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p. 124


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 Pōrgu. 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 p. 125 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 p. 126 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 p. 127 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, p. 128 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.