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Friday night folklore: A Kindly Offer

Many Icelandic folk tales warn against offending the hidden people. This is one of them:

Once upon a time a teenage boy was herding sheep far away from the farm, way up in the mountains. The weather was hot and sunny and he was both tired and thirsty but nowhere did he see any water he could drink.

He was passing by a large cliff face when he heard a sound that seemed to come from inside the rock and thought perhaps there might be water trickling down the cliff face, so he started looking around. He could now clearly hear a sound as if of a butter churn being worked and suddenly it seemed to him that there was an opening in the cliff. Inside he could see a young woman who was churning butter. This sight startled him, but he couldn’t help looking at the girl, who was scantily dressed and very pretty. 

The girl looked back at him and said: “Are you thirsty? Would you like a drink?”
This frightened him and he ran away as fast has he could. When he got home he told the story to a wise man who lived at the farm, who told him: “I would not have done as you did; I would have accepted what was offered to me.”

The next night the boy dreamt that the girl came to him and asked him: “Why didn’t you accept the refreshment I offered you? It was kindly offered.”

The boy answered: “I was too frightened.”

Then she said: “Had you accepted the drink from me you would have become a man of fortune, but now I will it that you shall never be anything but a shepherd.” Then she was gone.

The next spring the boy left the area for fear of the girl. He never saw her again, but her words came true and he lived out his life herding sheep for others.

Copyright notice: The wording used to tell this folk-tale is under copyright. The story itself is not copyrighted. If you want to re-tell it, for a collection of folk-tales, incorporate it into fiction, use it in a school essay or any kind of publication, please tell it in your own words or give the proper attribution if you choose to use the wording unchanged.


Eva said…
What an interesting story!

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