The Hero of Esthonia and Other Studies in the Romantic Literature of That Country
by William Forsell Kirby
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So the soul of the Kalevide flew down from heaven like a bird, and was bidden to reanimate his body; but the might of all the gods, and even the divine wisdom of Taara, could not put his legs on again. Then they mounted him on a white charger,[102] and sent him to the post which had been assigned to him at the gates of Porgu.

When the Kalevide reached the rocky portal, a voice was heard from heaven, "Strike the rock with thy fist!" He did so, and clove open the rock, and his right hand was caught in the cleft. Here he sits now on his horse at the gates of Porgu, watching the bonds of others while bound himself. The demons attempt unceasingly to soften their chains by heaping up charcoal faggots around them, but when the cock crows at dawn their fetters grow thicker again. From time to time, too, the Kalevide struggles to free his hand from the wall of rock, till the earth trembles and the sea foams; but the hand of Mana[103] holds him, that the warder shall never depart from his post. But one day a vast fire will break out on both sides of the rock and melt it, when the Kalevide will withdraw his hand, and return to earth to inaugurate a new day of prosperity for the Esthonians.[104]

[Footnote 99: Here we have a reminiscence of the Giallar horn of Heimdall, and of the horn of Roland (or Orlando).]

[Footnote 100: Compare the much longer story in the 9th Runo of the Kalevala.]

[Footnote 101: A similar adventure happened to the naturalist Macgillivray in the Solomon Islands during the voyage of the Herald. He turned round and shot the savage dead.]

[Footnote 102: There is a curious variant relating how the Kalevide waded across Lake Peipus with a bridle in his hand to look for a horse, and the water threatened to rise above his boots, when he said, "Don't think to drown this man." Then the devil brought him first his daughter and then his son in the shape of horses; but they both broke down under him. Then the devil brought him his mother, in her usual shape of a white mare, and she galloped away with the hero, and he could not rein her in. Then a voice from heaven cried, "Godson, godson, strike your hand into the oak!" The hero seized a great oak-tree as they were passing, when it came away in his hand, roots and all. Then the mare rushed to Porgu, and the voice again bade the hero strike his hand into the doorpost. He did so, and his hand was caught fast, and the mare galloped away to hell from between his legs, and left him hanging there.]

[Footnote 103: The God of Death.]

[Footnote 104: The guardian hero of every nation is looked for to return in a similar manner; even William Tell.]



Esthonian Folk-Tales

These are very numerous, and, while some are of course identical with well-known stories of world-wide distribution, others have a peculiarly original character of their own. We have divided them into sections, but this classification must not be taken as too stringent, for many tales would fall equally well under two or three of our separate headings. In so far as any foreign elements are visible, they are apparently Scandinavian or German. Finnish tales show more trace of Russian influence, but there is seldom any visible in Esthonian tales, and even in the Kalevipoeg there is no resemblance to the Russian hero-legends. It is, however, noteworthy that even in the most heathenish tales, the heroes usually have names of Christian origin; though not in the Kalevipoeg. It is possible that the Gospel of Nicodemus, which describes the descent into hell, may have suggested the name of Nicodemus for Slyboots.



The following stories are thoroughly Esthonian in character, and, with the exception of the first, mostly exhibit variants of the Kalevide's journeys to Porgu.

That of "Slyboots" is also interesting from the resemblance of a portion of it to "Jack and the Beanstalk."



Soon after the creation of the world, God created a fair maiden and gave into her charge all the birds beneath the heavens. This was Lindu, the lovely daughter of Uko, who knew the paths of all the birds of passage, whence they came in spring, and whither they went in autumn, and appointed to each his dwelling. She cared for the birds with a tender heart, like a mother for her children, and gave them her aid whenever it was possible; and like a flower in the morning sunlight under a thousand dewdrops, so brightly shone Lindu in her motherly care for the birds.

Therefore was it not surprising that all gazed upon her and loved her. Every one desired the maiden as a wife, and suitors came in crowds. The North Star drove up in a grand coach drawn by six brown horses, and brought ten presents. But Lindu gave him a sharp answer. "You must always remain at your post, and cannot stir from it," said she.

Then came the Moon in a silver coach drawn by ten brown horses, and he brought twenty presents. But Lindu refused the Moon too. "You are much too changeable," said she, "and yet you always run in your old path, and that won't suit me."

Scarcely had the Moon taken a sorrowful departure than the Sun drove up. He rode in a golden coach drawn by twenty gold-red horses, and brought thirty presents with him. But all his splendour and magnificence and rich presents went for nothing; for Lindu said, "I don't like you. You always run on the same course day by day, just like the Moon."

At length the Northern Light came from midnight in a diamond coach drawn by a thousand white horses. His arrival was so splendid that Lindu went to the door to meet him. His attendants carried a whole coach-load of gold and silver, pearls, and jewellery into her house. And behold, the bridegroom and his presents pleased Lindu so much that she accepted him at once, saying, "You don't always travel the same path, like the others. You set out when you will, and rest when it pleases you. Each time you appear in new splendour and magnificence, and each time you don a new robe, and each time you ride in a new coach with new horses. You are the fitting bridegroom, whom one can receive with joy."

Now they celebrated their betrothal with great splendour. But the Sun, Moon, and Pole Star looked on sadly, and envied the happiness of the Northern Light.

The Northern Light could not tarry long in the bride's house, for he was obliged to journey back towards midnight. But before his departure he promised soon to return for the wedding, and to carry the maiden to his home in the North. In the meantime she was to prepare her trousseau and get everything ready for the wedding.

Lindu now waited and made everything ready. One day followed another, but the bridegroom came not to hold a joyous wedding with his bride. The winter passed away, and the warm spring adorned the earth with new beauty, then came the summer; but Lindu waited in vain for her bridegroom; nothing was seen of him.

Then she began to lament bitterly, and sorrowed day and night. She sat in the meadow by the river in her bridal robes and white veil and the wreath on her head, and from her thousand tears sprang the little brooks in the valley. She did not heed the little birds who flew about her head and shoulders, and sought to soothe her with their soft blandishments, nor did she remember to direct their migrations to foreign parts, and to care for their nurture and food. So they wandered about and flew from place to place, not knowing what to do or where to remain.

At length the news of the maiden's distress and the needs of the birds came to the ears of Uko. Then he resolved in his heart to help them all, and ordered the winds to carry his daughter to him, away from the misery of the world. While Lindu was sitting on the ground weeping and lamenting, the winds sank down before her, and lifted her so gently that she herself perceived it not, and bore her away to heaven, where they set her down on the blue firmament.

There dwells Lindu still in a heavenly pavilion. Her white bridal veil spreads from one end of the heavens to the other, and he who lifts his eyes to the Milky Way beholds the maiden in her bridal robes. From thence she still directs the birds on their long migrations; from thence she still gazes towards midnight at the other end of the heavens, and waves her hand in greeting to the Northern Light. There she has forgotten her sorrow, and her former happy life reawakens in her heart. And when winter approaches, she sees with joy that the Northern Light visits her as a guest, and asks after his bride. Often he rises up to her, and, heart to heart, renews the bond of their love. But they may not hold their wedding. Uko has stationed the maiden in the heavens with her bridal robe and veil, and the bridegroom cannot carry away his love from her seat. Thus has Uko in his wisdom determined, and thus has the Milky Way arisen.



Once upon a time, the king of the Golden Land[105] lost his way in a forest, and, notwithstanding all his efforts, could not find his way out. Presently he encountered a stranger, who said to him, "What are you doing here, my friend, in this gloomy forest, where only wild beasts dwell?" The king replied, "I have lost my way, and am trying to find the road home." "If you will promise to give me the first living thing that meets you when you return to your palace, I will show you the right way," said the stranger.[106]

The king reflected awhile, and then answered, "Why should I run the risk of losing my good hunting-dog? I may perhaps succeed in finding my way home by myself." The stranger went away, but the king wandered about in the wood till his provisions were exhausted, while he was unable to discover the least trace of the right path. Then the stranger met him a second time, and said, "Promise me the first living thing that meets you on your return to your palace." But as the king was very obstinate, he refused to promise anything yet. He once more boldly explored the forest backwards and forwards, and at length sank down exhausted under a tree, and thought that his last hour had come. Then the stranger, who was none other than the Old Boy[107] himself, appeared to the king for the third time, and said, "Don't be a fool. How can you be so fond of your dog that you are unwilling to part with him to save your life? Only promise me what I require, and you will soon be relieved from your anxiety, and your life will be saved." "My life is worth more than a thousand dogs," answered the king. "The welfare of a whole country and people is at stake. Let it be so, I will grant your request, if you will only take me home." He had hardly uttered the words when he found himself at once on the borders of the wood, and could see his palace in the distance. He hurried thither, and the first thing which met him at the gate was the nurse with the royal infant, who stretched out his arms to his father. The king was horrified, and scolded the nurse, telling her to take the child away as quickly as possible. Directly afterwards came his faithful dog, and fawned upon his master, who repulsed his advances with a kick. Innocent dependants often suffer thus for the folly and ill-humour of their superiors.

As soon as the king's anger had cooled a little, he exchanged his child, a promising boy, for the daughter of a peasant, and thus the prince was reared up in the house of poor people, while the peasant's daughter slept in silken robes in the royal cradle. In a year's time, the Old Boy made his appearance to demand his due, and took the little girl with him, supposing her to be the king's child, for he knew nothing of the artifice by which the children had been changed. The king exulted at the success of his stratagem, and ordered a great feast. He loaded the parents of the stolen child with rich presents, that the prince might want for nothing in the cottage, but did not yet venture to reclaim his son, fearing lest the deception might be discovered. The peasant family were well satisfied with the arrangement, for they had one mouth less to feed, and plenty of food and money.

Meantime the prince grew up to boyhood, and spent a very pleasant life in the house of his foster-parents. But still he was not quite happy, for as soon as he learned how the stratagem had succeeded, he was much grieved that a poor innocent girl should have to suffer the consequences of his father's thoughtlessness in his place. He formed a fixed resolve either to release the poor girl, if this was possible, or to perish with her. He could not endure the thought of becoming king by the sacrifice of a maiden.[108] One day he secretly disguised himself as a peasant lad, took a bag of peas on his shoulder, and went to the wood where his father had lost his way eighteen years before.

Soon after entering the wood he began to cry out, "O what an unfortunate boy I am! how far I must have wandered from the path! Who will show me the way out of this wood, for there is no human soul to be seen far or near!" Presently a stranger with a long grey beard and a leather pouch at his girdle, like a Tartar,[109] made his appearance. He gave the youth a friendly greeting, adding, "I know this neighbourhood well, and can direct you anywhere you please, if you will promise me a good return."

"What can a poor lad like me promise you?" answered the artful prince. "I have nothing more than my young life, for even the coat on my body belongs to the master whom I must serve in exchange for food and clothing."

The stranger looked at the bag of peas on the lad's shoulder, and remarked, "You can't be quite destitute, for you carry a bag which seems to be very heavy."

"There are peas in the bag," said the prince. "My old aunt died last night, and has left me so much as this, that I may be able to set boiled peas before the watchers of the dead[110] as is the custom in this country. I have begged the peas from my host in the name of God, and was going away with them, when I struck into a forest path as a short cut, and it has led me astray, as you see."

"Then I conclude, from what you say, that you are an orphan," observed the stranger with a grin. "If you will enter my service, I happen just to be in want of a handy workman for my small household, and I've taken a fancy to you."

"Why shouldn't I, if we can come to terms?" replied the prince. "I was born to servitude, and a stranger's bread is always bitter, so that it matters little to me what master I serve. But what will you promise me for a year's service?"

"Well," said the stranger, "you shall have fresh food every day, meat twice a week, and when you work out of doors, butter or herrings as a treat, a full suit of summer and winter clothing, besides two acres of land for your own use."

"That will suit me," said the crafty prince. "Let other people bury my aunt; I'll go with you."

The Old Boy seemed well pleased at having made such a good stroke of business, and spun round on one foot like a teetotum, hallooing so loud that the wood re-echoed. Then he started off on the road with his new servant, and enlivened the tedium of the way by a variety of jokes, without observing that his companion dropped a pea from his bag at every ten or fifteen paces. The travellers halted for the night in the forest under a large fir-tree, and continued their journey next morning. The sun was already high in the heavens when they reached a large stone. Here the old man stopped, looked sharply round on all sides, whistled loudly, and then stamped on the ground three times with his left foot.[111] Suddenly a secret door opened under the stone, and revealed a covered way like the entrance to a cavern. Then the old man seized the prince's arm, and said roughly, "Follow me!"

They were in utter darkness, but it seemed to the prince that the path led them deeper and deeper into the earth. After some time a glimmer of light again grew visible, but the light did not resemble that of either the sun or moon. The prince looked up in some alarm, but could see neither sun nor sky; only a mass of shining clouds floated over him, which seemed to canopy this new world, in which everything had a strange appearance. Land and water, trees and plants, animals and birds, all had a different aspect from what he had seen before. But what seemed strangest to him was the wonderful silence around, for there was not a voice or a rustle to be heard anywhere. All was as still as in the grave, and even the prince's own footsteps made no sound. Here and there a bird might be seen sitting on a bough with stretched-out neck and swelled throat, as if singing, but no sound was audible. The dogs opened their mouths to bark, and the bulls raised their heads to bellow, but neither bark nor bellow could be heard. The water flowed over the gravel without gushing, the wind waved the tops of the trees without rustling, and flies and beetles flew about without buzzing. The Old Boy did not speak a word, and when his companion tried to speak he felt his voice die away in his throat.

Nobody knows how long they travelled through this unearthly silent country. Terror seized on the heart of the prince, his hair stood on end like bristles, and he shivered with fear, when at length, to his great joy, the first sound fell on his straining ears, and seemed to make a real country of this shadowy land. It seemed to him that a great herd of horses was toiling through swampy ground. At last the old man opened his mouth, and said, licking his lips, "The soup kettle's boiling, and they are expecting us at home." They went on some distance farther, when the prince thought he heard the sound of a sawmill, in which at least two dozen saws seemed to be at work, but the host said, "My old grandmother is already fast asleep and snoring."

Presently they reached the top of a hill, and the prince could see the homestead of his new master at some distance, but there were so many buildings that it looked more like a village or an outlying suburb than the residence of a single owner. At length they arrived, and found an empty dog-kennel at the gate. "Creep in there," said the master, "and lie quiet till I have spoken to my grandmother about you. She is very self-willed, like most old people, and can't bear a stranger in the house." The prince crept trembling into the dog-kennel, and began to repent the rashness that had brought him into such a scrape.

After a time the host came back, called the prince from his hiding-place, and said with a wry face, "Take good note of the arrangements of our household, and take care not to go against them, or you might fare very badly.

"Keep your eyes and ears both open, But your mouth fast closed for ever, And obey without a question: Think whatever it may please you; Never speak without permission."

When the prince crossed the threshold, his eyes fell upon a young girl of great beauty, with brown eyes and curly hair. He thought to himself, "If the old man has many such daughters as this, I should be glad to become his son-in-law. The maiden is just to my taste." The fair maiden laid the table without saying a word, set the food upon it, and then modestly took her place by the hearth, as if she had not observed the stranger. She took out needles and worsted, and began to knit a stocking. The master sat down alone at the table, and did not ask either the man or maid to join him, nor was anything to be seen of the old grandmother. The Old Boy's appetite was immeasurable, and in a very short time he had made a clean sweep of everything on the table, though it would have been plenty for at least a dozen people. When at last he allowed his jaws to rest, he said to the maiden, "Scrape out what is left at the bottom of the pot and kettle, and content yourselves with the fragments, but throw the bones to the dog."

The prince's countenance fell at the idea of this meal from the scrapings of the kettle, which he was to share with the pretty girl and the dog. But he soon recovered his spirits when he found a very nice meal placed on the table from these fragments. During supper he cast many stolen glances at the maiden, and would have given a great deal if he could have ventured to speak to her. But whenever he was on the point of speaking, he met the imploring glance of the maiden, which seemed to say, "Silence!" So the young man allowed his eyes to speak, and gave expression to this dumb language by his good appetite, for the maiden had prepared the supper, and it must be pleasant to her to see that the guest appreciated her cookery. Meantime the old man had lain down on the stove-bench, and made the walls re-echo with his snoring.

After supper he roused himself, and said to the prince, "You may rest for two days after your long journey, and look round the house. But come to me to-morrow evening and I will arrange your work for next day, for my household must always set about their work before I get up myself. The girl will show you your lodging." The prince made an effort to speak, but the old man came down on him like a thunderbolt, and screamed out, "You dog of a servant! If you break the rules of the house, you'll find yourself a head shorter without more ado. Hold your jaw, and off to bed with you!"

The maiden beckoned him to follow, unlocked a door and signed to him to enter. The prince thought he saw a tear glisten in her eye, and would have been only too glad to loiter on the threshold, but he was too much afraid of the old man. "It's impossible that this beautiful girl can be his daughter," thought he, "for she has a kind heart. She must be the poor girl who was brought here in my place, and for whose sake I undertook this foolhardy enterprise." He did not fall asleep for a long time, and even then his uneasy dreams gave him no rest. He dreamed of all sorts of unknown dangers which threatened him, and it was always the form of the fair girl that came to his aid.

When he awoke next morning, his first thought was to do his best to ingratiate himself with the maiden. He found the industrious girl already at work, and helped her to draw water from the well and carry it into the house, chopped wood, kept up the fire under the pots, and helped her in all her other work. In the afternoon he went out to make himself better acquainted with his new abode, and was much surprised that he could find no trace of the old grandmother. He saw a white mare in the stable, and a black cow with a white-headed calf in the enclosure, and in other locked outhouses he thought he heard ducks, geese, fowls, &c. Breakfast and dinner were just as good as last night's supper, and he would have been very well content with his position, but that it was so very hard to hold his tongue with the maiden opposite him. On the evening of the second day he went to the master to receive his instructions for next day's work.

The old man said, "I'll give you an easy job for to-morrow. Take the scythe, and mow as much grass as the white mare needs for her day's provender, and clean out the stable. But if I should come and find the manger empty or any litter on the floor, it will go badly enough with you. Take good heed!"

The prince was well pleased, for he thought, "I shall soon be able to manage this piece of work, for although I have never handled either plough or scythe before, I have often seen how easily the country-people manage these tools, and I am quite strong enough." But when he was about to go to bed, the maiden crept in gently, and asked in a low voice, "What work has he given you?" "I've an easy task for to-morrow," answered the prince. "I have only to mow grass for the white mare, and to clean out the stable; that's all." "O poor fellow!" sighed the maiden, "how can you ever accomplish it? The white mare is the master's grandmother, and she is an insatiable creature, for whom twenty mowers could hardly provide the daily fodder, and another twenty would have to work from morning till night to clear the litter from the stable. How will you be able to manage both tasks alone? Take my advice, and follow it exactly. When you have thrown a few loads of grass to the mare, you must plait a strong rope of willow-twigs in her sight. She will ask you what this is for, and you must answer, 'To bind you up so tightly that you will not feel disposed to eat more than I give you, or to litter the stable after I have cleared it.'" As soon as the girl had finished speaking, she slid out of the room as gently as she had come, without giving the youth time to thank her. He repeated her instructions to himself several times, for fear of forgetting anything, and then went to sleep.

Early next morning he set to work. He plied the scythe lustily, and soon mowed down so much grass that he could rake several loads together. He took one load to the mare, but when he returned with the second he found with dismay that the manger was already empty, and that there was half a ton of litter on the floor. He saw now that he would have been lost without the maiden's good advice, and resolved to follow it at once. He began to plait the rope, when the mare turned her head and asked in astonishment, "My dear son, what do you want with this rope?" "O nothing at all," he answered; "I am only going to bind you up so tightly that you won't care to eat more than I choose to give you, or to drop more litter than I choose to carry away." The white mare looked at him, and sighed deeply once or twice, but it was clear that she understood him, for long after midday there was still fodder in the manger and the floor remained clean. Presently the master came to inspect the work, and when he found everything in good order he was much surprised, and asked, "Are you clever enough to do this yourself, or did any one give you good advice?" But the prince was on his guard, and answered at once, "I have no one to help me but my own poor head and a mighty God in heaven." The old man was silenced, and left the stable grumbling, but the prince was delighted that everything had succeeded so well.

In the evening the master said, "I have no particular work for you to-morrow, but as the maid has plenty to do in the house, you must milk the black cow. But take care not to leave a drop of milk in the udder. If I find that you have done so, it might cost you your life." As the prince went away, he thought, "If there is not some trick in this, I cannot find the work hard. Thank God, I have strong fingers, and will not leave a drop of milk behind." But when he was about to retire to rest, the maiden came to him again, and asked, "What work have you to do to-morrow?" "I've a whole holiday to-morrow," answered the prince. "All I have to do to-morrow is to milk the black cow, and not leave a drop of milk in the udder." "O you unfortunate fellow!" sighed she, "how will you ever accomplish it? Know, dear young stranger, that if you were to milk the black cow from morning till evening, the milk would continue to flow in one unbroken stream. I am convinced that the old man is bent on your ruin. But fear nothing, for as long as I am alive no harm shall happen to you, if you will remember my advice, and follow it exactly. When you go milking, take a pan full of hot coals, and a smith's tongs with you. When you reach the place, put the tongs in the fire, and blow the coals to a bright flame. If the black cow asks what this is for, answer her as I am about to whisper in your ear." Then the maiden crept out of the room on tiptoe as she had come, and the prince lay down to sleep.

The prince got up almost before dawn next day, and went to the cowhouse with the milk-pail in one hand, and a pan of live coals in the other. The black cow looked at his proceedings for a while in silence, and then asked, "What are you doing, my dear son?" "Nothing at all," he replied; "but some cows have a bad habit of keeping back milk in their udders after they are milked, and in such cases I find hot tongs useful to prevent the chance of any waste." The black cow sighed deeply and seemed scared. The prince then took the pail, milked the cow dry, and when he tried again after a while he found not a drop of milk in her udder. Some time after the master came into the cowhouse, and as he was also unable to draw a drop of milk, he asked angrily, "Are you so clever yourself, or did any one give you good advice?" But the prince answered as before, "I have no one to help me but my own poor head and a mighty God in heaven." The old man went off in great vexation.

When the prince went to the master in the evening, the latter said, "There is still a heap of hay in the field that I should like to have brought under cover during dry weather. Bring the hay home to-morrow, but take care not to leave a particle behind, or it might cost you your life." The prince left the room well pleased, thinking, "It's no great job to bring hay home. I have only to load it, and the mare must draw it. I won't spare the master's grandmother." In the evening the maiden crept to his side, and asked about his work for to-morrow. The prince said smiling, "I am learning all sorts of farmwork here. I have to bring home a heap of hay to-morrow, and only to take care not to leave a scrap behind. This is all my work for to-morrow." "O poor fellow!" sighed she, "how will you ever do it? If you were to set to work for a week, with the help of all the inhabitants of a large district, you could not remove this heap. Whatever you took away from the top would grow up again from the ground directly. Mark well what I say. You must get up to-morrow before daybreak, and lead the white mare from the stable, taking with you some strong cords. Then go to the haycock, fasten the cords round it, and then bind them to the mare. When this is done, climb on the haycock, and begin to count one, two, three, four, five, six, and so on. The mare will ask what you are counting, and you must answer her as I whisper." Then the maiden left the room, and the prince went to bed.

When he awoke next morning, the first thing he remembered was the maiden's good advice. So he took some strong ropes with him, led out the white mare, and rode on her back to the haycock, but found that the so-called haycock contained at least fifty loads. The prince did all that the maiden had told him, and when he was sitting on the heap, and had counted up to twenty, the white mare asked in surprise, "What are you counting, my dear son?" "Nothing at all," said he; "I was only amusing myself by counting up the packs of wolves[112] in the forest, but there are so many that I can't reckon them all up." He had hardly spoken when the white mare darted off like the wind, and the haycock was safely housed in a few moments. The master was not a little surprised, when he came out after breakfast, to find that the new labourer had already finished his day's work. He put him the same question as before, and received the same reply; and he went off shaking his head and cursing.

In the evening, the prince went as usual to inquire about his work, and the old man said, "To-morrow you must take the white-headed calf to pasture, but take care that he doesn't run away, or it might cost you your life." The prince thought, "There are many ten-year old farm-boys who have whole herds to manage, and surely I can't find it so very difficult to look after one calf." But when the maiden heard of it she said, "Know that this calf is so wild that he would run three times round the world in a day.[113] Take this silk thread, and bind one end to the left fore-leg of the calf, and the other to the little toe of your left foot, and then the calf will not be able to stir a step from your side, whether you are walking, standing, or lying down." Then she left him, and the prince lay down, but it vexed him to think that he had again forgotten to thank her for her good advice.

Next morning he followed the advice of the friendly maiden, and led the calf to the pasture by the silken thread. It remained by his side like a faithful dog, and in the evening he led it back to the stall, where the old man met him angrily, and, after the usual question and answer, went off in a fury, and the prince thought it must be the mention of the holy name which kept him under restraint.

Late in the evening the prince went to his master for instructions, when the old man gave him a bag of barley, saying, "I will give you a holiday to-morrow, and you may sleep as long as you like, but you must work hard to-night instead. Sow me this barley, which will spring up and ripen quickly; then you must cut it, thresh it, and winnow it, so that you can malt it and grind it. You must brew beer of this malt, and when I wake to-morrow morning, you must bring me a jug of fresh beer for my morning drink. Take care to follow my instructions exactly, or it might easily cost you your life."

This time the prince was quite confounded, and on leaving the room, he stood outside weeping bitterly, and said to himself, "This is my last night, for no mortal can do this work, and the clever maiden's aid will avail me no longer. O unhappy wretch that I am! why was I so thoughtless as to leave the king's palace, and thrust myself into this danger! I cannot even lament my unhappy lot to the stars in heaven, for here there are neither stars nor sky. But yet God reigns over all."

He was still standing with the bag of barley in his hand when the house-door opened and the kind maiden came out. She asked what troubled him so much, and he replied, "Alas! my last hour has come, and we must part for ever. I will tell you all before I die. I am the only son of a great king, from whom I should inherit a mighty empire; but now all hope and happiness are at an end." Then he told the maiden with tears of the task the old man had laid upon him; but it pained him to see that she did not seem to share his trouble. When he had finished his long story, she smiled and said, "My dear prince, you may sleep quietly to-night, and enjoy yourself all day to-morrow. Take my advice, and don't despise it because I am only a poor servant-girl. Take this little key, which unlocks the third hen-house, where the Old Boy keeps the spirits who serve him.[114] Throw the bag of barley into the house, and repeat word for word the commands that you have received from the master, and add, 'If you depart a hair's breadth from my instructions, you will all perish together; but if you want help, the door of the seventh pen will be open to-night, in which dwell the most powerful of the old man's spirits.'"

The prince carried out all her instructions, and then lay down to sleep. When he awoke in the morning and went to the beer tub, he found it full of beer violently working, with the foam flowing over the edge. He tasted the beer, filled a large jug with the foaming drink, and brought it to his master, who was just getting up. But instead of the thanks which he expected from him, the old man broke out in uncontrollable fury, "That's not from yourself. I see you have good friends and helpers. All right! we'll talk again this evening."

In the evening the old man said, "I have no work for you to-morrow, but you must come to my bedside to-morrow morning, and shake hands with me."

The prince was amused at the old man's queer whim, and laughed when he told the maiden. But when she heard it she became very serious, and said, "Now you must look to yourself, for the old man intends to eat you to-morrow morning, and there is only one way of escape. You must heat a shovel red-hot in the stove,[115] and offer it to him instead of your own hand." Then she hastened away, and the prince went to bed. Next morning he took good care to heat the shovel red-hot before the old man awoke. At last he heard him shouting, "What has become of you, you lazy fellow? Come and shake hands with me." But when the prince entered the room with the red-hot shovel in his hand, the old man cried out with a whining voice, "I am very ill to-day, and cannot take your hand. But come back this evening to receive my orders."

The prince loitered about all day, and went to the old man in the evening as usual to receive his commands for the morrow. He found him very friendly, and he said, "I am well pleased with you. Come to me to-morrow morning with the maiden, for I know that you have long been attached to each other, and I will give her to you as your bride."

The prince would have liked to dance and shout for joy, but by good luck he remembered the strict rules of the house, and kept silent. But when he spoke to his betrothed of his good fortune, and expected that she would receive the news with equal delight, he saw her turn as white as the wall with terror, and her tongue seemed to be paralysed. As soon as she recovered herself a little, she said, "The Old Boy has discovered that I have been your counsellor, and has resolved to destroy us both. We must fly this very night, or we are lost. Take an axe, and strike off the head of the white-headed calf with a heavy blow, and then split the skull in two with a second stroke. In the brain of the calf you will find a shining red reel, which you must bring me. I will arrange whatever else is needful." The prince thought, "I would rather kill an innocent calf than sacrifice both myself and this dear girl, and if our flight succeeds, I shall see my home once more. The peas I sowed must have sprung up by this time, so that we cannot miss our way."

He went into the stall, and found the cow and the calf lying asleep near together, and they slept so fast that they did not hear his approach. But when he struck off the calf's head, the cow groaned very loud, as if she had had a bad dream. He hastened to split the calf's skull with the second blow, and lo! the whole stall suddenly became as light as if it was day. The red reel fell out of the brain, and shone like a little sun. The prince wrapped it carefully in a cloth, and hid it in his bosom. It was fortunate that the cow did not wake, or she would have begun to roar so loud that she might easily have roused her master too.

The prince found the maiden waiting for him at the gate with a small bundle on her arm. "Where is the reel?" she whispered. "Here," replied the prince, and gave it to her. "Now we must hasten our flight," said she, and she unravelled a small part of the reel from the cloth that its shining light might illuminate the darkness of the way like a lantern. As the prince had expected, the peas had all sprung up, so that they could not miss the way. The maiden then told the prince that she had once overheard a conversation between the old man and his grandmother, and had learned that she was a princess whom the Old Boy had stolen from her parents by a trick. The prince knew the real state of the case better, but kept silence, rejoicing inwardly that he had succeeded in freeing the poor girl. The travellers must have gone a long way before the day began to break.

The Old Boy did not wake till late In the morning, and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes for a long time before he remembered that he was going to devour the couple. After waiting for them a good while he said to himself, "Perhaps they haven't quite finished their preparations for the wedding." But at last he got tired of waiting so long, and shouted out, "Ahoy, man and maid, what has become of you?" He repeated the cry several times, shouting and cursing, but neither man nor maid appeared. At last he scrambled out of bed in a rage, and went in search of the defaulters. But he found the house empty, and discovered, too, that the beds had not been slept in. Then he rushed into the stall, and when he saw the calf slaughtered and the magic reel stolen, he comprehended all. He cursed till everything was black, and opened the third spirit-house, sending his messengers forth to seek the fugitives. "Bring me them just as you find them, for I must have them," said the Old Boy, and the spirits flew forth like the wind.

The fugitives were just crossing a great plain, when the maiden suddenly stopped and said, "All is not as it should be. The reel moves in my hand, and we are certainly pursued." When they looked back, they saw a black cloud rushing towards them with great speed. Then the maiden turned the reel thrice in her hand and said:

"Hear me, reel, and reel, O hearken; Fain would I become a streamlet, Where as fish my lover's swimming."

Instantly they were both transformed. The maiden flowed away like a brook, and the prince swam in the water like a little fish. The spirits rushed past, and turned after a time, and flew back home; but they did not touch the brook or the fish. As soon as the pursuers were gone, the brook became a maiden, and the fish a youth, and they continued their journey in human form.

When the spirits returned, weary and empty-handed, the Old Boy asked if they had not noticed anything unusual on their journey.

"Nothing at all," they answered, "but a brook on the plain, with a single fish swimming in it."

The old man growled angrily, "There they were! there they were!" Immediately he threw open the doors of the fifth pen and let out the spirits, commanding them to drink up the water of the brook, and to capture the fish; and the spirits flew off like the wind.

The travellers were just approaching the edge of a wood, when the maiden stopped, saying, "All is not as it should be. The reel moves again in my hand." They looked round, and saw another cloud in the sky, darker than the first, and with red borders. "These are our pursuers," she cried, and turned the reel three times round in her hand, saying:

"Hear me, reel, and reel, O hear me; Change us both upon the instant: I'll become a wild rose-briar, And my love a rose upon it."

Instantly the maiden was changed into a wild rose-bush, and the youth hung upon it in the form of a rose. The spirits rushed away over their heads, and did not return for some time; but they saw nothing of the brook and the fish, and they did not trouble about the wild rose-tree. As soon as their pursuers were gone, the rose-tree and the rose again became a maiden and a youth, and after their short rest they hurried away.

"Have you found them?" cried the old man, when the spirits returned and crouched before him.

"No," answered their leader; "we found neither brook nor fish on the plain."

"Did you see nothing else remarkable on the way?" asked their master. The leader answered, "We saw nothing but a wild rose-bush on the edge of the wood, with a single rose upon it." "Fools!" cried the old man, "there they were! there they were!" He threw open the door of the seventh pen, and sent out his most powerful spirits to search for the fugitives. "Bring them me just as you find them, for I must have them, dead or alive. Tear up the accursed rose-tree by the roots, and bring everything else with you that looks strange." And the spirits rushed forth like a tempest.

The fugitives were just resting in the shade of a wood, and strengthening themselves for further efforts with food and drink. Suddenly the maiden cried out, "All is not right, for the reel feels as if it was being pulled from my bosom. We are certainly again pursued, and the danger is close at hand, but the wood still hides us from our enemies." Then she took the reel from her bosom, and turned it over three times in her hand, saying:

"Hear me reel, and reel, O hear me; To a puff of wind transform me, To a gnat transform my lover."

Instantly they were both transformed, and the maiden rose into the air as a puff of wind, and the prince sported in the breeze like a gnat. The mighty host of spirits swept over them like a tempest, and returned some time afterwards, as they could neither find the rose-bush nor anything else remarkable. But they were hardly gone before the youth and the maiden resumed their proper forms, and the maiden cried out, "Now we must make haste, before the old man himself comes to look for us, for he would know us under any disguise."

They ran on for some distance till they reached the dark passage, which they could easily climb up by the bright light of the reel. They were breathless and exhausted when they reached the great rock; when the maiden again turned the reel three times round, saying:

"Hear me, reel, and reel, O hear me; Let the rock aside be lifted, And a portal opened for us."

Instantly the rock was lifted, and they found themselves once more upon the earth. "God be praised," cried the maiden, "we are saved. The Old Boy has no further power over us here, and we can guard against his cunning. But now, my friend, we must part. Do you go to your parents, and I will go to mine." "By no means," replied the prince, "I cannot part from you, and you must come with me, and become my wife. You have passed days of sorrow with me, and now it is only right that we should enjoy days of happiness together." The maiden resisted for a time, but at last she consented to accompany the youth.

They met with a woodcutter in the wood, who told them that there was great trouble in the palace and throughout the whole country, because of the unaccountable disappearance of the king's son, every trace of whom had been lost for years.[116] The maiden made use of the magic reel to provide the prince with suitable robes in which to present himself to his father. Meanwhile she stayed behind in a peasant's cottage, till the prince should have informed his father of his adventures.[117]

But the old king had died before the prince's arrival, for trouble at the loss of his only son had shortened his life. On his death-bed he repented bitterly of his thoughtless promise, and of his treachery in delivering a poor innocent maiden to the old rascal, for which God had punished him by the loss of his son. The prince mourned for the death of his father, as befitted a good son, and buried him with great honours. Then he mourned for three days, refusing all food and drink. On the fourth morning he presented himself to the people as their new ruler, assembled his councillors, and related to them the wonderful things that he had seen and experienced in the Old Boy's dwelling, and did not forget to say how the clever maiden had saved his life. Then the councillors all exclaimed with one voice, "She must become your consort and our queen."

When the young king set out to seek his bride, he was much surprised to meet the maiden advancing in regal state. The magic reel had provided her with everything that was necessary, and all the people supposed that she must be the daughter of some very wealthy king, and came from a distant country. Then the wedding festivities commenced, which lasted four weeks, and they lived together in happiness and prosperity for many a pleasant year.[118]

[Footnote 105: Loewe suggests that Kungla is meant, which appears not improbable.]

[Footnote 106: This has been a common motif in folk-tales from the time of Jephthah downwards; but the manner in which the different stories are worked out is very various.]

[Footnote 107: The usual Esthonian euphemism for the Devil.]

[Footnote 108: The moral tone of some of these Esthonian tales is much higher than usual in folk-tales. In the story of the "Northern Frog," we shall see that it is considered a wrong action, involving Karmic punishment, even to steal a talisman from a demon who is trying to entrap your soul. In most folk-tales, the basest cruelty and treachery is looked upon as quite laudable when your own interests require it, even against your best friend or most generous benefactor, and much more so against a Jew or a demon. But there are other Esthonian tales ("Slyboots," for instance), in which the morality is not much superior to that of average folk-tales.]

[Footnote 109: Here we find the Devil compared to a Tartar, just as in the 10th canto of the Kalevipoeg a water-demon is compared to a Lett.]

[Footnote 110: Boiled peas and salt are provided on such occasions, as mentioned in other stories.]

[Footnote 111: The Kalevide was directed to stamp with his right foot to open the gates of Porgu.]

[Footnote 112: In Esthonian legends, the wolf is the great enemy of the devil. See vol. ii. Beast-stories.]

[Footnote 113: We meet with similar miraculously swift animals in other Esthonian tales.]

[Footnote 114: The outhouses in Sarvik's palace (Kalevipoeg, Canto 14) contained mere ordinary stores.]

[Footnote 115: A not very unusual incident in folk-tales, though it often takes the form of offering an iron bar instead of your own hand to a giant who wishes to shake hands with you.]

[Footnote 116: A visit to any description of non-human intelligent beings in Esthonian tales almost always extends to years, though it may have apparently lasted for only a day or two.]

[Footnote 117: In most stories of this class, the hero forgets his companion on reaching home, either by a charm or by breaking a taboo.]

[Footnote 118: Another instance of a child being asked for by an ambiguous request is to be found in the story of the Clever Countrywoman (Jannsen), which must not be confounded with one in Kreutzwald's collection with a nearly similar title, and of which we append an abstract. The story ends, rather unusually, in a subterfuge. A herd-boy returned one evening, and reported to his mistress that a cow was missing. The woman went herself, but everything round her was changed by magic, and she could not find her way home. However, as the mist rose from the moor, a little white man appeared, whom she recognised as one of the moor-dwellers. He took her home, and returned her cow, on her promising him what she would carry night and day under her heart. From thenceforth she took care always to wear her apron. A year afterwards, she became the mother of a fine boy, and when he was nine weeks old, the window was opened one night, and the intruder cried out, "Give me what you have carried night and day under your heart, as you promised." The woman flung him her apron, crying out, "In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, receive what I promised you;" and he instantly vanished with the apron.]



In the days of the son of Kalev there reigned a very rich king of Kungla, who gave a great feast to his subjects every seven years at midsummer, which lasted for two or three weeks together.[119] The time for the feast came round again, and its commencement had been looked forward to for some months, though with some uncertainty; for twice already, seven years ago and fourteen years ago, the anticipated festival had come to nothing. Both times the king had made full preparations for the feast, but no man had tasted it. This seemed strange and incredible, but there were many people everywhere who could bear witness to the facts. It was said that on both these occasions an unknown stranger had come to the head-cook and asked to be permitted to taste a little of the food and drink, but the moment he had dipped his spoon in the soup-kettle, and put the froth in the beer-can to his mouth, the whole contents of the storehouses, pantries, and cellars vanished in a moment, so that not a scrap or drop of anything remained.[120] The cooks and kitchen-boys had all seen and sworn to the truth of the matter, but the people were so enraged at the collapse of the feast, that the king was obliged to appease them seven years before, by ordering the head-cook to be hanged for having given the stranger permission to taste the food. In order to prevent any repetition of the trouble, the king proclaimed that he would richly reward any one who would undertake the preparation of the feast; and at length, when no one would undertake the responsibility, the king promised his youngest daughter in marriage to any one who should succeed, but added that failure would be punished with death.

A long way from the capital, and near the borders of the kingdom, lived a rich farmer who had three sons, the youngest of whom showed great intelligence from his youth, because the Meadow-Queen[121] had nursed him, and had often secretly given him the breast. The father called him Slyboots, and used to say to the brothers, "You two elder ones must earn your living by your bodily strength and by the work of your hands, but as for you, little Slyboots, you will be able to rise higher in the world than your brothers, by your own cleverness."

Before the father died, he divided all his corn-land and meadows between his two elder sons, but to the youngest he gave enough money to enable him to go forth into the wide world to seek his fortune. But the father's corpse was scarcely cold when the two elder brothers stripped the youngest of every farthing, and thrust him out of the door, saying mockingly, "Your cleverness alone, Slyboots, is to exalt you over our heads, and therefore you might find the money troublesome to you."

The youngest brother scorned to notice the ill-treatment of his brothers, and went cheerfully on his way. "Good fortune may come from God," was the comforting reflection which he took with him from his father's house, and he whistled away his sad thoughts. Just as he was beginning to feel hungry, he encountered two travelling journey-men. His pleasant countenance and cheerful talk pleased them, and when they rested, they shared their provisions with him, so that Slyboots did not fare so badly on the first day. He parted from his companions before evening quite contented, for his present comfort left him without anxiety for the morrow. He could sleep anywhere with the green grass for a couch and the blue sky above, and a stone under his head served as well as a soft pillow. Next morning he set out on his way again, and arrived at a lonely farm, where a young woman was sitting at the door, weeping bitterly. Slyboots asked what was her trouble, and she answered, "I have a bad husband, who beats me every day if I cannot humour his mad freaks. He has ordered me to-day to cook him a fish which is not a fish, and which has eyes, but not in its head. Where in the world shall I find such a creature?" "Don't cry, young woman," answered Slyboots. "Your husband wants a crab, which is a water-animal to be sure, but is not a fish, and which has eyes, but not in its head." The woman thanked him for his good advice, and gave him something to eat, and a bag of provisions which would last him for several days. As soon as he received this unexpected assistance, he determined to set out for the royal capital, where cleverness was likely to be in most request, and where he hoped to make his fortune.

Wherever he went, he heard every one talking of the king's midsummer banquet, and when he heard of the reward which was offered to the man who should prepare the feast, he began to reflect whether he might not be able to accomplish the adventure. "If I succeed," said he to himself, "I shall find myself at a stroke on the highway to fortune; and in the worst case of all, I shall only lose my life, and we must all die sooner or later. If I begin in the right way, why shouldn't I succeed? Perhaps I may be more fortunate than others. And even if the king should refuse me his daughter, he must at least give me the promised reward in money, which will make me a rich man."

Buoyed up with such thoughts, he pursued his journey, singing and whistling like a lark, sometimes resting under the shadow of a bush during the heat of the day, and sleeping at night under a tree or in the open fields. One morning he finished the last remains of his provisions, and in the evening he arrived safe and sound at the city.

Next day he craved audience of the king. The king saw that he had to deal with an intelligent and enterprising man, and it was easy for them to come to terms. "What is your name?" asked the king. The man of brains replied, "My baptismal name is Nicodemus, but I was always called Slyboots at home, to show that I did not fall on my head." "I will leave you your name," returned the king, "but your head must answer for all mischief if the affair should go wrong."

Slyboots asked the king to give him seven hundred workmen, and set about his preparations without delay. He ordered twenty large sheds to be constructed, and arranged in a square like a series of large cowhouses, so that a great open space was left in the middle, to which led one single large gate. He ordered great cooking-pots and caldrons to be built in the rooms which were to be heated, and the ovens were furnished with iron spits, where meat and sausages could be roasted. Other sheds were furnished with great boilers and vats for brewing beer, so that the boilers were above and the vats below. Other houses without fireplaces were fitted up as storehouses for cold provisions, such as black bread, barm bracks, white bread, &c. All needful stores, such as flour, groats, meat, salt, lard, butter, &c., were brought into the open space, and fifty soldiers were stationed before the door, so that nothing should be touched by the finger of any thief. The king came every day to view the preparations, and praised the skill and forethought of Slyboots. Besides all this, several dozen bakehouses were built in the open air, and a special guard of soldiers was stationed before each. They slaughtered for the feast a thousand oxen, two hundred calves, five hundred swine, ten thousand sheep, and many more small animals, which were driven together in flocks from all quarters. Stores of provisions were constantly brought by river in boats and barges, and by land in waggons, and this went on without intermission for several weeks. Seven thousand hogsheads were brewed of beer alone. Although the seven hundred assistants toiled late and early, and many additional labourers were engaged, yet most of the toil and trouble fell upon Slyboots, who was obliged to look sharply after the others at every point. He had warned the cooks, the bakers, and the brewers, in the most stringent manner, not to allow any strange mouth to taste the food or drink, and any one who broke this command was threatened with the gallows. If such a greedy stranger should make his appearance anywhere, he was to be brought immediately to the superintendent of the preparations.

On the morning of the first day of the feast, word was brought to Slyboots that an unknown old man had come into one of the kitchens, and asked the cook to allow him to taste a little from the soup-kettle with a spoon, which the cook could not permit him to do on his own responsibility. Slyboots ordered the stranger to be brought before him, and presently he beheld a little old man with grey hair, who humbly begged to be allowed to taste the food and drink prepared for the banquet. Slyboots told him to come into one of the kitchens, when he would gratify his wish if it were possible. As they went, he scanned the old man sharply, to see whether he could not detect something strange about him. Presently he observed a shining gold ring on the ring-finger of the old man's left hand. When they reached the kitchen, Slyboots asked, "What security can you give me that no harm shall come of it if I let you taste the food?" "My lord," answered the stranger, "I have nothing to offer you as a pledge." Slyboots pointed to the fine gold ring and demanded that as a pledge. The old fellow resisted with all his might, protesting that the ring was a token of remembrance from his dead wife, and he had vowed never to take it from his hand, lest some misfortune should happen. "Then it is quite impossible for me to grant your request," said Slyboots, "for I cannot permit any one to taste either the food or drink without a pledge." The old man was so anxious about it that at last he gave his ring as a pledge.

Just as he was about to dip his spoon in the pot, Slyboots struck him so heavy a blow on the head with the flat of an axe, that it might have felled the strongest ox; but the old fellow did not fall, but only staggered a little. Then Slyboots seized him by the beard with both hands, and ordered strong ropes to be brought, with which he bound the old man hand and foot, and hung him up by the legs to a beam. Then Slyboots said to him mockingly, "You may wait there till the feast is over, and then we will resume our conversation. Meantime, I'll keep your ring, on which your power depends, as a token." The old man was obliged to submit, whether he liked it or not, for he was bound so firmly that he could not move hand or foot.

Then the great feast began, to which the people flocked in thousands from all quarters. Although the feasting lasted for three whole weeks, there was no want of either food or drink, for there was plenty and to spare.

The people were much pleased, and had nothing but praise for the king and the manager of the feast. When the king was about to pay Slyboots the promised reward, he answered, "I have still a little business to transact with the stranger before I receive my reward." Then he took seven strong men with him, armed with heavy cudgels, and took them to the place where the old man had been hanging for the last three weeks. "Now, then," said Slyboots, "grasp your cudgels firmly, and belabour the old man so that he shall never forget his hospitable reception for the rest of his life." The seven men began to whack the old man all at once, and would soon have made an end of his life, if the rope had not given way under their blows. The little man fell down, and vanished underground in an instant, leaving a wide opening behind him. Then said Slyboots, "I have his pledge, with which I must follow him. Bring the king a thousand greetings from me, and tell him to divide my reward among the poor, if I should not return."

He then crept downwards through the hole in which the old man had disappeared. At first he found the pathway very narrow, but it widened considerably at the depth of a few fathoms, so that he was able to advance easily. Steps were hewn in the rock, so that he did not slip, notwithstanding the darkness. Slyboots went on for some distance, till he came to a door. He looked through a crack, and saw three young girls[122] sitting with the old man, whose head was resting on the lap of one of them. The girl was saying, "If I only rub the bruise a few times more with the bell,[123] the pain and swelling will disappear." Slyboots thought, "That is certainly the place where I struck the old man with the back of the axe three weeks ago." He decided to wait behind the door till the master of the house had lain down to sleep and the fire was extinguished. Presently the old man said, "Help me into my room, that I may go to bed, for my body is quite out of joint, and I can't move hand or foot." Then they brought him to his room. When it grew dark, and the girls had left the room, Slyboots crept gently in, and hid himself behind the beer-barrel.[124]

Presently the girls came back, and spoke gently, so as not to rouse the old man. "The bruise on the head is of no consequence," said one, "and the sprained body will also soon be cured, but the loss of the ring of strength is irreparable, and this troubles the old man more than his bodily sufferings." Soon afterwards they heard the old man snoring, and Slyboots came out of his hiding-place and made friends with the maidens. At first they were rather frightened, but the clever youth soon contrived to dispel their alarm, and they allowed him to stay there for the night. The maidens told him that the old man possessed two great treasures, a magic sword and a rod of rowan-wood, and he resolved to possess himself of both. The rod would form a bridge over the sea for its possessor, and he who bore the sword could destroy the most numerous army.[125] On the following evening Slyboots contrived to seize upon the wand and the sword, and escaped before daybreak with the help of the youngest girl. But the passage had disappeared from before the door, and in its place he found a large enclosure, beyond which was a broad sea.

As soon as Slyboots was gone the girls began to quarrel, and their loud talking woke up the old man. He learned from what they said that a stranger had been there, and he rose up in a passion, and found the wand and sword gone. "My best treasures are stolen!" he roared, and, forgetting his bruises, he rushed out. Slyboots was still sitting on the beach, thinking whether he should try the power of the wand, or seek for a dry path. Suddenly he heard a rushing sound behind him like a gust of wind. When he looked round, he saw the old man charging upon him like a madman. He sprang up, and had just time to strike the waves with the rod, and to cry out, "Bridge before, water behind!" He had scarcely spoken, when he found himself standing on a bridge over the sea, already at some distance from the shore.[126]

The old man came to the beach panting and puffing, but stopped short when he saw the thief on the bridge over the sea. He called out, snuffling, "Nicodemus, my son, where are you going?" "Home, papa," was the reply. "Nicodemus, my son, you struck me on the head with an axe, and hung me up to a beam by the legs." "Yes, papa." "Nicodemus, my son, did you call seven men to beat me, and steal my gold ring from me?" "Yes, papa." "Nicodemus, my son, have you bamboozled my daughters?" "Yes, papa." "Nicodemus, my son, have you stolen my sword and wand?" "Yes, papa." "Nicodemus, my son, will you come back?" "Yes, papa," answered Slyboots again. Meantime he had advanced so far on the bridge, that he could no longer hear the old man speak. When he had crossed the sea, he inquired the nearest way to the royal city, and hastened thither to claim his reward.

But lo! he found everything very different from what he had expected. Both his brothers had entered the service of the king, one as a coachman and the other as a chamberlain. Both were living in grand style and were rich people. When Slyboots applied to the king for his reward, the latter answered, "I waited for you for a whole year, and I neither saw nor heard anything of you. I supposed you were dead, and was about to divide your reward among the poor, as you desired. But one day your elder brothers arrived to inherit your fortune. I left the matter to the court, who assigned the money to them, because it was supposed that you were dead. Since then your brothers have entered my service, and both still remain in it." When Slyboots heard what the king said, he thought he must be dreaming, for he imagined that he had been only two nights in the old man's subterranean dwelling, and had then taken a few days to return home; but now it appeared that each night had been as long as a year. He would not go to law with his brothers, but abandoned the money to them, thanked God that he had escaped with his life, and looked out for some fresh employment. The king's cook engaged him as kitchen-boy, and he now had to turn the joints on the spit every day. His brothers despised him for his mean employment, and did not like to have anything to do with him, although he still loved them. One evening he told them much of what he had seen in the under-world, where the geese and ducks had gold and silver plumage. The brothers related this to the king, and begged him to send their youngest brother to fetch these curious birds. The king sent for the kitchen-boy, and ordered him to start next morning in search of the birds with the costly feathers.

Slyboots set out next day with a heavy heart, but he took with him the ring, the wand, and the sword, which he had carefully preserved. Some days afterwards he reached the sea, and saw an old man[127] with a long grey beard sitting on a stone at the place where he had reached land after his flight. When Slyboots came nearer, the old man asked, "Why are you so sad, my friend?" Slyboots told him how badly he had fared, and the old man bid him be of good cheer, and not vex himself, adding, "No harm can happen to you, as long as you wear the ring of strength." He then gave Slyboots a mussel-shell,[128] and advised him to build the bridge with the magic wand to the middle of the sea, and then to step on the shell with his left foot, when he would immediately find himself in the under-world, while every one there was asleep. He also advised him to make himself a bag of spun yarn in which to put the water-birds with gold and silver plumage, and then he could return unmolested. Everything fell out as the old man predicted, but Slyboots had hardly reached the sea-shore with his booty when he heard his former acquaintance behind him; and when he was on the bridge he heard him calling out, "Nicodemus, my son," and repeating the same questions as before. At last he asked if he had stolen the birds? Slyboots answered "Yes" to every question, and hastened on.

Slyboots arrived at the royal city in the evening, as his friend with the grey beard had foretold, and the yarn bag held the birds so well that none had escaped. The king made him a present, and told him to go back next day, for he had heard from the two elder brothers that the lord of the under-world had many gold and silver utensils, which the king desired for his own use. Slyboots did not venture to refuse, but he went very unwillingly, because he did not know how to manage the affair. However, when he reached the sea-shore, he met his friend with the grey beard, who asked the reason of his sadness. The old man gave Slyboots another mussel-shell, and a handful of small stones, with the following advice. "If you go there in the afternoon, you will find the father in bed taking his siesta, the daughters spinning in the sitting-room, and the grandmother in the kitchen scouring the gold and silver vessels bright. Climb nimbly on the chimney, throw down the stones tied up in a bag on the old woman's neck, come down yourself as quick as possible, put the costly vessels in the yarn bag, and then run off as fast as your legs will carry you."

Slyboots thanked his friend, and followed his advice exactly. But when he dropped the bag of pebbles, it expanded into a six hundred weight sack of paving stones, which dashed the old woman to the ground. In a moment Slyboots swept all the gold and silver vessels into his bag and took to flight. When the Old Boy heard the noise, he thought the chimney had fallen down, and did not venture to get up directly. But when he had called the grandmother for a long time without receiving any answer, he was obliged to go himself. When he discovered the misfortune that had happened, he hastened in pursuit of the thief, who could not be gone far. Slyboots was already on the sea, when his pursuer reached the shore panting and puffing. As before, the Old Boy cried out, "Nicodemus, my son," and repeated the former questions. At last he asked, "Nicodemus, my son, have you stolen my gold and silver utensils?" "Certainly, my father," answered Slyboots. "Nicodemus, my son, do you promise to come again?" "No, my father," answered Slyboots, hurrying along the bridge. Although the old man cursed and scolded after the thief, he could not catch him, and he had now been despoiled of all his magic treasures.

Slyboots found his friend with the grey beard waiting for him on the other side of the sea, and he threw down the bag of heavy gold and silverware, which the ring of strength had enabled him to bring away, and sat down to rest his weary limbs.

The old man now told him much that shocked him. "Your brothers hate you, and will do all they can to destroy you, if you do not oppose their wicked attempts. They will urge the king on to set you tasks in which you are very likely to perish. When you bring your rich load to the king this evening, you will find him friendly disposed towards you; and then ask, as your only reward, that his daughter should be hidden behind the door in the evening, to hear what your brothers talk about together."

When Slyboots came before the king with his rich booty, which was enough to make at least ten horse-loads, he found him extremely kind and friendly, and he took the opportunity to make the request which his old friend had advised. The king was glad that the treasure-bringer asked for no greater reward, and ordered his daughter to hide herself behind the door in the evening, to overhear what the coachman and the chamberlain were talking about.

The brothers had grown haughty with prosperity, and boasted of their good luck, and what was worse, they both boasted to each other of the favours of the princess in her own hearing! She ran to her father, flushed with shame and anger, and told him weeping what shameful lies she had heard with her own ears, and begged him to punish the wretches. The king immediately ordered them both to be thrown into prison, and when they had confessed their guilt before the court next day, they were executed, while Slyboots was promoted to the rank of king's councillor.

Some time afterwards the country was invaded by a foreign king, and Slyboots was sent against the enemy in the field. Then he drew the sword which he had brought from the under-world for the first time, and began to slaughter the hostile army, and soon none were left alive on the bloody field. The king was so pleased at the victory that he made Slyboots his son-in-law.

Jannsen gives an inferior variant of this story under the title of the House-Spirit. Here a little man who creeps from under the stove is permitted by the cook to taste the soup three times running, and every time the pot is emptied. His master tells him to quit his service next morning, and orders the steward to make soup; and the steward knocks down the dwarf with the spoon. Next morning, as the cook is leaving, the dwarf invites him to his house under the stove, and gives him a little box, on which he has only to tap, and ask for whatever he wants. The steward meets the cook, hears the story, puts on soup, and invites the dwarf to partake. In return he receives a box, which he takes to his master, but out of the box jumps a dwarf with an iron club, who belabours them both till they are nearly dead, and then disappears with the box. The kitchen dwarf was never seen again.

The next story is peculiarly interesting and original. I place it here, because we find three maidens busy spinning for a witch, as the Kalevide found them in the palace of Sarvik.

[Footnote 119: These great public periodical feasts are Eastern rather than Western. Compare the story of Ali Shar and Zumurrud (Thousand and One Nights).]

[Footnote 120: A similar feat is performed by Sarvik in the Kalevipoeg, Canto 17.]

[Footnote 121: See page 13.]

[Footnote 122: As in the Kalevipoeg, Canto 13; and the story of the Gold-Spinners, &c.]

[Footnote 123: Compare p. 121 (antea). The bell is not mentioned elsewhere in this story.]

[Footnote 124: A beer-barrel with a tap, for general use, often stands in the houses of the Esthonian peasantry.]

[Footnote 125: "And as to the sword, if it be drawn against an army, and its bearer shake it, he will rout the army; and if he say to it at the time of his shaking it, 'Slay this army,' there will proceed from that sword a lightning which will slay the whole army."—Story of Joodar (Thousand and One Nights).]

[Footnote 126: Compare the scene between the Kalevide and Tuehi, in Canto 15 of the poem.]

[Footnote 127: This old man may have been the consort of the Meadow-Queen. Cf. pp. 188, 259.]

[Footnote 128: We shall find mussel-shells used as boats in other tales.]



I am going to tell you a beautiful story about what happened in the world in ancient days, when the meadows still resounded with the wise sayings of birds and beasts.

Once upon a time a lame old woman lived in a thick forest with her three beautiful daughters in a cottage hidden among the bushes. The three daughters were like three fair flowers, especially the youngest, who was as fair and delicate as a bean-flower, while the mother was like a withered stem. But there was none to look upon them in their loneliness save the sun by day, and by night the moon and the starry eyes of heaven.

Hot, like eyes of youthful lovers, Shone the sun upon their head-gear, Shining on their coloured ribands, Turning red their garment's edges.

The old mother did not allow the girls to grow up in idleness, but kept them hard at work from morning to night spinning golden flax into thread. She gave the poor creatures no half-holidays on Thursdays or Saturdays, to provide themselves with anything they needed, and if they had not sometimes taken their needles in their hands by stealth at twilight or by moonlight, they would have possessed nothing. As soon as the distaff was empty, they were immediately furnished with a fresh supply, and the thread was required to be fine and regular. When the thread was finished, the old woman hid it away under lock and key in a secret chamber, where her daughters were never allowed to set foot. The spinners knew not how the golden flax came into the house, nor for what fabric the thread was used, for the mother never replied to any questions on these subjects. The old woman went off on a journey two or three times every summer, and sometimes stayed away more than a week, but her daughters never knew where she went or what she brought back with her, for she always returned by night. When she was about to start, she always distributed as many days' work to her daughters as she expected to be away.

The time came round again for the old woman to set out on her journey, and she gave out work to the girls for six days, repeating her usual admonition. "Children, do not let your eyes wander, and hold your fingers carefully, that the thread on the reel is not broken, or the glitter of the golden thread will vanish, and with it all your prospects of good fortune." The girls laughed at this impressive warning, and before their mother had hobbled ten steps from the house on her crutches, all three began to make light of it. "There is no need of this useless warning, which is always repeated," said the youngest sister. "The golden threads do not break with picking, much less with spinning." The other sisters added, "It is equally unlikely that the golden lustre should disappear." The girls often ventured on such jests, but at last, after much merriment, tears rose to their eyes.

On the third day after their mother's departure an unexpected event took place, which at first filled the daughters with alarm, and then with joy and happiness, but which was destined to cause them great trouble for a long time afterwards. A prince of the race of Kalev found himself separated from his companions while hunting in the forest,[129] and wandered so far out of his way that he could no longer hear the barking of the dogs, nor the blowing of the horns to direct him aright. All his shouts met with no response but their own echo, or were lost in the thick bush. At length the prince, tired and disheartened, dismounted from his horse and lay down to rest under a bush, while he allowed his horse to stray about and graze at liberty. When the prince awoke from his sleep, the sun was already low in the heavens. As he was again wandering backwards and forwards in search of the right road, he came at length to a small footpath which led him to the cottage of the lame old woman. The daughters were startled when they suddenly saw the stranger appear, whose like they had never before beheld. But they had finished their day's work, and soon made friends with the visitor in the cool evening, feeling no inclination to retire to rest. And even after the elder sisters had lain down to sleep, the youngest still sat on the doorstep with their guest, and no sleep visited their eyes that night.

We will leave the pair to exchange confidences and sweet words in the light of the moon and stars, and will return to the huntsmen who had lost their master in the wood. They searched unweariedly through the whole forest, until the darkness of night put an end to their quest. After this, two men were sent to carry the sad news to the city, while the others camped for the night under a great pine-tree, ready to renew their search next day. The king immediately issued orders that a regiment of horse and a regiment of foot should march out next morning to seek for his lost son. The wood was so long and broad that the search lasted till the third day, when horse-tracks were at length discovered which they followed till they reached the footpath which led to the cottage. The prince had not found the time pass heavily in company with the maiden, and he was but little disposed to go home. Before he departed, he gave her a secret promise that he would return in a short time, and take her with him, either with good-will or by force, and would make her his bride. But although the elder sisters had heard nothing of the matter, it nevertheless came to light in a way which nobody anticipated.

The youngest daughter was not a little astonished, when she sat down to work after the departure of the prince, to find that the thread on the spool was broken. She pieced the ends together, and set the wheel in rapid motion that she might make up for the time which she had lost with her lover, by diligent labour, but her heart fluttered at a strange and inexplicable event, for the gold thread had lost its former lustre. No terror and no sighs or tears could repair the mischief. According to an old proverb, misfortune springs into the house through the door, enters by the window, and creeps in through any crevice which is not blocked up; and thus was it now.[130]

The old woman returned home by night; and as soon as she came into the room in the morning, she perceived at once that something was wrong. Her heart was filled with rage, and she called her daughters one by one, and severely cross-questioned them. They could not help themselves with lies and excuses, for lies have short legs, and the cunning old woman soon discovered what the village cock had crowed in her youngest daughter's ear behind her back. Then the old woman began to curse so terribly that it seemed as if she wanted to darken heaven and earth with her imprecations. At last she threatened to break the neck of the young man and give his flesh to the wild beasts to devour if he ever ventured near the house again. The youngest daughter turned as red as a boiled crab, and found no rest by day nor sleep by night; for the thought oppressed her ever, that if the youth should return, he might meet his death. Early in the morning she stole quietly out of the house while her mother and sisters were still asleep, to breathe the freshness of the dewy air. As luck would have it, she had learned the language of birds from her mother when she was still a child, and her knowledge now stood her in good stead. A raven was sitting in the branches of a pine-tree near, preening his feathers, and the maiden called to him, "Dear bird of wisdom, wisest of the race of birds, come to my aid." "What help dost thou need?" answered the raven. The girl answered, "Fly from the wood afar into the country, until you reach a stately city with a royal palace. Endeavour to find the king's son, and warn him of the misfortune which has come upon us." Then she told the raven the whole story, from the breaking of the thread to the terrible threat of her mother, and begged that the youth would never return to the house. The raven promised to deliver her message, if he could find anybody who understood his language, and flew away immediately.

The mother would not allow the youngest daughter to work at the spinning-wheel again, but kept her busy winding the spun thread. This work would have been easier to the maiden than the other, but her mother's incessant cursing and scolding gave her no rest from morning to night. Any attempt to palliate her offence only made matters worse. If a woman's heart overflows with anger and loosens her tongue, no power on earth can stay it.

Towards evening the voice of the raven was heard croaking on the summit of the pine-tree, and the tortured girl hurried out to inquire what news he brought. The raven had had the good fortune to meet with the son of a magician in the garden of the king, who perfectly understood the language of birds. To him the bird delivered the message of the maiden, and besought him to convey it to the prince. "Tell the raven," said the prince to the magician's son, "that he must return, and say to the maiden, 'Sleep not on the ninth night, for a deliverer will then appear to rescue the chick from the claws of the hawk.'" They gave the raven a piece of meat as a reward for his message and to strengthen his wings, and then sent him back again. The maiden thanked the bird for his news, but concealed his message carefully in her own bosom, so that the others heard nothing of it. But as the ninth day approached her heart grew ever heavier, for she dreaded lest some unexpected mischance might yet ruin all.

When the ninth night came, and the mother and daughters had retired to rest, the youngest sister stole from the house on tip-toe, and sat down on the grass under a tree to wait for her lover. Her heart was full of mingled hope and fear. The cock had already crowed twice, but there was not a step nor a voice to be heard in the wood. But between the second and third cockcrow she heard the distant sound of horses' hoofs. Guided by the sound, she made her way in their direction, lest the noise of their approach should rouse the sleeping household. She soon caught sight of the troop of soldiers, at whose head rode the prince himself, guiding them by the secret marks he had made on the trees when he departed. As soon as he perceived the maiden, he sprang from his horse, lifted her into the saddle, seated himself before her, so that she could cling to him, and then hastened homewards. The moon shone so brightly between the trees that the soldiers could not miss the track. Presently the birds roused up, and began to chirp and twitter in the dawning light. And if the maiden had had time to listen to their warnings, they would have profited her more than the honeyed words of her lover, which were all that reached her ear. But she saw and heard nothing but the voice of her lover, who bade her dismiss all idle fears, and to trust in the protection of the soldiers. The sun was already high in the heavens when they left the forest and emerged into the open country. Fortunately the old mother did not discover her daughter's flight very early in the morning. It was only when she found that the twists of thread had not been wound that she asked what had become of the youngest sister, but no one could inform her. There were many indications to show that she had fled, and the mother immediately devised a crafty plan to punish the fugitive. She went out and gathered a handful of nine[131] different sorts of magic herbs, scattered charmed salt over them, and tied up the whole in a bundle. Then she muttered curses and imprecations over the witch-packet, and cast it to the winds, saying—

"Lend the ball thy wings, O whirlwind! Mother of the wind, thy pinions; Drive the witch's bundle onward, Let it fly with wind-like swiftness, Let it scatter death around it, Let it cast disease beyond it."

Somewhat before noon the prince and his army arrived on the bank of a broad river, over which a narrow bridge had been thrown, which only permitted the soldiers to pass one by one. The prince was just riding on the middle of the bridge, when the witch's bundle came flying along, borne by the wind, and attacked his horse like a gadfly. The horse snorted with terror, reared up on his hind-legs, and before any help could be given, the maiden slid from the saddle and fell headlong into the river. The prince would have leaped in after her, but the soldiers seized hold of him and prevented him, for the river was of unfathomable depth, and no human aid could avail to remedy the misfortune which had happened.

The prince was almost distracted with grief and horror, and the soldiers forced him to accompany them home against his will. He lay in a quiet room for weeks mourning over the calamity, and at first refused all food and drink. The king summoned magicians from all quarters, but none of them could discover the nature of the disease or suggest any remedy. But one day the son of the wind-sorcerer, who was one of the labourers in the king's garden, advised, "Send to Finland for the oldest of all magicians, for he is wiser than the magicians of our country."

When the king heard this, he sent a messenger to the old Finnish sorcerer, who arrived after a week on the wings of the wind. He spoke thus to the king: "Mighty king, the disease which afflicts the prince is caused by the wind. An evil witch-packet has robbed the prince of the half of his heart, and therefore he suffers unceasingly. Send him often into the wind that the wind may bear away his sorrows into the forest."

He was not wrong, for the health of the prince soon began to improve, his appetite grew better, and he was able to sleep at night. At last he confided the sorrow of his heart to his parents, and his father wished him to seek out another young bride to lead home; but the prince would not listen to the proposal.

The young man had already passed a year in mourning, when one day he happened to come to the bridge where he had lost his betrothed, and bitter tears rose to his eyes at the recollection. Suddenly he heard a sweet voice singing, although no living creature was in sight. And the voice sang:

"By the mother's curse o'ertaken, Sank in flood the hapless maiden, In the watery grave the fair one, And in Ahti's[132] waves thy darling."

The prince dismounted from his horse, and looked round everywhere to see whether some one might not be hidden under the bridge, but he could see no singer anywhere. The only object visible was a water-lily, swaying on the water amid its broad leaves. But a swaying flower could not sing, and there must be something mysterious about it. He tied his horse to a stump on the bank, and sat down on the bridge to listen, hoping that his eyes or ears would give him some solution of the riddle. All was still for a while, but presently the invisible singer sang again:

"By the mother's curse o'ertaken, Sank in flood the hapless maiden, In the watery grave the fair one, And in Ahti's waves thy darling."

Sometimes the wind brings a fortunate idea to men, and such was the case now. The prince thought, "If I rode alone to the cottage in the wood, who knows but that the gold-spinners might be able to give me some explanation of this wonderful occurrence." He mounted his horse and rode towards the forest. He hoped to find his way easily by the former indications, but the wood had grown, and he rode for more than one day before he could discover the footpath. When he drew near the cottage, he stopped and waited, hoping that one of the maidens would come out. Early in the morning the eldest sister came out to wash her face at the spring. The young man went to her, and told her of the misfortune that had happened on the bridge the year before, and of the song which he had heard there a day or two ago. It happened that the old mother was absent from home, and the maiden invited the prince into the house. As soon as the two girls heard his story, they knew that the misfortune must have been caused by their mother's witch's coil, and that their sister was not dead, but only enchanted. The eldest sister inquired, "Did you see nothing on the surface of the water from whence the song might have proceeded?" "Nothing," replied the prince. "As far as my eyes could reach, nothing could be perceived on the surface of the water but a yellow water-lily surrounded by its broad leaves; but leaves and flowers cannot sing." The maidens immediately suspected that the water-lily could be nothing but their sister, who had fallen into the water, and had been changed into a flower by enchantment. They knew that their old mother had let fly the witch's coil after the maiden, with her curse, and that if it had not killed her, it might have transformed her into any shape. But they would not tell the prince of their suspicions until they could devise some means for their sister's release, lest they might inspire him with fruitless hopes. As they did not expect their mother to return home for some days, there was plenty of time to consider the best course to adopt.

In the evening the eldest sister gathered a sufficient quantity of various magic herbs, which she rubbed with flour into a dough; and baked a pie which she gave to the young man to eat before he retired to rest at night. During the night the prince had a wonderful dream. He thought that he was in the wood among the birds, and that he could understand the language of them all. In the morning he related his dream to the maidens, and the eldest sister observed, "You have come to us at a fortunate hour, and you have had your dream at a fortunate hour, for it will be fulfilled on your way home. The pork pie which I baked for your welfare yesterday, and gave you to eat, was mixed with magic herbs which will enable you to understand everything which the knowing birds say to one another. These little feathered people are gifted with much wisdom which is unknown to mankind. Turn a sharp ear to whatever their beaks may utter. And when your own time of trouble is over, do not forget us poor children, who sit here at the spinning-wheel as if in an eternal prison."

The prince thanked the maidens for their kindness, and promised to do his best to release them, either by ransom or by force. He then took leave of them and turned his way homewards. The maidens were pleased to find that the threads were not broken, and still retained their golden lustre, so that their mother would have no cause to reproach them when she returned.

The prince found his ride through the wood still more pleasant. He seemed to be surrounded with a numerous company, for the singing and chirping of the birds sounded like articulate words to his ears. He was greatly surprised to find how much wisdom is lost to men who do not understand the language of birds. At first the wanderer was not able to understand clearly what the feathered people were saying, for they were talking of the affairs of various persons who were unknown to him; but suddenly he saw a magpie and a thrush sitting in a tall pine-tree, who were talking about himself.

"How great is the stupidity of men!" said the thrush. "They cannot rightly comprehend the most trifling matter. For a whole year the foster-child of a lame old woman has been sitting near the bridge in the form of a water-lily, lamenting her sad fate in song, but no one has been able to release her. A few days ago her lover was riding over the bridge, and heard her melancholy song, but he was no wiser than anybody else." The magpie answered, "And yet the maiden was punished by her mother on his account. Unless he is gifted with greater wisdom that falls to the lot of men, she must remain a flower for ever." "It would be a trifling matter to release the maiden," said the thrush, "if the matter were fully explained to the old magician of Finland. He could easily deliver her from her watery prison and flowery bondage."

This conversation made the young man thoughtful, and as he rode on, he began to consider what messenger he could send to Finland. Presently he heard one swallow say to another over his head, "Let us go to Finland, where we can build our nests better than here."

"Stay, friends," cried the prince in the language of the birds. "Please to convey a thousand compliments from me to the old sorcerer of Finland, and ask him to give me directions how to restore a maiden who has been transformed into a water-lily to her original form." The swallows promised to fulfil his request, and flew away.

When he came to the bank of the river, he allowed his horse to graze, and remained standing on the bridge, to listen whether he could not hear the song again. But all was still, and he could hear nothing but the rushing of the waters and the sighing of the wind. At last he mounted his horse unwillingly and rode home, but did not say a word to any one of his excursion and his adventure.

He was sitting in the garden a week afterwards, and thinking that the swallows must have forgotten his message, when a great eagle circled above him high in the air. The bird gradually descended, and at length alighted on the branch of a lime-tree near the prince, and thus addressed him: "I bring you greetings from the old sorcerer in Finland, who hopes that you will not think ill of him that he did not reply to your message sooner, for he could not find a messenger who was coming this way. It is a very simple matter to disenchant the maiden. You have only to go to the bank of the river, throw off your clothes, and smear yourself all over with mud till not a speck remains white. Then take the tip of your nose between your fingers, and say, 'Let the man become a crayfish.' Immediately you will become a crayfish, when you can descend into the river without any fear of being drowned. Squeeze yourself boldly under the roots of the water-lily, and clear them from mud and reeds, so that no portion remains fixed. Then grasp one of the roots with your pincers, and the water will raise you with the flower to the surface. Allow yourself to drift with the stream till you see a rowan-tree[133] with leafy branches on the left bank. Near the rowan-tree is a rock about as high as a small bath-house. When you reach the rock you must say, 'Let the water-lily become a maiden and the crayfish a man!' and it will be accomplished immediately." When the eagle had delivered his message, he spread his wings, and flew away. The young man looked after him for a time, not knowing what to think of the whole affair.

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