|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 |
ITH painful labor, Ilmarinen climbed
from branch to branch. He looked
upward and saw the moon with silver
face smiling from the topmost boughs. He saw
the seven stars of the Bear glittering like gold
amid the leaves and blossoms. They seemed
almost within his grasp. They beckoned to
him, called to him; and he, with right
good-will, climbed up, up, towards the
moonlight and the starlight.
"Foolish fellow!" he heard a voice whispering.
"Foolish fellow! foolish fellow! foolish
"Who is it that calls me names—me the prince
of all smiths?" he said in anger.
"It is I," came the answer. "I am the tree
which you are climbing—foolish
fellow, foolish fellow! The moon which you
are after is only a shadow, foolish fellow. The
stars are false as jack-o'-lanterns, foolish fellow.
 Even I, the tree, am a delusion. Save yourself
while you may, foolish fellow, foolish fellow!"
The Smith heard, but he heeded not. The
moon was just a little above him; the stars
were right at his fingers' ends; in another
moment he would grasp them all. On the ground
far below him, the Minstrel was working his
spells of magic, Ilmarinen saw him dancing,
heard him singing, but understood him not.
"Come storm wind, come whirlwind,
Come swiftly, I say now;
Pick up the wise blacksmith
And bear him away, now.
"Seize on him, and into
Your flying boat lay him;
Then far to the Frozen North,
Gently convey him.
"Blow storm wind, blow whirlwind,
Let nothing delay you.
Blow swiftly, blow fiercely,
Blow, blow, I pray you!"
Suddenly there was a roaring in the air and
in the tree tops, and the sky grew dark and very
dark. Then a mighty tempest came hurtling
over the land. In a moment the tree of magic
melted into nothingness, and the fairy moon
and the dancing stars vanished in the murk
 and gloom. The winds lifted the venturesome
Smith in their arms; they laid him softly in
their swiftly sailing cloud boat; they hurried
him over forests and marsh lands, over mountains
and sea, and at the hour of midnight
dropped him gently on the frozen shores of
Wise old Louhi, gray and grim and toothless,
was standing in her doorway. She heard the
roar of the tempest and the shrieks of the night
wind. She saw the inky clouds swiftly sailing
from the South Land and the gray wolves of the
air racing madly over the sea. Then in the
misty darkness she heard footsteps; but the
watch dogs lay sleeping in the sledgeway, their
ears were closed, they did not bark. She listened,
and presently a voice—a strange and
manly voice—was heard above the storm wind's
roar; but still the watch dogs slept and gave no
The Mistress, grim and fearless, spoke up
bravely in the darkness, heeding not the
dreadful turmoil. "Who goes there?" she cried.
"Who is it that comes on the storm wind's
back, and yet so quietly that he does not rouse
nor waken my watch dogs?"
 Then the voice answered from out the turmoil
and the gloom, and a young man tall and
handsome stepped into view. "I am a wayfarer
and a stranger," he said, "and I am not
here through my own choice. Nevertheless, I
beg that I may find in this place some shelter
till this fearful storm has passed."
"You have no need to ask shelter of me,"
answered the woman; "for when did the Mistress
of Pohyola turn a stranger from her door?
When did she refuse to give a wayfarer the
warmest place by her fireside?"
Forthwith she led him into her long, low hall;
she gave him a seat by the pleasant fire. She
brought food in plenty and set it before him.
She did everything that would take away his
weariness, everything that would add to his
At length, when he had warmed and rested
himself and had satisfied his hunger, she
ventured to ask him a question. "Have you ever
in all your travels met a minstrel, old and
steady, whom men call Wainamoinen?"
"Oh, yes, surely," answered the Smith. "He
is an ancient friend of mine, dear as a brother,
precious as a father. He has just returned
 home from a long visit to this North Country.
He tells wonderful stories of the good people of
Pohyola—pleasant tales of a pleasant land."
"How glad I am," said the Wise Woman.
"Now tell me if in all your travels you have
ever met a certain smith, young and wondrously
skilful, whom men call Ilmarinen."
The stranger leaped to his feet and answered,
"Surely, surely, I have often met that famous
workman. Indeed I myself am he; I am Ilmarinen,
the Prince of Smiths, the maker of beautiful
things, the skilfulest of men."
"Then welcome, welcome!" cried Louhi,
grim and gray; and she grasped the stranger's
hand. "We have been waiting for you a long
time. We expect you to forge the Sampo for
us. I know you will do so, for Wainamoinen
the Minstrel promised me."
"The Sampo! the Sampo! What is the Sampo?"
stammered Ilmarinen. "The Minstrel
spoke of skilful smithing, but he
mentioned not the Sampo. Never have I heard
that name, although I have travelled wide."
"Oh, you shall hear enough about it, and you
will forge it for us, I know," said the Mistress,
grim but joyful. And then she turned and left
 him—left him standing by the hearth-side and
gazing sadly, thoughtfully, into the flames.
"Now I understand it all," he softly muttered
to himself. "Wainamoinen has betrayed me.
He has sent me to this dreary Frozen
Land to do a task too great for his skill, too
wonderful for his magic. He is old, he is cunning,
he has outwitted me; shall I do the thing
which he sent me to perform?"
Meanwhile the gray Mistress of the Frozen
Land hurried from the long hall. She paused
not till she reached her daughter's chamber.
Briskly she went in, and softly she closed the
door behind her.
"My child, my beautiful child," she cried,
"he has come at last. He is young and tall
and handsome. He will forge the Sampo for
us; he will put the wonderful mill together;
henceforth we shall want for nothing."
"Yes, mother," said the Maid of Beauty.
"Dress yourself, now, fair daughter. Put on
your finest raiment and deck your hair with
jewels. Don't forget the golden chain that goes
around your neck; nor the belt with copper
buckle; nor your earrings; nor the silken
ribbons for your hair; nor the jewelled band
 goes upon your forehead. And oh, my dear
child, do look pleasant, pretty, comely, and let
your face be bright and cheerful."
"Yes, mother," said the dutiful daughter.
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