|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 FRIENDLY RIVALS
ORTHWARD, northward, along the
low-lying seashore, Ilmarinen pursued
his course, never pausing, never faltering.
All night long he travelled in the moonlight
and the starlight. All day, from dawn till
evening twilight, his brave gray racer flew over
the half-frozen earth; and the cuckoos chattered
on the dashboard, and the bluebirds sang their
sweetest songs. For two short nights and one
long day the journey was continued with never
slackening speed. Then, as the sun was rising
on the second morning, the hero looked out
toward the gray sea, and what did he behold?
Quite close to shore, so close that Ilmarinen
might have thrown a stone upon its deck,
a little ship was becalmed in the smooth waters.
Its prow was like gold, its deck was plated with
silver, and its sails were of rainbow colors.
The Smith drew hard upon the reins; his racer
ceased speeding, and the sledge runners grated
 on the beach. A pause was made in the journey.
"Hail, ho!" shouted Ilmarinen.
The captain of the fairy vessel looked up.
His eyes were full of wonder and his face grew
sour with vexation.
"Hail, ho!" he answered; but there was no
heartiness in his tones, the words labored in his
mouth before they could escape from his lips,
they fell coldly, like ice on a stormy shore.
"Whither are you sailing, brave Minstrel?"
asked the Smith kindly, but with a sense of victory.
The Minstrel was overcome with surprise.
The winds would not serve him, the waves
would not waft him away from the shore. He
felt that he was at the mercy of his pursuer.
All his magic would not avail him. So he dissembled
his feelings and with his tongue made
glad answer while his heart was burning with
"O my dearest friend and brother, how happy
I am to see you! I have long been thinking
of you, wishing for you; and fain would I
have you as my companion to sail with me up
and down this pleasant coast. Leave now your
 sledge and your travel-worn steed and come
hither and sit by me on the deck of this fairy
little vessel. The voyage back to Wainola will
be as pleasant as a summer holiday."
"Never will I sail in your enchanted vessel,"
answered the Smith half angrily, and he rose in
his sledge and shook the furry robes from his
"Ah, Ilmarinen, prince of wizards," said the
Minstrel, still flattering, still dissembling, "how
like a prince you appear! Whither are you journeying
so gayly, so fleetly, so like a bridegroom
going to his wedding?"
"You know where I am going," said Ilmarinen.
"All your cunning is in vain, friend
Wainamoinen. All your magic shall come to
naught, for you shall never steal the Maid of
Beauty from her home land, never put her in
your magic vessel, never carry her over the
The Minstrel saw now that he was beaten;
he felt that all his secret plans had been discovered,
and so he concealed his bitter feelings
while he acknowledged defeat. "Wisest of
smiths," he said, "we are friends and brothers,
and therefore we must not fall out and quarrel.
 Let us still be lovers as of old. I assure you, I
swear to you, I will do nothing to offend you.
Ride on and woo the Maid of Beauty, and I
will return alone to our dear home in the
Land of Heroes."
The heart of the Smith was touched by the
generosity of his friend. He felt that he must
not be less generous, and in an instant all his
"O brother, tried and true!" he answered, "I
know the thoughts of your heart, I know your
great ambition. Let us agree each to woo this
maiden honorably as a man and a hero would
woo her. Let her freely choose one of us, or let
her a second time refuse us both. Do you agree
to this, my elder brother?"
"Truly, I do," said the Minstrel heartily. "I
promise—yes, I swear to you that I will do
naught that is dishonorable or unfair. If the
maiden shall prefer you, I will not be envious;
for your good luck will be my good fortune,
and my success will be your triumph."
"I thank you, Wainamoinen!" shouted the
Smith, waving his hand.
"I thank you, Ilmarinen!" returned the Minstrel,
bowing to his friend.
 Then with speed each resumed his journey,
one travelling by sea, the other by land. Swiftly
the gray racer flew along the shore; fleetly the
boat of magic skimmed over the wrinkled waters.
The hills and forests rang with the clattering
hoofs of Ilmarinen's wizard steed. The white
waves danced and trembled in the wake of
Wainamoinen's gold-beaked vessel. The cuckoos
twittered, the bluebirds sang merrily, and
the birchwood runners of the enchanted sledge
whizzed over the sand and then glided through
the new-fallen snow. The South Wind breathed
on the sails of blue and red, and the West Wind
whispered joy in the nostrils of the fleeting gray
"Good luck to my steed, good luck to my
sledge, good luck to me!" shouted the hero
Smith. "O Jumala, kind protector, helper,
guide! Be my safeguard in this journey, lead
me rightly on my way!"
And the Minstrel, standing at the prow of his
fairy vessel, shouted words of magic to the winds
and waves, while he too prayed for guidance
and help. "O Jumala, just and true, think not
hard of me if I have gone astray! Pardon me
if I have been false to my friend. Give me fair
 winds and a gentle sea, and guide me safely to
my journey's end. Good luck to me, good luck
to my boat, good luck to everybody!"
Thus the two heroes journeyed onward, the
one by land, the other by sea.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics