Do you know this story?
I believe that the following story is a urban legend. This story is from the book: «Folkeminne Optegnelser Et utvalg” by Kristian Bugge published 1934 by Norsk Folkeminnelag.
It is a young student by the name of Steffen Sandsdalen from Larvik who is the informant. It does not say date of collecting, but Bugge lived in Larvik from 1905 to 1911 so the story is probably collected in that period.
The story is written down as follows:
One winter evening with frost the postman Jonassen was driving his sled from Larvik to Stavern. Approximately directly above the cave (a den for thieves), he met an old woman who greeted and begged to sit in the back of the sledge as she was so sick to bone and and had to be at a certain place before ten. «I am not allowed to have someone with me,» said Jonassen, «but since it is so important, I will let it go this time.»
The woman thanked and blessed him, and they drove on. After a while Jonassen heard that she began to fiddle with something and as he was a cautious man, he glanced back and saw the woman messing in the bag she had brought with her. But at that moment her veil slipped aside and he saw that she had a beard like a grown man. ”This is not good”, Jonassen thought, and threw quietly the whip into the snow. Shortly after he asked the woman to be so very nice to get off the sled and look for the whip, which he knew he had lost, for he dared not to walk away from his horse, he said.
Yes, she started looking. Jonassen called to the horse and away it went so fast as the horse could run. The woman cried and cried and ran after after the sled so the skirts flew around her legs. But no matter how good she was, to run, she could not cope with the horse and she had to give up. In the bag Jonassen found a long knife and a gun and they are still owned by his family.
Bearded women is a phenomenon that was often associated with so-called»freakshows». According to the legends there lived a woman named Wilgefortis in Portugal. She was a woman of a noble condition and promised to a king. To prevent the marriage, she asked for that her appearance had to be done so despicable that marriage plans were canceled. She was heard and had a beard. Her furious father crucified her. She was a saint with a special protection for women seeking liberation from marriage with violent men.
According to Bengt Af KlintBerg in his book «Råttan of pizza», this is a urban legend located throughout Europe. He says that the legend created a hysteria in Leeds in 1977. There was a strike so that the electric power was shut down, which in turn led to the buses refusing to run without street lights when the traffic was in chaos. People were depending on to hitchhike with each other and thus was the legend ”speeding the emotions.” The legend was linked to a mass murderer who ravaged there during the same period. The story is found in print way back to the beginning of 1800.
What usually happens in the urban legend, is that there is a woman who meets the «man dressed as a woman» and that story in that regard symbolizes the sexual threat that may occur when women are traveling alone. Not all legends are dealing with the beard, but it can be large hairy hands or trousers sticking out from under the skirt. There are also examples of men who are dressed as nurses. The tip of the story is that there are always left a weapon as a witness of a criminal act that was about to happen.