Read “Mamsell Fredrika,” a haunted Christmas tale by Selma Lagerlöf

“Mamsell Fredrika”

by

Selma Lagerlöf

translated by

Pauline Bancroft Flach


It was Christmas night, a real Christmas night.

The goblins raised the mountain roofs on lofty gold pillars and celebrated the midwinter festival. The brownies danced around the Christmas porridge in new red caps. Old gods wandered about the heavens in gray storm cloaks, and in the Österhaninge graveyard stood the horse of Hel. He pawed with his hoof on the frozen ground; he was marking out the place for a new grave.

Not very far away, at the old manor of Årsta, Mamsell Fredrika was lying asleep. Årsta is, as every one knows, an old haunted castle, but Mamsell Fredrika slept a calm, quiet sleep. She was old now and tired out after many weary days of work and many long journeys,— she had almost traveled round the world,—therefore she had returned to the home of her childhood to find rest.

Outside the castle sounded in the night a bold fanfare. Death mounted on a gray charger had ridden up to the castle gate. His wide scarlet cloak and his hat’s proud plumes fluttered in the night wind. The stern knight sought to win an adoring heart, therefore he appeared in unusual magnificence. It is of no avail, Sir Knight, of no avail! The gate is closed, and the lady of your heart asleep. You must seek a better occasion and a more suitable hour. Watch for her when she goes to early mass, stern Sir Knight, watch for her on the church-road! Continue reading “Read “Mamsell Fredrika,” a haunted Christmas tale by Selma Lagerlöf”