Table of Contents

Poor Tramp

A man once made and sold rattraps. His business was not that much profitable. He had to resort to thefts and begging to sustain himself. He remained hungry most of the times.

Once an idea struck his mind that the whole world is a rattrap. He thought that this world offered riches, joys, and shelter, just like the rats’ rattrap offered cheese. He thought ill of this world because it gave him nothing.

One night while walking down the road, he knocked on the door of a little grey cottage. He expected people to insult him, but this time an older man welcomed him. He had nobody with him, so he welcomed the trap-maker to kill his loneliness. The player ‘mjolis.’ 

The older man told him everything about his life. He used to work at Ramsjo Ironworks as a crofter. Now, his only cow supported him.

Robbing the Crofter

After spending the night there, the trap-maker left the cottage, and both went their way. After some moments, the trap-maker came back, carefully smashed the window glass, took the older man’s purse and stole the sum of thirty kroner. 

After stealing the money, the first thought that crossed his mind was to change its path so that the older man could not find him. He made a sharp turn and entered the forest instead of walking along the public highway. After walking for a few hours, the rattrap man realized that he had lost his way. The dense forest appeared like a rattrap to him.

Darkness took over the forest. He gave up and was ready to die. Suddenly, he heard some hammer strokes. He gathered up all his remaining energy and went in pursuit of the sound of strokes. 

The Comfort of The Fire

The sound was from a large plant where the master smith and his helper waited for the iron to be put on the anvil. They were hard-workers. Many unusual sounds were coming from that plant.

The blacksmith did not notice the intruder as he was busy in his work. He had this in mind that many vagabonds came there to warm themselves. He saw the intruder and his torn clothes. The intruder asked for permission to stay there, and the blacksmith agreed.

The owner of the mill was a prominent iron-master. During the round of inspection, he saw the ragamuffin laying very close to the furnace. The iron master inspected him and thought that he was one of his old friend, Nils Olof.

The intruder went along with the flow and did not reveal his identity. The iron master might give some money to his mistaken friend. The intruder answer every question that the iron master asked.

The Mistaken Friend

The ironmaster invited the tramp to his house, but he refused. He thought that the tramp has refused due to his bad condition.

The ironmaster sent his daughter to persuade the tramp to join them for Christmas. She introduced herself to the tramp as Edla Willmansson. She successfully persuaded the tramp. He wore the fur coat that she brought for him. While riding to the house, he felt that something bad is going to happen. 

Identity Revealed

The next morning, when the valet cleaned the tramp, it appeared to the ironmaster that the tramp was not his acquaintance. The tramp asked for forgiveness, but the ironmaster was very much irked. He threatened to call the police.

The tramp got angry at him and told him that the whole world was a trap. He told the iron master that a day might come when the world will do the same to the iron master. The iron master laughed at this statement. As the tramp was about to leave, the daughter prevented him from leaving.  He grabbed the tramp from the wrist and invited him to eat.

The tramp slept after eating the food.  It seemed like he did not enjoy such a peaceful sleep in years. The girl told him that the fur coat he wore was a Christmas gift and if he ever wanted to enjoy Christmas, he could visit them anytime.

The next morning when the girl was at the church, she came to know that the crofter had been robbed by a man selling rattraps. The girl and his father (the iron master) hurried back to their home and asked the valet if the tramp was still there. He answered that he had left, and also he had left a package for Miss Willmansson. 

The Emotional Departure

Miss Willmansson opened the package and found a rattrap along with ten kroner. There was a note inside. 

“Honoured and noble Miss,
“Since you have been so nice to
me all day long, as if I was a
captain, I want to be nice to you, in return, as if I was a real captain — for I do not want you to be embarrassed at this Christmas season by a thief; but you can give back the money to the old man on the roadside, who has the money pouch hanging on the window frame as a bait for poor wanderers.

“The rattrap is a Christmas present from a rat who would have been caught in this world’s rattrap if he had not been raised to captain, because in that way he got power to clear himself.

“Written with friendship and high regard,
“Captain von Stahle.”