Mutton and Flowers

The Troll lived under the bridge. It was cliché and the troll knew it but this is where he was happiest. In the beginning he would jump out from under the bridge and challenge anyone who dared cross over. This led to many delightful meals but as word got around the meals tapered off. The b ridge was considered cursed for generations.

This meant of course that the Troll had to rethink things a bit. He learned to fish for one thing. Fish were nice but as people populated the area’s again he noticed that they started to taste funny and there was less of them caught in his net.

Sheep grazed nearby; they were useful. Their wool was good bedding, their skin made good clothes and almost entirely edible.

After some time, bandits tried to move in on the Troll’s territory. This did not go down well with the Troll. The bandits’ skulls still remained on pikes along the span of the bridge.

The Troll spent a lot of time on his own. It was not a bad thing for him. He remained busy maintain his bridge and what he had come to see as his river.

After a particularly disgusting fish he decided to do something about this. It was a miracle the local people said, the river began to get cleaner from the source until two miles past the Troll bridge. Even the locals called it that. Aside from some antique skulls that were obviously of historical value the entire place was picturesque.

The troll was happy, and he even let people cross over now and then. He only ate those who he didn’t like.

A fish was swimming up the river to spawn when it noticed up ahead a net. The fish was already tired from it’s swim inland and through some of the murk of the town. When it saw the clear water, it knew that its spawning place was nearby. It swam in confusion in circles trying to get around the net but found its way blocked. It could not jump the net either.

A sheep was grazing lazily nearby. “hullo” said the fish. The sheep continued eating. It took time for the bubbly words to register in its small brain. It looked down. “What you doing in the water?” asked the sheep. Sheep are notoriously stupid.

“I’m stuck” said the fish. “I need to get past that net under the bridge so I can have my babies”

The fish thought it better than to explain the spawning process to the sheep.

“oh” said the sheep, and kept on munching the delicious grass.

“can  you help me?” asked the fish

“how?” responded the sheep after a moment.

“well you seem to have a basket on your back” said the fish

“do i?” the sheep only now noticing that it had two water tight baskets on it’s back, a number of it’s other sheep fellows had the same.

“will you come into the water and fill up the basket and take me to the other side of the net?” asked the fish. It was still swimming in circles but getting more and more tired. “I bet the grass is even better than on this side of the net” added the fish, attempting to encourage the slow sheep.

After a moment or two the sheep entered the water and filled up the basket with some water and the fish then moved to the other side of the bridge and beyond the net. The grateful fish lept in the air and swished it’s tail in thanks then swam rapidly upstream to it’s birthplace.

Sheep being sheep of course more and more of them followed the procedure and the fish were fast and smart. By the end of the day the Troll counted about a hundred fish had escaped its net and made its way upwards. The slower stupider ones just weren’t meant to make it and he had a nice big supper.

Later after dinner her was salting the fish that remained and he was in thought. He was glad that he’d made those baskets years ago and attached them to the sheep. It was all good and well to have a nice meal but there wasn’t much point in eating all the fish or there would be none left.

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