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p. 42


THE Kalevide mourned two days for his mother, but on the third day he began to get over his grief, and determined, before returning home, to visit a famous smith of Finland, and to provide himself with a good sword. So he set off in another direction, and lost himself in the woods, and had to pass the night on the wet grass under a fir-tree, which he did not at all relish. Next morning he started off again early, and a thrush sang to him, and directed him to turn to the west. He sprang forward with renewed energy and soon found himself in the open country, where he encountered an old woman,1 who gave him minute instructions for finding his way to the smithy, which was three days’ journey off. When at length he reached the smithy, he found p. 43 the old smith and his three sons hard at work forging swords.

 The hero saluted the smith, who replied to him courteously, and at once acceded to his request to try the swords before purchasing one. At a sign from the smith, one of the sons went out and fetched an armful of swords. The Kalevide picked out the longest, and bent it into a hoop, when it straightened itself at once. He then whirled it round his head, and struck at the massive rock which stood in the smithy with all his might. The sparks flew from the stone and the blade shivered to pieces, while the old smith looked on and swore.

 “Who mixes up children’s toys with weapons for men?” said the Kalevide scornfully, and caught up a second and third sword, which he shivered in the same way before the smith could interfere. “Stop, stop,” cried the smith at last, “don’t break any more swords to show off your strength;” and he called to his sons to bring some swords of the best quality they had.

 The youths brought in an armful of the very best, and the Kalevide chose a huge sword, which he brandished like a reed in his right hand, and p. 44 then brought down on the anvil. The sword cut deep into the iron, and the blade did not fly, but the sharp edge was somewhat blunted.

 Then the smith was well pleased, and said that he had one sword in store worthy of the strength of the hero, if he was rich enough to buy it; for, between friends, the price was nine strong carthorses, four pairs of good packhorses, twenty good milch kine, ten pairs of good yoke oxen, fifty well-fed calves, a hundred tons of the best wheat, two boatsful of barley, and a large shipload of rye, a thousand old dollars, a hundred pairs of bracelets, two hundred gold coins, a lapful of silver brooches, the third of a kingdom, and the dowries of three maidens.

 Then from a little iron cupboard they fetched a sword which had not its equal in the world, and on which the smith and his sons had laboured for seven long years without intermission. It was wrought of seven different kinds of Swedish iron with the aid of seven powerful charms, and was tempered in seven different waters, from those of the sea and Lake Peipus to rain-water. It had been bespoken by Kalev himself, but he had not lived till the work was completed.

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 The son of Kalev received the huge blade from the hands of the smith with reverence, and whirled it round like a fiery wheel, and it whistled through the air like the tempest that breaks oaks and unroofs houses. Then he turned and brought down the keen edge like a flash of lightning on the great anvil, and clove it to the ground without the sword receiving the slightest injury.

 Then the hero joyfully expressed his thanks to the smith for forging such a splendid sword, and promised to bring him the full price demanded upon his return to Esthonia. But the smith said he would rather go and fetch the value of the sword himself.

 And now a great drinking-bout was prepared in honour of the sword and its owner, which lasted for seven days. Beer and mead flowed in abundance, and the guests drank till they lost all restraint, shouting and laughing, and throwing their caps about, and rolling on the grass.

 The Kalevide had lost his senses like the rest, and told the whole story of his adventure on the island and the drowning of the maiden. Upon this, the eldest son of the smith, his father’s pride and joy, sprang forward, denouncing him for his p. 46 aspersions on the maiden’s honour. The Kalevide defied him, maintaining the truth of the story, and from words they soon came to blows; and, before any one could comprehend what was going on or interfere, the Kalevide drew the sword from its sheath and struck off the head of his adversary before the face of his father, mother, and brothers, the hero thus loading himself with a second great crime.

 The youth’s father shrieked with horror and his mother fell fainting to the ground; the smith then cried out to the Kalevide that he had murdered the support of his old age, and had stained the innocence and honour of his new sword for ever. Then he called to his sons to fetch the hammers from the smithy and break the bones of the murderer. But the drunken giant advanced against them with his sword, defying them to the combat; and the smith, recognising the hopelessness of any attempt against him, cried to his sons to let him pass and leave vengeance to the gods, cursing him like a mad dog, and calling on the sword itself to avenge the crime. But the Kalevide seemed to hear nothing, and staggered away from the house through the wood along the road till he p. 47 came to a high waterfall. He followed the course of the stream some distance till he found a resting-place, where he laid down, and snored till the whole neighbourhood shook, and people asked in fear whether enemies had invaded the land and a battle was in progress.

 The oak which the islander had planted sprang up, first as a small tree, but it grew so rapidly that it reached the clouds, and almost touched the sun. The sun and moon were hidden, the windows darkened, and all the country around made dismal by the shadow of its branches. The islander sought far and near for some one to fell the tree, for whole cities and fleets might have been built of its wood. Proclamation was made everywhere for some one to fell the tree, but no one dared to attempt it, and he returned home, grumbling to his wife at the failure of his long and fruitless journey. Then the old woman led the way to the room where the eagle and the dwarf were still remaining, and told her husband how she had found the dwarf, who was no larger than Kalev’s thumb, under the wing of the eagle. The islander asked the dwarf if he would fell the oak-tree, and he consented at once, on condition that p. 48 he should be released from his captivity; he was also given a dish of pure gold.

 The dwarf went out and took a good look at the oak-tree, and then he himself began to grow, first by ells, and then by fathoms. Having thus become a giant, he began to hew at the tree, and he hewed at it for three days, till it fell, covering half the island and half the sea with its branches. The trunk was used to make a great bridge, with two arms, reaching from the island to Finland on the one side, and to Esthonia on the other. Large ships were built of the summit, merchant-vessels from the trunk, towns from the roots, rowing-boats from the branches, and children’s boats from the chips. What remained was used to make shelters for weak old men, sick widows, and orphan children, and the last branches left were used to build a little room in which the minstrel could sing his songs. Strangers who came now and then across the bridge stopped before the minstrel’s hut to ask the name of the city with the magnificent palace; and the minstrel replied that there was nothing there but his poor hut, and all the splendour they beheld was the light of his songs reflected from heaven.



p. 42

1 In the Kalevala (Runo 34) an old woman directs Kullervo to the house of his parents.