About "tomtar"
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Grandma tells about “tomtar” (transl: house-gnom)

“On the Bäck farm there were gnoms[1] as long as the lower houses were still there. We always had such beautiful horses and cows and when the weather was bad and stormy in the evening, father used to say to the boys: “Don’t you worry about going to the stable, it will be alright”. You see, one was never to acknowledge that house-gnoms existed. When the boys came to the stable the next morning, the horses were groomed and fed. One should never try to get a look at the gnoms working or follow them because then they might do something bad to you.

I remember, it was just before Christmas and the tailor, Hasselqvist, was at our house in order to sow clothes of frieze[2] for the men. Anders from Stenkas was a farmhand on Bäck. “Do you remember Anders from Stenkas, Stina?” That question was for my mother (Stina Olsdotter,1768). “Oh yes, it was him who was married to Maja from Stackevåla.” Anyway, Anders was outside on a pitch black night. When he was about to go inside, he saw somebody walking with a lantern north of the house. He thought it was one of the maids who were going to the well for water and he said to himself, “I’ll scare her a bit”, and went off.

He saw the light move towards the juniper shrubs and he followed. After a little while he got a funny feeling and when he saw a red knitted cap on a man who was as small as a child, he went straight back to the house. We thought he was ill because he came in white as a sheet. I asked him what was wrong, but he didn’t say a word, just went straight to bed without supper. And he had the biggest appetite of anyone I ever had to feed. Hasselqvist, who by the way was a big gossiper, said “He has seen a premonition[3] and he’d better be silent tonight or he might get in trouble.” The next morning Anders told us what he had seen and no wonder he had acted strangely.

Johannes from Nestuga wasn’t as lucky. He was a big drinker. At that time you were not allowed to distil spirits all year around, but only in semesters, as they called it. But of course everyone distilled anyway. Far away in the woods where there weren’t even proper roads, the sheriff couldn’t possibly go. So, what was I telling you? Right, Johannes had been to some place where a big brew had been made. They had also been drinking a lot and when Johannes was going home he was leaning on a huge stick. He came to a fence and knew there was a cross-over somewhere but wasn’t man enough to find it. Suddenly, a little man with a lantern came up close and was about to jump over the fence. At the moment he jumped, Johannes hit him over the thighs with the stick. No one knows how Johannes got home that night, but when he woke up the next morning he couldn’t move his right leg. It was as if it was broken and he couldn’t stand on it for six months.

Johannes couldn’t recall anything at first, but then he remembered that his injury was in the same spot as where he had hit the little man with the stick. So the gnoms could do bad things to you, if you got them angry.

Another time, when the little girls at home were older and the other youths around us had grown up, many used to say that there were no gnoms. But back home we knew better.

When in the barn in the evening the work had to be done properly and quietly. In the upper house everybody laughed at our girls. One evening when the girls were in the barn milking the cows, the boys came in and made a big noise and threw the milking stools around, saying that they were going to scare the gnoms away.

In the morning when they came back it was quite a sight in the barn. The cows were lying as they were dead, thrown over each other in their stalls and hanging in “binsa”[4], almost strangled. After that the boys were quiet when they were in the barn.

I remember what Britta in Röjtar told me. She had a cow which was about to calve. And that cow, said Britta, was always late. Britta had been up several nights looking after her, but it seemed to take long. However, when lying awake worrying about the cow one night, she suddenly jumped up and ran down to the barn. When she came to the door she saw light coming from inside and she went straight back to the house and went to sleep. When she had been sleeping for about 3 hours, someone knocked on the window and shouted “Britta, Gullros has calved, come and look after the calf. When Britta came to the barn the calf was clean and the cow was licking him.”

“But grandma, where are the gnoms nowadays?” “Well, they disappeared at the same time as the giants in Trångfors.” “Oh, tell me more”, I said. “Some other day, little Marie, today your mother and I want to have a chat.”

[1] In Swe: tomte or tomte-gubbe (sing.). A small human-like creature that secretively helped around the farm.
In Swe: vadmal. A coarse woollen cloth.
In Swe: varsel. Usually meaning premonition, foreboding, but in this story closer to supernatural
Dialectal and old, unknown to the translator (halter?)