Page:The Grateful Dead.djvu/105

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The Ransomed Woman.

the ghost apppear in normal fashion. The sign enters only as a means of communication between the lovers. The tale thus has no very unusual traits.

Icelandic I.[1] is a fuller, and, for our purpose, more interesting variant than the last. Thorsteinn, a king's son, who has wasted his substance, sells his kingdom and sets forth into the world. He pays two hundred rix-dollars to free from debt a dead man, whose grave is beaten every day by a creditor to destroy his rest. The prince goes on, and in the castle of a giant finds a princess hanging by the hair. He frees her, and is taking her home when he meets Raudr, a knight to whom her hand has been promised if he can find her. Raudr puts the prince to sea alone in a boat and carries the lady home. Thorsteinn, however, is brought thither also by the ghost and is recognized by the princess, when she is about to be married to the traitor. So Raudr is punished, and Thorsteinn obtains the princess.

Here, again, the agreement, the sign, and the division do not appear, though the version is otherwise normal. To be sure, the ransom of the lady is replaced by a rescue, as in Swedish, and the beating of the grave preserves a bit of northern superstition, which is interesting even though not primitive as far as our tale is concerned.[2]

Icelandic II. is similar to the variant just cited in several particulars, though it has important differences. Vilhjálmur, a merchant's son, loses his property and becomes the servant of twelve robbers. In their den he finds a princess named Ása hanging by the hair. He escapes with her by sea, taking along the thieves' treasure. This he pays to have the body of a debtor buried. To

  1. Hippe's analysis, p. 159, is not quite adequate.
  2. Russian I. is the only other variant that I know which makes the dead man uneasy in his grave.