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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Crossways
By Jón Árnason (1819–1888)
 
From ‘Icelandic Legends’: Translation of George E. J. Powell and Eiríkr Magnússon

IT is supposed that among the hills there are certain cross-roads, from the centre of which you can see four churches, one at the end of each road.  1
  If you sit at the crossing of these roads on Christmas Eve (or as others say, on New Year’s Eve), elves come from every direction and cluster round you, and ask you, with all sorts of blandishments and fair promises, to go with them; but you must continue silent. Then they bring to you rarities and delicacies of every description, gold, silver, and precious stones, meats and wines, of which they beg you to accept; but you must neither move a limb nor accept a single thing they offer you. If you get so far as this without speaking, elf-women come to you in the likeness of your mother, your sister, or any other relation, and beg you to come with them, using every art and entreaty; but beware you neither move nor speak. And if you can continue to keep silent and motionless all the night, until you see the first streak of dawn, then start up and cry aloud, “Praise be to God! His daylight filleth the heavens!”  2
  As soon as you have said this, the elves will leave you, and with you all the wealth they have used to entice you, which will now be yours.  3
  But should you either answer, or accept of their offers, you will from that moment become mad.  4
  On the night of one Christmas Eve, a man named Fusi was out on the cross-roads, and managed to resist all the entreaties and proffers of the elves, until one of them offered him a large lump of mutton-suet, and begged him to take a bite of it. Fusi, who had up to this time gallantly resisted all such offers as gold and silver and diamonds and such filthy lucre, could hold out no longer, and crying, “Seldom have I refused a bite of mutton-suet,” he went mad.  5
 
 
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