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Torre Jeppe

from The Swedish Fairy Book





In a church-nave a specter sat night by night, and the specter's name
was Torre Jeppe. He was a dried-up corpse that could not decay. One
night three tailors were working at a farmstead in the neighborhood.
They were laughing and joking, and among other things they asked the
girl in the house, who was known to be brave, what they would have to
give her to go to church and fetch back Torre Jeppe. She could trust
herself to do it, was her answer; but they must give her a dress of
home-spun wool for her trouble. That she should surely have, said the
tailors, for they did not believe the girl would dare such a venture.
Yet she took the tailors at their word and really went.

When she reached the church, she took Torre Jeppe on her back, carried
him home and sat him down on the bench beside the tailors. They
timidly moved away; but Torre Jeppe moved after them, and looked at
them with his big eyes until they nearly lost their reason. In their
terror they begged the girl in the name of God to deliver them from
the specter. They would gladly give her another dress if she would
only carry the dead man away again. They had no need to tell her
twice, for she took Torre Jeppe on her back, and dragged him away
again.

But when she tried to set him down in the place where she had found
him, he did not want to let her go; but clasped his arms firmly about
her neck. In vain she said to him several times: "Torre Jeppe, let me
go!" At last he said: "I will not let you go until you promise me that
you will go this very night to the brook and ask three times: 'Anna
Perstochter, do you forgive Torre Jeppe?'" The girl promised to do as
he said, and he at once released her. The brook was a good mile off;
but she went there and asked three times in a loud voice, as she had
promised: "Anna Perstochter, do you forgive Torre Jeppe?" And when she
had called the third time a woman's voice replied from out of the
water: "If God has forgiven him, then I, too, forgive him!"

When the girl came back to the church Torre Jeppe asked eagerly: "What
did she say?" "Well, if God has forgiven you, then she, too, will
forgive you!" Then Torre Jeppe thanked her and said: "Come back again
before sunrise, and you shall receive your reward for the service you
have done me." The girl went back at sunrise, and in the place where
the phantom had been sitting she found a bushel of silver coin. In
addition she received the two dresses promised her by the tailors. But
Torre Jeppe was never seen again.


NOTE

"Torre Jeppe" (retold and communicated by Dr. v. Sydow-Lund,
after mss. version of Hylten-Cavallius and Stephens) is a
ghost-story founded on the old belief that a wrong done
torments the doer even after death, that he tried to atone for
it, and that then only can he enter on his eternal rest.





Next: The Man Who Died On Holy Innocents' Day

Previous: The Rooster The Hand-mill And The Swarm Of Hornets



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