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The Lady Of Pintorp

from The Swedish Fairy Book





Where to-day a castellate building towers between spreading parks and
gardens on the noble estate of Eriksberg, there lay in ancient times a
holding known as Pintorp; with which legend has associated the
gruesome tale of the lady of Pintorp.

In Pintorp--so the legend says--there dwelt a nobleman who, dying in
his youth, left all his goods and gear to his widow. Yet instead of
being a kind mistress to her many dependents, she exploited them in
every way, and ill-treated them shamefully. Beneath her castle she had
deep subterranean dungeons, in which languished many innocent people.
She set vicious dogs at children and beggars, and if any one did not
come to work at the right time, he was sure to go home in the evening
with weals on his back.

Once, early in the morning, when the men came to work, the Lady of
Pintorp was standing on the castle steps, and saw a poor farm-hand
belonging to the estate come too late. Foaming with rage, she
overwhelmed him with abuse and reproaches, and ordered him to chop
down the largest oak on the whole estate, and bring it, crown
foremost, to the castle court before evening. And if he did not carry
out her command to the very letter--so she said--she would drive him
from his hut without mercy, and all that he had should fall to the
estate.

With heavy thoughts of the severe judgment passed upon him, the
farm-hand went to the wood; and there he met an old man who asked him
why he was so unhappy.

"Because it is all up with me, if our Lord in His mercy do not help
me," sighed the unfortunate man, and told of the task his mistress had
imposed on him.

"Do not worry," said the unknown, "Chop down this oak, seat yourself
on the trunk, and Erik Gyllenstjerna and Svante Baner will take it to
the castle."

The farm hand did as the old man told him, began to hew to the line,
and sure enough, at the third stroke the tree fell with a tremendous
crash. Then he seated himself on the trunk, facing the crown, and at
once the tree began to move, as though drawn by horses. Soon it rushed
along so swiftly that posts and garden-palings flew out of the way
like splinters, and soon they had reached the castle. At the moment
the tree-top struck the castle-gate, one of the invisible bearers
stumbled, and a voice was heard saying: "What, are you falling on your
knees, Svante?"

The Lady of Pintorp, who was standing on the steps, knew well who was
helping the man; yet instead of feeling regret, she began to curse and
scold, and finally threatened to imprison the farm-hand.

Then the earth quaked so that the walls of the castle shook, and a
black coach, drawn by two black horses, stopped before the castle. A
fine gentleman, clad in black, descended from the coach, bowed to the
lady and bade her make ready and follow him. Trembling--for she knew
well who the stranger must be--she begged for a three years' respite;
but the black gentleman would not grant her request. Then she asked
for three months, and that he refused as well. Finally she begged for
three weeks, and then for three days; but only three minutes were
allowed her to put her house in order.

When she saw there was no help for it, she begged that at least her
chaplain, her chamber-maid, and her valet be allowed to accompany her.
This request was granted, and they entered the carriage. The horses at
once started off, and the carriage drove away so swiftly, that the
people at the castle saw no more than a black streak.

When the woman and her companions had thus driven a while, they came
to a splendid castle, and the gentleman in black led them up the
steps. Above, in the great hall, the woman laid off her costly
garments and put on a coarse coat and wooden shoes. Then he combed her
hair three times, till she could no longer bear it, and danced with
her three times until she was exhausted.

After the first dance the Lady begged to be allowed to give her golden
ring to her valet, and it burned his finger like fire. After the
second dance she gave her chamber-maid her bunch of keys, and that
seared the girl's hand like red-hot iron. But after the third dance, a
trap-door opened in the floor, and the Lady disappeared in a cloud of
smoke and flame.

The chaplain, who was standing nearest her, looked down curiously into
the opening into which his mistress had sunk; and a spark shot up from
the depths, and flew into his eye, so that he was blind in one eye for
the rest of his life.

When it was all over, the black gentleman allowed the servitors to
drive home again; but expressly forbade them to look around. They
hastily entered the coach, the road was broad and even, and the horses
ran rapidly. But when they had gone a while, the chamber-maid could no
longer control her curiosity, and looked around. That very minute
horses, coach and the road itself were gone, the travellers found
themselves in a wild forest, and it cost them three years to get out
again, and make their way back to Pintorp.


NOTE

In "The Lady of Pintorp" (Hofberg, p. 157) the devil appears in
all his grewsome Satanic majesty. It has been claimed that the
evil woman was a historical figure, the wife of the royal
counselor Erik Gyllenstjerna.





Next: The Spectre In Fjelkinge

Previous: The Evil One And Kitta Grau



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