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p. 94


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 menservants assemble and work or amuse themselves, and where they are sometimes tortured in all sorts of ways.”

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 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 p. 96 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.1

 The barns were filled respectively with rye, p. 97 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.

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 “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.1

 “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 p. 99 Tühi,1 his mother is the bitch of Pōrgu, and his grandmother is the white mare.”2

 “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?”

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 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 p. 101 left produced corresponding weakness. The eldest sister hastened to change these glasses, while the second secured the wishing-rod.

 As they returned, they heard the heavy footsteps of Sarvik approaching, and the youngest sister again implored the hero to fly before it was too late. Sarvik approached with a noise like hundreds of cavalry prancing over a bridge, or heavy iron waggons thundering along a copper roadway. The earth quaked and the cavern shook under his steps, but the hero stood at the entrance:

Like the oak-tree in the tempest,
Or the red glow ’mid the cloudlets,
Or the rock amid a hailstorm,
Or a tower in windy weather.

 Presently Sarvik dashed open the last door with a blow of his fist, and stopped, confronting the intruder. The sisters shrank back pale and trembling, but the Kalevide stood beside them, with the hat in his hand, and apparently no taller than themselves. Sarvik asked who he was, and how he came to throw himself into the trap; but the hero at once challenged him to wrestle, and he accepted the challenge. Then Sarvik advanced to the bed, not knowing that the glasses had been p. 102 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 p. 103 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 Pōrgu, 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 p. 104 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.



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1 A mythical blue bird, the daughter of Taara. Two songs respecting her will be found in another part of the book. Reinthal improperly translates the word “griffin.” “Phœnix” or “Seemurgh” would have been a more appropriate rendering.

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1 These bath-whisks, which are dried birch-twigs with the leaves left on, are often alluded to in the Kalevala.

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1 Or Tühja. See ante, p. 84.

2 Compare Canto 10 of the Kalevipoeg, and the story of the Grateful Prince, as well as ante, p. 58 note). Sarvik seems to have belonged to the same family as the water-demon who was tricked by the Alevide in Canto 10.