Finnish Legends for English Children | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in July 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.

Rival Suitors, The

NOW the Rainbow-maiden was really the same as old Louhi's fairest daughter, whom Wainamoinen had wooed, and for whom Ilmarinen had made the magic Sampo, and Wainamoinen had learned this. So when the magic boat was finished, he made ready for a journey to the Northland, to try once more to win the fair Pohjola maiden for his bride.

               He ornamented the magic vessel with gold and silver, and painted it scarlet, and on the masts he set sails of linen, red, white, and blue. Then he stepped on board, and called on Ukko to protect and help him, and on the winds to aid him on his way, and off the magic boat flew towards Pohjola, never needing an oar to help it.

               Annikki, Ilmarinen's sister, was down by the seashore just at dawn that morning, and as she gazed out over the sea, she saw a blue speck in the distance. At first she thought it was a flock of birds, and then as it drew nearer it looked like a great tree floating on the water, but at last she saw that it was a vessel with but one man in it, and when it came still nearer she recognised Wainamoinen.

               She called out to him and asked him whither he was going. He replied that he was come a-fishing, but Annikki said: 'Thy boat is not rigged like a fisher-boat, nor hast thou lines or nets with thee. Tell me the truth, O Wainamoinen!' And he answered the second time, that he had come to kill wild geese and ducks. But Annikki told him that she knew that was untrue, for he had no hunting dogs in the vessel with him, nor any weapons. Then he told her that he was sailing to the wars. Annikki replied: 'My father often used to sail to war, but in a ship with many rowers, and with many armed heroes on board, but thy vessel is surely not fitted for battle. Now tell me the truth, O wise Wainamoinen, or else I will send a storm-wind after thee and break thy ship in pieces.'

               Then he told her the truth, that he was going to woo the Rainbow-maiden, Louhi's daughter, and then Annikki knew that he spoke the truth. She hurried off to her brother's smithy and said to him: 'Dearest brother, if thou wilt forge for me a silver loom and gold and silver finger-rings and earrings, golden girdles and golden ornaments for my hair, I will tell thee something that is very important for thee to know.'

               So Ilmarinen promised, and his sister said: 'O Ilmarinen, if thou hopest ever to wed the fair maid of Pohjola, thou must hasten and make thy sledge ready, for Wainamoinen is now sailing thither in a magic boat to win her before thee.' Then Ilmarinen bade his sister prepare a magic soap and make a bath ready for him while he was forging the gold and silver ornaments that she had bargained for.

               When Ilmarinen had finished his work he found the bath and the magic soap all ready for him, and he began to wash off the grime and dirt and soot of the smithy. When he was through, and came out of the bath, he had grown wonderfully bright and handsome, for the magic soap had made his cheeks rosy and his eyes bright as moonlight. Then he put on his finest garments, soft linen, and silken stockings, a blue vest and scarlet trousers, and a fur coat of sealskin, held by buttons made of jewels, and a belt with golden buckles. After he was dressed he ordered his magic sledge to be harnessed, and on the front placed six cuckoos and seven blue-birds that they might sing and charm the Northland maiden.

               When all was ready Ilmarinen prayed to great Ukko to send snow that it might cover all the country and let his sledge glide easily to Pohjola. And the snow came, and Ilmarinen wrapped himself up warmly in bear-skins, and drove off like the wind, first invoking Ukko's blessing on his journey. On he went, over hill and dale, with the cuckoos and blue-birds singing on the sledge, and then he drove along the seashore to the north in a cloud of snow and sand and mist and sea-foam, looking out for Wainamoinen's vessel. On the evening of the third day he caught up with Wainamoinen, and called out to him: 'O ancient Wainamoinen, let us woo the maiden peacefully, and let her choose which one of us she will.' To this Wainamoinen agreed; and having promised not to use deceit of any sort against one another, they hurried on their way,--Wainamoinen calling up the south wind to help him, and Ilmarinen's steed shaking the hills of Northland as he galloped on.

               Soon they drew near to Louhi's dwelling, and the watchdogs began to bark more loudly than they had ever done before. Louhi's husband told his daughter to go and see what the trouble was, but she replied that she was busy grinding barley, and could not go. Then he told his wife to go, but she was too busy cooking dinner. So the father grew angry, and said: 'Women are always busy either baking or sleeping; go, my son, and learn what all the trouble is.' But the son refused, because he was busy splitting wood.

               So at last Louhi's husband was obliged to go himself, for the dogs kept barking louder and louder. There, as soon as he had reached the gate, he saw a scarlet-coloured ship sailing into the bay, and a sledge driving up along the shore at full speed. Then he hastened back into the house, and told them all that he had seen. And Louhi took a branch and gave it to her daughter, saying: 'Place this on the fire, my daughter, and if in burning it drips blood, then these strangers bring war and bloodshed; but if clear water, then they come in peace.'

               So the maiden put the branch on the fire, and as they watched it they saw honey trickling out, and from this Louhi knew that the two men were coming as suitors. Then they hastened out into the courtyard, and saw the vessel in the harbour, painted scarlet, and an ancient white-bearded magician at the helm; and on the land they saw a brightly-coloured sledge, with cuckoos and bluebirds singing on the front, and driven by a young and handsome hero.

               Louhi immediately recognised them both, and said to her daughter: 'Wilt thou have one of these suitors, dearest daughter? He that comes in the ship is good old Wainamoinen, bringing countless treasures for thee from Kalevala. The other in the sledge, with the singing birds, is the blacksmith Ilmarinen, who brings no presents save himself. When they come into the house bring a pitcher of honey-drink, and give it to the one that thou wilt follow. Give it to old Wainamoinen, for he brings thee countless treasures.'

               But the daughter replied: 'I will never marry a man for riches, but for his real worth. Mothers did not use to sell their daughters thus in the olden times to suitors whom they did not love. I shall choose Ilmarinen for his true worth and wisdom.'

               Old Louhi grew angry at this, and tried to change her daughter's mind, but all she could say did not move her; and just then Wainamoinen came to the house, and addressed the maiden thus: 'Come with me, O lovely maiden, be my bride and honoured wife, and share my joys and sorrows with me.'

               The maiden answered: 'Hast thou built the magic vessel, using neither hand nor foot to touch it?'

               'I have built it, and brought it hither,' answered Wainamoinen. 'It is finely made by magic, and will live in the worst of storms; nothing can ever sink it.'

               But then the maiden said to him: 'I will not wed a husband born in the sea. Storms would bring us trouble, and the winds rack our hearts. I cannot go with thee, cannot marry thee, O Wainamoinen.'

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Rival Suitors, The
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

Back to Top