Village Troll (based off the story, “Three Billy Goats Gruff”)
By: Julia Paes '25
Once upon a time, there lived a grouchy old man who was nicknamed, “the Troll of the Village.” After his wife passed away, he became hateful. From then on, he was known for being impolite and was disliked by everyone that met him. The old man had grey hair, a grim face, and was blind in one eye. He owned the property around the oldest and most important bridge in the area.
The Village Troll would get money in exchange for people to cross his bridge, but for those who didn’t have the means to pay, he would say a riddle. If they got it right, they got to cross the bridge and were given three coins, but if they got it wrong, they had to take the long way around the bridge. The old man took pleasure in this game and not a single villager had gotten one of his riddles right. Until one day, a boy named Billy visited the bridge. Billy was poor, but he was clever. He was the master of riddles.
"I can't pay you, but I'll answer a riddle. I heard that you accept that as a form of payment,” said Billy.
The Troll cleared his throat, looked at the boy with one eye and replied, "Yes, I do. Now what is round, but has two corners?"
The boy gave a hearty laugh. "This one's too easy. The answer is an eye," he said eagerly in an awfully high pitched voice.
The Troll widened his eyes in shock and let the boy cross the bridge, giving him three coins out of his money bag. The boy came again in the afternoon. The Troll cleared his throat once more and asked his hardest riddle in a booming voice. "What goes up while coming down, moves while staying still, is as light as a feather and as heavy as a brick? Can you guess the riddle?"
But the boy was too clever. "No," Billy responded with a triumphant smirk, "No one can because no such thing exists." Again the boy was sent on his way with three coins.
In a fortnight, though the boy had emptied the Village Troll's money bag, he had continued to visit the bridge. The old man would call him Billy Goat for how he would bleat out the answers to his riddles.
"You have enough money now to cross my bridge three times over, Billy Goat. Why do you keep asking for more riddles?" the Troll asked.
"Because I enjoy them. They give me something to look forward to. Just give me one more riddle, and I'll never visit the bridge again," Billy would promise.
The old man would sigh and say a riddle. Billy would get it right and give the man three coins. Then, Billy would come again the next day and the day after that.
Then, one day, Billy didn't come, and the old man waited on his bridge until dark. The old man grew alone as he had no one to tell his riddles to. The days grew longer, and he wondered if he would ever get to see his Billy Goat again. In his free time, he decided to craft the perfect riddle that even Billy would never guess. He wrote pages and pages of brain teasers and sent them to the local newspaper in hopes of finding others who shared his love for riddles. Soon, he became known by all in the town as the Riddle Writer, and kids would flock to the newspaper stands to see if they would be the one to solve his latest riddle. His final edition in the newspaper was not a riddle but a short story called, "Three Billy Goats Gruff" which continued to be read to little children around the world for ages later even after the Riddle Writer himself had long passed.