Log in

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Storyteller: The Forest Troll

Once upon a time there was an old woman who lived with her three sons in a little wooden house on the edge of a dark forest.

One year when winter was coming the old woman asked her eldest son to go into the forest and chop down a tree for firewood.

“Do I have to?” the oldest boy asked. “When it gets really cold we could all go to bed. Then we wouldn’t need to build a fire.”

“Don’t be so lazy!” the old woman said. “We can’t stay in bed all winter. You’re the strongest of my sons, so go and fetch some wood.”

The oldest boy didn’t like hard work, but he finally set off for the forest, carrying the smallest axe he could find. When he got there he went to the most rotten tree he could see.

“This shouldn’t be too hard,” and he lifted up the axe to start chopping. He had just tapped the tree once when he felt a thump on his shoulder. He turned around and behind him he saw the ugliest, most revolting troll you could ever imagine. The creature had one red eye in the centre of his forehead and his purple nose was knobbly and twisted like the root of an old tree.

“Hey, you, superman!” shouted the troll. “If you chop down one tree in my forest I’ll break you into fifty pieces.”

The boy threw down his axe. He ran home as fast as his legs could carry him and he told his family all about the giant.

“Fancy being afraid of a stupid old troll!” sneered the second son. “I wouldn’t be afraid.”

The next morning the second son picked up a bigger axe and set off to fetch some wood. As soon as he got to the forest he found a large tree that looked like it would make enough wood to last the whole winter.

Thwack! Thwack...ack! Whaaa...ack! The sound of his axe echoed through the forest. But before he’d got halfway through the tree the troll appeared.

“Hey, you, muscles! What do you think you’re doing? You lift that axe once more and I’ll break you into a hundred pieces.”

“Don’t think I’m s-scared of an old t-t-troll like you. You c-can’t f-frighten me. I’m going to chop down this t-tree.”

“We’ll see about that!” And he lifted a long arm up into the tree and pulled off a long branch. He snapped it across his knee and started breaking it into tiny twigs.

The second brother saw how strong the troll was and ran off home as fast as he could. He was shaking with fear when he arrived home and his elder brother greeted him. “Well, where’s all the wood then?”

“I met the nasty troll. He chased me out of the forest. He was much too strong to argue with. Why, he was fifty feet…”

Just then the old woman’s youngest son butted in. “I wouldn’t be scared of him. I’m sure I wouldn’t. I’ll go and fetch the wood.”

“What, you? You’re much too young to chop down a tree. With that troll you wouldn’t stand a chance.”

“Oh please, let me go.”

In the end, despite her fears, the old woman said her youngest son should be allowed to try his luck in the forest. So the next day the third son picked up the biggest axe in the house. It was so heavy he could hardly carry it. He went to the kitchen cupboard and took out a firm white ball of cheese. When the brothers saw him putting the cheese into his bag they laughed.

“What do you want that for? Are you going to have a picnic with your friend the troll?” But the young boy did not answer, and he went off to the forest, dragging the huge axe behind him.

When he reached the forest he went to the biggest tree he could find. It was about twenty feet thick and so tall he could not see the top. He struggled to lift the axe, but he had to let it drop...and yet again the sound brought the troll pounding through the forest.

“Oh no! Not another one! And no more than a boy! If you chop that tree I’ll break you into a thousand pieces.”

The boy looked straight at the ugly troll. “You just try it and I’ll crush you like I’ll crush this stone.” As he spoke the boy took the big white cheese and squeezed it between his hands. The cheese squirted everywhere - and the biggest blob hit the troll in his great red eye.

“All right! All right!” shouted the troll. “That’s enough. Don’t crush me like that stone. You can chop down any trees you want - no, I’ll chop them for you if you like. I’ll, I’ll cut them into logs and take them back to your house.”

From that day on the troll made sure that the old woman and her family had all the firewood they needed.

From a story originating in Scandinavia, retold by Eliot Humberstone.