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THE HOME COMING
ONG were the speeches, lengthy were the
songs, and many were the stories to
which the people listened and the patient
bride and bridegroom hearkened. Then,
as the day was breaking, all was ended. The
guests rose and made ready to depart. The
last good-byes were spoken, the last words of
counsel were delivered.
The hero's steed was led from the stable, it
was harnessed to the magic sledge while the
cuckoos called loudly and the bluebirds sang
sweetly as before.
"Farewell, farewell, to all my friends and
kindred," then murmured the Bride of Beauty.
"I must now go far, far away from the home I
love so dearly. I must leave my mother's
dwelling, leave the farmyard, fields, and meadows
where as a maiden I was happy. Farewell,
dear house; farewell, my mountain-ash tree;
farewell, roads and pathways; farewell, sweet
 hills and forests. Who now will answer the
cuckoos when they call? Who now will welcome
the bluebirds in the springtime? Who
will milk my pet reindeer? Who will care for
my lambs? Farewell, farewell to all!
Then Ilmarinen, noble hero, lifted her into
the sledge; he tucked the robes of fur about
her; he wrapped her feet in soft, warm blankets.
The serving-man handed him the reins and the
whip. One word to the steed, and they were
away; the low-roofed dwelling, the village, the
friends at Pohyola, all were quickly left behind.
And the happy triumphant Ilmarinen, shouted
back his farewells.
"Good-bye, good-bye, to all the people! Good-bye
to the seashore and the creeks and inlets!
Good-bye to the house with smoke-browned
rafters! Good-bye to the grasses in the meadows,
to the lonely marshes, to the willow bushes,
and the lone pine woods where my smithy
stands! Good-bye to all! Good-bye, good bye!"
Onward, with gliding feet, the swift steed
flew. The magic sledge scarcely touched the
ground, its birchwood runners seemed to skim
through the air, so rapid was its motion. Across
 the broad meadows, over the hills, through dark
ravines, along the sandy shore the hero pursued
his course, never pausing, never doubting.
The whip-lash whistled in the air, the copper
rings on the horse's harness made merry music.
All day, all night, yes, through a second day
and then a third, the joyful journey continued.
With one hand the hero guided the horse, with
one arm he supported his bride. The North
Wind gently drove him along, the South Wind
beckoned him forward. At length, just as the
sun was setting, he saw his own fair dwelling
nestling among the trees of Wainola. The
smoke was rising from the roof-hole, Dame
Lokka was preparing the evening meal, the
good sister, Anniki, was watching the door.
"Welcome, welcome, bridegroom and brother!
Long have we watched for you, long have we
waited!" shouted the glad maid of the morning.
"O Ilmarinen, my son, my joy!" cried the
mother and matron. "Welcome home with thy
birdling, thy fair one!"
Then quickly all the village people came running
to greet their neighbor Ilmarinen and his
beautiful young bride. They led the noble pair
into the house, the men and women singing
 joyously, the children dancing before them. A
feast was soon provided—meats the tenderest
and most delicious, loaves of the whitest flour,
yellow cakes both light and sweet, lumps of
fresh butter just from the churn, broiled salmon
smoking hot. All these they brought in great
abundance, heaped up on Dame Lokka's pretty
dishes. And the villagers shouted:
"Welcome, Bride of Beauty, to this Land of
Heroes! Welcome to this lovely village! Hail
to the hero, our friend and neighbor! Hail to all
within this dwelling! Blessed be this homecoming.
Blessed be the bridal pair, and may
their lives be long and their love lasting!"
Thus did Ilmarinen win his bride and thus did
he bring her in triumph to his home in Wainola.