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(This tale was told by tour guide Hafsteinn during a coach trip round the Golden Circle in Iceland at Christmas 2004. A version of it can also be found in Icelandic Folk and Fairy Tales by May and Hallberg Hallmundsson, first published 1987 by Iceland Review, Reykjavik)

Búkolla and the Boy

Once upon a time, as all stories start, there was a peasant and his wife who lived on the Thingvellir plain. They were not very rich but they had a very strong and beautiful cow, whose name was Búkolla because that is a good name for cows in Iceland. Now Búkolla was their pride and joy. They also had a son but they did not love him so much.

One day
Búkolla went missing and the peasant and his wife were beside themselves with worry. They said to the boy: "You had better go and find the cow and don't come back until you do. If you cannot find her, don't come back at all."  They gave him some food and two pairs of shoes, because his own were made of fish skin and were not good for walking, and he set off across the plain to look for the cow.

He walked and walked and eventually became tired so he sat down on a rock to rest. He ate some food and he changed his shoes and then he shouted: "
Búkolla, Búkolla! If you can hear me, please moo!" And far away in the very distance he heard the sound: "Moo!" of the precious Búkolla. So he walked towards the sound.

He walked and walked and again became tired so he sat down on a rock to rest. He ate some more food and changed his shoes and then he shouted: "Búkolla, Búkolla! If you can hear me, please moo!" And slightly closer he heard the sound: "Moo!" of the precious Búkolla. So he walked towards the sound.

He walked and walked and again became tired so he sat down again on a rock to rest. He ate some more food and changed his shoes again and then he shouted: "Búkolla, Búkolla! If you can hear me, please moo!" And this time, right under his feet, he heard the sound: "Moo!" of the precious Búkolla.  And he called out: "Búkolla, where are you?" and the cow replied, because this is a fairy tale and animals can talk in fairy tales: "I'm in a cave." 

So the boy searched and found the entrance to the cave and when he went in he immediately saw that it was the home of trolls.
Búkolla was tied to the wall so the boy quickly undid the rope and led her outside but he had not gone far before he looked behind and saw two female trolls, a little one and a big one, following along.  He could see that the two trolls would soon catch them up so he said: "Búkolla, Búkolla. What shall we do?" And Búkolla said: "Pull a hair from my tail and place it on the ground." This the boy did and Búkolla stood over the hair and said: "I cast this spell upon the hair that it should become a river so wide that only a bird of the air could cross it." And immediately a huge, wide river appeared between the boy and the trolls.

The smaller troll was angry when she saw the river but the larger troll said: "Go back and fetch our father's bull." So the little one went and fetched the bull and the bigger one made it drink the river dry so that they could cross it.

The boy and
Búkolla had not gone far again when he looked behind and saw the large troll and the small troll following along. He could see that the two trolls would soon catch them up so he said: "Búkolla, Búkolla. What shall we do?" And Búkolla said: "Pull a hair from my tail and place it on the ground." This the boy did and Búkolla stood over the hair and said:  "I cast this spell upon the hair so that it should become a fire so hot that only a bird of the air could cross it."  And immediately a hot line of fire appeared between the boy and the trolls.

The smaller troll was angry when she saw the fire but the larger troll said: "Go back and fetch our father's bull." So the little one went and fetched the bull and the bigger one made it piss on the fire so that it was put out and they could cross it.

The boy and Búkolla had not gone far again when he looked behind and saw the large troll and the small troll following along. He could see that the two trolls would soon catch them up so he said: "Búkolla, Búkolla. What shall we do?" And Búkolla said: "Pull a hair from my tail and place it on the ground." This the boy did again and Búkolla stood over the hair and said:  "I cast this spell upon the hair so that it should become a mountain so high that only a bird of the air could cross it."  And immediately a tall mountain appeared between the boy and the trolls.
 
The smaller troll was angry when she saw the mountain but the larger troll said: "Go back and fetch our father's drill." So the little one went and fetched the drill and the bigger one started to make a tunnel through the mountain and the two began to go through. But trolls are not very clever and they did not realise that the tunnel got narrower at the far end and the two soon became stuck. And when the sun came out it shone into the hole and turned the trolls to stone.  So there they are still today. 

The boy and
Búkolla got safely home where the peasant and his wife were delighted to see their cow. But they still didn't care for the boy very much.  Top