other to the serpents and had married Suyettar in her stead, but Ilona
still begged so pitifully to be allowed to return to earth that at last
the Sea king said, "Very well, then! For three successive nights I will
allow you to return to the upper world. But after that never again!"
So they decked Ilona in the lovely jewels of the sea with great strands
of pearls about her neck and to each of her ankles they attached long
silver chains. As she rose in the water the sound of the chains was
like the chiming of silver bells and could be heard for five miles.
Ilona came to the surface of the water just where Osmo had landed. The
first thing she saw was his boat at the water's edge and curled up
asleep in the bottom of the boat her own little dog, Pilka.
"Pilka!" Ilona cried, and the little dog woke with a bark of joy and licked Ilona's hand and yelped and frisked.
Then Ilona sang this magic song to Pilka, "Peely, peely, Pilka, pide,
Lift the latch and slip inside! Past the watchdog in the yard, Past the
sleeping men on guard! Creep in softly as a snake, Then creep out
before they wak*! Peely, peely, Pilka, pide, Peely, peely, Pilka I"
Pilka barked and frisked and said, "Yes, mistress, yes! Ill do whatever you bid mel"
Ilona gave the little dog an embroidered square of gold and silver which she herself had worked down in the Sea king's palace.
"Take this," she said to Pilka, "and put it on the pillow where the
king's son lies asleep. Perhaps when he sees it he will know that it
comes from Osmo's true sister and that the frightful creature he has
married is Suyettar. Then perhaps he will release Osmo before the
serpents devour him. Go now, my faithful Pilka, and come back to me
before the dawn."
So Pilka raced off to the king's palace carrying the square of
embroidery in her teeth. Ilona waited and half an hour before sunrise
the little dog came panting back.
"What news, Pilka? How fares my brother and how is my poor love, the king's son?"
"Osmo is still with the serpents," Pilka answered, "but they haven't
eaten him yet. I left the embroidered square on the pillow where the
king's son's head was lying. Suyettar was asleep on the bed beside him
where you should be, dear mistress. Suyettar's awful mouth was open and
she was snoring horribly. The king's son moved uneasily for he was
troubled even in his sleep."
"And did you go through the castle, Pilka?"
"Yes, dear mistress."
"And did you see the remains of the wedding feast?"
"Yes, dear mistress, the remains of a feast that shamed the king's son,
for Suyettar served bones instead of meat, fish heads, turnip tops, and
bread burned to a cinder."
"Good Pllka!" Ilona said. "Good little dog! You have done well! Now the
dawn is coming and I must go back to the Sea king's palace* But I shall
come again tonight and also tomorrow night and do you be here waiting
Pilka promised and Ilona sank down into the sea to a clanking of chains
that sounded like silver bells. The king's son heard them in his sleep
and for a moment woke and said, "What's that?"
"What's what?" snarled Suyettar. "You're dreaming! Go back to sleep!"
A few hours later when he woke again, he found the lovely square of embroidery on his pillow.
"Who made this?" he cried.
Suyettar was busy combing her snaky locks. She turned on him quickly.
"Who made what?"
When she saw the embroidery she tried to snatch it from him, but he held it tight.
"I made it, of course!" she declared. "Who but me would sit up all night and work while you lay snoring!"
But the king's son, as he folded the embroidery, muttered to himself, "It doesn't look to me much like your work!"
After he had breakfasted, the king's son asked for news of Osmo. A
slave was sent to the place of the serpents and when he returned he
reported that Osmo was sitting amongst them uninjured.
"The old king snake has made friends with him," he added, "and has wound himself around Osmo's arm."
The king's son was amazed at this news and also relieved, for the whole
affair troubled him sorely and he was beginning to suspect a mystery.
He knew an old wise woman who lived alone in a little hut on the
seashore and he decided he would go and consult her. So he went to her
and told her about Osmo and how Osmo had deceived him in regard to his
sister. Then he told her how the serpents instead of devouring Osmo had
made friends with him and last he showed her the square of lovely
embroidery he had found on his pillow that morning.
"There is a mystery somewhere, granny," he said in conclusion, "and I know not how to solve it."
The old woman looked at him thoughtfully.
"My son," she said at last, "that is never Osmo's sister that you have
married. Take an old woman's word it is Suyettar. Yet Osmo's sister
must be alive and the embroidery must be a token from her. It probably
means that she begs you to release her brother."
"Suyettar!" repeated the king's son, aghast. At first he couldn't
believe such a horrible thing possible and yet that, if it were so,
would explain much. "I wonder if you're right," he said. "I must be on
That night on the stroke of midnight to the sound of silver chimes
Ilona came floating up through the waves and little Pilka, as she
appeared, greeted her with barks of joy.
As before Ilona sang, "Peely, peely, Pilka, pide, Lift the latch and
slip inside! Past the watchdog in the yard, Past the sleeping men on
guard! Creep in softly as a snake, Then creep out before they wake!
Peely, peely, Pilka, pide, Peely,peely, Pilka!"
This time Ilona gave Pilka a shirt for the king's son. Beautifully
embroidered it was in gold and silver and Ilona herself had worked it
in the Sea king's palace.
Pilka carried it safely to the castle and left it on the pillow where
the king's son could see it as soon as he woke. Then Pilka visited the
place of the serpents and before the first ray of dawn was back at the
seashore to reassure Ilona of Osmo's safety.
Then dawn came and Ilona, as she sank in the waves to the chime of
silver bells, called out to Pilka, "Meet me here tonight at the same
hour! Fail me not, dear Pilka, for tonight is the last night that the
Sea king will allow me to come to the upper world!" Pilka, howling with
grief, made promise: "I'll be here, dear mistress, that I will!" The
king's son that morning, as he opened his eyes, saw the embroidered
shirt lying on the pillow at his head. He thought at first he must be
dreaming for It was more beautiful than any shirt that had ever been
worked by human fingers.
"Ah!" he sighed at last, "who made this?"
"Who made what?" Suyettar demanded rudely. When she saw the shirt she
tried to snatch it, but the king's son held it from her. Then she
pretended to laugh and said, "Oh, that! I made it, of course! Do you
think any one else in the world would sit up all night and work for you
while you lie there snoring! And small thanks I get for it, too!!
"It doesn't look like your work to me!" said the king's son significantly.
Again the slave reported to him that Osmo was alive and unhurt by the serpents.
"Strange!" thought the king's son.
He took the embroidered shirt and made the old wise woman another visit.
"Ah!" she said, when she saw the shirt, "now I understand! Listen, my
prince: last night at midnight I was awakened by the chime of silver
bells and I got up and looked out the door. Just there at the water's
edge, close to that little boat, I saw a strange sight. A lovely maiden
rose from the waves holding in her hands the very shirt that you now
have. A little dog that was lying in the boat greeted her with barks of
joy. She sang a magic rime to the dog and gave it the shirt and off it
ran. That maid, my prince, must be Ilona. She must be in the sea king's
power and I think she is begging you to rescue her and to release her
The king's son slowly nodded his head.
"Granny, I'm sure what you say is true! Help me to rescue Ilona and I shall reward you richly/*
"Then, my son, you must act at once, for tonight, I heard Ilona say, is the last night that the Sea king
will allow her to come to the upper world. Go now to the smith and have
him. forge you a strong iron chain and a great strong scythe. Then
tonight hide you down yonder in the shadow of the boat. At midnight
when you hear the silver chimes and the maiden slowly rises from the
waves, throw the iron chain about her and quickly draw her to you.
Then, with one sweep of your scythe, cut the silver chains that are
fastened to her ankles. But remember, my son, that is not all. She is
under enchantment and as you try to grasp her the Sea king will change
her to many things a fish, a bird, a fly, and I know not what, and if
in any form she escape you, then all is lost."
At once the king's son hurried away to the smiyour and had the smith
forge him a strong iron chain and a heavy sharp scythe. Then when night
fell he hid in the shadow of the boat and waited, Pilka snuggled up
beside him. Midnight came and to the sweet chiming as of silver bells
Ilona slowly rose from the waves. As she came she began singing,
"Peely, peely, Pilka, pide "
At once the king's son threw the strong iron chain about her and drew
her to him. Then with one mighty sweep of the scythe he severed the
silver chains that were attached to her ankles and the silver chains
fell chiming into the depths. Another instant and the maiden in his
arms was no maiden but a slimy fish that squirmed and wriggled and
almost slipped through his fingers. He killed the fish and, lo! it was
not a fish but a frightened bird that struggled to escape. He killed
the bird and, lo! it was not a bird but a writhing lizard. And so on
through many transformations, growing finally small and weak till at
last there was only a mosquito. He crushed this and in his arms he
found again the lovely Ilona.
"Ah, dear one," he said, "you are m y * me hride and not Suyettar who
pretended she was you! Come, we will go at once to the castle and
But Ilona cried out at this, "Not there, my prince, not there! Suyettar
if she saw me would kill me and devour me! Keep me from her!"
"Very well, my dear one," the king's son said. "We'll wait till tomorrow and after tomorrow there will be no Suyettar to fear."
So for that night they took shelter in the old wise woman's hut, Ilona and the king's son and faithful little Pilka.
The next morning early the king's son returned to
the castle and had the sauna heated. Just inside the door he had a deep
hole dug and filled it with burning tar. Then over the top of the hole
he stretched a brown mat and on the brown mat a blue mat. When all was
ready he went indoors and roused Suyettar.
"Where have you been all night?" she demanded angrily.
"Forgive me this time," he begged in pretended humility, "and I promise
never again to be parted from my own true bride. Come now, my dear, and
bathe for the sauna is ready."
Then Suyettar, who loved to have people see her go to the sauna just as
if she were a real human being, put on a long bathrobe and clapped her
hands. Four slaves appeared. Two took up the train of her bathrobe and
the two others supported her on either side. Slowly she marched out of
the castle, across the courtyard, and over to the sauna.
"They all really think I'm a human princess 1" she said to herself, and
she was so sure she was beautiful and admired that she tossed her head
and smirked from side to side and took little mincing steps.
When she reached the sauna she was ready to drop the bathrobe and jump
over the doorsill to the steaming shelf, but the king's son whispered,
"Nay! Nay! Remember your dignity as a beautiful princess and walk over
the blue mat!"
So with one more toss of her head, one more smirk of her ugly face,
Suyettar stepped on the blue mat and sank into the hole of burning tar.
Then the king's son quickly locked the door of the sauna and left her
there to burn in the tar, for burning, you know, is the only way to
destroy Suyettar. As she burned the last hateful thing Suyettar did was
to tear out handfuls of her hair and scatter them broadcast in the air.
"Let these turn into mosquitos and worms and moths and trouble mankind forever,"
Then her yells grew fainter and at last ceased altogether and the
king's son knew that it was now safe to bring Ilona home. First,
however, he had Osmo released from the place of the serpents and asked
his forgiveness for the unjust punishment.
Then he and Osmo together went to the hut of the old wise woman and
there with tears of happiness the brother and sister were reunited. The
king's son to show his gratitude to the old wise woman begged her to
accompany them to the castle and presently they all set forth with
Pilka frisking ahead and barking for
That day there was a new wedding feast spread at the castle and this
time it was not bones and fish heads and burnt crusts but such food as
the king's son had not tasted for many a day.
To celebrate his happy marriage the king's son made Osmo his chamberlain and gave Pilka a beautiful new collar.
"Now at last," Ilona said, "I am glad I left the house of my forefathers."