A Troll's Tail

 
A Troll's Tail, Children's Tale


One morning before sunrise Ottilia went exploring and, wouldn't you know it, she ran straight into a troll. Ragnarr didn't like Ottilia; in fact, he didn't care for anyone. Ragnarr started yelling about grinding her bones and causing it to rain fire from the heavens - the usual troll stuff. 

With her hands on her hips, Ottilia thundered, "Ah, get over it, Ragnarr! Go home before I call the giants on you." 

Mumbling about children not respecting the old ways, Ragnarr shuffled home. Ottilia felt sorry for the troll as he disappeared over the hill but it couldn't be helped.

The next day, Ottilia packed bread and cheese to enjoy while she gathered wildflowers on the mountain top. To reach the trail, she must cross two wooden bridges.  The first bridge crossed a sparkling creek and Ottilia skipped lightly across it. As the child approached the second bridge, however, she did so carefully for under its span lived a nasty troll who was evil and cruel. It was well known to all that trolls hate noisy travelers. 

If one were careful and crossed the bridge quietly, the troll left you to be on your way undisturbed. If you stumble or whistle, however, the creature would bellow so loudly the bridge shook. Once, as a goat herder led his animals across the bridge, the monster snatched one of the goats and swallowed it whole. 

Ottilia made her way carefully over the decaying planks until she reached the middle. Curious, she chanced a peek over the edge in hopes of spying on the troll. 

Gunnar sat picking fleas from his feet and wondering why his life was so bad. He did not cho0se this spot with its pesky insects and howling wind. It belonged to his father but, after some evil goats viciously attacked causing him to fall into the river below, Gunnar was required to serve in his father's stead by tradition.

Ottilia stared long and hard but could not spot the foul beast in the shadows below. She stepped away from the edge and right onto a rotting timber. The wood shattered, producing a resounding crack that echoed through the cold mountain air. Almost immediately, there was a howl of anger. Before the child could take another step, she was face-to-face with Gunnar.

"How dare you come to destroy my bridge? Who do you think you are?" bellowed the troll. 

"No one important, kind sir," spoke the child. It was the words “kind sir” that caught the troll's attention. He was called many things but never kind. 

"I should pull off an arm or maybe a leg and then toss you over the edge to the river below," continued the beast. 

Ottilia stood frozen with fear at her impending doom. Her mind, however, did not freeze. Instead, she came up with a plan. In a firm and loud voice, the child declared, "I am the rock crusher, squeezer, and pain bringer, that's who!"

"Crusher of rocks? You? You could barely lift a pebble let alone crush a rock," said the troll. The beast laughed heartily. Then his eyes narrowed on the child. "Why do you think I would believe such a foolish story? Do you take me for a fool?"

Ottilia reached into her basket and pulled out some goat cheese. "Do you see this white rock? I will squeeze water from it and then I shall do the same to your skull." Ottilia slowly squeezed; a few drops at first but then a gush of liquid ran from the rock.

The troll's eyes grew large and then his mouth fell open. "You can stop now. I see I was mistaken by not believing in your strength," stammered the troll.

Ottilia narrowed her eyes. "What makes you think that I will stop? I'm just getting started and once I'm finished with this rock, it's your turn," she said.

Gunnar was now shaking in his shoes. "Please, Miss, I was only playing a joke."

"You big oaf. I don't like jokes. Now crawl back down where you came from and if I see you when I return, I might tear off your leg just for good measure." 

The troll bowed. "Forgive me. You just go on your way. Gunnar will go back to his home now." Ottilia stomped her foot, which caused the troll to scurry over the edge and out of sight.

A short time later, she reached the mountain's top. Once she had picked flowers, she placed her basket on the ground, removed the bread and cheese, and enjoyed the pleasant breeze. As she ate, Ottilia thought about her encounter with the troll. “I do believe that troll learned his lesson," she said with great satisfaction.

With the sun slowly turning red, the girl headed down the mountain and as she approached the bridge, Ottilia made sure to call out the troll's name and remind him of what lay in store if she should lay eyes on him again. But she never did, no matter how many times she stomped across the bridge.


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