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The Stolen Charm


Source: Aino Folktales

A very rich man kept a puppy and a fox-cub. Besides these he possessed a
tiny silver model of a ship,--a charm given to him by some god, what god
I know not. One day this charm was stolen, and could nowhere be found.
The rich man was so violently grieved at this, that he lay down and
refused all food, and was like to die. Meanwhile the puppy and the
fox-cub played about in his room. But when they saw, after some time,
that the man was really going to die, the fox-cub said to the puppy: "If
our master dies, we shall die of hunger too; so we had better search for
the charm." So they consulted as to the best way to search for it; and
at last the fox-cub was struck by the idea that the ogre who lived at
the top of the large mountain that stands at the end of the world might
have stolen the charm and put it into his box. The fox-cub seemed to see
that this had really happened. So the two little animals determined to
go and rescue the charm from the ogre. But they knew that they could not
accomplish this alone, and resolved to add the rat[-god] to their
number. So they invited the rat, and the three went off, dancing

Now the ogre was always looking steadily in the direction of the sick
rich man, hoping that he would die. So he did not notice the approach of
the fox-cub, the dog, and the rat. So when they reached the ogre's
house, the rat, with the help of the fox-cub, scooped out a passage
under and into the house, by which all three made their way in. They
then decided that it must be left to the rat to get hold of the charm by
nibbling a hole in the box in which it was kept. Meanwhile the fox-cub
assumed the shape of a little boy, and the puppy that of a little
girl,--two beautiful little creatures who danced and went through all
sorts of antics, much to the amusement of the ogre. The ogre was,
however, suspicious as to how they had come into the house, and whence
they had come, for the doors were not open. So he determined just to
divert himself awhile by watching their frolics, and then to kill them.
Meanwhile the rat had nibbled a hole in the box. Then getting into it,
he rescued the charm, and went out again through the passage in the
ground. The little boy and girl disappeared too; how, the ogre could not
tell. He made to pursue them through the door, when he saw them fleeing.
But on second thoughts he came to the conclusion that, having once been
taken in by a fox, there was no use in further endeavours. So he did not
follow the three animals as they fled away.

They returned to the village; the puppy and the fox-cub to their
master's house, the rat to its own place. The puppy and the fox-cub took
home with them the charm, and placed it by their master's pillow,
playing about near him, and pulling his clothes a little with their
teeth. At length he lifted his head and saw the charm. Then he
worshipped it with great joy and gratitude. Afterwards the fox-cub and
the puppy caused him to see in a dream how the charm had been recovered
through the rat's assistance. So he worshipped the rat also.

For this reason the Ainos do not think so very badly of the rat after
all. The fox, too, though often pursued by dogs, will sometimes make
friends with them; and even when a dog is pursuing a fox, it will not
bite the latter if it turns its face towards the pursuer.--(Written down
from memory. Told by Ishanashte, 21st November, 1886.)

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