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Old Hopgiant

from The Swedish Fairy Book





Once upon a time there were two neighbors: one of them rich and the
other poor. They owned a great meadow in common, which they were
supposed to mow together and then divide the hay.

But the rich neighbor wanted the meadow for himself alone, and told
the poor one that he would drive him out of house and home if he did
not come to an agreement with him that whichever one of them mowed the
largest stretch of the meadowland in a single day, should receive the
entire meadow.

Now the rich neighbor got together as many mowers as ever he could;
but the poor one could not hire a single man. At last he despaired
altogether and wept, because he did not know how he could manage to
get so much as a bit of hay for the cow.

Then it was that a large man stepped up to him and said: "Do not
grieve so. I can tell you what you ought to do. When the mowing
begins, just call out 'Old Hopgiant!' three times in succession, and
you'll not be at a loss, as you shall see for yourself." And with that
he disappeared.

Then the poor man's heart grew less heavy, and he gave over worrying.
So one fine day his rich neighbor came along with no fewer than twenty
farmhands, and they mowed down one swath after another. But the poor
neighbor did not even take the trouble to begin when he saw how the
others took hold, and that he himself would not be able to do anything
alone.

Then the big man occurred to him, and he called out: "Old Hopgiant!"
But no one came, and the mowers all laughed at him and mocked him,
thinking he had gone out of his mind. Then he called again: "Old
Hopgiant!" And, just as before, there was no hopgiant to be seen. And
the mowers could scarcely swing their scythes; for they were laughing
fit to split.

And then he cried for the third time: "Old Hopgiant!" And there
appeared a fellow of truly horrible size, with a scythe as large as a
ship's mast.

And now the merriment of the rich peasant's mowers came to an end. For
when the giant began to mow and fling about his scythe, they were
frightened at the strength he put into his work. And before they knew
it he had mown half the meadow.

Then the rich neighbor fell into a rage, rushed up and gave the giant
a good kick. But that did not help him, for his foot stuck to the
giant, while the latter no more felt the kick than if it had been a
flea-bite, and kept right on working.


HAWSER."]

Then the rich neighbor thought of a scheme to get free, and gave the
giant a kick with his other foot; but this foot also stuck fast, and
there he hung like a tick. Old Hopgiant mowed the whole meadow, and
then flew up into the air, and the rich man had to go along hanging to
him like a hawser. And thus the poor neighbor was left sole master of
the place.


NOTE

A genuine folk-tale figure is "Old Hopgiant." (Bondeson,
Svenska Folksagor, Stockholm, 1882, p. 41. From Dalsland) in
which a wonderful giant being comes to a poor peasant's
assistance, and rescues him from his oppressor.





Next: The Princess And The Glass Mountain

Previous: The Mount Of The Golden Queen



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