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Literature / The Cat on the Dovrefell

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Engraving by George W. Dasent published in Tales from the Norse

The Cat on the Dovrefell is a Norwegian Fairy Tale collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jorgen Moe.

A man was bringing a trained bear to the king, but had to stop at Dovrefell. The people there told him they could not offer him a place to stay, because trolls drove them out every Christmas time. The man said he would stay just the same, so they let him and left all sorts of food for the trolls' feast.

The trolls came. One of them, calling it "Pussy", began to bait the bear with a sausage, and it turned on them and chased them out.

The next year, a troll asked them if they still had that cat. The man told them that they did, and she had had kittens, seven of them, all fiercer than she was. After that, the trolls troubled that household no more.

Full text in SurLaLune, the Project Gutenberg and here.

Compare the trolls to those in Tatterhood.

Girl Genius co-creator Kaja Foglio retold it in webcomic from: ''The Cat On The Dovrefjell''.

Tropes included

  • All Trolls Are Different: They come in different sizes and forms and invade homes at Christmas.
    So, when everything was ready, down came the Trolls. Some were great, and some were small; some had long tails, and some had no tails at all; some, too, had long, long noses; and they ate and drank, and tasted everything.
  • Bears Are Bad News: The white bear chases a huge pack of trolls out of the farm when one of them disrupts its sleep.
  • Beary Friendly: The bear is actually pretty tame and friendly... as long as you do not bother it.
  • Cats Are Mean: The trolls think they have been attacked by a real large and ferocious cat.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: The woodlands on the Dovrefjell are full of dangerous trolls.
  • Get Out!: When the trolls pissed it off, "the white bear rose up and growled, and hunted the whole pack of them out of doors, both great and small."
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The bear does not rouse to drive off the trolls until a troll starts to bait it.
  • Horse of a Different Color: In Kaja Foglio's version, the traveler rides their great white bear.
  • Named by the Adaptation: In Kaja Foglio's comic, the nameless traveler is given a name (and a gender flip): Lena.
  • No Name Given: The traveler never reveals his name.
  • Obliviously Evil: The trolls do not seem to be aware that they are inconveniencing and causing harm to the humans.
  • Related in the Adaptation: In the Kaja Foglio's webcomic, the bear's owner is a girl called Lena, and Halvor is her uncle.
  • Rule of Seven: When the trolls ask if he's kept his big cat, Halvor shrewdly answers he does, and "she has now got seven kittens, far bigger and fiercer than she is herself."
  • Sacred Hospitality: When the traveler knocks on the cottage's door and asks if he and his bear could get a room, Halvor warns his family is being driven out by trolls. The traveler begs to stay and is given one room, nonetheless.