THE ALTAR-CUP IN AAGERUP
BETWEEN the villages of Marup and Aagerup in Zealand, there is said to have lain a great castle, the ruins of which are still to be seen near the strand. Tradition relates that a great treasure is concealed among them, and that a dragon there watches over three kings' ransoms. [a] Here, too, people frequently happen to get a sight of the underground folk, especially about festival-times, for then they have dancing and great jollity going on down on the strand.
One Christmas-eve, a farmer's servant in the village of Aagerup went to his master and asked him if he might take a horse and ride down to look at the Troll-meeting. The farmer not only gave him leave but desired him to take the best horse in the stable; so he mounted and rode away down to the strand. When he was come to the place he stopped his horse, and stood for some time looking at the company who were assembled in great numbers. And while he was wondering to see how well and how gaily the little dwarfs danced, up came a Troll to him, and invited him to dismount, and take a share in their dancing and merriment. Another Troll came jumping up, took his horse by the bridle, and held him while the man got off, and went down and danced away merrily with them the whole night long.
When it was drawing near day he returned them his very best thanks for his entertainment, and mounted his horse to return home to Aagerup. They now gave him an invitation to come again on New-year's night, as they were then to have great festivity; and a maiden who held a gold cup in her hand invited him to drink the stirrup-cup. He took the cup; but, as he had some suspicion of them, he, while he made as if he was raising the cup to his mouth, threw the drink out over his shoulder, so that it fell on the horse's back, and it immediately singed off all the hair. He then clapped spurs to his .horse's sides, and rode away with the cup in his hand over a ploughed field.
The Trolls instantly gave chase all in a body; but being hard set to get over the deep furrows, they shouted out, without ceasing,
"Ride on the lay,
And not on the clay." [b]
He, however, never minded them, but kept to the ploughed field. However, when he drew near the village he was forced to ride out on the level road, and the Trolls now gained on him every minute. In his distress he prayed unto God, and lie made a vow that if he should be delivered he would bestow the cup on the church.
He was now riding along just by the wall of the churchyard, and he hastily flung the cup over it, that it at least might be secure. He then pushed on at full speed, and at last got into the village; and just as they were on the point of catching hold of the horse, he sprung in through the farmer's gate, and the man clapt to the wicket after him. He was now safe; but the Trolls were so enraged, that, taking up a huge great stone, they flung it with such force against the gate, that it knocked four planks out of it.
There are no traces now remaining of that house, but the stone is still lying in the middle of the village of Aagerup. The cup was presented to the church, and the man got in return the best farm-house on the lands of Eriksholm. [c]
[a] "Three kings' ransoms" is a common maximum with a Danish peasant when speaking of treasure.
[b] 'Rid paa det Bolde,
Og ikke paa dot Knolde."
[c] Oral. This is an adventure common to many countries. The church of Vigersted in Zealand has a cup obtained in the same way. The man, in this case, took refuge in the church, and was there besieged by the Trolls till morning. The bridge of Hagbro in Jutland got its name from a similar event. When the man rode off with the silver jug from the beautiful maiden who presented it to him, an old crone set off in pursuit of him with such velocity, that she would surely have caught him, but that providentially he came to a running water. The pursuer, however, like Nannie with Tam o' Shanter, caught the horse's hind leg, but was only able to keep one of the cocks of his shoe: hence the bridge was called Hagbro, i. e. Cock Bridge.