"Don't let us wait here," said the eldest brother, "but let us go and look for the stones, and decide our competition." As the nearest way to the opposite shore was through the lake, they waded straight across it, and at the deepest place the water reached a little above their knees. The stone cast by the eldest brother had disappeared entirely in the water, and no trace of it could be found; but that thrown by the second was found on the shore half sunken in the mud. Only the stone thrown by the youngest brother, easily recognisable by its marks, was found on firm ground, lying on the grass at some little distance beyond the lake. Then the eldest brother declared that the gods had plainly assigned the kingdom to the youngest, and that the others must now bathe him and adorn him as king. After this the three brothers took an affectionate leave of each other, and the two elder ones wandered cheerfully away. The youngest sat on the rock sadly reflecting on the lost joys of youth, and how he must now depend on his own unaided efforts. At length he threw a silver coin into the water as an offering to the gods, an old custom now forgotten.
It was the duty of the new king both to plough the country and to defend it, and he therefore set to work with his sword by his side. Early and late he ploughed, stocking the country with corn, grass, trees, and berries.
One hot noonday, seeing his white horse nearly exhausted, he unyoked him from the plough, hobbled him, and left him to graze, while he himself lay down in the grass and fell asleep. His head rested on the top of a hill, and his body and legs spread far over the plain below. The sweat ran from his forehead and sank into the earth, whence arose a healing and strengthening spring of wonderful virtues. Those who taste the water of this spring are greatly strengthened; weak children grow strong, the sick grow healthy; the water heals sore eyes, and even blindness; the weary are refreshed, and the maidens who taste it have rosy cheeks for their whole lifetime.
While the Kalevide lay asleep, he dreamed that he saw his good horse torn to pieces by wolves. And truly the horse had strayed away to some distance, when a host of wild animals, wolves, bears, and foxes, emerged from the forest. As the horse's feet were hobbled, he could not escape, and was soon overtaken. He defended himself as well as he could with hoofs and head, and killed many of the beasts; but he was finally overpowered by their ever-increasing numbers, and fell. Where he sank the ground is hollow, and a number of little hills represent the wolves killed in the struggle. The horse's blood formed a red lake, his liver a mountain, his entrails a marsh, his bones hills, his hair rushes, his mane bulrushes, and his tail hazel-bushes.
[Footnote 48: This lake (Saad jaerv) lies a little north of Dorpat.]
[Footnote 49: Nothing is said as to how the government was carried on during the Kalevide's minority.]
[Footnote 50: White horses constantly occur in Esthonian tales; and the devil's mother or grandmother usually appears as a white mare. One of the commentators remarks that as the white horse was sacred in pre-Christian times, the missionaries represented it as peculiarly diabolical. It will be remembered with what severity the early missionaries suppressed the horse feasts among the Teutonic tribes.]
[Footnote 51: This is a little like the formation of the world from the body of the giant Ymir, as described in the Edda. As W. Herbert paraphrases it,
"Of his bones the rocks high swelling, Of his flesh the globe is made, From his veins the tide is welling, And his locks are verdant shade."
"Helga" is a somewhat poor production, containing but few striking passages except the description of the appearance of the Valkyrior before the fight between Hialmar and Angantyr. But the shorter poems at the end, "The Song of Vala" and "Brynhilda," ought to be alone sufficient to remove the name of this forgotten poet from oblivion.]
RUMOURS OF WAR
When the Kalevide awoke, he followed the traces of his horse till he found the remains; and he secured the skin as a relic, cursing the wolves, and then drew his sword, and rushed into the wood in pursuit of them, breaking down the trees and bushes in his way, and destroying all the wild beasts he met with, while those who could fled to distant swamps and thickets. He would have utterly exterminated all the wolves and bears, if the increasing darkness of night had not compelled him at length to desist from further pursuit. He retired to the open country, and being wearied out, lay down to sleep on the skin of the horse. But he had scarcely closed his eyes before a messenger arrived from the elders of Esthonia, announcing that war had broken out, and that a hostile army was ravaging the country.
The Kalevide heard the long and woful story to an end, and then threw himself down again to sleep off his weariness, when another messenger arrived, whom he sharply upbraided for disturbing him.
The second messenger was a venerable old man with a white beard. He saluted the king, and apologised for disturbing him, but reminded him that when he was young the birds had sung to him that a ruler could know no rest:
Heavy cares oppress the monarch, And a weighty load the ruler; Heavier yet a hero's burden: Thousand duties wait the strongest; More await the Kalevide!
He then spoke encouragingly to the king, assuring him that much would result from all his labours for the good of his people. The Kalevide answered that he would not shun toil and weariness, and would do his best. The old man assured him that nothing could prosper without the aid of the gods; and now the Kalevide recognised that Ukko himself spoke with him. Then the god exhorted him not to quarrel with destiny, and warned him to beware of his sword, for murder could only be atoned for by murder, and he who had murdered an innocent man was never secure.
His voice died away in the wind, and the Kalevide sank into slumber till dawn; and when he awoke he could only recall vague fragments of the long discourse he had heard in his vision. He then gave the Esthonian messenger directions for the conduct of the war, and especially the defence of the coasts, asking to be particularly informed if the war should spread farther and the need grow greater, and then he himself would come at once; but he was compelled to rest a little from his fatigues before he could take part in the war in person.
Here is inserted the grand ballad of the Herald of War, from Neus, Ehstnische Volkslieder, p. 305. It is out of place in the Kalevipoeg, but will be included in a later section of our work.
THE HEROES AND THE WATER-DEMON
As the Kalevide was wandering through Esthonia, he arrived one day at the swamp of Kikerpaerae. Two demon brothers had settled themselves in the swamp, and were fighting for its possession, and when the hero appeared they referred their dispute to him. As he could not stay to attend to the matter himself, he requested his friend, the son of Alev, who was with him, to measure out the swamp fairly. So the Alevide began to drive piles into the bed of the river at a place called Mustapall, to fasten his measuring lines to, when the wretched old water-demon raised his head from the river, and asked what he was doing. The hero replied that he was damming up the river; but the demon, who had lived under the water for many years, and did not like to be turned out of his comfortable home, offered him a reward to desist. So the Alevide asked him to fill his old felt hat for him with bright silver coins; which he promised to do on the morrow, the hero declaring that he would hold him to his bargain in the words of the proverb:
By the horns the ox we grapple, By his word the man is fastened.
Then the demon dived back into the water, while the son of Alev, who was a cousin of the Kalevide, got a friend to help him to dig a hole in the ground during the night, a fathom in depth and broad at the bottom, but with an opening at the top just wide enough for the top of the hat to fit into; but the hat was cut at the sides, so that the heavy money should fall through into the pit.
Before daybreak the stupid demon brought a lapful of roubles, which he poured into the hat. He brought a second and a third, and afterwards brought money by the hogshead, but the hat still remained empty. Presently his coffers, purses, and pockets were all exhausted. He then begged for time; but the Alevide declared that if he did not keep his promise, and fill his hat with bright silver coins, he should begin his work again.
Then the demon thought of appealing to his mother to help him; but first he asked the Alevide to come with him to receive his money himself, hoping to circumvent him. But the hero knew that it was only a trick to get him away from the hat, so he refused to budge, but sent the Kalevide's cupbearer, the smallest of the company, to help to carry the money.
The boy was ready at once; but his heart failed him as the demon preceded him to the under-world, leading him by paths that no living man had ever trodden before, and through an utterly unknown country, where the sun and moon never shone, and where the only light came from the torches that flared on both sides of their way. When they reached the palace of the demon, his sons came to the door, and invited the guest to take his place at the table, which was loaded with gold and silver plate, and eat and drink. But the boy could touch nothing from terror, for sparks of fire flew from the dishes and viands, and blue flames played over the beakers.
Then the water-demons began to titter, and to whisper to each other in their own language, which sounded just like Lettish, and which their guest could not understand. The boy began to reproach his avaricious friend in his thoughts for having thus sent him to Porgu without thinking of what might happen to him; but presently the younger demons seized upon him, and began to toss him from one to another like a ball, sometimes from one side of the room to the other, and sometimes up to the ceiling.
The boy begged them to let him rest a little, and presently they allowed him to do so. Then he drew a cord from his pocket, and pretended to measure the length and breadth of the room. Presently he came to the door, and seized the opportunity to bolt, and was fortunate enough to make his way back to daylight, where the demon had no more power to interfere with him.
As he passed the gates, the guards whispered to him to turn to the right to avoid the many snares in his path. He did not escape without a good fright; for only strong men can go where they please, like the birds, while the weak man is exposed to a thousand terrors. On the boy's way he met a small bitch accompanied by two puppies; and this was the mother of the demons, just returning from the bath-house. The boy now remembered the warning he had received, and turned aside to the right, and the three ran past without noticing him.
When the boy reached the place where he had left the Alevide, he found that both his friend and the money had disappeared. Presently the water-demon came up, and asked him jestingly whether he had burnt himself, or whether he had been stung by a gadfly, that he ran away like that, instead of helping him to carry the heavy money-bags. He then proposed that they should look for a good place where they might wrestle. He thought he could easily overcome the boy by strength, if not by craft, and the boy consented.
Before they had gone far, they met the sons of Kalev and Alev, who had hidden their treasure, walking arm-in-arm. The Kalevide asked, "Whence did you bring that Lettish comrade, and to what queer race does he belong?" His cousin answered that he was the same who had promised to fill his hat with silver, and hadn't kept his word. Then the boy said that they were going to engage in a contest, and the Kalevide answered, "You must grow a little taller, my lad, before you engage in a serious struggle, for you are only a child at present."
So the Kalevide, laughing, stuck the boy in his trouser-pocket to grow, and took over the challenge himself, and they all went to a mountain where the contest was to take place; and first they began with hurling stones. The demon took up a rock, which he balanced for an hour in his clumsy fingers, and at last swung it round more than ten times before he loosed it. The stone fell ten paces from the sandy shore of Lake Virts, and it lies there now, conspicuous by its size, for it is at least as big as a bath-house.
Then the Kalevide took up a rock in his hand, and threw it without more ado. They heard it rushing through the air for a long time, and at last it fell on the shore of Lake Peipus, and any one who visits the lake can see it there. Then they engaged in a wrestling match, and the Kalevide soon lifted the demon from his feet and flung him into the air. When he came to the ground, he rolled seven versts, and then fell down a little hill among the bushes, where he lay stunned for seven days, hardly able to open his eyes or lift his head, or even to move a limb.
At this the Kalevide and his companions laughed till the hills shook, and the cup-bearer loudest of all. Then the Alevide told his story; but when he came to mention the proverb, it reminded the son of Kalev that he had not yet paid the debt which he owed to the smith in Finland for his sword. So the Kalevide asked his cousin to take the goods across to Finland, and he himself laid down to rest under a tree, and pondered on how he could provide for the safety of the people during the war. He decided to improve and beautify the towns as well as to fortify them, and to make an excursion to survey the country while his cousin was away in Finland. Presently the Kalevide felt in his pocket, and pulled out the boy, with whom he began to jest; but soon their conversation became more serious, and the Kalevide ordered him to wait for the expected messengers, while he himself should proceed to Lake Peipus, where he had important business.
As the Kalevide proceeded on his journey, he passed a well in a lonely place, where the Air-Maiden, the fair daughter of the Thunder-God, sat bewailing the loss of her ring, which had dropped into it. When the hero saw the blue-eyed, golden-haired maiden in tears, he asked the cause of her trouble, and when he heard it he plunged into the well to look for the ring. A party of young sorcerers quickly gathered round, thinking that the mouse was in the trap, and they flung a great millstone after him. But he searched in the mud and water for some time, and presently sprang out of the water with the millstone on his finger, which he offered to the maiden, saying that he had not been able to find anything else in the mud, and that she would not need a larger finger-ring.
[Footnote 52: The Esthonian demons are often represented as contemptible creatures, very easily outwitted. Later in the present canto the personage in question is distinctly called a water-demon.]
[Footnote 53: A common proverb in Esthonian tales. We also find it in Italian, in almost the same words.]
[Footnote 54: The money is sometimes called roubles, and sometimes thalers.]
[Footnote 55: Visits to Hades or Hell (Porgu) are common in the Kalevipoeg and in the popular tales, some of which we shall afterwards notice.]
[Footnote 56: The term "Lett," which the Kalevide himself afterwards applies to the demon, seems to be used in contempt; otherwise the passage in the text might have been taken as equivalent to our old-fashioned expression, "It's all Greek to me."]
[Footnote 57: Usually the devil's mother (or grandmother) is represented as a white mare. Compare Canto 14 of the Kalevipoeg, and also the story of the Grateful Prince.]
[Footnote 58: This Air-Maiden, who seems to be only a mischievous sprite, must not be confounded with Ilmatar, the creatrix of the world in the first Runo of the Kalevala.]
[Footnote 59: Finn, the Irish hero, was once entrapped by a sorceress on a similar pretext into plunging into an enchanted lake, which changed him into an old man. (See Joyce's Old Celtic Romances, "The Chase of Slieve Cullin.") The story is also related in one of Kenealy's ballads.]
THE LOSS OF THE SWORD
Next morning the Kalevide arose at dawn, and hurried on towards Lake Peipus, clearing and levelling the country as he went. When he arrived at the lake, there was no boat to be seen; so he girded himself, and plunged into it at a point where it was too wide to see the opposite shore, while the fish fled before him as he waded through.
On the shore opposite, a hideous sorcerer was hiding in the bushes. He was as bristly as a wild boar, with wide mouth and small oblique eyes. He was well skilled in all magic; he could make the wind blow from any quarter, could remove ill from one man to cast it on another, and could cause quarrels between the best friends. He had evil demons at his beck and call; but for all that, he could cure all hurts and diseases when he pleased. But to-day he was in a bad humour, and blew a tremendous storm against the son of Kalev. Presently he saw a human form struggling through the waters, which reached to his girdle. Even at four or five miles' distance the figure seemed as large as a man, and he appeared to be heavily laden. Sometimes the water hid him from view, but as he came nearer the form became ever huger and more terrible.
The Kalevide laughed at the raging storm, and said to the lake, "You nasty little puddle, you're wetting my girdle." He had taken scarcely an hour in his passage, when he reached the firm ground, carrying a load of planks which a horse or a pair of oxen could hardly have dragged along. He had brought them from Pleskau to build a refuge for his people; over twenty dozen planks, three inches thick, an ell broad, and ten yards long. He drew his sword to trim the timber, and the sorcerer determined to reward himself for his late exertions in raising the tempest by possessing himself of it; but this was not the time for action, and he slunk deeper into the shades of the forest.
The Kalevide was tired with his journey, and found a level place some little distance from the shore, so he brought a lapful of shingle from the beach and a quantity of sand, and made himself a comfortable bed in a dry spot. Then he refreshed himself with bread and milk from his wallet, loosed his girdle, laid his sword beside him, and soon fell asleep, with his head to the west and his feet to the east, that the first rays of the morning sun might shine in his eyes and awaken him. Presently the ground shook, and the woods re-echoed, and the billows of the lake rose in answer to his snoring, which sounded like the Thunder-God driving three-in-hand through the clouds.
The sorcerer now stole from his hiding-place, and advanced towards the sleeping giant with catlike steps; but he tried in vain to steal the good sword from its master's side by his incantations. Neither commands nor supplications would avail, and he was forced to use stronger spells. So he scattered rowan-leaves, thyme, fern, and other magic herbs over the sword, and at last it inclined towards the sorcerer, and he took it in his arms. The huge weapon weighed him to the ground, and he was only able to struggle along painfully under its weight, step by step, with the sweat pouring from his face; but still he would not relinquish his booty. Presently he came to the brook Kaepae, and jumped over it; but the sword slipped from his arm, and sank in the mud in the deepest place. He renewed his incantations, but was now quite unable to repossess himself of the sword, and on the approach of dawn he fled into the forest, to hide from the vengeance of its owner.
When the Kalevide awoke, he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and felt for his sword, but it had disappeared. He could see its traces where it had been dragged away, and he followed on its track, calling to the sword as to a brother, and beseeching it to answer him, and not to let him search in vain. But there was no reply, and then he tried a song, but still there was no reply, and he searched everywhere for the sword, till at last he saw it shining at the bottom of the water.
Then the Kalevide asked the sword who had stolen it and sunk it in the water, and the sword sang in reply how the sorcerer had carried it off, and how it had slipped from his grasp into the water, into the embraces of the fairest of the water-nymphs. The Kalevide answered, "Does my sword prefer to lie in the arms of a water-nymph rather than to feel the grasp of a hero in battle?" The sword reminded the Kalevide of the terrible murder in Finland, which it declared it could never forget, and the hero abandoned the weapon to its sweet repose, saying that he relied on his own strength to overcome his enemies in battle. But he laid his commands on the sword that if any heroes of his race, Kalevides, Alevides, or Sulevides, should come to the spot, then the sword should address them in words. If a great singer came, the sword was to sing to him; if a hero as brave and as strong as the Kalevide himself should come to the brook, then the sword was to rise from its bed and join him; but if the man himself who had brought the sword there should come that way, then the sword was to cut off both his feet.
By this he meant the sorcerer, but he expressed himself ambiguously.
The son of Kalev then left the brook, took the boards on his back, and set out for home. On his journey he passed through a pine forest which belonged to men, a leafy forest sacred to women, and a hazel thicket, the last refuge of the maidens, the orphans, and the sick. Here his foot touched something soft, which he found to be a man of about the stature of our present race, who was quaking with fear and besought his protection. The Kalevide took him up kindly by the hair, and dropped him into his wallet, where he fell as down a deep precipice, till he came to a stop among the bread and herrings at the bottom. Then the hero asked him what had frightened him so much.
Up from the bottom of the bag came a voice like the croaking of a frog from the bottom of a deep well, and this was the man's story:—"Yesterday evening I was wandering on the shores of Lake Peipus, and lost my way. Presently I came to a footpath which led me to a poor hut, where I thought to find a night's lodging. I came into a great empty room, where an old woman was standing by the hearth preparing supper. She was cooking half a pig in a great pot with peas, and kindly gave me a cupful, but told me to eat my supper quick. As soon as I had finished, she told me to hide among the straw which she had laid under the table, and to lie as still as a mouse, for if I only moved a finger after her sons returned, they would be sure to kill me. I thanked the good old woman, and crept into the straw, where three men could easily have hidden themselves; and I hoped to sleep. But presently I heard steps approaching which shook the house; and whether or not it was my fear that makes me think so, I fancy, noble scion of the Kalevides, that even your heavy tread never made such a noise.
"The two brothers rushed into the room like wild bears, and one of them sniffed about the room and said, 'Mother, who has been here? I smell man's sweat.' 'Nobody has even been near the house to-day, my son,' answered the old woman. 'If you smell anything, you must have brought the smell with you from out of doors.'
"Then she gave them their supper, and they ate as much as would have satisfied fifty of our race, and left something over. Then they laid themselves down on the hard floor, one on each side the table, while the old woman crept cautiously up the ladder to her couch above the stove.
"Poor wretch that I am! if I had ever expected to find myself in such a position, I would rather have drowned myself in the lake or thrown myself over a precipice. I could not sleep a wink all night, and when the old woman opened the door in the morning I crept behind her, and fled through two woods till I reached the third, where you found me."
This was the poor man's story, and the Kalevide laughed heartily at the recital.
[Footnote 60: This is a well-known Mongol characteristic; and it is rather oddly attributed by Arabic writers to the Jinn. "Two of them appeared in the form and aspect of the Jarm, each with one eye slit endlong, and jutting horns and projecting tusks."—Story of Tohfat-el-Kulub (Thousand and One Nights, Breslau edition).]
THE FIGHT WITH THE SORCERER'S SONS
As the Kalevide proceeded on his way, carrying his heavy load of planks, the sorcerer's three sons rushed upon him from an ambush close to a high waterfall which foams over steep rocks. He had been walking quietly along, and the man in his wallet had fallen comfortably asleep. The villains sprang upon the hero from behind, armed with slender young birch-trees and dry pine-trunks. Two of them carried long whips, the handle formed of strong beech-wood, and the lash armed with a great millstone, with which they belaboured the hero unmercifully. He had just armed himself with a huge club, in case he should be assaulted in passing through the wood. It was a great pine-trunk from which he had broken the crown. It was five-and-thirty ells long, and two feet thick at the thick end, and with this he could defend himself as with a sword.
The Kalevide tried at first to remonstrate with his assailants, but as they continued to annoy him he rushed upon them with his club. The pine club was soon splintered, the fragments flying in all directions, and then the Kalevide defended himself with the planks which he was carrying, and at every blow he smashed one on the backs of his enemies. Presently his load was nearly exhausted, and the sorcerer's sons, hoping now for an easy victory, pressed him more hardly, when suddenly he heard a little voice crying from the bushes, "Dear son of Kalev, strike them with the edges!" The hero at once took the hint, and, instead of striking with the flat side of the planks, began to strike with the sharp edges, and his enemies soon fled before him, howling like wolves. If the savages had not been thoroughly hardened by long exposure to heat and cold by day and night, he would have left them dead on the field.
The Kalevide sat down to rest after the battle, and called to his dear brother, who had aided him, to show himself. But his friend answered that he could not venture out into the open, for he was only a poor naked little hedgehog. So the hero called to him to come, and he would clothe him. The hedgehog crept out of his warm nest, naked and shivering, and the hero cut a piece from the lining of his own coat, and gave it to the hedgehog, who joyfully wrapped himself in the warm covering. But the piece was not large enough to cover him entirely, and his legs and belly remained naked as before.
The Kalevide now wanted to sleep, but he was in the midst of a swamp. He therefore fetched a load of sand from the distant sandhills, to make himself a bed. He then felt into his bag for something to eat, when his thumb came against the cold stiff body of his little friend, who had been killed in his sleep by a chance blow during the fight, without having had time to cry out or move a limb. He was much grieved at the untimely death of his protege, and dug him a grave with his own hands, round which he planted berry-bearing bushes. Then he ate his supper and fell asleep, to dream of the events of the past day.
While he was asleep, the sorcerer himself crept to his side, and by his spells and incantations, and the use of magic herbs, threw him into a deep slumber, which lasted for days and nights. Presently a messenger came in haste to summon the king, and the cup-bearer directed him to Lake Peipus; but no one had seen or heard anything of him.
On a fine summer's day, the people flocked from all parts of the country to the sacred hill of Taara for a great festival, and as yet there came no news of the king. Summer faded into autumn, and the Kalevide still slept on, but he was dreaming of a new sword, much better than the uncle of his father Kalev had forged for him, which was forged in an underground smithy.
This sword had been forged by the pupils of Ilmarine in a workshop in the interior of a great mountain at the middle point of the earth, the peak of which was lost in the clouds. Seven strong smiths wrought it with copper hammers, the handles of which were of silver, and one of their company turned it on the fire or laid it on the anvil with tongs of the purest silver, while Ilmarine himself watched every stroke of the hammers.
Presently a young man entered, pale and covered with blood, and he only touched his cap without further salutation, and cried out to the workmen not to waste the sword on the murderous son of Kalev, who could slay his best friends in his rage. The Kalevide tried to cry out that it was false, but the son of the old Tuehja oppressed him with a nightmare, and he could not utter a word; he felt as if a mountain lay upon his breast, and the sweat ran from his face.
On the following morning the Kalevide awoke from his sleep. He knew that the vision of the smithy was a dream, but he was not aware that he had slept for seven weeks without intermission. He found that his planks were nearly all destroyed, and determined to fetch a fresh load from Pleskau.
When he came to the lake, he heard a boy shouting for help. It was a herd-boy, whose favourite lamb was being carried off by a wolf. He killed the wolf with a stone, and then stood by the lake considering what to do next. Presently he decided to build a bridge across the "puddle;" and built it out into the lake for perhaps a couple of miles, when a great storm arose and swept away the unfinished structure. When he saw his work destroyed, he said, "Why didn't I wade straight through, as I did before, instead of wasting my time like this?" So he caught a supply of crayfish, which he roasted and ate, and then set out on his journey through the water.
On the shores of Lake Peipus lived a poor orphan boy, who had lost all dear to him by famine, pestilence, and war, and who was now compelled to slave as herd-boy for a hard mistress, and to mind the children as well as to look after the sheep and goats. He sang sad songs, till at length the wood-nymph took compassion on him, and sang to him one evening from the summit of an oak-tree, telling him that good luck would be his in the morning. Next morning he found a lark's egg hidden among leaves, which he hid in his bosom next his heart wrapped in wool and a strip of linen. A mouse was hatched from it, which he fostered in the same way till it became a kitten, a puppy, a lamb, and at length a sheep with fine white wool, and the sheep was so dear to the boy that he left off weeping and lamenting, and always felt happy and contented, though his lot was still a hard one.
[Footnote 61: This reminds us of the help given to Hiawatha by the woodpecker during his fight with Megissogwun; but the one incident can hardly be copied from the other. Hiawatha was published some years before the Kalevipoeg.]
[Footnote 62: This is the only passage in the Kalevipoeg in which one of the heroes of the Kalevala is personally introduced.]
[Footnote 63: Emptiness; probably the Contemptible One; a name often used for one of the principal demons.]
[Footnote 64: The rock is still shown, bearing the imprints of the hero's fingers, each cleft large enough to hold a man.]
[Footnote 65: This was the fate of Kullervo himself in the Kalevala. Orphans, for whom much sympathy is expressed, constantly appear in Esthonian tales. Compare p. 236 of the present volume.]
[Footnote 66: We have a similar series of transformations (mouse, cat, dog, ass, buffalo) in the story of Noor Ed-Deen and Shes Ed-Deen in the Thousand and One Nights.]
THE KALEVIDE'S FIRST JOURNEY TO HADES
On the Kalevide's homeward journey he slept for a night at the place where his sword had been stolen, and set out early next morning, making his way through bush and brake. He walked on till sunset with his load of planks without stopping to rest, and then ate his supper and prepared himself a bed of sand as usual. When he awoke in the morning, a magpie informed him for the first time that the sorcerer had kept him in a magic sleep for seven weeks, and he quickened his pace. But when he reached Lake Ilma he found it, to his disgust, too deep to wade through, and he was compelled to go round it.
Presently he encountered an old witch, a relative of the sorcerer who had done him so much harm already, sitting among the bushes and singing magic songs. The hero stopped to rest himself, for the day was very warm, and listened to her song, which was a long charm against snake-bites. Then he walked on till noon, when he took a siesta, breaking down trees of all kinds to make himself a couch. Afterwards he turned to the left in the direction of Lake Endla, and towards evening he came to the entrance of a cavern, before which a great fire was burning. A huge caldron hung over it by heavy iron chains, just opposite the entrance to the cavern, and three fellows were standing round, who grinned and whispered to each other as the stranger approached.
The Kalevide threw down the planks and asked the men what they had got in the caldron, and whether they were getting ready for a feast or a wedding. They replied that the caldron cooked for everybody, and that when they made a feast they killed a great ox. It took a hundred men to kill it, five hundred to bleed it, and a thousand to cleanse it. But to-day they were only cooking for poor people; only half an elk, the ribs of an old boar, the lungs and liver of a bear, the suet of a young wolf, the hide of an old bear, and an egg from an eagle's nest. Old Sarvik and the old mother were to dine from it; the cat and dog were to get their share, and the rest was to be divided among the cooks and workmen; but the old mother was going to bake cakes for the young ladies' dinner.
The Kalevide expressed his disgust at such cookery, but they told him it was good enough for witches and sorcerers, and he then asked them to show him the way to their master's house, as he wished to pay his respects to the family. They warned him that he might not escape easily; but as he persisted, they directed him to the cavern, which he immediately entered, while the demons laughed, saying that the bear had fallen into the trap and the lion into the net, and that he was carrying his hide to market for nothing.
The cave was so dark and narrow that the hero soon found himself obliged to creep on all fours, and to grope his way. At last he perceived a faint light at a distance, and the cavern enlarged so much that he could now stand upright again.
Where the roof rose highest, a heavy lamp hung by chains from the ceiling, and beyond it were great folding-doors. On each side stood a jar, one filled with a liquid as white as milk, and the other with a liquid as black as pitch. Inside he could hear maidens spinning and singing, lamenting the happiness of their former lives, and hoping that some deliverer might appear. Then he strove to force the door, but it resisted all his efforts, so he sang a song in his softest tones, telling how he had encountered four fair maidens gathering flowers in the woods. The maidens sang back that he had come at a good time, for all the family were out, and they directed him to dip his hands in the dark liquid, which would give him magic strength; but if he wished to moderate his strength, then to dip his hands in the white liquid, for the dark liquid would give him strength to dash everything to pieces.
The hero dipped his hands in the dark liquid, and felt his strength redoubled. He pushed against the door again, and the door and door-posts too came thundering to the ground. The maidens fled into the adjoining room, crying out to him not to approach them till he had dipped his hands in the white liquid, which would remove the enchantment. He laughed, and, notwithstanding their entreaties, followed them into the next room, where he saw a naked sword, a small willow wand, and a ragged old hat hanging on the wall. "Look," cried he joyfully, "this is the sword which I saw forged for me in my dream!"
"Beware," said one of the maidens, "do not touch that sword, for it belongs to Sarvik; but take the rod and the hat, for they are yours, and you can work any wonders with them. Swords you can only obtain from the smith himself."
But the Kalevide answered that he could have his will without the wishing-rod and cap, which were only fit for witches and wizards. So the maiden, who was anxious to convince him of the value of the treasures which he despised, took down the hat from its peg. It was made of the cuttings of finger-nails, and she declared that there was not another like it in the world, for it could fulfil every desire of its possessor. So she put it on her head and said—
"Raise thee, raise thee, golden maiden, Blue-eyed maiden, raise thee, raise thee, Like unto the son of Kalev, Like unto thy friend in stature."
She began at once to grow taller, ell after ell, till she grew fully as tall as the son of Kalev himself.
Then the Kalevide took the hat from her head and set it on his own, wishing to become as small as she had been. His stature immediately sank, ell after ell, till he was reduced to the size of an ordinary man. The young giantess took back the hat, and wished to resume her former stature, which accordingly befell.
The Kalevide then said to the maiden that he would willingly remain a little boy that day for her sake, but he was now anxious to keep the hat, that he might at once resume his own stature and strength in case of any sudden and unexpected danger. They sang and danced and sported to their heart's content, and the maiden called her second sister, whose duty it was to polish the gold, silver, and copper ware; and her third sister, who tended the geese on the common; and the sisters locked and bolted the kitchen door, for fear the old woman should hear the noise and come to disturb their merriment.
The maidens were delighted, for though the Kalevide declared that he could not think of marrying a wife himself, he would deliver them from Hades next day, and would marry one to the son of Alev, one to the son of Sulev, and one to the cup-bearer. So they played all sorts of games; the falcon-game, in which the hero was the falcon, and they were the birds; kiss-in-the-ring, blind man's buff, &c. But whatever they played at, the hero always got the best of the game. When they were tired of this amusement, they put out all the lights.
[Footnote 67: We meet with this big ox elsewhere in the Kalevipoeg (Canto 19), as well as in the Kalevala, Runo 20.]
[Footnote 68: Old Hornie, the name of the ruler of Porgu (Hell).]
[Footnote 69: The word used for lion is "lowi," undoubtedly derived from the German. The Finns generally call the lion "jalopeura," which also denotes the lynx.]
[Footnote 70: Compare the story of the Gold Spinners.]
[Footnote 71: We meet with a similar hat in other stories. Many Esthonians and Lithuanians still hide their nail-parings as carefully as possible, or else make a cross over them lest the devil should find them and use them to make a wishing-hat. Can this hat have any connection with the white straw hat of the devil in a Deptford rhyme?—Gomme's Traditional Games, I. p. 4. In the Edda, we are told that Naglfar, the largest ship in the world, which is to bring the giants to the fight at Ragnaroek, is similarly constructed, and as both gods and men wish that it should be completed as late as possible, every one should be very careful not to die with unpared nails, lest he should supply materials for its construction.]
[Footnote 72: Golden is often used in Finnish and Esthonian, as in many other languages, as a term of endearment.]
[Footnote 73: The maidens were afterwards married to the relatives of the Kalevide, giants like himself, and are described as walking arm-in-arm with them, nothing being then said of any difference in their stature.]
[Footnote 74: This reminds us of a well-known feudal custom, more honoured in the breach than in the observance, which also prevailed among the old kings of Scotland for several reigns. The second sister was ultimately married, not to the cup-bearer, but to the son of Olev.]
THE PALACE OF SARVIK
The sisters were sorry to see the dawn of day, though they were no longer obliged to spin and weave, for the old woman was locked up in the kitchen, and could not interfere with them. That day they amused themselves by showing their guest all over the house, and all the treasure-chambers, but they blushed and dropped their eyes whenever he looked at themselves.
Presently they passed through a stone door into a stone gallery, likewise paved with stone, and after passing through it for some little distance, arrived at a room in which the walls and furniture were wholly of iron. "This," said the eldest sister, "is the room of old Sarvik, where his men-servants assemble and work or amuse themselves, and where they are sometimes tortured in all sorts of ways."
They left this room through an iron archway which opened into a gallery of iron, which they followed for some distance till they reached a second room, entirely of copper, and with copper furniture. "This," said the eldest sister again, "is old Sarvik's room, where the maids assemble to work or amuse themselves, and where, too, they are punished and tormented."
From this room they passed through a copper archway into a copper gallery, which led them presently to a third room of silver, with silver furniture and fittings, and the chests in the corners were filled with silver coins. Then said the second sister, "This is old Sarvik's room, where he spends most of his time, and where he sleeps and refreshes himself."
They passed from this room into a silver gallery, which led them into a room of gold, with gold fittings and furniture, and the chests in the corners were filled with gold coins. "This," said the second sister again, "is old Sarvik's room, where he feasts and amuses himself. I was busy yesterday for hours sweeping this room and polishing up all the gold."
From this room they went through a golden gallery to a fifth chamber, which was of silk, and everything in it was silk. The walls were hung with silken raiment, and the chests in the corners were filled with silken stuffs. "This," said the youngest sister, "is the maidens' room, where they deck themselves out in silk on gala days."
They passed through a silken gallery into a chamber of satin, of which she gave a similar explanation. From this they passed to a lace chamber, where the little girls decked themselves out.
The lace gallery from this room led them out into the enclosure, which was paved with silver coins instead of grass.
Round the court stood seven storehouses, the first composed of a single block of granite, the second of plates of iron, the third of hens' eggs, the fourth of goose-eggs, the fifth of polished quartz, the sixth of the finest eagles' eggs, and the seventh of eggs of the Siuru.
The barns were filled respectively with rye, barley, oats, wheat, maize, vegetables, and the last with lumps of lard and tallow.
At the back of the enclosure stood cattle-stalls, constructed of all sorts of bones.
The Kalevide did not care to look at these things long, but asked the sisters to tell him all they could about Sarvik.
"We can't tell you anything about his birth and parentage," answered the eldest sister. "We don't know if a bear was his father and a wolf his mother, or whether a mare suckled him and a goat rocked him in the cradle.
"He has large estates, which occupy much of his time, and he makes long journeys secretly in an incredibly short time; but no one has seen or heard which way he goes or what places he visits. Everybody can see him going out and coming in, but nothing further is known about his movements. It is said that there is a vast space in the centre of the earth where he rules over seven worlds; seven islands, very thickly populated with the souls of the departed, where they live in large villages, and are subject to old Sarvik, as the wisdom of Taara has decreed from the beginning of the world.
"Sarvik rules his subjects with great severity; but once a year, on All Souls' Day, they are permitted to revisit their homes, to see and salute their friends and relatives. They rush up in shoals, on these occasions, to the places which they once inhabited in joy or grief; but as soon as their time is over they are compelled to return, each to his own dwelling."
The second sister added, "Old Sarvik selects his workmen and maids from this kingdom, and they are forced to follow him, and perform hard tasks for him in the iron and copper chambers; and if they fail in anything, they are beaten with bars of iron and rods of copper.
"This is Sarvik's abode, where he lives with his wife, and rests and refreshes himself, and sleeps on soft pillows, when he is tired with long journeys and knocking about. Then the old woman heats the bath for him, and whisks his back and shoulders with the bath-whisk.
"Sometimes he makes a great feast for his friends and relatives, when they shout and drink beer till they are tipsy. His brother-in-law is Tuehi, his mother is the bitch of Porgu, and his grandmother is the white mare."
"We expect him back this evening from the upper world, for he does not like to stay where the sun shines by day and the moon and stars by night. But when he has anything to do in the under world, he stays away from home for days and weeks together."
The third sister added, "Noble scion of the Kalevides, if Sarvik found you among us here unawares, it would surely be your death, for no one who passes the threshold of his abode ever sees the sun again. We, poor creatures, were carried away as children from a country a thousand versts distant, and have had to do the hardest work early and late. But Taara mercifully decreed that we should always retain our youth as long as we retained our innocence."
"But what avails it," interrupted the eldest sister, "when we are cut off from all pleasure and happiness?"
Then the son of Kalev soothed and comforted them, assuring them that he was strong enough to rescue them. He would fight Sarvik himself, and overcome the old woman too. The eldest sister answered that if he really wished to fight with Sarvik, he must make use of the rod and the hat; for strength and bravery would avail nothing against Sarvik, who had thousands of allies at his beck and call, and was lord of the winds and of all kinds of magic spells.
But the Kalevide only laughed, and declared that he had fought with a whole host of demons in Finland. Then the second sister implored him to escape while there was yet time, and to wish himself away with the wishing-hat; for as soon as Sarvik returned, all the doors would fly back to their places behind him, and escape would become impossible. The hero laughed again, proud of his strength, and the sisters, greatly distressed, consulted how they could help him in spite of himself, by some artifice.
Two glasses stood by Sarvik's bed, half filled with a magic liquor that looked like beer. They looked just alike, but the liquor on the right hand gave the strength of ten oxen, while that on the left produced corresponding weakness. The eldest sister hastened to change these glasses, while the second secured the wishing-rod.
As they returned, they heard the heavy footsteps of Sarvik approaching, and the youngest sister again implored the hero to fly before it was too late. Sarvik approached with a noise like hundreds of cavalry prancing over a bridge, or heavy iron waggons thundering along a copper roadway. The earth quaked and the cavern shook under his steps, but the hero stood at the entrance:
Like the oak-tree in the tempest, Or the red glow 'mid the cloudlets, Or the rock amid a hailstorm, Or a tower in windy weather.
Presently Sarvik dashed open the last door with a blow of his fist, and stopped, confronting the intruder. The sisters shrank back pale and trembling, but the Kalevide stood beside them, with the hat in his hand, and apparently no taller than themselves. Sarvik asked who he was, and how he came to throw himself into the trap; but the hero at once challenged him to wrestle, and he accepted the challenge. Then Sarvik advanced to the bed, not knowing that the glasses had been changed, and drained the water of weakness to the very bottom. Meantime the Kalevide concealed the magic hat in his bosom, so that he could at once resume his former strength and stature in case of need.
The combatants then went to the enclosure to wrestle, but Sarvik sent the eldest sister to the iron room to fetch a double chain with which the victor might bind his conquered foe. Meantime the wrestling-place was marked off with posts, so that all might be fair.
Now they rushed upon each other, and struggled together like waves in a tempest or roofs in a storm. The whole underground kingdom trembled, the palace walls cracked and their foundations heaved, the arches bowed and the roof began to totter. The contest remained long undecided, but when they paused to rest, the Kalevide drew out the hat, and wished to resume his former size and strength. He grew up at once, as strong as an oak-tree and as tall as a pine. He grasped Sarvik by the hair, raised him up ten fathoms, and then rammed him into the ground like a pointed stake, first to the calves, then to the knees, and then to the loins, so that he could not move. He then grasped the chain to bind him, but suddenly Sarvik grew smaller and smaller, and finally sank into the ground out of sight, like a stone in a swamp.
The Kalevide shouted after him, upbraiding him for a coward, and threatened to follow him up and fetter him some other day; but his present care was to release the sisters from their long captivity. So he seized and girded on the sword, took a load of old treasures, and many bags full of gold coins, and barrels full of silver money. All this he took on his shoulders and mounted the three sisters on the top. Then he put on the hat, and cried out, "Hat, carry us quickly to the entrance gate, where I left the planks." He found himself there at once, but the cooks and the kettle had disappeared, and nothing was left behind but the ashes of the fire, in which a few dying embers still remained. These the hero fanned into a flame, into which he contemptuously tossed the hat, which was immediately consumed.
The sisters began to cry, and reproached him with having destroyed a hat which had not its equal on earth or in Porgu, and said that all hope was now at an end. But the hero comforted them, telling them that it was no time for lamentation, for the summer was at its loveliest, and they should soon find themselves in full possession of all the pleasures of life, from which they had been so long debarred. So he took the planks on his back, piled all his booty upon them, and then invited the sisters to take their place again on the top of all. Before their departure, the sisters had also provided themselves with good store of rich clothing from the silk and satin chambers, while the youngest had secured the wishing-rod in case of need.
Notwithstanding his load, the Kalevide ran on as if his feet were burning, while the sisters jested and laughed and sang.
[Footnote 75: A mythical blue bird, the daughter of Taara. Two songs respecting her will be found in another part of the book. Reinthal improperly translates the word "griffin." "Phoenix" or "Seemurgh" would have been a more appropriate rendering.]
[Footnote 76: These bath-whisks, which are dried birch-twigs with the leaves left on, are often alluded to in the Kalevala.]
[Footnote 77: Or Tuehja. See ante, p. 84.]
[Footnote 78: Compare Canto 10 of the Kalevipoeg, and the story of the Grateful Prince, as well as ante, p. 58 note. Sarvik seems to have belonged to the same family as the water-demon who was tricked by the Alevide in Canto 10.]
THE MARRIAGE OF THE SISTERS
The Kalevide had not gone far on his homeward journey when he found that Tuehi himself was pursuing him with a band of his followers. Then the youngest sister took the wishing-rod, and called upon it to flood the whole country, a bridge rising before them for the hero, while water flowed behind between him and his enemies. The demons stopped in confusion, and Tuehi shouted to the Kalevide to ask if he was carrying off his adopted daughters? "It looks like it," answered the hero. Then Tuehi asked again, "Dear brother, did you wrestle with my good brother-in-law in his own enclosure, and then drive him into the ground like a post?" "Likely enough," retorted the hero; "but it's not my fault if his bones are still sound." Then the demon asked again, "My dear brother, son of Kalev, did you lock up our old mother in the kitchen just like a mouse in a trap, while she was baking cakes?" "O yes," said the hero; "and I suppose she roared, and made up a bed among the boxes of peas, and for aught I know she may be sleeping there still, unless a flea has woke her up." "Have you stolen Sarvik's good sword?" asked Tuehi again. "Perhaps I may have taken the weapon too, dear brother," answered the hero. "Who can separate a man and his sword? One is worth nothing without the other." Then Tuehi asked if he had taken the hat. "I think so," said the hero; "but Sarvik will never put it on his head again, for I threw it into the fire and burned it to ashes, which have blown away in the wind." Tuehi then asked if he had plundered his brother's treasures. "Yes, my dear sir," answered the hero; "I took a little gold and silver, but not much. Ten horses could drag such a load, and twenty oxen easily; but you may depend upon it I didn't carry away any copper." Tuehi's next question was whether he had stolen the bridge-builder, the wishing-rod. The hero replied, "I suppose some brown-eyed maiden stole it, for no stronger person would have troubled about such a thing." Tuehi next inquired how he had treated the maidens; and to this the hero replied that he'd tell him another time. "Won't you come back again, dear brother, and pay your debts?" asked Tuehi at last. "Who knows, dear brother?" said the hero; "if I ever find myself short of money, I may perchance come back to fetch some more gold and silver, and repay my old debts with new ones." And upon this Tuehi and his seventy people decamped in the greatest haste, as if they had been on fire, or as if they were pursued by gadflies.
Strong as was the Kalevide, his back was weary and chafed with his heavy load, and he threw it off and lay down to rest; but while he slept he was in danger of being carried away by a sudden flood from the mountains, raised against him by a sorceress. After stemming it with some trouble, on resuming his journey, he met a stranger who asked him what he was going to do with the planks. The stranger proved to be the son of Olev, the great master-builder, and to him was intrusted the task of building the cities and fortifications.
When the Kalevide learned that he had lost seven weeks in a magic sleep, he gave the three sisters to the charge of the son of Alev, who married the youngest. The son of Sulev married the eldest, but the second sister found no lover, and while the others were talking together of their wedded happiness she stole apart weeping; and at length she was carried away by a famous sorcerer, and her strong brothers-in-law went in search of her. On the third evening they came upon her track, when the sorcerer spread out a great lake to impede their passage. But the Alevide had brought with him the wishing-rod, which quickly provided them with a bridge. They rushed across, broke the locks, and burst open the doors, slew the sorcerer, released the captive, and then sent the red cock on the roof.
Then the son of Olev took the second sister to wife; and thus all the three sisters whom the Kalevide had released from the regions of Sarvik were happily married, and many great tribes derived their origin from them.
[Footnote 79: Compare the similar scene in the story of "Slyboots," later in this volume.]
[Footnote 80: This incident resembles an adventure attributed to Thor. In the legends of all countries, sorcerers or fugitives are represented as raising magic floods, either to sweep away their enemies or to baffle pursuit. There are three instances in this very canto.]
[Footnote 81: This is the usual Esthonian euphemism for setting a house on fire. I understand that there is also some connection between red cocks and fire in Scottish folk-lore; and in Scandinavian mythology two of the three cocks which are to crow before Ragnaroek are red. May they not have some connection with the fire of Surtur?]
THE VOYAGE OF THE KALEVIDE
The Kalevide now decided on a journey north, to the uttermost end of the world, where it touches the sky. He imagined that he could only reach this point by sea, and thought at first of travelling on the wings of an eagle. Meantime, a raven directed him, when he came to a broad expanse of blue water, to look for a place where rushes grew on the bank, and to stamp on the ground with his right foot, when the mouth of the earth and the strongly guarded doors would fly open, and he would reach the end of the world.
Then the Kalevide reflected how he had waded through every lake and sea, and had found none too deep for him except Lake Ilma. He then thought he would visit Finland, Norway, and the islands, where he expected to find old friends to direct him on his journey. So he directed Olev to fell the great oak-tree which their father and mother had planted, and which neither sun, moon, stars, nor rain, could penetrate, and to make the strongest sailing vessels for exploring voyages from the trunk, warships from the crown, merchantmen from the large branches, slave-ships from the smaller ones, children's boats from the splinters, and maiden's boats from the chips. He ordered the remainder to be used for building towns, fortresses, and houses for the people in various parts of the country.
Olev replied, "I know what to do, dear brother, if we can find a strong man in the country able to fell the oak-tree." The raven told them to send out to seek for such a man, and they did so; whereupon the wise men of Norway and Finland assembled to give them advice. But they told the Kalevide that it was no use building a wooden ship to sail to the world's end, for the spirits of the Northern Lights would set it in flames. He must build a strong vessel of iron and copper and tin.
The Kalevide then constructed a vessel, not of iron and copper, but of silver. The whole of the ship—planking, deck, masts, and chains—was of silver, and he named the vessel Lennuk. For himself he provided golden armour, silver for the nobles, iron for the crew, copper for the old men, and steel for the wise men.
The Kalevide selected experienced sailors and many wise men to accompany him, and they set sail joyfully towards Finland; but soon turned, and directed their course to the far north, in the direction of the Great Bear.
To the north they sailed under the guidance of a wise helmsman who knew all languages and the speech of birds and beasts. But the Finnish sorcerers raised storms against the ship, and they were driven along for seven days and nights, till a coast rose before them which the helmsman declared was quite unknown to him. The son of Kalev then sprang into the sea, swam ashore, and towed the ship after him. The birds sang to them that it was the poverty-stricken coast of Lapland. They went to explore the country, but wandered a long way without meeting with any inhabitants. At last they found a solitary cottage, where a maiden sat on the grass plot before the door spinning. And she sang how a milkmaid once found a cock and a hen. The cock flew away, but she caught the hen, and brought it home, where it grew up into a proud princess who had many lovers, among whom were the sun and—"The Kalevide," shouted he; and the maiden screamed and fled into the house. Then her father came to the door, and the Kalevide saluted him courteously, and asked him the way to the world's end. The wise man answered that it was a vain quest. The sea had no end, and those who had formerly attempted this quest had found their deaths on the Fire Island. The raven had only directed them on the road to Porgu, but if they wished to return home, he would be pleased to guide them.
The Kalevide answered that he needed no pilot to show him the way home, but would be glad if the Lapp could pilot him to the door at the World's End. The Lapp consented, but bargained for what was chained to the wall at home, which the hero readily promised.
So Varrak the Laplander took the helm and steered the vessel due north for many days and nights. The first danger they encountered was a great whirlpool, which threatened to engulf the ship. Then Varrak threw a small barrel overboard, wrapped in red cloths and ornamented with red streamers. This bait was swallowed by a whale, which took to flight, and towed the ship to a place of safety.
Again they sailed on for a long distance, till they came in sight of the Island of Fire, where huge pillars of flame were towering up, and vast clouds of smoke filled the air. The Kalevide wished to visit the island, but Varrak warned him of the danger, and at length the Sulevide volunteered to land alone. So Varrak ran the ship ashore at a spot where one mountain was casting up flames, a second smoke, and a third boiling water, while the burning lava ran down into the valley.
The son of Sulev wandered on amid ashes and snowfields, amid a rain of red-hot stones, till he reached the mouth of the volcano, when his coat caught fire and his hair and eyebrows were singed, and he returned scorched to the ship. The Kalevide asked if he had seen anything of the cupbearer, who had followed him; but he had not. Then a white bird perched on the ship, and the wise Finn, who knew the language of animals, asked for tidings of the boy. But the bird answered that he had wandered away to a beautiful country which lay behind the snow-mountains, where he was enjoying himself in the company of the water-nymphs. He would return no more; let the ship proceed on her course.
Next they reached a country where the birds all fed on gold and silver and copper, and where the herbage grew as high as the pine-trees. The Kalevide sent some of the crew ashore, under the guidance of the magician, to view the country, while he and the Sulevide lay down on deck to sleep in the sun, leaving the Alevide to keep watch.
The ship's company, headed by the magician, wandered into the country, and, when night came, lay down to rest under a bush. Next morning the little daughter of a giant found them asleep, and wondering what they were, put them all into her apron, and carried them home to her father, and scattered them before him, saying:
"Look at these, O dearest father, I have brought them here to play with, For I found them in the cabbage, Where the six like fleas were lying, Stiffened in the chilly dewdrops, Sleeping 'neath a head of cabbage."
The giant wished to test the wisdom of the strangers, so he inquired, "What walks along the grass, steps on the edge of the fence, and walks along the sides of the reeds?" "The bee," replied the magician. "What drinks from the brooks and wells, and from the stones on the bank?" "The rainbow." "What comes hissing from the meadow, and rushing from the blue forest?" "The rain." The giant was pleased with the answers to his riddles, and told his daughter to carry the men back to where she had found them, but the wise man asked her to take them to the ship for fun. The maiden willingly obeyed; she leaned over the ship like a vast cloud, shook the men out of her apron on deck, and then blew the ship four miles out to sea, for which the Kalevide shouted back his thanks to her.
Now they sailed farther north, and the cold became intense, while the spirits of the Northern Lights began their combats in the air with silver spears and golden shields. The sailors were frightened, but the Kalevide was pleased that they should now be able to direct their course when they had left the sun and moon behind them.
Next they reached an unknown shore, where the inhabitants were half men and half dogs, and had long dog's tails. They were armed with great clubs, and the Kalevide sprang ashore to fight. A horse which he mounted soon fell dead under him, but he tore up an oak by the roots and began to lay the country waste. The wisest man of the country expostulated with him, and he repented of his violence, and prayed to Ukko to send fish to the country to replace the good ground which he had destroyed in his fury. Peace was thus concluded; and the wise man told the Kalevide that the raven had sent him on an idle quest to the gates of Porgu. The Kalevide then decided to return home, and they directed the ship towards Lalli in the bay of Lindanisa, where Olev was building a city.
[Footnote 82: Here we have the great oak-tree mentioned in Cantos 5 and 6 reappearing in another connection.]
[Footnote 83: The Flyer.]
[Footnote 84: In the present canto the Kalevide is never spoken of as of gigantic size, unless we may consider feats like this as implying it.]
[Footnote 85: Baring Gould considers this country to be the North Cape, but the geography of the voyage is confused.]
[Footnote 86: The Maelstroem?]
[Footnote 87: The commentators identify this island with Iceland, but the voyagers were apparently on the wrong side of Scandinavia to reach either the Maelstroem or Iceland. Still we have both geysers and volcanoes in the text.]
[Footnote 88: Here the Kalevide's sun begins to decline, for the first of his faithful companions leaves his side, as Hylas left Heracles.]
[Footnote 89: This is Chamisso's Alsatian legend, "Das Riesenspielzeug," "The Giant's Toy," usually called in English translations "The Giant's Daughter and the Peasant." The girl in the poem seems to have far exceeded even the Kalevide in stature; and we may remember Gulliver's remark respecting the Brobdingnagians—"Who knows but that even this prodigious race of mortals might be equally overmatched in some distant part of the world whereof we have yet no discovery?"]
[Footnote 90: Throughout this passage the giant is usually called simply the magician, and the other "the wise man."]
[Footnote 91: Asking riddles of this kind was a common amusement in Northern Europe. Compare Prior's Danish Ballads, i. 185, 334.]
[Footnote 92: Baring-Gould ingeniously suggests that this country is Greenland, and that the Dog-men are Esquimaux, clad in furs, and riding in dog-sledges. The end of this canto is inconsequential, for the hero should have reached his goal during this voyage, not by a land-journey afterwards.]
THE HEROES AND THE DWARF
Olev had now built a magnificent city, fortified with towers and ditches, around the burial-mound of Kalev. Large numbers of people flocked to it, and the Kalevide named it Lindanisa, in memory of his mother. Other fortified cities were founded by the Alevide and the Sulevide.
But news came that hostile troops were landing on the coast, and the Kalevide mounted his war-horse. The king wore a golden helmet, gold spurs, and a silver belt, and carried a shield of gold, and the steed was all caparisoned with gold and silver and pearls, while the maidens of the country looked on with admiration.
The Kalevide and his three friends fought a pitched battle with the countless forces of the enemy on the plains of Esthonia. Their heads fell before him like autumn leaves, and their scattered limbs were strewn about in heaps like straw or rushes. His horse waded in blood and bones to the belly; for the Kalevide slaughtered his enemies by tens of thousands, and would have utterly annihilated them, but, as he was pursuing the fugitives over hill and dale, his horse lost his footing in a bog, and was engulfed in the morass.
As the Kalevide was unable to continue the pursuit after the loss of his horse, he recalled his troops and divided the booty. Then he sent his soldiers to carry news of the victory to the towns and villages throughout the country, and he and his three friends set out on a journey across the plains and swamps, and through primeval forests, making a pathway for others as they advanced. At length they came to a place where smoke and flames were shooting up into the air, and when they reached the spot they found an old woman sitting at the mouth of a cave and stirring the fire under a pot. The Alevide asked what she was cooking, and she answered, "Cabbage for my sons and for myself." Then the son of Sulev said they were hungry travellers, and asked her to give them some, and to take a rest while they finished the cookery. The old woman consented, but warned them, if a strange youth asked to be allowed to taste the broth, to take good care that he did not empty the pot and leave them nothing. Three of the heroes at once volunteered to take turns to watch the pot, but the Kalevide said nothing. Then the old woman crept into the bushes, and hid herself in a wolf's den.
The Alevide took the first watch, and his companions lay down by the fire to sleep. He had not been long sitting there, and throwing fresh faggots on the fire, when one of the little dwarf race stole up stealthily and timidly through the long grass. He was about three spans high, and had a gold bell hanging to his neck. He had small horns behind the ears, and a goat's beard under his chin. He asked humbly to be allowed to taste the soup, and the hero gave him leave, but warned him to take care not to drown himself in it.
The dwarf replied that he would like to taste the soup without a spoon, and jumped on the edge of the pot; but he grew up in an instant to the height of a pine-tree, and then to the clouds, rising to the height of seventy fathoms and more. Then he vanished like a mist, and the Alevide found the pot as empty as if the contents had been scraped out. So he refilled the pot with water, put in some fresh cabbage, and roused the Olevide, but said nothing of what had happened. Then he lay down and went to sleep, leaving his companion on guard. But presently the dwarf reappeared, and neither the Olevide nor the Sulevide, who took the third watch, fared any better than their companion.
The watch now fell to the Kalevide, but he would not allow the dwarf to taste the soup until he gave him his gold bell as a pledge of good faith. As soon as he had received it, he playfully gave the dwarf a fillip on the forehead, when there was a tremendous crash of thunder, and the dwarf sank into the earth and disappeared from the sight of the hero. The other heroes and the old woman then assembled round the fire to hear what had happened. They sat down to their supper, after which the Kalevide advised his companions to lie down and rest for the remainder of the night, and to return home to their wives and children in the morning. During the night the daughters of the Meadow Queen danced and sported, and sang to the Kalevide of his approaching adventures and journey.
[Footnote 93: Linda's bosom, now Revel.]
[Footnote 94: The bells of the dwarfs are often of great importance in Northern fairy mythology.]
[Footnote 95: This incident is common in Esthonian tales.]
THE KALEVIDE'S JOURNEY TO PORGU
Next morning the Kalevide rose at daybreak and looked about him. Where the dwarf had vanished in blue smoke, he now beheld a sheet of blue water with rushes on the bank, and knew that he had unexpectedly chanced upon the entrance to Porgu. His wearied comrades were still sleeping, and, without disturbing them, he stamped with his right foot, and the hidden strongly-guarded doors of Hades flew open.
The hero gazed down into the abyss, but clouds of smoke and hot steam rolled up, and made his eyes smart, and he hesitated a moment, when a raven called to him from the summit of a pine-tree to sound the bell. Instantly the clouds of smoke disappeared, and he set out on the downward path. As he proceeded, he found himself in thick darkness, without a ray of light to guide him, and he was forced to grope his way, when the voice of a mouse directed him to sound the bell again. The path grew dimly light, and the Kalevide proceeded, but soon found his way so much impeded by nets and snares, which multiplied faster than he could destroy them, that he was unable to advance, and his strength began to fail him. This time it was a toad who advised him to sound the bell, when all the magic snares vanished, and he hurried on till he reached the edge of a rivulet about two spans broad. Every time he attempted to cross, his foot sank in the mud in the middle, and no matter how often he renewed his efforts, he could not reach the opposite shore. While the Kalevide was lamenting that he found less difficulty in crossing Lake Peipus with a heavy load of timber on his back, he heard a crayfish advising him to sound the bell, when the brook instantly vanished.
There was nothing in these caverns to mark the difference between night and day, and the Kalevide did not know how long he had been struggling against the various difficulties of the road. He was now assailed by swarms of mosquitoes, which he thought to escape by hurrying through them and leaving them behind; but they grew thicker and thicker, till a cricket in the grass called to him to sound the bell. The mosquitoes vanished as if carried away by the wind, and the hero sat down to rest and refresh himself, and having at length learned wisdom from experience, tied the bell on his little finger, that he might have its constant aid in future. Then he advanced farther.
And now the hosts of hell, the servants of Sarvik, heard his heavy tread, and they sent out scouts, who fled back in consternation, reporting that the son of Kalev, the strongest of men, was advancing with hostile intentions. Then Sarvik commanded his forces to march against him.
The Kalevide had now reached a river of blazing pitch, crossed by an iron bridge. Here the hosts of hell determined to make a stand, and formed themselves into four detachments, one upon the bridge, one below, one on the bank, and one in the rear.
"What's this swarm of frogs?" cried the Kalevide, drawing his sword and rushing forward to the bridge. He was at once assailed with a shower of arrows, and was then attacked with spear and battleaxe; but he stood like a wall of iron, and scattered his enemies, though fresh hosts continually advanced against him. At length he fought his way through all the hostile troops, and Sarvik was in despair, and did his utmost to block the paths and to fortify himself against the imminent danger.
When the Kalevide reached the bridge, he rested for a moment to look round, and then casting the bodies of his enemies into the river as he advanced, his steps thundered across the bridge, and he soon reached the fortifications. Three strokes of his fist sufficed to burst in the gates, and he trod down all impediments and forced his way into the enclosure. When he came to the inner door, he beat and kicked it down, and it fell in fragments, door, door-posts, bolts, and bars, all battered to pieces. In the hall he found a shade resembling his mother Linda spinning. At her right hand was a cup of the water of strength, and at her left a cup of the water of weakness. Without speaking, she offered her son the cup with the water of strength, which he drank, and then lifting a huge rock broke his way into the inner hall, where Sarvik's old mother was sitting spinning. She knew, and tried to beg the bell, but the Kalevide put her off, and inquired if Sarvik was at home. She answered that he left home the day before yesterday, and would not return for two or three days; but if the hero liked to wait for him, he should be received as a guest; but first he must taste her mead. He knew that she would give him the water of weakness, and declined, but looked about till he saw a secret door in a recess in the wall, and was about to break it open, when it flew open of itself with a tremendous noise, and a host of armed warriors rushed out. He repulsed them all, and then Sarvik himself cried out to him, reproaching him with all the wrongs he had suffered at his hands, and the numerous thefts he had committed. In reply the Kalevide reproached Sarvik with his own tricks; but nevertheless he sheathed his sword and put the bell in his pocket.
Then Sarvik came forth from his hiding-place pale and trembling, and wishing to recover himself a little by a potion, mistook the cups in his confusion, and drank the water of weakness, while the Kalevide took another draught of the water of strength.
THE LAST FEAST OF THE HEROES
After this the Kalevide and Sarvik engaged in a terrific wrestling-match, which lasted for seven days and nights, with varying success. At length the shade of Linda, who was looking on, took her distaff, swung it ten times round her head, and dashed it to the ground. The hint was not lost on her son. He seized Sarvik by the garters, whirled him ten times round, and then hurled him down, set his knee on his chest, and seized his throat and tried to strangle him. Then he took his belt, bound Sarvik firmly, and dragged him to the iron chamber, where he bound him hand and foot with chains. A third chain he fastened round his neck, and a fourth round his body, and drove the ends into the walls of rock. He rolled a great stone, as large as a house, against the door, and fixed the chains to this also, so that Sarvik could hardly move.
The Kalevide washed the traces of the struggle away, and Sarvik tried to obtain some concessions from him, but failing this he began to curse and swear. The Kalevide then went to pack up a store of treasures, but was warned by a mouse not to overload himself. So he contented himself with taking two sacks on each shoulder, and then set out on his homeward journey, and the iron bridge thundered beneath his footsteps, while Sarvik shouted curses after him.
At last the Kalevide struggled up to daylight, and sank down exhausted by the side of the son of Alev, who had been waiting anxiously for his friend, and had heard faint sounds of conflict far below. When his friend had fetched him some water, and he had recovered a little from his fatigue, he asked how long he had been absent, and learned that he had been away about three weeks. The Kalevide remarked that where he had been there was no means of distinguishing day and night or measuring time, and he then related his adventures.
The Alevide then slaughtered a great ox, a feat which no one else had been able to accomplish. The blood filled a hundred vats and the flesh a thousand barrels. They sat down to supper, and the Kalevide ate till he was ready to burst, and then laid down to sleep, while the son of Alev seated himself on the treasure-sacks. The Kalevide slept for two days and nights, and did not wake till the third morning was well advanced. While he slept, his snoring resounded for miles, and the great trees shook as if they were saplings. About noon on the third day they set out homeward. The son of Alev carried one sack of treasure, and the Kalevide the other three.
After the Kalevide's return from his journey, he resided at Lindanisa, occupying himself with schemes for the good of his people. Olev had built three more cities, in the north, west, and south of the country. His friends advised the Kalevide to seek a bride in Kungla, and he replied that they would first build a beautiful fortified city and rear a magnificent house, and then he would follow their advice.
One day the Kalevide sat at a feast with his friends, and a harper sang the adventures of Siuru, the blue bird, the daughter of Taara.
The Kalevide invited his friends to drink, and sang a song relating how he had gone down to the beach where two trees, the apple of fortune and the oak of wisdom, grew in the sea. Here he found some girls who told him that his little brother had fallen into the water. He waded into the water to look for him, and saw a naked sword at the bottom, which he was just about to grasp, when his sister called from the shore to tell him that his father, mother, brothers, and sisters were all dead or dying. He hurried home, but it proved to be a hoax, for they were all alive and well.
The son of Sulev next sang a ditty relating an adventure with four coy maidens, and the drinking and mirth continued.
And now messengers arrived in great haste, announcing that hostile armies of Letts, Vends, and Poles had invaded the kingdom on all sides. But the Kalevide bade his comrades empty their cups, while he himself quietly gave general orders, and declared that to-morrow he would take the field in person. Then he sang a song about two lovers.
While the Kalevide was thus drinking and singing, Varrak the Laplander entered and embraced his knees. He called down blessings from Ukko on the hero, and then requested to receive the reward which had been promised him, as he intended to set sail for home on the morrow. The Kalevide asked him what he wished for; and he answered that he had found a chained book in an iron cover, which he wished to possess.
The Kalevide could not read the book, which nevertheless contained all the priceless wisdom which his father had recorded; and he willingly gave it to Varrak, notwithstanding the loud protests of the sons of Sulev and Olev. The book was fastened with three chains and three locks, and the keys could not be found. Varrak knew very well where they were, but he kept his knowledge to himself. So the Kalevide ordered the wall to be broken down to release the book, which was then laid on a waggon, and dragged by a yoke of oxen to the boat, which Varrak had already loaded with bags of gold.
Meantime a troop of fugitives came flying to the city, bringing word that the war was close at hand, and that the axes of the youths were useless against the swords of the mail-clad warriors. The Kalevide ordered the weary men to be fed and comfortably housed, and while they slept he repaired to his father's grave. But there was no voice nor counsel; there was no sound but the sighing of the wind and the moaning of the distant sea, and the clouds shed sad tears. The hero returned home sorrowful and uneasy.
[Footnote 96: This song will be included in a later section of the book.]
[Footnote 97: Some of the commentators regard this book as a palladium on which the independence of Esthonia depended; and the thoughtlessness of the Kalevide in parting with the book which contained the wisdom of his father as a sacrilegious action which precipitated his ruin.]
[Footnote 98: These are identified by the commentators with the Teutonic Knights of the Sword, who conquered Esthonia in the eleventh century.]
The news of the invasion had brought the feast to a sudden end, and the Kalevide consulted with his friends, and proposed to bury his treasure, thinking it might otherwise be insecure. So at dead of night the Kalevide, Alevide, and Sulevide dug a deep pit in a secret place. Then the Kalevide solemnly delivered over the treasure to Taara's protection, and declared that no one should obtain it but the son of a pure mother, who should come to the spot on St. John's Eve, and should sacrifice three black animals without a white hair upon them—a black cock with a curled comb, a black dog or cat, and a mole. Then he murmured secret spells over the treasure; but the man is not yet born who shall raise it.
When the morning dawned, the son of Kalev took his spear and sword, mounted his war-horse, and ordered the Alevide to follow him as his shield-bearer. Then he blew his horn, and set his forces in battle array. The sound of the horn echoed through city and forest, and was heard in every province of Esthonia, and the people flocked to the king at the summons. The women wept and lamented, but their husbands, sons, brothers, and lovers went forth to the war. The Kalevide assembled his army in the sacred oak-forest of Taara, and a bird advised him to sharpen his sword and spear before the fight. By the fifth evening the last stragglers had come in, and the Kalevide allowed his men two days' longer rest. On the third day thereafter the battle began in earnest, and the Kalevide fought against the mailed warriors for half a day, when his horse was killed under him.
Hundreds were slain on both sides, and at last the Sulevide fell severely wounded. The soothsayer was summoned hastily, and adjured the blood to cease flowing:
Quickly came the man of wisdom, Who should charm the blood from flowing And should still the pain by magic. "Flow thou not, O blood, like water; Still thee, blood, of life the honey; Wherefore thus thy source o'erflowing, Breaking thus the bonds that hold thee? Let the blood as stone be hardened, Firm as oak-tree let it stiffen; In the stone-like veins around it, Let the blood be stanched, O Taara!"
But the blood continued to flow, and then the magician used stronger spells, pressed his fingers on the wound to stop the bleeding, and tied up the limb with red thread, afterwards applying healing herbs.
Meantime the Kalevide had routed the enemy and dispersed them over the plain in flight, the dead being piled up in heaps behind them. But the hero was weary and overcome with heat and thirst, and went to a lake, which he drained to the last drop, leaving only the mud at the bottom.
Three days were given to the burial of the dead and the care of the wounded, and then the Kalevide set out in pursuit of the enemy. Olev built a bridge over the Vohanda according to the Kalevide's directions, and presently the army fell in with a murderous host of Tartars, Poles, and Letts, who were ravaging the neighbourhood of Pleskau.
Another great battle was fought, and the Kalevide slaughtered his enemies till their bodies lay in heaps a fathom high about the field, and the blood was five spans deep. The battle lasted for seven days, and many notable chiefs were slain, among whom was the son of Sulev, who had been so severely wounded in a previous battle. The Tartars and Poles had now been slain or put to flight, and the Kalevide gathered together the remnants of his army to attack the Vends, and ordered the Alevide to break their centre.
The fight with the Vends lasted two days longer, and again vast numbers were slain on both sides. A great mound was raised on the battlefield over the grave of the Sulevide in memory of the fallen hero. The three remaining heroes, the Kalevide, the Alevide, and Olev, stood like towers against the attacks of the mailed warriors; but at last they were overcome by thirst, and went to a lake in a valley, with steep high banks, to drink. The Alevide, who was very weary, stooped down to drink, when his foot slipped, and he fell into the water, and was drowned before his friends could recover his body. In the bright sunshine his huge iron helmet and his three-edged sword may still be seen gleaming at the bottom of the water.
The Kalevide was so overcome with grief at this last misfortune that he abandoned his kingdom, abdicating in favour of Olev, and retired to the pine-forests on the banks of the river Koiva, where he built a cottage and thought to dwell in peace and retirement. Here he lived alone, supporting himself on fish and crayfish. One day a party of armed men found their way to his hermitage, and invited him to join company with them. He turned his back on them contemptuously, when he saw in the water the reflection of one of them advancing with his sword drawn to murder him. He turned angrily on his foes with an indignant exclamation, and seizing one of them by the helmet, whirled him round, and the air sounded as if disturbed by the rush of the Northern eagle. Then he dashed him down so that he sank to his waist in the ground. He seized the second by the hand, and swung him round till the forest was shaken as if by a tempest, and him he sank to the cheeks in the ground. The third he seized in the same way, and drove him so far into the ground that nothing could be seen of him but the hole where he had disappeared.
Another time the Kalevide was troubled by a messenger sent by the merchants on the coast to invite him to visit them. After listening to his talk for some time, he told him to pull up the rod which he had baited for crayfish, and after he had eaten, they might discuss the matter further. The youth went down to the river bank, and found, to his amazement, that the rod was a tall fir-tree, which the Kalevide had torn up by the roots, but which the youth could not even move. Then the Kalevide lifted the rod with one hand, and showed the youth that it was baited with the whole carcass of a dead mare; and sent him about his business, telling him to report what he had seen.
These intrusions vexed the Kalevide, and he wandered away from his hermitage through the forests, and three days afterwards he reached Lake Peipus, without remembering that he had ever travelled the same way before. Singing gaily, he came to the brook Kaepae, and waded in. The hero had laid an injunction on his lost sword which he had intended to apply to the sorcerer who had robbed him of it; but the understanding of the sword was confused by the curse which the Finnish smith had previously laid upon it, and it reflected that now was the time for vengeance. So without more ado the great sword raised itself, and cut off both the hero's legs at the knee. He cried out for help, and dragged himself with his hands to the shore, where he lay down bleeding, his legless body covering a whole acre of ground.
The cries of the dying Kalevide rose above the clouds and ascended to heaven. The heavenly powers assembled round the hero, and vainly tried to salve his wounds and soothe his pain. Presently he expired, and his soul, like a joyful bird, took its flight to the halls of Taara in heaven. There he sat in the firelight among the heroes of Taara, resting his cheek on his hand, and listening to the bards as they sang of his great deeds.
But the old father of the gods knew that so great a hero, who had conquered all his enemies in battle, and had bound even the prince of Porgu in chains, could not remain idle in heaven. So he summoned all the gods in secret conclave to consider what work they should assign to the Kalevide, and the debate lasted for many days and nights. At last they determined that he should keep watch and ward at the gates of Porgu, so that Sarvik should never be able to free himself from his bonds.