Finnish Legends for English Children | Annotated Tale

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Frost-Fiend, The

WHEN the next day began to dawn, Lemminkainen went to the beach, that was hidden behind a projecting point, where his vessels lay. He found them still there, but as he approached he heard the rigging wailing in the wind, and saying: 'Must we lie here for ever and rot, since Ahti has sworn not to go to war for sixty long years?'

               Then Lemminkainen cried out to his vessels: 'Mourn no more, my good warships, for soon ye shall be filled with warriors and hastening to the battle.' When he had uttered these words he hurried back to his mother and bade her sorrow no longer over the insult that the Pohjola warriors had offered to her, for he was going now to make war on them in order to punish them for it.

               His mother, when she heard his intention, besought him earnestly not to go to war and break his oath to her, for some great misfortune would surely come upon him. But he paid no heed to her, and went to seek his friend Kura to accompany him on his expedition. When he came to the isle on which Kura lived, he went up to the house and said: 'O my dear friend Kura, dost thou not remember the time when we fought together long ago against the men of dismal Northland? Come with me now and be my companion in another war against them.'

               Now Kura's father was sitting by the window, whittling out a javelin, and his mother was near the door skimming milk, and his brother and sisters were also working near by. And all of them cried out that Kura could not go to war, for he was but lately married, and they bade Lemminkainen leave him.

               But Kura himself jumped up from where he was lying before the fire, and began to put on his armour in great haste. On his helmet were wolves of bronze, and a horse on each javelin. Then Kura took his mighty spear, and going forth into the court he hurled it towards the north; and it flew on and on, whistling through the air, until at length it fell upon the earth of the distant Northland. And after this Kura touched his javelin against Lemminkainen's spear and promised to be his faithful comrade in the expedition. So the two great warriors made all needful preparation and set forth to sail to dismal Pohjola.

               But Louhi knew by magic art that they were coming, and she called the Black-frost to her, and gave him these commands: 'Hasten forth, O Black-frost, and freeze all the wide sea. Freeze Lemminkainen's vessel fast in the ice, and freeze the magician himself in his vessel, so that he may never more awaken from his icy sleep until I myself may choose to free him.'

               So the Black-frost hastened off to do her bidding. And first he stripped the leaves off the trees and took all the colour from the flowers on his way to the seashore. When he reached the shore, the first night he froze all the rivers that empty into the sea and the waters along the shore, but he did not touch the open sea that night. But on the second night he froze all the sea, and the ice kept growing thicker and thicker all around Lemminkainen's vessel, until at last the Black-frost even began to freeze Lemminkainen's hands and feet and ears.

               But when Lemminkainen felt this he began to sing an incantation against the Black-frost, saying: 'Black-frost, evil child of the Northland and only son of Winter, thou mayst freeze the trees and waters and the very stones,--but let me be in peace. Freeze the iron mountains till they burst in sunder; freeze Wuoksi and Imatra, but do not try to harm me, for I will sing thine origin and make thee powerless. For thou wert born on the borders of the ever-dismal Northland, and wert fed by crawling snakes. The Northwind rocked thee to sleep in the marshes, and thus thou grew, a thing of evil, and at last the name of Frost was given thee. And as thou became larger, thou didst learn to rend the trees in winter and to cover all the lakes with ice. But if thou wilt not leave me now, I will cast thee into Lempo's fiery hearth, and will lay thee on the anvil, that Ilmarinen may pound thee to pieces with his mighty hammer.'

               Now the Frost-fiend knew how great a magician Lemminkainen was, and therefore he agreed that he would leave the two warriors unharmed, but keep their ship frozen up as it was. And so Ahti and Kura had to leave their vessel and journey over the ice to land. At length they reached the country called Starvation-land, and there they found a house, but there was no food in it. So they went on still farther, over hill and valley, and as they went, Lemminkainen gathered soft moss from the tree-trunks and made stockings of it to keep their feet warm.

               On and on they went, seeking for some pathway to guide them, but all was one snow-covered wilderness. Then Kura said: 'Alas, O Ahti; we came hither to take vengeance on the men of Pohjola, but I fear that we shall leave our own bones here, and our flesh be food for eagles and ravens. We shall never learn the pathway that can guide us to our homes. My poor mother will never know what has become of me--whether I have perished in the heat of battle, or on some lonely hill, or in some dismal forest. She can only mourn me as one dead, and sit and weep bitter tears.'

               Then Lemminkainen said: 'My aged mother, think of our former happy days, when all went well and all was joy and happiness. But now sorrow and misfortune are come upon me, yet shall we not despair; for we are young and strong, and will give way neither to hunger nor to evil sorcerers, but will use the prayer my father used to pray, saying: "Guard us, O thou great Creator; shield us in thine arms, and give us of thy wisdom. Be our guardian and our Father, that thy children may not wander from the path which thou hast given them."'

               Then when Lemminkainen had finished speaking, he took his cares and made fleet coursers of them, and the reins he made of days of evil, and from his pains he made the saddles. Then he and Kura galloped off each to his own home, and thus Lemminkainen was once more returned to his aged mother's arms. Now let us leave him there, and Kura with his bride and kinsfolk, and speak hereafter of other heroes.

               Thus Father Mikko ended, adding: 'And I think we must stop now for the night, for it is getting late.' Then they had supper, and it was not long before all of them had gone to bed and were sound asleep.

               Early the next morning they were all awakened by a dull thud and a smothered shout. Erik and Father Mikko jumped up and lit a lantern, and then hurried to the door, which stood open. They had dug a passage-way out through the snow the day before, and they saw that the walls of snow had just caved in, and sticking out of the middle of the heap was a pair of small legs waving about wildly in the air.

               The next minute they had pulled out the owner of the legs, and little Antero stood before them, looking very much frightened and very foolish too. He had his snow-shoes and some meat with him, and managed to explain, between his sobs, that he had intended to go and hunt for reindeer in Lapland, the way Lemminkainen did in the story, but his snow-shoe had caught in the wall and disaster had overtaken him. The would-be hero was promptly taken in charge by Mother Stina, and soon all was quiet again.

               When they went out the next morning, they found that the snow had long since stopped, but the wind was blowing so hard and it was so bitterly cold, that Father Mikko was easily persuaded to stay another day.

               After dinner they settled down exactly as the day before, Mimi in 'Pappa' Mikko's lap again, and in a few minutes he began to tell them some more of his wonderful stories.

               'I will tell you about some one you have not heard of yet,' Father Mikko said; 'about Kullervo, though I am sure you will none of you like Kullervo himself--but yet the story itself may be interesting.' So he began.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Frost-Fiend, 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

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