Above Vaage parsonage rises a hill or small mountain crowned with tall and majestic pine trees. It’s called the giant’s mountain by the people around there. It’s very steep and full of deep dark crevices.
If you stand on the bridge over the rushing river below it somewhere and call your imagination to your assistance, the rocks seem to form a large double gateway in one of the weather-beaten sides, and at the top it looks exactly like a gothic arch. Old, white-stemmed birch trees stand as pillars at its sides, right below where the arch begins.
Now, this archway is hardly an ordinary door or gate, but an entrance to a giant’s castle; it’s the gateway called the “giant’s gate”. In the Old days, if anyone wanted to borrow anything from the giant, or to speak with him on other business, it was customary to throw a stone at the gate and say: “Open, giant!”
One day a travelling fairy tale collector made an Old farmer show him the way to the giant’s gate. They knocked on it twice, but none opened it. Can you believe that? The visitor wondered if the giant would not receive them due to his Old age. Or maybe the many stones thrown at his gate had troubled the giant too much. It was too hard to tell.
Well, John was down there on Christmas Eve, and had finished his business with the grand folks and was ready to start for home. He walked along the streets in a gloomy mood, for he was longing to be at home up in the far north, and knew there was no way of getting home till long after Christmas.
Suddenly a person, who by his dress appeared to be a farmer from his own parish up in Norway, passed him in a great hurry. It was a big, tall man, with large shiny buttons as big as silver dollars on his white jacket. John thought he knew him, but the other walked past him so quickly that he did not get a good sight of his face.
“You are in a great hurry,” John called after him.
“Yes, I have to make haste,” answered the stranger; “I have to be back home at Vaage tonight!”
John thanked him for the offer, went with him to the stable and off they started. John was only barely able to stick on to the sledge, for away they went like the wind through the air. He could neither see earth nor sky.
At one place they stopped to rest. John could not tell where it was, but just as they were starting again he saw a skull on a pole.
When they had travelled some distance further, John began to feel cold.
“Ugh! I forgot one of my mittens where we rested,” he said; “my fingers are freezing!”
“You have to stand it, John Blessom,” said the stranger, “it isn’t far to Vaage now. Where we rested was half-way.”
John did and thanked him for the lift.
The stranger travelled on over the bridge, and John walked up the hillside to his farm. Then all of a sudden he heard a rumble in the giant’s mountain, and the road in front of him was suddenly lighted up – he could have seen to pick up a needle. He forgot his promise and turned his head to check. It was a very natural reaction. And what did he find?
The gate in the mountain was wide open and there came a light from it as from many thousand candles. Right in the middle of the gate he saw the giant himself – it was the stranger he had been driving with.
John couldn’t shake it off, no matter how he strove and struggled that night. He also overdid his shaking. From then on, John Blessom’s head was tilted a lot, and it had to remain that way as long as he lived,” said the Old farmer.