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Weird Tales from Northern Seas   By: (1833-1908)

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WEIRD TALES FROM NORTHERN SEAS FROM THE DANISH OF JONAS LIE

BY R. NISBET BAIN

WITH TWELVE ILLUSTRATIONS

BY LAURENCE HOUSMAN

Translation 1893

[Illustration: THE GAN FINN. ]

PREFACE

Jonas Lie is sufficiently famous to need but a very few words of introduction. Ever since 1870, when he made his reputation by his first novel, " Den Fremsynte ," he has been a prime favourite with the Scandinavian public, and of late years his principal romances have gone the round of Europe. He has written novels of all kinds, but he excels when he describes the wild seas of Northern Norway, and the stern and hardy race of sailors and fishers who seek their fortunes, and so often find their graves, on those dangerous waters. Such tales, for instance, as "Tremasteren Fremtid," "Lodsen og hans Hustru," "Gaa Paa!" and " Den Fremsynte " are unique of their kind, and give far truer pictures of Norwegian life and character in the rough than anything that can be found elsewhere in the literature. Indeed, Lie's skippers and mates are as superior to Kjelland's, for instance, as the peasants of Jens Tvedt (a writer, by the way, still unknown beyond his native land) are superior to the much vaunted peasants of Björnstjerne Björnson.

But it is when Lie tells us some of the wild legends of his native province, Nordland, some of the grim tales on which he himself was brought up, so to speak, that he is perhaps most vivid and enthralling. The folk lore of those lonely sub arctic tracts is in keeping with the savagery of nature. We rarely, if ever, hear of friendly elves or companionable gnomes there. The supernatural beings that haunt those shores and seas are, for the most part, malignant and malefic. They seem to hate man. They love to mock his toils, and sport with his despair. In his very first romance, " Den Fremsynte ," Lie relates two of these weird tales (Nos. 1 and 3 of the present selection). Another tale, in which many of the superstitious beliefs and wild imaginings of the Nordland fishermen are skilfully grouped together to form the background of a charming love story, entitled "Finn Blood," I have borrowed from the volume of " Fortællinger og Skildringer ," published in 1872. The remaining eight stories are selected from the book " Trold ," which was the event of the Christmas publishing season at Christiania in 1891. Last Christmas a second series of " Trold " came out, but it is distinctly inferior to the former one.

R.N.B.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I. THE FISHERMAN AND THE DRAUG

II. JACK OF SJÖHÖLM AND THE GAN FINN

III. TUG OF WAR

IV. "THE EARTH DRAWS"

V. THE CORMORANTS OF ANDVÆR

VI. ISAAC AND THE PARSON OF BRÖNÖ

VII. THE WIND GNOME

VIII. THE HULDREFISH

IX. FINN BLOOD

X. THE HOMESTEAD WESTWARD IN THE BLUE MOUNTAINS

XI. "IT'S ME!"

THE FISHERMAN AND THE DRAUG

[Illustration: THE FISHERMAN AND THE DRAUG. ]

THE FISHERMAN AND THE DRAUG

On Kvalholm, down in Helgeland,[1] dwelt a poor fisherman, Elias by name, with his wife Karen, who had been in service at the parson's over at Alstad. They had built them a hut here, and he used to go out fishing by the day about the Lofotens.

There could be very little doubt that the lonely Kvalholm was haunted. Whenever her husband was away, Karen heard all manner of uncanny shrieks and noises, which could mean no good. One day, when she was up on the hillside, mowing grass to serve as winter fodder for their couple of sheep, she heard, quite plainly, a chattering on the strand beneath the hill, but look over she durst not.

They had a child every year, but that was no burden, for they were both thrifty, hard working folks. When seven years had gone by, there were six children in the house; but that same autumn Elias had scraped together so much that he thought he might now venture to buy a Sexæring ,[2] and henceforward go fishing in his own boat... Continue reading book >>




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