Sacred-Texts Legends & Sagas Index Previous Next
KALEV and Linda lived very happily together, and were blessed with a numerous offspring;1 but the Country was small, and as soon as the children were grown up they wandered forth into the world to seek their fortunes, more especially as Kalev had determined that one son only should be the heir to his possessions. At length Kalev began to grow old, and felt that his end was approaching. Two of his younger sons, who were still little boys, remained at home; but the youngest of all, the famous Sohni, more often known by his patronymic, the Son of Kalev, was still unborn. Kalev foretold the glory and greatness of this last son to Linda, indicating him as his heir,2 and shortly afterwards fell dangerously sick.
Then Linda took her brooch, and spun it round on a thread, while she sent forth the Alder-Beetle1 to bid the Wind-Magician and Soothsayer hasten to the bedside of her husband. Seven days the brooch spun round, and seven days the beetle flew to the north, across three kingdoms and more, till he encountered the Moon, and besought his aid. But the Moon only gazed on him sorrowfully without speaking, and went on his way.
Again Linda spun the brooch for seven days, and sent forth the beetle, who flew farther this time, through many thick forests, and as far as the Gold Mountain, till he encountered the Evening Star; but he also refused him an answer.
Next time the beetle took a different route, over wide heaths and thick fir-woods, till he reached the Gold Mountain, and met the rising Sun. He also p. 20 returned no answer; but on a fourth journey the beetle encountered the Wind-Magician, the old Soothsayer from Finland,1 and the great Necromancer himself. He besought their aid, but they replied with one voice that what the drought had parched up, the moonlight blanched, and the stars withered, could never bloom again. And before the beetle returned from his fruitless journey the mighty Kalev had expired.
Linda sat weeping by his bedside without food or sleep for seven days and nights, and then began to prepare his corpse for burial. First she bathed it with her tears, then with salt water from the sea, rain water from the clouds, and lastly water from the spring. Then she smoothed his hair with her fingers, and brushed it with a silver brush, and combed it with the golden comb which the water-nymphs had used to comb their hair. She drew on him a silken shirt, a satin shroud, and a robe over it, confined by a silver girdle. She herself p. 21 dug his grave thirty ells below the sod, and grass and flowers soon sprang from it.
|From the grave the grasses sprouted,|
And the herbage from the hillock;
From the dead man dewy grasses,
From his cheeks grew ruddy flowers,
From his eyes there sprang the harebells,
Golden flowerets from his eyelids.1
Linda mourned for Kalev for one month after another till three months had passed, and the fourth was far advanced. She heaped a cairn of stones over his tomb, which formed the hill on which the Cathedral of Revel now stands. One day she was carrying a great stone to the cairn, but found herself too weak, and let it fall. She sat down on it, and lamented her sad fate, and her tears formed the lake called “Ulemiste järv,” the Upper Lake, beside which the huge stone block may still be seen.2
After this, Linda felt her time approaching, and she retired to the bathroom,3 and called upon the p. 22 gods to aid her. Ukko and Rōugutaja1 both attended at her call, and one brought a bundle of straw, and the other pillows, and they made her up a soft bed; nor was it long before Kalev’s posthumous son saw the light.
Linda was sitting by the cradle one day, trying to sing the child to sleep, when suddenly he began to scream, and continued to scream day and night for a whole month, when he burst his swaddling-clothes, smashed the cradle to pieces, and began to creep about the floor.2
Linda suckled the child till he was three years old, and he grew up a fine strong boy. He first learned to tend the cattle, and then to guide the plough, and grew up like a young oak-tree. When he played kurni (tipcat), his blocks flew far and wide all over the eountry, and many even as far as the sea. Sometimes he used to go down to the sea, and make ducks and drakes of huge rocks, which he sent spinning out to sea for a p. 23 verst or more, while he stood on his head to watch them.
At other times he used to amuse himself quietly in the enclosure, carving skates or weaving baskets. Thus he passed his days till he came to man’s estate.
After the death of Kalev, Linda was much pestered by suitors who were anxious to marry the rich widow; but she refused them all, and at length they ceased to trouble her. Last of all came a mighty wind-sorcerer from Finland, calling himself Kalev’s cousin; and when she refused him also, he vowed revenge. But she laughed at his threats, telling him she had three young eagles with sharp claws growing up in the house, who would protect their mother.
Linda was no longer tormented by suitors, but the magician whom she had discarded recommended all his friends not to seek a wife in Kalev’s house, for notwithstanding Linda’s wealth her beauty was faded, her teeth were iron, and her words were red-hot pincers. They would do better to sail to Finland, where they would find rows of maidens, rich in money, pearls, jewels, and golden bracelets, waiting for them on the rocky coast.
1 According to various traditions, Kalev and Linda are said to have had seven or twelve sons.
2 This is what Jacobs calls “junior right;” the patriarchal p. 19 custom of the elder children going forth into the world to seek their fortunes, and the youngest remaining at home to look after his parents and inherit their possessions. Hence the rivalry between Esau and Jacob.
1 Has this anything to do with boys spinning cockchafers on a thread? The beetle alluded to in the text is said to be the ladybird, but the ladybird has no particular connection with the alder. When a brooch is thus spun on a thread, a question is asked, and if the motion stops, the answer is unfavourable, but favourable if it continues. The flight of the beetle is fortunate towards the south, but unfortunate towards the north.
1 It is curious that the Esthonians always regarded the Finns, and the Finns the Lapps, as great sorcerers; each nation attributing special skill in magic to those living north of themselves. But there is a Finnish ballad (Kanteletar, iii. 2) in which we read of the sun and moon being stolen by German and Esthonian sorcerers.
1 This reminds us of Ariel’s well-known song—
|“Full fathom five thy father lies,|
Of his bones are coral made,” &c.
2 The origin of stone blocks is usually ascribed to non-human beings in many countries, but most frequently to the devil, especially in Northern Europe. Compare also the church-stories, &c., in a later part of this work.
3 The usual place employed on such occasions in Finland and Esthonia.
1 Ukko or Taara commonly appears as the principal god of the Finns and Esthonians; Rōugutaja usually as an accoucheur, but occasionally also as a malicious demon. Rōugutaja is also called the God of the Wind. Other authorities consider him a water-god. (Kreutzwald und Neus, Mythische und Magische Lieder, p. 108.)
2 Kullervo in the Kalevala (Runo 30) bursts his swaddling-clothes and smashes his cradle in the same way.