For Christmas Day, I have picked a Norse tale I didn’t get around to doing when I did my East of the Sun West of the Moon series: it’s called “The Cat on the Dovrefjell” and it takes place on Christmas eve. And it has a bear. What more do you need? You can read […]
For Christmas Day, I have picked a Norse tale I didn’t get around to doing when I did my East of the Sun West of the Moon series: it’s called “The Cat on the Dovrefjell” and it takes place on Christmas eve. And it has a bear. What more do you need? You can read it here.
The tale tells the story of a guy who caught a white bear and is travelling with her (I can never bring myself to refer to animals as “it”, no matter how much I try). His goal is to take the bear to the King of Denmark but in order to do so he has to cross some mountains and he eventually reaches a cottage where lives an old man named Halvor. In some retellings of the tale, sometimes the owner of the bear is a girl and sometimes he is a boy, sometimes the owner of the cottage is the girl’s uncle and sometimes it’s a girl who gives the boy shelter.
“Heaven never help me, if what I say isn’t true!” said the man; “but we can’t give anyone house-room just now, for every Christmas Eve such a pack of Trolls come down upon us, that we are forced to flit, and haven’t so much as a house over our own heads, to say nothing of lending one to anyone else.”
The man however is unimpressed and he offers to stay in the house regardless, with his bear sleeping beside him.
Old Halvor isn’t particularly convinced to expose a guest to danger, but the bear-bearer insists so much that, eventually, he has to agree. The man and his bear get into the house. The rest of the family gets out to escape the looming danger of the nasty trolls.
So, when everything was ready, down came the Trolls. Some were great, and some were small; some had long tails, and some had no tails at all; some, too, had long, long noses; and they ate and drank, and tasted everything. Just then one of the little Trolls caught sight of the white bear, who lay under the stove; so he took a piece of sausage and stuck it on a fork, and went and poked it up against the bear’s nose, screaming out:
“Pussy, will you have some sausage?”
Well, everyone knows that you do not poke the bear. And did you guess that he was the “cat” of the title?
The bear rises to his feet, highly unhappy that he was awakened by a piece of sausage up his nose, and chases all the trolls away: the great and the small, the one with tails and the ones without tails.
The next year, Halvor is out in the woods on Christmas Eve and is sure the trolls will be back.
At one point, however, he hears the voice of a troll, asking him if he still has that fearsome kitten with him.
“Yes, that I have,” said Halvor; “she’s lying at home under the stove, and what’s more, she has now got seven kittens, far bigger and fiercer than she is herself.”
This is good enough for the trolls, who promise will never come again.
What’s the moral of the story? Well, every household should have a bear.