Site Map
Finnish Folktales
Section › 8 Set Search Previous Next

Reservations Contents  

The Three Chests

There was once an honest old farmer who had three daughters. His farm ran down to the shores of a deep lake. One day as he leaned over the water to take a drink, wicked old Wetehinen reached up from the bottom of the lake and clutched him by the beard.

"Ouch! Ouch!" the farmer cried. "Let me go!" Wetehinen only held on more tightly. "Yes, I'll let you go," he said, "but only on this condition: that you give me one of your daughters for wife!"

"Give you one of my daughters? Never!"

"Very well, then I'll never let go!" wicked old Wetehinen declared and with that he began jerking at the beard as if it were a bellrope.

"Wait! Wait!" the farmer spluttered. Now he didn't want to give one of his daughters to wicked old Wetehinen of course not! But at the same time he was in Wetehinen' s power and he realized that if he didn't do what the old reprobate demanded he might lose his life and so leave all three of his daughters orphans. Perhaps for the good of all he had better sacrifice one of them.

"All right," he said, "let me go and I'll send you my oldest daughter. I promise."

So Wetehinen let go his beard and the farmer scrambled to his feet and hurried home.

"My dear," he said to his oldest daughter, "I left a bit of the harness down at the lake. Like a good girl will you run down and get it for me."

The eldest daughter went at once and when she reached the water's edge, old Wetehinen reached up and caught her about the waist and carried her down to the bottom of the lake where he lived in a big house.

At first he was kind to her. He made her mistress of the house and gave her the keys to all the rooms and closets. He went very carefully over the keys and pointing to one he said, "That key you must never use for it opens the door to a room which I forbid you to enter."

The eldest daughter began keeping house for old Wetehinen and spent her time cooking and cleaning and spinning much as she used to at home with her father. The days went by and she grew familiar with the house and began to know what was in every room and every closet.

At first she felt no temptation to open the forbidden door. If old Wetehinen wanted to have a secret room, well and good. But why in the world had he given her the key if he really didn't want her to open the door? The more she thought about it the more she wondered. Every time she passed the room she stopped a moment and stared at the door. It looked just exactly like the doors that led into all the other rooms.

"I wonder why he doesn't want me to open just that door?" she kept asking herself.

Finally one day when old Wetehinen was away she thought, "I don't believe it would matter if I opened that door just a little crack and peeped in once! No one would know the difference!"

For a few moments she hesitated, then mustered up courage enough to turn the key in the forbidden lock and throw open the door.

The room was a storeroom with boxes and chests and old jars piled up around the wall. That was unexciting enough, but in the middle of the floor was something that made her start when she saw what it was*

It was blood, that's what it was, a pool of dark red blood! She was about to slam the door shut when she saw something else that made her pause. This was a lovely shining ring that lay in the midst of the pool.

"Oh!" she thought to herself, "what a beautiful ring! If I had it I'd wear it on my finger!"

The longer she looked at it, the more she wanted it.

"If I'm very careful," she said, "I know I could reach over and pick it up without touching the blood."

She tiptoed cautiously into the room, wrapped her skirts tightly about her legs, knelt down on the floor, and stretched her arm over the pool. She picked up the ring very carefully but even so she got a few drops of blood on her fingers.

"No matter!" she thought, "I can wash that offl And see the lovely ring!"

But later, after she had the door again locked, when she tried to wash the blood off, she found she couldn't. She tried soap, she tried sand, she tried everything she could think of, but without success.

"I don't care!" she thought to herself. "If Wetehinen sees the blood, I'll just tell him I cut my finger by accident."

So when Wetehinen came home, she hid the ring and pretended nothing was the matter.

After supper Wetehinen put his head in her lap and said, "Now, my dear, scratch my head and make me drowsy for bed."

She began scratching his head as she had many nights before but, at the first touch of her fingers, he cried out, "Stop! You're burning my ear! There must be some blood on your fingers! Let me see!"

He reached up and caught her hand and, when he saw the blood stains, he flew into a towering rage.

"I thought so! You've been in the forbidden room!"

He jumped up and without allowing her time to say a word he just cut off her head then and there with no more concern than if she had been a mosquito! After that he took the body and the severed head and threw them into the forbidden room and locked the door.

"Now then," he growled, "she won't disobey me again!"

This was all very well but now he had no one to keep house for him and cook and scratch his head in the evening and soon he decided he'd have to get another wife. He remembered that the farmer had two more daughters, so he thought to himself that now he'd marry the second sister.

He waited his chance and one day when the farmer was out in his boat fishing, old Wetehinen came up from the hottom of the lake and clutched the boat. When the poor old farmer tried to row back to shore he couldn't make the boat move an inch. He worked and worked at the oars and wicked old Wetehinen let him struggle till he was exhausted. Then he put his head up out of the water and over the side of the boat and as though nothing were the matter he said, "Hullo!"

"Oh!" the farmer cried, wishing he were safe on shore, "it's you, is it? I wondered what was holding my boat."

"Yes," wicked old Wetehinen said, "it's me and I'm going to hold your boat right here on this spot till you promise to give me another of your daughters."

What could the farmer do? He pleaded with Wetehinen but Wetehinen was firm and the upshot was that before the farmer again walked dry land he had promised Wetehinen his second daughter.

Well, when he got home, he pretended he had forgotten his ax in the boat and sent his second daughter down to the lake to get it. Wicked old Wetehinen caught her as he had caught her sister and carried her home with him to his house at the bottom of the lake.

Wetehinen treated the second sister just exactly as he had the first, making her mistress of the house and telling her she might use every key but one. Like her sister she, too, after a time gave way to the temptation of looking into the forbidden room and when she saw the shining ring lying in the pool of blood of course she wanted it and of course when she reached to get it she dabbled her fingers in the blood. So that was the end of her, too, for wicked old Wetehinen when he saw the blood stains just cut her head right off and threw her body and the severed head into the forbidden room beside the body and head of her sister and locked the door.

Time went by and the farmer was living happily with his youngest daughter when one day while he was out chopping wood he found a pair of fine birch bark brogues. He put them on and at once found himself walking away from the woods and down to the lake. He tried to stop but he couldn't. He tried to walk in another direction but the brogues carried him straight down to the water's edge and out into the lake till he was in waist deep. Then he heard a gruff voice saying, "Hullo, there! What are you doing with my brogues?"

It was that wicked old Wetehinen who had played that trick to get the farmer into his power again.

"What do you want this time?" the poor farmer cried.

"I want your youngest daughter," Wetehinen said.

"What! My youngest daughter!"

"Yes."

"I won't give her up!" the farmer declared. "I don't care what you do to me, I won't give her up!"

"Oh, very well!" Wetehinen said, and at once the brogues which had been standing still while they talked started walking again. They carried the farmer out into the lake farther and farther until the water was up to his chin,

"Wait wait a minute!" he cried.

The brogues stopped walking and Wetehinen said, "Well, do you promise to give her to me?"

"No!" the farmer began. "She's my last daughter and"

Before he could say more, the brogues walked on and the water rose to his nose. In desperation he threw up his hands and shouted, "I promise! I promise!"

So when he got home that day he said to his youngest daughter whose name was Lisa, "Lisa, my dear, I forgot my brogues at the lake. Like a good girl won't you run and get them for me?"

So Lisa went to the lake and Wetehinen caught her and carried her down to his house as he had her two sisters.

Then the same old story was repeated. Wetehinen made Lisa mistress of the house and gave her keys to all the doors and closets with the same prohibition against opening the door of the forbidden room.

"If I am mistress of the house," Lisa said to herself, "why should I not unlock every door?"

She waited till one day when Wetehinen was away from home, then went boldly to the forbidden room, fitted the key in the lock, and flung open the door.

There lay her two poor sisters with their heads cut off. There in the pool of blood sparkled the lovely ring, but Lisa paid no heed to it.

"Wicked old Wetehinen!" Lisa cried. "I suppose he thinks that ring will tempt me but nothing will tempt me to touch that awful blood!"

Then she rummaged about, opening boxes and chests, and turning things over. In a dark corner she found

two pitchers, one marked Water of Life, the other Water of Death.

"Ha! This is what I want!" she cried, taking the pitcher of the Water of Life.

She set the severed heads of her sisters in place and then with the magic water brought them back to life. She used up all the Water of Life,, so she filled the pitcher marked Water of Life with the water from the other pitcher, the Water of Death. She hid her sisters, each in a big wooden chest, she shut and locked the door of the forbidden room, and when Wetehinen came home he found her working at her spinning wheel as though nothing unusual had happened.

After supper Wetehinen said, "Now scratch my head and make me drowsy for bed."

So Lisa scratched his wicked old head and she did it so well that he grunted with satisfaction.

"Uh! Uh!" he said. "That's good! Now just behind my right ear! That's it! That's it! You're a good girl, you are! You're not like some of them who do what they're told not to do! Now behind the other ear! Oh, that's fine! Yes, you're a, good girl and if there's anything you want me to do just tell me what it is."

"I want to send a chest of things to my poor old father," Lisa said. "Just a lot of little nothings, odds and ends that I've picked up about the house. I'd be ashamed to have you open the chest and see them. I do wish you'd carry the chest ashore tomorrow and leave it where my father will find it."

"All right," Wetehinen promised.

He was true to his word. The next morning he hoisted one of the chests on his shoulder, the one that had in it the eldest sister, he trudged off with it, and tossed it up on shore at a place where he was sure the farmer would find it.

Lisa then wheedled him into carrying up the second chest that had in it the second sister. This time Wetehinen wasn't so good-natured. "I don't know what she can always be sending her father!" he grumbled. "If she sends another chest I'll have to look inside and see."

Now Lisa, when the second sister was safely delivered, began to plan her own escape. She pulled out another empty chest and then one evening after she had succeeded in making old Wetehinen comfortable and drowsy she begged him to carry this also to her father. He grumbled and protested but finally promised.

"And you won't look inside, will you? Promise me you won't!" Lisa begged.

Wetehinen said he wouldn't, but he intended to just the same.

Well, the next morning as soon as Wetehinen went out, Lisa took the churn and dressed it up in some of her own clothes. She carried it to the top of the house and perched it on the ridge of the roof before a spinning wheel. Then she herself crept inside the third chest and waited,

When Wetehinen came home he looked up and saw what he thought was Lisa spinning on the roof.

"Hullo!" he shouted. "What are you doing up there?"

Lisa, in the chest, answered in a voice that sounded as if it came from the roof, "I'm spinning. And you, Wetehinen, my dear, don't forget the chest that you promised to carry to my poor old father. It's standing in the kitchen."

Wetehinen grumbled but because of his promise he hoisted the chest on his shoulder and started off. When he had gone a little way he thought to put it down and take a peep inside. At once Lisa's voice, sounding as if it came from the roof, cried out, "No! You promised not to look inside!"

"I'm not looking inside!" Wetehinen called back. "I'm only resting a minute!"

Then he thought to himself, "I suppose she's sitting up there so she can watch me!"

When he had gone some distance farther, he thought again to set down the chest and open the lid but at once Lisa's voice, as from a long way off, called out, "No! No! You promised not to look inside!"

"Who's looking inside?" he called back, pretending again he was only resting.

Every time he thought it would be safe to put down the chest and open the lid, Lisa's voice cried out, "No! No! You promised not to!"

"Mercy on us!" old Wetehinen fumed to himself, "who would have thought she could see so far!"

On the shore of the lake when he threw down the chest in disgust he tried one last time to raise the lid. At once Lisa's voice cried out, "No! No! You promised not to!"

"I'm not looking inside!" Wetehinen roared, and in a fury he left the chest and started back into the water.

All the way home he grumbled and growled, "A nice way to treat a man, always making him carry chests! I won't carry another one no matter how much she begs me!"

When he came near home he saw the spinning wheel still on the roof and the figure still seated before it.

"Why haven't you got my dinner ready?" he called out angrily.

The figure at the spinning wheel made no answer.

"What's the matter with you?" Wetehinen cried. "Why are you sitting there like a wooden image instead of cooking my dinner?"

Still the figure made no answer and in a rage Wetehinen began climbing up the roof. He reached out blindly and clutched at Lisa's skirt and jerked it so hard that the churn came clattering down on his head. It knocked him off the roof and he fell all the way to the ground and cracked his wicked old head wide open.

"Ouch! Ouch!" he roared in pain. "Just wait till I get hold of that Lisa!"

He crawled to the forbidden room and poured over himself the water that was in the pitcher marked Water of Life. But it wasn't the Water of Life at all, it was the Water of Death, and so it didn't help his wicked old cracked head at all. In fact it just made it worse and worse and worse.

Lisa and her sisters were never again troubled by him nor was any one else that lived on the shores of that lake.

"Wonder what's become of wicked old Wetehinen?" people began saying.

Lisa thought she knew but she didn't tell.

TO TOP

Log, the Hero Who Released the Sun

Once a poor couple had no children. Their neighbours all had boys and girls in plenty but for some reason God did not send them even one.

"If I cannot have a flesh and blood baby," the woman said one day, "I'm going to have a wooden baby."

She went to the woods and cut a log of alder just the size of a nice fat baby. She dressed the log in baby clothes and put it in a cradle. Then for three whole years she and her husband rocked the cradle and sang lullabies to the log baby.

At the end of three years one afternoon, when the man was out chopping wood and the woman was driving the cows home from pasture, the log baby turned into a real baby! It was so strong and hearty that by the time its parents got home it had crawled out of the cradle and was sitting on the floor yelling lustily for food. It ate and ate and ate and the more it ate the faster it grew. It was not any time at all in passing from babyhood to childhood, from childhood to youth, and from youth to manhood. From the start, people of the village knew it as Log, and Log never got any other name.

Log's parents knew from the start that Log was destined to be a great hero. That was why he was so strong and so good. There was no one in the village as strong as he was, or anyone as kind and gentle.

Now just at this time a great calamity overtook the world. The sun, the moon, and the dawn disappeared from the sky and as a result the earth was left in darkness.

"Who have taken from us the sun and the moon and the dawn?" the people cried in terror.

"Whoever they are, "the king said, "they shall have to restore them! Where, O where are the heroes that will undertake to find the sun and the moon and the dawn and return them to their places in the sky?"

There were many men willing to offer themselves for the great adventure but the king realized that, something more was needed than willingness.

"It is only heroes of unusual strength and endurance," he said, "who should risk the dangers of so perilous an undertaking."

So he called together all the valiant youths of the kingdom and tested them one by one. He had some waters of great strength and it was his hope to find three heroes: one who could drink three bottles of the strong waters, a second that could drink six bottles, and a third one to drink nine bottles.

Hundreds of youths presented themselves and out of them all the king found at last two: one was able to take three bottles of the strong waters, the other six bottles.

"But we need three heroes!" the king cried. "Is there no one in this entire kingdom strong enough to drink nine bottles?"

"Try Log!" someone shouted.

All the youths present at once took up the cry, "Log! Log! Send for Log!"

So the king sent for Log and sure enough, when Log came he was able to drink down nine bottles of the strong waters without any trouble at all.

"Here now," the king proclaimed, "are the three heroes who are to release the sun and the moon and the dawn from whoever are holding them in captivity and restore them to their places in the sky!"

He equipped the three heroes for a long journey furnishing them money and food and drink of the strong waters, each according to his strength. He mounted them each on a mighty horse with sword and arrow and dog.

So the three heroes rode off in the dark and the women of the kingdom wept to see them go and the men cheered and wished that they, too, were going.

They rode on and on for many days that seemed like nights till they had crossed the confines of their own country and entered the boundaries of an unknown kingdom beyond. Here the darkness was less dense. There was no actual daylight but a faint greyness as of approaching dawn.

They rode on until they saw looming up before them the towers of a mighty castle. They dismounted near the castle at the door of a little hut where they found an old woman.

"Good day to you, granny!" Log called out.

"Good day, indeed!" the old woman said. "It's little enough we see of the day since the Evil One cursed the sun and handed it over to Suyettar's wicked offspring, the nine-headed serpent!"

"The Evil One!" Log exclaimed. "Tell me, granny, why did the Evil One curse the sun?"

"Because he's evil, my son, that's why! He said the sun's rays blistered him, so he cursed the sun and gave him over to the nine-headed serpent. And he cursed the moon, too, because at night when the moon shone he could not steal. Yes, my son, he cursed the moon and handed her over to Suyettar's second offspring, the six-headed serpent. Then he cursed the dawn because he said he couldn't sleep in the morning because of the dawn. So he cursed the dawn and gave her over to Suyettar's third offspring, the three-headed serpent."

"Tell me, granny," Log said, "where do the three serpents keep prisoner the sun and the moon and the dawn?"

"Listen, my son, and I will tell you: When they go far out in the sea they carry with them the sun and the moon and the dawn. The three-headed serpent stays out there one day and then returns at night. The six-headed serpent stays two days and then returns, and the mighty nine- headed monster does not return until the third night. As each returns a faint glow spreads over the land. That is why we are not in utter darkness."

Log thanked the old woman and then he and his companions pushed on towards the castle. As they neared it, they saw a strange sight that they could not understand. One half of the great castle was laughing and rocking as if in merriment and the other half was weeping as if in grief.

"What can this mean?" Log cried out. "We had better ask the old woman before we go on."

So they went back to the hut and the old woman told them all she knew.

"It is on account of the dreadful fate that is hanging over the king's three daughters," she said. "Those three evil monsters are demanding them one by one. Tonight when the three-headed serpent comes back from the sea he expects to devour the eldest. If the king refuses to give her up, then Suyettar's evil son will devour half the kingdom, half of the castle itself, and half the shining stones. O, that some hero would kill the monster and save the princess and at the same time release the dawn that it might again steal over the world!"

Log and his fellows conferred together and the one they called Three Bottles, because his strength was equal to three bottles of the strong waters, declared that it was his task to fight and conquer the three-headed serpent.

Meanwhile, in the castle preparations for the sacrifice of the oldest princess were going forward. As the king sewed the poor girl into a great leather sack, his tears fell so fast that he could scarcely see what he was doing.

"My dear child," he said, "it should comfort you greatly to think that the monster is going to eat you instead of half the kingdom! Not many princesses are considered as important as half the kingdom!"

The princess knew that what her father said must be true, and she did her best to look cheerful as they slipped the sack over her head. Once inside, however, she allowed herself to cry for she knew that no one could see her.

The sack with the princess inside was carried down to the beach and put on a high rock near the place where Suyettar's sons were wont to come up out of the water.

"Don't be frightened, my daughter!" the king called out as he and all the court started back to the castle. "You will not have to wait for long, for it will soon be evening."

Log and his companions watched the king's party disappear and then Three Bottles solemnly drank down the three bottles of strong waters with which his own King had equipped him. As he was ready to mount his horse, he handed Log the leash to which his dog was attached.

"If I need help," he said, "I'll throw back my shoe and then you then release my dog."

With that he rode boldly down to the beach, dismounted, and climbed up the rock where the unfortunate princess lay in a sack. With one slash of the sword he ripped open the sack and dragged the princess out. She supposed of course that he was the three-headed serpent and at first was so frightened that she kept her eyes tightly shut not daring to look at him. She expected every minute to have him take a first bite and, when minutes and more minutes and more minutes still went by and he did not, she opened her eyes a little crack to see what was the matter.

"Oh!" the princess said. She was so surprised that for a long time she did not dare to take another peep.

"You thought I was the three-headed serpent, did not you?" a pleasant voice asked. "But I'm not. I'm only a young man who has come to rescue you."

The princess murmured, "Oh!" again, but this time the "Oh!" expressed happy relief.

"Yes," repeated the young man, "I am the hero who has come to rescue you. My comrades call me Three Bottles. And while we are waiting for the serpent to come in from the sea I wish you would scratch my head."

The princess was not in the least surprised at this request. Heroes and monsters and fathers seemed always to want their heads scratched.

So Three Bottles stretched himself at the princess' feet and put his head in her lap. He settled himself comfortably and she scratched his head while he gazed out over the dark sea waiting for the serpent to appear.

At first there was nothing to break the glassy surface of the water. They waited, and at last far out they saw three swirling masses rolling landward.

"Quick, princess!" Three Bottles cried. "There comes the monster now! Get down behind the rock and hide there while I meet the creature and chop off his ugly heads!"

The princess, quivering with fright, crouched down behind the rock and Three Bottles, mounting his horse, rode boldly down to the water's edge awaiting the serpent's coming.

It came nearer and nearer in long easy swirls, slowly lifting its three scaly heads one after another. As it approached shore it sniffed the air hungrily. "Fee, fi, fo, fum!" it muttered in a deep voice, repeating the magic rime it had learned from its evil mother, Suyettar,

"Fee, fi, fo, fum!

I smell some yum, yum!

I'll fall on him with a thud!

I'll pick his bones and drink his blood!

Fee,fi, fo, fum! Yum! Yum!"

"Stop boasting, son of Suyettar!" Three Bottles cried. "You'll have time enough to boast after you fight."

"Fight?" repeated the serpent as if in surprise. "Shall we fight, pretty boy, you and I? Very well! Blow then with your sweet breath, blow out a long level platform of red copper whereon we can meet and try our strength each with the other!"'

"Nay," answered Three Bottles. "You blow, and instead of red copper we shall have a platform of black iron."

So the serpent blew and on the iron platform that came of his breath Three Bottles met him in combat. Back and forth they raged, Three Bottles striking right and left with his mighty sword, the serpent hitting at Three Bottles with all his scaly heads and belching forth fire and smoke from all his mouths. Three Bottles whacked off one scaly head and at last a second one, but he was unable to touch the third.

"I shall have to have help," he acknowledged to himself finally, and reaching down he took one of his shoes and threw it over his shoulder back to his comrades who were awaiting the outcome of the struggle. At once they loosed the dog which bounded forward to its master's assistance, and soon with the dog's help Three Bottles was able to dispatch the last head.

He was faint now with weariness and his comrades had to help him back to the old woman's hut where he soon fell asleep.

Night passed and dawn appeared. A great cry of relief and thanksgiving went up from all the earth.

"The dawn! The dawn!" people cried. "God bless the man who has released the dawn!"

Only at the castle was there sorrow still.

"My poor oldest daughter!" the king cried with tears in his eyes. "It was my sacrifice of her that has released the dawn!"

Then he called his servants and gave them orders to gather up his daughter's bones and to bring back the leather sack.

"We shall need it again tonight,"he said. He wiped his eyes and for a moment could say no more. "Yes, tonight we shall have to sew up my second daughter and offer her to the six-headed serpent, him that holds captive the moon. Otherwise the monster will devour half my kingdom, half the castle, and half the shining stones. Ail Ail Ail"

But the servants when they went to the high rock on the seashore found, not the princess' bones, but the princess herself, sitting there with her chin in her hand, gazing down on the beach which was strewn with the fragments of the three-headed serpent.

They led her back to her father and reported the marvel they had seen.

"There, king, lies the monster on the sand with all his heads severed! So huge are the heads that it would need three men with derricks to move one of them!"

"Some unknown hero has rescued my oldest daughter!" the king cried. "Would that another might come tonight to rescue my second child likewise! But, alas! what hero is strong enough to destroy the six-headed monster?"

So when evening came they sewed the second princess in the sack and carried her out to the rock. Log and his companions saw the procession move down from the castle and they saw that the castle was again disturbed, one half of it laughing and one half weeping.

"It's the second princess tonight," the old woman told them. "Unless her father, the king, gives her to the six-headed serpent, the monster will come and eat half the kingdom, half the castle, and half the shining stones. He it is that holds the moon captive and the hero that slays him will release the moon."

Then he whom his comrades called Six Bottles cried out, "Here is work for me!"

He drank bottle after bottle of the strong waters until he had emptied six. "Now I am ready!" he shouted.

He mounted his mighty horse and as he rode off he called to his comrades, "If I need help I'll throw back a shoe and then you unleash my dog!"

He rode to the rock on the shore and dismounted. Then he climbed the rock and released the second princess. He told her who he was and as they awaited the arrival of the six-headed serpent he lay at the princess' feet and she scratched his head.

This time the serpent came in six mighty swirls with six awful heads that reared up one after another. In terror the second princess hid behind the rock while Six Bottles, mounting his horse, rode boldly down to the water's edge.

Like his brother serpent this one, too, came sniffing the air hungrily, muttering the magic rime he had learned from his mother, wicked Suyettar:

"Fee, fi, fo, fum!

I smell some yum, yum!

I'll fall on him with a thud!

I'll pick his bones and drink his blood!

Fee,fi, fo, fum! Yum! Yum!"

"Stop boasting!" Six Bottles cried. "You will have time enough to boast after you fight!"

"Fight?" repeated the serpent scornfully. "Shall we fight, little one, you and I? Very well! Blow then with your sweet breath, blow out a long level platform of white silver whereon we can meet and try our strength one with the other."

"No," answered Six Bottles. "You blow instead, and let it be a platform of red copper,"

So the serpent blew and on the copper platform that came of his breath Six Bottles met him in combat. Back and forth they raged, Six Bottles striking left and right with his mighty sword, the serpent hitting at Six Bottles with every one of his six scaly heads and belching forth fire and smoke from all his mouths. Six Bottles whacked off one head, then another, then another. At last he had disposed of five heads. He tried hard to strike the last, but by this time the serpent had grown wary and Six Bottles' own strength was waning. So he reached down and took one of his shoes and threw it over his shoulder back to his comrades who were awaiting the outcome of the struggle. At once they loosed the dog which bounded forward to its master's assistance. Soon, with the dog's help Six Bottles was able to dispatch the last head.

Then his comrades led him, weary from the fight, to the old woman's hut, and soon he fell asleep.

While he slept, the moon appeared in the sky and a great cry of relief and thanksgiving went up from all the world, "The moon! The moon! God bless the man who has released the moon!"

The king was awakened by the sound and looked out the castle window. When he saw the moon had returned to its place in the sky, his eyes overflowed with grief. "My poor second daughter!" he cried. "It was my sacrifice of her that has released the moon! Tomorrow morning I will send the servants to gather up her bones and to bring back the leather sack into which, alas! I must then sew my youngest daughter for the nine-headed serpent. Ai! Ai! Ai! How sad it is to be a father!"

But on the morrow when the servants went to the rock they found the second princess sitting there alone gazing down on the scattered fragments of the six-headed serpent.

"Here she is, safe and sound!" they reported to the king as they led the second princess to him. And, marvel of marvels! on the beach below the rock lies the body of the six-headed serpent torn to pieces! Its heads, king, are so monstrous that six men with derricks could scarcely move one of them!"

"God be praised!" the king cried. "Another unknown hero has come and saved the life of my second child! Would that a third might come tonight and rescue my youngest child! Alas, she is dearer to me than both the others, but I fear me that even if there be heroes who could dispatch the first two serpents, there is never one who can touch him of the nine heads that holds the mighty sun a captive!"

And the poor king wept, so sure was he that nothing could save the life of his youngest child.

When Log and his companions heard of the king's grief, Log at once stood forth and said, "This last and mightiest battle is for me!" He opened the strong waters and drank bottle after bottle till he had emptied nine. "Now let night come as soon as it will!" he cried. "I am ready for the monster!"

He started forth, telling his comrades he would throw back a shoe if he needed help from his dog.

So it was Log himself who slashed open the sack for the third time and released the youngest princess who was much more beautiful than her sisters. She fell in love with the mighty hero on first sight and was so thrilled with his godlike beauty that when he put his head in her lap she hardly knew what to do although her father always declared that she scratched his head much better than either of her sisters.

They had not long to wait for soon all the sea was a glitter with the swirls of the ninefold monster who was coming to shore with the captive sun in his keeping.

"Wait for me behind the rock!" Log cried to the princess as he leapt on his horse and started forward. "Be careful!" the princess cried after him.

Nearer and nearer came the swirls of the nine-coiled monster. One after another of his nine heads rose and fell as he approached, and every head sniffed more hungrily as it came nearer, and each head rumbled as it sniffed,

"Fee, fi, fo, fum!

I smell some yum, yum!

I'll fall on him with a thud!

I'll pick his bones and drink his blood!

Fee,fi, fo, fum! Yum! Yum!"

"Stop boasting!" Log cried. "You will have time enough to boast after you fight!"

"Fight?" roared the awful monster. "Shall we fight, poor infant, you and I? Very well! Then blow out a long level platform of shining gold. On it, we can meet and try our strength each with the other!"

"No!" Log answered. "You blow. And instead of shining gold we shall have a platform of white silver."

So the monster blew and on the silver platform that came of his breath Log met him in combat. Back and forth they raged, Log striking right and left with his mighty sword, the serpent hitting at Log with all his nine scaly heads and belching forth fire and smoke from all his nine mouths. Log whacked off head after head until six lay gaping on the sand. But the last three he could not get.

Suddenly he pointed behind the serpent and cried, "Quick! Quick! The sun!"

The serpent looked around and Log whacked off a head. Now only two remained, but try as he would Log could get neither of them. Again he tried a subterfuge.

"Your wife! See, over there, they're abusing her!"

The monster looked and Log whacked off another head. But one now remained and as usual it was the hardest of them all to get. Log felt his strength waning while the monster seemed more nimble than ever.

"I shall have to have help," Log thought.

He threw back his shoe to his comrades and they at once loosed his dog. With the dog's help Log was soon able to dispatch the last head. Then Three Bottles and Six Bottles helped him off his horse and supported him to the old woman's hut where he soon fell into a deep sleep.

The next morning the blessed sun rose at his proper time and people all over the world fell on their knees with thanksgiving, and weeping with joy they cried out, "The sun! The sun! God bless the man who has released the sun!"

At the castle they woke up the king with the good news but the king only shook his head and murmured in grief, "Yes, the sun is released but what do I care now that my youngest daughter has been sacrificed!"

He dispatched the servants to gather up her bones. They returned bringing the princess herself and telling a marvelous tale of the beach littered with nine severed heads so huge that it would need nine men with derricks to move one of them.

"What manner of heroes are these who have rescued my daughters!" cried the king. "Let them come forth and I will give them my daughters for wives and half my riches for dowry! But they will have to prove themselves the actual heroes by bringing to the castle the heavy heads of the monsters they have slain."

When Log and his fellows heard this, they laughed with happiness and, strengthening themselves with deep draughts of the strong waters, they gathered together the many heads of the mighty serpents, bore them to the castle, and piled them up at the king's feet. Then Log stepped forward and said: "Here we are, come to claim our reward!"

The king, true to his promise, gave them his daughters in marriage, the oldest to Three Bottles, the second to Six Bottles, and the youngest to Log. Then he apportioned them the half of his riches and, after much feasting and merrymaking, the heroes took their brides and their riches and bidding the king farewell started homewards.

As they rode through a great forest, they sighted a tiny hut. Log motioned his comrades to wait for him quietly, as he crept forward to see who was in the hut. It was well he was cautious for inside the hut was Suyettar herself talking to two other old hags.

"Ay," she was saying, "they have slain my three beautiful sons, my mighty offspring that held captive the sun and the moon and the dawn! But I tell you, sisters, they will pay the penalty. . . ."

To hear better, Log changed himself into a piece of firewood and slipping inside the hut hid himself in the woodpile near the stove.

"Ay, they will pay the penalty!" Suyettar repeated. "I shall have my revenge on them! A fine supper Suyettar shall soon have, yum, yum!

I'll fall on them with a thud!

I'll pick their bones and drink their blood!

Fools, fools, to think they can escape Suyettar's anger!"

"But sister, sister," the two old hags asked, "how will you get them?"

Suyettar looked this way and that to make sure that no one was listening. Then she whispered, "This is how I shall get them: As they come through this forest, the three men with their brides, I. shall send on them a terrible hunger. Then they shall come suddenly on a table spread with tempting food. One bite of that food and they are in my power, he-he! Ay, sisters, tonight Suyettar will have a fine supper! Nothing can save them unless, before they touch the food, someone make the sign of the moss three times over the table. Then table and food would disappear and also the ravening hunger. But even if that happens, Suyettar shall still get them!"

"How, sister, how?" the other two asked.

"Then I should send on them consuming thirst, and then put in their pathway a spring of cold sparkling water. One drop of that water and they are in my power, he-he! Nothing can save them from me unless, before their lips touch the water, someone make the sign of the bark three times over the spring. At that the spring would disappear and also their thirst.

But even if they escape the spring, I shall still get them. I shall send great heaviness on them and a longing for sleep, then let them come on a row of soft inviting feather beds. If they cast themselves on the beds, they are mine, he-he! to feast on as I will! Nothing can save them but that someone make the sign of the tree-top three times over the beds before they touch them.

Oh, sisters, I shall get them one way or another for there is no one to warn them. If there was anyone to warn them, he wouldn't dare tell them what he knows, for he would also know that if he told them he would himself be turned into a blue cross and have to stand forever in the cemetery."

As Log knew now all the dangers that threatened, he slipped away from the woodpile and, when he was outside, took his own shape and hurried back to his comrades.

"Away!" he cried. "We are in great danger!" They all spurred their horses and rode swiftly on until Three Bottles suddenly cried, "Hold, comrades, hold! I am faint with hunger!"

"Me, too!" cried Six Bottles.

At that instant a great table, laden with delicious food, appeared before them.

"Look!" cried the one of them.

"Food!" cried the other.

They flung themselves from their horses and ran towards the table; But quick as they were, Log was quicker. He reached the table first and, raising his hand, made the sign of the moss three times. The table disappeared as suddenly as it had come and with it the strange hunger that had but now consumed them.

"Strange!" Three Bottles exclaimed. "I thought I was hungry, but I'm not!"

"I thought I saw food just now," Six Bottles said. "I must have been dreaming."

So they mounted again and pushed on.

"Danger threatens us," said Log. "We must hurry and not dismount no matter what the temptation."

They agreed, but then one of them cried out, and then the other, "Water! Water! We shall soon perish unless we have water!"

At once by the wayside appeared a spring of cool sparkling water and it was all Log could do to reach it before his fellows. He did get there first and made the sign of the bark three times, so that the spring disappeared and with it the thirst which had but now consumed them all.

"I thought I was thirsty," Three Bottles said, "but I'm not!"

"Why did we dismount?" Six Bottles asked. "There's no water here."

So again they mounted and went forward, and Log, warning them again that danger threatened, begged them not to dismount a third time no matter what the temptation.

They promised they would not, but soon, complaining of fatigue, they wanted to. Their brides, too, swayed in the saddle, overcome with weariness and sleep.

"Dear Log," they said, "let us rest for an hour. See, our brides are drooping with fatigue! One hour's sleep and we shall all be refreshed!"

At once beside them on the forest floor they saw three soft white feather beds. Log leaped to the ground, but before he was able to make the sign of the tree-top over more than one of the beds, his comrades and their brides had fallen headlong on the other two.

And that was the end of poor Three Bottles and Six Bottles and their two lovely brides. There was no way now of saving them from Suyettar. She had them in her power and nothing would induce her to give them up.

As Log and his bride sadly mounted their horse and rode on they heard an evil voice chanting out in triumph, "I'll fall on them with a thud, he-he! I'll pick their bones and drink their blood, he-he!"

"Poor fellows! Poor fellows!" Log said, and the princess wept to think of the awful fate that had overtaken her two sisters.

Well, Log and his bride reached home without further adventure and were received by the king with great honors.

"I knew my heroes were succeeding," the king said, "when first the dawn appeared again, and then the moon, and last the mighty sun. All hail to you, Log, and to your two comrades! But, by the way, where are Three Bottles and Six Bottles?"

"Your Majesty," Log said, "Three Bottles and Six Bottles were brave men both. By their prowess they released the one the dawn, the other the moon. Then in an evil adventure on the way home they perished. I can tell you no more."

"You can tell me no more?" the king said. "Why can you tell me no more? What was the evil adventure in which they perished?"

"If I told you, king, then I, too, should perish, for I should be turned into a blue cross and stood forever in the cemetery!"

"What nonsense!" the king exclaimed. "Who would turn you into a blue cross and stand you forever in the cemetery?"

"That is what I cannot tell you," Log said.

The king laughed and pressed Log no further, but the people of the kingdom, scenting a mystery, insisted on knowing in detail what had happened the other two heroes. So the rumor began to spread that Log himself had done away with them in order that he might gather to himself all the glory of the undertaking.

The king was forced at last to send for him again and to demand a full account of everything.

Log realized that his end was near. He met it bravely. Commending to the king's protection his lovely princess, Log related how the three mighty serpents whom they had killed were sons of Suyettar, and how in revenge Suyettar had succeeded in destroying Three Bottles and Six Bottles together with their brides. Then he told the fate about to overtake himself.

He finished speaking and as the king and the court looked at him, to their amazement he disappeared.

"To the cemetery!" someone cried.

They all went to the cemetery where at once they found a fresh blue cross that had come there nobody knew how. There it stands to this day, a reminder of the life and deeds of the mighty hero Log.

The king was overcome with sorrow at losing such a hero. He took Log's bride under his protection and he found her so beautiful and so gentle that soon he fell in love with her and married her.

Contents


Finnish folktales, fairy tales of Finland, Suomi fairy tales, Literature  

Finnish folktales, fairy tales of Finland, Suomi fairy tales, To top Section Set Next

Finnish folktales, fairy tales of Finland, Suomi fairy tales USER'S GUIDE: [Link]
© 2007–2017, Tormod Kinnes. [Email]  ᴥ  Disclaimer: [Link]