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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/35

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MAGIC SONGS OF THE FINNS.

V.


XLI.—The Origin of the Cowhouse Snake or Worm (Läävamato)[1]


(a.)

A SERVING-GIRL was sitting upon a cloud, a woman upon the edge of a [rain]bow. The girl was combing her head, was brushing her hair with a copper comb, with a silver brush. A hair loosened from the brush, a tooth broke off the comb and fell down to the clear and open sea, to the illimitable waves. A wind rocked it to and fro, a current jolted it ashore into a hole in a stone, to the vicinity of a thick stone. Then it twisted itself into a ‘distaff’, changed itself into a snake, stretched itself out towards a cattle-shed, took its departure into a cowhouse, into the litter of a shed, under the scaly husks of hay. Then it rustled into bins, darted along like a lizard, and placed itself under rafters, under the milk of a barren cow It lived at the feet of old women, was always at the women’s heels, used to crawl to the milk-pails, crept lightly to the butter-tubs.


(b.)

An old woman that lived near a sound was combing her head with a silver brush, with a copper comb. A bristle

  1. Lönnrot in his Dictionary explains this word by: a night mare; an imaginary four-footed bird that attacked the cattle in the cowhouse. But in the Loitsurunoja it is portrayed as a white snake or worm, addicted to stealing milk.