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p. 49


THE Kalevide slept till the following morning, and when at length he awoke he tried in vain to recollect the events of the day before. He could not remember whether he had been in Finland or on the island, or whether he had been engaged in battle. He had no remembrance of having slain the smith’s son; but he got up half-dazed, and walked on without stopping till he reached the seashore on the third day afterwards. Here he found the sorcerer’s boat; so he stepped into it, hoisted sail, and set off homewards.

Kalev’s offspring was not weary,
For his back was like an oak-tree,
And his shoulders gnarled and knotted,
And his arms like trunks of oak-trees,
And like elm-trees were his elbows,
And his fingers spread like branches,
And his finger-nails like boxwood,
And his loins like hardened iron.

p. 50

 The Kalevide was now in high spirits, and began to sing a song, in which he pictured himself as going on a voyage, and meeting three shiploads of enchantresses, old and young, whose blandishments he resisted. But as he approached the shores of Esthonia, the fresh sea-breeze dispelled the mists that still clouded his memory, and the blood-stained sword and the splashes of blood on his clothes bore witness of the murder he had committed.

 About midnight he approached the small island where the maiden had fallen into the sea, and the whole sad scene arose again before his imagination. And now he could hear the maiden singing a sad song beneath the waves, lamenting her sad fate, and yet more the evil lot of her brother, who had slain the son of his father’s old friend.1 The blood from the sword reddened the cheeks of the maiden, and a long and terrible penance lay before her brother.

 For a while the hero sat lost in thought, bitterly lamenting the past; but presently he roused himself, and proceeded on his voyage, singing a lamentation for his mother beginning:

p. 51

Where upgrows the weeping alder,
And the aspen of confusion,
And the pine-tree of distraction,
And the deep remorse of birch-tree?
Where I sorrow, springs the alder;
Where I tremble, sprouts the aspen;
Where I weep, the pine is verdant;
Where I suffer, sighs the birch-tree.

 Next morning the Kalevide reached the shore, made fast the boat, and went homewards; but as he passed Mount Iru, where the form of his mother stood, his steps were arrested by the sweet singing of her unseen spirit in the wind. She sang how the young eagle had soared from the nest in youthful innocence, and had returned stained with crime. He knew now that his mother was dead, and realised more fully the two crimes which weighed upon his soul—the one committed thoughtlessly and without evil intent, and the other without his knowledge, when he was not master of himself. He hastened on, and when he reached home his brothers, who had long mourned him as dead, received him with open arms.

 In the evening the three brothers sat together and related their adventures. The first sang how he had wandered in search of his mother over vast p. 52 regions, and through a great part of Courland, Poland, Russia, Germany, and Norway, and had met on his wanderings maidens of tin, copper, silver, and gold. But only the golden daughter of the Gold King could speak, and she directed him along a path which would lead him to a beautiful maiden who could reply to his question. He hurried on a long way, and at last met a rosy-cheeked maiden of flesh and bone, who replied to his questions that she had seen no traces of his mother, and the hawk must have flown away with her. But she invited him to her village, where he would find plenty of rich and beautiful maidens. He answered that he had not come to choose a wife, but to seek his mother.

 Then the second brother sang how he also had wandered a long way, but at last reached a cottage where he found an old man and woman, whom he saluted and asked for tidings. They made no reply, and only the cat mewed in answer.

 He went on farther, and met a wolf; but when he asked if he had seen his mother, he only opened his mouth to grin at him. Next he met the bear, who only growled, but finally the cuckoo1 directed p. 53 him through a wood and across a green meadow to some maidens who would give him information. When he reached the spot, he found four beautiful maidens in elegant attire, who told him that they had been wandering about the woods and meadows every day, but had seen nothing of his mother, and they thought she must have flown away. They recommended him to seek a wife; but he answered that a young wife could not fill the place of his dear lost mother.

 Then the youngest brother related his adventures; but he said nothing about the fatal brawl at the smith’s feast, nor of the sad songs of the island-maiden and of the spirit of his mother.

 Then the eldest brother remarked that they knew not what had become of their mother, but their parents were no more, and they must shift for themselves, so he proposed a trial to decide which of the three should rule as king in the land. The second brother agreed, and the third proposed that the trial should take place next day, and be decided according to the will of Taara.

 In the evening, before twilight had quite given way to night, the youngest son took his handkerchief, which was wet with tears, and climbed up p. 54 his father’s cairn. And his father asked from below:

“Who disturbs the sandy hillock,
With his feet the grave disturbing,
Stamping with his heels the gravel,
And the gravestone thus disturbing?”

 The hero besought his father to rise up and stroke his hair and speak to him; but his father answered that he had long lain in his grave; his bones were decayed, and the grass and moss grew over him, and he could not rise. Let the wind and the sun caress his son. The son answered that the wind only blew sometimes, and the sun only shone by day, but Taara lives for ever. And the father told him not to weep or grieve, for the spirit of his dead father should follow him throughout his life, and that the good gods would protect him even through the desert wastes of the waters of the ocean; and he also counselled him to do his best to atone for every fault and error.



p. 50

1 The smith is sometimes called the uncle of Kalev; but the term may only mean that he was an old friend.

p. 52

1 The cuckoo is a sacred bird, but more often alluded to in Finnish than in Esthonian literature.