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One time some people lived in an underground house. It had three sleeping-rooms. That of the son was on the eastern side; that of the father was on the western side; the third one was in the middle, on the rear side of the house. This last was another man's. They lived in group-marriage, and their habitations stood quite close to one another.
The woman of the sleeping-room to the east was with child. Her husband, however, had gone far away for a visit to the people, and remained with the people quite a long time. In his absence the woman bore a child. They awoke the next morning, after they had slept one night. They awoke at dawn, and the young mother had to go out and walk around the house (as is required by the ceremonial). Still, after they awoke, the woman did not go out, and did not carry the infant out of the sleeping-room.
"Oh, come out! Bring out the infant!" Still the woman does not go out, (acting) as if she had not heard.
The next day it grew dark again, but the woman did not go out, "Oh, oh! you with the child! why do you not come out nor bring out the infant? Notwithstanding everything, you do not listen, nor do you want to obey."
Once more it grew dark. They went to sleep again. All the people of that place, the whole house, went to sleep. Two men from the neighboring p. 55 camps, who were serving there as suitors, — they also went to sleep. The old man had a single unmarried daughter. Both of (the suitors) were serving there with the desire of having her for a wife.
The little infant awoke and began to cry, "Aña´, aña´, aña´!" The mother and her female companions were sleeping quite soundly. So from the outside, from the side of the outer tent,1 the ke´lẹ answered, "Aña´, aña´, aña´!" Once more the infant cried, "Aña´, aña´, aña´!" and from the entrance-room was answered, "Aña´, aña´, aña´!" And still before the ke´lẹ reached the entrance-room, the infant crept out from under the pillow, then rose and strode over to the sleeping-room on the rear side.
Before he could reach the rear-side sleeping-room, a boy who was there awoke, and uttered a cry. Then the infant dropped down. All the people awoke. "See there! the little infant has appeared (out of the sleeping-room)!" and from under the pillow it still continued, "Aña´, aña´, aña´!"
The people awoke, "How strange it is! Think of them! The mother and her female companions are still sleeping." The old man, even, began to p. 56 mutter, "Only think of it! The infant has appeared from under the pillow. Let them carry it back." No answer. They do not hear.
"Oh, oh! There, now, rouse them!" One woman went out and walked over to that sleeping-room. She lifted the cover of the sleeping-room; but there was nothing at all there, only plenty of blood on the bed-skins. Indeed, the infant has eaten up the mother and her companions! "Oh, there is nothing here, only the bed-skins full of blood!" The women did not take care of the child when it cried. So the ke´lẹ did so (in their place).
"Oh, oh! Let us go away quickly! No need of this child." That very night they left the house before dawn. They pitched their tent some ways up the hill near by. They left the little one in the old house, quite alive.
All of a sudden the old man said, "Oh, we have left a knife, a big knife, carried on a shoulder-strap! It is hanging down (in the sleeping-room) on the western side in the corner. Alas!" One of the suitors heard this, and p. 57 spoke thus: "Oh, truly, I want to show myself a true suitor! I will fetch the knife. I am able to do it. [The other one did not utter a sound.] I say to you quite openly, I came for a wife. I want to marry her straightway."
He took off his outer clothes, then tied his trousers tightly above the ankles. The old man said, "No, indeed! Be quiet! No need of this! Even of the knife there is no need at all." — "Nay, certainly I shall fetch it." He ran to the jaw-bone house, heeding not the night-time or the darkness.
When he approached it, the same ominous crying was heard from it uninterruptedly: "Aña´, aña´, aña´!" He walked around the jaw-bone house and entered it. Then he walked around the crying one close to the sleeping-room. As soon as the man entered, the infant gave pursuit. In the outer tent, through the darkness, from that corner the infant pursued him, crying all the time. As soon as it scented him, it gave pursuit. The man stretched out his hand and found the big knife. He caught it and rushed out. The p. 58 infant followed, still crying. He rushed out and ran away, but before that he made a tour around the house. Then the crying one entered again.
He came to the tent and rested for some time. The old man was muttering still, "What noise is there?" Then he would stop [his voice] and listen for a while. "Oh, I wish we had not sent him! We have brought a stranger to peril."
He rested awhile and entered the tent. "There, there, take your knife!" — "Oh, oh! this is the knife I was so sorry about." And presently he cried to the girl, "There, you woman! Hurry up and arrange the sleeping-room! He will get a chill in his back. Bring him in. Let him warm himself. His back will be cold." — "Now, then, come in!" — So the man married and took the girl. At that time he married. The end.
Told by Rịke´wġi, a Maritime Chukchee man, at Mariinsky Post, October, 1900.
1 Čot-ta´ġịn (literally, "pillow's edge") is used to designate the outer tent. The pillows of the sleeping-room form its outer border. Beyond that border the outer tent begins (cf. Vol. VII of this series, p. 171).