"MERCY me!" thought Mikko to himself as he watched Varis, the Crow, fly away, "this is certainly my unlucky day! There I had my dinner right in my hand and then lost it!"
Sighing and shaking his head he sauntered slowly back to the forest.
Now it happened that Osmo, the Bear, had just lost his wife and was out looking for some one to bewail her death. The first person he met was Pekka, the Wolf.
"Pekka," he said, "my wife's dead and I'm out looking for a good strong mourner. Can you mourn?"
"Me? Indeed I can! Just listen!"
Pekka, the Wolf, pointed his nose to the sky and let out a long shivery howl.
"There!" he said. "I don't believe you'll find any one that can do any better than that!"
But Osmo, the Bear, shook his head.
"No, Pekka, you won't do. I don't like your mourning at all!"
The Bear ambled on and presently he met the Hare.
"Good day, Jussi," he said. "Are you any good at mourning? Show me what you can do."
The Hare gave some frightened squeaks as his idea of mourning the dead.
"No, no," Osmo said, "I don't like your mourning either."
So he walked on farther until by chance he met the Fox.
"Mikko," he said, "my wife's dead and I'm out looking for a good strong mourner. Can you mourn?"
"Can I? Indeed I can!" the Fox declared. "I'm a marvel at mourning! I can wail high and low and soft and loud and just any way you want! Listen!" And Mikko, beginning with a little whimpering sound, slowly rose to a high heartrending cry. This is what he wailed:
"Med! Med! Med!
The Bear's Wife is dead!
Lax! Lax! Lax!
No more she'll spin the flax!
Eyes! Eyes! Eyes!
No more she'll bake the pies!
Air! Air! Air!
No more she'll drive the mare!
Shakes! Shakes! Shakes!
There'll be no more little cakes!
Darth! Darth! Darth!
Throw the pots on the hearth
For the Bear's Wife is dead!
Med! Med! Med!"
Osmo, the Bear, was deeply moved.
"Beautiful! Beautiful!" he grunted hoarsely. "How well you knew her! Come along home with me, Mikko, and start right in! Oh, how beautifully you wail!"
So Mikko went home with the Bear. The old Bear Wife was laid out on a bench in the kitchen.
"Now then," the Bear said, "you begin the wailing while I cook the porridge."
"No, no, Osmo," the Fox said, "I couldn't possibly wail in here! The place is full of smoke and my voice would get husky in two minutes! Can't you lay her out in the storehouse?"
The Bear demurred but the Fox insisted and at last had his way. So together they dragged the body of the old Bear Wife out to the storehouse. The Fox stood beside the body ready to begin his wailing and the Bear went back to the kitchen.
The moment the Bear was out of sight Mikko, the rascal, instead of bewailing the old Bear Wife began gobbling her up! He just gobbled and gobbled and gobbled as fast as he could.
"What's the matter?" the Bear called out after a few minutes. "Why don't you begin?"
The Fox made no reply but kept on gobbling as hard as he could.
"Mikko! Mikko!" the Bear called out again. "What's the matter? Why aren't you howling?"
By this time the Fox had made a good dinner, so he called back:
"Don't bother me! I'm busy eating! Yum! Yum! Yum! Bear meat is awful good! Just give me a few more minutes and I'll be finished!"
At that the Bear rushed out of the kitchen in a terrible rage but the Fox was already running off and the Bear was unable to catch him. He did hit the end of his tail with the long spoon with which he had been measuring the meal, but that was all.
Mikko, the rascal, got safely away. However, to this day his tail shows the white mark of the meal.