Ogre? Giant? Troll? Which one today?
He lazed in the down, musing. Ogre meant dark castles, clanking armour, battles and conflict. Maybe not. Too sunny; too blue sky and happiness type of day. Being a giant was pleasanter, more in tune with his sense of well-being. Snuggling into the feathers, turning onto right side, then left side; he imaged himself into giant mode. Yet he continued to toss and turn, and awoke again, hearing his own deep nasally snore. This would not do. Troll it was.
Prune juice rolled down his throat as he cooked the black sausage and mushroom breakfast and deliberated over which bridge to sit beneath. The cry ‘ Prince’ echoed along the corridor outside. Then a knocking at the door. Then the door creaking open. ‘Prince, wake up. Your father wants you.’
But the Prince was not to be seen. The Page, in embroidered court uniform of blue gold doublet and finely knitted red hose, could smell the recently cooked breakfast. Yet the bed was empty and the window open. He shook his head, closed the door and returned to the King.
The troll, meanwhile, scuttled between the rhododendrons, muttered ‘good morning’ to the early foraging rabbits, and caught its long tangled hair on the blackberry thorns. The stream and bridge it had chosen to guard was over the hill. A smooth green rise of pasture and cows. They closed their eyes as they heard approaching footfalls. One look and their milk would be ruined, turned rancid by the troll’s foul appearance. Playfully, one cow’s tail was pulled, while another felt its legs tickled. Another sneezed as buttercups waved under its chin. But all steadfastly kept their eyes closed. Not one long eyelash fluttered as the troll danced and capered amongst the herd. Annoyed, the troll stamped its feet, muttered ‘ you’ll not cross my bridge today’ and stomped towards the grey stony arches spanning the stream.
Creeping between the moss the brown troll settled under the first span of the bridge. The slithery wet stones, rounded, wet from the drips of the soaking ferns, formed a comfortable viewpoint of the track as it meandered up the hillside. The sun had barely moved from one treetop to the next before the troll glimpsed a figure approaching. A child, dressed in pink ribbons and flower covered yellow dress, danced along the way, stopping here and there to smell the primroses or stand bemused at a bee moving diligently around the gorse blossom. The troll delayed until the child placed on graceful foot on the bridge then sprang out from its dank hide. ‘Halt. Who are you, wanting to cross my bridge?’ it growled. The child laughed. ‘What a grump you are!’ it giggled. Somewhat abashed, the troll curled its lip and moved into dangerous mode. ‘Who are you, wanting to cross my bridge?’ it snarled. The child calmly smiled at the troll. ‘What a fine face you have! I particularly admire your crooked nose.’ Now, no one had ever complimented the troll and it turned to look at its reflection in the flat surface of a pool. Maybe so. Maybe the nose was rather fine, angular, and even handsome. Then it heard the child’s footsteps on the bridge and turned to see it merrily skipping over the cobbles and up the hill. The troll glared after the child, glanced quickly in to the pool to admire its fine face, then settled amongst the dampness again, a nettle stinging its arm as it leant against the cold stone archway.
Cloud shadows rolled over the hillside and the sun rose higher above the trees to stand directly overhead. The humid and torpid air helped the troll to doze a little. Scrunch, scrunch, and scrunch. The rattling of pebbles disturbed by leather shoes vibrated along the track and troll awoke, all senses bristling. Just in time. ‘Halt. Who are you, wanting to cross my bridge?’ it shouted, leaping clumsily from its hide. The beautiful face of a flaxen haired maiden quizzically turned to look at the troll. ‘Oh! Oh!’ Large eyes, as blue as the sky, blinked and cherry red lips quivered. ‘I did not intend to disturb your slumber’, the delightful maiden sighed. For a second the troll hesitated, confused, then quickly responded in its angriest effort ‘Who are you, wanting to cross my bridge?’ ‘Oh! Oh!’ The maiden sighed again, a small tear brushed away by her soft slim hand. ‘I have interrupted your dreams, how cruel I am.’ And another tear fell. The troll thought, dreaming? Was I dreaming? And it looked towards the sky to confirm it wasn’t nighttime. And as it did so the maiden crossed the bridge. ‘Hey!’ shouted the troll after the maiden, but too late. The beauty was already too far away to hear. As the troll clambered down under the parapet to its damp seclusion it glanced up to the cotton wood clouds. ‘ I wonder what I was dreaming?’ it mused.
The afternoon heat brought small fish into the cool shadow of the bridge. The troll kicked in the water and they darted away. A sand martin flew between the arches searching for fly tea for its nestlings, newly hatched in the upstream bank. The troll shook a fist at their sweeping flights and they made haste away to the overhanging willows.
The troll’s stomach rumbled, or, was it distant thunder, or was it? Yes. Footfalls on the footpath. The troll leapt up, and stopped. Confronted by the bent over figure of the ugliest old hag the troll had ever seen, he stuttered, ‘Halt. Who are you, wanting to cross my bridge?’ A derisive cackling laugh shred through the afternoon haze. ‘Who are you, wanting to cross my bridge?’ he faintly repeated. Piercing eagle sharp eyes reached his soul, surveyed his crooked nose, his damp crinkled and cracked skin. The troll trembled.
‘Give me a kiss!’ demanded the foul smelling crone. The troll recoiled but what could he do? Where could he go? The hag blocked escape along the track. The troll closed his eyes and succumbed…
And the handsome prince and the beautiful princess lived happily ever after.
Page last updated: 13th Jan 2011