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BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BEAT! BEAT! BEAT! Listen to Nischergurgje's Magic Drum!

Far back in the ages when the woodcock was white and the blackbird was gray, and before there were any mosquitoes and gnats, in Lapland lived two mighty Wizards. One was named Torajas and the other Karkias.

Each had his own hunting ground, and his own place to graze his reindeer herd. A wide lake lay between the dwellings of the two.

They were great Wizards, these two, for Tonto the Spirit of the Magic Drum had given them some of his power. He had taught them many Spells, and how to say them backward to undo the Spells. The two could race invisible like the Storm Wind through the skN. They could fly like dipping, soaring eagles. They could become serpents. And in the forms of fleet reindeer with broad antlers, they could skim over the snow-slopes. All they had to do, was to beat their Magic Drums, chant their Spells, and become what they willed.

Karkias had only good signs painted on the drum-head of his Magic Drum. He never used his skill to harm any human being.

But Torajas had on his drum, not only the good signs Great Nischergurgje had taught the Lapland Wizards, but also the evil signs of Black Magic learned from Schlipme, Wicked Wizard of the Wicked Moon Daughter.

Things were going well with the little brown men of Lapland. Their fat herds of tame reindeer were increasing. Their hunting and fishing were good. They often went to Karkias to ask his aid. They were very rich and happy.

Now down in the dark, dank Underworld, sat the hideous Wicked Moon Daughter. Her hair, coarse and stringy, fell over her caved-in-forehead. Her long yellow teeth gleamed in her crooked mouth. She gnashed her teeth with rage, because the little brown men were happy.

Quickly she changed herself into a Blackbird, and flew to the tent of Torajas. She perched on a pine tree near his door, and sang:

Lapland's Wizards, they are mighty!
Two are famed for skill and Magic.
Torajas beats his Dram with cunning.
Marked with Black Art's signs, his Drum is.
Karkias is wise and powerful,
Filled he is with age-old Magic,
Great his Spells and his enchantments.
Which is greater, which more powerful,
Karkias, or strong Torajas?
So the Lapland people wonder!

Thus sang the Wicked Moon Daughter in the shape of a bird. The proud Torajas heard her, and began to wonder in his heart whether Karkias knew more Spells than he did, or had as many signs painted on his Drum, as he, Torajas, had on his.

Looking into Torajas' heart, the Wicked Moon Daughter saw that her song had moved him to envy. She flapped her black bat-like wings, and flew down and sat by his door, and sang:

Let the Lapland people find out
Which of you is greater Wizard.
Let a trial be between you,
Let the winner be Chief Wizard!

At this Torajas' heart was moved with badness. And the huge Blackbird, flapping her wings, flew croaking back to her dark home in the Under Earth Land.

Her song still rang in Torajas' ears. Hateful thoughts drove all joy from him. The darkness of the Underworld began to spread in his heart. Envy and bitterness against the good Wizard Karkias were rooted in his mind.

Through long days, did hatred grow stronger in his heart.

One morning he stood by the lake and saw the good Wizard rowing a raft on the water. Torajas muttered a Spell, and straightway the storm spirits came rushing over the lake lashing the billows sky high.

Before Karkias could speak a single Magic Word, the wind lifted the frail raft, and tossed it into the air. Karkias fell to the bottom of the lake.

He changed himself into a small, swift fish, and began to swim towards land. But Torajas muttered another Spell and sent a huge pike that lived in the lake, to devour Karkias. The pike swallowed him down whole.

Then all the Lapland people missed Karkias, and said:

"Surely he was the great Nischergurgje himself, and has vanished. Karkias is the greatest of all Wizards!"

Twelve months went by. Often around the tent of the bad Wizard, Torajas, flew the huge Blackbird, singing:

Which is greater here in Lapland,
Karkias the vanished Wizard,
Or the fearless one, Torajas?

Then Torajas' heart became all evil. Chanting songs of Black Magic, he went to set his net in the lake. The next day, when he drew the net, it was full of little fishes. The next day he set the net across the whole lake. When he drew it in the morning, it was full of larger fishes.

Then he called on the Wicked Moon Daughter for help and sank his net. And see! The next morning when he pulled it, the huge pike was in the middle of it.

Torajas took up the pike, and carried it to the Lapland folk. Standing among them, he plunged his knife into the pike. Of course he thought to kill it. See! Out stept Karkias well and whole.

"Evil Torajas!" he cried. "You did wrong to use Black Magic against me."

When the Lapland people heard this, they exclaimed:

"Torajas is a bad Wizard. We will have nothing to do with him. Karkias is the greatest Wizard in Lapland."

Raging and fuming, Torajas went back to his side of the lake. And after that no one ever asked him for help.

But the Wicked Moon Daughter stayed about his tent. And every time she flapped her black wings, stinging mosquitoes and buzzing biting gnats filled the air.

Next: The Red-Haired Wizard