Now this is what happened once, in Lapland of the Northern Lights!
The Lapps know that Ulda Fairy Folk carry off children, so Lapp fathers and mothers give their children amulets of silver, brass, or copper, to frighten away the Uldas.
There was once a Lapp Mother, who did not give her baby an amulet. One day she saw that her child was looking funny, and acting funnily.
She knew then that the Uldas had carried off her own child, and had left a changeling.
An old Lapp woman told her:
"You must whip that changeling hard. You must put it in a room by itself"--for the Lapp Mother lived in a house--"and you must set a small plate of porridge on the table, with many spoons. Then see what you shall see!
The Lapp Mother did this. She shut the child in a room with a tiny dish of porridge and many spoons. Then she heard the child say:
I've lived as long as the dwarf birches,
Lived as long as mountain birches,
Never have I seen such doings!
Many spoons and little porridge
Then the Lapp Mother knew for sure, that the child was a changeling. She rushed in and whipped it hard--whipped, and whipped, and whipped--beat, and beat, and beat! Then she locked the changeling in by itself, but first she set some burning lights in the room.
By and by she heard Voices. The Uldas were speaking.
"They have been beating our Old Mother," said the Voices. "We cannot stand that!"
And when the Lapp Mother opened the door and peeped in, there was her own child safe and sound. The Uldas had carried off their Old Mother!
You may be sure that the Lapp Mother, as quick as she could, gave her child a silver amulet. She put a knife in its cradle, and fastened silver buttons and other amulets to the three-stringed band that hung from the top of the cradle to its foot.
That frightened away the Uldas.