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“The Telling of Tales” # 02


fat.troll 

The Fat Troll

By Andre Norton (1940s)

(Six to Nine Years)

 

 

In the days before my grandmother's grandmother was born there lived at the bottom of a river a green troll. Now this troll was always hungry, and because he was always hungry he never stopped eating. Naturally he was a very fat troll indeed. But that did not bother him at all.

First he ate all the fish who swam up and down in the river, ate them all to the very last scale and fin. Then he ate the frogs that croaked along the river banks, and the turtles that slept on stones there -- even their shells -- and the dragon flies that flew above the stream. And still he was hungry.

But one day there were no more fish, frogs, turtles and dragon flies left to eat. So the troll had to chew on the grass and willow trees which grew along the river. And at last there was nothing left but bare ground.

Now on one side of the river was a fine meadow in which a farmer kept his five horses when they were not busy at hauling or plowing. And since it was now mid-summer and the plowing was done they were there all the day long.

The hungry troll, finding nothing left to eat in the river or along its banks, pulled himself out of the water and squatted in the mud looking this way and that. And so he saw the horses in the field and decided to learn if they were good to eat. Stretching out a warty green arm he seized the nearest and gobbled him up in a single bite.

“Aha,” said the troll to himself, “this is indeed a delicious morsel. Why have I not fed as well before?” And he ate all of the horses as fast as he could snap them up.

An hour or so later the farmer sent his serving man down to the field to drive the horses back to the barn so that they might be taken to the blacksmith for shoeing. And the serving man was very surprised to find no horses in the field, only a fat troll squatting there stroking his round stomach.

He said to the troll," Please, sir, have you seen five horses in this field?"

The troll looked at the serving man and rumbled:

"I've eaten all the fish, frogs, and turtles that lived in the river, all the dragon flies that flew above it, all the grass and willows that grew along its banks, and the five horses that grazed in this field. And I am still hungry. So I think that I shall eat you.” And he did.

Although the troll sat in the field and waited a long time no one else came to see about horses or serving man and he became hungrier and hungrier. So at last he got to his big flat feet and clumped up the lane.

Halfway up the lane he met the farmer.

“Excuse me,” said the farmer, “have you seen a serving man and five horses in this lane?"

The troll opened his big mouth wide, showing all his sharp white teeth.

“I've eaten all the fish, frogs, and turtles that lived in the river, all the dragon flies that flew above it, all the grass and willows which grew along its banks, five horses in a field and the serving man sent to fetch them. I am still hungry--so I shall eat you.” And that is just what he did.

But no one else came along the lane and the troll was still hungry. So he thump-thumped up to the farmyard gate. The dog ran out to bark at him. And the troll, blinking his round yellow eyes, said:

"I've eaten all the fish, frogs, and turtles that lived in the river, all the dragon flies that flew shove it, all the grass and willows which grew along its banks, five horses in a field, the serving man sent to fetch them, and the farmer in the lane. Still I am hungry. So now I eat you.” And he did.

Inside the farmyard there were a great many chickens and geese and ducks and turkeys. And when the troll clumped in among them they set up a great out-cry, fluttering around clucking, quaking, hissing, and honking as loudly as they could. The troll stood and watched them for a moment or two and then he said:

“I've eaten all the fish, frogs, and turtles that lived in the river, all the dragon flies that flew above it, all the grass and willows which grew along its banks, five horses in a field, the serving man sent to fetch them, the farmer in the lane, and the dog at the gate. I am still hungry so now I shall eat all of you.” And that is just what he did.

Within the farmhouse the farmer's wife said to her maid servant:

“Run and see what is the matter in the farmyard. The chickens and geese, ducks and turkeys are raising such an out-cry that some evil must be upon us!”

So the maid servant opened the door and stepped out into the farmyard just in time to see the troll stuff the very last goose into his mouth.

“What are you doing, you robber?" she cried.

The troll caught her with one hand as he answered:

"I've eaten all the fish, frogs, and turtles that lived in the river, all the dragon flies that flew above it, all the grass and willows which grew along its banks, five horses in a field, the serving man sent to fetch them, the farmer in the lane, the dog at the gate, all the chickens, geese, ducks and turkeys in this farmyard. But still am I hungry. So now I eat you." and he did.

When the maid did not return the farmer's wife came out on the stoop to see what was the matter. And there she saw the troll squatting as easy as you please, as if he owned the farm his own self.

“What are you doing here, you nasty thing?” cried the farmer's wife. “Be off with you before I set the dog at your heels!”

But the troll caught the farmer's wife by her apron and held her fast as he said:

“I've eaten all the fish, frogs, and turtles that lived in the river, all the dragon flies that flew above it, all the grass and willows which grew on its banks, five horses in a field, the serving man sent to fetch them, the farmer in the lane, the dog at the gate, all the chickens, geese, ducks and turkeys in the farmyard, and your maid servant. I am still hungry-- I think I shall eat you.” And eat her he did.

But by now the troll had eaten so much that he could not move from the stoop and when the cat came out of the barn, her tail held high and her green eyes open wide, he could only blink and wait until she would come into snatching distance.

"Hello,” said the cat politely. “You are the troll from the river, are you not? And what have you been doing today?”

"I've eaten all the fish, frogs, and turtles that lived in the river, all the dragon flies that flew above it, all the grass and willows which grew along its banks, five horses in a field, the serving man sent to fetch them, the farmer in the land, the dog at the gate, all the chickens, geese, ducks and turkeys in the farmyard, the maid servant and the farmer's wife. And if you will come a little closer I shall eat you too, for I am still hungry--”

“Very well, I shall!” And saying that the cat sprang at the fat troll with all her sharp claws out as far as possible.

And those claws cut through the green troll‘s soft hide so that there tumbled out helter-shelter into the farmyard fish, turtles, frogs, horses, dog, chickens, geese, turkeys, ducks, serving man and maid, farmer and his wife and all the other things the troll had gobbled.

As for the troll, nothing remained of him but a puddle of green water which ran back down the hill into the river. And he was never heard of in that land again. Or so it has been said.

 

 

 

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Digitized and edited by Jay Watts ~ aka: Lotsawatts ~ May, 2015

Never before seen short story by Andre Norton
Released here for the first time
Copyright ~ Estate of Andre Norton
Online Rights - Andre-Norton-Books.com
Donated by – Victor Horadam

Duplication of this story for profit of any kind NOT permitted.