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RING! RING! SING! SING! Listen to Kauko the Red-Haired Wizard, as he plays on his living Kantele!

A widow had a son, who lived with his Mother. One day he said to her:

"I will go out into the world to earn money."

But the Mother said, "Why would you go away? Buy yourself a gun and dog, and hunt in the wood."

So he bought himself a gun and dog and went into the wood. He wandered about the whole day, wandered about the wood, and found nothing. Vexed, he returned home, and said to his Mother:

"You wanted me to buy a gun and a dog, and I have got nothing by it."

His Mother said, "You must learn to hunt for many days."

The next day he went out again into the wood, but shot nothing.

He did not wish to go to the wood any more, but his Mother made him go. On the third day, the dog barked at a squirrel in a tree. He was just going to shoot it, when the squirrel spoke.

"Do not shoot me," it said. "I will come down."

So he did not shoot it, and the squirrel crept down the pine tree, down, down, then leaped to the ground in front of the lad.

It turned into a Maiden, such a beautiful Maiden that the lad could not keep his eyes off her.

The Maiden said, "Because you have not shot me, I will be your bride."

"You are beautiful and please me," said he, "but I do not dare to do it. What would my Mother say?"

"Just take me to your Mother," said she, "and if she lets you, why marry me. If she does not, I will go back to the wood."

So he took her home, and the Maiden stayed out in the courtyard while the lad went in and said to his Mother:

"There is such a lovely and good Maiden, that I want for my bride, if you will say yes."

So his Mother gave her permission, and he took the Maiden for his bride. She was most beautiful, and they lived happily together.

Now the Emperor's Son had been searching three whole years for a bride, but could not find one that pleased him. When he saw the lad's bride he wanted very much to have her for his own.

Then he thought, "Well, I cannot take her from a living husband!" Then he went to the lad's house, and said, "To-night, you must build me over yonder rapids, a golden bridge with silver railings."

The lad was troubled and went to his wife. She asked:

"Why are you so sad?"

"To-night I must build for the Emperor's Son a golden bridge with silver railings."

"Lie down and go to sleep," said his wife. "We will think it over to-night."

After she had thought about it, she gave her beloved a silken handkerchief, saying:

"Go now, strike the water of the rapids with this cloth. Say at the same time, To-night a golden bridge with silver railings shall stand here."

Then he struck the water with the handkerchief, and said this. He went to sleep and slept the night through. And in the morning the bridge was finished.

The Emperor's Son came and stared.

"O well, it is much nicer than we hoped!"

Then he set the lad another task. He said to him:

"In the garden here, are buried three golden piglets. They must be found to-night. If you do not find them, I will cut off your head."

Again the lad went with a troubled mind to his wife, and she asked:

"Why are you so sad?"

"To-night I must produce three golden piglets that are buried in the garden."

"Lie down and go to sleep. We will think it over to-night, how to get them."

They slept the whole night through. The next morning said she:

"Go to the Emperor's Son. Take with you to the garden the Highest General and a spade. In the midst of the garden, stands an oak. Under it dig a pit three fathoms deep. In it you will find the three piglets close to each other."

That he did, and found the three piglets close to each other. He lifted them out.

"There they are!"

After that he went back to his house and his wife.

The Emperor's Son, however, was very much provoked, and he set him another task.

"Now you shall procure for me a Living Kantele, that plays by itself. If you do not get just such a living Kantele, then I will cut off your head."

Again the lad went troubled to his wife, and she asked:

"Why are you so sad?"

"I must procure a Kantele, a Living Kantele, that plays by itself."

Then answered his wife:

"Go to the Emperor, and demand of him three of the Highest Generals. Then come back to me, that I may send you where you will procure the Living Kantele," said his wife.

Soon he came back to his wife with the Generals, and she gave her beloved another Silken Handkerchief and a Blue Ball of thread. Then she charged him to demand of the Emperor three months and a day in which to fetch the Kantele. And the Emperor gave him this respite.

Just as they were starting on their way, his wife said to him:

"In whatever direction I throw this Ball, follow it. Then you shall find the self-playing Kantele. After you leave here, show this Handkerchief at two places. But do not show it a third time, till you are in the most dreadful of difficulties."

They started out. The Blue Ball rolled and rolled before him; and the three Generals and the Son of the Widow followed it.

They travelled on, and came to a little hut that was covered with earth, like a charcoal burner's hut.

They went inside, and there was an Old Woman sitting in a rocking-chair. She said:

"Oho! For thirty years I have not smelled a human being. Now here comes a roast for my supper!"

But the lad said, "What? You are my Aunt, and would you eat us for supper?"

Then he fetched his Silken Handkerchief out of his pocket, and wiped his face with it. At that muttered she:

"Ah! That is my son-in-law, the husband of my daughter!"

Then he must have something to eat and drink, and she did not know how to treat him well enough!

That night they stayed there, and the next morning they started out. The Ball ran before them along the highway.

Again they came to a hut that looked like a charcoal burner's hut. The Blue Ball ran into the hut. There sat an Old Woman in a rocking-chair, just like the first, only older.

"Oho!" said she. "For sixty years I have not smelled a human being. Now here comes a roast for my supper!"

"What? Will you eat me, a traveller, you who are my Aunt?"

He again took out the Handkerchief and wiped his face.

"Aha!" said she. "That is my nephew, the husband of my niece!"

He was entertained, and stayed the night there. They all got fine food and drink.

When morning dawned, the Blue Ball rolled again before them along the highway.

It ran and it ran, and then it came to a third hut, like the others. They went in, and there sat a yet older Old Woman in a rocking-chair. She spoke:

"Oho! For ninety years I have smelled no human beings. Now I am getting something for supper!"

The lad said, "Why would you eat us, who are travellers? The flesh of a traveller is like gristle, and the soup of him tastes like washwater."

Then they ate and drank out of their own knapsack, and the Son of the Widow spoke:

"We are searching for a Living Kantele. Who can make us one?"

The Old Woman answered:

"Hi! my Boys can make it, but they are in the forest. They will not come home till twilight."

"O well! If they are coming, why we will wait for them."

They waited the whole evening till it was dark. Then three wolves sprang into the hut, leaped over the rafters, and jumped from the dresser, and turned themselves into three handsome young men.

They began to make the Living Kantele, and they told one of the Generals to hold the pine-board.

"If you fall asleep," said they, "it will not go well with you!"

Then they worked on the Kantele. The General held the board, fell asleep, and snored. As he slept, they turned themselves into wolves, gobbled him up for their supper, and ran out into the forest.

The Old Woman said, "They will not come home again till evening."

The lad waited till evening. As it was growing dark, again the three wolves sprang into the hut, leaped from the dresser, and became men.

Again they began to work on the Kantele, and told the second General to hold the board.

"If you sleep, something will happen, as you saw by the other one!"

The General held the pine-board, fell asleep, and snored.

The young men turned themselves again into wolves, gobbled him for their supper, and ran howling into the forest.

"They will not come home before evening," said the Old Woman again.

"All right! When they come, the Kantele must be finished."

They all spent the day walking in the forest, and evening came again. Once more the three wolves sprang into the hut, leaped from the dresser, and turned themselves into men. Now must the last General hold the board! And they said to him:

"Do not you dare to sleep! If you sleep, nothing good will happen!"

He held the board, held it and was a little bit sleepy. He tried hard not to fall asleep, but soon he was snoring. Immediately the young men turned themselves into wolves, and gobbled up the last General.

The lad was alone with the Old Woman!

"They will not come back again before evening."

"All right! When they come, the Kantele must be finished."

Twilight fell. Came the wolves, leaped from the dresser, and changed into men. They began to work on the Living Kantele, and it was the Son of the Widow, who must hold the board this time!

He held it, and held it, became tired, and the young men poked him in the side.

"What? Are you asleep?"

"NO! I am not asleep. I am wondering whether there is more dry than fresh wood in the forest?"

Then they changed themselves into wolves.

"Wait! We will count, and see whether there is more dry or more fresh wood in the forest?"

There they counted the whole day through till evening, then back they came. Again sprang the three wolves over the rafters, down from the dresser, and became men. They worked at the Kantele, and the lad held the board.

He held it, and held it, and grew sleepy. Then he took out the Silken Handkerchief and wiped his eyes. The Old Woman saw it.

"Ah!" said she. "That is the husband of my niece! Why did you not tell me before? The Kantele would have been finished long ago."

Then she entertained him. While she was preparing the food, the young men finished the Kantele.

When the Kantele was all ready, their Mother said to the young men:

"Turn yourselves into wolves. Take him on your backs, and carry him home as quickly as you can, before the Emperor's Son steals his bride."

Then they took him on their backs, and he rode with the most terrible swiftness.

Already the Emperor's Son had carried off the bride to his house, and was going to hold the wedding. The lad threw the Living Kantele down before him.

"Here is the Kantele. Why did you take my bride away before my promised time was up?"

And he rescued his bride from the Emperor's Son, and brought her to his Mother. And they are living there to this very day.

Next: The Hidden Maiden