Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The Elfin Hill

The Elfin HillThe Elfin Hill

Lizards were on a rock abuzz with the goings-on underground. The nearby hill was home to elves. There was much noise coming from the hill. An earthworm told all that there was going to be a big party there.

Under the ground, the elves were preparing for the goblins from Norway to come to a great party. The elf king expected at least a couple of his daughters to be married, for the goblin king was bringing his two single sons.

The preparations were mighty. Each daughter must dress up. The food must be prepared. Invitations were sent out. An elf maiden went out to invite the Night Raven, the Death Horse, and the Death Pig. At first, ghosts had not been allowed to attend, but the elf king changed his mind.

Excellent food had been prepared.

In the kitchen were frogs roasting on the spit, and dishes preparing of snail skins, with children’s fingers in them, salad of mushroom seed, hemlock, noses and marrow of mice, beer from the marsh woman’s brewery, and sparkling salt-petre wine from the grave cellars. These were all substantial food. Rusty nails and church-window glass formed the dessert.

The goblins finally arrived. The sons of the goblin king were rather rude. They took off their shoes. They put their feet on the table. They didn’t seem interested in what was going on, or the elf king’s daughters for that matter.

Each of the daughters was presented. There were seven in all. Each daughter had her own strengths. One of them, the last, told stories. The goblin king asked her to tell a story for each of his fingers. She made up stories for the first several, but the goblin king was so taken with her that he wanted her for his wife. The goblin king told his sons that they better pick out a wife too, but they said they didn’t want to get married and went to sleep. The goblin king stayed up dancing with his new bride. They exchanged boots which is more fashionable than exchanging rings.

The lizards and the earthworm debated about who they liked better. The lizards like the goblin king better; the earthworm liked the sons better, but then earthworms are blind, so what does he know?

The End


This story is full of fascinating folklore. First off, I have heard of elves living in hills before. It’s not an uncommon piece of folklore.

What is more interesting about this story are some of the things mentioned in it. The elf maiden who comes out to give invitations was said to be hollow from behind. There was a belief that you could only see elves from the front. If you were looking at an elf from the back, there wouldn’t really appear to be anything there. It would be kind of like looking at the back of a mask. I have no idea how this belief came about, but people used to believe it.

The elf maiden goes out to invite the Night Raven, the Death Horse, and the Death Pig. The Death Horse and the Death Pig are similar in nature. At some point, people believed a horse or a pig was buried underneath every church that had ever been built, seriously. Did I forget to mention that the animal would have been alive? This animal died, of course, because some jerks buried it alive, but it was believed that the animal lived on. It became a ghost and would limp along at night on three legs to the houses of those that would die. I have no idea why anybody would do this.

Let’s bury a horse so it can come back as a three-legged ghost and foretell death. Yeah, let’s do that…later. This must be a purely pagan tradition because nothing I have ever heard about Christianity indicates any such tradition.

The Night Raven is a bit different but similar. If something was haunted, or if there was a ghost, a priest, or whomever, could condemn a spirit to a particular spot on the Earth. A stake was then put in that place. At night the spirit would cry, “Let me out,” and the stake would be lifted and the spirit would leave, but it would turn into a raven with a hole in its left wing. This creature was then called the Night Raven.

The Danes have some rather interesting ghost superstitions.


Everyone was initially impressed with the idea that the eligible bachelors that were the goblin princes were going to come to the party. They were not impressed by the end of the party. In fact, they probably just wanted them to leave. It’s like being all excited that Prince Harry showed up at your party in Vegas, but then he just took all his clothes off and ran around naked, you know, that sort of thing.

The goblin king, on the other hand, was rather mild. He talked of his homeland. He was kind. He was interested in what other people had to say or do. This is how you’re supposed to act at a party, people. Be the goblin king, not his sons.

At the end of the night, the goblin king was the only person who ended up with a wife. Why? Well, because the sons were pretty despicable. At first, you would have thought that only the young sons would have been the eligible men. They’re young. They’re handsome. They’re full of vigor. You would have all these thoughts. Then you would see their behavior and you might start to second guess yourself a little.

Appearances can be deceiving. Just because someone looks like your ideal of good, or a good catch, doesn’t mean that they actually are. You have to remember that there is a brain in there somewhere and with that brain comes a personality, whether good or bad.

You may find out that someone who doesn’t fit the ideal of a particular type of person in your head fits the ideal personality you have in mind. In the end, it didn’t matter that the goblin king was old. He was the better person. Hey, you know what, if someone treats you with respect and loves you, it really shouldn’t matter what their age or appearance is. As long as you like them and they like you, things should be ok.


I wonder if the six other elfin princesses found men.

Weigh In

Is there such a thing as “too old” or does it not matter as long as everyone gets along?

What do you suppose the purpose of having a Death Horse was?

P.S. Death Pony


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s