Once upon a time there lived an eccentric princess by the name of Sarala. Each week a smelly old troll named Tohopka came to visit her in the castle veranda.
Princess Sarala was a young girl when she first met Tohopka. She had been searching for salamanders and pollywogs along the creek beds.
Tohopka had studied the princess and the gentle way she handled the tiny creatures. Though trolls are typically dim-witted, he managed to devise a scheme. He would use the princess to gain advantage over her father who sought to kill him and all the other trolls in the land.
Mustering every ounce of charm he had, a mere wiry ear-hair’s worth, he presented himself to her, meek as a lamb.
“Good day fair maiden,” he hissed from the shadows.
“Oh my goodness!” Sarala gasped, “you gave me such a fright! Are you not a troll? My father warned me about the likes of you.”
Before she could cry for help Tohopka appealed to her, “I am indeed a troll, just as you say but I have been much maligned by rumors. In truth, I long to live peaceably with one and all. But you see, I am beset by a most horrible infestation of lice! It is their constant gnawing and slithering that makes my skin crawl and my behavior so surly. If only I could rid myself of them.”
Feeling compassion for the beast Sarala replied, “Oh, how awful for you. Maybe I can help. Come closer so I can pluck these pests from your pelt.”
Tohopka was delighted to comply. It had been easier than he imagined to deceive the girl. Bit by nit, he weaseled his way into Princess Sarala’s trust.
When the people learned of this they appealed to her father, “Oh great king, you must do something! We fear for Princess Sarala’s life and our own for we have it on good authority that she has befriended a troll!”
Alarmed by this, the King summoned his daughter immediately. “Is it true Sarala? What is this I hear about you and a troll?”
“Oh father, you don’t know Tohopka as I do. He is quite gentle and harmless, not at all the raging beast you claim he is! I beg of you father, please believe me, he means us no harm. He is my friend. Please don’t kill him father, I would miss him so!”
The King, though fierce in battle, was putty in his daughter’s hands. “Fine,” he said, “you may have your wish to remain friends with this Tohopka. But he shall be treated like a house pet and only under the watchful eyes of my royal guards.”
This turn of events played right into Tohopka’s plan. He was allowed access into the palace grounds. Years passed and the royal guard grew complacent to his presence. His evil ruse was working!
When he’d had enough of the princess’s nit-picking, Tohopka decided to end the wile. On that day, he sauntered through the gates nodding smugly at wary villagers and past the guards. But unlike the times before he did not purr when Sarala drew near. His back stiffened and he let out a terrifying howl that bellowed from his fowl mouth as he snarled revealing rows of sharp, green teeth.
“What troubles you Tohopka?” the princess innocently inquired, oblivious to the danger she faced.
“What troubles me, you ask? What troubles me Princess, is how stupid you are! To think you believed you could transform me from who and what I am by your kindness. I loath kindness. I loath you in fact! I am a Troll! What did you expect?!” he growled as he lunged toward her.
Just inches from overtaking her, the beast let out a bone-chilling scream, falling to his death in a heap at her feet. Behind him stood her father, crossbow in hand. With this last troll dead, there would be peace once more in the kingdom.
‘Twas nit-picking that eventually exposed the beast’s true nature. Princess Sarala learned an important lesson. Trolls make lousy house pets.
~kat – 27 March 2017
For Jane Dougherty’s Sunday Strange Microfiction Challenge based on the painting above by
Theodor Kittelsen called The Princess picking Lice from the Troll.