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BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BEAT! BEAT! BEAT! Listen to Nischergurgje!

Far, far away in Lapland of the Many Wizards, beyond the Arctic Circle, in mid-winter, it is one Long Night. But what a night!

There is silence. The stars sparkle in the vast, dark sky. A soft white shimmer glows over the fields of ice and snow covering tundra, valley, and hill. Deep ice binds the lakes and streams.

Then see! Upward across the sky sweep wondrous lights. Amber-colored veils shimmer to and fro, rosy draperies, garlands, and streamers red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet, dart, dance, sway, shift, wave, and leap across the sky; flare up and die down, then spring up again woven all of rainbow colors.

And the little, dark children of Lapland of the many Wizards and much Magic, are filled with mystery. They listen for the Call of the Magic Drum, and they watch the Aurora Lights, and say:

"See! the warriors are fighting!"

In the long, long ago, the Wizard Nischergurgje, chanting Magic Spells with whistlings and drum-beatings, came wandering over the frozen marshes. Under a crooked pine tree he sat down to rest, and to boil his dinner of reindeer flesh.

And while he was waiting for the cooking pot to simmer, he heard something creak--crack--creak above his head. He looked up. Through the crooked boughs, an evil face grinned at him. It was Schlipme's--the Wicked Wizard of the Wicked Moon Daughter.

Then Nischergurgje quickly muttered a Spell, and the Wicked Wizard tumbled to the ground.

"Wicked Schlipme," said the Great Wizard, "Servant of the Wicked Moon Daughter, of the caved-in forehead, crooked mouth, and pale, cruel lips that splutter curses! See! My Spell has taken from you all your power."

"Nischergurgje," snarled the Wicked Wizard, "my Magic is still strong. I can call on the Moon Spirits to destroy you."

"Your Black Art does not frighten me," answered Nischergurgje.

Then the Wicked Schlipme stood up, and by his Black Art grew and grew, taller and taller, to great stature. In his hand he swung a terrible club made of a spruce tree.

"I will grind you to powder as fine as the snow on the hillside," he roared. "Tremble before me!"

"See what my Good Magic will do!" said Nischergurgje.

And he muttered a Spell, and he, too, grew and grew, taller and taller and yet taller. Greater he was than the Wicked Wizard. The tallest pines in the forest scarce reached his knees. The highest peaks of the mountains scarce touched his waist. His chest and shoulders were hid among the clouds. His chin pushed the moon. His eyes glared into the sun.

"You have taken my strength from me!" cried Schlipme in fear.

Then they changed themselves into dreadful Storm Clouds. They rushed upon each other. They closed in fierce combat. A mighty roaring was heard. The sky was black.

Nischergurgje uttered a terrible Spell, and Schlipme fell in a heap to earth.

"Again you have taken my strength from me!" cried the Wicked Wizard.

Once more the two Wizards changed their forms. They became two great, horned reindeer. They battled over the frozen snow of the hillside. The whole forest echoed with the loud clashing of their antlers. The trampling of their hoofs shook the earth.

Then the Wicked Wizard was too weak to fight more. He changed himself into a great snake writhing on the ground. Nischer gurgje, too, became a snake. They twined and twisted. Their angry hissing could be heard afar off. Their dripping fangs were dreadful to see.

Then suddenly the Wicked Wizard stretched himself upon the ground as if dead. In the twinkling of an eye he became a mighty bird. He soared in wide circles about the Great Wizard, who was still a snake.

But Nischergurgje took the form of an eagle. He rose swiftly in the air. He overtook the Wicked Schlipme, and sank his claws into his back. He brought him down to earth.

Then Wicked Schlipme, bleeding and torn, howled:

"Now you have taken all my strength!"

And he sank down, down, into the dark Under Earth Land.

Nischergurgje went back to beat his Magic Drum and to cook his supper of reindeer flesh.

While over his head, across the deep dark sky, flashed and shimmered the many colored Northern Lights red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. And the little brown Children of Lapland cried out:

"See! The warriors are fighting!"

Next: Kari Woodencoat