The Spring Troll
" She Is Old And Feeble - Minded "
The years passed too quickly for Hans and Alffina, but they were happy times, filled with love and prosperity. Sofie, their youngest daughter, married the local blacksmith, a large muscular man named Bjorn. Together they had two children named Hilda and Mary. Johannes married a beautiful young woman named Anna, who was the daughter of a prominent man in the king's court. Two years into their marriage they were blessed with a son who they named Marten Johannesson. Hans and Alffina were overjoyed as their family grew in size, and Alffina especially loved to spend time with her new grandchildren.
Their first to be born, Emma, was the last to marry. This was due mainly to the fact that she was much plainer looking than her sister Sophie, and therefore had many less suitors than her more desirable younger sister. Shortly before she would have been considered an, " old maid ", Emma met a kindly man named Mikel. He was a ship's captain who was now looking to settle down and farm in Nidaros after considerable time spent at sea. He found in Emma a willing partner. They had their only child less than a year after they were joined in holy matrimony. Some in the church speculated that their son Jakob may have been conceived out of wedlock, but the rumors were false and faded with time.
Alffina and Hans were kept very busy. They were visited often by their children, and grandchildren, and they loved to hear the sounds of the young ones echoing in their home once again. Even if occasionally they all yelled or cried at once !
Then one winter Hans began to lose weight and he developed a cough that would not go away. At first he disregarded his wife's concerns about his health, but when he began to cough up bloody phlegm Alffina forced him to go see the local doctor. The news that they received was horrifying ! Hans was being eaten inside by consumption ! In less than a year the love of Alffina's life was gone.
Alffina was deeply saddened by the loss of the only man she had ever loved, but she did not let the pain consume all of her happiness. Instead of lamenting over the death of her husband she threw herself headlong into the roll of grandmother to her grandchildren. Everyday she would visit one of her children and help with the raising of her grandchildren. And when she could no longer travel to help take care of her family, her children and grandchildren, many of whom were already young adults by then, came to see her and care for her. When Marten married a pretty young maiden named Gertrude, and had a son who they named Tomas, Alffina was overjoyed with the prospect of taking care of her first great grandchild.
Eventually Alffina became unsteady on her feet, and her family met to decide who would take in their mother. To their surprise Marten, her grandson, pleaded with the other members for the opportunity to have Alffina live with them.
" We have only one child, and therefore Gertrude and myself will easily be able to care for grandmother ! " he told them.
Then he added with a wink and a smile :
" Besides, Tomas so loves the little stories that she tells him ! "
Getrude, however, was a little worried about taking in grandmother Alffina. Although the church had stopped branding those who spoke of the Old Gods as witches, they still considered these stories a form of blasphemy and discouraged it in the strongest of terms. Her husband had worked so hard to build their small farm into a wealth property, and now she feared that if Alffina's story telling were to be discovered by the church they might be ostracized by the community at large, and they would be unable to sell their crops at the local market.
Marten, with his considerable charm, calmed his wife's concerns by telling her that everything would be just fine with his grandmother.
" She is old and feeble - minded. No one would consider her to have an evil tongue, or to be preaching blasphemy against the church. " he assured his wife.
Then after a kiss on his wife's cheek he added with a huge smile :
" Tomas has been told many times that these stories must not leave this house. "
Tomas had always been close to his great grandmother. Now that she was living with them, he became inseparable from his ," great mother " as he called her. Although he many times made a mess while trying to help his great mother, by bringing her food or drink, Alffina never scolded the boy and most times laughed and kissed the boy for his kindly efforts. It distressed Gertrude to no end, however, to have to clean up his little accidents, but it was impossible for her to scold the boy when Alffina praised her son for trying.
" He is such a nice little boy. Do not punish him for attempting to be kind. " Alffina would often say.
The stories that Alffina told Tomas intrigued him to no end, and he could never hear enough of them. During chores, at the dinner table, and every night before bed time he would ask, to the point of begging, to hear another story. Gertrude tried to intervene, telling her son not to bother his great grandmother so much, but Marten often would tell his wife to leave the boy be.
" He is not bothering grandmother ! She enjoys telling stories of the Old Gods ! " he would constantly remind his wife.
Then one night, when Alffina felt that Tomas was old enough to understand, she told the child of how she learned these wonderful tales. The little boy sat with his mouth wide open when he learned how his great mother had met the Troll Sirik under the bridge on a fine spring day. He giggled when she described his physical characteristics, and his imagination took the reality of what she was telling him and distorted the creatures appearance to even further extremes, which made him roll on the floor with laughter.
Marten's farmstead was even closer to the Troll bridge than Alffina's parent's home had been. Alffina was very happy to be living so close to her old Troll friend, though she kept to her promise and never visited the bridge again. It was so close in fact that little Tomas went down to the bridge several times to meet the mysterious Troll that " great mother " had told him so much about. Each time, however, all he found at the spot, where she had discovered the Troll, was grass, dirt, and a raging river flowing swiftly with the summer melt that was coming down from the high peaks.
Alffina laughed when Tomas asked her why he could not find the Troll under the bridge.
" Why it is mid - summer Tomas ! Sirik is a spring Troll ! You will have to wait until the seasons change before you can meet my friend the Troll ! " she told him with a little laugh.
Tomas was very disappointed, and began to wonder if everything his " great mother " had told him was nothing more than a lie. Almost immediately he began to show less and less interest in the stories she told him. And over time he stopped asking her to recite the stories altogether. Alffina was not hurt by the boy's sudden lack of interest. She simply thought that this was part of his growing up.
Marten, however, was concerned about his son's attitude towards his great grandmother. He had grown up with these tales as well and he felt in his heart that, despite them being slightly fantastical, they were great memories for any young boy to cherish. When he confronted his son about his attitude he became more than concerned. He became angry ! When Tomas told him : " "Great mother " lies ! " he spanked the boy and put him to bed without supper. When Alffina asked why he was being punished, Marten answered curtly :
" Tomas has been bad ! "
- End Chapter 10
- Next : Chapter 11 : Rest In Peace
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.