Long, long ago in a country filled with many lakes lay a vast stretch of marsh called the Tontlawald. No one dared to venture there. It was known to be filled with ghosts who would walk the marshes, drowning anyone who ventured too close. A single village was situated nearby, and the people who looked upon the Tontlawald at night saw strange lights dancing in the marsh mists.
Story the First, Which Describes a Looking-Glass and the Broken Fragments.
YOU must attend to the commencement of this story, for when we get to the end we shall know more than we do now about a very wicked hobgoblin; he was one of the very worst, for he was a real demon.
There was once upon a time a man and his wife, and they had no children, which was a great grief to them. One winter’s day, when the sun was shining brightly, the couple were standing outside their cottage, and the woman was looking at all the little icicles which hung from the roof.
Once upon a time there were a man and his wife who lived in the forest, very far from the rest of the tribe. Very often they spent the day in hunting together, but after a while the wife found that she had so many things to do that she was obliged to stay at home; so he went alone, though he found that when his wife was not with him he never had any luck. One day, when he was away hunting, the woman fell ill, and in a few days she died.
There was once a great war, and the King had a great many soldiers, but he gave them so little pay that they could not live upon it. Then three of them took counsel together and determined to desert.
There was once a poor woman who had two children. The youngest had to go every day into the forest to fetch wood. Once when she had gone a long way to seek it, a little child, who was quite strong, came and helped her industriously to pick up the wood and carry it home, and then before a moment had passed the strange child disappeared.
There was a farmer, and he had three cows, fine fat beauties they were. One was called Facey, the other Diamond, and the third Beauty. One morning he went into his cowshed, and there he found Facey so thin that the wind would have blown her away. Her skin hung loose about her, all her flesh was gone, and she stared out of her great eyes as though she’d seen a ghost; and what was more, the fireplace in the kitchen was one great pile of wood-ash. Well, he was bothered with it; he could not see how all this had come about.
There are many curious and miraculously unusual happenings and things in nature, of which no human understands how they occur or how they relate to other things, but they exist nonetheless. And when people hear stories about them, they are amazed and terrified, but they cannot comprehend them. Thus it is with the Raven Stone, which many people talk about, but no one knows anything about with certainty. But it is known for sure that Raven Stones exist.
Long ago, at least two thousand years, there was a rich man who had a beautiful and pious wife, and they loved each other dearly. However, they had no children, though they wished very much to have some, and the woman prayed for them day and night, but they didn’t get any, and they didn’t get any.
Many years ago there died on the estate of Sundshult, in the parish of Nafverstad, a child of illegitimate birth, murdered by his parents to hide their crime. This child became a spirit, left to wander the earth, disturbing the rest and making night uncomfortable for the people of the neighborhood.
Will-o’-the’wisps are the strange phosporescent lights which dance in marshes and fens. It is said that they are elves and fairies, set to lead travellers astray.
In days gone by there was a land where the nights were always dark, and the sky spread over it like a black cloth, for there the moon never rose, and no star shone in the gloom.
There was once upon a time a woman who had an only daughter. When the child was about seven years old she used to pass every day, on her way to school, an orchard where there was a wild plum tree, with delicious ripe plums hanging from the branches. Each morning the child would pick one, and put it into her pocket to eat at school. For this reason she was called Prunella.
When the Norsemen came to Scotland and lay claim to the land, they were famous for every manner of cruel spoliation, and slaughter of the people wherever they landed. They were a bold, courageous, hardy, rough, peremptory and unscrupulous race. More than that, it was attributed to them that they practiced witchcraft, charms, and enchantments, and had much of other unhallowed learning among them.
A story is told of an inhabitant of Unst, who, in walking on the sandy margin of a voe, saw a number of mermen and mermaids dancing by moonlight, and several sealskins strewed beside them on the ground. At his approach they immediately fled to secure their garbs, and, taking upon themselves the form of seals, plunged immediately into the sea. But as the Shetlander perceived that one skin lay close to his feet, he snatched it up, bore it swiftly away, and placed it in concealment.
An old man named Takahama lived in a little house behind the cemetery of the temple of Sozanji. He was extremely amiable and generally liked by his neighbors, though most of them considered him to be a little mad. His madness, it would appear, entirely rested upon the fact that he had never married or evinced desire for intimate companionship with women.
There was a king who ruled over Albania, and he was very sad, for his wife had died. He kept by himself, and would not be comforted; but at last his courtiers coaxed him to go a-hunting, and so dearly did he love the chase that he forgot his grief.
Mosaku and his apprentice Minokichi journeyed to a forest, some little distance from their village. It was a bitterly cold night when they neared their destination, and saw in front of them a cold sweep of water. They desired to cross this river, but the ferryman had gone away, leaving his boat on the other side of the water, and as the weather was too inclement to admit of swimming across the river they were glad to take shelter in the ferryman’s little hut.
Maid Maleen was the daughter of a wealthy and powerful king, and lived in a grand palace in their realm. She desperately wanted to marry her love Hans, a prince from a neighboring region, but her father refused. She tried for months to convince her father, to no avail.
There was a lonely young fisherman who lived on the shore of Gollerus, in Smerwick harbor. Instead of cavorting in the pubs with his neighbors, he would walk along the sea shore, listening to the birds and watching the waves lap on the shoreline.