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WHEN the Kalevide had satisfied himself that no further traces of his mother were to be found, he cast himself into the sea beneath the stars, and swam northwards manfully towards Finland, swimming with his hands, steering with his feet, and with his hair floating like a sail. He swam on till past midnight without meeting with a resting-place; but at length he espied a black speck in the distance, which proved to be a small rocky island. The hero discovered a mossy bank on a projecting rock, and made his way to the shore, and lay down, intending to sleep a little, when he was roused by the voice of a maiden singing a love-song. It was very dark and somewhat foggy, but he saw the light of a fire at a little distance at the foot of an oak-tree, beneath which sat a fair girl with brown eyes.1 The hero soon joined p. 33 her, and they talked together for some time, when the maiden became alarmed at his familiarities, and cried out. Her mother awoke, and thought it was only a bad dream; but her father hastened to her aid, armed with a great club. But when he saw the terrible giant, he grew as pale as death, and his club dropped from his hand.
The maiden could not lift her eyes to her father, but the Kalevide asked carelessly if he had seen the Finnish sorcerer pass the island in his boat on the previous evening. “No,” replied the islander, “I have not seen anything of him for weeks; but tell me your name and lineage, for I judge that you are of the race of the gods.” The hero answered him fully; but when the maiden heard that he was the son of Kalev and Linda, she was seized with terror, and her foot slipping she fell from the cliff into the sea.
The father shrieked and wrung his hands, but the Kalevide plunged into the sea after the maiden, and sought for her for a long time in vain. When he abandoned the search, he did not venture to return to the island, but after crying out a few words of unavailing regret swam again towards Finland. The father’s cry of despair fully roused the mother, who sprang up, and ran down to the shore, only to learn that her daughter was lost.
Then the mother took a rake with a long copper handle, and the father took his net, and with them they sought for their daughter’s body at the bottom of the sea.1 They did not find their daughter, but they raked up an oak-tree, a fir-tree, an eagle’s egg, an iron helmet, a fish, and a silver dish. They took them all carefully home, and went again to seek for their lost child.
Then a song arose from the deep, telling how a maiden went down to the sea:2
|What beheld she in the ocean?|
What beneath the sea was shining?
p. 35 From the sea a sword shone golden,
In the waves a spear of silver,
From the sand a copper crossbow.
Then to grasp the sword she hastened,
And to seize the spear of silver,
And to lift the copper crossbow.
| Then there came a man to meet her;|
’ Twas an aged man of copper;1
On his head a helm of copper;
Wearing, too, a shirt of copper;
Round his waist a belt of copper;
On his hands were copper gauntlets;
On his feet were boots of copper;
In his belt were copper buckles,
And the buckles chased with copper;
Copper was his neck and body,
And his face and eyes were copper.
And the copper man demanded:
“In the sea what seeks the maiden,
Singing thus amid the waters,
She, a dove2 among the fishes?”
| And the maiden heard and hearkened,|
And the little duck made answer:
p. 36 “To the sea I went to rock me,
And amid the waves to carol;
And I saw the sword that glittered,
And the spear of silver shining,
And the copper crossbow gleaming.
And to grasp the sword I hastened,
And to seize the spear of silver.
And to lift the copper crossbow.”
| Then the copper man made answer,|
With his copper tongue he answered:
“ ’Tis the sword of son of Kalev,
And the spear is son of Alev’s,
And the crossbow son of Sulev’s.
On the bed of ocean guarded,
Here the man of copper keeps them,
Of the golden sword the guardian,
Guardian of the spear of silver,
Guardian of the copper crossbow.”
Then the man of copper offered her the weapons if she would take him as her husband, but she refused, saying that she was the daughter of a landsman, and preferred a husband from the village on the land. He laughed scornfully; her foot slipped, and she sank into the sea. Her father and mother came to seek her, and found only her ornaments scattered on the beach. They called her by her name, and implored her to go home with them; but she answered that she could not, p. 37 for she was weighed down by the water; and she related to them her adventure with the copper man. But she begged her parents not to weep for her, for she had a house at the bottom of the sea, and a soft resting-place in the ooze.
|“Do not weep, my dearest mother,|
Nor lament, my dearest father.
In the sea is now my dwelling,
On its bed a pleasant chamber,
In the depths a room to rest in,
In the ooze a nest of softness.”
1 The story in the Kalevipoeg is very confused, but this maiden p. 33 evidently corresponds to the lost sister of Kullervo (Kalevala, Runo 35), whom he meets casually, and seduces. When they discover the truth, the girl throws herself into a torrent. In the Kalevipoeg, Canto 7, the Kalevide and the maiden are actually spoken of as brother and sister. There are many versions of this story; in one of them (Neus, Ehstnische Volkslieder, pp. 5-8; Latham’s Nationalities of Europe, i. p. 138), the maiden is represented as slaying her brother, who is called indifferently the son of Kalev or of Sullev, to the great satisfaction of her father and mother.
1 In the Kalevala, Runo 15, Lemminkainen’s mother collects together the fragments of his body from the River of Death with a long rake.
2 This song and story (except for the incident of the man of copper) resembles that of the drowning of Aino in the Kalevala, Runo 4.
1 It was a copper man who rose from the water to fell the great oak-tree (Kalevala, Runo 2). Compare also the variant in Canto 6 of the Kalevipoeg. We may also remember the copper men connected with the mountain of loadstone (Thousand and One Nights, Third Calendar’s Story).
2 Literally a “house-hen;” one of those idiomatic terms of endearment which cannot be reproduced in another language.