Finnish Legends for English Children | Annotated Tale

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Capture of the Sampo, The

AFTER the magic kantele was finished, the three great heroes and magicians sailed away again towards the dismal Northland. Ilmarinen led the rowers on one side of the ship, and Lemminkainen on the other, and old Wainamoinen steered. They soon reached Pohjola and landed near Louhi's house.

               When they had drawn their vessel up on land, they all went up to Louhi's house, and Wainamoinen told her that they were come for the Sampo; that if she would only give them the many-coloured lid they would go away content, but if not, they would take the whole Sampo by force. Then Louhi grew very angry and called together all the Northland warriors to slay them. But Wainamoinen began to play upon his kantele, and so wonderfully sweet were the tunes that he played, that the warriors forgot all about fighting and began to weep, and all the maidens of Pohjola began to dance. Still Wainamoinen played on and on, until a deep slumber came upon all the Northland folk. Then he ceased playing, and cast a powerful spell over them, so that they should not awake.

               When all the Pohjola folk were sound asleep the three great heroes went to the mountains to seek the magic Sampo. And as they went Wainamoinen played such wonderful music that the great cliffs opened before them, and left them an open road to where the Sampo lay hid. When they had come near the cavern in which the Sampo lay, they sent Lemminkainen to enter the cave and bring it out. He, boasting of his strength, went into the cavern, and seizing hold of the magic Sampo, he put forth all his strength to lift it up, but it remained immovable, for the roots had grown deep into the earth, and bound it down tightly.

               Then Lemminkainen remembered a huge ox that he had seen out in the fields, with horns seven fathoms long, and he went after it and hitched it to the biggest plough he could find, and began to plough all around the roots which held the Sampo down. And in a very short while the roots became loosened, and they were able to pick up the magic Sampo and carry it on board their vessel.

               As soon as it was safely on board they sailed away, leaving all the Pohjola folk sleeping. On they flew towards their homes in Kalevala; but Lemminkainen grew weary of the silence, and asked Wainamoinen why he would not sing to cheer them. But Wainamoinen answered that song would only disturb the rowers, and that it was best never to rejoice until all danger was past. At length, when they had gone three days on their journey, Lemminkainen grew angry at Wainamoinen's silence, and began to sing himself. But his voice sounded harsh and unmelodious, and it made the very ship tremble.

               Far off on the land a crane was standing amidst the rushes, amusing itself by counting its toes. But when it heard Lemminkainen's attempts at singing, it was so frightened that it flew off screaming over Pohjola, and by its screeching it awoke all the slumbering people. As soon as Louhi awoke she hurried off to her barns and cattle-pens to see if anything had been stolen, but she found everything all right. Next she hurried to the mountains, to the cavern where she had hidden the Sampo, but when she came there she found the cavern empty, and saw how her visitors had torn the Sampo loose from its fastenings.

               Then Louhi returned to her house pale with anger and fear, for she knew that if the Sampo were lost that all the prosperity of the Northland would be lost with it. So she called up the goddess of the fogs, and sent her out to delay Wainamoinen's vessel. And then she called on Iko-Turso--a wicked monster living in the depths of the sea--to swim to the ship and sink it, and to eat the men in it, but to bring back the Sampo to Pohjola once more. And she prayed, moreover, to great Ukko that if the sea-monster should not succeed, that Ukko himself would send a fearful tempest to wreck the vessel.

               First came the goddess of the fog, and wrapped them in such a thick mist that they could not move. Three days they lay so, and then Wainamoinen drew his sword, exclaiming: 'We shall all perish here in the fog if no attempt is made to drive it away,' and with these words he struck the waves with his sword. From the blade there flowed a stream of honey, and all at once the fog broke up, and left the way clear before them. But scarcely had the fog disappeared than they heard a mighty roaring sound, and the foam began to shoot up from the water alongside, and to cover the ship. Then Wainamoinen leaned over the vessel's side, and stretching out his arm he grasped something that he saw in the water, and pulled up the awful monster Iko-Turso. But the monster was so affrighted by being lifted out of the water that he promised to leave them in peace, and never to appear above the waters again if Wainamoinen would only release him. So Wainamoinen let him go, and the second danger was past.

               But now came the third and most terrible of all, for Ukko sent a mighty storm-wind, which lashed the waves into a fury, and stirred up the ocean to its very bottom. And at the very first pitch of the ship the magic kantele was swept overboard by the waves, and Ahto, the sea-god, caught it and carried it off to his home beneath the waves. Then Wainamoinen began to bewail the loss of his wonderful instrument; but as the storm grew worse, and tossed their ship about like a feather, all on board began to despair of ever reaching land alive. But Wainamoinen gave them comfort and courage, and he and Ilmarinen and Lemminkainen by their magic spells quietened the winds and the waves, and repaired the damage which the vessel had suffered from the storm. And then they went on their way in peace.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Capture of the Sampo, 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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