THE FAIRY MYTHOLOGY
ISLE OF RÜGEN
Des Tagscheins Blendung drückt,
Nur Finsterniss beglückt;
Drum hausen wir so gern
Tief in des Erdballs Kern.
Day's dazzling light annoys
Us, darkness only joys;
We therefore love to dwell
Deep underneath earth's shell.
We now return to the Baltic, to the Isle of Rügen, once a
chief seat of the Vendish religion; but its priests were massacred by the Scandinavians, and all
traces of their system effaced. Its fairy mythology now agrees with that of its Gothic neighbours,
and Mr. Arndt1, a native of the island, has enabled us to give the following tolerably
full account of it:
The inhabitants of Rügen believe in three kinds of Dwarfs, or underground people,
the White, the Brown, and the Black; so named from the colour of their several
The White are the most delicate and beautiful of all, and are of an innocent and
gentle disposition. During the winter, when the face of nature is cold, raw, and cheerless, they
remain still and quiet in their hills, solely engaged in the fashioning of the finest works in
silver and gold, of too delicate a texture for mortal eyes to discern. Thus they pass the
winter; but no sooner does the spring return than they abandon their recesses, and live through
all the summer above ground, in sunshine and starlight, in uninterrupted revelry and enjoyment.
The moment the trees and flowers begin to sprout and bud in the early days of spring, they emerge
from their hills, and get among the stalks and branches, and thence to the blossoms and flowers,
where they sit and gaze around them. In the night, when mortals sleep, the White Dwarfs come
forth, and dance their joyous roundels in the green grass, about the hills, and brooks, and
springs, making the sweetest and most delicate music, bewildering travellers, who hear and wonder
at the strains of the invisible musicians. They may, if they will, go out by day, but never in
company; these daylight rambles being allowed them only when alone and under some assumed form.
They therefore frequently fly about in the shape of party-coloured little birds, or butterflies,
or snow-white doves, showing kindness and benevolence to the good who merit their favour.
The Brown Dwarfs, the next in order, are less than eighteen inches high. They wear
little brown coats and jackets, and a brown cap on their head, with a little silver bell in it.
Some of them wear black shoes with red strings in them; in general, however, they wear fine glass
ones; at their dances none of them wear any other. They are very handsome in their persons, with
clear light-coloured eyes, and small and most beautiful hands and feet. They are on the whole of
a cheerful, good-natured disposition, mingled with some roguish traits. Like the White Dwarfs,
they are great artists in gold and silver, working so curiously as to astonish those who happen
to see their performances. At night they come out of their hills and dance by the light of the
moon and stars. They also glide invisibly into people's houses, their caps rendering them
imperceptible by all who have not similar caps. They are said to play all kinds of tricks, to
change the children in the cradles, and take them away. This charge is perhaps unfounded, but
certainly, children who fall into their hands must serve them for fifty years. They possess an
unlimited power of transformation, and can pass through the smallest keyholes. Frequently they
bring with them presents for children, or lay gold rings and ducats, and the like, in their way,
and often are invisibly present, and save them from the perils of fire and water. They plague
and annoy lazy men-servants and untidy maids with frightful dreams; oppress them as the nightmare;
bite them as fleas; and scratch and tear them like cats and dogs; and often in the night frighten,
in the shape of owls, thieves and lovers, or, like Will-'o-the-wisps, lead them astray into bogs
and marshes, and perhaps up to those who are in pursuit of them.
The Black Dwarfs wear black jackets and caps, are not handsome like the others, but
on the contrary are horridly ugly, with weeping eyes, like blacksmiths and colliers. They are
most expert workmen, especially in steel, to which they can give a degree at once of hardness
and flexibility which no human smith can imitate; for the swords they make will bend like rushes,
and are as hard as diamonds. In old times arms and armour made by them were in great request:
shirts of mail manufactured by them were as fine as cobwebs, and yet no bullet would penetrate
them, and no helm or corslet could resist the swords they fashioned; but all these things are
now gone out of use. These Dwarfs are of a malicious, ill disposition, and delight in doing
mischief to mankind; they are unsocial, and there are seldom more than two or three of them
seen together; they keep mostly in their hills, and seldom come out in the daytime, nor do they
ever go far from home. People say that in the summer they are fond of sitting under the elder
trees, the smell of which is very grateful to them, and that any one that wants anything of them
must go there and call them. Some say they have no music and dancing, only howling and whimpering;
and that when a screaming is heard in the woods and marshes, like that of crying children, and a
mewing and screeching like that of a multitude of cats or owls, the sounds proceed from their
midnight assemblies, and are made by the vociferous Dwarfs.
The principal residence of the two first classes of the underground-people in Rügen
is what are called the Nine-hills, near Rambin. These hills lie on the west point of the island,
about a quarter of a mile from the village of Rambin in the open country. They are small mounds,
or Giants' graves (Hünengräber), as such are called, and are the subject of many a tale
and legend among the people. The account of their origin is as follows:-
"A long, long time ago there lived in Rügen a mighty Giant named Balderich. He was
vexed that the country was an island, and that he had always to wade through the sea when he
wanted to go to Pomerania and the main land. He accordingly got an immense apron made, and he
tied it round his waist and filled it with earth, for he wanted to make a dam of earth for
himself from the island to the main land. As he was going with his load over Rodenkirchen, a
hole tore in the apron, and the clay that fell out formed the Nine-hills. He stopped the hole
and went on; but when he had gotten to Gustau, another hole tore in the apron, and thirteen
little hills fell out. He proceeded to the sea with what he had now remaining, and pouring the
earth into the waters, formed the hook of Prosnitz, and the pretty little peninsula of Drigge.
But there still remained a small space between Rügen and Pomerania, which so incensed the Giant
that he fell down in a fit and died, from which unfortunate accident his dam was never finished."
A Giant-maiden commenced a similar operation on the Pomeranian side "in order,"
said she, "that I may be able to go over the bit of water without wetting my little slippers."
So she filled her apron with sand and hurried down to the sea-side. But there was a hole in the
apron and just behind Sagard a part of the sand ran out and formed a little hill named
Dubbleworth. "Ah!" said she, "now my mother will scold me." She stopped the hole with her hand
and ran on as fast as she could. But her mother looked over the wood and cried, "You nasty child,
what are you about? Come here and you shall get a good whipping." The daughter in a fright let
go the apron, and all the sand ran out and formed the barren hills near Litzow. 4
The Dwarfs took up their abode in the Nine-hills. The White ones own two of them,
and the Brown ones seven, for there are no Black ones there. These dwell chiefly on the coast-hills,
along the shore between the Ahlbeck and Mönchgut, where they hold their assemblies, and plunder
the ships that are wrecked on the coast.
The Neck is called in Rügen Nickel. Some fishers once launched their boat on a
lonely lake. Next day when they came they saw it in a high. beech-tree. "Who the devil has put
the boat in the tree?" cried one. A voice replied, but they saw no one, "'Twas no devil at all,
but I and my brother Nickel."5
The following stories Mr. Arndt, who, as we have observed, is a native of Rügen, says
he heard in his boyhood from Hinrich Vieck, the Statthalter or Bailiff of Grabitz; who abounded in
these legends; "so that it is, properly speaking," says he, "Hinrich Vieck, and not I, that
relates." We therefore see no reason to doubt of their genuineness, though they may be a little
Adventures of John Dietrich
There once lived in Rambin an honest, industrious man, named
James Dietrich. He had several children, all of a good disposition, especially the youngest, whose
name was John. John Dietrich was a handsome, smart boy, diligent at school, and obedient at home.
His great passion was for hearing stories, and whenever he met any one who was well stored, he
never let them go till he had heard them all.
When John was about eight years old he was sent to spend a summer with his uncle, a
farmer in Rodenkirchen. Here John had to keep cows with other boys, and they used to drive them
to graze about the Nine-hills. There was ail old cowherd, one Klas (i. e. Nick) Starkwolt, who
used frequently to join the boys, and then they would sit down together and tell stories. Klas
abounded in these, and he became John Dietrich's dearest friend. In particular, he knew a number
of stories of the Nine hills and the undergroundpeople in the old times, when the Giants
disappeared from the country, and the little ones came into the hills. These tales John swallowed
so eagerly that he thought of nothing else, and was for ever talking of golden cups, and crowns,
and glass shoes, and pockets full of ducats, and gold rings, and diamond coronets, and snow-white
brides, and such like. Old Klas used often to shake his head at him and say, "John! John! what
are you about? The spade and sithe will be your sceptre and crown, and your bride will wear a
garland of rosemary and a gown of striped drill." Still John almost longed to get into the
Nine-hills; for Klas had told him that any one who by luck or cunning should get the cap of one
of the little ones might go down with safety, and, instead of their making a servant of him, he
would be their master. The person whose cap he got would be his servant, and obey all his
St. John's day, when the days are longest and the nights shortest, was now come.
Old and young kept the holiday, had all sorts of plays, and told all kinds of stories. John could
now no longer contain himself, but the day after the festival he slipt away to the Nine-hills,
and when it grew dark laid himself down on the top of the highest of them, where Klas had told
him the undergroundpeople had their principal dance-place. John lay quite still from ten till
twelve at night. At last it struck twelve. Immediately there was a ringing and a singing in the
hills, and then a whispering and a lisping and a Whiz and a buzz all about him; for the little
people were now some whirling round and round in the dance, and others sporting and tumbling
about in the moonshine, and playing a thousand merry pranks and tricks. He felt a secret dread
come over him at this whispering and buzzing, for he could see nothing of them, as the caps they
wore made them invisible; but he lay quite still, with his face in the grass and his eyes fast
shut, snoring a little, just as if he was asleep. Yet now and then he ventured to open his
eyes a little and peep out, but not the slightest trace of them could he see, though it was
It was not long before three of the underground-people came jumping up to where he
was lying; but they took no heed of him, and flung their brown caps up into the air, and caught
them from one another. At length one snatched the cap out of the hand of another and flung it
away. It flew direct, and fell upon John's head. The moment he felt it he caught hold of it,
and, standing up, bid farewell to sleep. He swung his cap about for joy, and made the little
silver bell of it tingle, and then set it upon his head, and- O wonderful!- that instant he saw
the countless and merry swarm of the little people.
The three little men came slily up to him, and thought by their nimbleness to get
back the cap; but he held his prize fast, and they saw clearly that nothing was to be done in
this way with him; for in size and strength John was a giant in comparison of these little fellows,
who hardly came up to his knee. The owner of the cap now came up very humbly to the finder,
and begged, in as supplicating a tone as if his life depended upon it, that he would give him
back his cap. But "No," said John, "you sly little rogue, you'll get the cap no more. That's not
the sort of thing that one gives away for buttered cake: I should be in a nice way with you if I
had not something of yours; but now you have no power over me, but must do what I please. And I
will go down with you, and see how you live below, and you shall be my servant.- Nay, no
grumbling, you know you must. I know that just as well as you do, for Klas Starkwolt told it
to me often and often."
The little man looked as if he had not heard or understood one word of all this;
he began all his crying and whining over again, and wept, and screamed, and howled most piteously
for his little cap. But John cut the matter short by saying to him, "Have done; you are my
servant, and I intend to take a trip with you." So he gave up, especially as the others told him
that there was no remedy. John now flung away his old hat, and put on the cap, and set it firm on
his head, lest it should slip off or fly away, for all his power lay in the cap. He lost no time
in trying its virtues, and commanded his new servant to fetch him food and drink. And the servant
ran away like the wind, and in a second was there again with bottles of wine, and bread, and rich
fruits. So John ate and drank, and looked on at the sports and the dancing of the little ones,
and it pleased him right well, and he behaved himself stoutly and wisely, as if he was a born
When the cock had now crowed for the third time, and the little larks had made their
first twirl in the sky, and the infant light appeared in solitary white streaks in the east, then
it went hush, hush, hush, through the bushes, and flowers, and stalks; and the hills rang again,
and opened up, and the little men went down. John gave close attention to everything, and found
that it was exactly as he had been told. And behold! on the top of the hill, where they had just
been dancing, and where all was full of grass and flowers, as people see it by day, there rose of
a sudden, when the retreat was sounded, a right glass point. Whoever wanted to go in stepped upon
this; it opened, and he glided gently in, the glass closing again after him; and when they had
all entered it vanished, and there was no farther trace of it to be seen. Those who descended
through the glass point sank quite gently into a wide silver tun, which held them all, and could
have easily harboured a thousand such little people. John and his man went down into such a one
along with several others, all of whom screamed out and prayed him not to tread on them, for if
his weight came on them they were dead men. He was, however, careful, and acted in a very
friendly way toward them. Several tuns of this kind went up and down after each other, until
all were in. They hung by long silver chains, which were drawn and held below.
In his descent John was amazed at the wonderful brilliancy of the walls between
which the tun glided down. They were all, as it were, beset with pearls and diamonds, glittering
and sparkling brightly, and below him he heard the most beautiful music tinkling at a distance,
so that he did not know what was become of him, and from excess of pleasure he fell fast asleep.
He slept a long time, and when he awoke he found himself in the most beautiful bed
that could be, such as he had never seen the like of in his father's house, and it was in the
prettiest little chamber in the world, and his servant was beside him with a fan to keep away
the flies and gnats. He had hardly opened his eyes when his little servant brought him a basin
and towel, and held him the nicest new clothes of brown silk to put on, most beautifully made;
with these was a pair of new black shoes with red ribbons, such as John had never beheld in Rambin
or in Rodenkirchen either. There were also there several pairs of beautiful shining glass shoes,
such as are only used on great occasions. John was, we may well suppose, delighted to have such
clothes to wear, and he put them upon him joyfully. His servant then flew like lightning and
returned with a fine breakfast of wine and milk, and beautiful white bread and fruits, and such
other things as little boys are fond of. He now perceived, every moment, more and more, that
Klas Starkwolt, the old cowherd, knew what he was talking about, for the splendour and magnificence
he saw here surpassed anything he had ever dreamt of. His servant, too, was the most obedient one
possible: a nod or a sign was enough for him, for he was as wise as a bee, as all these little
people are by nature.
John's bed-chamber was all covered with emeralds and other precious stones, and in
the ceiling was a diamond as big as a nine-pin bowl, that gave light to the whole chamber. In
this place they have neither sun, nor moon, nor stars to give them light; neither do they use
lamps or candles of any kind; but they live in the midst of precious stones, and have the purest
of gold and silver in abundance, and the skill to make it light both by day and by night, though,
indeed, properly speaking, as there is no sun here, there is no distinction of day and night, and
they reckon only by weeks. They set the brightest and clearest precious stones in their dwellings,
and in the ways and passages leading under the ground, and in the places where they have their
large halls, and their dances and feasts, where they sparkle so as to make it eternal day.
When John had finished his breakfast, his servant opened a little door in the wall,
where was a closet with the most beautiful silver and gold cups and dishes and other vessels, and
baskets filled with ducats, and boxes of jewels and precious stones. There were also charming
pictures, and the most delightful story-books he had seen in the whole course of his life.
John spent the morning looking at these things; and, when it was mid-day, a bell
rang, and his servant said, "Will you dine alone, sir, or with the large company?" "With the
large company, to be sure," replied John. So his servant led him out. John, however, saw nothing
but solitary halls, lighted up with precious stones, and here and there little men and women,
who appeared to him to glide out of the clefts and fissures of the rocks. Wondering what it was
the bells rang for, he said to his servant, "But where is the company?" And scarcely had he
spoken when the hall they were in opened out to a great extent, and a canopy set with diamonds
and precious stones was drawn over it. At the same moment he saw an immense throng of nicely-dressed
little men and women pouring in through several open doors: the floor opened in several places,
and tables, covered with the most beautiful ware, and the most luscious meats, and fruits, and
wines, placed themselves beside each other, and the chairs arranged themselves along the tables,
and then the men and women took their seats.
The principal persons now came forward, bowed to John, and led him to their table,
where they placed him among their most beautiful maidens,-a distinction which pleased John well.
The party, too, was very merry, for the underground people are extremely lively and cheerful, and
can never stay long quiet. Then the most charming music sounded over their heads; and beautiful
birds, flying about, sung most sweetly; and these were not real birds but artificial ones, which
the little men make so ingeniously that they can fly about and sing like natural ones.
The servants, of both sexes, who waited at table, and handed about the gold cups,
and the silver and crystal baskets with fruit, were children belonging to this world, whom some
casualty or other had thrown among the undergroundpeople, and who, having come down without
securing any pledge, were fallen into the power of the little ones. These were differently clad
from them. The boys and girls were dressed in snow-white coats and jackets, and wore glass shoes,
so fine that their steps could never be heard, with blue caps on their heads, and silver belts
round their waists.
John at first pitied them, seeing how they were forced to run about and wait on the
little people; but as they looked cheerful and happy, and were handsomely dressed, and had such
rosy cheeks, he said to himself, "After all, they are not so badly off, and I was myself much
worse when I had to be running after the cows and bullocks. To be sure, I am now a master here,
and they are servants; but there is no help for it: why were they so foolish as to let themselves
be taken and not get some pledge beforehand? At any rate, the time must come when they shall be
set at liberty, and they will certainly not be longer than fifty years here." With these
thoughts he consoled himself, and sported and played away with his little play-fellows, and
ate, and drank, and made his servant and the others tell him stories, for he would know every
They sat at table about two hours; the principal person then rang a little bell, and
the tables and chairs all vanished in a whiff, leaving the company all on their feet. The birds
now struck up a most lively air, and the little people danced their rounds most merrily. When
they were done, the joyous sets jumped, and leaped, and whirled themselves round and round, as
if the world was grown dizzy. And the pretty little girls that sat next John caught hold of him
and whirled him about; and, without making any resistance, he danced round and round with them
for two good hours. Every afternoon while he remained there, he used to dance thus merrily with
them; and, to the last hour of his life, he used to speak of it with the greatest glee. His
language was - that the joys of heaven, and the songs and music of the angels, which the righteous
hoped to enjoy there, might be excessively beautiful, but that he could conceive nothing to equal
the music and the dancing under the earth, the beautiful and lively little men, the wonderful
birds in the branches, and the tinkling silver bells on their caps. "No one," said be, "who has
not seen and heard it, can form any idea whatever of it."
When the music and dancing were over, it might be about four o'clock. The little
people then disappeared, and went each about their work or their pleasure. After supper they
sported and danced in the same way; and at midnight, especially on starlight nights, they slipped
out of their hills to dance in the open air. John used then, like a good boy, to say his prayers
and go to sleep, a duty he never neglected either in the evening or in the morning.
For the first week that John was in the glass-hill, he only went from his chamber to
the great hall and back again. After the first week, however, he began to walk about, making his
servant show and explain everything to him. He found that there were in that place the most
beautiful walks, in which he might ramble along for miles, in all directions, without ever finding
an end of them, so immensely large was the hill that the little people lived in, and yet outwardly
it seemed but a little hill, with a few bushes and trees growing on it.
It was extraordinary that, between the meads and fields, which were thick sown with
hills, and lakes, and islands, and ornamented with trees and flowers in the greatest variety,
there ran, as it were, small lanes, through which, as through crystal rocks, one was obliged to
pass to come to any new place; and the single meads and fields were often a mile long, and the
flowers were so brilliant and so fragrant, and the song of the numerous birds so sweet, that John
had never seen anything on earth at all like it. There was a breeze, and yet one did not feel the
wind; it was quite clear and bright, and yet there was no eat; the waves were dashing, still
there was no danger; and the most beautiful little barks and canoes came, like white swans, when
one wanted to cross the water, and went backwards and forwards of themselves. Whence all this
came no one knew, nor could his servant tell anything about it; but one thing John saw plainly,
which was, that the large carbuncles and diamonds that were set in the roof and walls gave light
instead of the sun, moon, and stars.
These lovely meads and plains were, for the most part, quite lonesome. Few of the
undergroundpeople were to be seen upon them, and those that were, just glided across them, as if
in the greatest hurry. It very rarely happened that any of them danced out here in the open air;
sometimes about three of them did so; at the most half a dozen: John never saw a greater number
together. The meads were never cheerful, except when the corps of servants, of whom there might
be some hundreds, were let out to walk. This, however, happened but twice a-week, for they were
mostly kept employed in the great hall and adjoining apartments, or at school.
For John soon found they had schools there also; he had been there about ten months,
when one day he saw something snow-white gliding into a rock, and disappearing. "What!" said he
to his servant, "are there some of you too that wear white, like the servants?" He was informed
that there were; but they were few in number, and never appeared at the large tables or the
dances, except once a year, on the birthday of the great Hill-king, who dwelt many thousand
miles below in the great deep. These were the oldest men among them, some of them many thousand
years old, who knew all things, and could tell of the beginning of the world, and were called
the Wise. They lived all alone, and only left their chambers to instruct the underground children
and the attendants of both sexes, for whom there was a great school.
John was greatly pleased with this intelligence, and he determined to take advantage
of it: so next morning he made his servant conduct him to the school, and was so well pleased
with it that he never missed a day going there. They were taught there reading, writing, and
accounts, to compose and relate histories and stories, and many elegant kinds of work; so that
many came out of the hills, both men and women, very prudent and knowing people, in consequence
of what they were taught there. The biggest, and those of best capacity, received instruction
in natural science and astronomy, and in poetry and riddle-making, arts highly esteemed by the
little people. John was very diligent, and soon became extremely clever at painting and drawing;
he wrought, too, most ingeniously in gold, and silver, and stones, and in verse and riddle-making
he had no fellow.
John had spent many a happy year here without ever thinking of the upper world, or
of those he had left behind, so pleasantly passed the time-so many an agreeable playfellow he had
among the children.
Of all his playfellows there was none of whom he was so fond as of a little
fair-haired girl, named Elizabeth Krabbin. She was from his own village, and was the daughter
of Frederick Krabbe, the minister of Rambin. She was but four years old when she was taken away,
and John had often heard tell of her. She was not, however, stolen by the little people, but came
into their power in this manner. One day in summer, she, with other children, ran out into the
fields: in their rambles they went to the Nine-hills, where little Elizabeth fell asleep, and
was forgotten by the rest. At night, when she awoke, she found herself under the ground among
the little people. It was not merely because she was from his own village that John was so
fond of Elizabeth, but she was a most beautiful child, with clear blue eyes and ringlets of
fair hair, and a most angelic smile.
Time flew away unperceived: John was now eighteen, and Elizabeth sixteen. Their
childish fondness had become love, and the little people were pleased to see it, thinking that
by means of her they might get John to renounce his power, and become their servant; for they
were fond of him, and would willingly have had him to wait upon them; for the love of dominion
is their vice. But they were mistaken. John had learned too much from his servant to be caught
in that way.
John's chief delight was in walking about alone with Elizabeth; for he now knew
every place so well that he could dispense with the attendance of his servant. In these rambles
he was always gay and lively, but his companion was frequently sad and melancholy, thinking on
the land above, where men lived, and where the sun, moon, and stars, shine. Now it happened in
one of their walks, that as they talked of their love, and it was after midnight, they passed under
the place where the tops of the glass-hills used to open and let the undergroundpeople in and out.
As they went along they heard of a sudden the crowing of several cocks above. At this sound,
which she had not heard for twelve years, little Elizabeth felt her heart so affected that she
could contain herself no longer, but throwing her arms about John's neck, she bathed his cheeks
with her tears. At length she spake -
"Dearest John," said she, "everything down here is very beautiful, and the little
people are kind, and do nothing to injure me, but still I have always been uneasy, nor ever felt
any pleasure till I began to love you; and yet that is not pure pleasure, for this is not a right
way of living, such as it should be for human beings. Every night I dream of my dear father and
mother, and of our church-yard, where the people stand so piously at the church-door waiting for
my father, and I could weep tears of blood that I cannot go into the church with them, and
worship God as a human being should; for this is no Christian life we lead down here, but a
delusive half heathen one. And only think, dear John, that we can never marry, as there is no
priest to join us. Do, then, plan some way for us to leave this place; for I cannot tell you
how I long to get once more to my father, and among pious Christians."
John, too, had not been unaffected by the crowing of the cocks, and he felt what he
had never felt here before, a longing after the land where the sun shines, and he replied,
"Dear Elizabeth, all you say is true, and I now feel that it is a sin for Christians
to stay here; and it seems to me as if our Lord said to us in that cry of the cocks, 'Come up, ye
Christian children, out of those abodes of illusion and magic; come to the light of the stars,
and act as children of light.' I now feel that it was a great sin for me to come down here, but
I trust I shall be forgiven on account of my youth; for I was a child and knew not what I did.
But now I will not stay a day longer. They cannot keep me here."
At these last words, Elizabeth turned pale, for she recollected that she was a
servant, and must serve her fifty years. "And what will it avail me," cried she, "that I shall
continue young and be but as of twenty years when I go out, for my father and mother will be
dead, and all my companions will be old and gray; and you, dearest John, will be old and gray
also," cried she, throwing herself on his bosom.
John was thunderstruck at this, for it had never before occurred to him; he, however,
comforted her as well as he could, and declared he would never leave the place without her. He
spent the whole night in forming various plans; at last he fixed on one, and in the morning he
despatched his servant to summon to his apartment six of the principal of the little people. When
they came, John thus mildly addressed them"
"My friends, you know how I came here, not as a prisoner or servant, but as a lord
and master over one of you, and consequently, over all. You have now for the ten years I have
been with you treated me with respect and attention, and for that I am your debtor. But you
are still more my debtors, for I might have given you every sort of annoyance and vexation, and
you must have submitted to it. I have, however, not done so, but have behaved as your equal, and
have sported and played with you rather than ruled over you. I now have one request to make.
There is a girl among your servants whom I love, Elizabeth Krabbin, of Rambin, where I was born.
Give her to me, and let us depart. For I will return to where the sun shines and the plough goes
through the land. I ask to take nothing with me but her, and the ornaments and furniture of my
He spoke in a determined tone, and they hesitated and cast their eyes to the ground;
at last the oldest of them replied:
"Sir, you ask what we cannot grant. It is a fixed law, that no servant shall leave
this place before the appointed time. Were we to break through this law, our whole subterranean
empire would fall. Anything else you desire, for we love and respect you, but we cannot give up
"You can and you shall give her up," cried John in a rage; "go think of it till
to-morrow. Return here at this hour. I will show you whether or not I can triumph over your
hypocritical and cunning stratagems."
The six retired. Next morning, on their return, John addressed them in the kindest
manner, but to no purpose; they persisted in their refusal. He gave them till the next day,
threatening them severely in case of their still proving refractory.
Next day, when the six little people appeared before him, John looked at them
sternly, and made no return to their salutations, but said to them shortly, "Yes, or No?" And
they answered with one voice, "No." He then ordered his servant to summon twenty-four more of
the principal persons with their wives and children. When they came, they were in all five hundred,
men, women, and children. John ordered them forthwith to go and fetch pickaxes, spades, and bars,
which they did in a second. He now led them out to a rock in one of the fields, and ordered them
to fall to work at blasting, hewing, and dragging stones. They toiled patiently, and made as if
it were only sport to them. From morning till night their task-master made them labour without
ceasing, standing over them constantly, to prevent their resting. Still their obstinacy was
inflexible; and at the end of some weeks his pity for them was so great, that he was obliged
to give over.
He now thought of a new species of punishment for them. He ordered them to appear
before him next morning, each provided with a new whip. They obeyed, and John commanded them to
strip and lash one another till the blood should run down on the ground, and he stood looking
on as grim and cruel as an eastern tyrant. Still the little people cut and slashed themselves,
and mocked at John, and refused to comply with his wishes. This he did for three or four days.
Several other courses did he try, but all in vain; his temper was too gentle to
struggle with their obstinacy, and he began now to despair of ever accomplishing his dearest
wish. He began even to hate the little people whom he was before so fond of; he kept away from
their banquets and dances, and associated alone with Elizabeth, and ate and drank quite solitary
in his chamber. In short, he became almost a perfect hermit, and sank into moodiness and
While in this temper, as he was taking a solitary walk in the evening, and, to
divert his melancholy, was flinging the stones that lay in his path against each other, he
happened to break a tolerably large one, and out of it jumped a toad. The moment John saw the
ugly animal, he caught him up in ecstasy, and put him into his pocket and ran home, crying,
"Now I have her! I have my Elizabeth! Now you shall get it, you little mischievous rascals!"
And on getting home he put the toad into a costly silver casket, as if it was the greatest
To account for John's joy you must know that Klas Starkwolt had often told him that
the underground people could not endure any ill smell, and that the sight or even the smell of a
toad made them faint and suffer the most dreadful tortures, and that by means of stench and
these odious ugly animals, one could compel them to anything. Hence there are no bad smells to
be found in the whole glass empire and a toad is a thing unheard of there; this toad must
therefore have been inclosed in the stone from the creation, as it were for the sake of John
Resolved to try the effect of his toad, John took the casket under his arm and went
out, and on the way he met two of the little people in a lonesome place. The moment he approached
them they fell to the ground, and whimpered and howled most lamentably, as long as he was near
Satisfied now of his power, he next morning summoned the fifty principal persons,
with their wives and children, to his apartment. When they came, he addressed them, reminding
them once again of his kindness and gentleness toward them, and of the good terms on which they
had hitherto lived. He reproached them with their ingratitude in refusing him the only favour he
had ever asked of them, but firmly declared he would not give way to their obstinacy.
"Wherefore," said he, "for the last time, think for a minute, and if you then say No,
you shall feel that pain which is to you and your children the most terrible of all pains."
They did not take long to deliberate, but unanimously replied "No;" and they thought
to themselves what new scheme has the youth hit on, with which he thinks to frighten wise ones
like us, and they smiled as they said No. Their smiling enraged John above all, and he ran back
a few hundred paces, to where he had laid the casket with the toad, under a bush.
He was hardly come within a hundred paces of them when they all fell to the ground
as if struck with a thunderbolt, and began to howl and whimper, and to writhe, as if suffering
the most excruciating pain. They stretched out their hands, and cried, "Have mercy! have mercy!
we feel you have a toad, and there is no escape for us. Take the odious beast away, and we will
do all you require." He let them kick a few seconds longer, and then took the toad away. They
then stood up and felt no more pain. John let all depart but the six chief persons, to whom he
"This night between twelve and one Elizabeth and I will depart. Load then for me
three waggons, with gold, and silver, and precious stones. I might, you know, take all that is
in the hill, and you deserve it, but I will be merciful. Farther, you must put all the furniture
of my chamber in two waggons, and get ready for me the handsomest travelling-carriage that is in
the hill, with six black horses. Moreover, you must set at liberty all the servants who have been
so long here that on earth they would be twenty years old and upwards, and you must give them as
much silver and gold as will make them rich for life, and make a law that no one shall be
detained here longer than his twentieth year."
The six took the oath, and went away quite melancholy, and John buried his toad
deep in the ground. The little people laboured hard and prepared everything. At midnight
everything was out of the hill, and John and Elizabeth got into the silver tun, and were drawn
It was then one o'clock, and it was midsummer, the very time that twelve years
before John had gone down into the hill. Music sounded around them, and they saw the glass hill
open, and the rays of the light of heaven shine on them after so many years; and when they got
out they saw the first streaks of dawn already in the east. Crowds of the undergroundpeople
were around them busied about the waggons. John bid them a last farewell, waved his brown cap
three times in the air, and then flung it among them. And at the same moment he ceased to see
them; he beheld nothing but a green hill, and the well-known bushes and fields, and heard the
church clock of Rambin strike two. When all was still, save a few larks, who were tuning their
morning songs, they all fell on their knees and worshiped God, resolving henceforth to lead a
pious and a Christian life.
When the sun rose, John arranged the procession, and they set out for Rambin. Every
well-known object that they saw awaked pleasing recollections in the bosom of John and his bride;
and as they passed by Rodenkirchen, John recognised, among the people that gazed at and followed
them, his old friend Klas Starkwolt, the cowherd, and his dog Speed. It was about four in the
morning when they entered Rambin, and they halted in the middle of the village, about twenty
paces from the house where John was born. The whole village poured out to gaze on these Asiatic
princes, for such the old sexton, who had in his youth been at Moscow and Constantinople, said
they were. There John saw his father and mother, and his brother Andrew, and his sister Trine.
The old minister, Krabbe, stood there too, in his black slippers and white night cap, gaping and
staring with the rest.
John discovered himself to his parents, and Elizabeth to hers, and the wedding-day
was soon fixed, and such a wedding was never seen before or since in the island of Rügen; for
John sent to Stralsund and Greifswald for whole boatloads of wine, and sugar, and coffee, and
whole herds of oxen, sheep, and pigs were driven to the wedding. The quantity of harts, and
roes, and hares that were shot on the occasion, it were vain to attempt to tell, or to count
the fish that was caught. There was not a musician in Rügen and Pomerania that was not engaged,
for John was immensely rich, and he wished to display his wealth.
John did not neglect his old friend Klas Starkwolt, the cowherd. He gave him enough
to make him comfortable the rest of his days, and insisted on his coming and staying with him as
often and as long as he wished.
After his marriage, John made a progress through the country with his beautiful
Elizabeth, and they purchased towns, and villages, and lands, until he became master of nearly
half Rügen, and a very considerable count in the country. His father, old James Dietrich, was
made a nobleman, and his brothers and sisters gentlemen and ladies-for what cannot money do?
John and his wife spent their days in doing acts of piety and charity. They built
several churches, and they had the blessing of every one that knew them, and died universally
lamented. It was Count John Dietrich that built and richly endowed the present church of Rambin.
He built it on the site of his father's house, and presented to it several of the cups and plates
made by the underground people, and his own and Elizabeth's glass shoes, in memory of what had
befallen them in their youth. But they were all taken away in the time of the great Charles the
Twelfth of Sweden, when the Russians came on the island, and the Cossacks plundered even the
churches, and took away everything.
The Little Glass Shoe
A peasant, named John Wilde, who lived in Rodenkirchen,
found one time a glass shoe on one of the hills.where the little people used to dance. He clapped
it instantly into his pocket and ran away with it, keeping his hand as close on his pocket as if
he had a dove in it; for he knew that he had found a treasure which the underground people must
redeem at any price.
Others say that John Wilde lay, in ambush one night for the underground people, and
gamed an opportunity of pulling off one of their shoes, by stretching himself there with a
brandy-bottle beside him, and acting like one that was dead drunk; for he was a very cunning man,
not over scrupulous in his morals, and had taken in many a one by his craftiness, and, on this
account, his name was in no good repute among his neighbours, who, to say the truth, were willing
to have as little to do with him as possible. Many hold, too, that he was acquainted with
forbidden arts, and used to carry on an intercourse with the fiends and old women that raised
storms, and such like.
However, be this as it may, when John had gotten the shoe, he lost no time in letting
the folk that dwell under the ground know that he had it. So at midnight he went to the Nine-hills,
and cried with all his might, "John Wilde, of Rodenkirchen, has got a beautiful glass shoe. Who
will buy it? Who will buy it?" For he knew that the little one who had lost the shoe must go
barefoot till he got it again, and that is no trifle, for the little people have generally to
walk upon very hard and stony ground. John's advertisement was speedily attended to. The little
fellow who had lost the shoe made no delay in setting about redeeming it. The first free day he
got, that he might come out into the daylight, he came as a respectable merchant, and knocked at
John Wilde's door, and asked if John had not a glass shoe to sell? "For," says he, "they are an
article now in great demand, and are sought for in every market." John replied that it was true he
had a very little little, nice, pretty little glass shoe, but it was so small that even a Dwarf's
foot would be squeezed in it; and that God Almighty must make people on purpose for it before it
could be of any use; but that, for all that, it was an extraordinary shoe, and a valuable shoe,
and a dear shoe, and it was not every merchant that could afford to pay for it.
The merchant asked to see it, and when he had examined it, "Glass shoes," said he,
"are not by any means such rare articles, my good friend, as you think here in Rodenkirchen,
because you do not happen to go much into the world. However," said he, after hemming a little,
"I will give you a good price for it, because I happen to have the very fellow of it." And he bid
the countryman a thousand dollars for it.
"A thousand dollars are money, my father used to say when he drove fat oxen to market,"
replied John Wilde, in a mocking tone; "but it will not leave my hands for that shabby price; and,
for my own part, it may ornament the foot of my daughter's doll. Harkye, friend: I have heard a
sort of little song sung about the glass shoe, and it is not for a parcel of dirt that it will go
out of my hands. Tell me now, my good fellow, should you happen to know the knack of it, that in
every furrow I make when I am ploughing I should find a ducat? If not, the shoe is still mine,
and you may inquire for glass shoes at those other markets."
The merchant made still a great many attempts, and twisted and turned in every
direction to get the shoe; but when he found the farmer inflexible, he agreed to what John desired,
and swore to the performance of it. Cunning John believed him, and gave him up the glass shoe, for
he knew right well with whom he had to do. So the business being ended, away went the merchant
with his glass shoe. Without a moment's delay, John repaired to his stable, got ready his horses
and his plough, and drove out to the field. He selected a piece of ground where he would have the
shortest turns possible, and began to plough. Hardly had the plough turned up the first sod, when
up sprang a ducat out of the ground, and it was the same with every fresh furrow he made. There
was now no end of his ploughing, and John Wilde soon bought eight new horses, and put them into
the stable to the eight he already had - and their mangers were never without plenty of oats in
them-that he might be able every two hours to yoke two fresh horses, and so be enabled to drive
them the faster.
John was now insatiable in ploughing; every morning he was out before sunrise, and
many a time he ploughed on till after midnight. Summer and winter it was plough, plough with him
evermore, except when the ground was frozen as hard as a stone. But he always ploughed by himself,
and never suffered any one to go out with him, or to come to him when he was at work, for John
understood too well the nature of his crop to let people see what it was he ploughed so
But it fared far worse with himself than with his horses, who ate good oats and
were regularly changed and relieved, while he grew pale and meagre by reason of his continual
working and toiling. His wife and children had no longer any comfort of him; he never went to
the alehouse or the club; he withdrew himself from every one, and scarcely ever spoke a single
word, but went about silent and wrapped up in his own thoughts. All the day long he toiled for
his ducats, and at night he had to count them and to plan and meditate how he might find out a
still swifter kind of plough.
His wife and the neighbours lamented over his strange conduct, his dullness and
melancholy, and began to think that he was grown foolish. Everybody pitied his wife and children,
for they imagined that the numerous horses that he kept in his stable, and the preposterous mode
of agriculture that he pursued, with his unnecessary and superfluous ploughing, must soon leave
him without house or land.
But their anticipations were not fulfilled. True it is, the poor man never enjoyed
a happy or contented hour since he began to plough the ducats up out of the ground. The old
saying held good in his case, that he who gives himself up to the pursuit of gold is half way in
the claws of the evil one. Flesh and blood cannot bear perpetual labour, and John Wilde did not
long hold out against this running through the furrows day and night. He got through the first
spring, but one day in the second, he dropped down at the tail of the plough like an exhausted
November fly. Out of the pure thirst after gold he was wasted away and dried up to nothing; whereas
he had been a very strong and hearty man the day the shoe of the little underground man fell into
His wife, however, found after him a considerable treasure, two great nailed up
chests full of good new ducats, and his sons purchased large estates for themselves, and became
lords and noblemen. But what good did all that do poor John Wilde?
The Wonderful Plough
There was once a farmer who was master of one of the little
black ones, that are the blacksmiths and armourers; and he got him in a very curious way. On the
road leading to this farmer's ground there stood a stone cross, and every morning as he went to
his work he used to stop and kneel down before this cross, and pray for some minutes.
On one of these occasions he noticed on the cross a pretty bright insect, of such a
brilliant hue that he could not recollect having ever before seen the like with an insect. He
wondered greatly at this, yet still he did not disturb it; but the insect did not remain long
quiet, but ran without ceasing backwards and forwards on the cross, as if it was in pain, and
wanted to get away. Next morning the farmer again saw the very same insect, and again it was
running to and fro, in the same state of uneasiness. The farmer began now to have some suspicions
about it, and thought to himself, "Would this now be one of the little black enchanters? For
certain, all is not right with that insect; it runs about just like one that had an evil
conscience, as one that would, yet cannot, go away:" and a variety of thoughts and conjectures
passed through his mind; and he called to mind what he had often heard from his father, and other
old people, that when the under groundpeople chance to touch anything holy, they, are held fast
and cannot quit the spot, and are therefore extremely, careful to avoid all such things. But he
also thought it may, as well be something else; and you would perhaps be committing a sin in
disturbing and taking away the little animal; so he let it stay as it was.
But when he had found it twice more in the same place, and still running about with
the same marks of uneasiness, he said, "No, it is not all right with it. So now, in the name of
God!" and he made a grasp at the insect, that resisted and clung fast to the stone; but he held
it tight, and tore it away by main force, and lo! then he found he had, by the top of the head,
a little ugly black chap, about six inches long, screeching and kicking at a most furious rate.
The farmer was greatly astounded at this sudden transformation; still he held his
prize fast and kept calling to him, while he administered to him a few smart slaps on the buttocks:
"Be quiet, be quiet, my, little man! if crying was to do the business, we might look for heroes
in swaddling clothes. We'll just take you with us a bit, and see what you are good for."
The little fellow trembled and shook in every limb, and then began to whimper most
piteously, and to beg hard of the farmer to let him go. But "No, my lad," replied the farmer, "I
will not let you go till you tell me who you are, and how you came here, and what trade you know,
that enables you to earn your bread in the world." At this the little man grinned and shook his
head, but said not a word in reply, only begged and prayed the more to get loose; and the farmer
found that he must now begin to entreat him if he would coax any information out of him. But it
was all to no purpose. He then adopted the contrary method, and whipped and slashed him till
the blood run down, but just to as little purpose; the little black thing remained as dumb as
the grave, for this species is the most malicious and obstinate of all the underground race.
The farmer now got angry, and he said, "Do but be quiet, my child; I should be a fool
to put myself into a passion with such a little brat. Never fear, I shall soon make you tame
So saying, he ran home with him, and clapped him into a black, sooty, iron pot, and
put the iron lid upon it, and laid on the top of the lid a great heavy stone, and set the pot in
a dark cold room, and as he was going out he said to him, "Stay there, now, and freeze till you
are black! I'll engage that at last you will answer me civilly."
Twice a-week the farmer went regularly into the room and asked his little black
captive if he would answer him now; but the little one still obstinately persisted in his silence.
The farmer had now, without success, pursued this course for six weeks, at the end of which time
his prisoner at last gave up One day as the farmer was opening the room door, he, of his own
accord, called out to him to come and take him out of his dirty stinking dungeon, promising that
he would now cheerfully do all that was wanted of him.
The farmer first ordered him to give him his history. The black one replied, "My
dear friend you know it just as well as I, or else you never had had me here. You see I happened
by chance to come too near the cross, a thing we little people may not do, and there I was held
fast and oblige instantly to let my body become visible; so, then, that people might not recognise
me, I turned myself into an insect. But you found me out. For when we get fastened to holy or
consecrated things, we never can get away from them unless a man takes us off. That, however,
does not happen without plague and annoyance to us, though, indeed, to say the truth, the staying
fastened there is not over pleasant. And so I struggled against you, too, for we have a natural
aversion to let ourselves be taken into a man's hand." "Ho, ho! is that the tune with you?" cried
the farmer: "you have a natural aversion, have you? Believe me, my sooty friend, I have just the
same for you; and so you shall be away without a moment's delay, and we will lose no time in
making our bargain with each other. But you must first make me some present." "What you will,
you have only to ask," said the little one: "silver and gold, and precious stones, and costly
furniture-all shall be thine in less than an instant."-"Silver and gold, and precious stones,
and all such glittering fine things will I none," said the farmer; "they have turned the heart
and broken the neck of many a one before now, and few are they whose lives they make happy. I
know that you are handy smiths, and have many a strange thing with you that other smiths know
nothing about. So come, now, swear to me that you will make me an iron plough, such that the
smallest foal may be able to draw it without being tired, and then run off with you as fast as
your legs can carry you." So the black swore, and the farmer then cried out, "Now, in the name
of God; there, you are at liberty," and the little one vanished like lightning.
Next morning, before the sun was up, there stood in the farmer's yard a new iron
plough, and he yoked his dog Water to it, and though it was of the size of an ordinary plough,
Water drew it with ease through the heaviest clay-land, and it tore up prodigious furrows. The
farmer used this plough for many years, and the smallest foal or the leanest little horse could
draw it through the ground, to the amazement of every one who beheld it, without turning a single
hair. And this plough made a rich man of the farmer, for it cost him no horse-flesh, and he led
a cheerful and contented life by means of it. Hereby we may see that moderation holds out the
longest, and that it is not good to covet too much.
The Lost Bell
A shepherd's boy belonging to Patzig, about half a mile from Bergen,
where there are great numbers of the underground people in the hills, found one morning a little
silver bell on the green heath, among the Giants'-graves, and fastened it on him. It happened to
be the bell belonging to the cap of one of the little Brown ones, who had lost it while he was
dancing, and did not immediately miss it, or observe that it was no longer tinkling in his cap.
He had gone down into the hill without his bell, and having discovered his loss, was filled with
melancholy. For the worst thing that can befall the underground people is to lose their cap,
then their shoes; but even to lose the bell from their caps, or the buckle from their belts, is
no trifle to them. Whoever loses his bell must pass some sleepless nights, for not a wink of sleep
can he get till he has recovered it.
The little fellow was in the greatest trouble, and searched and looked about
everywhere; but how could he learn who had the bell? For only on a very few days in the year may
they come up to the daylight; nor can they then appear in their true form. He had turned himself
into every form of birds, beasts, and men; and he had sung and rung, and groaned and moaned, and
lamented and inquired about his bell, but not the slightest tidings, or trace of tidings, had he
been able to get. For what was worst of all, the shepherd's boy had left Patzig the very day he
found the little bell, and was now keeping sheep at Unruh, near Gingst: so it was not till many
a day after, and then by mere chance, that the little underground fellow recovered his bell, and
with it his peace of mind.
He had thought it not unlikely that a raven, or a crow, or a jackdaw, or a magpie,
had found his bell, and from his thievish disposition, which is caught with anything bright and
shining, had carried it into his nest; with this thought he had turned himself into a beautiful
little bird, and searched all the nests in the island, and had sung before all kinds of birds, to
see if they had found what he had lost, and could restore him his sleep; but nothing had he been
able to learn from the birds. As he now, one evening, was flying over the waters of Ralov and the
fields of Unruh, the shepherd's boy, whose name was Fritz Schlagenteufel (Smite-devil),
happened to be keeping his sheep there at the very time. Several of the sheep had bells about
their necks, and they tinkled merrily, when the boy's dog set them trotting. The little bird,
who was flying over them thought of his bell, and sung, in a melancholy tone,
Little bell, little bell,
The boy looked up and listened to this strange song which came out of the sky, and
saw the pretty bird, which seemed to him still more strange:-"Odds bodikins!" said he to himself,
"if one but had that bird that's singing up there, so plain that one of us would hardly match him!
What can he mean by that wonderful song? The whole of it is, it must be a feathered witch. My
rams have only pinchbeck bells, he, calls them rich cattle; but I have a silver bell, and he
sings nothing about me." And with these words he began to fumble in his pocket, took out his
bell, and rang it.
Little ram as well,
You, too, little sheep,
If you've my Tingletoo,
No sheep's so rich as you,
My rest you keep.
The bird in the air instantly saw what it was, and was rejoiced beyond measure. He
vanished in a second-flew behind the nearest bush-alighted and drew off his speckled feather-dress,
and turned himself into an old woman dressed in tattered clothes. The old dame, well supplied with
sighs and groans, tottered across the field to the shepherd's boy, who was still ringing his bell,
and wondering what was become of the beautiful bird. She cleared her throat, and coughing up
from the bottom of her chest, bid him a kind good evening, and asked him which was the way to
Bergen. Pretending then that she had just seen the little bell, she exclaimed, "Good Lord! what
a charming pretty little bell! Well! in all my life I never beheld anything more beautiful!
my son, will you sell me that bell? And what may be the price of it? I have a little grandson
at home, and such a nice plaything as it would make for him!" "No," replied the boy, quite short,
"the bell is not for sale. It is a bell, that there is not such another bell in the whole world.
I have only to give it a little tinkle, and my sheep run of themselves wherever I would have them
And what a delightful sound it has! Only listen, mother!" said he, ringing it: "is
there any weariness in the world that can hold out against this bell? I can ring with it away
the longest time, so that it will be gone in a second."
The old woman thought to herself, "We will see if he can hold out against bright
shining money." And she took out no less than three silver dollars, and offered them to him: but
he still replied, "No, I will not sell my bell." She then offered him five dollars. "The bell
is still mine," said he. She stretched out her hand full of ducats: he replied, this third time,
"Gold is dirt and does not ring." The old dame then shifted her ground, and turned the discourse
another way. She grew mysterious, and began to entice him by talking of secret arts, and of
charms by which his cattle might be made to thrive prodigiously, relating to him all kinds of
wonders of them. It was then the young shepherd began to long; and he now lent a willing ear to
The end of the matter was, that she said to him, " Harkye, my child! give me the bell
and see! here is a white stick for you," said she, taking out a little white stick which had Adam
and Eve very ingeniously cut on it, as they were feeding the herds of Paradise, with the fattest
sheep and lambs dancing before them; and there was the shepherd David too, as he stood with his
sling against the giant Goliath. "I will give you," said the old woman, "this stick for the
bell, and as long as you drive the cattle with it they will be sure to thrive. With this you will
become a rich shepherd: your wethers will always be fat a month sooner than the wethers of other
shepherds, and every one of your sheep will have two pounds of wool more than others, and yet no
one will be ever able to see it on them."
The old woman handed him the stick. So mysterious was her gesture, and so strange
and bewitching her smile, that the lad was at once in her power. He grasped eagerly at the stick,
gave her his hand, and cried, "Done! Strike hands! The bell for the stick!" And cheerfully the
old woman struck hands, and took the bell, and went like a light breeze over the field and the
heath. He saw her vanish, and she seemed to float away before his eyes like a mist, and to go
off with a slight whiz and whistle that made the shepherd's hair stand on end.
The underground one, however, who, in the shape of an old woman, had wheedled him out
of his bell, had not deceived him. For the under groundpeople dare not lie, but must ever keep
their word; a breach of it being followed by their sudden change into the shape of toads, snakes,
dunghill-beetles, wolves and apes ; forms in which they wander about, objects of fear and
aversion for a long course of years before they are freed. They, therefore, have naturally a
great dread of lying. Fritz Schlagenteufel gave close attention and made trial of his new
shepherd's-staff, and he soon found that the old woman had told him the truth, for his flocks,
and his work, and all the labour of his hands prospered with him and had wonderful luck, so that
there was not a sheep-owner or head shepherd but was desirous of having Fritz Schlagenteufel in
It was not long, however, that he remained an underling. Before he was eighteen years
of age, he had gotten his own flocks, and in the course of a few years was the richest sheep-master
in the whole island of Rügen; until at last, he was able to purchase a knight's estate for
himself, and that estate was Grabitz, close by Rambin, which now belongs to the lords of
My father8 knew him there, and how from a shepherd's boy he was become a nobleman, and
he always conducted himself like a prudent, honest and pious man, who had a good word from every
one. He brought up his sons like gentlemen, and his daughters like ladies, some of whom are
still alive and accounted people of great consequence. And well may people who hear such stories
wish that they had met with such an adventure, and had found a little silver bell which the
underground people had lost.
The Blark Dwarfs of Granitz
Not far from the Ahlbeck lies a little mansion called
Granitz, just under the great wood on the sea-coast called the wood of Granitz. In this little
seat lived, not many years ago, a nobleman named Von Scheele. Toward the close of his life he
sank into a state of melancholy, though hitherto a very cheerful and social man, and a great
sportsman. People said that the old man took to his lonesome way of living from the loss of his
three beautiful daughters, who were called the three fair-haired maidens, and who grew up here in
the solitude of the woods, among the herds and the birds, and who had all three gone off in the
same night and never returned. The old man took this greatly to heart, and withdrew himself from
the world, and all cheerful society. He had great intercourse with the little black people, and
he was many a night out of the house, and no one knew where he had been; but when he came home in
the gray of the morning, he would whisper his housekeeper, and say to her, "Ha, ha! I was at a
grand table last night."
This old gentleman used to relate to his friends, and confirm it with many a stout
trooper's and sportsman's oath, that the underground people swarmed among the fir-trees of Granitz,
about the beck, and along the whole shore. He used often, also, to show to those whom he took to
walk there, a great number of little foot-prints, like those of very small children, in the sand,
and he has suddenly called out to his companions, "Hush! Listen how they are, buzzing and
Going once with some friends along the sea-shore, he all of a sudden stood still,
as if in amazement, pointed to the sea, and cried out, "My soul! there they are again at full
work, and there are several thousands of them employed about a few sunken casks of wine that they
are rolling to the shore; oh! what a jovial carouse there will be to-night!" He then told his
companions that he could see them both by day and by night, and that they did nothing to him;
nay, they were his most particular friends, and one of them had once saved his house from being
burnt by waking him in the night out of a profound sleep, when a firebrand, that had fallen out
on the floor, was just on the point of setting fire to some wood and straw that lay there. He
said that almost every day some of them were to be seen on the sea-shore, but that during high
storms, when the sea was uncommonly rough, almost all of them were there looking after amber and
shipwrecks, and for certain no ship ever went to pieces but they got the best part of the cargo,
and hid it safe under the ground. And how grand a thing, he added, it is to live under the
sand-hills with them, and how beautiful their crystal palaces are, no one can have any conception
who has not been there.
1. Arndt, Märchen and Jugenderinnerungen. Berlin, 1818.
2. See above p. 96.
3. A Danish legend (Thiele, i. 79) tells the same of the sand-hills of Nestved in Zealand. A
Troll who dwelt near it wished to destroy it, and for that purpose he went down to the sea-shore
and filled his wallet with sand and threw it on his back. Fortunately there was a hole in the
wallet, and so many sand-hills fell out of it, that when he came to Nestved there only remained
enough to form one hill more. Another Troll, to punish a farmer, filled one of his gloves with
sand, which sufficed to cover his victim's house completely. With what remained in the fingers
he formed a row of hillocks near it.
4. Grimm, Deut. Myth., p. 502.
5. Grimm, Deutsche Sagen, i. p. 70.
6. Grimm also appears to regard them as genuine.
7. The population of Lusatia (Lausatz) is like that of Pomerania and Rügen, Vendish. Hence,
perhaps, it is that in the Lusatian tale of the Fairy-sabbath, we meet with caps with bells, and
a descent into the interior of a mountain in a kind of boat as in this tale: Wilcomm, Sagen and
Märchen aus der Oberlausitz. Hanov. 1843. Blackwood's Magazine for June, 1844.
8. Hinrich Vick's of course, for he is the narrator.