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THE Creator had three diligent servants—two fair and lovely maidens, Videvik and Ämarik, and the slender youth Koit. They fulfilled his orders and looked after his affairs. One evening at sunset, Videvik, the eldest, came back from ploughing with her oxen, and led them to the river to drink. But maidens are always accustomed to think first of their own bright faces, and so was it with the charming Videvik. She thought no more of the oxen, but stepped to the water’s edge and looked down. And behold, her brown eyes and red cheeks looked back upon her from the surface of the stream, and her heart beat with pleasure. But the Moon, whom the Creator had ordered to take the place of the setting sun to enlighten the world, forgot his duty, and hurried down to the earth to the bed of the stream. Here he stayed with Videvik, mouth to mouth and lip to lip.
But while the Moon thus forgot his duty, his light became extinguished, and thick darkness covered the land as he lay on Videvik’s heart. And now a great misfortune happened. The wolf, the wild beast of the forest, who could work mischief when no eye could see him, attacked one of Videvik’s oxen and tore him to pieces. The nightingale sang loudly through the dark thicket, “Idle maid, idle maid, long is the night. Black stripes to the yoke, to the yoke! Bring the whip, bring the whip, whip, whip, whip.” But Videvik heard nothing. She had forgotten everything but her love.
Early in the morning, when Koit rose from his couch, Videvik awakened at last from her dream of love. When she saw the evil deed that the wolf had wrought, she began to weep bitterly. But the tears of her innocent affliction were not hidden from the Creator. He descended from his heaven to punish the evil-doer and to bring the criminal to justice. He dealt out severe punishment to the wolf, and yoked him high in heaven with the ox, to draw water for ever, driven by the iron rod of the pole-star.1 But to Videvik he said, “As the Moon has touched thee with the light of his beauty p. 32 and has wooed thee, I will forgive thee, and if thou lovest him from thy heart, I will not hinder you, and you shall be wedded. But from thee, Videvik, I look for faithful watch and vigilance that the Moon begins his course at the right time, and that deep darkness falls no more on earth at night, when the evil powers can work mischief at their pleasure. Rule over the night, and take care that a happy peace prevails in its course.”
Thus the moon received Videvik as his wife. Her friendly countenance still smiles down upon us, and is reflected in the mirror of the brook, where she first enjoyed the love of her consort.
Then the Creator summoned Koit and Ämarik to his presence, and said, “I will guard against any further negligence respecting the light of the world, lest darkness should again get the upper hand, and I will appoint two watchers under whose care all shall run its course. The Moon and Videvik shall illumine the night with their radiance at the appointed time. Koit and Ämarik, to your watch and ward I intrust the light of day beneath the firmament. Fulfil your duty with diligence. To thy care, my daughter Ämarik, I entrust the sinking sun. Receive him on the horizon, and carefully p. 33 extinguish all the sparks every evening, lest any harm should ensue, and lead him to his setting. Koit, my active son, let it be thy care to receive the sun from the hands of Ämarik when he is ready to begin his course, and to kindle new light, that there may never be any deficiency.”
The two servants of the sun did their duty with diligence, so that the sun was never absent from the sky for a day. Then began the long summer nights when Koit and Ämarik join their hands, when their hearts beat and their lips meet in a kiss, while the birds in the woods sing sweet songs each according to his note, when flowers blossom, the trees flourish, and all the world rejoices. At this time the Creator descended from his golden throne to earth to celebrate the festival of Lijon.1 He found all his works and affairs in good order, and rejoiced in his creation, and said to Koit and Ämarik, “I am well pleased with your management, and desire your lasting happiness. From henceforth be husband and wife.”
But the two exclaimed with one voice, “Father, let us enjoy our happiness undisturbed. We are p. 34 content with our lot, and will remain lover and beloved, for thus we enjoy a happiness which is ever young and new.”
Then the Creator granted them their desire, and returned to his golden heaven.
The versions given by Boecler and Jannsen differ slightly.
1 This story has been already printed in English, (Jones and Kropf, Folk-Tales of the Magyars, pp. 326-328), but I was unwilling to omit it.
1 The constellation of the Great Bear is of course intended.
1 The dictionary gives no further explanation than “Name of a mythical personage.”