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Estonian Mythology and Fairy Tales
Hero of Estonia Vol 1
Hero of Estonia Vol 2
ESTONIA, WISE AND FREE, LAND OF WONDER LEGENDS
The Singing Sword
The Maiden of the Milky Way
The Luck Egg
Wood of Tontla
The Magic Maiden
The Wizard with Yellow Eyeballs and Green Hair
THE WISE AND THE FREE LAND OF ENCHANTMENT AND OF WONDER LEGENDS
Where the mystic cliffs are rising,
Where the billows beat and clammer,
Where they leap, and boil, and bubble,
In a Cavern, Crystal-Lighted,
Sings Estonia's Happy Wizard--
Sings a song of weird enchantments,
Sings of gnomes and magic serpents,
Sings of treasure and of mermaids,
Sings of fairies and of witches,
Sings of moons, and suns, and starlets,
Sings the mighty deeds of wonder
Wrought by strong and handsome Heroes,
In Estonia, Land of Magic,
In Estonia, Land of Wizards
THE SINGING SWORD
WEIRD! WEIRD! WEIRD! EVER WEIRD! Listen to Sarvik of the woolly
white hair, and lolling red tongue!
In the ancient days of Wizards and Witches there lived, in
Estonia, a giant Hero named Kalevide. His back was like an oak, his
shoulders were gnarled and knotted, his arms like thick trees, his
fingers spreading like branches, and his fingernails as tough as
As for his huge Sword, he could whirl it around like a fiery
wheel. It whistled through the air like a tempest. When he struck
downward its keen edge was as lightning. A splendid sword worthy of
the great Hero! It was wrought with the aid of powerful charms and
tempered in seven different waters.
And for the Sword, he had paid a hero’s price, four pairs of
good pack horses, twenty milch kine, ten pairs of yoke oxen, and
wheat, barley, rye, bracelets, gold coins, silver brooches, the
third of a kingdom, and the dowries of three Maidens.
Now it once chanced that Kalevide with a load of heavy planks on
his back, was travelling over the land. He reached the margin of
Lake Peipis. Without waiting for a boat, he plunged into the water
to his middle, and strode across to the other shore.
Page 44On the other shore an evil Wizard was hiding in the bushes. He
saw the Giant Kalevide drawing nearer, looking huger and huger at
each stride. The Wizard swelled his bristly body--bristly as a wild
boar--stretched his wide mouth, and blinked his small upturned eyes,
and muttered a Spell.
Instantly a Storm Wind swept over Lake Peipis. But Kalevide
laughed a loud laugh at the wind, and said to the lake:
“You miserable little puddle, you are wetting belt!"
Then he stepped on land, and laid down his burden of planks, and
trimmed off their edges with his Sword. After which he stretched
himself out to rest.
The evil Wizard saw the gleam of the sharp Sword, and determined
to steal it. So he slunk deeper into the forest to wait.
Kalevide refreshed himself with bread and milk from his wallet,
loosened his belt, laid his Sword by his side, and soon fell asleep.
Presently the ground shook with his snoring, the billows of the lake
arose, and the forest echoed his snores.
Then the Wizard stole softly from the forest, and like a cat
crept up to the sleeping Giant. He began to mutter Magic Spells and
call the Sword to leave its master's side. But it would not move.
Then he uttered stronger and stronger Spells. He scattered rowanleaves, thyme, fern, and other Magic Herbs over the Sword. At last
it moved and turned itself toward the Wizard. He grasped it in his
But its great weight almost bore him to the ground. He struggled
painfully along, step by step, dragging the Sword. By and by he
reached a stream, and jumped over it. Splash! The Sword slipped from
his arms and sank into the stream in its deepest place.
Then the Wizard began his Magic Spells again, and sang and
muttered, and sang again. But the Sword would not return. Day
dawned, and the Wizard fled into the forest.
When Kalevide awoke, he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes with
his huge fists. He felt for his Sword. It was not there! He saw the
marks where the Wizard had dragged the Sword along, so Kalevide rose
up and followed them. And as he went along he called on his Sword to
come back to its brother; he begged it to return, but there was no
answer. Then he sang Magic Spells, but there was no reply. When he
reached the stream, he saw the Sword gleaming at the bottom of the
Page 45Then Kalevide cried out to the Sword. asking who had stolen it
and sunk it in the stream. And the Sword sang in reply that the
Wizard had taken it, and that it had slipped from his grasp and
fallen into the water,
“And now," sang the Sword, "I lie in the arms of the most
beautiful of all Water Nymphs!"
“And does my Sword," sang Kalevide, “prefer the arms of a
beautiful Water Nymph to the grasp of a Hero in battle?"
But the Sword refused to return, and Kalevide began his
Incantations. He sang and sang, and he laid it on the Sword, that if
any Heroes came to the stream, it must answer them; and if a singer
came, it must sing; and if a Giant Hero came as great as Kalevide,
it must rise up and be his Sword; but if the evil Wizard came, it
must cut off both his legs.
Then Kalevide took up his load of planks, and went on his way.
And where a waterfall came foaming over high rocks, the Three Sons
of the Wizard met him. Two of them carried long whips with a big
millstone fastened to each lash. There in deadly combat Kalevide
overcame the Three Sons of the Wizard. Then he passed on.
Coming to a swamp, he felt tired, laid down his planks, and
stretched himself out to sleep. And while he slept the evil Wizard
crept to his side, and with Spells and Incantations threw him into a
And Kalevide dreamed of a better Sword than the first one, a
Sword forged in the work shop of Ilmarinen, Finland's Wizard, forged
in that wondrous workshop in the interior of a great mountain at the
middle point of the earth. Seven strong smiths wrought it with seven
copper hammers, and Ilmarinen, Finland's Wizard, watched every
stroke of every hammer.
And so Kalevide dreamed on before he set out on other and
Many were his strange adventures;
Many Witches he outwitted;
Many Wizards fought and conquered;
Kalevide fair Estland’s Hero!
THE MAIDEN OF THE MILKY WAY
THE stars shine down! The Northern Lights flash over the sky,
and the Milky Way glows white! Listen to the song of the Wizard of
the Crystal-Lighted Cavern!
Page 46Ah! Beautiful was Linda the lovely daughter of Uko. She showed
all the skypaths to the little birds, when they came flocking home
in the springtime or flew away in autumn. She cared as gently and
tenderly for the little birds, as a mother cares for her children.
And just as a flower bespangled with a thousand drops of dew shines
and smiles in the morning sunshine, so Linda shone while caring for
her little winged ones.
Thus it was no wonder that all the world loved Linda. Every
youth wished her for his bride, and crowds of suitors came to woo
In a handsome coach with six brown horses, the Pole Star drove
up, and brought ten gifts. But Linda sent him away, with hurried
"You always have to stay in the same place. You cannot move
about," said she.
Then came the Moon in a silver coach drawn by ten brown horses.
He brought her twenty gifts. But Linda refused the Moon, saying:
"You change your looks too often. You run in your same old way.
You do not suit me.
Hardly had the Moon driven sorrowfully off, before the Sun drove
up. In a golden coach with twenty red-gold horses, he rattled up to
the door. He brought thirty presents with him. But all his pomp,
shining splendor, and fine gifts did not help him. Linda said:
"I do not want you. You are like the Moon. Day after day you
run in the same street."
So the Sun went away sorrowful.
Then at midnight, in a diamond coach drawn by a thousand white
horses, came the Northern Lights. His coming was so magnificent,
that Linda ran to the door to meet him. A whole coach-load of gold,
silver, pearls and jewelled ornaments, the servants of the Northern
Lights carried into the house and his gifts pleased her, and she let
him woo her.
“You do not always travel in the same course,” said Linda. “You
flash where you will, and stop when you please. Each time you appear
robed in new beauty and richness, and wear each time a different
garment. And each time you ride about in a new coach with new
horses. You are the true bridegroom!”
Page 47Then they celebrated their betrothal. But the Sun, Moon, and
Pole Star looked sadly on. They envied the Northern Lights his
The Northern Lights could not stay long in the bride’s house,
for he had to hurry back to the sky. When he said farewell, he
promised to return soon for the wedding, and to drive Linda back
with him to his home in the North. Meanwhile, they were to prepare
Linda’s bridal garments.
Linda made her bridal robes, and waited and waited. One day
followed the other, but the bridegroom did not come to hold the
joyous wedding with his beloved. The winter passed, and the lovely
spring adorned the earth with fresh beauty, while Linda waited in
vain for her bridegroom. Nothing was seen of him!
Then she began to grieve bitterly and lament, and to sorrow day
and night. She put on her bridal robes and white veil, and set the
wreath on her head, and sat down in a meadow by a river. From her
thousand tears little brooks ran into the valleys. In her deep
heart-felt sorrow she thought only of her bridegroom.
The little birds flew tenderly about her head, brushing her with
their soft wings, to comfort her. But she did not see them, nor did
she take care of them any more. So the little birds wandered about,
flying here, flying there, for they did not know what to do or where
Uko, Linda's father, heard of her sorrow and how the little
birds were untended. He ordered his Winds to fetch his daughter to
him, to rescue her from such deep grief. And while Linda was sitting
alone in the meadow weeping and lamenting, the Winds sank softly
down beside her, and gently lifting her, bore her up and away. They
laid her down in the blue sky.
And there is Linda now, dwelling in a sky-tent. Her white bridal
veil spreads round her. And if you look up at the Milky Way, you
will see Linda in her bridal robes. There she is, showing the way to
little birds who wander.
Linda is happy! In winter she gazes towards the North. She waves
her hand at the Northern Lights flashing nearer and nearer, then he
again asks her to be his bride.
But though he flashes very close to Linda, heart to heart, he
cannot carry her off. She must stay forever in the sky, robed in
white, and must spread out her veil to make the Milky Way.
THE LUCK EGG
THE leaves of the Mystic Linden sigh! Light glows from the Magic
Stone! Listen to the Wizard of the Crystal-Lighted Cavern!
Once on a time, in a great wood lived a poor man with his wife.
God had given them eight children, and when a ninth was born, they
were not overjoyed. But God had sent the child, so they had to
receive him and give him Christian baptism. But there was no one
willing to stand as godfather to such a poor child.
"I will take him to the Church anyway,” thought the Father. "The
Pastor may do as he chooses, christen him or not.”
As he was starting out with the child, he met a beggar sitting
by the way, who asked an alms of him.
"I have nothing to give you, little Brother,” answered the poor
man. "But if you will do me the favor of becoming my child's
godfather, afterward we will go home and make merry with whatever my
wife has provided for the christening feast."
The Beggar, who had never been asked before to be a godfather,
was filled with joy, and went with him to the Church. Just as they
reached it, what should drive up but a magnificent coach with four
horses. Out of it stepped a young and noble Lady.
The man thought to himself, "Here, for the last time, I will try
my luck!" Then he said to her humbly, "Noble Lady, will you take the
trouble of standing godmother to my child?"
The Lady said, "Yes."
When the child was brought forward for baptism, every one was
surprised to see a poor Beggar and a proud, noble Lady stand
together as the child's godparents. The child received the name of
Paertel. The rich Lady gave the child a christening gift of three
The Beggar went home with the poor man to enjoy the feast. And
before he left that evening, he took from his pocket a little box
wrapped in a rag. He gave the box to the child's Mother, saying:
"This is my christening gift. It is nothing much, but do not
despise it, for it may bring your child great luck. A very wise Aunt
of mine, who understood all kinds of Magic, gave me before her death
the little egg in this box, saying:
Page 49"'When something unexpected happens, which you have never
dreamed of, give this egg away. When it falls into the hands of him
for whom it is meant, it will bring him great Good Luck. Guard the
egg like the apple of your eye, and see that it does not break for
its shell is tender.'
"Though I am nigh sixty years old," continued the Beggar, “never
has anything unexpected happened to me till today, when I was asked
to be godfather. My first thought was to give this egg to your
child, as a christening gift.”
The little Paertel throve, and grew up to be the joy of his
parents. When he was ten years old, he was sent to a rich farmer to
be herdboy. His Mother, when she was saying farewell, stuck the
godfather's gift in his pocket, and bade him care for it like the
apple of his eye. And Paertel did.
On the meadow where he grazed his herd, stood an ancient Linden
Tree, and under this lay a great flint-stone. This spot, Paertel
liked very much. The bread which he brought with him each morning,
he ate on the stone, and he quenched his thirst at a little spring
nearby. With the other herdboys, who were always up to mischief,
Paertel had nothing to do. And it was wonderful that nowhere grew
such beautiful grass as between the stone and the spring. Although
his herd grazed there each day, on the next morning the grass had
sprung up again green and fresh.
Now and then, when Paertel, on a hot day, napped a little,
sitting on the stone, he was overjoyed by the most wonderful dreams.
And when he woke, in his ears was the sound of music and singing, so
that when he opened his eyes he seemed to dream on. The stone, too,
seemed to him like a dear friend, which he said good-bye to each
night with a heavy heart.
Paertel grew to be a fine lad, too old to be herdsboy any
longer. The farmer took him as a farmhand. On Sundays and summer
evenings when the other lads were joking with their sweethearts,
Paertel did not join them but hurried off to his grazing meadow, to
his beloved Linden Tree, under which he often spent half the night.
One Sunday evening as he sat on the stone playing upon his
jew's-barp, a Milk White Snake crept from under the stone, raised
its head as if listening, and gazed on Paertel with its clear eyes
that glowed like fiery sparks.
Evening after evening, Paertel, as soon as he had free time,
hurried to his stone, in order to see the beautiful White Snake. She
became so used to him, that she would often wind herself about his
Page 50By day he thought of the White Snake, and by night he dreamed of
her. For this reason that winter seemed very long, while the deep
snow lay on the frozen earth. As soon as the spring sunshine melted
the snow and the ground thawed, Paertel hurried to the stone under
the Linden Tree, although its leaves were not yet to be seen.
O joy! As soon as he breathed his longing through the harp the
White Snake crept out from under the stone, and played about his
feet. But it seemed to Paertel as if today the Snake shed tears, so
his heart was sad.
After that he let no evening pass without going to the stone.
The Snake grew so tame, that she let him stroke her. But when he
tried to hold her, she slipped through his fingers and crept back
under the stone.
On Midsummer Eve, all the village folk, old and young, went
together to light the St. John's Fire. Paertel did not dare to
remain behind, though his heart pulled him another way. But in the
midst of the fun, while the others were singing, dancing, and having
a jolly time, he slipped away to the Linden Tree, for that was the
only spot where his heart found rest.
As he drew near it, he saw a clear bright fire gleaming from the
stone. When he came closer, he saw the fire die down. It left
neither ashes nor sparks. He sat down on the stone and began as
usual to play on his harp. Instantly the fire blazed up again--it
was but a burning from the eyes of the White Snake!
There the Snake was! She played his around his feet, and looked
at him so beseechingly that she seemed to want to speak.
Midnight was near, when the Snake slipped under the stone and
did not come back while Paertel played. Then he took his harp from
his mouth, placed it in his pocket, and started to go home. Just
then the leaves of the Linden Tree sighed so wonderfully in a puff
of wind, that they sounded like a human voice. Paertel thought he
heard them say over and over again:
Tender shell surrounds the Luck Egg.
Tough the heart of ancient trouble.
Take your Luck, while you may have it!
Then he felt such a painful longing that his heart seemed about
to break. Yet he knew not what he longed for. Bitter tears ran down
his cheeks, and he lamented:
“How can Luck help me, the Unlucky, for whom there is no Luck in
Page 51Then suddenly everything around him was as brilliant as if the
Linden and the stone were the shining sun. For a minute his eyes
were dazzled, then he saw standing near him on the stone, an
exquisite maiden-shape in snow-white robes. From her mouth sounded a
voice sweeter than the nightingale’s. The voice said:
“Dear Lad! Do not fear, but listen to the prayer of an unhappy
Maiden. Poor me! I live in a miserable prison. If you do not save
me, I have no hope of escape. O dear Lad! Have pity on me, and do
not refuse my request! I am the Daughter of a Mighty King of the
East, who is immeasurably rich with gold and treasures. But those
cannot help me, for I am bewitched in the shape of a Snake, and
forced to live here under this stone. Here have I lived for many a
hundred years, without growing old.
"Though I have never hurt a human being, every one who sees me
flees from me. You are the only living mortal who has not fled. Yes!
I have even dared to play about your feet, and your hand has stroked
me! So there has arisen in my heart, the hope that you are to be my
rescuer. Your heart is as pure as a child's, and in it is neither
deceit nor falsehood. And the Luck Egg was your christening gift.
"Only once in twenty-five years," continued the sweet voice, "on
the Night of St. John, am I permitted to assume my human shape, and
to wander for one hour on earth. And should the lad with your gift
come, and listen to my prayer, so might I be loosed from my prison.
Save me! O save me!"
So speaking the maiden-shape fell at Paertel’s feet, embraced
his knees, and wept bitterly. Paertel's heart melted at the sight.
He begged her to arise and tell him how he might rescue her.
“I would go through fire and water," cried he, "if that might
save you! Had I ten lives to lose, I would give them all!"
The maiden-shape answered, "Come here tomorrow night at sundown.
And when I creep toward you in the form of a Snake, and wind myself
like a girdle around your body and kiss you three times, you must
not be afraid nor shrink back. If you do, I shall again sigh under
the curse of Enchantment for many a hundred years."
With these words, the maiden-shape vanished from the lad's eyes,
and again the leaves of the Linden seemed to sigh and sigh:
Tender shell surrounds the Luck Egg.
Tough the heart of ancient trouble.
Take your Luck, while you may have it!
Page 52Paertel went home and lay down to sleep before dawn. But
wonderful varied dreams, partly happy and partly horrible, chased
sleep from his bed. He sprang up in terror when one dream showed him
the white Snake winding its coils around his breast and smothering
However, he did not think more about this terrible thing, for he
was firmly resolved to rescue the King's Daughter from the bonds of
her Enchantment. Nevertheless, his heart grew heavier and heavier,
the nearer the sun drew to the horizon.
At the set time he stood by the stone under the Linden Tree, and
looking up toward Heaven, sighed and implored that he might not
shiver or weaken when the Snake should wind herself around his body
and kiss him. Then suddenly he thought of the Luck Egg. He drew the
little box from his pocket, opened it, and took between his fingers
the egg which was not larger than a sparrow's egg.
At that moment the Snow White Snake crept forth from under the
stone, glided up and wound herself around his body. She raised her
head to kiss him--when!--the lad himself did not know how it
happened--he thrust the Luck Egg into her mouth.
He stood firm but with freezing heart, till the Snake had kissed
him three times. Crash! Flash! Lightning seemed to strike the stone.
Heavy thunder made the earth tremble. Paertel fell as if dead to the
ground. He knew nothing of what happened around him.
But at this dreadful moment, the bond of Enchantment snapped,
and the King's Daughter was freed from her prison.
When Paertel woke from his heavy swoon, he found himself lying
on cushions of white silk in a magnificent glass room of a heavenly
blue color. The beautiful King's Daughter was kneeling beside him
and stroking his cheeks. As he opened his eyes, she cried out:
"Thanks! A thousand thanks, faithful lad, who freed me from my
Enchantment! Take my whole Kingdom, take this Royal Palace and all
its treasures! And take me, if you will for your bride! You shall
live here happily, as is due the Lord of the Luck Egg.”
Paertel's luck and joy had no end. The longings of his heart
were stilled. Far from the world he dwelt with his dear bride in the
Palace of Luck.
As for the people of his village, great was their astonishment
when they went to search for him, and found neither Paertel, nor the
Linden Tree, nor the stone. Even the little spring was gone. All had
WOOD OF TONTLA
WEIRD! WEIRD! WEIRD! EVER WEIRD! Listen now to the Wizard with
the lolling red tongue!
In ancient days there was a beautiful wood called the Wood of
Tontla. No one dared venture into it. The boldest men, who chanced
to be near it, told how under the thick trees strange, human-shaped
creatures swarmed like ants in an ant hill.
It happened one night that a peasant going home from a feast,
wandered into the forest. He saw strange things! Around a bright
fire countless swarms of children and old women were gathered. Some
sat on the ground, others danced on the green sward. One old woman
had a broad shovel in her hand, with which from time to time she
scattered the glowing ashes over the grass. Then the children with a
shout would mount into air and like night-owls flap about in the
rising smoke. Then they would come back to earth again. Other
strange sights he saw, but because the peasant's head was swimming,
the village folk did not quite believe his tale.
Now not far from the Wood of Tontla, once lived a widower who
had married a brawling, quarrelling woman. The seven-year-old little
girl left by the first wife, was a bright, sweet creature. The
wicked woman used to cuff and beat her from morning till night and
give her worse food than she fed the dogs. As for the Father, he was
too afraid of the wicked woman to help his child.
For two years Elsa stood this terrible life, and shed many
It chanced one Sunday that she went with other village children
to pick strawberries. Lagging along as children do, they reached the
edge of the Wood of Tontla without knowing it. There grew many
strawberries. The whole grass was quite red with them. The children
ate the sweet berries, and filled their baskets with as many as they
could. Then suddenly one of the boys recognized the dreadful place,
and cried out:
“Run! Run! We are in the Tontla Wood!"
Those words were more terrible than thunder and lightning! All
the children ran as though the Tontla monsters were at their heels.
Elsa, who had gone on a bit farther than the others, heard the
cry of the boy, but she did not stop picking berries.
Page 54“The Tontla creatures," thought she, "cannot be worse than that
hateful woman at home."
Just then a tiny black dog, with a silver bell hanging from his
neck, came running up and barked at her.
At his barking a tiny Maiden in beautiful silken garments,
sprang from among the trees, and told the dog to be quiet.
"How nice," said she to Elsa, "that you did not run away with
the other children. Stay with me and be my playmate. We will play
such pretty games, and go berry-picking every day. Mother will not
refuse me this, when I ask her. Come, let us go to her now!”
Then the pretty child seized Elsa by the hand, and led her
deeper and deeper into the wood. The tiny black dog barked for joy,
and jumping on Elsa licked her hands.
O wonder of wonders! What marvels and magnificence met Elsa's
eyes! She thought that she was in Heaven. A splendid Garden filled
with fruit trees and berry bushes lay before her. On the boughs of
the trees sat birds brighter than the most brilliant butterflies,
many of them adorned with gold and silver. And the birds were quite
tame, letting the children hold them in their hands.
In the midst of the Garden stood a Mansion built of rock crystal
and precious stones, so that its walls and roof shone like the sun.
A Lady in magnificent garments sat on a bench before the door.
"Whom do you bring as a guest?" she asked the little girl.
The little daughter answered, "I found her in the wood, and
brought her here to be my playmate. Will you permit her to remain?”
The Lady smiled but said never a word. She examined Elsa with a
sharp look from top to toe. Then she called Elsa nearer, and stroked
her cheeks, and asked her kindly who she was, and if her parents
were living, and whether she would like to stay.
Elsa kissed the Lady's hand and fell down beore her, embraced
her knees, and replied through her tears:
"My Mother has been resting for a long time beneath the grass.
Mother was carried away,
And all love went with her!
"My Father cannot help me, and the wicked woman at home beats me
without mercy every day. So pray, golden Lady, let me stay here! Let
Page 55me tend your flocks, or do any other work. I will do anything, and
obey you. But do not send me home, or the wicked woman will beat me
half to death, because I did not go back with the village children."
The Lady smiled and said, "I will think about it."
Then she arose and went into the house. The little girl said to
"Mother is friendly. I saw by her looks that she will grant my
request. Wait hear a minute."
And the little girl followed the Lady, then soon came back with
a toy box in her hand.
"Have you ever been rowing on a sea?" she asked Elsa.
“Rowing on the sea! What is that?" said Elsa. "I have never
heard of such a thing.”
“O, you'll soon know!" said the little girl, and she took the
cover off the box.
Inside lay a leaf of ladysmock, a mussel-shell, and two
fishbones. On the leaf hung a few drops of water. The little girl
spilled the drops on the grass. Immediately the Garden, the grass,
and everything that stood there vanished. So far as the eye could
reach, was only water, that stretched till it seemed to strike the
horizon. Only under the children’s feet was a tiny dry spot.
Now the little girl set the mussel-shell on the water, and took
the fishbones in her hand. The mussel-shell swelled and changed into
a pretty boat, big enough for a dozen children. The two children
stepped into the boat. Elsa sat down timidly, but the little girl
laughed, and the bones she held in her hand became oars. The waves
rocked the children, like a cradle, and one by one little skiffs
came sailing up. In each sat beings who sang and were joyful. Elsa
could not understand what they said, but they kept repeating one
word Kiisiki. Elsa asked what it meant and the little girl said:
"That is my name."
How long they rowed about I do not know, then they heard:
"Children, come home! It is nearly evening!”
Kiisiki took the little box from her pocket, in which the leaf
lay. She dipped the leaf in the water till a few drops hung on it.
Immediately they found themselves near the magnificent Mansion in
the Garden. The water was gone, and all was firm and dry. The
Page 56mussel-shell and the fishbones were back in box.
The children went into the Mansion.
THE MAGIC MAIDEN
IN a huge chamber sat four-and-twenty Ladies around a banquet
table, all in splendid robes as though for a wedding. At the head of
the table sat the Lady, Kiisiki's Mother, on a golden chair.
Elsa did not know what to look at first, everything around her
was so magnificent and glittering. Upon the table stood thirteen
dishes on gold and silver salvers. One dish alone remained
untouched, and was carried away without its cover being lifted. Elsa
ate all kinds of costly foods, which tasted better than sweet cakes.
The four-and-twenty Ladies talked in low tones, and Elsa could not
understand what they said.
Then the Lady, Kiisiki's Mother, spoke a few words to the maid
who stood behind her chair. The maid hurried out and returned with a
Little Old Man whose beard was longer than himself. He made a bow,
and stood by the door. The Lady pointed a finger at Elsa, saying:
“Look carefully at this peasant child. I am going to adopt her.
Make me an image of her, which tomorrow may be sent instead of her
to her village."
The Old Man looked sharply at Elsa. Then he bowed and left the
After dinner, the kindly Lady said to Elsa, “Kiisiki has begged
me to let her have you for a playmate. Is it really true that you
wish to stay?”
Elsa fell on her knees, and kissed the Lady's feet and hands.
But the Lady lifted her up, stroked her head and tear-stained
cheeks, and said:
“If you will remain a good and diligent child, I shall care for
you till you grow up. No misfortune shall touch you, and you shall
learn with Kiisiki the finest handwork and other things.”
Just then the Little Old Man came back carrying a trough of clay
on his shoulder, and a little covered basket in his left hand. He
set the clay and the basket on the floor, took a bit of the clay and
shaped it into a doll. The Lady examined the doll on all sides, then
"Now we need one drop of the Maiden’s own blood."
Page 57Elsa, when she heard these words, turned pale from fright. She
was sure that she was about to sell her soul to the Evil One. But
the Lady comforted her by saying:
"Fear nothing! We do not want your drop of blood for anything
bad, only for your own future happiness."
Then she took a gold needle, stuck it into Elsa's arm, and gave
it to the Little Old Man. He thrust the needle into the doll's
heart. After that he laid the doll in the little basket to grow, and
promised to show it to the Lady the next day.
Then they all went to rest. Elsa found herself on a soft bed in
The next morning, when she woke in the silk-covered bed with
soft pillows, she opened her eyes and saw rich clothes lying on a
chair nearby. At the same moment a maid stepped into the room, and
bade her bathe herself and comb her hair. Then the maid clad her in
the beautiful clothes. Her peasant clothes had been taken away
during the night. What for? Now you shall hear!
Her own clothes had been put on the clay doll, which was to be
sent to the village in her stead. During the night, the doll had
grown bigger and bigger, till it was the very image of Elsa. It ran
about like a human being. Elsa was frightened when she saw the doll
so like herself, but the Lady noticing her terror, said:
"Fear nothing! This clay doll cannot hurt you. We are going to
send it to your parents. The wicked woman may beat it all she
wishes, for the clay doll can feel no pain.”
So the clay image was sent to her parents.
From this day on Elsa lived as happily as the richest human
child, that has been rocked in a golden cradle. She had neither
sorrow nor care. Her former hard life seemed a dream.
But an unknown Magic Power appeared to govern the life around
her. A huge granite stone stood near the Mansion. At every mealtime, the Little Old Man with a beard longer than himself, went up
to the stone, drew a silver wand from his bosom, and struck the
stone three times, so that it rang clearly. Then a great golden Cock
sprang out and perched on the stone. Every time the Cock clapped his
wings and crowed, something came out of the stone.
Page 58First a long table came all set with as many plates as there
were people to eat. The table went of itself into the house, as if
on the wings of the wind. When the Cock crowed a second time, chairs
followed the table. After that platters of food following one
another, all sprang out of the stone and flew like the wind to the
table. Likewise flagons and apples and berries. Everything seemed
alive, so that no one had to fetch or carry.
When all had eaten, the Little Old Man struck the stone again
with his silver wand, and as the golden Cock crew, flagons, plates,
platters, chairs, and table all returned and entered the stone, all
except the thirteenth platter which had not been touched. A great
black cat ran after that. The thirteenth platter and the cat sat
down on the stone beside the Cock, till the Old Man took the platter
in one hand, the cat under his arm, and the Cock on his shoulder.
Then he vanished under the stone.
Elsa asked Kiisiki what all this meant, but Kiisiki said she did
not know. It was a mystery.
The years flew by like swift arrows for Elsa in her happiness.
She grew to be a blooming young girl. But Kiisiki stayed the same
little child that she was when she found Elsa in the Tontla Wood.
One day the Lady sent for Elsa to her sleeping-chamber. Elsa
marvelled at this, for she had never been sent for before. Her heart
beat fast enough to burst. As she stepped over the threshold, she
saw that the Lady's cheeks were flushed and tears stood in her eyes.
"Dear adopted Child!" said she. "The time has come for us to
"Part!" cried Elsa, throwing herself at the Lady's feet. "No!
Beloved Lady, that can never be till death parts us. Why do you
drive me away?"
"Child," said the Lady, "it is for your good. You are now grown
up. You are a human being and can stay here no longer. You must go
out among other human beings. You will find a beloved husband and
live happily till the end of your days. We have human forms but we
are not human beings."
Then the Lady combed Elsa's hair with a golden comb, and hung
around her neck a small gold locket on a silken string, and she
placed a seal ring on her finger. Then she called the Little Old
Man, and pointed her finger at Elsa. She took leave of Elsa with
Page 59Before Elsa could speak, the Little Old Man gently tapped her
head three times with his silver wand. She felt herself changing
into a bird. Out of her arms grew wings; her legs became eagle's
legs with claws; her nose became a beak. Feathers clad her whole
body. She rose suddenly in the air, soaring up towards the clouds
like an eaglet just hatched from the egg.
So she flew southward for many days. She would have liked to
rest when her wings grew tired. She felt no hunger. One day she was
hovering over a low wood where hunting dogs were bellowing, when
suddenly she felt an arrow pierce her feathers. She fell to earth.
She fainted from terror.
When Elsa woke from her swoon and opened her eyes, she found
herself in her own human form again, lying among bushes. How she
came there seemed a dream. Then a handsome King's Son came riding
up, and offered Elsa his hand, saying:
"It was a happy hour this morning when I started forth! Every
night, I have dreamed of you, beautiful Maiden, for half a year;
dreamed that I should find you here in this wood. Today I shot a
great eagle which seemed to fall on this very spot. I hurried to get
my booty, and found instead of the eagle--you!"
Then he placed Elsa on his horse, and rode with her to the city,
where the old King welcomed her. A few days later the marriage was
celebrated magnificently. On the wedding morning arrived fifty cartloads of costly treasures, sent to Elsa by her adopted Mother.
After the old King's death, Elsa was Queen. But the Wood of
Tontla was never seen nor heard of again.
WEIRD! WEIRD! WEIRD! EVER WEIRD! sang the Wizard of the CrystalLighted Cavern.
THE WIZARD WITH YELLOW EYEBALLS AND GREEN HAIR
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BEAT! BEAT! BEAT! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
So finished Sarvik with back like an oak, and lolling red
tongue, his Wonder Stories.
And the Four Ancient Wizards of the South Baltic Lands, ground
their teeth, whistled, howled, and were still.
Page 60Beat! Beat! Beat! And as the Great Nischergurgje struck his Drum
with his golden drum-hammer, a gray light fell through the smokehole in the top of the tent. The fire died down and its gray, gray
smoke curled upward, out of the smoke hole, and mixed with the gray
And the Lapp people looked up, and cried:
And their faces looked gray and weird in the strange light, and
their eyes looked queer and gray through the smoke.
Weeks had passed while the Magic Stories were being told, and
the Lapp people did not know it!
"Lo! the gray dawn comes!" shouted Nischergurgje as he struck
his Magic Drum. "The Sun is not dead! He has turned his course. He
is coming back. The Long Night, so sad and gloomy, will soon be
ended. See! The pack reindeer are butting their horns into the birch
thickets and the willow bushes; it bodes the coming of spring. See!
The young fawns are lying on their sides, their legs as straight as
arrows; it bodes the coming of flowers.
“Now, let the feast be served and tales told, while we wait for
the golden sun to show his face above the rim of the world."
And the feast was served again.
Then Nischergurgje, the tree-tall, tree-straight one, called
"Kurbads, giant-strong, with yellow eyeballs and green hair,
tell us Wonder Stories from your wonder land, Latvia of the crystal
And the Four Ancient Wizards howled, whistled, ground their
teeth, and were still.
And all the Lapp people said, "Ah-a-a-a-a-a!" and were still,
Kurbads, giant-strong, rolled his yellow eyeballs round and
round, while each one of his green hairs stood on end and wriggled
like a snake.
And he began:
GLEAM AND GLITTER! GLEAM AND GLITTER! GLITTER! GLEAM!
FEAST OF FLOWERS
Kurbads, merry Lettland's Wizard,
With his Magic Incantations,
Calls the gold and silver to him;
Calls the jewels and the amber;
Calls the casks all filled with riches;
And they lie in heaps before him,
There they shine and gleam and glitter.
Then he summons all his Witches,
Old and wrinkled, toothless, grinning,
Bids them bide away the Treasures
In the ruins of the castles,
Underneath the ancient stone-heaps,
In the deep and dismal caverns.
Then he throws a Spell upon them,
Binds the Treasures with his Magic,
That no mortal eye may spy them,
And no mortal Song unloose them.
Thus he hoards his glittering wonders,
With his Magic Incantations,
Kurbads, merry Lettland's Wizard