troll who lived in the lake
Don Arthur Torgersen
have lived in the mountains for as long as anyone can remember and
for a lot longer than that. They are as old as rocks and older than
the roots of the oldest trees. Forest rangers have been known to
dig under pine trees, firs, and aspens to root out trolls, but
they have never been able to get rid of them.
Trolls have a
way of slipping into the shadows of the forest and hiding in the
crooks and crevices of the mountains so they cannot be seen. Some
only wander around at night, but others are much bolder, and you
might actually bump into one during the day.
Trolls are creatures
left over from the battles between the frost giants and the old
Norse gods. Somehow, and it really cant be explained, they
survived the doom that all creatures of the past had to face. And,
since then, trolls have wandered the earth for ages and ages and
found places to stay in mountains, forests, and even in the lake
country. Some trolls have been known to inhabit ponds and streams,
and some live under waterfalls.
It used to be
that trolls were destined to cause trouble in the world. But some
of them learned to face human beings, and that changed their habits
and way of life. Some went from bad to worse, but others went from
worse to good.
There were three
boysRoss, Buck and Dannywho lived at Cattail Cove in
the lake country between northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.
They were really surprised on a hot summer day they went fishingbecause
they discovered something at Grass Lake that nearly scared them
out of their wits.
Grass Lake is
a large freshwater lake. Its shores are covered with tall reeds
and bulrushes where red-winged blackbirds like to roost. Large rafts
of lotus pads grow close to shore. Crappies, bluegills, bass, and
colorful sunfish feed beneath the lotus leavesleaves that
float on the surface during the day and roll up at night. Great
blue herons wade in the shallow waters, hunting for tadpoles, frogs,
and small fish. Sandhill cranes build secluded nests in the marsh
near the lake and brood their young.
Ross, Buck, and
Danny were getting ready to go fishing at the lake. They were searching
around in their tackle boxes for bobbers, sinkers, and hooks. Buck
carefully tied a hook to the end of the line on his fishing rod
and said, "Thatll work."
After Ross tied
his hook, he said, "Come on, you guys, Ill show you how
to catch a muskie."
no muskies in Grass Lake," said Danny. "You have to go
to the deep lakes in northern Wisconsin. Grass Lake is fairly shallow.
The water gets too warm for giant pikes."
replied Ross. "When my dad took me fishing last year, I caught
a muskie six feet long. Its mouth was filled with razor-sharp teeth.
It was a record catch."
what did you do with that six-foot muskie?"
put it back in the lake, and it swam away."
aint no muskies here," insisted Danny.
catch the biggest fish in the lake," bragged Ross, "because
I know all the angles of a fisherman."
Buck and Danny
knew that Ross loved to brag and invent improbable stories, so they
just laughed at him.
The three boys
took their fishing poles and rode mountain bikes down to the lake.
They dug for worms with sticks and baited their hooks.
Buck said, "My
grandpa told me a troll was once seen wading in this lake."
Ross tossed a
stone into the lake and said, "If theres troll in the
lake, youd better get out or Ill whack you in the head
with an oar."
the matter, Ross," said Danny, laughing. "Are you afraid
said Ross. "If I see a troll, Ill grab him by his nose
and shake him so hard his teeth will rattle. Then Ill twirl
him around by his tail and toss him over the trees."
laughed Buck. "If you see a troll, Ill bet youll
run away, friend or foe, like a fraidycat.
said if you want to make friends with a troll, just scratch his
head. Trolls like to have their mossy heads scratched. I wrote a
verse about scratchy-headed trolls:
who fight from dusk to dawn
raise a hullabaloo.
scratch their heads,
make them friends,
trolls wont frighten you.
The three young
anglers pushed a small rowboat from shore and rowed out into the
middle of the lake. They cast their lines into the water and waited
for the fish to bite.
Ross had to wait
a long time.
"Ive got a nibble, Ive got a bite! Buck was already
pulling a small crappie into the boat..
Ross kept staring
at his bobber. "You guys can have all the little ones, Im
only going to catch the big one."
Buck and Danny
kept on catching fish, but Ross didnt even see one twitch
on his bobber.
Ross stood up
in the boat and pointed to a crop of lotus pads floating in the
water. "Hey! Look at that giant bullfrog in the middle of the
What they saw
sure looked a lot like a bullfrog, but it really wasnt. A
giant troll was sitting on the bottom of the lake with only his
head peering above the surface. His large, froglike eyes were staring
straight at the three boys in the boat, watching every move.
Beneath the water,
wrigglers and crayfish were swimming around in the trolls
hair, in and out of his long, flowing beard.
His beard was streaming in the water like the long strands of eel
grass. Thats the kind of grass that grows in the lake and
around the ankles of people who go wading in the water.
name was Muddlepuddle because he liked to swirl around in the lotus
pads and muddle in a puddle.
was worried about the three young boys fishing in his lake and did
not want them to catch too many fish. The small sunfish swam through
the trolls long hair and his beard, keeping it combed and
groomed. The sunfish ate the snails, wrigglers, and crayfish that
made knots his hair and got caught in the strands of his beard.
Fish like that were good friends.
muttered the troll. "If those kids catch too many fish, then
there wont be enough fish left in the lake to make my beard
look beautiful. Itll look like a tangle of elf knots and eel
Buck and Danny
caught more fish and strung them on their stringers. Ross sat there
glumly, catching nothing.