The Man Who Lost His Wife

: 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
br /> 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.)