(A havmann is a ghostly creature who can be quite dangerous, but sometimes it can be quite a good helper.)
Once upon a time, there was a fisherman. One Christmas
Eve he went fishing, trying to catch some fish for a Christmas feast. First
he tried some of his regular fishing places, up and down the coast, but
the fish weren't biting. Then he rowed far out to sea, so far that he could
hardly see shore. There, he believed, he would catch himself some fish,
but he had no luck there, either.
"I'd better get home," he said to himself, and was about to start to row back when suddenly a giant havmann appeared in front of him and told the fisherman, "If I can receive the unborn being of the first living creature you meet when you return home, I'll let you catch as much fish as you like."
The fisherman started fishing again, and when he pulled
in his line this time, it was full of fish. There were so many fish that
he actually didn't need hooks. The fish simply attached themselves to his
line. After a while the boat was so full that it was close to sinking.
The fisherman returned home, pleased with the result.
The fisherman owned a dog which always awaited him when he returned from his fishing trips. Since this dog was pregnant, the fisherman thought that the havmann could get one of the unborn puppies. Unfortunately, by the time the fisherman got home, it was late in the evening and the dog was in the house. It was so late that the door of the house was locked, and he had to knock on the door to get in. By doing this, he made his wife, who had gone to bed, open the door. The only problem with this, was that his wife was also pregnant. Soon after, she gave birth to a baby boy, and the fisherman felt that he had to tell his wife what had happened on the fishing trip, and what he had promised the havmann. The havmann, having no concern to what kind of creature it was, said the child could be kept at the man's home to the age of twelve and then handed over to the havmann.
As the boy grew up, his mother wanted him to learn to read, but his father protested. He felt it wouldn't matter anyway since the havmann would claim the boy eventually. It was rumored among the townspeople that the havmann would get the boy, and eventually the village priest heard the rumor. He arranged for the boy to be sent to a teacher who would teach him well.
When the twelve years had passed by, and it was time for the boy to go to the havmann, the teacher gave him a bit of advice. "Follow my advice and tell your father that you want a good new boat." The boy told this to his father, but the father believed that the old boat was good enough. The boy then warned his father that, if they didn't get a new boat, he wouldn't leave, and then the havmann might come and take both of them. This scared the father, and he had a new boat made for his son.
On the time of departure, the teacher paid a visit and handed the boy a big book, telling him, "When you've rowed so far offshore that you can hardly see land, ship the oars and start reading the book. If you don't reach shore before you read the whole book, start over again until you reach shore. Despite what will happen or what you'll hear, keep you eyes on the book and read. Don't forget what I've told you. Read and read, and everything will come out all right.
The boy did as his teacher had told him. When he was far out on the sea, he started reading, and after he had read a few pages the havmann arose from the sea and greeted him. But the boy just kept on reading. The havmann got angry and started shaking the boat back and forth, trying eagerly to make it sink. Even doing this, he didn't get the boy's attention, but the boy just continued reading from the book. The havmann tried to distract him by making all kinds of noises and imitating different voices like other sailors warning him off, his mother and his father and the priest and teacher telling him that the danger was over and that he could stop reading. But the boy was clever, remembered what his teacher had told him, and kept on reading.
Then the havmann created a heat wave which was so hot that the boy thought he would burn up. Then the havmann created a wind so cold that the boy thought he would freeze to death. As all this was going on, the boat continued to drift and finally reached the shore. The boy left the boat so fast that he left the book behind, and they say it's still supposed to be lying there.
The boy ran ashore and kept on running until he reached a road which he followed. After a while, he was wondering why he had not seen anyone on the road. As he looked around, he noticed a maiden buried in the ground up to her knees. The boy asked if he could be of any help to her. "No, I can't tell you anything, but I've got a sister who's standing further down the road," she told him. The boy continued and soon reached another maiden. "Can I help you," the boy asked. "I don't know, but I've a sister further on down the road who will know," she replied.
There was no time to spare, so the boy ran as fast
as he could down the road with his head held high. And what a surprise
it was for him to hear a girl's voice shout out, "Don't step on my head!"
He looked down and saw a third maiden who was buried up to her neck in
the ground. "Can I help you?" the boy asked. "No, you're too young, and
it'll take a lot to help us," the maiden replied. "I've been through hardships
before. I've just slipped out of the hands of a havmann, so I know how
to handle both havtroll and riser," the boy said.
"You're speaking greatly of your deeds, boy. Let us see how you handle our problem. All the maidens you've seen are princesses. Three terrible risers killed our father and cast a spell on our country and us. About three miles from here in Stjerneslot lies our castle. It shines like gold and is called Stjerneslottet. In the daytime the risers are in the mountains, but at night they roam the castle looking for Christians. If you dare stay three nights at Stjerneslottet and endure the hardships they give you, we'll be free, you'll become king, and you'll stand free to choose one of us as your bride.
The boy boldly went down along the road to Stjerneslottet where he carefully examined all the rooms in the castle. When night fell, the boy heard the risers coming and hid under a big bed in one of the rooms. Each night when the risers came to the castle, they would usually play and have fun, but on this particular night they could sense and smell the boy, and became so angry that they almost tore down the entire castle. They threw clothes, benches and tables everywhere trying to scare the boy, but he remained calmly under the bed. The smallest of the risers, which only had three heads, looked under the bed and fund the boy. He was then whipped repeatedly by the risers, but remained on the floor, pretending to be dead. The risers threw him out into the yard and told him, "Tomorrow we'll grill you for supper."
At daybreak the risers went back to the mountains and the boy went back to the princesses. They were astonished to see him and asked, "Are you still alive!" "I only received a few lashes, and then they threw me out in the yard and told me they'd be back tonight to grill me for supper," the boy replied and laughed.
When the evening came, the boy went back to the castle and hid in the big stove. As night fell, the risers came back to the castle, eagerly talking among themselves about the evening supper awaiting them. When they didn't find the boy in the yard, they were angry, but could sense and smell him within the compound, so they searched the area. The smallest of the risers looked into the stove and found the boy hiding. Then they gave him the same whipping as the night before and the boy again pretended to be dead. Again the risers threw him out into the yard and said they'd be back to grill him the next night. When the risers went back to the mountains, the boy went back to the princesses.
"Oh, are you still alive yet? Both of my sisters are free from the spell, and I'm the only one left under the spell. If you succeed tonight, it's my turn to be released from the spell. Don't hide so well tonight, but only stand behind the door. If not, they'll get so angry that they will surely kill you," the last of the princesses told him. In the evening, when the boy was about to leave, the princesses gave him a bottle of magic drops and told him to sprinkle himself with the drops when the risers laid him on the grill. The smell of the drops would frighten the risers, and no harm would come to the boy.
At twilight, the risers came back. When they didn't see the boy in the yard, they became angry, stomping fiercely on the ground, making the whole land shiver. They searched the castle and found the boy behind the door. They threw him into a big frying pan and it the fire. The boy sprinkled himself with the magic drops and a terrible smell arose, making the risers flee the castle screaming "Christian's blood", we'll never be back." The boy got out of the pan and ran eagerly to the princesses who were awaiting him, pleased that all three were free of the spell.
The four of them returned to the castle, and, after a few days, one of the princesses said, "It will still take a year before the effects of the spell over the country have passed, so if you wish to visit your parents, do it now. I'll give you my ring which has magic abilities. Every time you roll it around your finger, you can wish for anything you like. But never wish for me to come to you. Then we'd both be in trouble!"
The boy put on the ring, rolled it around his finger, and wished himself back home. When he was at his parents' home, he asked for a bed for the night, but they didn't recognize him, excusing themselves that they did not have a bed for him. There was a guest house nearby, and they said they would show him the way. But the boy said he was too tired to go any farther, so he would be happy to spend the night in the chair he was sitting in. Thereafter he questioned them on how many children they had. His mother told him that they'd nine, but one of them a havmann had taken, and they didn't know what had happened to him. He then asked her if she would recognize the boy if she saw him. "Oh, yes. I could recognize him among a thousand others. He had a scar on his chest where he burnt himself as a child," she replied. The boy showed them the scar. Both parents were astonished and happy to see their son, and he told them the whole story of his endeavors.
The word got around that the boy had returned, and a big party was held with people from the whole countryside attending. The host of the celebration offered to let the boy marry one of his daughters, but the boy replied, "The girl I'm to marry isn't here, but I could show her to you if I liked." Those at the party were amused, begging to get a glimpse of her. He rolled the ring around his finger and wished for the oldest of the princesses to appear. She did appear, and all present were astonished when they saw her beauty. He then made her disappear, and wished for her younger sister. When she appeared, all exclaimed that she was the prettiest girl they had ever seen. "These are the sisters of my beloved, and she is twice as pretty as these," he said. Then they begged him to be able to see her, and he rolled the ring and made her appear. All agreed that she was even prettier than her two sisters, but the boy noticed that her face was pale as if there were something terribly wrong. She had not told the boy that the risers had returned and would either marry the sisters or bespell them again. That evening the boy fell asleep at her side. While he slept, she took the ring and wished for a very heavy pair of shoes to be placed on his feet. Then she returned to her sisters who were at the castle and were by now joined together in great dispair at their situation.
In the morning, the boy awoke and was sad not to find the princess by his side. He noticed that the ring was gone, and, when he tried to move his feet, he could not because of the heavy shoes on them. This annoyed him greatly, so he tore off the shoes and headed for the mountains without even saying goodbye to his parents.
In the mountains he entered a vast plain on which he became aware of three horrible men fighting, one apparently trying to kill the others. The boy tried to be courageous and negotiate with them, asking why they were fighting. "We have three items: a hat, a sword and a pair of boots, and we can't agree among ourselves how we're going to divide them. With the hat on your head, you're invisible. Everything you point the sword at will die, and with the boots on your feet, you can fly," one of the men explained. The boy was allowed to try these items to assess their value, and when he pointed the sword towards the men, they immediately died! "These items will come in handy," the boy thought to himself. He put on the boots and suddenly flew away.
Soon he reached a cottage. He stepped inside and saw an old woman sitting by a stove spinning wool. Her nose was at least two feet long, and she was using it to pick in the stove. When she became aware of the boy, she used her nose to knock him over. The boy, on the other hand, pointed his sword at her, and she was knocked over herself. The old woman stood up an apologized to the boy and asked him why he had come. "I'm looking for the Stjerneslott, and I wonder if you could tell me the way," he said. "The moon passes here every day and stops to rest by my house," she replied. Just then the moon appeared over the house, and the old woman asked it where the Stjerneslott was. "It's so far away that I don't shine there," the moon replied. The old woman told the boy, "I have a sister who lives about 160 miles from here. The sun rests there at night and maybe the sun will know the answer. But it will take a long time to get there." "It would be easy for me if I only knew the way," the boy assured her. "I'll give you something to help show you the way. Here's a magic spindle. When you come outside, let the thread out and say 'Go to Aslu.' and you'll head straight there," she said.
The boy did as she told, and minutes later he arrived at the sister's house. She both looked like and acted like the first old woman. The boy said hello, and gave her the best regards from their sister, but she ignored him, asking only what his errand was. "I'm looking for the Stjerneslott," the boy replied. "I've never heard about this place, but the sun will be here tonight, so maybe it'll know," the old woman replied. But the sun told the same story as the moon. The old woman told the boy, "I've a sister living about 160 miles from here. The north wind rests there, so maybe it'll know the answer to your question." "If I only knew the way, I could be there quick," the boy said again. "I'll give you some help with that. Down at the beach you will find my rowboat. It's a magic boat. Say the words: 'Go to the edge,' and you'll be there," she replied.
The boy did as she said. The boat ran so swiftly across the sea that the boy had tears pouring out of his eyes. Soon he reached a third cottage where the third of the old women resided. "Hello and the best regards from your sisters. I'm looking for the way to the Stjerneslott, and had hoped you could tell me the way," the boy asked. "I've never heard of that place, but the north wind will soon arrive, and maybe it knows," the old woman said. It was quiet outside, but suddenly the north wind swiftly passed the cottage. The old woman asked, "Oh wind, do you know where the Stjerneslott is? here's a boy here who would like to get there." "Yes, I know. Tomorrow I'm going there to dry some clothes because there's a wedding to be held between three risers and three princesses. Let the boy ride with me, if he can make it," the wind replied. The wind carried the boy swiftly away. When the wind noticed that the boy was able to follow the speed, it blew even faster. Almost immediately they arrived at the Stjerneslott. The wind dried the clothes and dropped off the boy.
The boy entered the village and got a room at an inn. The people there told him that the wedding had begun. They boy said he would like to take a look at the wedding, but was warned not to go since the risers were capable of killing him.
Nothing was going to stop him now. He put on his boots,
his hat and had the sword in his hand as he entered the castle. He stopped
for a moment, perceiving the ugly risers and the beautiful but sad princesses.
Nobody noticed the boy with the hat making him invisible. He pointed the
sword towards the risers and their heads fell off at once, one after the
other. The first of them had three heads, the other six and the third twelve.
In no time they were all dead and the other trolls at the wedding ran for
The boy took off his hat and became visible. The princesses were both astonished and pleased to see him. The wedding continued, but now the wedding was for the boy and the youngest princess. People came from the whole kingdom to celebrate. The boy now became king of the country. This he certainly deserved after saving the princesses and the kingdom. He governed peacefully and in wealth all his life, and, if he's not dead yet, he's still king there.
This page powered by last updated on 25 July 2019. Copyright © 1998-2019 Karl A. Petersen.