HOW THE STALOS WERE TRICKED
'Mother, I have seen such a wonderful man,' said a little boy one day, as he entered a hut in Lapland, bearing in his arms the bundle of sticks he had been sent out to gather.
' Have you, my son; and what was he like ?' asked the mother, as she took off the child's sheep-skin coat and shook it on the door-step.
'Well, I was tired of stooping for the sticks, and was leaning against a tree to rest, when I heard a noise of 'sh-'sh, among the dead leaves. I thought perhaps it was a wolf, so I stood very still. But soon there came past a tall man — oh! twice as tall as father — with a long red beard and a red tunic fastened with a silver girdle, from which hung a big silver-handled knife. Behind him followed a great dog, which looked stronger than any wolf, or even a bear. But why are you so pale, mother ?'
'It was the Stalo,' replied she, her voice trembling; 'Stalo the man-eater! You did well to hide, or you might never have come back. But, remember that, though he is so tall and strong, he is very stupid, and many a Lapp has escaped from his clutches by playing him some clever trick.'
Not long after the mother and son had held this talk, it began to be whispered in the forest that the children of an old man called Patto had vanished one by one, no one knew whither. The unhappy father searched the country for miles round without being able to find as