The Interrupted Wedding
Originally collected by P. Chr. Absjornsen from Eastern Norway, c 1836.
Elli Bakken was up against the huldre-folk one summer before she was married. She was a dairymaid at Norstuhov, and was up at the seter(*). They usually had a loom along with them at the seter, for this was over a hundred years ago.
One day, as Elli was sitting by the loom, her sweetheart came in and said that he wanted them to get married right away. She was to come with him now, he said. She stared at him and did not know what to think. Then she saw the dog standing there glaring at him and growling, and she began to have her doubts.
"I'm still my own mistress!" she said. But then there was a rumbling and a humming outside, and in came a whole crowd of people. And among them were two slightly older women, who stood out a little from the others, and it seemed to Elli that they look at her so mournfully.
"That dog of yours certainly doesn't like people," said one of them, and gave her a queer look. "I think it's best you let it out," she said.
Then Elli understood what the old woman meant. She took the dog out in the woodshed, tied a red ribbon around its neck, and whispered, "Hurry home, Rapp!" and the dog set out.
She would rather have gone with it, but they came out and got her and started dressing her as a bride. One of the old women fastened a big filigree brooch on her breast and whispered, "Just keep calm, help will soon come." Then Elli remembered that two girls had disappeared earlier at this seter, and she understood that they must be the ones who were trying to help her, and so she let them dress her as they liked.
Down at Norstuhov, Anne, the farmer's wife, saw the dog come tearing along with the red ribbon fluttering behind it.
"Oh, Lord, Reier!" she said to her husband. "Something's wrong up at the seter!" The dog came into the house like the wind, jumped up on the bed, put its paws on the gun which hung on the wall, and barked with all its might. Reier shouted to the boy to saddle the horse as fast as he could so they could ride to the seter, for something was wrong up there. He himself took the gun, and the boy took the ax, and they set out as fast as they could go.
Up at Notasen, Lars sat fixing the roof of his stabbur, when he saw the two of them come riding by for dear life. "What's up now?" he said.
"Heaven only knows," answered Reier, "but the dog came home and barked for the gun. You'd better come too!"
Well, well, thought Lars, I can't say no; and he took his gun and went with them. A little way up the ridge they tied their horses and went on foot, for it was so steep that they would get there faster without a horse. Soon they were at the seter. There stood a long row of saddled horses.
Inside the cottage Elli was dressed as a bride, and the table was set with all kinds of food, the way it should be for a party. But Elli sat there turning hot and cold, and stared out through the window.
"Aren't we to be married soon?" said the one who was to be the bridegroom.
"No, you'll have to wait a bit," said on of the old women. Then a shot was fired over the roof.
"Cross in Jesus' name!" said Elli, and crossed her hands over her breast. The huldre-folk tore off the bridal finery as fast as they could, but they could not take the big silver brooch because her hands were crossed over it. Then they rushed out of the door like balls of grey wool, and Elli was saved.
The brooch is still supposed to exist.
--- seter: An outfarm in the mountains inhabited only in summer. Unmarried women generally take care of the cattle and do churning and cheesemaking there. [Reider, Folktales of Norway].