THE ADVENTURES OF THE SON OF KALEV, THE HERO OF ESTHONIA.
THE MARRIAGES OF SALME AND LINDA
In ancient days, the race of Taara dwelt here and there in the land, and took to themselves wives of the daughters of men. In the far North, near the sacred oak forest of Taara, such a household existed, and from thence three sons went forth into the world to seek their fortunes. One son travelled to Russia, where he became a great merchant; another journeyed to Lapland, and became a warrior; while the third, the famous Kalev, the father of heroes, was borne to Esthonia on the back of an eagle. The eagle flew with him to the south across the Gulf of Finland, and then eastward across Lääne and Viru, until, by the wise ordering of Jumala, he eagle finally descended with him on the rocky shores of Viru, where he founded a kingdom.
In the province of Lääne a young widow lived quietly by herself. One Sunday she followed the footprints of her cattle, and what did she find on her way? On the path she found a hen; she found a grouse's egg in the footprints of the cattle, and she found a young crow near the village. She carried them all home with her to comfort her loneliness, and she made a nest for the hen and the egg in a basket lined with wool, but she threw the young crow into a corner behind the boxes.
The hen soon began to grow, and her head reached the lid of the basket while she sat on the egg. She grew taller for three months, and for several days of the fourth month.
The widow went into the storehouse to look at her foster-children, and what did she behold on raising the lid of the basket? The hen had grown into the fair maiden Salme; the egg had given birth to a second maiden, Linda, while the poor crow had become an orphan girl, a maid-of-all-work, to carry wood to the stove and to bend under the weight of water-pails from the well.
Salme was besieged by suitors. Five and six brought her offerings of corn-brandy, seven sent her offers of marriage, and eight sent trustworthy messengers to bring them news of her. The fame of her beauty spread far and wide, and at length not merely mortal lovers, but even the Moon, the Sun, and the eldest son of the Pole Star sought her hand in marriage.
The Moon drove up in a grand chariot drawn by fifty horses, and attended by a train of sixty grooms. He was a pale slender youth, and found no favour in the eyes of Salme, who cried out from the storehouse:
When the Moon heard her answer, he grew yet paler, and returned home sorrowful.
And now the Sun himself appeared, a young man with fiery eyes; and he drove up with similar state to the Moon. But Salme declared that she liked him even less than the Moon, for he was much too fickle. Sometimes, during the finest summer weather, he would send rain in the midst of the hay-harvest; or if the time had come for sowing oats, he would parch the land with drought; or if the time for sowing is past, he dries up the barley in the ground, beats down the flax, and presses down the peas in the furrows; he won't let the buckwheat grow, or the lentils in their pods; and when the rye is white for harvest, he either glows fiercely and drives away the clouds, or sends a pouring rain.
The Sun was deeply offended; his eyes glowed with anger, and he departed in a rage.
At last the Youth of the Stars made his appearance, driving with a similar cortège to those who had preceded him.
As soon as Salme heard of his arrival, she cried out that his horse was to be led into the stable and tended with the utmost care. The horse must have the best provender, and must be given fine linen to rest on and be covered with silken cloths; his head was to rest on satin, and his hoofs on soft hay. After this she declared to his master:
Having thus accepted her suitor and provided for the comfort of his horse, Salme ordered the bridegroom to be ushered into the hall, where the broad table was washed clean and covered with a new tablecloth. The Star was to be seated with his back to the wall and his feet comfortably propped up on the bench, while he was to be feasted on the best meat and fish, and offered wedding-cake and honey, besides beer and sweet mead. The widow invited the Star to take his place at the table, and pressed him to eat and drink, but he was greatly excited, and his weapons, ornaments, and heavy spurs jingled and clanked as he stamped on the floor, and declared that he would eat nothing till Salme herself appeared before him. But Salme asked him to wait awhile while she adorned herself, and asked her sister Linda to fetch her woollen dress and her silken shift with gold-embroidered sleeves, her stockings with the pretty garters, and the brightly coloured and gold-worked kerchiefs of silk and linen.
Meantime, the widow again invited the Star to eat and drink, or, if he were tired, to sleep; but he declared, as before, that he would neither eat nor drink till he had seen Salme, and that the stars never closed their eyes in sleep.
At last Salme herself appeared in the hall, but the Meadow-Queen and the wood nymphs had so adorned her that her foster-mother did not know her again, and asked in astonishment, "Is it the moon, or the sun, or one of the young daughters of the sunset?"
Guests gathered to the wedding from far and near, and even the oaks and alders came, roots, branches, and all.
In the midst of these joyous festivities, the Moon and then the Sun returned in greater state than before to seek the hand of Linda, who was resting on a couch in the bathroom; but she also refused them both, almost in the same terms as her sister had done; and they retired sorrowfully.
A third suitor, the Lord of the Waters, now appeared; but Linda replied that the roaring of the waves was terrible, and the depth of the sea was awful; that the brooks only gave a scanty supply of water, and the river-floods were devastating. He was followed by the Wind, who rode the Horse of the Tempest, and, like all the other suitors, was attended by a cavalcade of fifty horses and sixty grooms; and he too asked the hand of Linda. But she replied that a delicate girl could never take pleasure in the howling of the wind and the raging of the tempest. The Wind whistled out of the house, but his trouble did not weigh on his heart very long.
Another suitor for the hand of Linda now appeared in the person of the Prince of Kungla. All the guests, and Linda's own sisters, approved of this suitor. But Linda declared that she could not think of accepting him; for the king, his father, had wicked daughters, who would treat a stranger unkindly.
A sixth suitor now appeared in the person of the young and handsome giant Kalev. All the wedding-guests grumbled, and even the widow was opposed to the match; but he pleased Linda, and she accepted him at once. The widow then invited him to enter and partake of the good cheer; but he trembled with eagerness, so that his sword in its sheath, and his chains and spurs, and even the money in his purse, jingled as he answered that he would neither eat nor drink till Linda appeared before him. Linda begged for a little delay to adorn herself, but Kalev still refused to eat or drink, and then she called her slave-sister to help her, while the widow continued her ineffectual invitations to Kalev to feast and enjoy himself.
At last Linda appeared in the hall, where she excited as much admiration as her sister, and her wedding was celebrated with still greater festivities than Salme's, the guests dancing the local dances of every province of Esthonia.
But now the Youth of the Stars could delay no longer, and Salme took an affecting farewell of her foster-mother and all her kith and kin, declaring that she would now be hidden behind the clouds, or wandering through the heavens transformed into a star. Then she mounted her sledge, and again bade her foster-mother a last and eternal farewell. Linda and her slave-sister called after her to ask whither she was going; but there came no answer save the sighing of the wind, and tears of joy and regret in the rain and the dew; nor did they ever receive tidings of Salme more.
After Salme's departure, the wedding-festival of Linda was kept up for some time, and when Kalev finally drove off with her in her sledge, she bade farewell to her foster-mother; but Kalev reminded her that she had forgotten the moon before the house, who was her father; the sun before the storehouse, who was her old uncle; and the birch-tree before the window, who was her brother, besides her cousins in the wood. They gazed after her sorrowfully; but she was happy with Kalev, and heeded them not. Kalev and Linda drove on in their sledge day and night across the snow-fields and through the pine-forests till they reached their home.
THE DEATH OF KALEV
Kalev and Linda lived very happily together, and were blessed with a numerous offspring; but the country was small, and as soon as the children were grown up they wandered forth into the world to seek their fortunes, more especially as Kalev had determined that one son only should be the heir to his possessions. At length Kalev began to grow old, and felt that his end was approaching. Two of his younger sons, who were still little boys, remained at home; but the youngest of all, the famous Sohni, more often known by his patronymic, the Son of Kalev, was still unborn. Kalev foretold the glory and greatness of this last son to Linda, indicating him as his heir, and shortly afterwards fell dangerously sick.
Then Linda took her brooch, and spun it round on a thread, while she sent forth the Alder-Beetle to bid the Wind-Magician and Soothsayer hasten to the bedside of her husband. Seven days the brooch spun round, and seven days the beetle flew to the north, across three kingdoms and more, till he encountered the Moon, and besought his aid. But the Moon only gazed on him sorrowfully without speaking, and went on his way.
Again Linda spun the brooch for seven days, and sent forth the beetle, who flew farther this time, through many thick forests, and as far as the Gold Mountain, till he encountered the Evening Star; but he also refused him an answer.
Next time the beetle took a different route, over wide heaths and thick fir-woods, till he reached the Gold Mountain, and met the rising Sun. He also returned no answer; but on a fourth journey the beetle encountered the Wind-Magician, the old Soothsayer from Finland, and the great Necromancer himself. He besought their aid, but they replied with one voice that what the drought had parched up, the moonlight blanched, and the stars withered, could never bloom again. And before the beetle returned from his fruitless journey the mighty Kalev had expired.
Linda sat weeping by his bedside without food or sleep for seven days and nights, and then began to prepare his corpse for burial. First she bathed it with her tears, then with salt water from the sea, rain water from the clouds, and lastly water from the spring. Then she smoothed his hair with her fingers, and brushed it with a silver brush, and combed it with the golden comb which the water-nymphs had used to comb their hair. She drew on him a silken shirt, a satin shroud, and a robe over it, confined by a silver girdle. She herself dug his grave thirty ells below the sod, and grass and flowers soon sprang from it.
Linda mourned for Kalev for one month after another till three months had passed, and the fourth was far advanced. She heaped a cairn of stones over his tomb, which formed the hill on which the Cathedral of Revel now stands. One day she was carrying a great stone to the cairn, but found herself too weak, and let it fall. She sat down on it, and lamented her sad fate, and her tears formed the lake called "Ülemiste järv," the Upper Lake, beside which the huge stone block may still be seen.
After this, Linda felt her time approaching, and she retired to the bathroom, and called upon the gods to aid her. Ukko and Rõugutaja both attended at her call, and one brought a bundle of straw, and the other pillows, and they made her up a soft bed; nor was it long before Kalev's posthumous son saw the light.
Linda was sitting by the cradle one day, trying to sing the child to sleep, when suddenly he began to scream, and continued to scream day and night for a whole month, when he burst his swaddling-clothes, smashed the cradle to pieces, and began to creep about the floor.
Linda suckled the child till he was three years old, and he grew up a fine strong boy. He first learned to tend the cattle, and then to guide the plough, and grew up like a young oak-tree. When he played kurni (tipcat), his blocks flew far and wide all over the country, and many even as far as the sea. Sometimes he used to go down to the sea, and make ducks and drakes of huge rocks, which he sent spinning out to sea for a verst or more, while he stood on his head to watch them.
At other times he used to amuse himself quietly in the enclosure, carving skates or weaving baskets. Thus he passed his days till he came to man's estate.
After the death of Kalev, Linda was much pestered by suitors who were anxious to marry the rich widow; but she refused them all, and at length they ceased to trouble her. Last of all came a mighty wind-sorcerer from Finland, calling himself Kalev's cousin; and when she refused him also, he vowed revenge. But she laughed at his threats, telling him she had three young eagles with sharp claws growing up in the house, who would protect their mother.
Linda was no longer tormented by suitors, but the magician whom she had discarded recommended all his friends not to seek a wife in Kalev's house, for notwithstanding Linda's wealth her beauty was faded, her teeth were iron, and her words were red-hot pincers. They would do better to sail to Finland, where they would find rows of maidens, rich in money, pearls, jewels, and golden bracelets, waiting for them on the rocky coast.
THE FATE OF LINDA
One hot day, the youngest son of Kalev was sitting on the top of a cliff watching the clouds and waves. Suddenly the sky became overcast, and a terrific storm arose, which lashed the breakers into foam. Äike, he Thunder-God, was driving his brazen-wheeled chariot over the iron bridges of the sky, and as he thundered above, the sparks flew from the wheels, and he hurled down flash after flash of lightning from his strong right hand against a company of wicked demons of the air, who plunged from the rocks into the sea, dodged the thunderbolts among the waves, and mocked and insulted the god. The hero was enraged at their audacity, and plunging into the water, dragged them from their hiding-places like crabs, and filled a whole sack with them. He then swam to the shore, and cast them out on the rocks, where the bolts of the angry god soon reduced them to a disgusting mass that even the wolves would not touch.
Another day, the three sons of Kalev went hunting in the forest with their three dogs. The dogs killed a bear among the bushes, an elk in the open country, and a wild ox in the fir-wood. Next they encountered a pack of wolves and another of foxes, numbering five dozen of each, and killed them all. All this game the youngest brother bound together and carried on his back; and on the way home they found the rye-fields full of hares, of which they likewise secured five dozen.
Meantime the Finnish sorcerer had been watching Kalev's house from his boat, where he remained in hiding among the rocks a little way from the shore, till he saw that the three young heroes had left the house and wandered far into the forest, leaving their home unprotected. The sorcerer then steered boldly to the shore, hid his boat, and made his way by devious and unfrequented paths to the house of Kalev, where he climbed over the low gate into the enclosure, and went to the door, but he looked cautiously round when he reached the threshold. Linda was just boiling soup over the fire when he rushed in, and, without saying a word, seized her by the girdle and dragged her away to his boat. She resisted him with tooth and nail, but he muttered spells which unnerved her strength and overpowered her feeble efforts, and her prayers and cries for help were unheard by men. But she cried to the gods for protection, and the Thunder-God himself came to her aid.
Just as the sorcerer was about to push off from the shore, Pikker darted a bolt from the clouds. His chariot thundered over the iron bridges of the sky, scattering flames around it, and the sorcerer was struck down senseless. Linda fled; but the gods spared her further sorrow and outrage by transforming her into a rock on Mount Iru.
It was a long time before the sorcerer woke from his swoon, when he sat up, rubbing his eyes, and wondering what had become of his prey; but he could discover no trace of her. The rock is now called "Iru's Stepmother;" and old people relate that when it was once rolled down into the valley, it was found next morning in its original place on the mountain.
The sons of Kalev were now making the best of their way home, sometimes along well-trodden paths or across the plains, sometimes wading through deep sand or mossy bogs, and then through forests of pine, oak, birch, and alder. The pine forest was called the King's Wood; the oak forest was sacred to the God Taara; the forest where the slender birch-trees grew was called the Maidens' Wood, and the alder-wood was sacred to mourners, and was called the Wood of the Poor Orphans.
As they passed through the pine forest which was called the King's Wood, the eldest brother sat down under a tree and began to sing a song. He sang till the leaves on the trees shone brighter than ever, and the needles on the fir-trees turned to silken tassels, and the fir-cones gleamed purple in the sunshine. Acorns sprouted on the oaks, tender catkins on the birch-trees, and other trees were covered with sweet-scented snow-white flowers, which shone in the sunshine and glimmered in the moonlight, while the woods re-echoed with his singing, and the tones were heard far over the heaths and meadows, and the daughter of the king of Kungla wept tears of rapture.
The second brother sat down in the birch-wood under a weeping birch-tree, and began to sing a song. As he sang, the buds unfolded and the flowers bloomed, the golden ears of corn swelled, and the apples reddened, the kernels formed in the nuts, the cherries ripened, red berries grew on the hills and blue berries in the marshes, while black berries grew at the edges of the swamps, yellow ones on the mossy hillocks, and the elder-trees were covered with rich purple grapes, while the woods re-echoed with the song, and its notes spread far over the heaths and meadows till the little water-nymphs shed tears of rapture.
The third brother sat down under a magnificent oak in the sacred oak-forest of Taara, and began to sing a song. As he sang, the wild beasts of the neighbouring woods and heaths gathered round him, and the cuckoos, doves, magpies, larks, nightingales, and swallows joined in the concert. The swans, geese, and ducks swam towards the sound, the waves of the sea beat on the rocks, and the crowns of the trees bowed down. The green hills trembled, and the clouds parted to permit the sky to listen to the singing, while the forest-king's daughter, the slender wood-nymphs, and the yellow-haired water-nymphs wept tears of rapture and glowed with longing for the handsome singer.
Evening now approached, and the heroes made the best of their way homewards, the youngest, as before, loading himself with all the game. They looked out anxiously for the smoke of their home and the glow of the kitchen-fire, but they could discover nothing.
They quickened their pace as they crossed the deep sand of the heath, but no smoke nor fire nor steam from the kettle could be seen. They rushed into the house, but the fire was out and the hearth was cold. Again and again they shouted to their mother, but there was no answer save the echo. The evening became darker and stiller, and the brothers went out to search in different directions. The youngest went down to the beach, where he found such traces of his mother's presence that he concluded that she had been carried off by her disappointed suitor, the Finnish sorcerer.
The eldest brother proposed that they should eat their supper and go to sleep, hoping that a dream might show them where to seek for their mother. The second assented, hoping that Ukko would send them a vision; but the youngest was unwilling to put off till to-morrow what might be done to-day, and finally determined to repair to his father's grave.
The youth told his father who he was, and all his trouble, and implored him to rise and help him. But his father answered that he could not rise, for the rocks lay on his breast, lilies of the valley on his eyelids, harebells on his eyes, and red flowers on his cheeks. But he prayed the wind to show his son the right path, and a gentle zephyr to guide him on the way pointed out by the stars of heaven. So the young hero returned to the sea-shore and followed his mother's footprints till they were lost in the sea. He gazed over the sea and shore, but could detect no further traces of her, nor was any boat in sight. There he sat till it grew quite dark, and the moon and stars appeared in the sky; but winds and waves, sea and sky, moon and stars, alike were silent, and brought him no tidings of his mother.
THE ISLAND MAIDEN
When the Kalevide had satisfied himself that no further traces of his mother were to be found, he cast himself into the sea beneath the stars, and swam northwards manfully towards Finland, swimming with his hands, steering with his feet, and with his hair floating like a sail. He swam on till past midnight without meeting with a resting-place; but at length he espied a black speck in the distance, which proved to be a small rocky island. The hero discovered a mossy bank on a projecting rock, and made his way to the shore, and lay down, intending to sleep a little, when he was roused by the voice of a maiden singing a love-song. It was very dark and somewhat foggy, but he saw the light of a fire at a little distance at the foot of an oak-tree, beneath which sat a fair girl with brown eyes. The hero soon joined her, and they talked together for some time, when the maiden became alarmed at his familiarities, and cried out. Her mother awoke, and thought it was only a bad dream; but her father hastened to her aid, armed with a great club. But when he saw the terrible giant, he grew as pale as death, and his club dropped from his hand.
The maiden could not lift her eyes to her father, but the Kalevide asked carelessly if he had seen the Finnish sorcerer pass the island in his boat on the previous evening. "No," replied the islander, "I have not seen anything of him for weeks; but tell me your name and lineage, for I judge that you are of the race of the gods." The hero answered him fully; but when the maiden heard that he was the son of Kalev and Linda, she was seized with terror, and her foot slipping she fell from the cliff into the sea.
The father shrieked and wrung his hands, but the Kalevide plunged into the sea after the maiden, and sought for her for a long time in vain. When he abandoned the search, he did not venture to return to the island, but after crying out a few words of unavailing regret swam again towards Finland. The father's cry of despair fully roused the mother, who sprang up, and ran down to the shore, only to learn that her daughter was lost.
Then the mother took a rake with a long copper handle, and the father took his net, and with them they sought for their daughter's body at the bottom of the sea. They did not find their daughter, but they raked up an oak-tree, a fir-tree, an eagle's egg, an iron helmet, a fish, and a silver dish. They took them all carefully home, and went again to seek for their lost child.
Then a song arose from the deep, telling how a maiden went down to the sea:
Then the man of copper offered her the weapons if she would take him as her husband, but she refused, saying that she was the daughter of a landsman, and preferred a husband from the village on the land. He laughed scornfully; her foot slipped, and she sank into the sea. Her father and mother came to seek her, and found only her ornaments scattered on the beach. They called her by her name, and implored her to go home with them; but she answered that she could not, for she was weighed down by the water; and she related to them her adventure with the copper man. But she begged her parents not to weep for her, for she had a house at the bottom of the sea, and a soft resting-place in the ooze.
THE KALEVIDE AND THE FINNISH SORCERER
Day was breaking as the dauntless swimmer approached the coast of Finland, where his enemy, the sorcerer, had arrived somewhat before him, and had made his boat fast under a projecting rock. The Kalevide gazed round without seeing any traces of him, and lay down to sleep; but though the morning was calm and peaceful, his dreams were but of battle and murder.
Meantime the islander and his wife, not being able to find their daughter, returned home weeping, and planted the oak and the fir in the field where their daughter used to swing in the evening, in remembrance of her. Then they went to look in the helmet where they had put the egg; but it was cold and damp, so the mother put the egg in the warm sun by day, and nursed it in her bosom at night.
Then they went to look at the trees, and the oak had already shot up a hundred fathoms, and the fir-tree ten. Next they visited the fish, which prayed for its liberty, and they restored it to the sea.
The oak and fir now reached the clouds; and a young eagle was hatched from the egg, which the mother tended; but one day it escaped and flew away. The oak now scattered the clouds and threatened to pierce the sky. Then they sought a sorcerer to fell the tree, and the woman took a golden rake on her shoulder with a copper handle and silver prongs. She raked up three swathes of grass, and in the third she found the eagle which she had lately reared from the egg. She took him home, and under his wing was a little man, scarcely two spans high, holding an axe in his hands.
The Kalevide had only intended to take a short nap, but he was so weary that he slept all through the day and night, and did not awake till sunrise next morning. When he awoke, he set off at once in search of his mother and the sorcerer into the interior of the country. At last he climbed a high mountain, and saw from thence an inhabited valley with a brook running through it, and the sorcerer's farm at the edge of the wood.
The son of Kalev rushed down the mountain and through the plain till he reached the gate of the enclosure and looked in. The sorcerer was lying on the grass in the shade of his house. The Kalevide turned towards the wood, tore up an oak-tree by the roots, and trimmed it into a club. He swung it in his right hand, and strode through the enclosure, the whole country trembling and the hills and valleys shaking with fear as he advanced.
The sorcerer started from his sleep, and saw Linda's avenger at the gate, but he was too unnerved and terrified to attempt to hide himself. He hurriedly took a handful of feathers from his bosom, and blew them from him with a few magic words, and lo! they became an armed host of warriors,—thousands of them, both on foot and on horseback. They rushed upon the son of Kalev like a swarm of gnats or bees; but he laid about him with his club as if he was threshing, and beat them down, horse and man together, on all sides, like drops of hail or rain. The fight was hardly begun when it was over, and the hero waded chest-deep in blood. The sorcerer, whose magic troops had never failed him before, was now at his wit's end, and prayed for mercy, giving a long account of how he had endeavoured to carry off Linda, and had been struck down by the enraged Thunder-God. But the Kalevide paid no attention to his speech, and, after a few angry words, he smashed his head with his club. Then he rushed through the house from room to room in search of his mother, breaking open every door and lock which opposed him, while the noise resounded far over the country. But he found not his mother, and regretted that he had killed the sorcerer, who might have helped him. At last, wearied out with his own violence, he threw himself on a couch, and wept himself to sleep. He had a vision of his mother in her youth and beauty, swinging with her companions, and awoke, convinced that she was really dead.
THE KALEVIDE AND THE SWORD-SMITHS
The Kalevide mourned two days for his mother, but on the third day he began to get over his grief, and determined, before returning home, to visit a famous smith of Finland, and to provide himself with a good sword. So he set off in another direction, and lost himself in the woods, and had to pass the night on the wet grass under a fir-tree, which he did not at all relish. Next morning he started off again early, and a thrush sang to him, and directed him to turn to the west. He sprang forward with renewed energy and soon found himself in the open country, where he encountered an old woman, who gave him minute instructions for finding his way to the smithy, which was three days' journey off. When at length he reached the smithy, he found the old smith and his three sons hard at work forging swords.
The hero saluted the smith, who replied to him courteously, and at once acceded to his request to try the swords before purchasing one. At a sign from the smith, one of the sons went out and fetched an armful of swords. The Kalevide picked out the longest, and bent it into a hoop, when it straightened itself at once. He then whirled it round his head, and struck at the massive rock which stood in the smithy with all his might. The sparks flew from the stone and the blade shivered to pieces, while the old smith looked on and swore.
"Who mixes up children's toys with weapons for men?" said the Kalevide scornfully, and caught up a second and third sword, which he shivered in the same way before the smith could interfere. "Stop, stop," cried the smith at last, "don't break any more swords to show off your strength;" and he called to his sons to bring some swords of the best quality they had.
The youths brought in an armful of the very best, and the Kalevide chose a huge sword, which he brandished like a reed in his right hand, and then brought down on the anvil. The sword cut deep into the iron, and the blade did not fly, but the sharp edge was somewhat blunted.
Then the smith was well pleased, and said that he had one sword in store worthy of the strength of the hero, if he was rich enough to buy it; for, between friends, the price was nine strong carthorses, four pairs of good packhorses, twenty good milch kine, ten pairs of good yoke oxen, fifty well-fed calves, a hundred tons of the best wheat, two boatsful of barley, and a large shipload of rye, a thousand old dollars, a hundred pairs of bracelets, two hundred gold coins, a lapful of silver brooches, the third of a kingdom, and the dowries of three maidens.
Then from a little iron cupboard they fetched a sword which had not its equal in the world, and on which the smith and his sons had laboured for seven long years without intermission. It was wrought of seven different kinds of Swedish iron with the aid of seven powerful charms, and was tempered in seven different waters, from those of the sea and Lake Peipus to rain-water. It had been bespoken by Kalev himself, but he had not lived till the work was completed.
The son of Kalev received the huge blade from the hands of the smith with reverence, and whirled it round like a fiery wheel, and it whistled through the air like the tempest that breaks oaks and unroofs houses. Then he turned and brought down the keen edge like a flash of lightning on the great anvil, and clove it to the ground without the sword receiving the slightest injury.
Then the hero joyfully expressed his thanks to the smith for forging such a splendid sword, and promised to bring him the full price demanded upon his return to Esthonia. But the smith said he would rather go and fetch the value of the sword himself.
And now a great drinking-bout was prepared in honour of the sword and its owner, which lasted for seven days. Beer and mead flowed in abundance, and the guests drank till they lost all restraint, shouting and laughing, and throwing their caps about, and rolling on the grass.
The Kalevide had lost his senses like the rest, and told the whole story of his adventure on the island and the drowning of the maiden. Upon this, the eldest son of the smith, his father's pride and joy, sprang forward, denouncing him for his aspersions on the maiden's honour. The Kalevide defied him, maintaining the truth of the story, and from words they soon came to blows; and, before any one could comprehend what was going on or interfere, the Kalevide drew the sword from its sheath and struck off the head of his adversary before the face of his father, mother, and brothers, the hero thus loading himself with a second great crime.
The youth's father shrieked with horror and his mother fell fainting to the ground; the smith then cried out to the Kalevide that he had murdered the support of his old age, and had stained the innocence and honour of his new sword for ever. Then he called to his sons to fetch the hammers from the smithy and break the bones of the murderer. But the drunken giant advanced against them with his sword, defying them to the combat; and the smith, recognising the hopelessness of any attempt against him, cried to his sons to let him pass and leave vengeance to the gods, cursing him like a mad dog, and calling on the sword itself to avenge the crime. But the Kalevide seemed to hear nothing, and staggered away from the house through the wood along the road till he came to a high waterfall. He followed the course of the stream some distance till he found a resting-place, where he laid down, and snored till the whole neighbourhood shook, and people asked in fear whether enemies had invaded the land and a battle was in progress.
The oak which the islander had planted sprang up, first as a small tree, but it grew so rapidly that it reached the clouds, and almost touched the sun. The sun and moon were hidden, the windows darkened, and all the country around made dismal by the shadow of its branches. The islander sought far and near for some one to fell the tree, for whole cities and fleets might have been built of its wood. Proclamation was made everywhere for some one to fell the tree, but no one dared to attempt it, and he returned home, grumbling to his wife at the failure of his long and fruitless journey. Then the old woman led the way to the room where the eagle and the dwarf were still remaining, and told her husband how she had found the dwarf, who was no larger than Kalev's thumb, under the wing of the eagle. The islander asked the dwarf if he would fell the oak-tree, and he consented at once, on condition that he should be released from his captivity; he was also given a dish of pure gold.
The dwarf went out and took a good look at the oak-tree, and then he himself began to grow, first by ells, and then by fathoms. Having thus become a giant, he began to hew at the tree, and he hewed at it for three days, till it fell, covering half the island and half the sea with its branches. The trunk was used to make a great bridge, with two arms, reaching from the island to Finland on the one side, and to Esthonia on the other. Large ships were built of the summit, merchant-vessels from the trunk, towns from the roots, rowing-boats from the branches, and children's boats from the chips. What remained was used to make shelters for weak old men, sick widows, and orphan children, and the last branches left were used to build a little room in which the minstrel could sing his songs. Strangers who came now and then across the bridge stopped before the minstrel's hut to ask the name of the city with the magnificent palace; and the minstrel replied that there was nothing there but his poor hut, and all the splendour they beheld was the light of his songs reflected from heaven.
THE RETURN OF THE KALEVIDE
The Kalevide slept till the following morning, and when at length he awoke he tried in vain to recollect the events of the day before. He could not remember whether he had been in Finland or on the island, or whether he had been engaged in battle. He had no remembrance of having slain the smith's son; but he got up half-dazed, and walked on without stopping till he reached the seashore on the third day afterwards. Here he found the sorcerer's boat; so he stepped into it, hoisted sail, and set off homewards.
About midnight he approached the small island where the maiden had fallen into the sea, and the whole sad scene arose again before his imagination. And now he could hear the maiden singing a sad song beneath the waves, lamenting her sad fate, and yet more the evil lot of her brother, who had slain the son of his father's old friend. The blood from the sword reddened the cheeks of the maiden, and a long and terrible penance lay before her brother.
For a while the hero sat lost in thought, bitterly lamenting the past; but presently he roused himself, and proceeded on his voyage, singing a lamentation for his mother beginning:
Next morning the Kalevide reached the shore, made fast the boat, and went homewards; but as he passed Mount Iru, where the form of his mother stood, his steps were arrested by the sweet singing of her unseen spirit in the wind. She sang how the young eagle had soared from the nest in youthful innocence, and had returned stained with crime. He knew now that his mother was dead, and realised more fully the two crimes which weighed upon his soul—the one committed thoughtlessly and without evil intent, and the other without his knowledge, when he was not master of himself. He hastened on, and when he reached home his brothers, who had long mourned him as dead, received him with open arms.
In the evening the three brothers sat together and related their adventures. The first sang how he had wandered in search of his mother over vast regions, and through a great part of Courland, Poland, Russia, Germany, and Norway, and had met on his wanderings maidens of tin, copper, silver, and gold. But only the golden daughter of the Gold King could speak, and she directed him along a path which would lead him to a beautiful maiden who could reply to his question. He hurried on a long way, and at last met a rosy-cheeked maiden of flesh and bone, who replied to his questions that she had seen no traces of his mother, and the hawk must have flown away with her. But she invited him to her village, where he would find plenty of rich and beautiful maidens. He answered that he had not come to choose a wife, but to seek his mother.
Then the second brother sang how he also had wandered a long way, but at last reached a cottage where he found an old man and woman, whom he saluted and asked for tidings. They made no reply, and only the cat mewed in answer.
He went on farther, and met a wolf; but when he asked if he had seen his mother, he only opened his mouth to grin at him. Next he met the bear, who only growled, but finally the cuckoo directed him through a wood and across a green meadow to some maidens who would give him information. When he reached the spot, he found four beautiful maidens in elegant attire, who told him that they had been wandering about the woods and meadows every day, but had seen nothing of his mother, and they thought she must have flown away. They recommended him to seek a wife; but he answered that a young wife could not fill the place of his dear lost mother.
Then the youngest brother related his adventures; but he said nothing about the fatal brawl at the smith's feast, nor of the sad songs of the island-maiden and of the spirit of his mother.
Then the eldest brother remarked that they knew not what had become of their mother, but their parents were no more, and they must shift for themselves, so he proposed a trial to decide which of the three should rule as king in the land. The second brother agreed, and the third proposed that the trial should take place next day, and be decided according to the will of Taara.
In the evening, before twilight had quite given way to night, the youngest son took his handkerchief, which was wet with tears, and climbed up his father's cairn. And his father asked from below:
The hero besought his father to rise up and stroke his hair and speak to him; but his father answered that he had long lain in his grave; his bones were decayed, and the grass and moss grew over him, and he could not rise. Let the wind and the sun caress his son. The son answered that the wind only blew sometimes, and the sun only shone by day, but Taara lives for ever. And the father told him not to weep or grieve, for the spirit of his dead father should follow him throughout his life, and that the good gods would protect him even through the desert wastes of the waters of the ocean; and he also counselled him to do his best to atone for every fault and error.
THE CONTEST AND PARTING OF THE BROTHERS
On the following morning the three sons of Kalev set out before sunrise towards the south; but they rested under the trees and took some refreshment during the heat of the day. In the evening they passed a house which was lighted up as if for company. The father and mother stood at the door, and invited them to choose brides from among their rich and beautiful daughters. The eldest brother answered that they were not come to woo brides, and had no thought of marriage; but the second brother said he should like the girls to come out to swing with them; and they were forthwith summoned. Then the youngest brother said he hoped the young ladies would not distress themselves, but really he and his brothers had no idea of marrying at present, and they must beg to be excused.
Then they continued their journey southwards, and on the third day they reached a small lake with steep banks. Water-birds were sporting in the lake, and on the opposite shore they saw the holy forest of Taara shining in the sunset. "Here is the place where our lot must be decided," said the eldest brother; and each selected a stone for the trial of strength. It was arranged that whoever should cast his stone across the lake to the firm ground opposite should be adjudged his father's heir, and the other two should wander forth to seek their fortunes in other lands.
The eldest brother, in all friendliness, claimed his right to the first trial, and cast his stone. It flew from his hand with the speed of a bird or of the tempest, but suddenly changed its direction, and plunged into the middle of the lake. The water foamed up over it, and entirely concealed it from sight.
The second brother then seized his stone, and sent it whistling through the air like an arrow. It rose up till it was nearly lost to sight, and then turned and fell on the shore close to the water, where it sank for half its bulk into the mud. Then came the turn of the third, who, though the youngest, was much taller and stronger than his brothers.
The youngest brother made some sad reflections on his posthumous birth, and on the course of his childhood, and then cast forth his rock like a bird, or like a ship in a storm. It flew up far and high, but not up to the clouds, like that cast by his brother, and afterwards made great ducks and drakes across the whole lake, reaching at last the firm ground beyond.
"Don't let us wait here," said the eldest brother, "but let us go and look for the stones, and decide our competition." As the nearest way to the opposite shore was through the lake, they waded straight across it, and at the deepest place the water reached a little above their knees. The stone cast by the eldest brother had disappeared entirely in the water, and no trace of it could be found; but that thrown by the second was found on the shore half sunken in the mud. Only the stone thrown by the youngest brother, easily recognisable by its marks, was found on firm ground, lying on the grass at some little distance beyond the lake. Then the eldest brother declared that the gods had plainly assigned the kingdom to the youngest, and that the others must now bathe him and adorn him as king. After this the three brothers took an affectionate leave of each other, and the two elder ones wandered cheerfully away. The youngest sat on the rock sadly reflecting on the lost joys of youth, and how he must now depend on his own unaided efforts. At length he threw a silver coin into the water as an offering to the gods, an old custom now forgotten.
It was the duty of the new king both to plough the country and to defend it, and he therefore set to work with his sword by his side. Early and late he ploughed, stocking the country with corn, grass, trees, and berries.
One hot noonday, seeing his white horse nearly exhausted, he unyoked him from the plough, hobbled him, and left him to graze, while he himself lay down in the grass and fell asleep. His head rested on the top of a hill, and his body and legs spread far over the plain below. The sweat ran from his forehead and sank into the earth, whence arose a healing and strengthening spring of wonderful virtues. Those who taste the water of this spring are greatly strengthened; weak children grow strong, the sick grow healthy; the water heals sore eyes, and even blindness; the weary are refreshed, and the maidens who taste it have rosy cheeks for their whole lifetime.
While the Kalevide lay asleep, he dreamed that he saw his good horse torn to pieces by wolves. And truly the horse had strayed away to some distance, when a host of wild animals, wolves, bears, and foxes, emerged from the forest. As the horse's feet were hobbled, he could not escape, and was soon overtaken. He defended himself as well as he could with hoofs and head, and killed many of the beasts; but he was finally overpowered by their ever-increasing numbers, and fell. Where he sank the ground is hollow, and a number of little hills represent the wolves killed in the struggle. The horse's blood formed a red lake, his liver a mountain, his entrails a marsh, his bones hills, his hair rushes, his mane bulrushes, and his tail hazel-bushes.
RUMOURS OF WAR
When the Kalevide awoke, he followed the traces of his horse till he found the remains; and he secured the skin as a relic, cursing the wolves, and then drew his sword, and rushed into the wood in pursuit of them, breaking down the trees and bushes in his way, and destroying all the wild beasts he met with, while those who could fled to distant swamps and thickets. He would have utterly exterminated all the wolves and bears, if the increasing darkness of night had not compelled him at length to desist from further pursuit. He retired to the open country, and being wearied out, lay down to sleep on the skin of the horse. But he had scarcely closed his eyes before a messenger arrived from the elders of Esthonia, announcing that war had broken out, and that a hostile army was ravaging the country.
The Kalevide heard the long and woful story to an end, and then threw himself down again to sleep off his weariness, when another messenger arrived, whom he sharply upbraided for disturbing him.
The second messenger was a venerable old man with a white beard. He saluted the king, and apologised for disturbing him, but reminded him that when he was young the birds had sung to him that a ruler could know no rest:
He then spoke encouragingly to the king, assuring him that much would result from all his labours for the good of his people. The Kalevide answered that he would not shun toil and weariness, and would do his best. The old man assured him that nothing could prosper without the aid of the gods; and now the Kalevide recognised that Ukko himself spoke with him. Then the god exhorted him not to quarrel with destiny, and warned him to beware of his sword, for murder could only be atoned for by murder, and he who had murdered an innocent man was never secure.
His voice died away in the wind, and the Kalevide sank into slumber till dawn; and when he awoke he could only recall vague fragments of the long discourse he had heard in his vision. He then gave the Esthonian messenger directions for the conduct of the war, and especially the defence of the coasts, asking to be particularly informed if the war should spread farther and the need grow greater, and then he himself would come at once; but he was compelled to rest a little from his fatigues before he could take part in the war in person.
Here is inserted the grand ballad of the Herald of War, from Neus, Ehstnische Volkslieder, p. 305. It is out of place in the Kalevipoeg, but will be included in a later section of our work.
THE HEROES AND THE WATER-DEMON
As the Kalevide was wandering through Esthonia, he arrived one day at the swamp of Kikerpärä. Two demon brothers had settled themselves in the swamp, and were fighting for its possession, and when the hero appeared they referred their dispute to him. As he could not stay to attend to the matter himself, he requested his friend, the son of Alev, who was with him, to measure out the swamp fairly. So the Alevide began to drive piles into the bed of the river at a place called Mustapall, to fasten his measuring lines to, when the wretched old water-demon raised his head from the river, and asked what he was doing. The hero replied that he was damming up the river; but the demon, who had lived under the water for many years, and did not like to be turned out of his comfortable home, offered him a reward to desist. So the Alevide asked him to fill his old felt hat for him with bright silver coins; which he promised to do on the morrow, the hero declaring that he would hold him to his bargain in the words of the proverb:
Then the demon dived back into the water, while the son of Alev, who was a cousin of the Kalevide, got a friend to help him to dig a hole in the ground during the night, a fathom in depth and broad at the bottom, but with an opening at the top just wide enough for the top of the hat to fit into; but the hat was cut at the sides, so that the heavy money should fall through into the pit.
Before daybreak the stupid demon brought a lapful of roubles, which he poured into the hat. He brought a second and a third, and afterwards brought money by the hogshead, but the hat still remained empty. Presently his coffers, purses, and pockets were all exhausted. He then begged for time; but the Alevide declared that if he did not keep his promise, and fill his hat with bright silver coins, he should begin his work again.
Then the demon thought of appealing to his mother to help him; but first he asked the Alevide to come with him to receive his money himself, hoping to circumvent him. But the hero knew that it was only a trick to get him away from the hat, so he refused to budge, but sent the Kalevide's cupbearer, the smallest of the company, to help to carry the money.
The boy was ready at once; but his heart failed him as the demon preceded him to the under-world, leading him by paths that no living man had ever trodden before, and through an utterly unknown country, where the sun and moon never shone, and where the only light came from the torches that flared on both sides of their way. When they reached the palace of the demon, his sons came to the door, and invited the guest to take his place at the table, which was loaded with gold and silver plate, and eat and drink. But the boy could touch nothing from terror, for sparks of fire flew from the dishes and viands, and blue flames played over the beakers.
Then the water-demons began to titter, and to whisper to each other in their own language, which sounded just like Lettish, and which their guest could not understand. The boy began to reproach his avaricious friend in his thoughts for having thus sent him to Põrgu without thinking of what might happen to him; but presently the younger demons seized upon him, and began to toss him from one to another like a ball, sometimes from one side of the room to the other, and sometimes up to the ceiling.
The boy begged them to let him rest a little, and presently they allowed him to do so. Then he drew a cord from his pocket, and pretended to measure the length and breadth of the room. Presently he came to the door, and seized the opportunity to bolt, and was fortunate enough to make his way back to daylight, where the demon had no more power to interfere with him.
As he passed the gates, the guards whispered to him to turn to the right to avoid the many snares in his path. He did not escape without a good fright; for only strong men can go where they please, like the birds, while the weak man is exposed to a thousand terrors. On the boy's way he met a small bitch accompanied by two puppies; and this was the mother of the demons, just returning from the bath-house. The boy now remembered the warning he had received, and turned aside to the right, and the three ran past without noticing him.
When the boy reached the place where he had left the Alevide, he found that both his friend and the money had disappeared. Presently the water-demon came up, and asked him jestingly whether he had burnt himself, or whether he had been stung by a gadfly, that he ran away like that, instead of helping him to carry the heavy money-bags. He then proposed that they should look for a good place where they might wrestle. He thought he could easily overcome the boy by strength, if not by craft, and the boy consented.
Before they had gone far, they met the sons of Kalev and Alev, who had hidden their treasure, walking arm-in-arm. The Kalevide asked, "Whence did you bring that Lettish comrade, and to what queer race does he belong?" His cousin answered that he was the same who had promised to fill his hat with silver, and hadn't kept his word. Then the boy said that they were going to engage in a contest, and the Kalevide answered, "You must grow a little taller, my lad, before you engage in a serious struggle, for you are only a child at present."
So the Kalevide, laughing, stuck the boy in his trouser-pocket to grow, and took over the challenge himself, and they all went to a mountain where the contest was to take place; and first they began with hurling stones. The demon took up a rock, which he balanced for an hour in his clumsy fingers, and at last swung it round more than ten times before he loosed it. The stone fell ten paces from the sandy shore of Lake Virts, and it lies there now, conspicuous by its size, for it is at least as big as a bath-house.
Then the Kalevide took up a rock in his hand, and threw it without more ado. They heard it rushing through the air for a long time, and at last it fell on the shore of Lake Peipus, and any one who visits the lake can see it there. Then they engaged in a wrestling match, and the Kalevide soon lifted the demon from his feet and flung him into the air. When he came to the ground, he rolled seven versts, and then fell down a little hill among the bushes, where he lay stunned for seven days, hardly able to open his eyes or lift his head, or even to move a limb.
At this the Kalevide and his companions laughed till the hills shook, and the cup-bearer loudest of all. Then the Alevide told his story; but when he came to mention the proverb, it reminded the son of Kalev that he had not yet paid the debt which he owed to the smith in Finland for his sword. So the Kalevide asked his cousin to take the goods across to Finland, and he himself laid down to rest under a tree, and pondered on how he could provide for the safety of the people during the war. He decided to improve and beautify the towns as well as to fortify them, and to make an excursion to survey the country while his cousin was away in Finland. Presently the Kalevide felt in his pocket, and pulled out the boy, with whom he began to jest; but soon their conversation became more serious, and the Kalevide ordered him to wait for the expected messengers, while he himself should proceed to Lake Peipus, where he had important business.
As the Kalevide proceeded on his journey, he passed a well in a lonely place, where the Air-Maiden, the fair daughter of the Thunder-God, sat bewailing the loss of her ring, which had dropped into it. When the hero saw the blue-eyed, golden-haired maiden in tears, he asked the cause of her trouble, and when he heard it he plunged into the well to look for the ring. A party of young sorcerers quickly gathered round, thinking that the mouse was in the trap, and they flung a great millstone after him. But he searched in the mud and water for some time, and presently sprang out of the water with the millstone on his finger, which he offered to the maiden, saying that he had not been able to find anything else in the mud, and that she would not need a larger finger-ring.
THE LOSS OF THE SWORD
Next morning the Kalevide arose at dawn, and hurried on towards Lake Peipus, clearing and levelling the country as he went. When he arrived at the lake, there was no boat to be seen; so he girded himself, and plunged into it at a point where it was too wide to see the opposite shore, while the fish fled before him as he waded through.
On the shore opposite, a hideous sorcerer was hiding in the bushes. He was as bristly as a wild boar, with wide mouth and small oblique eyes. He was well skilled in all magic; he could make the wind blow from any quarter, could remove ill from one man to cast it on another, and could cause quarrels between the best friends. He had evil demons at his beck and call; but for all that, he could cure all hurts and diseases when he pleased. But to-day he was in a bad humour, and blew a tremendous storm against the son of Kalev. Presently he saw a human form struggling through the waters, which reached to his girdle. Even at four or five miles' distance the figure seemed as large as a man, and he appeared to be heavily laden. Sometimes the water hid him from view, but as he came nearer the form became ever huger and more terrible.
The Kalevide laughed at the raging storm, and said to the lake, "You nasty little puddle, you're wetting my girdle." He had taken scarcely an hour in his passage, when he reached the firm ground, carrying a load of planks which a horse or a pair of oxen could hardly have dragged along. He had brought them from Pleskau to build a refuge for his people; over twenty dozen planks, three inches thick, an ell broad, and ten yards long. He drew his sword to trim the timber, and the sorcerer determined to reward himself for his late exertions in raising the tempest by possessing himself of it; but this was not the time for action, and he slunk deeper into the shades of the forest.
The Kalevide was tired with his journey, and found a level place some little distance from the shore, so he brought a lapful of shingle from the beach and a quantity of sand, and made himself a comfortable bed in a dry spot. Then he refreshed himself with bread and milk from his wallet, loosed his girdle, laid his sword beside him, and soon fell asleep, with his head to the west and his feet to the east, that the first rays of the morning sun might shine in his eyes and awaken him. Presently the ground shook, and the woods re-echoed, and the billows of the lake rose in answer to his snoring, which sounded like the Thunder-God driving three-in-hand through the clouds.
The sorcerer now stole from his hiding-place, and advanced towards the sleeping giant with catlike steps; but he tried in vain to steal the good sword from its master's side by his incantations. Neither commands nor supplications would avail, and he was forced to use stronger spells. So he scattered rowan-leaves, thyme, fern, and other magic herbs over the sword, and at last it inclined towards the sorcerer, and he took it in his arms. The huge weapon weighed him to the ground, and he was only able to struggle along painfully under its weight, step by step, with the sweat pouring from his face; but still he would not relinquish his booty. Presently he came to the brook Käpä, and jumped over it; but the sword slipped from his arm, and sank in the mud in the deepest place. He renewed his incantations, but was now quite unable to repossess himself of the sword, and on the approach of dawn he fled into the forest, to hide from the vengeance of its owner.
When the Kalevide awoke, he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and felt for his sword, but it had disappeared. He could see its traces where it had been dragged away, and he followed on its track, calling to the sword as to a brother, and beseeching it to answer him, and not to let him search in vain. But there was no reply, and then he tried a song, but still there was no reply, and he searched everywhere for the sword, till at last he saw it shining at the bottom of the water.
Then the Kalevide asked the sword who had stolen it and sunk it in the water, and the sword sang in reply how the sorcerer had carried it off, and how it had slipped from his grasp into the water, into the embraces of the fairest of the water-nymphs. The Kalevide answered, "Does my sword prefer to lie in the arms of a water-nymph rather than to feel the grasp of a hero in battle?" The sword reminded the Kalevide of the terrible murder in Finland, which it declared it could never forget, and the hero abandoned the weapon to its sweet repose, saying that he relied on his own strength to overcome his enemies in battle. But he laid his commands on the sword that if any heroes of his race, Kalevides, Alevides, or Sulevides, should come to the spot, then the sword should address them in words. If a great singer came, the sword was to sing to him; if a hero as brave and as strong as the Kalevide himself should come to the brook, then the sword was to rise from its bed and join him; but if the man himself who had brought the sword there should come that way, then the sword was to cut off both his feet.
By this he meant the sorcerer, but he expressed himself ambiguously.
The son of Kalev then left the brook, took the boards on his back, and set out for home. On his journey he passed through a pine forest which belonged to men, a leafy forest sacred to women, and a hazel thicket, the last refuge of the maidens, the orphans, and the sick. Here his foot touched something soft, which he found to be a man of about the stature of our present race, who was quaking with fear and besought his protection. The Kalevide took him up kindly by the hair, and dropped him into his wallet, where he fell as down a deep precipice, till he came to a stop among the bread and herrings at the bottom. Then the hero asked him what had frightened him so much.
Up from the bottom of the bag came a voice like the croaking of a frog from the bottom of a deep well, and this was the man's story:—"Yesterday evening I was wandering on the shores of Lake Peipus, and lost my way. Presently I came to a footpath which led me to a poor hut, where I thought to find a night's lodging. I came into a great empty room, where an old woman was standing by the hearth preparing supper. She was cooking half a pig in a great pot with peas, and kindly gave me a cupful, but told me to eat my supper quick. As soon as I had finished, she told me to hide among the straw which she had laid under the table, and to lie as still as a mouse, for if I only moved a finger after her sons returned, they would be sure to kill me. I thanked the good old woman, and crept into the straw, where three men could easily have hidden themselves; and I hoped to sleep. But presently I heard steps approaching which shook the house; and whether or not it was my fear that makes me think so, I fancy, noble scion of the Kalevides, that even your heavy tread never made such a noise.
"The two brothers rushed into the room like wild bears, and one of them sniffed about the room and said, 'Mother, who has been here? I smell man's sweat.' 'Nobody has even been near the house to-day, my son,' answered the old woman. 'If you smell anything, you must have brought the smell with you from out of doors.'
"Then she gave them their supper, and they ate as much as would have satisfied fifty of our race, and left something over. Then they laid themselves down on the hard floor, one on each side the table, while the old woman crept cautiously up the ladder to her couch above the stove.
"Poor wretch that I am! if I had ever expected to find myself in such a position, I would rather have drowned myself in the lake or thrown myself[Pg 79] over a precipice. I could not sleep a wink all night, and when the old woman opened the door in the morning I crept behind her, and fled through two woods till I reached the third, where you found me."
This was the poor man's story, and the Kalevide laughed heartily at the recital.
THE FIGHT WITH THE SORCERER'S SONS
As the Kalevide proceeded on his way, carrying his heavy load of planks, the sorcerer's three sons rushed upon him from an ambush close to a high waterfall which foams over steep rocks. He had been walking quietly along, and the man in his wallet had fallen comfortably asleep. The villains sprang upon the hero from behind, armed with slender young birch-trees and dry pine-trunks. Two of them carried long whips, the handle formed of strong beech-wood, and the lash armed with a great millstone, with which they belaboured the hero unmercifully. He had just armed himself with a huge club, in case he should be assaulted in passing through the wood. It was a great pine-trunk from which he had broken the crown. It was five-and-thirty ells long, and two feet thick at the thick end, and with this he could defend himself as with a sword.
The Kalevide tried at first to remonstrate with his assailants, but as they continued to annoy him he rushed upon them with his club. The pine club was soon splintered, the fragments flying in all directions, and then the Kalevide defended himself with the planks which he was carrying, and at every blow he smashed one on the backs of his enemies. Presently his load was nearly exhausted, and the sorcerer's sons, hoping now for an easy victory, pressed him more hardly, when suddenly he heard a little voice crying from the bushes, "Dear son of Kalev, strike them with the edges!" The hero at once took the hint, and, instead of striking with the flat side of the planks, began to strike with the sharp edges, and his enemies soon fled before him, howling like wolves. If the savages had not been thoroughly hardened by long exposure to heat and cold by day and night, he would have left them dead on the field.
The Kalevide sat down to rest after the battle, and called to his dear brother, who had aided him, to show himself. But his friend answered that he could not venture out into the open, for he was only a poor naked little hedgehog. So the hero called to him to come, and he would clothe him. The hedgehog crept out of his warm nest, naked and shivering, and the hero cut a piece from the lining of his own coat, and gave it to the hedgehog, who joyfully wrapped himself in the warm covering. But the piece was not large enough to cover him entirely, and his legs and belly remained naked as before.
The Kalevide now wanted to sleep, but he was in the midst of a swamp. He therefore fetched a load of sand from the distant sandhills, to make himself a bed. He then felt into his bag for something to eat, when his thumb came against the cold stiff body of his little friend, who had been killed in his sleep by a chance blow during the fight, without having had time to cry out or move a limb. He was much grieved at the untimely death of his protégé, and dug him a grave with his own hands, round which he planted berry-bearing bushes. Then he ate his supper and fell asleep, to dream of the events of the past day.
While he was asleep, the sorcerer himself crept to his side, and by his spells and incantations, and the use of magic herbs, threw him into a deep slumber, which lasted for days and nights. Presently a messenger came in haste to summon the king, and the cup-bearer directed him to Lake Peipus; but no one had seen or heard anything of him.
On a fine summer's day, the people flocked from all parts of the country to the sacred hill of Taara for a great festival, and as yet there came no news of the king. Summer faded into autumn, and the Kalevide still slept on, but he was dreaming of a new sword, much better than the uncle of his father Kalev had forged for him, which was forged in an underground smithy.
This sword had been forged by the pupils of Ilmarine in a workshop in the interior of a great mountain at the middle point of the earth, the peak of which was lost in the clouds. Seven strong smiths wrought it with copper hammers, the handles of which were of silver, and one of their company turned it on the fire or laid it on the anvil with tongs of the purest silver, while Ilmarine himself watched every stroke of the hammers.
Presently a young man entered, pale and covered with blood, and he only touched his cap without further salutation, and cried out to the workmen not to waste the sword on the murderous son of Kalev, who could slay his best friends in his rage. The Kalevide tried to cry out that it was false, but the son of the old Tühja oppressed him with a nightmare, and he could not utter a word; he felt as if a mountain lay upon his breast, and the sweat ran from his face.
On the following morning the Kalevide awoke from his sleep. He knew that the vision of the smithy was a dream, but he was not aware that he had slept for seven weeks without intermission. He found that his planks were nearly all destroyed, and determined to fetch a fresh load from Pleskau.
When he came to the lake, he heard a boy shouting for help. It was a herd-boy, whose favourite lamb was being carried off by a wolf. He killed the wolf with a stone, and then stood by the lake considering what to do next. Presently he decided to build a bridge across the "puddle;"[Pg 85] and built it out into the lake for perhaps a couple of miles, when a great storm arose and swept away the unfinished structure. When he saw his work destroyed, he said, "Why didn't I wade straight through, as I did before, instead of wasting my time like this?" So he caught a supply of crayfish, which he roasted and ate, and then set out on his journey through the water.
On the shores of Lake Peipus lived a poor orphan boy, who had lost all dear to him by famine, pestilence, and war, and who was now compelled to slave as herd-boy for a hard mistress, and to mind the children as well as to look after the sheep and goats. He sang sad songs, till at length the wood-nymph took compassion on him, and sang to him one evening from the summit of an oak-tree, telling him that good luck would be his in the morning. Next morning he found a lark's egg hidden among leaves, which he hid in his bosom next his heart wrapped in wool and a strip of linen. A mouse was hatched from it, which he fostered in the same way till it became[Pg 86] a kitten, a puppy, a lamb, and at length a sheep with fine white wool, and the sheep was so dear to the boy that he left off weeping and lamenting, and always felt happy and contented, though his lot was still a hard one.
THE KALEVIDE'S FIRST JOURNEY TO HADES
On the Kalevide's homeward journey he slept for a night at the place where his sword had been stolen, and set out early next morning, making his way through bush and brake. He walked on till sunset with his load of planks without stopping to rest, and then ate his supper and prepared himself a bed of sand as usual. When he awoke in the morning, a magpie informed him for the first time that the sorcerer had kept him in a magic sleep for seven weeks, and he quickened his pace. But when he reached Lake Ilma he found it, to his disgust, too deep to wade through, and he was compelled to go round it.
Presently he encountered an old witch, a relative of the sorcerer who had done him so much harm already, sitting among the bushes and singing magic songs. The hero stopped to rest himself, for the day was very warm, and listened to her song, which was a long charm against snake-bites. Then he walked on till noon, when he took a siesta, breaking down trees of all kinds to make himself a couch. Afterwards he turned to the left in the direction of Lake Endla, and towards evening he came to the entrance of a cavern, before which a great fire was burning. A huge caldron hung over it by heavy iron chains, just opposite the entrance to the cavern, and three fellows were standing round, who grinned and whispered to each other as the stranger approached.
The Kalevide threw down the planks and asked the men what they had got in the caldron, and whether they were getting ready for a feast or a wedding. They replied that the caldron cooked for everybody, and that when they made a feast they killed a great ox. It took a hundred men to kill it, five hundred to bleed it, and a thousand to cleanse it. But to-day they were only cooking for poor people; only half an elk, the ribs of an old boar, the lungs and liver of a bear, the suet of a young wolf, the hide of an old bear, and an egg from an eagle's nest. Old Sarvik and the old mother were to dine from it; the cat and dog were to get their share, and the rest was to be divided among the cooks and workmen; but the old mother was going to bake cakes for the young ladies' dinner.
The Kalevide expressed his disgust at such cookery, but they told him it was good enough for witches and sorcerers, and he then asked them to show him the way to their master's house, as he wished to pay his respects to the family. They warned him that he might not escape easily; but as he persisted, they directed him to the cavern, which he immediately entered, while the demons laughed, saying that the bear had fallen into the trap and the lion into the net, and that he was carrying his hide to market for nothing.
The cave was so dark and narrow that the hero soon found himself obliged to creep on all fours, and to grope his way. At last he perceived a faint light at a distance, and the cavern enlarged so much that he could now stand upright again.
Where the roof rose highest, a heavy lamp hung by chains from the ceiling, and beyond it were great folding-doors. On each side stood a jar, one filled with a liquid as white as milk, and the other with a liquid as black as pitch. Inside he could hear maidens spinning and singing, lamenting the happiness of their former lives, and hoping that some deliverer might appear. Then he strove to force the door, but it resisted all his efforts, so he sang a song in his softest tones, telling how he had encountered four fair maidens gathering flowers in the woods. The maidens sang back that he had come at a good time, for all the family were out, and they directed him to dip his hands in the dark liquid, which would give him magic strength; but if he wished to moderate his strength, then to dip his hands in the white liquid, for the dark liquid would give him strength to dash everything to pieces.
The hero dipped his hands in the dark liquid, and felt his strength redoubled. He pushed against the door again, and the door and door-posts too came thundering to the ground. The maidens fled into the adjoining room, crying out to him not to approach them till he had dipped his hands in the white liquid, which would remove the enchantment. He laughed, and, notwithstanding their entreaties, followed them into the next room, where he saw a naked sword, a small willow wand, and a ragged old hat hanging on the wall. "Look," cried he joyfully, "this is the sword which I saw forged for me in my dream!"
"Beware," said one of the maidens, "do not touch that sword, for it belongs to Sarvik; but take the rod and the hat, for they are yours, and you can work any wonders with them. Swords you can only obtain from the smith himself."
But the Kalevide answered that he could have his will without the wishing-rod and cap, which were only fit for witches and wizards. So the maiden, who was anxious to convince him of the value of the treasures which he despised, took down the hat from its peg. It was made of the cuttings of finger-nails, and she declared that there was not[Pg 92] another like it in the world, for it could fulfil every desire of its possessor. So she put it on her head and said—
She began at once to grow taller, ell after ell, till she grew fully as tall as the son of Kalev himself.
Then the Kalevide took the hat from her head and set it on his own, wishing to become as small as she had been. His stature immediately sank, ell after ell, till he was reduced to the size of an ordinary man. The young giantess took back the hat, and wished to resume her former stature, which accordingly befell.
The Kalevide then said to the maiden that he would willingly remain a little boy that day for her sake, but he was now anxious to keep the hat, that he[Pg 93] might at once resume his own stature and strength in case of any sudden and unexpected danger. They sang and danced and sported to their heart's content, and the maiden called her second sister, whose duty it was to polish the gold, silver, and copper ware; and her third sister, who tended the geese on the common; and the sisters locked and bolted the kitchen door, for fear the old woman should hear the noise and come to disturb their merriment.
The maidens were delighted, for though the Kalevide declared that he could not think of marrying a wife himself, he would deliver them from Hades next day, and would marry one to the son of Alev, one to the son of Sulev, and one to the cup-bearer. So they played all sorts of games; the falcon-game, in which the hero was the falcon, and they were the birds; kiss-in-the-ring, blind man's buff, &c. But whatever they played at, the hero always got the best of the game. When they were tired of this amusement, they put out all the lights.
THE PALACE OF SARVIK
The sisters were sorry to see the dawn of day, though they were no longer obliged to spin and weave, for the old woman was locked up in the kitchen, and could not interfere with them. That day they amused themselves by showing their guest all over the house, and all the treasure-chambers, but they blushed and dropped their eyes whenever he looked at themselves.
Presently they passed through a stone door into a stone gallery, likewise paved with stone, and after passing through it for some little distance, arrived at a room in which the walls and furniture were wholly of iron. "This," said the eldest sister, "is the room of old Sarvik, where his men-servants assemble and work or amuse themselves, and where they are sometimes tortured in all sorts of ways."
They left this room through an iron archway which opened into a gallery of iron, which they followed for some distance till they reached a second room, entirely of copper, and with copper furniture. "This," said the eldest sister again, "is old Sarvik's room, where the maids assemble to work or amuse themselves, and where, too, they are punished and tormented."
From this room they passed through a copper archway into a copper gallery, which led them presently to a third room of silver, with silver furniture and fittings, and the chests in the corners were filled with silver coins. Then said the second sister, "This is old Sarvik's room, where he spends most of his time, and where he sleeps and refreshes himself."
They passed from this room into a silver gallery, which led them into a room of gold, with gold fittings and furniture, and the chests in the corners were filled with gold coins. "This," said the second sister again, "is old Sarvik's room, where he feasts and amuses himself. I was busy yesterday for hours sweeping this room and polishing up all the gold."
From this room they went through a golden gallery to a fifth chamber, which was of silk, and everything in it was silk. The walls were hung with silken raiment, and the chests in the corners were filled with silken stuffs. "This," said the youngest sister, "is the maidens' room, where they deck themselves out in silk on gala days."
They passed through a silken gallery into a chamber of satin, of which she gave a similar explanation. From this they passed to a lace chamber, where the little girls decked themselves out.
The lace gallery from this room led them out into the enclosure, which was paved with silver coins instead of grass.
Round the court stood seven storehouses, the first composed of a single block of granite, the second of plates of iron, the third of hens' eggs, the fourth of goose-eggs, the fifth of polished quartz, the sixth of the finest eagles' eggs, and the seventh of eggs of the Siuru.
The barns were filled respectively with rye, barley, oats, wheat, maize, vegetables, and the last with lumps of lard and tallow.
At the back of the enclosure stood cattle-stalls, constructed of all sorts of bones.
The Kalevide did not care to look at these things long, but asked the sisters to tell him all they could about Sarvik.
"We can't tell you anything about his birth and parentage," answered the eldest sister. "We don't know if a bear was his father and a wolf his mother, or whether a mare suckled him and a goat rocked him in the cradle.
"He has large estates, which occupy much of his time, and he makes long journeys secretly in an incredibly short time; but no one has seen or heard which way he goes or what places he visits. Everybody can see him going out and coming in, but nothing further is known about his movements. It is said that there is a vast space in the centre of the earth where he rules over seven worlds; seven islands, very thickly populated with the souls of the departed, where they live in large villages, and are subject to old Sarvik, as the wisdom of Taara has decreed from the beginning of the world.
"Sarvik rules his subjects with great severity; but once a year, on All Souls' Day, they are permitted to revisit their homes, to see and salute their friends and relatives. They rush up in shoals, on these occasions, to the places which they once inhabited in joy or grief; but as soon as their time is over they are compelled to return, each to his own dwelling."
The second sister added, "Old Sarvik selects his workmen and maids from this kingdom, and they are forced to follow him, and perform hard tasks for him in the iron and copper chambers; and if they fail in anything, they are beaten with bars of iron and rods of copper.
"This is Sarvik's abode, where he lives with his wife, and rests and refreshes himself, and sleeps on soft pillows, when he is tired with long journeys and knocking about. Then the old woman heats the bath for him, and whisks his back and shoulders with the bath-whisk.
"Sometimes he makes a great feast for his friends and relatives, when they shout and drink beer till they are tipsy. His brother-in-law is Tühi, his mother is the bitch of Põrgu, and his grandmother is the white mare."
"We expect him back this evening from the upper world, for he does not like to stay where the sun shines by day and the moon and stars by night. But when he has anything to do in the under world, he stays away from home for days and weeks together."
The third sister added, "Noble scion of the Kalevides, if Sarvik found you among us here unawares, it would surely be your death, for no one who passes the threshold of his abode ever sees the sun again. We, poor creatures, were carried away as children from a country a thousand versts distant, and have had to do the hardest work early and late. But Taara mercifully decreed that we should always retain our youth as long as we retained our innocence."
"But what avails it," interrupted the eldest sister, "when we are cut off from all pleasure and happiness?"
Then the son of Kalev soothed and comforted them, assuring them that he was strong enough to rescue them. He would fight Sarvik himself, and overcome the old woman too. The eldest sister answered that if he really wished to fight with Sarvik, he must make use of the rod and the hat; for strength and bravery would avail nothing against Sarvik, who had thousands of allies at his beck and call, and was lord of the winds and of all kinds of magic spells.
But the Kalevide only laughed, and declared that he had fought with a whole host of demons in Finland. Then the second sister implored him to escape while there was yet time, and to wish himself away with the wishing-hat; for as soon as Sarvik returned, all the doors would fly back to their places behind him, and escape would become impossible. The hero laughed again, proud of his strength, and the sisters, greatly distressed, consulted how they could help him in spite of himself, by some artifice.
Two glasses stood by Sarvik's bed, half filled with a magic liquor that looked like beer. They looked just alike, but the liquor on the right hand gave the strength of ten oxen, while that on the left produced corresponding weakness. The eldest sister hastened to change these glasses, while the second secured the wishing-rod.
As they returned, they heard the heavy footsteps of Sarvik approaching, and the youngest sister again implored the hero to fly before it was too late. Sarvik approached with a noise like hundreds of cavalry prancing over a bridge, or heavy iron waggons thundering along a copper roadway. The earth quaked and the cavern shook under his steps, but the hero stood at the entrance:
Presently Sarvik dashed open the last door with a blow of his fist, and stopped, confronting the intruder. The sisters shrank back pale and trembling, but the Kalevide stood beside them, with the hat in his hand, and apparently no taller than themselves. Sarvik asked who he was, and how he came to throw himself into the trap; but the hero at once challenged him to wrestle, and he accepted the challenge. Then Sarvik advanced to the bed, not knowing that the glasses had been changed, and drained the water of weakness to the very bottom. Meantime the Kalevide concealed the magic hat in his bosom, so that he could at once resume his former strength and stature in case of need.
The combatants then went to the enclosure to wrestle, but Sarvik sent the eldest sister to the iron room to fetch a double chain with which the victor might bind his conquered foe. Meantime the wrestling-place was marked off with posts, so that all might be fair.
Now they rushed upon each other, and struggled together like waves in a tempest or roofs in a storm. The whole underground kingdom trembled, the palace walls cracked and their foundations heaved, the arches bowed and the roof began to totter. The contest remained long undecided, but when they paused to rest, the Kalevide drew out the hat, and wished to resume his former size and strength. He grew up at once, as strong as an oak-tree and as tall as a pine. He grasped Sarvik by the hair, raised him up ten fathoms, and then rammed him into the ground like a pointed stake, first to the calves, then to the knees, and then to the loins, so that he could not move. He then grasped the chain to bind him, but suddenly Sarvik grew smaller and smaller, and finally sank into the ground out of sight, like a stone in a swamp.
The Kalevide shouted after him, upbraiding him for a coward, and threatened to follow him up and fetter him some other day; but his present care was to release the sisters from their long captivity. So he seized and girded on the sword, took a load of old treasures, and many bags full of gold coins, and barrels full of silver money. All this he took on his shoulders and mounted the three sisters on the top. Then he put on the hat, and cried out, "Hat, carry us quickly to the entrance gate, where I left the planks." He found himself there at once, but the cooks and the kettle had disappeared, and nothing was left behind but the ashes of the fire, in which a few dying embers still remained. These the hero fanned into a flame, into which he contemptuously tossed the hat, which was immediately consumed.
The sisters began to cry, and reproached him with having destroyed a hat which had not its equal on earth or in Põrgu, and said that all hope was now at an end. But the hero comforted them, telling them that it was no time for lamentation, for the summer was at its loveliest, and they should soon find themselves in full possession of all the pleasures of life, from which they had been so long debarred. So he took the planks on his back, piled all his booty upon them, and then invited the sisters to take their place again on the top of all. Before their departure, the sisters had also provided themselves with good store of rich clothing from the silk and satin chambers, while the youngest had secured the wishing-rod in case of need.
Notwithstanding his load, the Kalevide ran on as if his feet were burning, while the sisters jested and laughed and sang.
THE MARRIAGE OF THE SISTERS
The Kalevide had not gone far on his homeward journey when he found that Tühi himself was pursuing him with a band of his followers. Then the youngest sister took the wishing-rod, and called upon it to flood the whole country, a bridge rising before them for the hero, while water flowed behind between him and his enemies. The demons stopped in confusion, and Tühi shouted to the Kalevide to ask if he was carrying off his adopted daughters? "It looks like it," answered the hero. Then Tühi asked again, "Dear brother, did you wrestle with my good brother-in-law in his own enclosure, and then drive him into the ground like a post?" "Likely enough," retorted the hero; "but it's not my fault if his bones are still sound." Then the demon asked again, "My dear brother, son of Kalev, did you lock up our old mother in the kitchen just like a mouse in a trap, while she was baking cakes?" "O yes," said the hero; "and I suppose she roared, and made up a bed among the boxes of peas, and for aught I know she may be sleeping there still, unless a flea has woke her up." "Have you stolen Sarvik's good sword?" asked Tühi again. "Perhaps I may have taken the weapon too, dear brother," answered the hero. "Who can separate a man and his sword? One is worth nothing without the other." Then Tühi asked if he had taken the hat. "I think so," said the hero; "but Sarvik will never put it on his head again, for I threw it into the fire and burned it to ashes, which have blown away in the wind." Tühi then asked if he had plundered his brother's treasures. "Yes, my dear sir," answered the hero; "I took a little gold and silver, but not much. Ten horses could drag such a load, and twenty oxen easily; but you may depend upon it I didn't carry away any copper." Tühi's next question was whether he had stolen the bridge-builder, the wishing-rod. The hero replied, "I suppose some brown-eyed maiden stole it, for no stronger person would have troubled about such a thing." Tühi next inquired how he had treated the maidens; and to this the hero replied that he'd tell him another time. "Won't you come back again, dear brother, and pay your debts?" asked Tühi at last. "Who knows, dear brother?" said the hero; "if I ever find myself short of money, I may perchance come back to fetch some more gold and silver, and repay my old debts with new ones." And upon this Tühi and his seventy people decamped in the greatest haste, as if they had been on fire, or as if they were pursued by gadflies.
Strong as was the Kalevide, his back was weary and chafed with his heavy load, and he threw it off and lay down to rest; but while he slept he was in danger of being carried away by a sudden flood from the mountains, raised against him by a sorceress. After stemming it with some trouble, on resuming his journey, he met a stranger who asked him what he was going to do with the planks. The stranger proved to be the son of Olev, the great master-builder, and to him was intrusted the task of building the cities and fortifications.
When the Kalevide learned that he had lost seven weeks in a magic sleep, he gave the three sisters to the charge of the son of Alev, who married the youngest. The son of Sulev married the eldest, but the second sister found no lover, and while the others were talking together of their wedded happiness she stole apart weeping; and at length she was carried away by a famous sorcerer, and her strong brothers-in-law went in search of her. On the third evening they came upon her track, when the sorcerer spread out a great lake to impede their passage. But the Alevide had brought with him the wishing-rod, which quickly provided them with a bridge. They rushed across, broke the locks, and burst open the doors, slew the sorcerer, released the captive, and then sent the red cock on the roof.
Then the son of Olev took the second sister to wife; and thus all the three sisters whom the Kalevide had released from the regions of Sarvik were happily married, and many great tribes derived their origin from them.
THE VOYAGE OF THE KALEVIDE
The Kalevide now decided on a journey north, to the uttermost end of the world, where it touches the sky. He imagined that he could only reach this point by sea, and thought at first of travelling on the wings of an eagle. Meantime, a raven directed him, when he came to a broad expanse of blue water, to look for a place where rushes grew on the bank, and to stamp on the ground with his right foot, when the mouth of the earth and the strongly guarded doors would fly open, and he would reach the end of the world.
Then the Kalevide reflected how he had waded through every lake and sea, and had found none too deep for him except Lake Ilma. He then thought he would visit Finland, Norway, and the islands, where he expected to find old friends to direct him on his journey. So he directed Olev to fell the great oak-tree which their father and mother had planted, and which neither sun, moon, stars, nor rain, could penetrate, and to make the strongest sailing vessels for exploring voyages from the trunk, warships from the crown, merchantmen from the large branches, slave-ships from the smaller ones, children's boats from the splinters, and maiden's boats from the chips. He ordered the remainder to be used for building towns, fortresses, and houses for the people in various parts of the country.
Olev replied, "I know what to do, dear brother, if we can find a strong man in the country able to fell the oak-tree." The raven told them to send out to seek for such a man, and they did so; whereupon the wise men of Norway and Finland assembled to give them advice. But they told the Kalevide that it was no use building a wooden ship to sail to the world's end, for the spirits of the Northern Lights would set it in flames. He must build a strong vessel of iron and copper and tin.
The Kalevide then constructed a vessel, not of iron and copper, but of silver. The whole of the ship—planking, deck, masts, and chains—was of silver, and he named the vessel Lennuk. For himself he provided golden armour, silver for the nobles, iron for the crew, copper for the old men, and steel for the wise men.
The Kalevide selected experienced sailors and many wise men to accompany him, and they set sail joyfully towards Finland; but soon turned, and directed their course to the far north, in the direction of the Great Bear.
To the north they sailed under the guidance of a wise helmsman who knew all languages and the speech of birds and beasts. But the Finnish sorcerers raised storms against the ship, and they were driven along for seven days and nights, till a coast rose before them which the helmsman declared was quite unknown to him. The son of Kalev then sprang into the sea, swam ashore, and towed the ship after him. The birds sang to them that it was the poverty-stricken coast of Lapland. They went to explore the country, but wandered a long way without meeting with any inhabitants. At last they found a solitary cottage, where a maiden sat on the grass plot before the door spinning. And she sang how a milkmaid once found a cock and a hen. The cock flew away, but she caught the hen, and brought it home, where it grew up into a proud princess who had many lovers, among whom were the sun and—"The Kalevide," shouted he; and the maiden screamed and fled into the house. Then her father came to the door, and the Kalevide saluted him courteously, and asked him the way to the world's end. The wise man answered that it was a vain quest. The sea had no end, and those who had formerly attempted this quest had found their deaths on the Fire Island. The raven had only directed them on the road to Põrgu, but if they wished to return home, he would be pleased to guide them.
The Kalevide answered that he needed no pilot to show him the way home, but would be glad if the Lapp could pilot him to the door at the World's End. The Lapp consented, but bargained for what was chained to the wall at home, which the hero readily promised.
So Varrak the Laplander took the helm and steered the vessel due north for many days and nights. The first danger they encountered was a great whirlpool, which threatened to engulf the ship. Then Varrak threw a small barrel overboard, wrapped in red cloths and ornamented with red streamers. This bait was swallowed by a whale, which took to flight, and towed the ship to a place of safety.
Again they sailed on for a long distance, till they came in sight of the Island of Fire, where huge pillars of flame were towering up, and vast clouds of smoke filled the air. The Kalevide wished to visit the island, but Varrak warned him of the danger, and at length the Sulevide volunteered to land alone. So Varrak ran the ship ashore at a spot where one mountain was casting up flames, a second smoke, and a third boiling water, while the burning lava ran down into the valley.
The son of Sulev wandered on amid ashes and snowfields, amid a rain of red-hot stones, till he reached the mouth of the volcano, when his coat caught fire and his hair and eyebrows were singed, and he returned scorched to the ship. The Kalevide asked if he had seen anything of the cupbearer, who had followed him; but he had not. Then a white bird perched on the ship, and the wise Finn, who knew the language of animals, asked for tidings of the boy. But the bird answered that he had wandered away to a beautiful country which lay behind the snow-mountains, where he was enjoying himself in the company of the water-nymphs. He would return no more; let the ship proceed on her course.
Next they reached a country where the birds all fed on gold and silver and copper, and where the herbage grew as high as the pine-trees. The Kalevide sent some of the crew ashore, under the guidance of the magician, to view the country, while he and the Sulevide lay down on deck to sleep in the sun, leaving the Alevide to keep watch.
The ship's company, headed by the magician, wandered into the country, and, when night came, lay down to rest under a bush. Next morning the little daughter of a giant found them asleep, and wondering what they were, put them all into her apron, and carried them home to her father, and scattered them before him, saying:
The giant wished to test the wisdom of the strangers, so he inquired, "What walks along the grass, steps on the edge of the fence, and walks along the sides of the reeds?"
"The bee," replied the magician.
"What drinks from the brooks and wells, and from the stones on the bank?"
"What comes hissing from the meadow, and rushing from the blue forest?"
"The rain." The giant was pleased with the answers to his riddles, and told his daughter to carry the men back to where she had found them, but the wise man asked her to take them to the ship for fun. The maiden willingly obeyed; she leaned over the ship like a vast cloud, shook the men out of her apron on deck, and then blew the ship four miles out to sea, for which the Kalevide shouted back his thanks to her.
Now they sailed farther north, and the cold became intense, while the spirits of the Northern Lights began their combats in the air with silver spears and golden shields. The sailors were frightened, but the Kalevide was pleased that they should now be able to direct their course when they had left the sun and moon behind them.
Next they reached an unknown shore, where the inhabitants were half men and half dogs, and had long dog's tails. They were armed with great clubs, and the Kalevide sprang ashore to fight. A horse which he mounted soon fell dead under him, but he tore up an oak by the roots and began to lay the country waste. The wisest man of the country expostulated with him, and he repented of his violence, and prayed to Ukko to send fish to the country to replace the good ground which he had destroyed in his fury. Peace was thus concluded; and the wise man told the Kalevide that the raven had sent him on an idle quest to the gates of Põrgu. The Kalevide then decided to return home, and they directed the ship towards Lalli in the bay of Lindanisa, where Olev was building a city.
THE HEROES AND THE DWARF
Olev had now built a magnificent city, fortified with towers and ditches, around the burial-mound of Kalev. Large numbers of people flocked to it, and the Kalevide named it Lindanisa, in memory of his mother. Other fortified cities were founded by the Alevide and the Sulevide.
But news came that hostile troops were landing on the coast, and the Kalevide mounted his war-horse. The king wore a golden helmet, gold spurs, and a silver belt, and carried a shield of gold, and the steed was all caparisoned with gold and silver and pearls, while the maidens of the country looked on with admiration.
The Kalevide and his three friends fought a pitched battle with the countless forces of the enemy on the plains of Esthonia. Their heads fell before him like autumn leaves, and their scattered limbs were strewn about in heaps like straw or rushes. His horse waded in blood and bones to the belly; for the Kalevide slaughtered his enemies by tens of thousands, and would have utterly annihilated them, but, as he was pursuing the fugitives over hill and dale, his horse lost his footing in a bog, and was engulfed in the morass.
As the Kalevide was unable to continue the pursuit after the loss of his horse, he recalled his troops and divided the booty. Then he sent his soldiers to carry news of the victory to the towns and villages throughout the country, and he and his three friends set out on a journey across the plains and swamps, and through primeval forests, making a pathway for others as they advanced. At length they came to a place where smoke and flames were shooting up into the air, and when they reached the spot they found an old woman sitting at the mouth of a cave and stirring the fire under a pot. The Alevide asked what she was cooking, and she answered, "Cabbage for my sons and for myself." Then the son of Sulev said they were hungry travellers, and asked her to give them some, and to take a rest while they finished the cookery. The old woman consented, but warned them, if a strange youth asked to be allowed to taste the broth, to take good care that he did not empty the pot and leave them nothing. Three of the heroes at once volunteered to take turns to watch the pot, but the Kalevide said nothing. Then the old woman crept into the bushes, and hid herself in a wolf's den.
The Alevide took the first watch, and his companions lay down by the fire to sleep. He had not been long sitting there, and throwing fresh faggots on the fire, when one of the little dwarf race stole up stealthily and timidly through the long grass. He was about three spans high, and had a gold bell hanging to his neck. He had small horns behind the ears, and a goat's beard under his chin. He asked humbly to be allowed to taste the soup, and the hero gave him leave, but warned him to take care not to drown himself in it.
The dwarf replied that he would like to taste the soup without a spoon, and jumped on the edge of the pot; but he grew up in an instant to the height of a pine-tree, and then to the clouds, rising to the height of seventy fathoms and more. Then he vanished like a mist, and the Alevide found the pot as empty as if the contents had been scraped out. So he refilled the pot with water, put in some fresh cabbage, and roused the Olevide, but said nothing of what had happened. Then he lay down and went to sleep, leaving his companion on guard. But presently the dwarf reappeared, and neither the Olevide nor the Sulevide, who took the third watch, fared any better than their companion.
The watch now fell to the Kalevide, but he would not allow the dwarf to taste the soup until he gave him his gold bell as a pledge of good faith. As soon as he had received it, he playfully gave the dwarf a fillip on the forehead, when there was a tremendous crash of thunder, and the dwarf sank into the earth and disappeared from the sight of the hero. The other heroes and the old woman then assembled round the fire to hear what had happened. They sat down to their supper, after which the Kalevide advised his companions to lie down and rest for the remainder of the night, and to return home to their wives and children in the morning. During the night the daughters of the Meadow Queen danced and sported, and sang to the Kalevide of his approaching adventures and journey.
THE KALEVIDE'S JOURNEY TO PÕRGU
Next morning the Kalevide rose at daybreak and looked about him. Where the dwarf had vanished in blue smoke, he now beheld a sheet of blue water with rushes on the bank, and knew that he had unexpectedly chanced upon the entrance to Põrgu. His wearied comrades were still sleeping, and, without disturbing them, he stamped with his right foot, and the hidden strongly-guarded doors of Hades flew open.
The hero gazed down into the abyss, but clouds of smoke and hot steam rolled up, and made his eyes smart, and he hesitated a moment, when a raven called to him from the summit of a pine-tree to sound the bell. Instantly the clouds of smoke disappeared, and he set out on the downward path. As he proceeded, he found himself in thick darkness, without a ray of light to guide him, and he was forced to grope his way, when the voice of a mouse directed him to sound the bell again. The path grew dimly light, and the Kalevide proceeded, but soon found his way so much impeded by nets and snares, which multiplied faster than he could destroy them, that he was unable to advance, and his strength began to fail him. This time it was a toad who advised him to sound the bell, when all the magic snares vanished, and he hurried on till he reached the edge of a rivulet about two spans broad. Every time he attempted to cross, his foot sank in the mud in the middle, and no matter how often he renewed his efforts, he could not reach the opposite shore. While the Kalevide was lamenting that he found less difficulty in crossing Lake Peipus with a heavy load of timber on his back, he heard a crayfish advising him to sound the bell, when the brook instantly vanished.
There was nothing in these caverns to mark the difference between night and day, and the Kalevide did not know how long he had been struggling against the various difficulties of the road. He was now assailed by swarms of mosquitoes, which he thought to escape by hurrying through them and leaving them behind; but they grew thicker and thicker, till a cricket in the grass called to him to sound the bell. The mosquitoes vanished as if carried away by the wind, and the hero sat down to rest and refresh himself, and having at length learned wisdom from experience, tied the bell on his little finger, that he might have its constant aid in future. Then he advanced farther.
And now the hosts of hell, the servants of Sarvik, heard his heavy tread, and they sent out scouts, who fled back in consternation, reporting that the son of Kalev, the strongest of men, was advancing with hostile intentions. Then Sarvik commanded his forces to march against him.
The Kalevide had now reached a river of blazing pitch, crossed by an iron bridge. Here the hosts of hell determined to make a stand, and formed themselves into four detachments, one upon the bridge, one below, one on the bank, and one in the rear.
"What's this swarm of frogs?" cried the Kalevide, drawing his sword and rushing forward to the bridge. He was at once assailed with a shower of arrows, and was then attacked with spear and battleaxe; but he stood like a wall of iron, and scattered his enemies, though fresh hosts continually advanced against him. At length he fought his way through all the hostile troops, and Sarvik was in despair, and did his utmost to block the paths and to fortify himself against the imminent danger.
When the Kalevide reached the bridge, he rested for a moment to look round, and then casting the bodies of his enemies into the river as he advanced, his steps thundered across the bridge, and he soon reached the fortifications. Three strokes of his fist sufficed to burst in the gates, and he trod down all impediments and forced his way into the enclosure. When he came to the inner door, he beat and kicked it down, and it fell in fragments, door, door-posts, bolts, and bars, all battered to pieces. In the hall he found a shade resembling his mother Linda spinning. At her right hand was a cup of the water of strength, and at her left a cup of the water of weakness. Without speaking, she offered her son the cup with the water of strength, which he drank, and then lifting a huge rock broke his way into the inner hall, where Sarvik's old mother was sitting spinning. She knew, and tried to beg the bell, but the Kalevide put her off, and inquired if Sarvik was at home. She answered that he left home the day before yesterday, and would not return for two or three days; but if the hero liked to wait for him, he should be received as a guest; but first he must taste her mead. He knew that she would give him the water of weakness, and declined, but looked about till he saw a secret door in a recess in the wall, and was about to break it open, when it flew open of itself with a tremendous noise, and a host of armed warriors rushed out. He repulsed them all, and then Sarvik himself cried out to him, reproaching him with all the wrongs he had suffered at his hands, and the numerous thefts he had committed. In reply the Kalevide reproached Sarvik with his own tricks; but nevertheless he sheathed his sword and put the bell in his pocket.
Then Sarvik came forth from his hiding-place pale and trembling, and wishing to recover himself a little by a potion, mistook the cups in his confusion, and drank the water of weakness, while the Kalevide took another draught of the water of strength.
THE LAST FEAST OF THE HEROES
After this the Kalevide and Sarvik engaged in a terrific wrestling-match, which lasted for seven days and nights, with varying success. At length the shade of Linda, who was looking on, took her distaff, swung it ten times round her head, and dashed it to the ground. The hint was not lost on her son. He seized Sarvik by the garters, whirled him ten times round, and then hurled him down, set his knee on his chest, and seized his throat and tried to strangle him. Then he took his belt, bound Sarvik firmly, and dragged him to the iron chamber, where he bound him hand and foot with chains. A third chain he fastened round his neck, and a fourth round his body, and drove the ends into the walls of rock. He rolled a great stone, as large as a house, against the door, and fixed the chains to this also, so that Sarvik could hardly move.
The Kalevide washed the traces of the struggle away, and Sarvik tried to obtain some concessions from him, but failing this he began to curse and swear. The Kalevide then went to pack up a store of treasures, but was warned by a mouse not to overload himself. So he contented himself with taking two sacks on each shoulder, and then set out on his homeward journey, and the iron bridge thundered beneath his footsteps, while Sarvik shouted curses after him.
At last the Kalevide struggled up to daylight, and sank down exhausted by the side of the son of Alev, who had been waiting anxiously for his friend, and had heard faint sounds of conflict far below. When his friend had fetched him some water, and he had recovered a little from his fatigue, he asked how long he had been absent, and learned that he had been away about three weeks. The Kalevide remarked that where he had been there was no means of distinguishing day and night or measuring time, and he then related his adventures.
The Alevide then slaughtered a great ox, a feat which no one else had been able to accomplish. The blood filled a hundred vats and the flesh a thousand barrels. They sat down to supper, and[Pg 131] the Kalevide ate till he was ready to burst, and then laid down to sleep, while the son of Alev seated himself on the treasure-sacks. The Kalevide slept for two days and nights, and did not wake till the third morning was well advanced. While he slept, his snoring resounded for miles, and the great trees shook as if they were saplings. About noon on the third day they set out homeward. The son of Alev carried one sack of treasure, and the Kalevide the other three.
After the Kalevide's return from his journey, he resided at Lindanisa, occupying himself with schemes for the good of his people. Olev had built three more cities, in the north, west, and south of the country. His friends advised the Kalevide to seek a bride in Kungla, and he replied that they would first build a beautiful fortified city and rear a magnificent house, and then he would follow their advice.
One day the Kalevide sat at a feast with his friends, and a harper sang the adventures of Siuru, the blue bird, the daughter of Taara.
The Kalevide invited his friends to drink, and sang a song relating how he had gone down to the beach where two trees, the apple of fortune and the oak of wisdom, grew in the sea. Here he found some girls who told him that his little brother had fallen into the water. He waded into the water to look for him, and saw a naked sword at the bottom, which he was just about to grasp, when his sister called from the shore to tell him that his father, mother, brothers, and sisters were all dead or dying. He hurried home, but it proved to be a hoax, for they were all alive and well.
The son of Sulev next sang a ditty relating an adventure with four coy maidens, and the drinking and mirth continued.
And now messengers arrived in great haste, announcing that hostile armies of Letts, Vends, and Poles had invaded the kingdom on all sides. But the Kalevide bade his comrades empty their cups, while he himself quietly gave general orders, and declared that to-morrow he would take the field in person. Then he sang a song about two lovers.
While the Kalevide was thus drinking and singing, Varrak the Laplander entered and embraced his knees. He called down blessings from Ukko on the hero, and then requested to receive the reward which had been promised him, as he intended to set sail for home on the morrow. The Kalevide asked him what he wished for; and he answered that he had found a chained book in an iron cover, which he wished to possess.
The Kalevide could not read the book, which nevertheless contained all the priceless wisdom which his father had recorded; and he willingly gave it to Varrak, notwithstanding the loud protests of the sons of Sulev and Olev. The book was fastened with three chains and three locks, and the keys could not be found. Varrak knew very well where they were, but he kept his knowledge to himself. So the Kalevide ordered the wall to be broken down to release the book, which was then laid on a waggon, and dragged by a yoke of oxen to the boat, which Varrak had already loaded with bags of gold.
Meantime a troop of fugitives came flying to the city, bringing word that the war was close at hand, and that the axes of the youths were useless against the swords of the mail-clad warriors. The Kalevide ordered the weary men to be fed and comfortably housed, and while they slept he repaired to his father's grave. But there was no voice nor counsel; there was no sound but the sighing of the wind and the moaning of the distant sea, and the clouds shed sad tears. The hero returned home sorrowful and uneasy.
The news of the invasion had brought the feast to a sudden end, and the Kalevide consulted with his friends, and proposed to bury his treasure, thinking it might otherwise be insecure. So at dead of night the Kalevide, Alevide, and Sulevide dug a deep pit in a secret place. Then the Kalevide solemnly delivered over the treasure to Taara's protection, and declared that no one should obtain it but the son of a pure mother, who should come to the spot on St. John's Eve, and should sacrifice three black animals without a white hair upon them—a black cock with a curled comb, a black dog or cat, and a mole. Then he murmured secret spells over the treasure; but the man is not yet born who shall raise it.
When the morning dawned, the son of Kalev took his spear and sword, mounted his war-horse, and[Pg 136] ordered the Alevide to follow him as his shield-bearer. Then he blew his horn, and set his forces in battle array. The sound of the horn echoed through city and forest, and was heard in every province of Esthonia, and the people flocked to the king at the summons. The women wept and lamented, but their husbands, sons, brothers, and lovers went forth to the war. The Kalevide assembled his army in the sacred oak-forest of Taara, and a bird advised him to sharpen his sword and spear before the fight. By the fifth evening the last stragglers had come in, and the Kalevide allowed his men two days' longer rest. On the third day thereafter the battle began in earnest, and the Kalevide fought against the mailed warriors for half a day, when his horse was killed under him.
Hundreds were slain on both sides, and at last the Sulevide fell severely wounded. The soothsayer was summoned hastily, and adjured the blood to cease flowing:
But the blood continued to flow, and then the magician used stronger spells, pressed his fingers on the wound to stop the bleeding, and tied up the limb with red thread, afterwards applying healing herbs.
Meantime the Kalevide had routed the enemy and dispersed them over the plain in flight, the dead being piled up in heaps behind them. But the hero was weary and overcome with heat and thirst, and went to a lake, which he drained to the last drop, leaving only the mud at the bottom.
Three days were given to the burial of the dead and the care of the wounded, and then the Kalevide set out in pursuit of the enemy. Olev built a bridge over the Võhanda according to the Kalevide's directions, and presently the army fell in with a murderous host of Tartars, Poles, and Letts, who were ravaging the neighbourhood of Pleskau.
Another great battle was fought, and the Kale[Pg 138]vide slaughtered his enemies till their bodies lay in heaps a fathom high about the field, and the blood was five spans deep. The battle lasted for seven days, and many notable chiefs were slain, among whom was the son of Sulev, who had been so severely wounded in a previous battle. The Tartars and Poles had now been slain or put to flight, and the Kalevide gathered together the remnants of his army to attack the Vends, and ordered the Alevide to break their centre.
The fight with the Vends lasted two days longer, and again vast numbers were slain on both sides. A great mound was raised on the battlefield over the grave of the Sulevide in memory of the fallen hero. The three remaining heroes, the Kalevide, the Alevide, and Olev, stood like towers against the attacks of the mailed warriors; but at last they were overcome by thirst, and went to a lake in a valley, with steep high banks, to drink. The Alevide, who was very weary, stooped down to drink, when his foot slipped, and he fell into the water, and was drowned before his friends could recover his body. In the bright sunshine his huge iron helmet and his three-edged sword may still be seen gleaming at the bottom of the water.[Pg 139]
The Kalevide was so overcome with grief at this last misfortune that he abandoned his kingdom, abdicating in favour of Olev, and retired to the pine-forests on the banks of the river Koiva, where he built a cottage and thought to dwell in peace and retirement. Here he lived alone, supporting himself on fish and crayfish. One day a party of armed men found their way to his hermitage, and invited him to join company with them. He turned his back on them contemptuously, when he saw in the water the reflection of one of them advancing with his sword drawn to murder him. He turned angrily on his foes with an indignant exclamation, and seizing one of them by the helmet, whirled him round, and the air sounded as if disturbed by the rush of the Northern eagle. Then he dashed him down so that he sank to his waist in the ground. He seized the second by the hand, and swung him round till the forest was shaken as if by a tempest, and him he sank to the cheeks in the ground. The third he seized in the same way, and drove him so far into the ground that nothing could[Pg 140] be seen of him but the hole where he had disappeared.
Another time the Kalevide was troubled by a messenger sent by the merchants on the coast to invite him to visit them. After listening to his talk for some time, he told him to pull up the rod which he had baited for crayfish, and after he had eaten, they might discuss the matter further. The youth went down to the river bank, and found, to his amazement, that the rod was a tall fir-tree, which the Kalevide had torn up by the roots, but which the youth could not even move. Then the Kalevide lifted the rod with one hand, and showed the youth that it was baited with the whole carcass of a dead mare; and sent him about his business, telling him to report what he had seen.
These intrusions vexed the Kalevide, and he wandered away from his hermitage through the forests, and three days afterwards he reached Lake Peipus, without remembering that he had ever travelled the same way before. Singing gaily, he came to the brook Käpä, and waded in. The hero had laid an injunction on his lost sword which he had intended to apply to the sorcerer who had robbed him of it; but the understanding[Pg 141] of the sword was confused by the curse which the Finnish smith had previously laid upon it, and it reflected that now was the time for vengeance. So without more ado the great sword raised itself, and cut off both the hero's legs at the knee. He cried out for help, and dragged himself with his hands to the shore, where he lay down bleeding, his legless body covering a whole acre of ground.
The cries of the dying Kalevide rose above the clouds and ascended to heaven. The heavenly powers assembled round the hero, and vainly tried to salve his wounds and soothe his pain. Presently he expired, and his soul, like a joyful bird, took its flight to the halls of Taara in heaven. There he sat in the firelight among the heroes of Taara, resting his cheek on his hand, and listening to the bards as they sang of his great deeds.
But the old father of the gods knew that so great a hero, who had conquered all his enemies in battle, and had bound even the prince of Põrgu in chains, could not remain idle in heaven. So he summoned all the gods in secret conclave to consider what work they should assign to the Kalevide, and the debate lasted for many days and nights. At last they determined that he[Pg 142] should keep watch and ward at the gates of Põrgu, so that Sarvik should never be able to free himself from his bonds.
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, and sent him to the post which had been assigned to him at the gates of Põrgu.
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.[Pg 143] Here he sits now on his horse at the gates of Põrgu, 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 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.