Finnish Legends for English Children | Annotated Tale

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Kyllikki's Broken Vow

LEMMINKAINEN and Kyllikki lived together happily for many years, keeping the promises they had made to each other. But one day Lemminkainen had not come home from fishing by sunset, and then the longing to dance was more than Kyllikki could withstand, and she went into the village and joined the maidens in their dance.

               As soon as Lemminkainen came home, his sister Ainikki came to him and told him how Kyllikki had broken her promise and had joined in the dance. Then Lemminkainen grew angry and sad at the same time, and he went to his mother and asked her to steep his clothing in the blood of serpents, for he was going off to battle since Kyllikki could not keep her vow.

               Kyllikki tried to persuade him not to leave her, telling him that she had dreamt a dream, in which she saw their home in flames and the fire bursting out through the doors and windows and roof. But Lemminkainen replied: 'I have no faith in women's dreams or maidens' vows. Bring me my copper armour, mother, for I long to get to the wars, to go to dismal Pohjola, there to win great stores of gold and silver.'

               'Stay at home, my dear son,' his aged mother said, 'and drink the beer in our cellars, sitting peaceably by thine own hearth, for we have more than enough gold and silver. Only the other day, as our servants were ploughing the fields they came upon a chest of gold and silver buried in the ground--take this and be content.'

               When all this had no effect upon Lemminkainen, his mother began to tell him of the magic of the Northland people, and that they would sing him into the fire so that he would be burnt to death. But he replied: 'Long ago three Lapland wizards tried to bewitch me, and employed their strongest spells against me, but I stood unmoved. Then I began my own magic songs, and before long I overcame them and sank them to the bottom of the sea, where they are still sleeping and the seaweed is growing through their hair and beards.'

               Still his mother tried to stop him, and his wife Kyllikki begged his forgiveness in tears. He stood listening to them and brushing out his long black hair, but at last he became impatient, and threw the brush from him and cried out: 'I will not stay, but keep that brush, and when ye see blood oozing from its bristles, then ye may know that some terrible misfortune has overtaken me.'

               Saying this he left them and put on his armour and harnessed his steed into his sledge. Then he sang a song, calling on all the spirits of the woods and the mountains and the waters and on great Ukko himself to help him against the Northland wizards, and when his song was ended he drove off like the wind.

               In the evening of the third day he reached a little village in the Northland. Here he drove into a courtyard and called out: 'Is there any one strong enough to attend to my horse and take care of my sledge.' There was a child playing on the floor of the house, and it replied that there was no one there to do it. Then Lemminkainen rode on to another house and asked the same question; and a man standing in the doorway replied: 'There are plenty here that are mighty enough not only to unharness thy steed, but to conquer thee and drive thee to thy home ere the sun has set.'

               Then Lemminkainen told him that he would return and slay him, and so drove off to the highest house in the village. Here he cast a spell over the watch-dog, so that he should not bark, and drove in. Then he struck on the ground with his whip, and from the ground there arose a vapour that concealed the sledge, and in the vapour was a dwarf that took his steed and unharnessed it and gave it food. But Lemminkainen went on into the house, having first made himself invisible. There he found a great many people singing and making merry, and by the fires the Northland wizards were seated. He made his way on, and then took on his own shape again and entered into the main hall, and cried out to those that were singing to be silent.

               As soon as she saw him the mistress of the house ran up to him and asked him who he was, and how he had passed the watch-dog unnoticed. Then Lemminkainen told her who he was, and instantly began to weave his magic spells, while the lightning shot from his fur mantle and flames from his eyes. He sang them all under the power of his magic--some beneath the waters, some into the burning fire, some beneath the heaped-up mountains. Only one poor old man, who was blind and lame, did he leave untouched. And when the old man asked him why it was that he had alone been left, cruel Lemminkainen began to abuse him and to torment him with words, until the old man, Nasshut, grew almost wild with anger, and hobbled away, swearing to have vengeance. Nasshut journeyed on and on, and at last arrived at the river Tuoni, which separates the land of the dead from the land of the living. There he waited until Lemminkainen should come, for he knew, by his wizard's skill, that he would come thither soon.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Kyllikki's Broken Vow
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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