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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 p. 88 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.1 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 p. 89 from an eagle’s nest. Old Sarvik1 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 lion2 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,1 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 p. 91 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,1 and she declared that there was not p. 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—
|“Raise thee, raise thee, golden1 maiden,|
Blue-eyed maiden, raise thee, raise thee,
Like unto the son of Kalev,
Like unto thy friend in stature.”
She began at once to grow taller, ell after ell, till she grew fully as tall as the son of Kalev himself.
Then the Kalevide took the hat from her head and set it on his own, wishing to become as small as she had been. His stature immediately sank, ell after ell, till he was reduced to the size of an ordinary man.2 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 p. 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.1 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.
1 We meet with this big ox elsewhere in the Kalevipoeg (Canto 19), as well as in the Kalevala, Runo 20.
1 Old Hornie, the name of the ruler of Pōrgu (Hell).
2 The word used for lion is “lōwi,” undoubtedly derived from the German. The Finns generally call the lion “jalopeura,” which also denotes the lynx.
1 Compare the story of the Gold Spinners.
1 We meet with a similar hat in other stories. Many Esthonians and Lithuanians still hide their nail-parings as carefully as possible, or else make a cross over them lest the devil should find them and use them to make a wishing-hat. Can this hat have any connection with the white straw hat of the devil in a Deptford rhyme?—Gomme’s Traditional Games, I. p. 4. In the Edda, we are told that Naglfar, the largest ship in the world, which is to bring the p. 92 giants to the fight at Ragnarok, is similarly constructed, and as both gods and men wish that it should be completed as late as possible, every one shauld be very careful not to die with unpared nails, lest he should supply materials for its construction.
1 Golden is often used in Finnish and Esthonian, as in many other languages, as a term of endearment.
2 The maidens were afterwards married to the relatives of the Kalevide, giants like himself, and described as walking arm-in-arm with them, nothing being then said of any difference in their stature.
1 This reminds us of a well-known feudal custom, more honoured in the breach than in the observance, which also prevailed among the old kings of Scotland for several reigns. The second sister was ultimately married, not to the cup-bearer, but to the son of Olev.