|by James Baldwin|
|Far away in the Frozen Land in the long ago time a master wizard forged the wonderous sampo or mill of fortune, which ground out all sorts of treasures and gave wealth and power to its owner. This story, retold in from the Finnish Kalevala, tells of the making of this mill and the adventures of the heroes who sought to gain possession of it. Ages 11-14 |
LL night long the Minstrel lay open-eyed
upon his bed, sleepless and alert. He
called to mind all the wisdom words
that he had learned from great Wipunen; he
repeated them softly, one by one, and his heart
swelled with pride when he thought of the
power he had gained by listening to the song
of wisdom. Then he thought of his neglected
boat, lying high upon the shore and waiting for
the finishing touches which he was now prepared
to give. And when he remembered his object
in building it he chuckled to himself, feeling
that finally there was nothing to prevent the
carrying out of the plans which he had cherished
so long and so earnestly. Yes! he would
finish the magic vessel, and he would sail forthwith
to the Frozen Land and win the Maid of Beauty
for his queen!
Very early in the morning he arose. The
swallows under the eaves had not yet begun to
twitter at the approach of day. The cuckoo was
 silent in her nest, and the cattle were slumbering
in their paddock. Scarcely was there a
tinge of yellow in the eastern sky—the day was so young.
The Minstrel rose quietly and stole out of
the house very cautiously—so cautiously that
the dogs who were sleeping by the doorway were
not aroused. Hastily, he made his way to the
seashore, the day growing brighter with every
step. Impatiently he ran to the secret spot
where his magic boat was lying.
"O little ship, so stanch, so strong!" he cried.
"You shall no longer lie there unfinished and
useless. Soon you shall float on the waves, the
South Wind will caress you, the deep sea will
He walked slowly around the little vessel,
looking at it lovingly from every side. Three
times he walked around it, three times he drew
a magic circle about it. Then, slowly and in
commanding tones, he uttered the three words
of power which he had learned at so great cost
of time and trouble. Three times he pronounced
them, and immediately the three holes were
bored, the three bolts were fitted therein, and
the three last planks were fastened in their
 proper places; the hull was finished, the boat
was water-tight and seaworthy.
The Minstrel looked at his finished work and
was pleased—but he was not yet satisfied. The
hull was bare and unadorned, the copper prow
was rough and unshapely, the deck was uneven
and uninviting. The boat as a whole was not
"O little ship," he said, "wherefore are you
so crude, so rough, so ill-finished? Do you
think that I know only three words of magic?
I know a hundred—yes, I have a thousand
which I caught as they fell from the tongue of
Wipunen, the mighty master. You shall hear
some of them and profit by them.
Thereupon he began to sing one of the strange,
weird, wonderful songs that he had learned from
the Wisdom Keeper; and as he sang, strange
changes came over the magic vessel. First,
the prow was overlaid with sunbright gold and
its forward part was beautifully carved and
shaped into the form of a swan with outspread
wings. Then the deck was covered with plates
of shining silver ornamented with figures of
birds and beasts and little fishes. Finally, the
broad, well-shaped hull and the gunwales, fore
 and aft, were painted in bright colors—blue
and yellow and scarlet—and the slender mast
was coated with snow-white enamel. And now,
like a queen clad in her gorgeous robes, the
little vessel sat upon the sandy beach and
smiled at the morning sun and the rippling
waves of the sea. She looked so beautiful, so
grand, that the Minstrel clapped his hands and
shouted for excess of joy, and the songs and
words of the mighty Wipunen fell faster and
louder from his lips.
Very earnestly did the Minstrel sing, and
gradually his tones became sweeter and lower
and more persuasive, like the murmuring of the
waters on a peaceful summer morning. The
song was of the sea, it seemed to come from the
sea. It was as if the waves were calling gently,
ever so gently, to the little vessel waiting on the shore:
"Come, come, O magic boat,
Come and on the billows float!
Come to the wrinkled sea and glide
With swiftness o'er its rolling tide."
Soon there was a sound of creaking, rumbling,
scraping—a sound not loud, but distinct and
growing stronger. Then, gracefully and with
 dignity, like a princess on her wedding day, the
little ship glided across the shelving beach and in
another moment was floating lightly, smoothly,
nobly upon the water.
The Minstrel, still singing and still reciting
his magic spells, had already climbed upon the
deck. He now lifted the mast in its place; he
hoisted the sails—one red and one blue—and
spread them to the winds. Gracefully and
proudly, like a great swan on some quiet lake,
the little vessel glided away from the shore and
was soon moving swiftly along the borders of
the boundless sea. Wainamoinen sat down at
the stern, and with his long oar guided her
northward, never losing sight of the land, never
going far from the shore. As the magic boat
speeded onward, cutting the waves with its
gilded prow and dashing the white spray to left
and right, the Minstrel's heart glowed with joy
and pride. He lifted up his voice and sang a
prayerful song to the mighty powers into whose
keeping he had ventured to intrust himself.
"O great Jumala let thy arm
Protect this little ship from harm;
Make its weak captain brave and strong,
And listen to his humble song.
"Sweet South Wind, whispering soft and low,
Come fill these sails and gently blow—
Breathe mildly while the storm winds sleep,
And waft us swiftly o'er the deep.
"O restless Waves, be kind, I pray
To this small craft while on its way;
Drive it along with gentle force,
Let nothing swerve it from its course."
Thus did the Minstrel sing as he sat at the
boat's stern and guided it along its watery path.
The sea was calm; the waves were sleeping; the
winds breathed very softly on the sails of red and
blue. The fairy vessel glided onward, steadily,
proudly, towards its goal in the distant North.
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