|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 |
THE MAID OF THE MORNING
HE voyage was scarcely begun. Close on
the starboard side appeared the headland
of Wainola; directly in front lay
the bar, a long, narrow, pebbly beach, jutting
far out into the deep sea. Like an old and
skilled seaman, the Minstrel suddenly changed
his vessel's course, veering sharply towards the
west in order to pass round the low-lying
barrier. But, just as the boat was gliding through
the shallow water near the end of the bar, the
wind ceased blowing. The sails hung useless
from the mast; not a breath of air was stirring;
scarcely a ripple could be seen on the face of the
sea. The fairy vessel hesitated, then stopped
stock-still not forty paces from dry land.
Was the South Wind angry? Why should
she treat the prince of minstrels in this ungrateful
manner? But Wainamoinen did not stop to
argue; he was too wise to find fault with wind
and weather. He looked on this side of the
 little ship—nothing but water, growing deeper
and deeper and stretching away and away to
the blue horizon. He looked on that side—the
shallow water, the narrow bar, and beyond it
the great northern sea and the winding shore
which marked the way to the Frozen Land.
Then quickly he seized his other oar, and thrust
it out over the gunwales.
He was preparing to row the boat around the
bar, when suddenly he was startled by hearing
his name called, not harshly, but in tones of
friendship and inquiry. He looked up. His
face grew red with confusion, his lips trembled
with vexation; for, right before his eyes, he
saw one whom he by no means wished to see.
Midway between the boat and the sandy,
pebbly bar a maiden was standing knee-deep
in the quiet water. Her head was bare, save
for the long, dark tresses that fell in profusion
over her shoulders and dipped their ends into
the wavelets that were playing modestly above
her bare white ankles. Her cheeks were red—
red as the dawn of a summer day. Her eyes
were dark—dark as the midnight hour in winter.
One of her fair hands was raised to shade her
 face from the glaring noonday sun; in the other
she held a bundle of long silken ribbons which
she had been washing in the sea.
"O Wainamoinen!" called the maiden. "O
hero of the sea, do you know me?"
"Truly do I know you," answered the Minstrel;
and, pulling in his oar, he dropped it with a
crash upon the deck. "You are Anniki, the
maid of the morning. You are the sister of
my dearest friend, the master Smith. It was
only yesterday that we sat together at the table
of your good mother, Dame Lokka. So, why
should I not know you?"
"Well," said the maiden, and she laughed
while speaking, "memories are sometimes short,
and even a minstrel may forget. Aren't you
glad to see me?"
"Indeed, your face should make the surliest
of men happy," answered the gallant Minstrel;
"but, tell me, what errand has brought you
hither? Why are you here, so far from home
and all alone?"
"Oh, this is our wash day," laughed Anniki,
and she danced in the water until the white
bubbles floated all around her. "See these ribbons
that I have just cleaned. See the clothes
 that are spread on the sandy beach to dry.
There are still others hanging on the bushes a
little way up the shore. Don't you think that
I am in-dus-tri-ous?"
"Surely, Anniki; and you deserve to be the
wife of an industrious man. I wonder how any
maiden can do so much washing in one short morning."
"Well, I get up early," said the maiden, pirouetting
in the shallow water. "I was here at the
break of day, and not a minute have I been idle
since. But now my work is done and I'm
going to play. Tra-la-la!"
The Minstrel stood on the deck of his becalmed
and motionless ship and looked at her.
His face betrayed both wonder and vexation,
and he muttered to himself: "She is a witch
and I know it. She has done more than wash
clothes. It is she that has lulled the South
Wind to sleep and halted my voyage at its very
beginning. She will spoil all my plans."
Suddenly Anniki paused in the midst of her
dancing and cried out, "O Wainamoinen! Where
are you going in that fine boat?"
The Minstrel frowned, he pursed his lips, vexation
filled his heart. Then he answered curtly,
 "I am going around to the great north bay to
fish for salmon."
Anniki shrieked with laughter, "Do you
think I'll believe that story?" she said. "I
know something about salmon fishing. Father
and grandfather used to go out often in the
season for catching such fish. Their boat was a
plain one—no golden prow nor silver-plated
deck nor rainbow-colored sail. It was full of
nets and snares and other tackle. The decks
were littered with poles and lines and fishing
spears. The smell of fish filled the vessel and
floated thick in the air around it. Oh, I know
something about salmon fishing!"
Then she danced another gleeful dance, splashing
the water over herself and over the Minstrel,
and making little waves that rocked the fairy
boat to and fro but did not stir it from its place.
At length, growing tired, she spoke again:
"O Wainamoinen! Everybody says that you
are wise and truthful. Now tell me truly,
where are you going in that beautiful boat?"
"I am on my way to the quiet inlets of yonder
northern shore," said the cunning Minstrel.
"In those pleasant waters many wild geese
abound, and there they build their nests and
 rear their young. It is fine sport to lay traps
for those red-beaked waterfowl, and better still
to shoot them on the wing. I hope to fill my
boat with the fat fellows, to carry a thousand
home for winter eating."
" 'Tis no such thing!" cried the maiden angrily,
and she beat the water with her feet until the
sea seemed boiling around her. "Why, I know
something about goose hunting. Father and
grandfather used to go out often in the wild-goose
season. Then their long bows stood
ready, tight-strung, at the prow of their swift
rowboat. They kept a fine bird dog always
tethered at the stern, and three or four puppy
dogs ran whining about the deck. But where
are your dogs, and where is your long bow?
If you are wise and truthful, don't be foolish.
I know you are not going to hunt wild geese."
"Perhaps not," answered the Minstrel, growing
somewhat ashamed; "perhaps I am going
after larger game. In the North a war is raging,
the strong are oppressing the weak, as is
usual in wars. I am sailing thitherward, hoping
to do my part in the struggle and to lend
my aid to those who deserve it most. The wild
 geese that I shall capture are the foes that I
shall overcome in battle."
" 'Tis no such thing!" again cried the impatient
Anniki. "Why, I know something about
war and battle. Father used to go out to fight
for friends and country, to help the weak and
worry the strong. He went in a large ship
which required a hundred men to row it. A
thousand men stood beside him, fully armed.
Their shields hung all round the hull of the
mighty vessel and a black dragon floated from
the masthead. The sword-blades clanged
against each other and glittered in the morning
light, and their winged helmets were like golden
birds of victory resting on their brows. Oh,
yes, Wainamoinen, I know something about
war and battle, and you are not going on any
fighting errand, I'm sure. You have in mind
some trick of cunning, and you shall sail no
farther in your pretty boat until you tell me
truly what that trick is."
The wary Wainamoinen was too proud to be
outwitted by a simple maiden, and so he tried
another subterfuge. He answered her gently,
persuasively, and his words were full of guile:
"O wise and beautiful maid of the morning, I
 have been speaking to you in riddles, trusting
that you would understand their secret meaning.
Fain would I make everything clear, but
I dare not tell it to you where you stand: the
fishes would hear me and carry the secret to
every corner of the sea; the birds would hear
me and convey the news to every land under the sun."
"Then speak out, and be famous," said Anniki disdainfully.
"Nay, nay, dear sister! I would whisper it
in your ear. The water is not deep, so wade
out hither and sit by my side on the shining,
silvery deck, and I will tell you the plain truth
and a wonderful secret. I know your power,
Anniki. I know that you have chained the
winds so that they will carry me no farther on
my voyage until you have learned what you
wish. So why should I try to deceive you?
Come hither and see the treasures that I have
in my boat, and listen to a wonderful story."
The maiden retreated to the shore, splashing
the water angrily at every step. When she
reached the dry sand she turned and looked
back at the puzzled hero and his little ship.
Then she raised both of her hands skyward and
 cried out, "Yes, the winds are mine and they
obey me. If you try again to deceive me, I
will command the East Wind to fall upon your
pretty vessel and sink it in the sea. If you fail
to tell me the truth, I will cause the waves to
rise up and swallow you! Do you hear?"
Great and powerful wizard though he was, the
Minstrel felt himself helpless before this slender
girl. He was conquered, and well he knew the
folly of trying further to deceive her. So,
speaking softly, gently, as becomes a vanquished
hero, he proposed this modest bargain: "If I
tell you where I am going and for what purpose,
will you promise to waken the South
Wind that he may drive my ship forward on
its perilous voyage?"
"Yes, yes, friend Wainamoinen," answered
Anniki, very generous as becomes a conqueror.
"You shall have a fair wind and a smooth sea
and my best wishes to the end of your adventure."
"Listen, then," said the Minstrel. "This
little vessel is a magic boat, built of strange
runes and words of wisdom. On it I am hoping
to sail to that distant, dismal country of which
you have often heard me talk—to Pohyola, the
 Frozen Land, where wild men live under the
ground and eat each other. My errand thither
is to woo the Maid of Beauty and bring her,
willy-nilly, to the Land of Heroes where she
shall be the mistress of my dwelling and the joy
of my heart——"
"Does my brother know about it?" asked Anniki,
open-eyed, anxious, still suspicious. "Did
you tell Ilmarinen about your plans?"
"I told no one," answered the Minstrel;
"neither must you do so, Anniki, for this is a
secret voyage and if any person should learn
why I have undertaken it, all will come to naught."
"Take care of your boat! The South Wind
is awake!" cried Anniki, and the next moment
she was running to the mainland with the speed
of a deer. Her washing was left behind, where
she had spread the pieces to dry; her ribbons
were scattered upon the sand; even her shoes
were forgotten, so hasty was her flight. Before
the astonished Minstrel could think of anything
to say, yes, before he could call to mind a single
magic word, she had reached the higher ground
and was lost to sight among the stunted pines and cedars.
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