Sacred-Texts Asia
Index Previous Next

p. 28

3. (The Girl and the Skull.)

 Once upon a time there was an old man and his wife. They were three in the family. Their daughter was the third. The daughter was a girl unmarried, without a husband. This daughter had a separate sleeping-room. They had two sleeping-rooms. That of the daughter was separate. She was sleeping all by herself. The parents were sleeping together.

 Once upon a time the (young) woman went out and was walking about there. Then she found a bare skull lying in the wilderness. She put it into one leg of her breeches and took it home, this human skull. She carried it into her sleeping-room. There she concealed it. She made a cap, puckered (along the border). With that cap she covered the skull. Then every evening, as soon as the sleeping-rooms had been put in order, the woman sets the skull near the rear wall, then she laughs at it. And that bare skull also laughs a little, "Hm!" Her mother heard it, and said, "What may she be laughing p. 29 at, this one?" — "I am laughing only at a cap, newly made and adorned." Thus she deceives her mother. Then every time when she awakes in the morning, she puts the skull in the bottom of the bag, lest they should find it.

 Once, when the girl was again walking outside, her mother took out the contents of her daughter's bag-pillow.1 She was looking for something, and therefore searched in the bag-pillow of her daughter. Suddenly she caught that skull by the mouth and took it out. She was startled. "Oh, oh, oh, horror! horror!2 What has become of our daughter? How very strange! Our [quite] unmarried daughter has become a ke´lẹ, she has become an abomination, an object of fear.3 Oh, wonder! what is she now? Not a human being. In truth, she is a ke´lẹ."

 The father presently said, "Oh, let us leave! No need of her. You speak to her to-morrow, and invite her to a walk outside with you."

 Just as before (the mother) filled her bag-pillow and closed it in the p. 30 same manner. The girl came back, it grew dark, and they lay down to sleep. Again she set (the skull) in the evening before herself, and laughed at it, "Hi, hi!" And the other answered, "Hm!"

 "How wonderful you are, O woman! Why are you laughing so, being alone, quite alone in your sleeping-room?" — "No, indeed! I am only laughing at a cap, newly made and adorned."

 On the next day the mother said, "Let us go and fetch fuel." They gathered fuel, cut wood, and broke off (branches of) bushes. Then the mother said, "The wood-binding is too short. I will go and get some more. Surely, I shall be back soon." — "No, indeed, I will go." — "No, I." — "Ah, well, go and get it."

 So the mother went home. When she came home, her husband had broken camp and loaded a boat. He loaded the tent on the boat. They were setting off for the opposite shore. They left their daughter and cast her off. When they had almost finished, the girl could not wait any longer; therefore she went to look. She was moving along the steep river-bank when she saw that boat loaded, and (her father's) work finished. Oh, she ran on p. 31 and rushed to them. Just as she came, they went aboard and her father pushed off. The girl held on to the steering-paddle, but her father struck her with a paddle1 on the wrist. So she let go of the steering-paddle. They left her, and set off far away for the other shore.

 The daughter was left quite alone at the camp-site. Even though a house had been there, there was now nothing at all, no house. Therefore she began to weep, and put that bare skull outside. Then she pushed it with her foot, and said, weeping, "This one is the cause2 of (it) all. What has he done, the bad one? They have left me, they have cast me off. Oh, dear!"

 Then the bare skull been to speak, "You make me suffer, indeed. Do not push me with your foot. Better let me go and procure a body for myself, only do not push me so. Go and make a wood-pile, make a fire, then p. 32 throw me into the flames." — "Oh, all right! Then, however, I shall quite alone. I can talk with you at least." — "Obey me, indeed. You are suffering, quite vainly we suffer together. I shall procure a body for myself."

 Oh, she made a fire. It blazed up. Then the skull spoke to her again, and said, "Well, now, throw me into the fire! Then stay with head drawn back into the collar of your dress, in this manner, and do not look up. Indeed, no matter who may look upon you, or what voices you may hear, do not look up!"

 She obeyed, threw (the skull) into the fire, then staid with head drawn back and bent down. Thus she remained. Then the fire blazed up with a noise for a long time. Then it went out. She remained with her head bent down, then she began to hear a noise, a clattering of runners; then also, "Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh!" from a herd; loud voices, "Ah, ah, ah; ah, ah, ah!" and whistling. Then a caravan clattered by, still she continued to sit with head bent down. The clattering came nearer, and the cries, "Waġo´, p. 33 yaġo´!" Then a man called her from the front. "Well, there, what are you doing? Oh, she looked up. A large caravan was coming. The herd was quite big. The man, her husband, was standing in front of her, clad in a shirt made of thin furs, in the best of skins.

 They built a camp, and put up the tent. He was quite rich in reindeer. Then, in truth, she began to feel quite well.

 In the beginning of the cold, early in the fall, (the parents of the woman) saw smoke rising. "Come, say, what settlement have we noticed just now? Come, let us go and visit it." They crossed with a boat, her parents, the father with the mother, "Oh, sit down in the outer tent. I shall cook some food for you." She prepared for cooking, and filled the kettle with meat and fat.

 While she was cooking, she broke some thigh-bones to extract the marrow. When the meal was finished, she gave them the marrow (with the bone splinters). "Eat this marrow!" They ate the marrow, but the thigh-bone p. 34 splinters stuck in their throats and pierced them. Thus she killed them, and they died. Finished. I have killed the wind.1

Told by Rịke´wġi, a Maritime Chukchee man, at Mariinsky Post, in October, 1900.



p. 29

1 The pillows of the sleeping-rooms serve as bags. Compare Vol. VII of this series, p. 171.

2 Keke´ is an interjection of fear, used by women.

3 The root of this word signifies "superstitious fear." It is also applied to the peculiar sounds supposed to be characteristic of the voice of the spirits (cf. Volume VII of this series, p. 437).

p. 31

1 "Genuine paddle," in contrast to the large and broad steering-paddle.

2 {Is the cause.} ẹḷo´n ŭm ê´tịm is used as an expression of spite, as a kind of compound interjection.

p. 34

1 On the shores inhabited by the Chukchee, wind and bad weather continue for weeks, preventing all hunting and travelling. During those days the people stay in the inner room of the house and while away the time of unavoidable leisure by telling endless stories. The story-telling is considered a magic means of laying the wind. This idea is expressed in the last sentence. The same idea prevails among some American tribes (see, for instance, Franz Boas, Chinook Texts, p. 112).