Finnish Legends for English Children | Annotated Tale

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Wainamoinen's Rescue

BUT Wainamoinen was not dead, but swam on for eight days and seven nights trying to reach land. And when the evening of the eighth day came and still no land was in sight, he began to grow tired and to despair of ever getting out alive.

               But just then he spied an eagle of wonderful size flying towards him from the west. And the eagle flew up to him and asked who he was and how he had come there in the ocean.

               And Wainamoinen replied: 'I am Wainamoinen, the great singer and magician. I had left my home for the distant Northland, and as I galloped over the ocean and neared the shore, the wicked Youkahainen killed my steed with his magic arrows, and I was cast headlong into the waters. And then a mighty wind arose and drove me farther and ever farther out to sea, and now I have been struggling with the winds and waves for eight long weary days, and I fear that I shall perish of cold and hunger before I reach any land.'

               The eagle replied: 'Do not be discouraged, but seat thyself upon my back and I will carry thee to land, for I have not forgotten the day when thou left the birch-trees standing for the birds to sing in and the eagle to rest on.'

               So Wainamoinen climbed upon the eagle's broad back and seated himself securely there, and off the eagle flew, straight to the nearest land. There on the shore of the dismal Northland the eagle left him, and flew off to join his mate.

               Wainamoinen found himself upon a bare, rocky point of land, without a trace of human life about it, nor any path through the woods by which it was surrounded. And he wept bitterly, for he was far from home, covered with wounds from his battle with the winds and waters, and faint with hunger: three days and three nights he wept without ceasing.

               Now the fair and lovely daughter of old Louhi had laid a wager with the Sun, that she would rise before him the next morning. And so she did, and had time to shear six lambs before the Sun had left his couch beneath the ocean. And after this she swept up the floor of the stable with a birch broom, and collecting the sweepings on a copper shovel, she carried them to the meadow near the seashore. There she heard the sound of some one weeping, and hastening back she told her mother of it.

               Then Louhi, ancient mistress of the Northland, hurried out from her house and down to the seashore. There she heard the sound of weeping, and quickly pushed off from the shore in a boat and rowed to where the weeping Wainamoinen sat.

               When she came to him she said to him: 'What folly hast thou done to be in so sad a state?'

               Wainamoinen replied: 'It is indeed folly that has brought me into this trouble. I was happy enough at home before I went on this expedition.'

               Then Louhi asked him to tell her who he was of all the great heroes.

               Wainamoinen replied: 'Formerly I was honoured as a great singer and magician: I was called the "Singer of Kalevala," the wise Wainamoinen.'

               Then Louhi said: 'Rise, O hero, from thy lowly couch among the willows, come with me to my home and there tell me the story of thy adventures.' So she took the starving hero into her boat and rowed him to the shore, and took him to her house. There she gave him food, and the warmth and rest and shelter soon restored to him all his strength. Then Louhi asked him to relate his adventures, and he told her all that had happened to him.

               When he had finished Louhi said to him: 'Weep no more, Wainamoinen, for thou shalt be welcome in our homes, thou shalt live with us and eat our salmon and other fish.'

               Wainamoinen thanked her for her kindness, but added: 'One's own country and table and home are the best and dearest. May the great god, Ukko, the Creator, grant that I may once more reach my dear home and country. It is better to drink clear water from a birchen cup in one's own home, than in foreign lands to drink the richest liquors from the golden beakers of strangers.'

               Then Louhi asked him: 'What reward wilt thou give me, if I carry thee back to thy beloved home, to the plains of Kalevala?'

               Wainamoinen asked her what reward she would consider sufficient, whether gold or silver treasures, but Louhi answered: 'I ask not for gold or silver, O wise Wainamoinen, but canst thou forge for me the magic Sampo, with its lid of many colours, the magic mill that grinds out flour on one side, and salt from another side, and turns out money from the third? I will give thee, too, my daughter, as a reward, to be thy wife and to care for thy home.'

               But Wainamoinen answered sadly: 'I cannot forge for thee the magic Sampo, but take me to my country and I will send thee Ilmarinen, who will make it for thee, and wed thy lovely daughter. Ilmarinen is a wondrous smith; he it was who forged the heavens, and so perfectly did he do it that we cannot see a single mark of the hammer on them.'

               Louhi replied: 'Only to him who can forge the magic Sampo for me will I give my daughter.' Then she harnessed up her sledge and put Wainamoinen in it and made him all ready for his journey home. And as he started off she spoke these words to him: 'Do not raise thy eyes to the heavens, do not look upward while the day lasts, before the evening star has risen, or a terrible misfortune will happen to you.'

               Then Wainamoinen drove off, and his heart grew light as he left the dismal Northland behind him on his way to Kalevala.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Wainamoinen's Rescue
Tale Author/Editor: Eivind, R.
Book Title: Finnish Legends for English Children
Book Author/Editor: Eivind, R.
Publisher: T. Fisher Unwin
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1893
Country of Origin: Finland
Classification: unclassified

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