There once lived two dogs on the coast of Dalmatia. One was as black as the smooth ebony stones scattered on the shore. The other as white as the crying gulls who rode on the whispering wind.
The black hound was Midnight and he belonged to the Night. He moved in the darkness, a shifting shadow under the velvet sky. His coat glistened beneath the pale glow of the moon and he wore the starlight as his crown.
The white dog was called Morning, for she belonged to the Sun. Daylight danced on her back and she frolicked in the faint pink blush of the sunrise. She chased flitting fish and scurrying crabs, leaving a trail of paw prints in her wake. When dusk approached and the sun climbed into bed, Morning did the same.
As was his custom, Midnight rose with the beams of the moon. Night watched him as he rolled in the surf, his body disappearing into the cool water. Then he noticed the paw prints on the water’s edge. The black dog walked over to investigate the indentions in the shore. He cocked his head and wondered where they had come from. Gingerly, he lifted his own paw and placed it in one of the prints. It was a perfect match.
He lowered his nose and inhaled the scent of Morning, her soft pink toe pads and slender white legs. Her fragrance moved inside him and he felt a strange stirring from deep within. Each grain of sand spoke to him of Morning. In her footprints, he saw her goodness and light. And though he had never met her, he began to love her.
Day after day, Morning spread her warmth over the beach. Midnight treasured each paw print she left behind as if it were made of gold. At daybreak, Midnight held his breath as the moon retreated from its dark cushion. He dreamed one day Night and Sun would kiss in the sky and he would at long last see his treasured Morning face to face. It seemed impossible, but he yearned to love Morning in the light of day.
At long last Midnight could no longer stand the agony and he howled to the moon as it hung in the twilight. It was the deep, mournful howl of unrequited love. He beseeched the moon, the stars and the black sky. “Please let me walk in the light. Just once.”
The Night thundered with anger. Midnight crouched and tucked his tail between his legs as jagged lightning cursed the sky. In the booming clouds he heard the voice of Night itself speaking to him.
“Midnight, you are a creature of Night. You belong to the darkness.”
The fury of Night whipped all around him, but Midnight refused to give up. “Please, I beg of you. Just let me see her, if only for a moment.”
Night answered from the thundering storm. “What you ask is against nature. Moon and Sun do not dance together in the sky. If you stay on this beach when Sun comes up, you will surely die.”
In this chastisement, Midnight saw a promise. As he understood it, he could choose to stay and see Morning. He could watch Sun peek over the dunes in all her radiance. He could at long last look into Morning’s sweet and perfect eyes. Surely a moment in the light would be worth turning his back on the darkness.
So, he stayed. He kept his vigil and waited on the shore. Moon crept downward and just before she spilled into the vast sea, Sun’s rays shimmered on the horizon. And Midnight saw Morning coming over the dunes.
They looked at one another. In Morning’s eyes, Midnight saw the promise of the Sun and he chose to stay.
They had only one day together before Night reclaimed Midnight and he was gone forever. But his memory lived on in the litter of puppies Morning bore sixty days after Midnight perished. When Night saw the puppies, she mourned the loss of her Midnight and cried big black tears of darkness which fell in inky black spots on the puppies’ pearly coats.
This is the story of how Midnight chose to walk out of the darkness and bask in the glory of the Sun, even if just for a moment. It is also the story of how all Dalmatians came to bear the mournful mark of the black tears of Night and Mistress Moon.
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