Page:Aino folk-tales.djvu/42

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misbehave. So also must you not misbehave, you men who live now!—(Translated literally. Told by Penri, 19th July, 1886.)

xxiii.—The Rat Boy.

In a certain village there lived a very rich couple; but they were childless. They were very anxious for a child. But one day, as the wife went to the mountains to fetch wood, she found a little boy crying beside a tree. Rejoiced at this, she took him down with her to the village. Thenceforth they kept the boy with them. It was a place where there was plenty of deer and also of fish; it was a place provided with all the things which people like to eat. But though they hunted the deer, they could not catch them; though they angled for the fish, they could not catch them. They were very hungry. Hearing that great quantities both of fish and of deer were killed in the village next to theirs, towards the mountains, the wife went off to buy food there, taking the child with her. She went to the village next to theirs, towards the mountains. She went to the house of the chief.

The woman looked and saw fish hanging on poles, and flesh hanging on poles. With tears she longed for some. She went in, she went in to the chief's house. Then she stayed there. She was feasted on the best bits of the fish and on the best bits of the flesh. After that, as she lay down with her little boy, he rose quietly in the middle of the night. Then there was the sound of a rat nibbling at the fish and flesh on the poles. The woman thought it very strange. So at dawn the boy came quietly back, lay down by the woman's side, and slept there till the day was bright. The people of the house rose, and the chief went out and mumbled thus to himself: "Never were there such rats as this. There have been rats nibbling my good fish and my good flesh."

So the woman bought a quantity of fish and flesh and went off with it. She wanted the little boy to walk in front of her; but he disliked to do so. He would only walk after her. Then there was the sound of a rat nibbling at her load. When she looked back, the little boy was grinning. So they went on; they went home. Then she put both the fish and the flesh into the store-house. Then she whispered