want to be seen," he said. "But in the second chapter, God took a rib out of Adam's side and made a woman out of it, and then Adam said, 'This time,' because she was taken out of the man. Her offspring have sin, and that's why God had to give them the New Testament. The tusse-folk only need the Old."

The minister had to give in to the tusse in everything, and he never went back to the pulpit again. The name of Adam's first wife is never mentioned in the Bible. She's called Lilli-or was it Lillo? But there's not much difference.