The Man Who Lost His Wife
Category: TALES ACCOUNTING FOR THE ORIGIN OF PHENOMENA.
Source: Aino Folktales
A man had lost his wife, and was searching for her everywhere, over hill
and dale, forest and sea-shore. At last he came to a wide plain, on
which stood an oak-tree. Going up to it he found it to be not so much an
oak-tree as a house, in which dwelt a kind-looking old man. Said the old
man: "I am the god of the oak-tree. I know of your loss, and have seen
your faithful search. Rest here awhile, and refresh yourself by eating
and smoking. After that, if you hope to find your wife again, you must
obey my orders, which are as follows: Take this golden horse, get on his
back, fly up on him to the sky, and, when you get there, ride about the
streets, constantly singing."
So the man mounted the horse, which was of pure gold. The saddle and all
the trappings were of gold also. As soon as he was in the saddle, the
horse flew up to the sky. There the man found a world like ours, but
more beautiful. There was an immense city in it; and up and down the
streets of that city, day after day, he rode, singing all the while.
Every one in the sky stared at him, and all the people put their hands
to their noses, saying: "How that creature from the lower world stinks!"
At last the stench became so intolerable to them that the chief god of
the sky came and told him that he should be made to find his wife if
only he would go away. Thereupon the man flew back to earth on his
golden horse. Alighting at the foot of the oak-tree, he said to the
oak-god: "Here am I. I did as you bade me. But I did not find my wife."
"Wait a moment," said the oak-god; "you do not know what a tumult has
been caused by your visit to the sky, neither have I yet told you that
it was a demon who stole your wife. This demon, looking up from hell
below, was so much astonished to see and hear you riding up and down the
streets of heaven singing, that his gaze is still fixed in that
direction. I will profit hereby to go round quietly, while his attention
is absorbed, and let your wife out of the box in which he keeps her shut
The oak-god did as he had promised. He brought back the woman, and
handed over both her and the gold horse to the man, saying: "Do not use
this horse to make any more journeys to the sky. Stay on earth, and
breed from it." The couple obeyed his commands, and became very rich.
The gold horse gave birth to two horses, and these two bred likewise,
till at last horses filled all the land of the Ainos.--(Written down
from memory. Told by Ishanashte, 21st July, 1886.)
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