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THE LIBRARY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LOS ANGELES
ESTHONIAN FOLK TALES.
ILLUSTRATED BY H. 1S99. AND OTHER ESTHONIAN TALES. ETHEL HYNAM. TRANSLATED CY F. E. .G. OAKES-JONES. THE SECRETS OF THE NIGHT. LONDON ELLIOT STOCK.VJ^O ^Cj THE EUROPEAN FOLK TALE SERIES. PATERNOSTER ROW. 62.
/^/^£FA. and every land and every language brought under tribute to supply the new demand. OFLI 1 M. no systematic attempt seems to have been made to gather together into one series a representative selection of Fairy Tales of other lands. The for remote by-ways of tradition are being examined examples of these tales.'^ The revival of interest in folk-lore and fairy tales is one of the most marked and. The European Folk-Tale Series this. modern literature. by the public now they are valued by the one. is an attempt to do and. Some few to the few critics or years ago these works were only known —were hardly classed as books by the . encouraging incidents in at the same time. and eagerly looked for by the other. however. while avoiding the known 544899 . Hitherto.
now first pre- sented to the world in an English garb. racy of the soil. but was not real until Dr. the publisher believes that a representative and catholic collection of little known and in valuable legends will be within the reach of the reader. show German . ably a Lithuanian source. One or two might be it met with here and there in large collections. and Scandinavian The present volume deals with Esthonian. more recent. races. or. Up to a few years ago very little was known of Esthonian tales. representing. As the coast of Esthonia and the adjacent islands had a Swedish from them population. The tales are. Slavonic. Mongolian. for the part. indicate Russian origin. Magyar. Kreutzwald edited them that any collect attempt was made to ' them in any number. others. it Speaking of the characteristics of these stories has been well said : Many signs show unmistakcontact. When yet complete. to give characteristic examples of land. amongst others. at least. The series will be complete about twelve volumes. and peculiar most to the people. the Esthonian. more modern. there are borrowed stories as well earliest times.vi PREFACE each or hackneyed. Servian. many as many myths springing from the Others. Polish. perhaps one of the least known branches of the great Folklore family. Bohemian. Russian.
of course. of varying The present volume presents to the English reader what the translator believes to be the best and most marked of the has been collection.' acceptable to the public in general. The Secrets of the Night. No attempt . ' and will. the folk-lore student in particular. edited. . make the first volume. and still it other monsters.' Over sixty examples of Esthonian folk-lore have been collected. be found most of these and while there no lack of magic and witchcraft. made to alter the styles of these tales on to the contrary. and other Esthonian and to Tales. merit. These are. it is hoped. appears to the translator skill that the construction of the stories shows a that interests the reader apart from these attractions. dragons. will is Artistic and no small amount of poetry stories.PREFA CE traces and characteristics of dwellers in well vii towns as as the country. the aim has been to present them the reader as closely in their native garb as the exigencies of our language will feeling in permit. serpents. and published under the auspices of the Finnish Literary Society.
'^"" rr— I COWTFKTSff J vv ~J-^Oa ^^^^JnL^^ PAGE THE SECRETS OF THE NIGHT II THE SUBTERRANEAN KINGDOM THE MERMAID FORTUNE'S EGG 25 39 57 THE NORTHLAND DRAGON TONTLA FOREST 71 91 .<^^>. ^•^^-.-^.•*?.
- - THEY DANCED ROUND THE MARBLE BASIN TAILPIECE .' SHE SAID ' TAILPIECE ..\ND WEPT BITTERLY ' ' TAILPIECE -----. TONTLA FOREST 'FORM . . - . PREFACE CONTENTS ILLUSTRATIONS VIGNETTE TO 'SECRETS OF THE NIGHT' .. - W VIGNETTE TO 'THE NORTHLAND DRAGON' THIS IS MY DEAREST TREASURE.\T HIS FEET . Fro7itisp - - - - - ....ME AN IMITATION OF THIS MAIDEN' TAILPIECE . .EUROPEAN FOLK-TALE SERIES ........ . - _ .... . - - - HANS FINDS THE ENTRANCE TO THE CAVERN LED HANS TO WHERE THE MID-DAY REPAST LAID TAILPIECE VIGNETTE TO 'THE MERMAID' THE MERMAID COMES BACK TO SLEEPY TONNIS TAILPIECE VIGNETTE TO FORTUNE'S EGG SHE FELL . .
THE SECRETS OF THE NIGHT. .
he would often pause in his labour to watch the lark as it rose from its nest on the dewy ground. and strove to make the furrows sufficiently deep. many He was all soil. and had few wants. a young very poor. and study her many changes. warbling its exulting lay. him he loved to be alone with Nature.THE SECRETS OF THE NIGHT. our young peasant lived much in the alone. and mounted in triumphant freedom high above the morning cloud. to muse her wonders. they on all . but this solitude did not trouble least . Finland being but to toil hard the unfruitful thinly peopled. he was always cheerful. years ago. As he guided his oxen at their work. that swelled ever louder and louder the nearer it approached the sky. far away in a small village in the cold and dreary province of Finland there lived. peasant. and had day long cultivating But in spite of poverty and hard work. And as he listened to its notes of sweetest ecstasy. AR. for he was strong and healthy. though it must be confessed that sometimes life seemed to him very hard.
far above earthly things and when at length the lark was lost to view. seemed to shrink together as he approached. As and evening. the weary day turned to his rest. and flying ever before him. Then as he gazed forth into the gloom. As the darkness increased. . greater part of the country so vast that it is covered with forests has been said that to wander through them is much like wandering over the bottom of some mighty ocean. he felt. During the summer. things with stole on. the trees waving their long arms to and fro seemed to beckon him. the breast. and the voices of the night to summon him and he would . softly wrapped touching in all her mantle of gray.14 THE SECRETS OF THE NIGHT seemed to awaken an answering echo within his and to bear his soul away with them. and its song had died away in the far distance. and then our hero could see far away in the distance the large lakes. The village in which this peasant lived was surrounded by large and gloomy forests indeed. . and casting her soft veil over the eyes of day without causing their light to entirely disappear. so short in the northern regions. as it were. her opiate wand. an excess of vital energy that all the hard labour of the day had been unable to exhaust. wander far away into the forest in pursuit of the weird shadows that crept among the trees. which in Finland are very numerous. glittering like mirrors among the forest trees. the air is unusually clear. this feeling changed to a strange wild longing after the unknown. . he would resume his work with a lighter heart and renewed courage.
the young peasant sought a magician. after the wanted but a few days to midsummer the the time of waiting seemed endless to poor With the decline of each day his longings unknown increased he cared nothing for . It might perhaps be done. told him of his wish. better Though peasant. he desired beyond all things to know. But leave I it you will gain the knowledge you warn you once more you had much alone.' magician. have your own way. who from time to time visited the village. for I warn you. But think the matter well over. it will bring you no ' ' happiness. or.' said the magician after a few moments' consideration. and drinks the milk of snipe out of a golden shell.THE SECRETS OF THE NIGHT ' 15 of the night must surely hide' In this strange twilight. Unable at length to longer resist his desire to understand the hidden workings of Nature. to the and he hastened stretch of meadow that . and asked his aid. it ' replied Take this piece of bread and preserve carefully. a Mana-Berehrer. The night so ardently desired at length arrived.' But the peasant paid no heed to the old man's the warning.' it desire. Should you succeed in dipping that piece of bread into the shell and then swallow it serpents quickly. the magician's warning.' thought he. and persisted in his desire. 'Well then. On Midsummer's Eve the king of the assembles his legions on the borders of the forest. 'the secrets and these mysteries . to give him his proper Esthonian name.
straight before his eyes. reared aloft on his tail. and our poor hero stiff with terror. that he came from that place much quicker than any previous time. their themselves in rings ej^es flaming and glittering like living coals.i6 THE SECRETS OF THE NIGHT bordered the forest. The centre serpent reared himself ever higher and higher. but the next moment his courage revived. There in the centre of the field he saw to his astonishment a small mound that certainly had not been there earlier in the day. all around him darted adders. terror lending wings to his feet. he larger. thick as the thickest fir-tree. both large and small. Suddenly a bright light shone forth over the hill. On and on he sped until at at . he dipped his piece of bread into the and then quickly swallowed it. He had no sooner done this than the hissing and rushing increased a hundredfold. all moving rapidly towards the hill. vipers and serpents. Suddenly the huge monster shot forth his long fiery tongue. and he had a feeling shell. and he fled from the spot. and from every side he heard a strange sound of hissing and rushing. and found that what he had taken for a hill was in reality an enormous crowd of ser- pents. waving his great . In the centre of this vast throng was a huge serpent. Stretching grew forth his hand. head to and fro on it he wore a golden crown from which there streamed forth innumerable rays of dazzling light. and by this the peasant knew he must be the serpent king. which grew gradually larger and Urged on by an irresistible impulse. whilst the others coiled around his gigantic body. followed them. for there. was the golden shell filled with milk.
and he now waited until broad daylight . As the sun sank slowly to his rest. he sank exhausted 17 on the ground. but to-night it was strangely changed. misty forms began to emerge on every side. his strength failing. They were all rare beauty. self . floating might occur.THE SECRETS OF THE NIGHT length. he recovered consciousness it was he was far away from the scene of his adventure. Instead of the soft marshy ground. in others to a bluish hue. and after his rest felt quite strong It was the snipe's milk that had and cheerful. adorned with the most exquisite workmanship. whose silver stems glistened in the pale moonlight. As soon as they reached the marble basin they cast aside their light garments and descended into the 2 . and evening casting it should her placid shades over the scene veiled the landscape with her gentle touch. the whiteness of which in some changed to a greenish. He had often visited this spot before. and in their hair they wore precious stones. he hastened forth into the forest. When make his power of vision clear. he beheld a round enclosure built of polished marble of a golden hue. given him this strength. clad in robes of wait for what gauze. he carefully concealed him- behind a tree to About midnight light from among the trees maidens of the most light. blue and a green. and by the time the slight darkness of the night cast her sombre mantle over the earth he had reached an open space surrounded by birch-trees. it looked like a bath of unusual dimen- Full of curiosity. which sent forth dazzling radiance. and filled with water clear as crystal sions. shedding his parting smile over the earth.
. The young man then came . but still very graceful. But when the first flickering rays of morning penetrated the gloom of the forest every trace of the lovely vision had disappeared. lost in the impenetrable mist. a mist he had not hitherto observed spread gradually over the scene. As the mysterious twilight grew clearer. whilst a deep red tinge in the clouds in the east already marked the part where he would rise again in his splendour. yet still the swiftly-moving forms were indistinctly visible. and his trees. but the water of the marsh filled his shoes. movements. far away to the west a few faintly-glowing streaks still showing where the sun had sunk to his rest.8 THE SECRETS OF THE NIGHT water. place. which they almost immediately from action they repeated many times. for the marble basin had disappeared. scarcely lingered. He was not long in so doing. At the same time the moon. and the ground had resumed its wonted appearance. Their long hair fell in floating masses around their slender forms not a breath of air stirred the foHage. shed her gentle rays through the branches of the birchThe young man's heart beat fast. bath was ended. temples throbbed he remained motionless. forth from his hidingand passed again over the open ground.. becoming ever thicker and whiter. daring to breathe for fear of disturbing the lovely dancers. Then all the the until at length maidens formed in a circle and danced roimd and round the marble basin with undulating and irregular. nor was there On the borders of the forest a sound to be heard. This emerged. encircled with a zone of soft and tender light.
2 — .J HEY HANCEl) ROVXn THE MARBLE BASIN.
bathing things in a flood of silver light the white stems of the birch-trees . half-waking mind : but even during sleep this one joy absorbed he now knew what no other mortal had ever yet known. ex- hausted. bent as usual towards the grass the mist was slowly was a most of the scene had no rising. and into a light. filling his whole soul with an indescribable pleasure. bitter disappointment met him the next and on every succeeding night.20 THE SECRETS OF THE NIGHT When slumber his . and his joy almost overpowered him. The pale moon all looked down from her silent throne. feeling became more intense. though. But the beauty our hero . but this was now mixed with an impatient longing for the arrival of night. It came at length. The fourth night found him again at the open space in the forest. he watched the whole night through. . beheld again the lovely vision had so enraptured him on the preceding night on the third night the same scene met his view. they did not come. he returned home sorrowful and discontented. their reappearance. and had seen that which human eye When he awoke this had never before beheld. and he hastened once and there. charms for his thoughts were anxiously full of the beauteous maidens. awaited vain . after wandering for some time aimlessly through the forest. It lovely spot. from his hiding- among the trees. and he But he waited in The same night. more place that into the forest. Then. he reached home he threw fell himself. on his bed. For a whole week he sought the open space in the forest in the vain hope of gazing once again on the enchanting .
fiut this. and longed-for vision. though But this feast.THE SECRETS OF THE NIGHT scene. was . and these for the first time . far from giving him pleasure. and our young peasant with the rest he had never avoided the men. It presented to his view many tokens of unfairness. many deformed ideas of the hardships and necessities of life. which had formerly given him such pleasure. could clearly distinguish each one of those indistinct sounds so numerous in the forest. now only a fresh cause of grief . his heart was not given to any. and found his surroundings very different to those among which he had grown up. To this feast the scattered population flocked from far and near. understood every movement of the shadows. The unnatural clearness with which his mind was now gifted in regard to the things of Nature remained with him in his sojourn among men. . observant seemed to indicate the filled his reappearance of the beauteous maidens who now every thought but all his wanderings were . 21 Then he sought of the shghtest thing that out other places. all real there was nothing that objects repulsed his mind now awoke in him either anticipation or remonThrough the snipe's milk he had taken he strance. His misery was very great. in vain. Each night was spent in fruitless search after the His work was neglected. and to escape from it he sought the summer feast held every year in the district. and had always been glad to meet the maidens. it he had come there from another sphere of seemed as though life. caused him the greatest uneasiness.
You have learned the most hidden secret of the Esthonian night.' and my art has been proved. ' Then your wish has ' been fulfilled. his daily work would be lighter and more pleasant. On their alliance the fruitfulness of the earth depends. and he began anew his wanderings in the solitude of the forest. and the beauty of the day that he used to regard as a promise from heaven was now only a mockery. a staff was in his hand and he told was just setting forth journey to another village. and the joy of the assembly seemed to him only discontent and disHe experienced a feeling of anger and envy cord. His soul was full of painful memories. and his anguish increased daily. because no one saw things with the same refined clearness as himself. the goddesses of earth and water. for to you it has been permitted to watch the assembling of the daughters Mets-hallias and Muru-eides. The on a old man was clad in his travelling dress.22 THE SECRETS OF THE NIGHT weighed heavily on his mind. . At length one morning he went into the forest to he seek out the magician. You have been highly favoured. At length the thought occurred to him that. as now saw what formerly he had only feebly imagined. and knew clearly what before had only worked dimly within him. The peasant stopped him and really him of replied his distress.' the magician. the feast became unbearable to him. but when he began to put the idea into practice he found his work none the less an intolerable burden. and they renew it in this forest with bathing and dances.
halffainting. and then exclaimed in accents of despair It was cruel. but sank back. filling his soul with misery and despair.THE SECRETS OF THE NIGHT ' 23 Will they ' come again ?' ? Shall I yet once again behold them eyes. as midst the ruins of a fallen house. old. and for some time his life was despaired of. amidst the luxuriance of the day. His cry and he wasted . it was wicked of you not to tell me this Nothing now remains for me but endless !' misery Consider for a moment. I cried the young man. with sparkling to see would endure years of misery only those beauteous forms once more. who took him home. But a repetition of that -entrancing sight you cannot live to see.' cian. Day after day he wandered listlessly through the forest. Though he recovered. he began to look his misery. and calling wildly on death to release him from was heard. The peasant made a sudden movement as though he would have sprung on him. against a tree.' The young man gazed at him wildly for a few moments. dismayed at the thought that he was still compelled to live. 'I ' ! They assemble for three successive midsummer every hundred years. thoughts of the beauteous vision he might never again behold were ever present with him.' replied ' nights at * longing in vain to anticipate time. half-dazed. At length he was found by the inhabitants of the place. the magihave just told you that what you saw is one of the strangest and most hidden of all the secrets of night. There he sat. Would it have been of any use ?' replied the magician. turning away.
summoned him from the scene His sad story was then made known. and all who knew him rejoiced that his sorrows were at length ended.24 THE SECRETS OF THE NIGHT visibly. away and at the end of a few years Death of his sufferings. .
.THE SUBTERRANEAN KINGDOM.
HANS FINDS THE ENTRA^'CE TO THE CAVERN. .
a peasant missed his road whilst trying to force his way through some deep snow-drifts. who carried as a stick a young fir-tree double the height of the bearer. still stupid with sleep.' said the man with the fir-tree . There before him stood a man of tall though slender stature. stormy night. otherwise you be buried in the snow and unable to get out !' will The sleeper pushed his head out of his fur coat and opened wide his eyes.THE SUBTERRANEAN NE KINGDOiM. and he blessed his good fortune when he at length found a shelter from the wind beneath a thick juniper-tree. between Christmas and the New Year. * Come with me. ' ! his sleep a strange voice sounded in his ear Peasant. His strength failed. hoping to find his wa}^ more easily by the light of morning. Here he determined to pass the night. He limbs like hedgehog. together a wrapped drew his himself in his I know not warm fur coat. awake Stand up. how long he had lain thus when he felt As he started from : some one shaking him. and soon fell asleep.
which burned brightly and shed forth a cheerful radiance without raising the least cloud of smoke. * ! !' and behind them the snowstorm wanderer felt it not. while yet afar ' off. however.28 THE SUBTERRANEAN KINGDOM . as though Moreover. beetles. but the which.' The man could not refuse such a kind invitation . is not this . Yet more wonderful than aught beside was the fire. make room before them a wide path whereon no snowflake fell. staff. from On either side raged in all its fury. he stood up at once. : summer beauty flourished.son of Long Hans .' ' man : with the Beside the fire sat three it garments. Ho. the son of Long Hans. the son of Long heard the rush of snow and the roaring of the wind. and the peasant replied Hans. Soon they came to the forest. waiting for us beneath the trees in the forest. plants and the grass swarmed with ants and afar off. From Hans still * What think you. . What is your name ?' asked the fir-tree stick. reigned the moss was dry. and stepped briskly forward The snowstorm raged around with the stranger. in . of about thirty feet or more. It was as though on both sides an invisible wand kept back the storm. where we can rest better than out here in stick * a fire is the open country. the bright light of a fire shone towards them. ho immediately there opened of the storm. them so furiously it was impossible to see three steps advance but when the stranger raised his fir-tree Mother and cried with a loud voice. for a circle men clad in white linen were the middle of summer.
and began to talk with his companions in a strange language. where there was no longer either forest or fire. More curious smiths could not have been found in . He rubbed his eyes. Still. he came at length to the mouth of a rocky cavern. then he likewise stretched himself on the ground. in which a bright fire was burning. with innumerable forge-bellows and anvils.THE SUBTERRANEAN KINGDOM than out yonder juniper-tree ?' 29 a better resting-place in which to pass the night in the open countr}^ beneath the To this Hans agreed. and he felt the earth tremble beneath his feet. Then from afar a loud noise broke on his ear. him to a place of coat. and lay down to rest beside the glowing The man with the fir-tree from out the thicket. and again thanked the stranger for so kindly bringing shelter. He therefore soon fell asleep. hoping to meet stick took a small barrel some human being. At each anvil stood seven workers. He entered. and found himself in an enormous smithy. rolled it Then he threw his fire. Following the sound. He thought he must have dreamt it all. and then resolved to journey in that direction. off his fur into a pillow for head. When he awoke he was alone in a strange place. and recalled the events of the past night. if this were really the case. of which our Hans could not understand one single word. he could not understand. Hans listened for some time to ascertain whence the noise proceeded. and offered Hans a refreshing draught that tasted excellent. how he had come hither to a place that was quite strange to him.
THE SUBTERRANEAN KINGDOM
the whole world.
men, who only reached
knee of an ordinary man, had beards longer than their tiny bodies, and wielded hammers more than twice their own size. But they gave such mighty blows on the anvil with their heavy iron clubs, that the strongest men could not have dealt
more powerful blows. For clothing these little men wore leather aprons, reaching from their necks to
a large block of iron beside the further wall
Hans' friend, the old man with the fir-tree stick, keeping a sharp look-out on the work of the little company. At his feet stood a large tankard, from which the workers took an occasional draught. The Lord of the Smiths no longer wore the white garments of yesterday instead, he had on a black Russian coat, whilst a leather girdle with an enor;
clasp encircled his waist.
he from time to time signed to the workers in such a noise to speak would have been useless. Hans was not certain if anyone had noticed him, since master and servants continued their work without heeding the arrival of the stranger. After a few hours the httle smiths were allowed a rest the
were stopped, and the heavy hammers thrown on the ground. As the workers left the cavern, the host rose from his seat, called Hans to him, and said
noticed your entrance, but, as the could not speak with you sooner.
work pressed, To-day you
guest, and learn to know my houseand manner of hving. Amuse yourself
THE SUBTERRANEAN KINGDOM
these words he drew a key from his pocket,
in the wall of the cavern,
unlocked a door
Oh, what treasures and riches Hans beheld here Bars of silver and of gold piled all round glittered
and sparkled before
tried to count
the bars of gold in one cf the heaps,
turned, and exclaimed, laughing
Leave the counting alone
will take too
Instead, take a few bars from the heap.
you them as a remembrance.'
Naturally, Hans did not require to be told twice. With both hands he seized a bar of gold, but found to his distress he was unable to stir it from its place,
to say nothing of raising
His host laughed and
you are unable to take away Content yourself,
therefore, with the pleasure of beholding them.'
So saying, he led Hans into another room, from thence into a third, a fourth, and so on until they entered the seventh. This was large as a large
filled from floor to roof with piles of gold and silver. Hans marvelled greatly at these innumerable treasures, sufficient to have purchased all the king-
church, and, like the others,
of the world, but which lay here useless beneath the earth. He asked his host Wherefore do you heap up such an enormous
THE SUBTERRANEAN KINGDOM
no living being derives any benefit from If this treasure came into all the gold and silver ? no the hands of men, they would all become rich one would need to work, no one would suffer want.'
It is just for that reason,' replied
the host, 'that
dare not deliver this treasure to mankind the whole world would go to rack and ruin through idleI
longer needed to earn his daily bread.
created to support himself through
Hans then asked
his host to explain the use of
the gold and silver lying glittering here, the possessions of one man, and why the Lord of the Gold should unceasingly strive to increase his
already had such an abundance.
no mortal man, though I have the like form and features. I am one of those higher beings formed by the Creator to manage the world. By
out ceasing, form gold and silver here under the
a small part of this
given out every year
much as they need to carry on their business. But no one may We must therepossess the gift without trouble. the gold very fine, beat and first then mix the fore clay and sand with earth, later grains they will be
use of men, but scarcely so
found in this granite where fortune wills, and must But now, my friend, we be sought for carefully. must break off our conversation, for the dinner-hour
If you desire to examine my treasures remain here and rejoice your heart with the
except that they wore clean shining dining-table. dishes. the bowls. led and on either side of it a silver chair. but so changed that at the first glance Hans did not recognise him. The vessels . but in vain. twelve dishes were brought in one after the other the servants were just like the little men in the smithy. which possessed it such ramifications that fir-tree stick. plates.' With this he departed and Hans was left alone. Instead of the fir-tree stick. trying here and there to lift just a very small piece of gold. When Hans and his host were seated at the table. Hans moved restlessly from one treasure-chamber to the other. — After a time his host returned. tankards and cups. he held a small wand wrought of fine gold. for eating and drinking. from which innumerable precious stones sparkled like stars on a bright winter's night. He was clad in flame-coloured silk broidered in garments. He had often heard clever people say how heavy gold was. 3 . and on his head glittered a golden crown. looked like a shoot of the When the lord of all this wealth had locked the doors of his treasure chambers and put the key care- he took Hans by the hand and him through the smiths' workshop into another apartment where the mid-day repast was prepared. girdle of gold encircled his waist. In the centre of the room was a beautiful silver fully in his pocket.THE SUBTERRANEAN KINGDOM glitter 33 of gold until I return to summon you to dinner. were of pure gold. richly emgold and with a gold fringe a broad . but he never believed it now he learned it by experience.
conversed kindly and explained to Hans various and dexterity. but the kindly host caused him to be so plenteously supplied with wine that at length his tongue became so heavy he could not utter a single stand what his host said to him. and had to take care that no drop was spilled. Therefore when the conversation turned : on his night-meeting with Hans. he said Between Christmas and the New Year I often wander about the world for pleasure. which the golden bars passed continually before 3—2 . and moreover was unable to underIn short.' ' Hans strove as best he could to disprove the truth of these words. they were obliged to hop like flies from the At the same time they held floor to the table.THE SUBTERRANEAN KINGDOM garments. Not being tall enough to reach. None see their own mistakes and guilt. large and small dishes filled with various meats in their hands. ness 35 Very wonderful to Hans was their swiftfor although no wings were visible. and handed them to the feasters. they moved to and fro as lightly as though they really had feathers. Each complains more or less of the other. in his chair. secrets. During the repast the little servants poured mead and costly wines from the tankards into the The host cups. word. he slept in During his sleep he dreamed a wonderful dream. The greater number of men live to injure and annoy one another. but condemn in others the faults they themselves have committed. I cannot greatly praise what I have seen and known of them up to the present. to observe the doings of men and to learn to know a few of them.
all appeared to him so strange and wonderful that he knew not how to reconcile it with the Hans remembered having of things. the soft grass in the lying on was he ing. sound of merry voices. had stayed to dinner with him. he had spent two days in revelling deal and feasting. and taking a couple of the gold bars on his back he bore them away with ease. When his senses were again on the alert. and on examining the place more closely he discovered that the supposed ashes were really fine silver. that glittered brightly in the sun. then the bright fire from the He looked up blinkforge flashed before his eyes. but fire green forest. and he was He heard the obliged to sit down and take breath. ! treasure home ? Necessity is full of devices. what happiness But where to obtain a sack to carry the . At length his strength gave way beneath his heavy burden. he found himself in the neighbourhood of an old fireplace.36 THE SUBTERRANEAN KINGDOM He felt himself growing stronger and stronger. and thought it was the song of the little smiths. then all that had befallen him later arose again in his memory. Looking around. him. Oh. but it was long ere he could recall what had occurred. He had spent the night by the fire with a strange man who carried a fir-tree stick. Taking . He now tore himself fully from the bands of sleep. and that the firebrands still remaining were pure gold. natural order lost his way one stormy night shortly after Christmas. and found from the forge. and drunk a good in short. had passed the next day as guest of this same stranger. there was no only the rays of the sun looking kindly in his face.
Then he took a and lived happily as a rich man to the end of his days. There he bought a nice property. And by the mouths of his children his children's children the story has this day. and had a good sum wife. Before his death he told his children the story of how his subterranean host had made him a and rich man. Hans swept the silver ashes into a heap. But when he thought the matter over. so heavy that he considered it best to leave his old dwelling-place. he fall out. being careful to leave none behind. rich enough to have bought a large estate. In this strange manner did Hans suddenly become a rich man.THE SUBTERRANEAN KINGDOM off his 37 winter coat. it was almost exhausted before he found a suitable place wherein to conceal his treasure. and go far away to a region where he was unknown. so that nothing could was Although the burden was not large. and then tied the corners together with his girdle. been handed down unto . put them and the gold brands into the coat. of money still remaining.
the happy olden days
men were much
Heaven permitted them
wonders which to-day are
but rarely appear to some favourite of fortune. True it is the birds sing after the old manner, and the animals still exchange their ideas, but alas we understand not
and what they say brings us neither
instruction nor profit.
In the Wiek, close to the shore, there dwelt in
olden days a beauteous Mermaid,
mankind indeed, my great-grandcousin, who grew up in this region, saw
her occasionally seated on a rock, but never dared
her. The maiden appeared in various now as a foal or a heifer, now as some other animal. Many an evening she would mix with the
children and amuse herself playing with them, until some of the little boys mounted on her back; then she
suddenly disappeared as though beneath the earth. But old folk tell that in the early times the
42 THE MERMAID maiden might be seen b}^ beauteous almost every summer evening. and no longer felt her former confidence in them. the boy could not rest in doors. long before the kingdom of Sweden existed. in sweet strains that melted the sang whilst she x^et she suffered not the hearers. seated on a rock the seashore. to the winds and the waves. and the waves after rising mountains high broke foaming on the shore. or escaped into Why she thus fled from the waves like a swan. When. fair hair with a golden comb. and often only half clothed. yet he never suffered through his rashness. sea than the land. but ran as though possessed. where the eyes. for in their time fishing profitable. In the morning when the storm had died away he would . to the birds. there dwelt on the banks of the Wiek a well-to-do peasant with his wife and four They gained their livelihood more from the sons. and stood silent and apart as one in a dream. he would wander along the seashore. we will now relate. In the olden days. and talk to himself. to the beach. she swam over sea. hearts of her from before their vanished but approach of men. storms raged over the sea. was very From his earliest years the youngest son had shown himself different in everything to his shunning all companionship. Heedless of wind and weather. or far into the depths of the forest. combing her long men. in the autumn. brothers . but when amongst men he rarely opened his mouth. and ride like a wild duck over the crests of the foaming waves far out to sea. seize the oars. he would spring into the boat.
in summer to tend the cattle. As he was ashamed to set foot in his parents' house. If he were sent anywhere on business for instance. he had escaped from the ship. who.THE MERMAID 43 be found sleeping peacefully on the seashore. and his brothers often had to search for hours before they brought them safely home. after a few weeks. although he had been baptized George. . he became unbearable and no one would employ him. His father sent him to service in strange farms. and the next. trod or cornfields. When. when selves. he wandered from one place to . left to amuse themfre- down meadows quently strayed away. Notwithstanding. but beating His father had often beaten the boy severely and scolding were When he grew up things were no alike useless. better no work ever prospered under his lazy hands he damaged or broke the plough. and was again on dry land. Instead of attending to his work. industrious man but whoever tried him for one week always sent him back His parents scolded him as an idler. partly because from childhood the boy had loved the water. partly because he could not run away on the sea. where he dared not hope for a friendly reception. or some other work he only vexed his parents by his carelessness and indifference. . his brothers called him Sleepy Tonnis. hoping that perhaps among strangers the loiterer might become a good. and. his father sent him as a servant on a strange ship. exhausted the oxen. for his carelessness. however. did nothing right. in short. he would throw himself down to rest beneath a shady — tree. heedless of the cattle.
Amongst mankind you have neither house nor home. He was a fine. and better than men know you. as he walked alone upon the beach. what your heart desires you shall possess. although in his father's house he had never troubled to speak much. said I have waited for you for many days a dream warned me of your arrival. and looking up he beheld the lovely songstress seated on a rock combing her hair with her golden comb. strong young fellow. the sweet song of the Mermaid fell on his ear. when he stopped. for he knew how with them to ingratiate himself with the women and maidens.' : ' . unseen. and use smooth words. and could talk very pleasantly if he liked.' and advanced towards her. Why be dependent on strangers because your parents will not shelter you ? I have known you from your youth up. and. Yes. Sleepy Tonnis thought. but did not fly from him as she usually did when approached by man. for I have been near you.44 THE MERMAID another trying to gain his Hving without working. and protected you when your temerit}' would otherwise have caused your destruction. ! . she rose from her rock. . She is also a woman. and The will not harm me. Now he was obliged to make the best of himself. Moreover. One beautiful summer evening at the setting of the sun. ' advancing towards him with extended hand. Mermaid observed the comer. I will watch over you and guard you from all harm. these hands have ofttimes guided your fragile bark that it might not sink into the deep Come with me your days shall be full of joy. uncertain whether to approach nearer.
and he asked three days for reflection. At length he asked shyly if her dwelling were from there. although each word the maiden uttered penetrated his heart like a fiery dart. this pledge may perhaps serve as a betrothal ring. Sleepy Tonnis stood still with open eyes he would have held all that had passed as a dream had not the glittering ring on his finger proved the contrary. and . but that evening the Mermaid came not. put my gold ring on your finger. and disappeared. returning again and again to the rock on which the maiden had sat but the rock was cold and bare.' With this she placed it on the youth's little finger. if only you have full confidence in me. ere we part. * ' we become better acquainted. In the morning he lay down to sleep.' said the Mermaid but that you may not forget to return.' replied the Mermaid. He wandered all night along the shore. But with this ring a strange spirit of unrest had entered into him. The day waned.THE MERMAID 45 Sleepy Tonnis scratched his ear and wondered what he should answer. the wind dropped. can go there with the swiftness of the wind. hid their tired . the birds ceased their song. and he awoke. I will grant your request. but disquieting dreams destroyed his rest. . Suddenly Sleepy Tonnis remembered all he had heard folks tell of the Mermaid his heart failed him. bills beneath their wings. I will. When far * We . longing for the evening that he might again behold the lovely Mermaid.
THE MERMAID COMES BACK TO SLEEPY TOXNIS. .
' She then led the youth a few steps nearer the sea.' The Mermaid ' smiled. bitterly. ' . a soft warm hand was laid on his forehead. hunger was unfelt. your death. Towards sunset he seated himself on the rock. I will live no longer. will I would gladly for you. and bound a silken handkerchief over his eyes. When he awoke he was lying on a soft bed with desire not . remorse Sorrowfully and complaining were alike useless. The same moment Sleepy Tonnis felt himself seized by two strong arms. dearest maiden.' she replied rather you shall live with me as my beloved consort. Forgive me. Why. who If to-day she come either perish with said kindly ' : Seeing your Forgive.' ' forgive ' me. when a wiser than he would have seized it eagerly! Now. weeping . evil ! bitter sorrow. As the waves touched his body he lost consciousness. The of give me my I one alone knows what Take me whither you life took possession .THE MERMAID 47 Care and sorrow forced bitter tears from his eyes. passed the night.' sobbed I Sleepy Tonnis. and the day following bowed down with sorrow. but hunger here on this stone. had he rejected the proffered happiness. ' moaned forth : not. I could delay no longer. was a folly senseless fool. oh why. and begged time for thought. or plunge into the waves. he saw the Mermaid. Looking up. and. and plunged into the flood. and end this wretched life in the depths of the sea !' As he sat thus.
When he again arose the maidens entered and begged their Noble Lord to walk in the garden whilst their gracious mistress performed her toilet. some time he was uncerJiain whether he still For lived. but . and show him all its beauties.48 silken THE MERMAID hangings.feathered birds hopped among the branches. black-puddings. even the pine and fir-trees were of gold. sausages. Whilst one prepare the the table the other departed to meal. On all sides he was greeted as Noble Lord. ' ' many ' early life. and. In the garden grace and beauty greeted him at every step gold and silver apples glittered amongst . Sleepy Tonnis. and the table was soon covered with dishes of pork. * Accidentally ' Immediately two maidens entered. Two maidens stepped forth from behind they had orders to lead their Noble Lord round the garden. a bush . in a magnificent chamber whose walls of glass were curtained with crimson velvet on a chair beside the bed lay beautiful clothes. he rose and dressed. who had not tasted food for and then stretched himself on the bed to rest. together with beer and mead. and quite forgot his days. Having he was after some reflection satisfied himself that still alive. curtseying reverently. and honey. he coughed. light of Over all glimmered the rosy morning.' so he soon began to think himself really noble. on whose smooth ' ' surface swam geese with gold and silver feathers. ate heartily. just as though a grand wedding feast were spread. the green leaves. whilst gold. Further on they came to a lake. prayed their Noble Lord to say laid what he wished for breakfast.
' Sleepy Tonnis looked around bewildered. and did not resume The lady remained seated. and obey him as you do me. They showed him his place on the golden chair beside the queen. You must show him every respect. who. : ' 4 . greeting him reverently. . Whenever I leave the house you must make the time pass pleasantly to him. two maidens in beautiful garments appeared. to whom I am betrothed.THE MERMAID the sun was nowhere to be large as gadflies flew about seen. the other was When Sleepy Tonnis entered the maidens vacant. He approached timidly. and see he wants for nothing. and whom I have chosen for my husband. 49 Trees covered with flowers exhaled a sweet perfume. rose. dress who could have recognised the Sleepy Tonnis of former days ? In a magnificent apartment formed of glass twelve beauteous maidens sat on silver stools. whilst bees as amongst the blossoms. bowed graciously to the youth. whereupon the two maidens led Sleepy Tonnis to their mistress. not venturing to raise his eyes the beauty and splendour almost blinded him. Later. and then beckoned authoritatively with her finger. unGuessing certain if he were awake or dreaming. ' Noble Lord to the gracious lady who Before he entered her presence a blue In this silk scarf was thrown round his shoulders. . to lead their ' awaited him. Heavy will be the punishment of anyone not obeying my commands. as soon as he was seated. said Behold my beloved bridegroom. Behind them on a raised dais were two golden chairs on one sat the stately queen. their seats until bidden.
sea. life For two days the same happy maid said : was led. and when Sleepy Tonnis raised his eyes.' .' said she earnestly. Sleepy Tonnis was almost beside himself with and could only murmur Yes and ' No. If your own happiness and mine are dear to never again use that you. though smaller. at dinner. took his hand. however. in lake. until now she had lived a virgin. but as the ordained sovereign she was name and dignity of a royal joy. daughter of the Mother of the Waters.50 THE MERMAID and led After passing through his thoughts. waz far more beautiful than Here the lady took off her crown. before retiring to rest. the Mer- . he regained speech. not only to converse affably. cast the others. when he had tasted ' ' many his a dainty dish and costly wine. are many sisters.' Later. him from the apartment. eleven rooms. fully he exclaimed 'Beloved Mermaid !' But the same moment the maiden's hand closed his mouth. in we are but rarely seen. Oh. but the third evening. and was able. the lady rose. ' * name I am a that was only given me in insult. blessed His courage and hope at once revived joytime beautiful ! . She then explained that obliged to support the lady. but his own Mermaid stood beside him. but also to bring out many a pleasant jest. they entered a chamber which. and in river and then only through some lucky accident. all empty. but each dwells in her own place. no stranger. aside her gold-embroidered mantle. We .
so you To-morrow vow is I will not find the time long. but what help was that ? door was always locked. the evening cock crowed the third time the lovely maiden was again at his side. the Mermaid replied. played. But the more impossible it appeared. The servants exerted themselves to amuse They sang. maidens will care for you in the meantime. and conformably with must every week spend this day Thursdays you cannot see me fasting and alone. to allow him to fast with her.' my fast I cannot. lover. Often had he entreated his beloved Once. weeping Take my life if you will. but in vain. : * your wish to share grant.THE MERMAID * 51 a solemn Thursday. and performed merry him. The chamber in which she concealed The herself he knew well. the his happiness. My before the evening cock has crowed thrice. I dare not A all year or more might have elapsed when doubts arose in the heart of Sleepy Tonnis which destroyed He feared the Mermaid had a whose arms she rested on the Thursdays. and as believed.' The next morning the Mermaid was nowhere to Sleepy Tonnis now remembered her be found. Thus it happened every Thursday. dances then they set costly meats and drinks before him. and the day passed quicker than he could have Supper ended. but . whilst he had to spend the time with her maidens. in secret 4—2 . than usual with when he had tormented her more his prayers. I give it willingly. that he must spend every Thursday without her. words. and the window thickly curtained. he retired to rest.
her heart was no longer joyful. It in peacetogether live our love and happiness. soon he His peace of mind was gone for ever suffered no one to come near him on the Thursdays. and although she still looked cheerful. . This extraordinary change surprised everyone.' said she. or any other sin against you secret no have I your groundless suspicion But conscience. life for destroy for ever would it not be may near me. Joyfully would I give my both us makes I cannot have you fast-day my but on you.52 THE MERMAID stronger became his desire to fathom the mystery. the sadder grew the Mermaid. When the Mermaid heard of it she wept bitterly yet she only indulged her grief when alone. she knew from his restless manner that things were no longer as they should be. Again and again she begged him with tears not to torture himself and her with preposterous suspicions. The more he tormented himself. but when ' ' . The maidens dared only set down the meats and drinks. : the following Thursday the Mermaid did not appear. Sleepy Tonnis hoped that when alone he might find some means of investigating the mysterious chamber. he lost his head and behaved like one half insane. . lover. on my unhappy. and then depart immediately. We how can the ful happiness six days in the week separation of one day fall so heavily on you that you cannot endure it ?' The six days comforted him as usual. . free from all guilt towards you I am. Although he said nothing to the Mermaid about the doubts that troubled his soul.
and Sleepy Tonnis fell senseless on the ground. waist From her head to her waist she still retained her beautiful woman^s form. worn in the Mermaid's dwelling. found a Httle place at the window through which he could see into the room. What he saw made The mysterious chamber had his heart turn cold. filled high with water. He watched the whole night through the maiden did not appear. you must now return to your former : ! condition. splashing it air. and things were no better and Then. one Thursday. What would he not have given to be able to efface that horrible sight from his mind ? That evening the cock crowed as usual. but the Mermaid came not. man}' feet but was like a great square tub. Sleepy Tonnis drew back stupefied. broad fish's tail she lashed the water. he wore his old A . Unhappy mortal life happy to last time.THE MERMAID 53 Weeks passed. In it swam his beloved Mermaid. for and said in a tearful voice Your folly has brought our To-day you see me for the a close. At daybreak high into the . and provided with fins. she entered. her face covered with a ' silk veil. clad in deep mourning. no floor. Farewell !' sudden crash. and a noise as though the earth were rolling from beneath his feet. Sleepy Tonnis no worse. When he awoke he was lying on the sea-shore close to the rock where he had first seen the MerInstead of the handsome clothes he had maid. but from her downwards she had the form of a fish covered With her with scales. and went away full of trouble.
leaning Then and man came on a staff. of his life as a youth he had entered the Mermaid's dwelling. Proceeding further. seek has slept beneath the his sons earth these thirty years also are dead. the wrinkled cheeks. looked more old and ragged than from his recollection of his fall should have been His happy days were ended. to him. withered form bore no resemblance to the youth the Mermaid had chosen as a bridegroom. Astonished. however bitter. out. the people were all strangers and nowhere did he recognise a familiar face. long gray beard and gray hair. his At the next brook he beheld his own form in the watery mirror. The unfortunate man now first realized that had heard. Moreover. He sought his appeared. Peasant. the man you . here also strangers met him. The greeting old man ' . he asked for his father and but no one could give a feeble old said ' him any information. as a spectrelike old man he returned. he hastened from the door. THE MERMAID which. what to him had seemed two years was . after From whence come you these forgotten ?' ' then. repentance. could restore them. turning his back on the strangers. confirmed what he This yellow. and no the case. and. as though he were some wonderful animal. however. sunken eyes. old man. They also looked curiously at him. he cunie to the first farmhouse But how strange it now of his native village. brothers. There he had felt neither in reality a greater part . to ask terrified Sleepy Tonnis limbs trembled. childhood's home .54 suit.
. and the good folks. From that time the ways of the Mermaid towards men have entirely altered to children she some. gave him food. . washed ashore. him. shuns them like fire. approach her. times appears. but . she never suffers to men. pitying him.THE MERMAID Si the flight of time nor decay of body. Once he met a peasant to whom he the same night he related the history of his life later his dead body was few days A disappeared. but generally in other forms however. What would now become of. a stranger amongst strangers ? For many days he wandered along the shore from one farm to another.
FORTUNE'S EGG. .
The father said have nothing to give you. therefore it did not give the parents much pleasure when in their old Still.' Then find the father thought. — the roadside. Heaven had sent him. Heaven had given them eight children. age a ninth little son was born to them.FORTUNE'S EGG. godparents for him then the priest may do as he will he may baptize him or not no sin will rest on my soul. so they were obliged to put up with him. most whom were already earning their bread amongst strangers. . NCE of upon a time a poor man and his wife dwelt in a large forest. and have according to Christian custom.' As he set out on Sunday he saw a beggar seated by . little brother the few copecks I have in my pocket I must pay (or the I . * who asked for alms. and say that nowhere can . * him baptized But no one would : stand godfather to the infant. for each said When the parents die the child will fall a burden on me. ' I will carry the child to I the church on Sunday.
high-born lady should together stand sponsors to the babe. do ness ? Come and we will stand godfather to afterwards go home and share me a kindmy child whatever my wife has prepared for the christening breakfast. Gracious lady. fee The rich godmother and gave a christening present of three roubles. at which the father was much pleased. carefully wrapped said * in rags. or maiden. Just as they arrived a beautiful coach with four horses drove up. Before leaving in the evening paid the christening he took a small box from his pocket. The poor man ' thought. joyfully granted the father's request. after the The child received the name of Partel. who had never before been asked to stand godfather. . the child was brought to the font the priest and congregation marvelled greatly that a poor beggar and a proud.' and stepping up to the lady said. bowing reverently. whichever you may be. would it be troubling you too much to stand god- The lady consented. and a young and stately lady alighted. saying.' The beggar. mother to child ?' my When. and went with him to the church. " If ever you meet with My christening present it not despise . The beggar returned with him to the breakfast. sermon. but do on that account perhaps when he grows up your son may gain some happiness through it. Will you. .6o child's FORTUNE'S EGG baptism. and is insignificant. gave it to the child's mother. I had a clever aunt who understood all kinds of magic arts before her death she gave me the bird's egg in this little box. ' I will try my luck for the last time. however.
quiet well satisfied with the boy. that in his . this place the boy summer not a day passed without having sat on this stone. I have never met anything unexpected until to-day. In the midst of the pasture stood an old linden-tree. was a and never neglected his employer's business. by the following morning the grass had more the appearance of a lovely meadow than of a pasture. him guard it care- a command that Partel strictly obeyed. who were full of mischief. For the other shepherd boys. in the house was pious. You must give the egg to the child as a although christening present. Partel had no liking. On taking leave of him. and grew up a ten years old joy to his parents. but a well-to-do when he was Everyone he was sent into another village as shepherd boy to farmer. thirst at the ate the bread that Here also he usually was given him every morning. . his mother put his christen- ing present in his pocket. not break. renounce this egg. have lived nearly sixty years. I for fortune's shell is brittle. and immediately I thought.' Little Partel throve wonderfully. for it will then bring great happiness to the person on whom But guard it carefully that it does it is bestowed. and although the flocks grazed there every day. something you could never have anticipated. Wonderful it was that nowhere was the grass so beautiful as between the rock and the brook. for he child. when I was asked to be a godfather." Now. little quenching his brook close by. bidding fully.FORTUNE'S EGG 6i something quite unexpected. beneath which lay a large stone loved so.
But when the spring sunbeams had melted the snow. Partel each other. hastened to the stone beneath the linden-tree. and on awakening sweet songs and music still sounded in his ears. so that he dreamed on with open eyes. Partel fell asleep on the stone. raised its head as though wishing to listen. and all his brothers and it would wind By this sisters lived far away. . however. But the white snake was dearer to him than brother or sister he thought of it by day and dreamed of it by night. For this reason the winter. like fiery sparks. On Sunday evenings in summer. when the other lads jested with the maidens. time Partel had grown to man's estate his parents were dead. seemed to him a very weary time. The old stone was to him as a dear friend from whom he daily parted with a heavy heart. when the ground was frozen and snow covered the land.62 FORTUNE'S EGG Sometimes when the days were sultry. giving him harder work than he was able to perform. without. Then beautiful dreams visited him. When young Partel was fifteen years old the farmer took him as a labourer. beneath which he not unfrequently passed half the night. Partel pensively sought his linden-tree. and to whom he eagerly returned the next morning. and gazed at Partel with its bright eyes that glittered frequently. a milk-white snake crept from beneath the stone. As he sat thus one evening playing on the Jew's-harp. who soon grew so used to him that itself round his knees. so that they rarely heard from . This recurred and now whenever Partel had any spare time he always hastened to his stone to see the beautiful white snake.
becoming ever more confident. and this made his hear'. a small. whilst the others sang. he crept back to the old linden-tree. him from the stone. although his heart drew him another way. at . both young and old. and Partel dared not stay behind. At length. snake crept back to its nest beneath the stone and white snake. Oh. it slipped through his fingers and crept beneath the stone. but to-day it seemed to him as though the snake shed tears. When he reached all had gone to the merry-making. John's fire. went to the St. himself and began as usual to play his Jew's-harp. for here alone As he approached. although Partel continued his playing it did not return. danced. sad. Now no evening passed without his visiting the stone. But in the midst of the gaiety. and the snake. The same moment the fire again shone forth it was . let him stroke it. his heart knew rest. He seated the stone the fire had disappeared. as far as he knew. . taking the instrument from his mouth. soon allowed itself to be stroked but if Pj-rtel wished to hold it. he placed it in his pocket and prepared to . the joy As soon as he began to breathe forth his longings in the notes of the Jew's! harp. nothing less than the sparkling eyes of the beautiful and gazed It crept to his feet. gleamed towards bright fire for. and played merry games. which greatly astonished him. him searchingly. the white snake crept from beneath the stone and played about his feet.FORTUNE'S EGG 63 although as yet no leaves were to be seen on the branches. as though wishing to Midnight was not far distant when the speak. On Midsummer Eve all the villagers.
When And happiness comes. that it fell on his ear like the tones of a return human voice. however.64 FORTUNE'S EGG home . What gives right for me. Bitter tears flowed down his cheeks. he had grown open his eyes. therefore nothing can come them. grasp it well. how then can others know ? Riches and poverty stood together as my sponsors. nothing fear for the morrow. the unfor! From happiness has ever visited me tunate folksunlike other been have I childhood earliest understand nor do I me. and he moaned ' Of what use ? is Fortune's egg to me.' Then such sad deep longing fell on him that his heart threatened to break. and the tone of her voice sounded to the nightingale. understand They do not No them pleasure causes me pain what would make me happy I know not myself. he saw standing beside the linden-tree stone a lovely female form clad in snow-white garments. and looking like an angel just descended from heaven. accustomed to the light.' As he spoke all around grew bright as though both and stone were bathed in sunlight. The maiden spoke. yet he knew not for what he longed. then the leaves of the old linden-tree began to rustle so strangely in the breath of the night wind. repeating again and again the words : ' Fortune's egg has a tender shell. him sweeter than the song of . And a kernel hard is sorrow. So bright was it that for a time Partel was unable to When.
Besides this you possess all that have no hope of deliverance. have never harmed a single creature. and. oh save me from endless captivity. do the daughter of an Eastern King. but this helps me not. and the egg of fortune was your christening present. I can be freed from my lifelong imprisonment. and possessing this rare gift. I Oh. I am .' said she. he . and here I have already passed many Although I hundred years without growing old. dearest youth. your hand also has often stroked me Then there arose within me the hope that tenderly. all fly from my form the moment I appear. I entreat you in the name of all the angels in heaven Thus saying. Save. Partel's heart melted at the sight of her grief. is necessary for my deliverance —a high-born lady and a beggar stood together as your sponsors. embraced his knees and wept bitterly. should you not take pity on me. not refuse my prayer. she fell at his feet. I have countless riches in gold' and treasures. * fear not. !' 5 . but grant the prayer of an unfortunate maiden.FORTUNE'S EGG * 65 Dear youth. Your heart is white and pure as that of a child to whom lying and deceit are as yet unknown. I live in a miserable prison. you would be my deliverer. comes by and grants my prayer. On Midsummer's Eve once in every five and twenty years I am permitted to wander over the earth for one hour in human form if then a youth of pure heart. You alone have not shunned my approach thus I dared to play around your feet. for a magic spell compels me to dwell beneath this stone in the form of a snake.
SHE FELL AT HIS FEET AND WEPT BITTERLY. .
shrink not. his heart grew in the attempt heavier the nearer the sun approached the horizon. and if I then approach you in the form of a snake. 5—2 . otherwise I must continue to sigh beneath this spell for who knows how many hundred years/ With these words she disappeared. and be not afraid. wind myself round your waist like a girdle and kiss you thrice. Partel hastened home and lay down chased rest from his pillow. but what I long for I * I * ! at sunset. and again the know not The maiden replied 'Come hither to-morrow : !' leaves of the old linden-tree sighed forth ' : Fortune's egg has a tender shell. but strange dreams. at times hateful.FORTUNE'S EGG entreated the maiden to rise.' to sleep. and had I ten lives I would sacrifice them willingly to save you A longing I cannot understand leaves me no peace. When happiness comes.' said he. 67 tell and him how he could save her. It is true that on awakening he fearful heed to the . if thereby your deliverance became possible. And a kernel hard is sorrow. and was still resolved to set the Princess free. would without hesitation go through fire and water. And nothing fear for the morrow. nevertheless. grasp it well. even though he should perish yet. paid no further dream. At length he awoke with a loud cry from a dream that the white snake had wound itself round his body and bitten him. at times pleasant.
that he might not tremble with weakness when the snake wound itself round Suddenly. exclaimed Thanks be to Heaven. who has heard my and a thousand. and took the little egg. — — him. Then he stood without trembling. as soon as he opened his eyes. that was no larger than the egg of a hedge-sparrow. and the royal maiden was On awakening freed from her long imprisonment. while the snake kissed him thrice. remembering his body and kissed him. between his fingers. and sighing. looked towards heaven. the Princess. unwrapped it. wound itself round and was just raising its head to kiss him. his from magnificent chamber in a formed of silk cushions. found himself Partel lying on soft swoon. whilst loud thunder made the earth tremble so that Partel fell to the ground as dead. Immediately there followed a noise and a flash as though lightning had struck the stone. entreating courage and strength. and no longer knew what happened to him. when the youth knew not how it happened he placed the egg in the snake's mouth. though with freezing heart. dear youth^ for setting me free Take as your ' prayer ! ! . he took the box from his pocket. who. But in that dread moment the bands of the enchantment were broken.68 FORTUNE'S EGG At the appointed hour he stood beside the stone. The same moment the snow-white snake had crept from beneath the stone. thousand thanks to you. or around his body. his christening present. Beside him knelt glass of a heavenly blue colour.
and everyone went out to search for him. now a godfather. and no human eye has ever again beheld them. Until as becomes the Lord of Fortune's Egg.FORTUNE'S EGG reward with all 69 my its kingdom. nor even the stone moreover. little brook was dried up. the . Their first journey was to the linden-tree that the youth used to visit so constantly. Great was their astonishment when they found neither Partel. . wife. this magnificent royal castle. your of to-day your lot was that better fortune awaits you. if treasures. he lived with his wife in the lap of fortune until his end. Partel's disappearance caused great anxiety.' None can again to describe Partel's joy and happiness old the restless longing that had driven the linden -tree him again and was now stilled. and whither he had been seen going the previous evening. Separated from the world. nor the linden-tree. In the village. me as your henceforth you shall live in happiness. one that From would have been pleasing to your godmother. you will. and. and in the farm where he had served.
.THE NORTHLAND DRAGON.
off the face of the like a snake's. He had moved the body of an ox. a tail ten fathoms long. will rushed into the monster's jaws. The kings of . His body was covered with many coats of scales. he and travelled half a mile at each Fortunately for mankind. N olden times. there Hved a horrible monster that had come from Northland. according to the traditions of our forefathers.THE NORTHLAND DRAGON. moreover. and legs like a frog like a frog. and had no one found a remedy he would gradually have destroyed every living thing from earth. after once settling spring. and of his own free iron. . so nothing could harm him. down in a place he remained there many years. He had already denuded large districts of both man and beast. each stronger than stone or glittered His great eyes day and night like the brightest tapers. and anyone having the misfortune to glance at their splendour was as one bewitched. and did not move on further until he had devastated the surrounding regions.
on which was a secret writing Only telling how the monster might be destroyed. tried. and they knew just as little where to find a magician skilful enough to interpret the writing. but without set on fire the fire doing the least harm to the animal it was intended to destroy. met a celebrated Eastern ' magician. I can help you to do this if you remain with me a few days. of man cannot avail you here. Tradition said no one could overcome the monster v/ithout the aid of King Solomon's signet-ring. I will richly repay your ' : The magician replied The infinitesimal wisdom : * trouble. with the result that at . after several years of travel. gathered by moonlight. but. should my enterprise end happily. and. the magician made a strong drink. r At length a young man. vain. none knew where the ring was now concealed. and said I cannot recompense you at present. Once a forest in He took the way that led towards the East. many had . and of this he gave the young man nine secretly From spoonfuls daily for three days.' nine different kinds of roots. whose heart and head were in the right place. resolved to seek this ring.' The youth joyfully accepted the kindly invitation. God's birds will be your best guides if you will learn their language. and asked his advice.74 THE NORTHLAND DRAGON the neighbouring countries promised enormous rewards to anyone who should destroy the horrible but all their efforts were which the monster dwelt was the forest was burnt down. monster .
He seeks the long-lost ring of King Solomon.' He might To * this the second bird : I know not her present abode.' The other made answer He must seek aid from the Maid of the Infernal Regions. The first bird said I know the visionary beneath the tree. but had companionship wherever he turned. and through this much became clear that human wisdom had been unable to teach him. On a high branch overhead. two birds with gay plumage were conversing. the magician said Should you have the good fortune to discover King Solomon's ring. wearied with travel. for he understood the language of birds. but dwells here to-day. he sat down to rest beneath a tree in the forest. He has wandered about for years without success. for. She alone can put him on the right trackIf she has not the ring herself. as well strive to chain the wind. That is true. Some time. no one now lives who understands it. however. On his leaving.' When he set forth. One evening. beside me. and obtain possession of it. return at once to me. she certainly knows : ' : ' who has it. elapsed ere he heard anything of the ring. as she does every month on the . there to-morrow.THE NORTHLAND DRAGON the end of that time the bird language telligible to * 75 in: was quite him. the youth discovered with surprise he was no longer alone. but three days hence she will come.' The first bird • replied : But how to find the Maid of the Infernal Regions ? She has no permanent abode. that I may decipher the writing.
one bird said To-day we must fly to the spring. Great was the youth's joy when. he saw the bright- coloured companions still sitting with their heads breakfasted. yet fear of oversleeping himself did not suffer him to rest quietly. The youth immediately determined to birds.' However. This morning. therefore. ' or in search of food. either for amuse- ment day. After resting thrice.' The first said The spring is : • not far distant ?' : shall we go and watch her doings ' With all my heart. He then awaited the birds' departure. and at eve retired to rest in the old place. The same occurred the following : The third morning. ing the birds had set forth without him. on looking up into the branches at sunrise. But. nor the wrinkles of age gather on her brow. however. after flying a short distance. that the beauty of youth may never fade from her cheek. at the edge of which they once more settled on the branch of a tall tree. and tucked under their feathers.' replied the other. they again settled on the branch of a tree. they lingered until mid-day. The youth ran swiftly after them. on reaching the . at daybreak. to bathe her face at the spring. and then away towards the south. think- Great. follow the He was too tired to remain awake the whole night.76 THE NORTHLAND DRAGON full night of the moon. flew The youth's heart beat fast through fear he should lose sight of his guides. they seemed to have no desire for travel. was his rejoicing when. but fluttered from one bough to another. the birds reached a small plain. and he often started up.
Without noticing him. and a maiden stepped from out the forest and moved with light.THE NORTHLAND DRAGON He therefore sat 77 spot. the maiden approached the spring. when the youth heard a the first : ' To which We shall see slight noise. Nor the bloom on my cheek grow pale. We the Do you ?' think she will notice the youth beneath the tree His companion replied * : Her eyes never ?' fail to see a young man.' Then she walked nine times round the spring. dipped her face nine times in the water. then.' The evening was past. He could not turn away his eyes from her. swift step to the spring. Will the youth be wise enough not to be entangled by her wiles made answer how they get on together. Never had the youth beheld a lovelier maiden. ' singing each time the following refrain ' : May my maiden beauty ne'er decay. After each time she looked towards the moon.' said one bird. he beheld a spring in the centre of the plain. ' The sun has not yet set. May my happiness never fail !' . on whose branches the birds had perched then he listened attentively. raised her eyes to the moon. and the full moon had risen high above the forest. down to rest beneath the tree . Though the moon herself should pass away. that he might not miss one word * of their conversation. have some time to wait ere the moon rises and maiden comes to the spring. falling on her knees. crying: Radiant and bright as thou now art. so may my beauty bloom everlastingly.
' The maiden. Yet you must tell me truly whence you come. my friend . I resolved to pass the night beneath these trees. The beauteous maid approached and said By rights a heavy punishment should fall on you for watching the Maid of the Infernal Regions and her secret doings in the moonlight but. continued ' : the bird Fear nothing.' The youth replied Forgive me. I have no evil inten- tion towards you. and arrived here accidentally. for with blood you sell your soul. : ' invitation. dearest maiden. It is better to on cushions than on soft cool moss. ' The maid replied Come. and just when her eyes fell on the Immediately she youth seated beneath the tree. who was unacquainted with language.' Go .78 THE NORTHLAND DRAGON Then she dried her face with her long hair. and how you journeyed hither. Then one of the birds said He were a fool not to be delighted with the rest . if unknowingly I have offended you. Arriving hither after long travel. as you are a stranger.' The * birds overhead said .' was turning away : * . : with her but beware of giving blood. pass the * night with us. where until now no mortal man has ever set foot. awaited her arrival. The youth rose and turned her steps thither.' The youth remained a moment undecided he knew not whether to accept or to reject the kindly invitation. I will forgive you.
one of silver. added I own I am. and. when the youth was alone with the regal maiden. After the repast. but remained uncertain whether he had dreamed or whether he had really heard voices calling to him in tones that * made his heart tremble !' ! Give no blood morning the maiden asked if he would The next with her. as you see. I live I possess in abundance. The maiden seated herself on the golden chair. Of what occurred during that clad in red night he could never form any decided opinion. and can do whatever pleases me. Lands and goods Should our thoughts agree. The maiden then showed the youth an apartment where a silken bed with down pillows was prepared.THE NORTHLAND DRAGON The youth went. beautiful garden. no one's sway. Until now it never entered my mind to marry. the other of gold. that gHttered in the moonhght as though formed of gold and silver. we could marry. apartment was a table spread with costly meats by it stood two chairs. Then she departed. In its spacious halls many hundred candles in golden candlesticks shed over all a light like that of day. and bade the youth take the other. young and beautiful. but the moment I saw you other thoughts arose within Give no blood : * me. a pleasant conversation was carried on. until a waiting-maid came to summon them to rest. In a magnificent . but no word was spoken. Maidens in white raiment handed the dishes and bore them away. when he did not not like to remain immediately answer. in 79 Close to the spring was a which stood a magnificent residence. .
'THIS IS MY DEAREST TREASURE.' SHE SAID. .
I pray you. As the youth .' These tender words threatened to confuse the youth's heart birds . he took the delusion for reality. But that our love may be eternal. lies my dearest treasure —a gold cannot be found in the whole world. lay a small gold box.' Wherefore not ?' replied the maid. ' Therefore he replied I cannot at once reply to your kind and gracious proposal. however. you must in return give me three drops of blood from the little iinger of your ring its like left hand.' She then led the youth through her beautiful Dearest maiden. : She showed costly him. silver table. One day on a it ' she led him into a secret chamber.THE NORTHLAND DRAGON in 8i queenly splendour. did not know this. I will give it you as dowry. be not angry that ' ' mansion and showed him all its rich treasures. So far as I am concerned you may think for a few weeks. and it will make you the happiest of men. obtained through magic. Whatever you desire I can provide. a few days for reflection. but fortunately he remembered the her the had called Maid : of the Infernal Regions. These were. and had v^arned him against giving his blood. If you marry me. they were blown But they had no duration together by the winds. where. and grant me. for by the aid of King Solomon's ring the maiden could every day raise up a like dwelling and all its riches. and by the winds they were dispersed. leaving no trace behind. saying Here .' When the youth heard these words a cold shiver 6 .
He did not venture to ask . on the ring finger. The maiden ' replied : Up to the present its living person has been power. and the desire. Besides. he was wise enough not to show his repugnance indeed. nor water. this ring possessed that made no it so valuable. but others see me not. he asked. becomes so strong it can break rocks and hand walls. no one has yet been able to belonged to King it Solomon. But no one has ever been able to discover if the ring was formed by have said. when he might perchance have an opportunity to possess himself of the treasure. the youth's first thought was to gain possession of the ring.' Hearing this. as though accidentally. In olden times heavenly might. immediately I can secure all things I Place the ring on the left thumb. nor fire. what properties thrilled his frame. perform wonders which I can accomplish in no other way. It is believed that an angel gave it to the wise king. left I I hand. which. I place this ring on the I little finger of I my all .82 THE NORTHLAND DRAGON he remembered that his blood was required to purchase his soul. He therefore pretended not to believe what he heard. the wisest of all kings. then like a bird place it can I fly whither will. place the ring on my left middle finger. hoping this would move the maiden to take the ring from its box. for . I put it on the forefinger. can harm me. this ring has I many secret signs. for none can fully decipher able to fathom But with only a half knowledge I its secret signs. or by|human hands. then neither sharp instrument. as decipher. I am invisible to see. Still.
The youth objected but when she persisted. few days later the conversation again turned on the magic ring. opening the casket. but all the time his heart was thinking only of how to obtain possession of the ring. He tried in all ways to strike . then saying. and. if I can do such wonderful things. she placed the out the ring. for sport. what you have told me about your ring is absolutely impossible. the youth asked ' ' : ' On which finger must I place the ring so that no sharp instrument can harm me ?' 6—2 . sparkling jewel on the middle finger of her left hand. As if he had not yet a thorough knowledge of the ring. telling the youth to take a knife and stab her where he would. The maiden took a key from her bosom. but a few moments later stood laughing before him.' ' replaced the key.' Suspecting no deception. later in earnest but it was as though an invisible wall of ice stood between them. He flattered and caressed her tenderly. she gave him the ring. when she hesitated a few moments. the maiden. which the knife could not penetrate. fingers. he joined : A ' . Then immediately she had disappeared. We have not time now.THE NORTHLAND DRAGON her to show it 83 to him. at first playfully. for he could not hurt her. holding the ring between her she placed the ring on her third finger . and the youth said In my opinion. took Then. and was about to unlock the little box. Let me see. in the sport.' pleaded the youth.' The maiden smiled.
. On mous * rock.84 THE NORTHLAND DRAGON The maiden ' replied : middle finger.' While finger. where lay an enorthe left . seize fortune by the horns is but a poor fool who flies awa}' never returns. Then he instructed the youth how to kill the Northland Dragon. Hastening away a few paces. The old man was overand immediately began to interpret the secret writing. is true. and tried to stab him but He next asked how to split stones and rocks. joyed at his success. Now When the thought he was back. and soared as a bird into the air. and friend. ' still jesting. perceiving how she had been deceived. ! youth reflected ' Who knows not how to . She led him into the courtyard. but seven weeks elapsed ere his task was concluded. Come you my You see. the maiden broke into bitter lamentations over her misfortune. he slipped the ring on his ring cried : The maiden you are invisible until you draw off the ring. and strike the stone with your fist.' But this was not the youth's intention. place this ring on your left thumb.' She then took a knife. The youth paused not in his flight until he reached the magician's dwelling. Then. all I told But the youth heeded not. come back.' still maiden saw him in sport.' He did as directed. he placed the ring on the little finger of his left hand. and behold the stone was Then the shattered into a thousand fragments.' said she. ' Now. in vain. fly away she ' called.
now he could fly. spring swiftly from the horse. take care not to lose the ring.' The youth thanked the old man.' Then they parted. and birch-tree. Then the King issued a proclamation that whoever killed this monster should receive not only a large portion of his kingdom. All being successfully accomplished. which. but also his daughter . but the magician replied I have gained so much knowledge of magic through deciphering the secrets on the ring that I require nothing further. : ' / ' . thickness of a large be the centre of the spear must It must be sharpened at both ends. in the centre you must fasten two iron chains ten fathoms long. which you can only The use by placing the ring on your left thumb. and so close that he could come over the border every day. and strike the monster dead.THE NORTHLAND DRAGON * 85 First an iron horse must be made. and fasten the ends of the chains into the earth. with wheels under each foot. armed with a spear two fathoms long. and the youth hastened home. was no longer difficult. After three or four days the Dragon's strength will be so exhausted that you can approach him without fear then place King Solomon's ring on your left thumb. the spear so fast that it pierces his jawbone. You must mount this horse. Shortly after his return he heard that the horrible Northland Dragon was in the neighbourhood. and be sure the jewel is not taken from you through treachery. and strong enough to secure the Directly the monster has bitten terrible monster. and promised to reward him later. that it can be pushed backwards and forwards.
and his heart turned cold. By this time the Dragon was so close that two springs brought him over the border. youth was therefore obliged to take it away alone. and a horrible roar. and push the spear against the ground as though pushing a boat from the shore. whilst the . But a raven croaked Mount the horse. the most skilful workmen were immediately summoned. told that the Northland Dragon had bitten the spear. and not a moment too soon. Being obliged to push the horse from behind. and now travelled quite easily. the heavy iron chains were formed with rings two ells thick. yet he never swerved from his purpose.86 in THE NORTHLAND DRAGON marriage. he could not mount it as the magician had directed. The youth trembled. Presenting himself before the King. But when finished the horse was so heavy The that one hundred men could not move it. The monster opened his enormous jaws to devour his expected prey. then the great spear was cut. and lastly. that was heard miles distant. The youth now considered how best to prepare to meet the monster.' The youth obeyed. the youth saw that one point of the spear projected from the monster's upper jaw. but thrust the spear into the monster's mouth with such force that it went right through his jaws. made. the youth declared he could destroy the Dragon if the King would provide everything necessary thereto. Then he sprang like lightning from his First the iron horse was : ' horse. for the terrible animal closed his jaws immediately. with the aid of the magic ring. The King agreeing. Looking round.
everyone forgot that the corpse of the Dragon remained unburied. lightly acquired never prosper. Great were the rejoicings over the death of the The Princess willingly married the terrible enemy. and flew swiftly towards the East. Lightly come.' and This the youth should have remembered. The Dragon had The youth shattered the iron horse with his teeth. the smell became terrible. and struck the ground his tail that the earth shook for so violently with ten miles round. and at which all the neighbouring kings assembled to thank the man who had delivered the world from its worst enemy. through her magic her lost treasure. and. When his tail could no longer stone that twenty signs of move. with the aid of the ring. she learnt that the . raised a men would have been unable to move. With the help of the ring he changed himself into a bird. and a pestilence broke out that swept away many hundreds.THE NORTHLAND DRAGON 87 other stuck fast in the ground. The animal's death struggles . now fastened the chains to the ground with strong iron pegs. the youth. lasted three days and three nights he roared. Goods unrighteously But the proverb says. victor. When.' Maid of the Infernal Regions ceased not day or ' ' night from trying to discover art. as a natural consequence. and struck the animal on the head until all life had departed. But whilst celebrating the wedding. and a few days later a magnificent wedding was celebrated. which lasted four weeks. The go. The youth therefore determined again to seek the magician's aid.
and the two stood face to face in human 'Now . now you shall receive the punishment your treachery ! deserves. Now the page is turned. She recognised him immediately by the ring that encircled his throat. you stole my ring now you must suffer the punishment.' Saying this. you despised my love secondly. Your sin against me was twofold first. wretch!' cried the ' I took you as my Maid of the Infernal Regions. ' . and circled about in the air until her prey came in sight. Down swooped him the eagle on the unsuspecting bird. form.' entreated the unlucky youth. Then she said scornfully : . tore the ring from his throat with her beak.88 THE NORTHLAND DRAGON youth was journeying in the form of a bird to the magician's dwelHng. you are in my power. : my .' replied the maiden nothing now can help you. and thought as prince to lead a happy life. but I repent with whole heart. Through you I have been deceived and brought to shame. These she fastened round his hands and feet so that he could not escape. took the youth under her arm like a bundle of tow.' ' Forgive. forgive.' 'Your prayers and repentance come too late. * I sinned grievously against you. and seizing with her talons. . she changed herself into an eagle. and carried him away to a rocky cavern. The eagle then descended to earth with her prey. where chains hung from every wall. she placed the ring on her left thumb. You beloved treachery and theft were my reward stole my costly jewel.
nor how he could be delivered. guided by the birds. I must They reached set forth. He is soon found out about the : unfortunate youth. but the magician did not recognise him. and said The man you seek held prisoner by magic art. soon the rocky cavern where the youth had already been imprisoned seven years.' my aid you cannot him. and said that the youth was detained a prisoner in the Eastern land by the power of a mighty spirit. so pale his become. He recognised the magician immediately.THE NORTHLAND DRAGON * 89 Here you shall remain imprisoned until 5'our Each day suflicient food will be brought to death. hope for deliverance The King and his daughter grew very anxious when week after week passed and nothing was heard The Princess constantly dreamed of the youth. The King immediately sent messengers into every known kingdom to seek his beloved son-in-law. and. By good fortune they came to the dwelling of the old magician who had deciphered the writing on King Solomon's * ring. free and without go with you. and she at length asked her father to summon !' magicians from all parts of the world in order to gain tidings of the lost one. but you need never With that she left him. But the magicians could only discover that he still lived. At length a celebrated magician from Finland stood before the King. that her husband was suffering grievous torments. and was enduring grievous torments none could tell where . prevent your dying of hunger. Through and emaciated he had magic the magician loosened . he dwelt.
nor has it since then ever been seen by eye. Thus took him after years of sorrow until his death. which lasted he never again beheld the wonderring.90 THE NORTHLAND DRAGON . the chains. He arrived home the day the old King died. and was at once proclaimed King. human . but ful came years of joy. and freed the unhappy prisoner then he home and tended him until he was strong enough to travel.
TONTLA FOREST. .
others dancing on the One old woman held in her hand a large grass. with which from time to time she scattered the glowing embers over the grass. and he had seen very strange things. gipsies. with whom the grass was alive. a district to the north of the Peipus Lake. Around a bright fire were numbers of women and children. which no man dared Having gone near accidententer. all the children sprang into the air. and there was amongst them an especially large number of old women and half-naked children. some bold folk had stayed to and told how they had seen a ruined house amongst the trees. whence. ally. One dark night also a peasant returning from a feast had strayed somewhat deeper into Tontla Forest. there stood in olden times a beautiful forest called Tontla Forest. At this. and round about it human beings. some seated on the ground. after fluttering like night owls amidst the . as with a swarm of These creatures were sooty and ragged like ants. with spy. loud shrieks. iron ladle. N Allentacken.TONTLA FOREST.
The horrified woodcutter fled from the since then no complace shaking and trembling mand. and no one could ever rightly gather what was true and what was false. the forest was not. and then disappeared within the hut. and all around stretched miles of . but the old man shook them off. could again induce a woodcutter to enter the Forest of Tontla. carrying on his back a sack longer than Women and children rushed tumultuously himself ! towards him. Then from out the forest stepped a Httle old man with a long beard. none ever knew exactly what to More than once the Swedish King had believe. and strove to tear the sack from his back. One bold man struck his axe into a few of the trees. At the same time a large black cat. Strange it is. and cries of sorrow resounded on all sides. fiery eyes. however stringent. that had been sitting on the threshold. Large . It also seemed very wonderful that there was neither a path leading out of the forest. which would surely have marked the existence of human habitations. they descended again to earth. but immediately blood flowed forth. as from human beings in torment. But as by this time the peasant's head began to burn. sprang on the old man's sack.94 rising TONTLA FOREST smoke. however great. with glowing. and the objects danced before his eyes. nor a path leading in. issued orders for this fearful forest to be felled. that although from generation to generation weird tales were circulated concerning Tontla Forest. but no one ever dared obey the command. his story remained uncertain. no reward. and that throughout the whole year no smoke was seen to rise.
A few miles from Tontla Forest was a large village. where beautiful strawberries grew so thickly that the grass was quite red with them. unless. In it dwelt a peasant. who. and many and bitter were the tears she shed. On Sunday she went with the other village children to gather strawberries. had married again a young woman. beings little we guide the carriage of this narrative a and bring it out in the next village. and the wicked stepmother made this poor child's life a perfect misery to her. For more than two years Elspeth bore this hard life. thoughtful little maiden. Rambling about further after the manner it of children. human beings ever dwelt there. The peasant's daughter by his first wife. 95 full view of it on indeed. so that there was no end to the scolding and wrangling. as the woman ruled the house. and. the child could obtain no help from her father. so that one had a every side. is latter method if the more probable. was a clever. like the witches. they noticing to the came without edge of Tontla Forest. as often happens. and. she thumped and cuffed her from morning till night. Suddenly one of the older boys. a widower. they rode through the air by night when all around were According to the stories told.TONTLA FOREST open country. gave her worse food than the dogs. had brought a veritable firebrand into his house. If. they must have gone in and out by some subterranean passage. the Perhaps we may gain further information concerning these marvellous wrapt in slumber. cried : . recognising the place. having had the misfortune to lose his first wife. little seven-year-old Elspeth.
but could not make up her mind to part from the patch of fruit. and. she thought. ' The worse than my turning to Elspeth. who had gone somewhat their heels. the pretty little stranger seized Elspeth by the hand. and led her further into the forest. as jumping up at Elspeth. She imagined herself Before her lay a garden lilled with cherry-trees and strawberry plants. and go every day to gather berries my mother I am sure will consent Come.' if I ask her. said ' : away with the Stay here and be my companion. let us go to her at once. I am so glad you did not run other children. heard the boy's cry. . The little black dog now barked with pleasure. the children immediately took to flight as though the Tontla demons were already close to Elspeth. On the branches of the trees sat birds with plumage gayer than the most brilliant butterfly.96 ' TONTLA FOREST Fly.' Presently a little black dog with a silver bell round his neck came barking towards her. and had found some very beautiful berries beneath the trees. licked her hand though she were an old acquaintance. Moreover. then we will play beautiful games. further into the forest than the others. fly ! we are in Tontla Forest !' These words were more terrible than even thunder and lightning. inhabitants of Tontla cannot be stepmother at home. At this sound a pretty silk dress hastened little maiden in a beautiful forward. So saying. and then.. ordering the dog to be quiet. what wonders astonished eyes ! now arose before Elspeth's in heaven. whilst some were covered with gold and . Ah.
only glanced found her alone to be in the forest. whilst amidst a torrent of was. said What I my child ?' The ' little one replied : and brought her companion. will you not. In centre of the hands at their garden stood a house built entirely of glass and precious stones. it is true. because I did not return with the other children. Nothing I do pleases her. and falling at her feet.TONTLA FOREST silver let 97 feathers. asked kindly where her home and whether she For answer. On ' a bench before the door was a lady guest do you bring here. would like to remain with them. I will do anything. who. Then bidding her still step nearer. tears she said ' : mother has long rested beneath the grass. and obey you in all things. so that the walls and roof glittered like the sun. embraced her knees. And the the birds were not shy. Elspeth kissed the lady's hand. home my keenly at Elspeth. in beautiful : garments. You will allow her to remain. dearest mother ?' The lady smiled.* ! The ' lady smiled and said will see : We what can be done. and beats me mercilessly every day. as they approached. she stroked her cheeks. I My entreat you. or give me an}' other work. only do not send me back to my cruel stepmother She will beat me until I am half dead. but what help is that to me ? My stepmother hates me. let me remain with you.' 7 . My father. still lives. but the children take them in their pleasure. gracious lady dressed in gold. if her parents lived. but made no reply. Set me to tend the flocks.
said ' : My while she considers further about you. In and . disappeared. mother. . mussel-shell then became a pretty boat in which a dozen children or even more could easily have found room the fish-bones changed to oars. a mussel-shell. hard land remained. I am sure by her look that she will grant our request when she has considered the matter a little more closely. as though the earth had swallowed them. taking the cover off her box. and so far as the eye could feet.' Then bidding Elspeth wait. What see it. The little maiden placed the mussel-shell on the water and took the fish bones in her hands. Be comforted my mother is kind. The children seated themselves in the boat. two fish-bones. one small spot of dry.' replied the heard of ' it. will stay .98 TONTLA FOREST Then rising from her seat she went into the But her daughter said house. Elspeth The . is the sea at ? I have never even too.' You it shall and once little lady. mother wishes us to play together to-day I hope you I should not like to part with you. she ran after her And trembling between hope and fear. ?' Have you ever seen the sea ' The sea ?' said Elspeth opening her eyes wide in ' astonishment. On the leaf glistened two dewdrops these the child shook on to the grass. see only water was visible. and : * . and whatever had been there formerly. Elspeth awaited the daughter's return. lay a leaf of alchemilla. Beneath their however. The child soon returned carrying a little box.
dressed as ment were seated four-and-twenty wedding. On the table were thirteen dishes with gold and silver covers one dish. close to the beautiful house the water . and leaf were tofore. Elspeth ate of the costly viands. and all Round for a a large dining-table in a spacious apartladies. taking care that a few drops remained hanging to it immediately they were in the centre of the garden. had disappeared. but one word. At the head of the table Kiisike's mother sat on a golden chair. During the repast there was much soft talking. come home . remained undisturbed. replaced in the box. but in a language Elspeth . . On her meaning. fish-bones.' After they had rowed about for some time.' Kiisike took the leaf out of the box and dipped it in the water. the other child laughing.' said the little maid. which were nicer than any cakes she had ever tasted.' asking ' was repeated again and again. and was taken away as it was brought on without anyone having removed the cover. 99 boats approached ' filled with people Gradually other who sang and were merry. 7—2 . She could not understand what was sung. the child replied That is my name. however. Elspeth knew not whither to turn her eyes so as best to behold all the splendour that shone before her. Elspeth did not understand singing. it is evening. and the children went indoors. We must answer their song. and began to sing sweetly. a voice its : called ' Children.TONTLA FOREST timidly. ' Kiisike. was dry and firm as hereThe mussel-shell.
said you are tractable and obedient. the lady turned and spoke a few words to a maid standing the maiden hurried from the behind her chair returned with a little old man. and able to take care of yourself. man bowed and remained standing in the doorway. and you also expressed a desire to stay. . The ' lady raised her from the ground. Is this still 3'our wish ?' Elspeth fell on her knees. and stroking her hair and tear-stained cheeks. I her. all will go I will care for you. soon but room. Form an old imitation of her for me wish to adopt to send into the village to-morrow to take her place. and kissed the lady's hands and feet in her delight at this merciful deliverance from the clutches of her wicked stepmother. My maidens who instruct Kiisike will help you to acquire knowledge.' After a time the old man returned.' The man looked keenly at Elspeth. The meal ended. The lady turned towards him. and said Kiisike has begged me to let you remain here.loo TONTLA FOREST could net understand. The kindly ' lady : now called Elspeth to her. as though taking her measure. and teach you all kinds of handiwork. said ' : Look at that peasant maiden . and see you receive all necessary instruction until you are grown up. The old whose beard was longer than himself. then he bowed to the lady and withdrew. having a pail If well with you . . and pointing to Elspeth.
a yard and made it creep through the hole. and a small covered left hand. took He next made a hole in the doll's from the basket a black snake. ' peasant child's blood. After this they all retired to rest. who drove laid into the doll's heart. Then he the clay figure into the basket to grow. lady had examined the doll. The snake hissed and lashed its tail. pricked it. but it was compelled to obey.I02 filled TONTLA FOREST with clay on his shoulder. Elspeth's arm with it and handed it to the old man. told Elspeth to Presently a servant entered. helped her to wash and comb her hair. he took a lump of clay and fashioned it into a doll. Placing these on the ground. as though striving When the to resist. my child!' said she.' With this she took a small gold needle. Elspeth was led to a room where a soft bed had been prepared for her. that basket in his was hollow. and a piece of bread. On awaking the next morning she noticed with astonishment and delight rich clothes lying on the chair beside her bed. we do not wish your blood for anything bad. and then don the beautiful garments. the old man said Nothing now is wanting save a drop of this long. but only for your future happiness. 'Fear not. he placed three pickled anchovies.' On terror. and promised to show it to the lady on the following morning. Nothing gave the child so much pleasure as the . breast. hearing these words Elspeth turned pale with * But the lady comforted her. In the body. with the form of a human being.
the stony-hearted doll can feel no pain but. In the courtyard. 103 Until now she had alwa3^s gone barefoot.TONTLA FOREST shoes.' From that day Elspeth lived as happy a life as She knew neither care nor child could lead. shoes. sorrow learning became easier to her each day. . she more lovely In her delight at paid no heed to the other articles of most beautiful. wherefore ? night Her clothes had really been put on the doll that was to personate her in the village. We shall send it to your stepmother in your stead. The poor vious day. the more wonderful it all appeared. It could not be brought about by natural means an unknown. there will come a day when your substitute will award her the punishment she deserves. of this new life. it walked about exact image of Elspeth clothing. ' was much terrified when she saw : the doll that looked just as she had done the pre- Noticing her terror. — . stood a block of granite. . and by morning had become an moreover. Her own clothes had been removed during the That she would learn later. She may beat it as much as she likes. everything was just like a human child being. Do not my child . In Elspeth's opinion a king's daughter could not have possessed these. and her former hard life in the village seemed only as an But the deeper she experienced the joy evil dream. although . When meal times arrived. that clay doll can do 3'ou no harm. unless the wicked woman alters her behaviour. inexplicable power must govern here. about twenty paces from the house. . the lady said fear. This doll had grown in the night.
and this table ran of itself into the house. He took the dish in his hands and the cat in his arms. placing the cock on his shoulder. a great black cat ran after the dish. When the meal was ended. covered table. came out from the rock and flew like the wind In like manner came flasks Everything mead. after the table . one after the other all to the dining-table. enormous mass of granite a large golden cock sprang forth. and stood on the summit of the rock. apples and strawberries. nothing was ever eaten. by the way. the cock crowed a second time. the old man went a second time to the rock and struck it with his silver wand the golden cock crowed. food and drinks. out of which. so that none needed to lift or of to carry.I04 TONTLA FOREST the old man with the long beard approached the rock. came and ran then the dishes. chairs When forth. struck the block thrice. with the various meats. he disappeared with them beneath the granite rock. as though borne on the wings of the wind. First came a long. . and immediately . As often as the bird crowed and flapped his wings. then. But whenever the thirteenth dish made its appearance. drawing a small silver rod from his Then from the bosom. on which there were as many plates as there were persons to eat. something came out of the block. dishes. chairs and table — all dis- appeared within the rock from whence they had come. but all And not only the household necessaries. and both cat and dish remained on the block beside the cock until the old man bore them away. and. seemed to be alive. plates. flasks.
in their here would cease. and had learned much that in her village home she would not have known all her life long. day Elspeth and Kiisike received instruction Every in read- . and that always language that Elspeth could not under- was much talking and singing when Kiisike's mother walked with her maidens through Gradually Elspeth the rooms or in the grounds. Although in a strange at table little was said. on the contrary. have told her mother of the question. for a few days later lad}^ called Elspeth. life We may not touch them. in the outer mankind covetousness. dear child. 105 came from this wonderful stone at the crowing of the cock. eat of the thirteenth Do not trouble your heart with useless inquiries. since none ate of it. leaving nothing for which to thank the Heavenly Dispenser of Blessings. but Kiisike could not enlighten her. to You wish dish. know why we never is See. however. remained ever the same little child as she was on To She had grown the day she first met Elspeth in the forest. learned to understand the language of her comstand. that the dish of hidden blessings. else our happy It would be much better for world if they did not. snatch all gifts for themselves. Covetousness in mankind is a great fault' Elspeth in her happiness the years flew fast. but many years passed ere she could accustom her tongue to form the strange sounds. yet there panions. Kiisike. the ' She must. Once she asked Kiisike why the thirteenth dish came daily to table.TONTLA FOREST and even clothes. and spoke to her earnestly. to maidenhood.
for. learnt everything but Kiisike preferred childish games to useful occupations. Ofttimes she would say to Elspeth For shame. throwing herself sobbing at feet. Elspeth. kinds of fine needlework. and . The maiden wondered at the summons. writing. Elspeth eagerly.' Elspeth begged piteously : Dearest. when one evening the lady called Elspeth into her sleeping chamber.' she began. Her heart beat wildly. the time has come when we must part. she : ' . she had never been allowed to enter it. and no one thought her wrong in this. ' until No.' Nine years had passed thus. do not thrust me from you !' the lady's : But the lady answered soothingly Peace. my child You do not understand. and I dare no longer keep you here. Having once so kindly received me. where ' ! much happiness ' awaits you. As she crossed the threshold. What I do is done for j^our happiness. dearest lady. seize her little basket and run into the open air to play on the sea. that can never be death comes to claim one of us. You must go once more amongst mankind. she noticed that the lady's cheeks were flushed and her eyes full of tears. longer play with me. which she hastily brushed aside as though not wishing them to be seen.' ' ' ' Part !' cried Elspeth. If the whim would throw aside her work. to grow so big you can no seized her. dearest lady. Dear foster-child.io6 TONTLA FOREST and all ing. cast me live not away ! I desire no other happiness than to with you. until now. You are grown up now.
repairing to the village. dear child. but we are not human as you are.' replied the not understand that I am lady. you cancompelled to do this for your happiness. or with me as you please.TONTLA FOREST Make with you to die. to you. But it must be as I say. or how much it grieves me to part with you. all the stepmother's cruelty and That a wicked woman does not become better as she grows older is well known. human child. me — my ' had been better to have left me in the village with cruel stepmother than to have kept me for so into misery. but it must be. I. do forth into the pitiless world. and with him will less night. It will not be easy to me to part from you. where the clay doll lived in her stead. take a glance at her father's house. give me any other work but do not send It 107 me one of your maids. your years in time will come to an end. incomprehensible nature.' * many years to drive me forth again Be still. human forms. until You will shortly find a live in happiness your days draw to a close. but the . therefore it is you can no longer remain here.' Saying this. therefore you must submit quietly. You are a mortal. the object of hate. and those who surround me. she drew her golden comb through Elspeth's hair and sent her to bed. it is true. have. But where on this sad night could poor Elspeth hope to find sleep ? Her future life rose before her like a dark and star- fond husband. The stepmother tormented the doll day and night. We are creatures of a higher and. We will now leave Elspeth to indulge her grief. and.
no one heeded it. than usual. after having she beaten the child to kill more her. child. but his wife fering. and bemoaned the . The neighbours said that about dinner-time they had heard a great noise in the house. but the child was nowhere to be found. The tired husband went to his chamber to rest. but the daughter had not been seen. threatened Raging. The next morning he was found dead in his bed. and tried to strangle her. and stung the stepmother's tongue. and herbs and salt cooked for those who were to watch the dead. A few days later husband and wife were laid in the same grave. In the afternoon all had been quiet. On the table lay three pickled anchovies . His cries brought in the villagers. so that she fell back dead. The body of the dead woman was then washed and clothed. but as this was of almost daily occurrence. he ate them. Immediately a black snake came hissing out of the child's mouth. only beat him cruelly for inter- One cruelly day.io8 TONTLA FOREST no pain heeded it Once her husband tried to help the poor felt hard creature whose body not. and could do no further harm. The peasants never heard anything of the daughter who had so strangely disappeared. sincerely thankful that he was at length rid of this firebrand. she seized the doll with both hands round the throat. but and a piece of bread wept without ceasing. Poor Elspeth did not close her eyes the whole night. and then lay down to sleep. When the husband returned home in the evening he found his wife lying dead on the floor.
It happened one day that she soared across a lonely forest where hunting dogs barked at her. sprang from his horse. but these. . and she fell to the ground. where she lay senseless through fright. lay behind her like a dream. Then a noble young prince rode up. ring 109 cruel fate that compelled her to part from all those on her finger. and feathers covered her body. change to a bird her arms became wings. old man softly touched her head thrice Immediately she felt herself with his silver wand. just like an eagle hatched from an egg. to Then she summoned Elspeth. Then she rose into the air. her legs eagle's feet with long talons. when the Elspeth was about to thank her kind benefactress. have dreamt of you every night half a year. resting at times when her wings were tired. In the morning the lady placed a signet and hung a small gold box round the old man. How she came thither. and soared away amid the clouds. When she awoke from her swoon and looked around. and all the strange things that had happened. and. having no wings. kindly offering her his hand. for I rode forth this morning. her nose changed to a crooked beak. said ' In a happy hour I Dearest maiden.TONTLA FOREST she loved. and also that I should find you in . She flew southwards many days. she was lying beneath a thicket in human form. but never feeling hungry. pointed the leave her neck. could not harm the bird. Suddenly a sharp arrow pierced her feathers. and took of maiden with sorrowful mien.
on the wedding morning fifty Elspeth's kind foster-mother sent her After the old king's death Elspeth became queen. and found and rode instead of an eagle — 3'ou. But since then no one has seen or heard anything of the Tontla Forest. I I vain a hundred my I have passed this way in longing and my hope never failed.no this forest . his horse. later a magnificent cart-loads wedding was celebrated of costly presents. my beloved Then he helped Elspeth on her with joy. . where the old king received A few days . and in her old age related the history of her youth. To-day shot a large eagle — it m.ust have fallen about here. TONTLA FOREST but although times. came to seek !' it. with her to the town.
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