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in a ring, do not interfere. In another second
the courier's hand is raised quick as thought,
and something glitters in it! Ah!——

It is only an extra piece of money, and the
two opponents are embracingthey are smiling
and laughing. The little drama is all in the
interest of courier, whose master is looking on,
and who thinks what a treasure of a fellow he
has secured. The storm is lulled, and picturesque
postboy goes on his way rejoicing.


IN the Germania of Tacitus, mention is made
of a northern nation, called the Æsthyi, and
in very early times the Southern and Western
Germans, who were great travellers, gave
the name Æstier or Eistier to the inhabitants of
the eastern coast of the Baltic. It may be
remarked that, in the history of Northern Europe,
the Baltic plays a similar part to that of the
Mediterranean in the South.

Not, however, till a comparatively recent date
was it discovered that the name which had been
loosely applied to several races, would be
correctly limited to the inhabitants of that
northern part of the eastern coast which now
forms Revel and a portion of Livonia. The
region, which is bounded on the north by the
Gulf of Finland, on the west by the Baltic,
and on the east by the river Nerowa and Lake
Peipus, has been the residence, from time
immemorial, of a people of Finnish extraction,
who are proud of their position as aborigines of
their country, and thoroughly aware of the
distinction between themselves and their
neighbours. The Esthonian calls his country "Meie
Ma" (our land), and himself "Maa Mees"
(man of the soil), to avert the possibility of
confusion on the subject.

Like most northern nations, the early
Esthonians had a great respect for war, and were
dexterous in the use of clubs, lances, slings, and
short knives, as weapons of offence. Those who
died in battle were honoured with a funereal
pyre, and their ashes were deposited in
ornamental urns. As for the profession of piracy,
it was deemed rather estimable than otherwise.

Nevertheless, the Esthonians, though they
shared the fighting propensities of their
neighbours, were not an especially warlike people.
While the legends of other Finnish races
celebrate savage combats and ruthless victories,
those of the Esthonians point to a peaceful,
secluded state of existence as the perfection of
felicity. The seat of all their legends is the
eastern part of their country, near Lake Peipus
and the river Embach, or as the natives call it,
"Emmajöggi." This is the land of antiquity
and wonder.

The origin of the river is itself the subject of
a curious myth. Soon after the earth (which,
as in other systems, is a flat disc) was created,
and the broad heaven with its radiant sun and
glittering stars arched over its surface, the
animals began to disobey the commands of Old
Father, the Supreme Being, and persecuted and
molested each other. Old Father summoned
them all to his presence, and told them that he
had originally formed them for peace, happiness,
and freedom, but that he now found they
required the government of a king, who would
curb their evil propensities. The new monarch
would arrive on the bank of a brook, which must
be dug expressly for his reception, and sufficiently
deep and broad to become the "Emmajöggi" (or
Mother Brook) of smaller streams. The earth
dug up in the formation of the brook was to
stand as a tall mountain, which Old Father
promised to crown with a wood, as the residence
of the future king.

Obedient on this occasion to the commands of
Old Father, most of the animals set about the
performance of their task. The cock, by crowing,
indicated the course which the stream was
to take, and the fox, who followed him, marked
it with his tail. The first furrow was drawn by
the mole, the badger worked underground, the
wolf scraped up the earth with his feet and
snout, the bear carried it away, and even the
birds contributed their assistance.

When Old Father inspected the diggings,
he expressed himself highly satisfied with the
labourers. By way of conferring an appropriate
reward on each species of merit, he decreed that
in commemoration of their dirty work, the bear
and the mole should look dirty for the rest of
their lives, and that the wolf should always
have a black snout and feet in honour of his
raking. Two of the animals fell into disgrace.
One was the crab, whom Old Father missed
from the industrious throng, much to his anger,
as he thought that a creature so liberally
provided with claws had no right to be lazy. The
crab, on the other hand, having just crawled
out of the mud, was much nettled at being
overlooked, and profanely asked Old Father if
he carried his eyes behind him. The punishment
of this impertinence was the immediate
transfer of the crab's own eyes to the
uncomfortable position to which he had lightly
referred. The other offender was a grey-plumed
bird, called by the Germans the "Stutzer"
(fop). This delinquent, instead of taking part
in the work, hopped from bough to bough,
sunning his fine feathers, and rejoicing in the
music of his own song. To the reproof which
he received from Old Father on account of his
rebellious idleness, he pertly answered that he
thought it would be highly discreditable to soil
his beautiful plumage with such dirty work as
digging. His punishment was manifold. His
legs, which had previously been white, and
which he had been unwilling to soil, became
black; he was forbidden to quench his thirst
with the water of the stream, and obliged to
remain content with the drops that hung upon
the leaves; he was prohibited from singing,
save on the approach of a storm, when other
creatures got out of the way.

The ends of justice thus answered, Old
Father filled the new-dug bed with water, which
he poured from a golden urn and animated with
his breath.