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?"
"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
"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