This week’s winter tale is a dark folkloric story from Norwegian writer Jonas Lie (1833-1908). “The Earth Draws” comes from Lie’s 1891 collection Trold, which draws heavily on the folk beliefs of the fishermen and other residents of Northern Norway (he published a second collection with the same name the following year). Several of Lie’s short stories, mostly from Trold, were translated to English by Robert Nisbet Bain and published as Weird Tales from Northern Seas (1893)—and that of course is where this translation comes from.
A young shopkeeper’s assistant accidentally stumbles upon the shipping docks (and supplies) of “the underground folk,” invisible beings who live within the mountainside. No, it’s not what you think–he’s an honest young man, and doesn’t steal the goods. But meeting the underground folk has consequences, as he discovers come Christmastime….
The translation only refers to these invisible beings as “the underground folk,” but I’m guessing that they are the huldrefolk (literally, “hidden-folk”), aka tusser, or underjordiske (underground), supernatural beings who live within mountains or under the ground, and who can make themselves visible at will. Female tusser are sometimes said to be beautiful, and sometimes to be hairy, and both traits come into play in this story.
If you like this winter tale (and I think you will), then I also highly recommend all of Tales from Northern Seas. It’s freely available at Project Gutenberg. Enjoy!
A list (with links) of the winter tales I’ve shared in previous years is on my Winter Tales page.
“The Earth Draws” Illustration by Laurence Houseman for Weird Tales from Northern Seas (1893).
Featured image: Detail from Grunnarbeide (Groundwork), Theodor Severin Kittelsen (1907). Source: Wikimedia