JOHN Blessom once upon a time had gone down to Copenhagen to carry on a suit at law, for in those days one could not get justice in the land of Norroway; and if a man wanted his rights, there was nothing left for him to do but to travel to Copenhagen. This is what Blessom had done, and what his son did after him, for he, too, carried on a law-suit. Now it chanced that on Christmas Eve John had had speech with the gentleman in authority, and had attended to his business, and was going along the street in a low-spirited manner, for he was homesick. And as he went along, a man from Vaage, in a white blouse, with a knapsack, and buttons as big as silver dollars, passed him. He was a large, heavily-built man. It seemed to Blessom that he must know him; but he was walking very fast.
"You are walking very fast," said John.
"Yes, but then I'm in a hurry," answered the man. "I have to get back to Vaage this very evening."
"I only wish that I could get there!" sighed John.
"You can stand on the runner of my sledge," said the man, "for I have a horse that covers a mile in twelve steps."
So they set out, and Blessom had all that he could do to hold fast to the runner of the sledge; for they went through weather and wind, and he could see neither heaven nor earth.
Once they stopped and rested. He could not tell exactly where it was, but when they began to hurry on again, he thought that he spied a skull on a pole. After they had gone on a while, John Blessom began to freeze.
"Alas, I forgot one of my gloves where we stopped, and now my hand is freezing!" said he.
"Well, Blessom, you'll have to make the best of it," said the man. "We are not far from Vaage now. When we stopped to rest we had covered half the way."
When they crossed the Finnebridge, the man stopped and set John down.
"Now you are not far from home," said he, "but you must promise me that you will not look around, when you hear a roaring and notice a flare of light."
John promised, and thanked him for the quick journey. The man drove off on his way, and John crossed the hill to his home. As he went he heard a roaring in the Jutulsberg, and the path before him suddenly grew so bright that one could have picked a needle from the ground. And he forgot what he had promised, and turned his head to see what was happening. There stood the giant gate of the Jutulsberg wide open, and out of it streamed a light and radiance as of thousands of candles. In the midst of it all stood the giant, and he was the man with whom he had driven. But from that time forward John's head was twisted, and so it remained as long as he lived.
"The Lord of the Hill and John Blessom" (Asbjörnsen, Huldreeventyr I, p. 189. From Gudbrandsdal, told by an old peasant of the valley) is a tale of one of those kindly beings among the helpful underground folk, who nevertheless severely punish any disobedience to their command.
Lord of the Hill and John Blessom, The
Norwegian Fairy Book, The
Frederick A. Stokes Company
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