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How Smaland And Schonen Came To Be

from The Swedish Fairy Book





The Smalanders declare:

At the time when our Lord created the earth, he made a level and
fruitful stretch of land, and that was Schonen. But the devil had been
busy in the meantime, and had created Smaland, a barren region
consisting mainly of hills and swamps. When our Lord saw it, it looked
very hopeless to him, and he strewed the bits of earth that remained
in his apron out over it, and created the Smalanders. They turned out
to be a fine race of men, handsome and strong and able to take care of
themselves in any situation. It is said to this very day, that if you
take a Smalander and set him down on a rock in the sea, he will still
manage to save himself. But in the meantime the devil had been down in
Schonen, and had created the people who live there, and that is why
they are so slow, boastful and servile. But the people of Schonen say:

Once as our Lord and St. Peter were walking together, they heard a
terrible commotion in a forest. "Go see what is happening there,"
said our Lord. St. Peter went. And there was the devil and a
Smalander, who were pummeling each other with might and main. St.
Peter tried to separate them; but they paid no attention to him. So he
took his sword and chopped off both their heads. And he told our Lord
what he had seen and done: "No, that was not well done," the latter
replied, "go and put back their heads where they were, and touch the
wounds with your sword, and both will come to life again." St. Peter
did so, but he exchanged heads. Since that time the Smalanders all
have a bit of the devil about them, and those who know the devil, will
tell you that he is more or less like the Smalanders.


NOTE

The unfruitful district of Smaland and the lazy and servile
people of Schonen (as retold and communicated by Dr. v.
Sydow-Lund), are supposed to be creative efforts of the devil,
at least so the Danes and Swedes were wont to say, and Selma
Lagerloef has repeated it after them with variants. But the
people of Schonen lost no time in inventing a close
relationship between the Smalanders and the devil.





Next: The Evil One And Kitta Grau

Previous: The Poor Devil



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