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The Hero of Esthonia and Other Studies in the Roma

The Alevide asked what she was cooking


[Footnote

82: Here we have the great oak-tree mentioned in Cantos 5 and 6 reappearing in another connection.]

[Footnote 83: The Flyer.]

[Footnote 84: In the present canto the Kalevide is never spoken of as of gigantic size, unless we may consider feats like this as implying it.]

[Footnote 85: Baring Gould considers this country to be the North Cape, but the geography of the voyage is confused.]

[Footnote 86: The Maelstroem?]

[Footnote 87: The commentators identify this island with Iceland, but the voyagers were apparently on the wrong side of Scandinavia to reach either the Maelstroem or Iceland. Still we have both geysers and volcanoes in the text.]

[Footnote 88: Here the Kalevide's sun begins to decline, for the first of his faithful companions leaves his side, as Hylas left Heracles.]

[Footnote 89: This is Chamisso's Alsatian legend, "Das Riesenspielzeug," "The Giant's Toy," usually called in English translations "The Giant's Daughter and the Peasant." The girl in the poem seems to have far exceeded even the Kalevide in stature; and we may remember Gulliver's remark respecting the Brobdingnagians--"Who knows but that even this prodigious race of mortals might be equally overmatched in some distant part of the world whereof we have yet no discovery?"]

style="text-align: justify;">[Footnote 90: Throughout this passage the giant is usually called simply the magician, and the other "the wise man."]

[Footnote 91: Asking riddles of this kind was a common amusement in Northern Europe. Compare Prior's _Danish Ballads_, i. 185, 334.]

[Footnote 92: Baring-Gould ingeniously suggests that this country is Greenland, and that the Dog-men are Esquimaux, clad in furs, and riding in dog-sledges. The end of this canto is inconsequential, for the hero should have reached his goal during this voyage, not by a land-journey afterwards.]

CANTO XVII

THE HEROES AND THE DWARF

Olev had now built a magnificent city, fortified with towers and ditches, around the burial-mound of Kalev. Large numbers of people flocked to it, and the Kalevide named it Lindanisa, in memory of his mother.[93] Other fortified cities were founded by the Alevide and the Sulevide.

But news came that hostile troops were landing on the coast, and the Kalevide mounted his war-horse. The king wore a golden helmet, gold spurs, and a silver belt, and carried a shield of gold, and the steed was all caparisoned with gold and silver and pearls, while the maidens of the country looked on with admiration.

The Kalevide and his three friends fought a pitched battle with the countless forces of the enemy on the plains of Esthonia. Their heads fell before him like autumn leaves, and their scattered limbs were strewn about in heaps like straw or rushes. His horse waded in blood and bones to the belly; for the Kalevide slaughtered his enemies by tens of thousands, and would have utterly annihilated them, but, as he was pursuing the fugitives over hill and dale, his horse lost his footing in a bog, and was engulfed in the morass.

As the Kalevide was unable to continue the pursuit after the loss of his horse, he recalled his troops and divided the booty. Then he sent his soldiers to carry news of the victory to the towns and villages throughout the country, and he and his three friends set out on a journey across the plains and swamps, and through primeval forests, making a pathway for others as they advanced. At length they came to a place where smoke and flames were shooting up into the air, and when they reached the spot they found an old woman sitting at the mouth of a cave and stirring the fire under a pot. The Alevide asked what she was cooking, and she answered, "Cabbage for my sons and for myself." Then the son of Sulev said they were hungry travellers, and asked her to give them some, and to take a rest while they finished the cookery. The old woman consented, but warned them, if a strange youth asked to be allowed to taste the broth, to take good care that he did not empty the pot and leave them nothing. Three of the heroes at once volunteered to take turns to watch the pot, but the Kalevide said nothing. Then the old woman crept into the bushes, and hid herself in a wolf's den.


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