|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 |
S the Minstrel journeyed onward the
road gradually became broader and
there were more signs of travel. Wainamoinen
remembered every object; he knew
every shrub and tree and every hummock and
bog-hole. A sunny smile overspread his face,
and his eyes twinkled for joy; for was he not
again in his own dear home land, and would he
not soon grasp the hands of his kinsmen and
friends whom he had not seen for many months?
At every turn in the road the country became
more open, and little by little the forest
gave way to the fields. Then in the distance thin
wreaths of smoke could be seen rising above the
crest of a hill—and the Minstrel knew that at
the foot of that hill his own little village of
Wainola was nestling in peace and quietude.
His heart beat fast and his hands trembled as
he thought of the welcome that was waiting for
Suddenly, as he rounded a turn in the road,
 he came in full view of a grove of poplar trees in
the middle of a field. He drove forward
slowly, cautiously. He approached the field and
paused quite near to the grove, listening, smiling
as though he expected something. Then
suddenly, from among the poplars, came
well-remembered sounds—the sound of a hammer,
cling-clanging upon an anvil, and the melodious
tones of a manly voice singing in unison therewith.
The Minstrel had heard that song a thousand
times before; nevertheless, it seemed strangely
new to him, and he leaned forward to listen
to the words:
"Cling, cling, clinkety cling!
With Iron I labor, of Iron I sing;
I heat it, I beat it, I make it ring, ring,
I scold it, I mould it—my hammer I swing—
Cling, cling, clinkety cling!
"Ding, ding, dinkety ding!
O honeybee, hasten, come hither and bring
Your sweets from the wildwood, the flowers of spring,
Help make of this Iron some beautiful thing—
Ding, ding, dinkety ding!
"Cling, cling, clinkety cling!
Beware of the hornet, beware of his sting,
Beware of the evils he surely will bring;
In all things be gentle, O Iron, my king—
Cling, cling, clinkety cling!"
 The Minstrel from his sledge could see the
smithy from which the music came—a long,
low building of logs in the very centre of the
grove. It was dark and dingy and begrimed
with smoke, but through the open door the fire
of the forge glowed brightly, lighting up the
whole interior and revealing even the smallest
object; and there, before his anvil, stood the
Smith, swinging his hammer and twirling his
tongs and thinking only of his pleasant work.
Wainamoinen leaped from his sledge and ran
forward; he stood in the doorway and called
loudly to his busy friend:
"Hail, ho, Ilmarinen! Hail, dearest brother!"
The astonished Smith dropped his tongs; he
threw his hammer down; he ran to greet his
"O Wainamoinen!" he cried. "Wainamoinen,
prince of minstrels, wisest of men, best of
friends—welcome, welcome! How glad I am to
"And how sweet it is to grasp your hand
again," said the Minstrel warmly. "Oh, what
joy to see home and comrades and country once
Ilmarinen led the Minstrel into the smithy;
 he made him sit down on the edge of his workbench;
and all the time he kept his arm around
his neck in loving, brotherly embrace. Each
gazed into the other's eyes, and for a time not
another word was spoken—the hearts of both
were so full of joy.
At length the Smith made out to stammer,
"Tell me, my brother, where have you been these
"Far away from home, Ilmarinen—yes, very far,"
answered the Minstrel. "I have been tossed on the
sea; I have been in many countries; I
have seen the whole vast world."
"Tell me about it," said the Smith. "You
were gone so long that we gave you up as lost.
Where have you been these many weeks, these
long, long months? Tell me all about it."
Then, in a few words wisely spoken, the
Minstrel told of his shipwreck, and how for
eight days—yes, for nine long, wearisome days—he
had been carried hither and thither on the
crests of the waves.
"I see! I understand!" said the impatient
Smith. "Hard, indeed, was your lot, and fraught
with danger. Tell me quickly, how did you
escape from the seething waters? To what place
 did the mad waves carry you? On what savage
shore were you cast?"
"Have patience, brother, and I will tell you
all," answered the Minstrel. "Never did I think
that Fate would carry me to the cold and
misty shores of Pohyola, the Frozen Land; but
it happened even so. There, for three months—yes,
for four long and dismal months—I was
forced to tarry. I learned wisdom from the
Mistress of that land; and indeed it was she
who snatched me from the jaws of the sea and
nursed me to health and strength. Never saw
I a wiser woman, although she is not strikingly
fair. I sat by her fireside; I listened to her
words; I ate at her table. On her snowshoes I
skimmed hither and thither over her cheerless
land. In her boat I went fishing in the quiet
inlets of the shore. But no matter where I
went, no matter what I did, my heart was
always sick for my home land; I sighed for the
dear friends I had left behind me."
"O great Wainamoinen!" cried the Smith,
embracing him again. "O cunning magician,
sweetest of singers! Tell me now about your
escape from that dismal land. Tell me about
your journey homeward. I am anxious to hear."
 "There is not much to say," answered the
Minstrel. "The journey homeward was easy—it
was delightful. As for my escape—well, I
escaped by promising to send you to the Frozen
Land, my dear brother."
"What do you say?" cried the Smith in
wonder. "Send me to the Frozen Land! Never
will I go—no, not even to please my best friend."
"Indeed, you must go,"
said the Minstrel curtly and decisively. "I have promised, and
you know the penalty of a broken promise."
"Nay, nay, great Wainamoinen!" said the Smith. "Is
this your love for me, that you cause me to perish
in order to save yourself?"
"Calm yourself, young brother," said the
Minstrel soothingly. "You shall not perish. I
have arranged it all. You are to do some skilful
blacksmithing—use a little of your wondrous
magic—and your reward shall be the loveliest
wife in the world. The Mistress of Pohyola has
The Smith spoke quickly, angrily: "You
may make bargains for yourself, not for me. I
want no wife. My own mother is queen of
my house, and none other shall enter my door.
 Our dear village of Wainola is my home; it is
the place of all places; I will never leave it."
"But if you could know how lovely she is—
this Maid of Beauty—you would do as I desire,
you would go to Pohyola," said the Minstrel
with increasing earnestness.
"Never! never!" shouted the Smith,
trembling with anger.
"Yes, I am sure you would go," said the cunning
Minstrel. "There is no other maiden like
unto this daughter of the Frozen Land. She is
wise, industrious, brave. Her face is fairer than
the moonlight on a midsummer eve; her eyes
are like two suns; her lips are like twin berries,
red and luscious; her voice is sweeter than the
song of the meadow lark. All the young men
in the countries of the North have sought to win her."
"And win her they may!" shouted the Smith.
"Now say no more about her; change the subject;
tell me a new story. I am sick of such twaddle."
"Come, come, dear brother!" said the Minstrel
gently, as though conceding all. "Let us
not quarrel. You are wise, your judgment is
good, and I love you. Forgive me if I have
 offended you. Come and sit by me again, and
we will talk of other things."
The Smith forgot his anger; he threw his
arms about the Minstrel's neck and burst into
"There! there!" said his old friend kindly, coaxingly.
"Think no more of my words. I was hasty; I was rash.
Come now and let us hasten home, for I long to see
my own dear fireside—to hear the voices of my
"Yes, let us go," said the Smith joyfully; and he
hastened to cover the fire in his forge, to put his tools
in their places, to remove his sooty apron.
"We will ride together in my birchwood sledge,"
said the Minstrel. "My reindeer steed will carry
us briskly over the hill. But I wish first to drive back to
the end of the causeway and show you a wonderful
tree that I saw standing there."
"I will go with you willingly, gladly," answered
the Smith, "but I know every tree in the
forest and the fen, and I call none of them
wonderful. Indeed, I passed by the end of the
causeway yesterday, and I saw only whispering
pines and dwarf oaks and a few stunted poplars."
 "Well, but the tree which I saw there is the
most wonderful sight in the world," said
Wainamoinen. "Its topmost branches brush the sky.
It is full of gorgeous flowers. The white moon
sits on one of its branches; and the seven stars
of the Great Bear play hide-and-seek among its
leaves and blossoms. I saw it all with my own
eyes not an hour ago."
The Smith laughed loudly, merrily. "Oh,
my wise and truthful brother, tell me a story,
two stories tell me! Travellers' tales are
wondrous, pleasing; but only fools believe them."
They climbed into the birchwood sledge; they
sat down on the furs; they talked of this thing
and of that as the reindeer drew them swiftly
back towards the fen and the long causeway.
The road seemed short to both, and both were
surprised when they found themselves in the grove
of pine trees beside the green and magic circle.
"Wonderful! wonderful!" cried the astonished
Smith as he gazed upward at the flower-crowned
tree of magic. "Forgive me, my best of friends, sweetest
of minstrels. You spoke the truth;
you always speak the truth. I will believe
whatever you say, I will do whatever you
bid—only, I will never go to Pohyola."
 "Well then," said the cunning Minstrel,
"let us make what we can of this wonderful
tree; for it may disappear as suddenly as it
came. I am old, my legs are stiff, my arms
rheumatic. It is long since I climbed a tree.
But you—you are young and nimble, strong
and supple, and spry as a squirrel when the
nuts are ripening. You can climb and never
"Yes, dear Minstrel, but why should I climb?"
"To gather those gorgeous blossoms," answered
Wainamoinen; "to pick the rare fruit which
you see; and, most of all, to bring down
the white-faced moon and the seven golden
stars that are playing among the branches.
O Ilmarinen, skilfulest of men, if you are not
afraid, climb quickly up and fetch down those
"I am not afraid," cried Ilmarinen; and he
began at once to climb the tree of magic.
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