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p. 71

 The next story, which belongs to the same class as Grimm’s “Devil with the Three Golden Hairs,” introduces us to the personified Frost, who is here a much less malevolent being than in the Kalevala, Runo xxx. It also combines two familiar classes of tales: those in which a man receives gifts which are stolen from him, and which he afterwards recovers by means of another, often a magic cudgel; and those in which a man visiting the house of a giant or devil in his absence is concealed by the old mother in order to listen to the secrets revealed by her son when he comes home.



ONCE upon a time there were two brothers, one of whom was rich and the other poor. The rich brother had much cornland and many cattle, but the poor one had only a little corner of a field, in which p. 72 he sowed rye. Then came the Frost and destroyed even this poor crop. Nothing was left to the poor brother, so he set out in search of the Frost. When he had gone some distance, he arrived at a small house and went in. He found an old woman sitting there, who asked what he wanted. The man answered, “I had tilled a small field, and the Frost came and took away even the littie that I had. So I set out in search of him, to ask why he has done me this mischief.” The old woman answered, “The Frosts are my sons, and they destroy everything; but just now they are not at home. If they came home and found you here, they would destroy you likewise. Get up on the stove, and wait there.” The man crept up, and just then the Frost came in. “Son,” said the old woman, “why did you spoil the field of a poor man who was sufficiently pinched without this?” “Oh,” said the Frost, “I was only trying whether my cold would bite.” Then said the poor man on the stove, “Only give me so much back that I can just scrape through, or I must soon die of hunger, for I have nothing to break and bite.” The Frost said, “We will give him enough to last him all his life.” Then he gave him a knapsack, saying, “When you are hungry, you have only to p. 73 say, ‘Open, sack,’ and you will have food and drink in abundance. But when you have had enough, say, ‘Sack, shut,’ and all will immediately return into the knapsack, and it will shut of itself.”

 The man thanked him heartily for his gift, and went his way. When he had gone some distance, he said, “Open, sack,” and immediately the knapsack opened of itself, and supplied him with food in plenty. When he had had enough, he said, “Sack, shut,” and the food sprang into the knapsack, which closed of itself. When he got home, he continued to use it as the Frost directed.

 When he and his wife had lived comfortably thus for some time, the rich brother began to covet the knapsack, and wanted to buy it. He gave his poor brother a hundred oxen and cows, and as many horses and sheep. Thus the poor brother became rich, but he was not much better off, for he had to feed the animals. They all gathered round him, and he was now as poor as before. He did not know what to do, except to go back to the Frost and ask for a new sack. The Frost said, “Why were you so thoughtless as to give away such a knapsack? You are now just as poor as before.” But at length he gave him a new knapsack, much handsomer than p. 74 the first. The poor brother thanked him heartily, and went away joyful, for he thought he had got a knapsack like the first.

 When he felt hungry, he said as before, “Open, sack.” Immediately the knapsack opened, and two fellows sprang out with thick cudgels in their hands, who beat him as if it was a fine art. The man was so overwhelmed that he could hardly utter the words, “Sack, shut!” Then the two retired and the knapsack shut. The man thought to himself, “Have patience! I’ll exchange this with my brother.” When he got home, his brother noticed what a fine knapsack he had, and wanted to exchange. The other had no objection, and the exchange was soon effected. Then the rich brother invited all his relatives and the distinguished people of the neighbourhood, for he thought to use the knapsack first to provide a grand feast.

 As soon as all these people were assembled, the host cried out, “Open, sack!” Then the knapsack indeed opened, but the men with the cudgels leaped out among the people, and belaboured them so lustily that they all fled in different directions, and some barely escaped with their lives. They all caught it hot, both the host and his guests. When p. 75 at length the host cried out in his distress, “Sack, shut!” the men sprang back, and the sack closed. But now the bolder guests themselves gave the host a good beating before they left. After this, things went as badly with the rich brother as with the poor one before. He kept the handsome knapsack, but the men with the cudgels were in it, and if he only thought of opening it, they laid them on his back. But the poor brother had enough for himself and his wife from the first knapsack as long as he lived.


 Versions of this story are current throughout Europe; but in general, the magical properties (of which there are usually two or three) are stolen or exchanged by a designing innkeeper, or other person, without the knowledge of the owner.