Sacred-Texts Legends & Sagas Index Previous Next
OLEV had now built a magnificent city, fortified with towers and ditches, around the burial-mound of Kalev. Large numbers of people flocked to it, and the Kalevide named it Lindanisa, in memory of his mother.1 Other fortified cities were founded by the Alevide and the Sulevide.
But news came that hostile troops were landing on the coast, and the Kalevide mounted his warhorse. The king wore a golden helmet, gold spurs, and a silver belt, and carried a shield of gold, and the steed was all caparisoned with gold and silver and pearls, while the maidens of the country looked on with admiration.
The Kalevide and his three friends fought a pitched battle with the countless forces of the enemy on the plains of Esthonia. Their heads p. 120 fell before him like autumn leaves, and their scattered limbs were strewn about in heaps like straw or rushes. His horse waded in blood and bones to the belly; for the Kalevide slaughtered his enemies by tens of thousands, and would have utterly annihilated them, but, as he was pursuing the fugitives over hill and dale, his horse lost his footing in a bog, and was engulfed in the morass.
As the Kalevide was unable to continue the pursuit after the loss of his horse, he recalled his troops and divided the booty. Then he sent his soldiers to carry news of the victory to the towns and villages throughout the country, and he and his three friends set out on a journey across the plains and swamps, and through primeval forests, making a pathway for others as they advanced. At length they came to a place where smoke and flames were shooting up into the air, and when they reached the spot they found an old woman sitting at the mouth of a cave and stirring the fire under a pot. The Alevide asked what she was cooking, and she answered, “Cabbage for my sons and for myself.” Then the son of Sulev said they were hungry travellers, and asked her to give them some, and to take a rest while they p. 121 finished the cookery. The old woman consented, but warned them, if a strange youth asked to be allowed to taste the broth, to take good care that he did not empty the pot and leave them nothing. Three of the heroes at once volunteered to take turns to watch the pot, but the Kalevide said nothing. Then the old woman crept into the bushes, and hid herself in a wolf’s den.
The Alevide took the first watch, and his companions lay down by the fire to sleep. He had not been long sitting there, and throwing fresh faggots on the fire, when one of the little dwarf race stole up stealthily and timidly through the long grass. He was about three spans high, and had a gold bell1 hanging to his neck. He had small horns behind the ears, and a goat’s beard under his chin. He asked humbly to be allowed to taste the soup, and the hero gave him leave, but warned him to take care not to drown himself in it.
The dwarf replied that he would like to taste the soup without a spoon, and jumped on the edge of the pot; but he grew up in an instant to p. 122 the height of a pine-tree, and then to the clouds, rising to the height of seventy fathoms and more. Then he vanished like a mist, and the Alevide found the pot as empty as if the contents had been scraped out.1 So he refilled the pot with water, put in some fresh cabbage, and roused the Olevide, but said nothing of what had happened. Then he lay down and went to sleep, leaving his companion on guard. But presently the dwarf reappeared, and neither the Olevide nor the Sulevide, who took the third watch, fared any better than their companion.
The watch now fell to the Kalevide, but he would not allow the dwarf to taste the soup until he gave him his gold bell as a pledge of good faith. As soon as he had received it, he playfully gave the dwarf a fillip on the forehead, when there was a tremendous crash of thunder, and the dwarf sank into the earth and disappeared from the sight of the hero. The other heroes and the old woman then assembled round the fire to hear what had happened. They sat down to their supper, after which the Kalevide advised his companions to lie down and rest for p. 123 the remainder of the night, and to return home to their wives and children in the morning. During the night the daughters of the Meadow Queen danced and sported, and sang to the Kalevide of his approaching adventures and journey.
1 Linda’s bosom now Revel.
1 The bells of the dwarfs are often of great importance in Northern fairy mythology.
1 This incident is common in Esthonian tales.