THE SEA KING'S GIFT 221
words of the magic rhyme, altering the words to suit the longings of her heart:
Oh, Ahti, with the long, long beard,
Who dwellest in the deep blue sea, Finest treasures have I heard,
And glittering fish belong to thee. The richest pearls beyond compare
Are stored up in thy realm below, And Ocean's cows so sleek and fair
Feed on the grass in thy green meadow.
King of the waters, far and near,
I ask not of thy golden store, I wish not jewels of pearl to wear,
Nor silver either, ask I for, But one is odd and even is two,
So give me a cow, sea-king so bold, And in return I'll give to you
A slice of the moon, and the sun's gold.
' What's that you're humming ? ' asked the old man.
' Oh, only the words of an old rhyme that keeps running in my head,' answered the old woman; and she raised her voice and went on :
Oh, Ahti, with the long, long beard, Who dwellest in the deep blue ?3a,
A thousand cows are in thy herd, I pray thee give one unto me.
' That's a stupid sort of song,' said Matte. ' What else should one beg of the sea-king but fish ? But such songs are not for Sunday.'
His wife pretended not to hear him, and sang and sang the same tune all the time they were on the water. Matte heard nothing more as he sat and rowed the heavy boat, while thinking of his cracked pipe and the fine tobacco. Then they returned to the island, and soon after went to bed.
But neither Matte nor Maie could sleep a wink ; the