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CLING! CLING! CLING! CLANG! CLING! Listen to the Red-Haired Wizard from the Land of a Thousand Lakes!

In the days of Golden Wonders, when the world was made from an egg--the earth from its lower half, the sky from its upper part, the moonshine from its white, and the sunshine from its yellow--the great, ancient Wizard Vainamoinen came to the Land of Heroes.

Out of the rolling, tossing billows, out of the white-wreathed waves, out of the crested seafoam, crept that wonderful enchanter. He stood up on a wide and desolate isle. Then he called a Magic Youth and bade him sow seed of many kinds. The Magic Youth sowed seed on swamp and lowland, on mountain and hill. Fir trees sprang up on the mountains, pine trees on the hills, slender birches in the swamps, and lindens in the valleys. And junipers grew up, all hung with clustering berries.

Not only on that isle, but in the Land of Heroes spread wide, wide forests and meadows. Merry thrushes sang among the forest trees, and velvet-throated cuckoos trilled in the silver birches. Luscious strawberries and cloudberries nestled among their own leaves. Golden flowers grew on the meads. Lovely was the Land of Heroes!

Then the ancient, wise Vainamoinen, with his Belt full of Wonder Tales, passed his days happily in the Land of Heroes. Far, far away sounded his voice. All the people in the South Lands heard his Magic Songs and Tales, and even the folk of far Lapland listened in wonder to them.

Now in far dismal Lapland dwelt a young Wizard, Youkahainen by name. He heard the Lapland folk say:

"The sweet Singer of the Land of Heroes, is better skilled in Tales and Magic than is our Youkahainen."

At that minute, black envy entered Youkahainen's heart.

"I will go to the Land of Heroes!" exclaimed he. "I will challenge this ridiculous Wizard to a contest. I will sing him my oldest Tales and chant my powerful Magic Words. I will put him to shame, and transform him into some mean thing. He shall sing the worst of songs."

Then Youkahainen rushed to his stable and led out his horse. Flames darted from its nostrils. Sparks flew from under its hoofs. Youkahainen hitched his horse to a golden sledge, and, leaping on the sledge, took his dog beside him. He struck the horse with his pearl decorated birch-whip. Away they sped with thunderous clatter. All that day the horse galloped southward, all the next day, onward and onward. On the third day, Youkahainen reached the heath-covered meadow in the Land of Heroes, where Vainamoinen dwelt.

Now it happened that the ancient Vainamoinen himself, driving his own golden sledge, came racing along the roadway. Youkahainen saw him coming, and did not turn out. Fiercely he urged on his foaming horse, and dashed upon Vainamoinen. The two sledges struck. Their shafts were driven together. The reins and traces were tangled. The two horses stood still, smoking and fiery.

"Who are you, and whence come you?" cried the ancient Vainamoinen. "You drive like a silly boy. You have broken my sledge and ruined my reins and traces."

"I am the young and wise Lapland Wizard," sneered Youkahainen. "What low fellow are you, and where do you come from? Is it possible that you are the famous Wizard and Singer, Vainamoinen? If so, let us sing together. Let us chant our Magic Songs. He who is the sweetest Singer shall keep the roadway. The other shall take the roadside."

"I accept your challenge," said the ancient Vainamoinen. "But first tell me, golden youngster, some of the wisest things you know."

"O my wisdom is great indeed! I know many wise things," answered Youkahainen. "Listen!"

Every roof must have a chimney,
Every fireplace a hearthstone.
Lives of seals are free and merry.
Salmon eat the perch and whiting.
Lapps still plow the land with reindeer.
In your land they plow with horses.
This is some of my great wisdom!

"Such foolish stuff," said the ancient Vainamoinen, "may suit women and babes, but not bearded heroes. Tell me, now, what happened when the world began?"

"O well, I know much wisdom about that too!" boasted Youkahainen. "Listen!"

Boiling water is malicious.
Fire is very full of danger.
Magic is the child of seafoam.
Waters gush from every mountain.
Fir trees were the first of houses;
Hollow stones, the first of kettles.

"Foolish words!" cried Vainamoinen. "Is that all the nonsense you can talk?"

"O I can tell you what really happened in those golden first days," said Youkahainen. "Listen!"

For 'twas I who plowed the ocean;
Hollowed out the depths of ocean;
When I dug the salmon grottoes,
When I all the lakes created,
When I heaped the mountains round them,
When I piled the rocks around them.
I was present as a hero,
When, the heavens were created,
When the sky was crystal-pillared,
When was arched the beauteous rainbow,
When the silver sun was planted,
And with stars the heavens were sprinkled.

"You are a shameless liar!" cried Vainamoinen. "The Prince of all liars!"

"Come, you old Wizard!" shouted Youkahainen, tossing back his black hair. "Let us fight with knives! If you are afraid to fight, why then I will sing you into a wild boar of the forest, with swinish snout and swinish heart!"

At that Vainamoinen waxed fierce with rage. He frowned terribly. Then he began his Magic Singing, began his Magic Incantations. Grandly sang the wise Vainamoinen, sang till the mountains shook with fear and the flinty rocks and ledges heard his Magic Tones and crumbled, and the billows heaved and thundered on the shore.

And the boastful Youkahainen stood still in terror. Vainamoinen sang and sang, and he changed Youkahainen's sledge-runners into saplings; sang his reins into alders; sang the golden sledge to float upon a lake; changed the birch-whip, pearl-ornamented, into a reed, and the horse into a white stone by the water.

And the grand old Vainamoinen sang and sang; sang Youkahainen's gold-handled dagger into a gleam of lightning in the sky above him; his painted crossbow into a rainbow; his feathered arrows into hawks soaring around his head; his dog into a block of stone; sang his cap off his forehead, sang it into wreaths of white vapor; sang his gloves into waterlilies, and his belt set with jewels into a twinkling band of stars around him.

And as Vainamoinen sang and sang, Youkahainen began to sink into a swamp of mud and water; he sank and sank to his waist. He could not lift his feet, and great pains shot through him.

"O wise Vainamoinen!" he cried in terror. "O you greatest of all Wizards! Speak your Magic Words backwards, repeat your Magic Incantation backwards, and free me from this place of horror. I will pay you a rich ransom."

"What ransom will you give me," asked Vainamoinen, "if I will cease my Enchantments, if I will turn away my Magic?"

"Free me from this torment," cried Youkahainen, "and I will give you my two Magic Crossbows that hang in my Lapland house."

"I do not wish your Magic Crossbows. I have bows banging on every nail and rafter."

Then Vainamoinen sang again, and poor Youkahainen sank deeper and deeper in the mud and water.

"Oh, I will give you my Magic Boats, swift, beautiful, and wonderful!"

"I do not want your Magic Boats. My bays are full of Wonder Boats."

Then Vainamoinen sang poor Youkahainen deeper, deeper, and yet deeper into the mud and water, till he cried in anguish:

"I will give you my Magic Horses!"

"I do not want your Magic Horses. Magic Horses crowd my stables."

Deeper, deeper, down, down, down, sank poor Youkahainen to his shoulders, and he offered gold that glitters in the sunshine and silver that gleams in the moonshine, and all his cornfields and his corn. But sorrow laden and enchanted, he sank to his chin in the mud and water. Seaweed filled his nostrils and grass tangled in his teeth.

"O, you ancient Vainamoinen!" prayed and beseeched poor Youkahainen. "Wisest of all wisdom-singers! Stop your Magic Incantations. Turn away your Magic Spells. Save me from this smothering torment. Free my eyes from sand and torture. I will give you my Sister Aino. Fairest of all LaplandÕs daughters! She shall be your bride, sweep your rooms and keep your house. She shall rinse your golden platters, and weave golden covers for your bed. She shall bake your honey-biscuit."

"That is the ransom I wish!" exclaimed the ancient Vainamoinen. "Lapland's young and fairest daughter to be my lovely bride forever, and the pride of the Land of Heroes!"

Then joyfully Vainamoinen sat down upon a rock, and sang a little, then sang again, then sang a third time. Backwards he weaved his Magic Incantations and backwards sang his Magic Songs. The charm was broken!

Youkahainen dragged his feet from the mud, lifted his chin from out of the mud, and stood up. He led his horse away from the water, drew his golden sledge to land, picked up his pearl ornamented birch-whip, hitched his horse to his sledge, threw himself on the sledge, and snapped his whip. Heavy-hearted and sorrowful he sped away to Lapland.

Night and day the horse galloped, and on the third day Youkahainen reached his home. He drove recklessly against the house-wall, broke his shafts, and smashed his golden sledge.

His Mother, gray and aged, came running out to meet him.

"Why do you break your snow-sledge, son?" cried his Father. "Why do you come home in this wild way?"

Then poor Youkahainen wept, broken-hearted.

"Tell me, First-born, why do you weep?" asked his Mother.

"Golden Mother, ever faithful!" cried Youkahainen. "Surely I have cause to weep. I have promised my dearest Sister, your beloved Aino, to the ancient Wizard Vainamoinen, to be his bride."

Then his Mother clapped her hands with joy. But the fair and darling Maiden, the beautiful Aino, fell to bitter weeping.

"Now listen all ye Lapp People," cried the Red-Haired Wizard of the Land of a Thousand Lakes.

Soon I'll tell you more of Aino,
And of Vainamoinen's wooing;
And more of Lapland's Rainbow Maiden,
And the Wondrous Magic Sampo.


Next: The Living Kantele