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Mighty Mikko

  Once upon a time, there lived a woodsman and his only son. The small family was poor, but the woodsman had faith that his son would someday be a Very Important Man. When the old man got sick and lay on his deathbed, he pulled his son, Mikko, to him.
  “I have nothing to leave you, Mikko, but this hut and some old hunting traps. Still, be brave and have faith. In the morning, go check those traps. The first two will be empty, but keep safe whatever animal you find in the third.”
  With that, the old man fell asleep, and never woke up again. Mikko cried his heart out and in the early morning, when the ground was moist with dew, he buried his father down the path from the hut, which they had shared. After he finished that dirty job, he followed his father’s directions and walked in the woods, checking the three traps. The first two were empty, like the old woodsman had predicted.
  In the third, though, was a wounded red fox. Mikko set him free and picked him up in his arms. Although the fox was a wild animal, he didn’t bite him or struggle. He let Mikko carry him back to the hut, tend his wounds and even share his supper with him. Soon, the fox’s health was back to 100% from table scraps Mikko would share. They liked each other a lot and declared their friendship by helping and sharing with one another. Mikko planted wheat for bread and beans for soup and the Fox shared the rabbits he would catch.
  One day, Mikko confessed,  “I am lonely.”
    “You have me.”
    “Yes, but I am a man and you are a fox. I need another person around”
    “Then, get married.”

“I can’t. I’m too poor. No one would ever have me as I am.”

“That’s ridiculous. You are a kind companion and a gentleman. Even the Princess could do no better.”

“Right, a princess! You are funny, my friend. How would I even meet a princess, much less convince her to marry someone like me?”

“Leave it to me. Be brave. Have faith.”

Mikko shook his head. “Alright, I will be brave and have faith.”

With that promise, the Fox trotted out the door.

  After a few days of walking, the Fox came to the King’s castle. He walked in, just like he belonged there, so none of the servants or guards even questioned him. When the Fox was finally standing before the King, he said very confidently,  “My master, Mighty Mikko, sends you greetings.”
  Now, the King met a lot of people in his profession. Since the Fox was acting so confidently, he began to wonder if he had indeed forgotten a very important person named Mighty Mikko, who happened to employ a talking Fox. He didn’t want to be embarrassed, so he just nodded like he knew exactly what the Fox was saying.
    “Ah yes, ‘Mighty Mikko’. How is your fine master?”
    “He is good, m’lord, but he was wondering if he could ask a small favor. Since you are such good friends, Mighty Mikko would like to borrow your scale.”
    “Of course, of course.”
    The King gestured for his servants to bring the scale, which he used for measuring all sorts of thing, and gave it to the Fox. The Fox thanked the servants and the King and went on his way. But he did not go back to Mikko.
  He hid the scale in the woods and then he snuck around town, eavesdropping and listening to the conversations of rich merchants. Rich men always dream of their treasures and they also have a tendency to talk in their sleep. By sneaking around bedroom windows, the Fox heard exactly where all the merchants had buried their stashes of coins.
  Guess what the Fox did next. He went to each of the hiding places- taking a gold coin from here, silver coin from there, and a handful of copper coins from over yonder. Then he went back to his own hiding place, where he had hidden the King’s scale. He stuck the coins into the cracks of the scale.
  The next day, he returned to the King’s court, carrying the scale. The King was curious what ‘Mighty Mikko’ would measure in the scale, so he looked inside. There he saw the coins glinting up at him.

“Only a very rich man would be so careless with his treasures. I want to meet him!” thought the King. Aloud, he said to the Fox, “Why don’t you invite your master here for dinner tomorrow? We have so much to catch up on.”

The Fox shook his head sadly. “I’m afraid that won’t be possible. You see, he is preparing for a Big Trip to meet all the princesses in the land. He’s looking for someone to marry, you know?”

Well, the King decided he wanted this Mighty Mikko to marry his daughter and share his gold, so he starts to talk really smooth and persuasive, saying the whole castle could wrap its schedule around MIghty Mikko’s traveling agenda. Maybe he could just pop in for tea or breakfast or whatever he would like. Couldn’t he please just come by for 10 minutes?

The Fox leaned forward, as if he was going to tell a secret. “Honestly, your Highness? I don’t know if you would recognize my Master. Sometimes Mighty Mikko likes to dress up in disguise as a poor woodsman, with only me as attendant.”

“Well, that’s all? Bring him here and I will dress him in the best clothes we have.”

“Really?” the Fox grinned. And then he began to really bargain smoothly and persuasively. By the time he left, the King promised to provide  the very finest of clothes, the shiniest of boots, and a hat the colour of plums with a long peacock feather. In answer to these offers, do you know what the Fox said to the King?

“I’ll see if Mighty Mikko has time to stop by tomorrow.”

When the Fox told Mikko of his adventures, the young man began to worry.

“A castle visit?! With the King and the Princess? How on earth am I supposed to act?”

“Oh, Mikko. You are a kind companion and a gentleman. Just be yourself. And above all, be brave and have faith.”

“Alright, I will be brave and have faith, you old flatterer.”

By the time, Mighty Mikko and the Fox arrived at the King’s castle, the whole staff, the King and the Princess were looking for him. The Princess was the one who spotted him first, from her tall tower window. Even though he was dressed as a poor man, she could see his handsomeness and kindness shining through.

“I think I would marry him, even if he really was a poor woodsman,” she thought and quickly dressed in her finest clothes to meet him, face to face.

By the time, she got downstairs, her father had dressed Mighty Mikko in the very finest of clothes, the shiniest of boots, and a hat the colour of plums with a long peacock feather. He looked very handsome, all cleaned up like that. Over tea and biscuits, the conversation of Mikko, the King, and the Princess was filled with jokes and clever things to say. The Princess was completely enchanted by Mikko’s modest kindness and thought, “I will marry him, no matter what!”

  After Teatime, Mikko and the Princess went on a walk in the gardens, leaving the King and the Fox to discuss “Business”. The Fox knew he could smell Love on the Princess and his dear friend. He smiled a crafty smile to himself. Quickly though, he put on a serious face and turned to the King.

“My master the Mighty Mikko decides his mind quickly, which is what makes him so mighty.” the Fox remarked to the King. “Your Highness, my Master the Mighty Mikko wishes to marry your daughter, the Princess.”

The King was so excited about this news, all he could say was, “Yes, yes, yes!”

So, after a year and a day, when Mikko and the Princess knew each other a lot better and loved each other even more, a great wedding feast was held. But that is not the end of the story.

After a while, Mikko came to the Fox and told him that he was worried.

“Now I’m married, what am I to do? My wife and I cannot live with my Father-in-Law, the King, forever. We need a place to live of our own and I am still just a poor man, dressed in fine clothes.”

“Be brave and have faith.” his friend said, “Tonight, tell the king to visit you in your castle tomorrow night.”

“But I have no castle, Fox. You know that.”

    “Tomorrow you will... Leave at dawn and travel north till you come to the crossroads. From there, turn Left till you see the towers of a great castle. Whatever men and women you meet in the fields, ask them who their boss is, and do not be surprised at their answer.”

“Be brave and have faith, my friend.”

The Fox left as the sun went down and the castle family was sitting down to dinner. As Mikko, the King, and the Princess ate in the comfort of their table, the Fox was looking for the crossroads in the dark. When he reached them, he turned Left without even a glance to the right.

On his way toward the towers of the great castle, he met the cutters, gatherers, and other people who worked in the fields.

“Hello,” he said. “How are you this evening? Why are you working this late in the day?“

“Oh, our master is a wicked old dragon, who makes us work day and night.”

“Poor people. You should reject your master. Did you not know that the King is on his way tomorrow with an army to destroy the Dragon and its people?”

“No we had not heard. Save us, kind Fox!”

“Well, if the King asks you for whom you work, tell him Mighty Mikko and he will spare you and you will have a kind master, who will not make you work so hard.”

    Again and again, the Fox told the people he met to reject their wicked Dragon master and follow Mikko. The people agreed, grateful to be given a second chance.

    Finally, the Fox arrived at the great castle, where the wicked Dragon lived. He walked in, just like he belonged there, so none of the servants or guards even questioned him. By talking to them, he learned that the wicked Dragon used to be tough, but now was lazy, spending most of his days sleeping on his big pile of gold rather than breathing fire. When the Fox was finally standing before the Dragon, he said in the most admiring voice, “Excuse me, aren’t you famous?”
    The Dragon roused himself and looked at the tiny Fox. His chest puffed up with pride and sulfur. “Why, yes, I am. I defeated the prince who used to live here and now I sleep on his pile of gold and make his people work day and night!”
    “Oh good,” said the Fox. “Because the King is coming to destroy you and it sounds like you can take care of yourself just fine.”
    The Dragon looked worried. He knew he wasn’t as in shape as he used to be. “When is he coming?”

“Right now.” said the Fox. “That’s why I ran away.”

The Dragon looked around at all his gold. “Maybe I should pack for a vacation.”

“You don’t have time.” said the Fox. “Why don’t you hide in the fireworks shed? He’ll never look for you there.”

The Dragon lumbered into the shed, curling up as small as he could. The Fox stuffed the door closed... and locked it tight. When the Dragon found he couldn’t get out, he got very angry and started huffing and puffing and... Pow! Whizz! Zing! Bam! The fireworks went off everywhere, blowing up the whole shed. Needless to say, no more Dragon.

Meanwhile, Mikko, the King and the Princess were admiring the fireworks from their castle.

“Oh, Mighty Mikko, is that just for us?” cried the Princess, thinking the celebration was perfect, as they set off on their trip at dawn.

“Um, who else would it be for?” asked Mikko, trying to be brave and have faith. To himself, he thought, “Oh, Fox, what have you gotten us into now?”

The three got into the King’s carriage and rolled down the road. When they came to the crossroads, they turned Left toward the towers of a great castle. Every once in a while, the King would stop the carriage, admire the scenery, and talk to the people working in the fields.

“Who owns this land? For whom do you work so happily?”

“Oh, your Highness, Mighty Mikko is our kind master,” the people would always reply.

Over and over, the King got the same answer. Needless to say, he was quite impressed with his new son-in-law, who sat surprised, but silent. Finally, the carriage arrived at the great castle, where a lavish feast and celebration was prepared. They had a wonderful time- eating, dancing and talking.

After a few days, the King returned to his own castle, leaving Mikko and the Princess to settle into their new home. On the same day, the Fox announced that he too had to return to the woods.

“For I have paid you back, dear Mikko, for saving my life.” And with a flick of his red tail, the Fox was gone. After all, it was Mikko’s kindness, bravery, and strong faith in his dying father’s instructions that brought him such good friends and good life.

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Comment by Reisa Stone on January 14, 2011 at 7:13pm
I can tell you're a terrific teller in person, by the way this story is worded. Very conversational, good peaks and valleys. Nice job!



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