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p. 186


1. (Sea-Jumper.1)

 There were an old man and an old woman. They had two sons. The elder son wanted to sharpen his knife. In doing this he broke the whetstone. Then his father was angered, and beat him with a spear-shaft so long and violently, that the spear-shaft became all broken. The son cried, and then made a bow and a blunt arrow for his younger brother. He finished them and gave them to his brother, and then said, "When you yearn for me, shoot this arrow from the bow." He went away, and was seen no more. In due time, evening came. Then the young boy began to cry. His father asked, "Why are you crying?" He said, "I am yearning for my elder brother. My elder brother said, 'I am going far away. I shall never come back to you.'" The old man said to his wife, "Bring me my boots!" She gave him his boots. He put them on and went in pursuit of his son. The young man, however, was far ahead. He passed through the woods, and came to the open tundra, being still ahead. The old man climbed the last larch-tree on the forest-border, and then saw on the horizon a small streamlet of breath. This was the breath of his son. Then he called at the top of his voice, "Oh, my son, come back, come back! If you do not want to come back, then at least stop for a while and listen to my words!" The son stopped and listened. The old man continued, "You will go across the tundra and come to the sea. Then you will go across the sea. The ice will break around you. Then you will jump from one ice-floe to another. Thus jumping, you will reach the other shore. Your strength will be wholly exhausted. The last ice-floe will emerge from the black waters. You must try somehow to jump to this ice-floe. Then you must say, 'O ice-floe! carry me on to the p. 187 land!' You will come to firm ground safe and sound. Then walk up-shore; and whatever you meet up your way, even if it is a snow-bunting (Passorina nivalis), you must kill. It will serve you as food. Or if it be a white wagtail (Motacilla alba), you must kill it too. It will serve you as food. Also you must not be afraid if the reindeer on the shore should speak in the manner of men."

 The young man listened to all these words, then continued on his way. He came to the sea, and went across. The ice began to break around him. He jumped from one ice-floe to another, and at last he was quite exhausted. Then from the black waters appeared the last ice-floe. He jumped on to it. This ice-floe drifted nearer and nearer the shore. At last it reached dry land. He came to the land and made a fire. Over this fire be hung his wet clothes to dry a little. He was lying by this fire, when all at once a snow-bunting fluttered by. He grasped his bow and killed the snow-bunting. Then he plucked it, and put it on a wooden spit over the fire to roast. When it was quite done, he saw that only a little dried skin was left on the spit. He threw it away, and said, "What else could I expect from a roasted bunting?" Then the words of his father came to his mind. He picked it up and tried to eat of it; and, lo! there was on the spit a brisket of a wild sheep, so fat that it trembled all over. He ate bountifully and lay down to rest. Then a wagtail passed by. He caught up his bow and killed the wagtail. He plucked it and put it on the spit over the fire to roast. Meanwhile he slept. When he awoke again, he saw on the spit only a little dried skin. He threw it away, and said again, "What else could I expect from a mere wagtail? It is not a thing for eating." Then the words of his father came to his mind, and he tried to eat of it. And a heavy tenderloin of a wild sheep was on the spit, all trembling with fat.

 He rested himself, and dried his clothes. Then he continued on his way. After a while he heard human voices talking. It was as if some girls were talking among themselves. One said, "O sister! where did you leave your scraping-board?" The other answered, "I left it on this mountain-ridge." Then she asked, in her turn, "And where did you leave your work-bag?" — "I left it under yonder rock." He crouched down and waited for the speakers; but it was a herd of wild reindeer-does. He picked out for himself a good fat doe, and shot an arrow toward her. Oh, she jumped up! "It pains me in the left side! Oh, it pains me in the left side!" He shot again, and killed the doe; then he skinned it, and the fattest meat he selected and hung in the sun to dry a little. Thus he prepared a good load of dried meat, just as much as he could carry. He took it on his shoulders and continued his walk. In due time his bag grew less heavy. When most of it had been consumed, he again heard people talking. These were men's voices. One said, "O brother! where did you leave your bow?" — "I left it there, beyond p. 188 this hill" — "And where did you leave your quiver?" — "I left it there, down in the valley." He crouched down, watching the speakers, and it was a herd of reindeer-bucks. He picked out a fat buck and shot at him. Oh, he jumped up! "It pains me in the left side, it pains me in the left side!" He shot once more and killed the buck. Then he skinned it, and the best meat he dried in the sun. He made a good load for himself, and went on farther all along the seacoast. At last he came to a river. He found no means of crossing the river; so he walked up the river, looking for a place to wade across. After a while he saw on the river-bank a boat made of planks, and a canoe made of a hollowed tree-trunk. These belonged to two girls who were picking berries. One was the daughter of a man, and the other the daughter of a Raven, who both lived in the same village. The boat of the human girl was full of clean berries. The canoe of the Raven girl contained berries mixed with leaves and boughs. He ate largely of the clean berries from the boat. Then he put his whole load of meat into this boat. In the canoe of the Raven girl he put only a little meat and a few pieces of fat. The Raven girl saw it from the top of a tree. She said, "O sister! The Sea-Jumper has come! Which of us two is he going to take for his wife? Let us go home immediately!" They ran toward their boats. The Raven girl said, "O sister! have you found anything in your boat?" — "Nothing at all," said the human girl. "Then he is going to marry me," said the Raven girl, "because he put some meat and some fat into my canoe." They paddled home. The other one followed along the shore. After some time he saw houses on his side of the river. The Sea-Jumper saw the house of a man, and entered it. The man had three sons and one daughter. The daughter took a white skin and spread it near herself, and told the suitor to take his place upon it. The Raven girl came too, and took a seat upon this white skin, close to the man. Then they pushed her out. "Begone from here, you diarrhœa incarnate! You will make this whole house of ours dirty." The Raven girl went away. He married the human girl, and they lived together.

 Then the Raven began to think in what way he could best avenge the wrong of his daughter. So he said to the man's son-in-law, "Come, let us go hunt moulting birds!" The other one said, "How can I go? I have no canoe." His father-in-law said, "Here is a canoe! Take it, and go with him! He wants to have a hunting-match with you." They went after the birds. Wherever they found a flock of geese, the man's son-in-law would kill the largest, the most nimble adult geese. The Raven killed only goslings, and even ducklings. The man's son-in-law soon filled his whole canoe with geese; the Raven had but a few. Then they went home. The Sea-Jumper came home first, and they carried all the geese into the house. The Raven came after a while. His house-mates started to carry his few goslings into their p. 189 house. They carried them there, and then took them back to the canoe, so that they might carry them again. In this manner they were occupied until late into the night. This was a device of the Raven girl. The human people plucked their birds and threw the feathers out of the house. In the night-time the Raven girl and her mother gathered all the feathers and carried them to their own house. In the morning the Raven boasted, "Oh, the man's son-in-law is a mere good for nothing! See how many birds I have brought! There are the feathers near my house. And he hardly had enough to feed upon during the hunt. Such a good-for-nothing I should not take for a son-in-law." The man, his neighbor, said nothing, because he knew the truth. Then he said to his son-in-law, "You have your own father and mother. It is time you were off to your own country." — "All right!" said the young man. "In the morning I will prepare for the journey." He awoke in the morning and heard a noise near the house, like the sound of a storm. He went out and saw a reindeer-herd, quite numerous. The father-in-law gave these reindeer to him and to his wife to travel with on their journey home. They went away. He went far ahead, as was his wont, and said to the woman, "You go with the herd to such and such a rock. There you may stay this night." She reached the rock indicated, scraped the snow, and erected her tent. Then she saw that she had no fire. She threw herself upon the ground, turned into a she-wolf, and ran home to fetch a fire-brand. He came home, and saw that she had the meat all cooked. Then he began to ask himself, "How is that? I have the strike-a-light with me. Where could she have gotten fire?" The night passed. The husband said nothing. The next morning they started again on their journey. After a long stretch, when it was past noon, he said, "You must reach yonder rock. There you may stay for the night." She came to the rock, scraped the snow, and erected her tent. Then she saw that she had no fire, because her husband took the strike-a-light along with hill. She threw herself upon the ground, turned into a she-wolf, and ran home to fetch the fire. When her husband came home, the meat was already cooked. Then her husband felt annoyed, and asked himself, "Where may she get fire? Perhaps somebody comes here!" The next morning he said, "Now we are coming to the sea. You must go for a while across the sea. Then you may stop for a night." He went ahead of her, hid himself on the way, and watched her coming. She came to that place, scraped the snow, and erected her tent. Then, as before, she turned into a she-wolf and ran home to fetch the fire. She caught a fire-brand and started back. "Oh," said the man, "I do not want her! In course of time she will kill me." So he drew an arrow and shot at her. She dropped the fire-brand and hurried away. She refused to go on with him, and returned to her parents; and all the reindeer followed her. He walked onward, and at last came to his country. His father said, "Where p. 190 is your wife?" The son replied, "I was afraid she would eat me in course of time, so I tried to kill her, and she fled home, and all the reindeer followed her." His father said, "You must go back! Your mother was like that; but when I brought her here, all this vanished quite soon. I brought your mother from that very country." So the Sea-Jumper went back. He came to the house of that man, and took a place near his bride; but she jumped up and ran away. She said, "What are you coming for? You wanted to kill me." Then her brother, the eldest one, said, "Never mind! It was all my doing. I wanted to see you again. Therefore I influenced him so, that he wanted to kill you. I wanted you to come back once more. Otherwise I should not have seen you any more." This brother was a great shaman. Then she relented, and allowed him to come near. They passed one night there, and then went away. From this time on, whatever she might do, he would not care. Let her turn into a she-wolf and fetch fire, he would not watch her. They came to his father, and lived there.

Told by Theodosia, a Russianized Yukaghir Woman, in the village of "Two Brooks" on the Large Anui, 1905.



p. 186

1 This and the following stories were collected among the Russianized natives on the Lower Kolyma and on the Anadyr River. They were pointed out as being of Chukchee provenience; and, indeed, their whole character is Chukchee, and some of the episodes appear also in other tales collected among the Chukchee. Some of them were written down at my request by the natives who could write in Russian, also by Russian cossacks from the words of the natives. These were afterwards sent or given to me. Those that I give here had a special title as Chukchee tales. For these reasons I thought it advisable to place these few tales in the Chukchee series. Though some of the episodes of this tale are Chukchee up to the reindeer-herd which is given by the father-in-law to the young man, other episodes refer to the life of the inland natives living within the forest border and supporting themselves by hunting land-game. Of such character are, for instance, the picking of berries by the women, travelling in canoes, the hunting or moulted geese by men, also in canoes. These details do not belong to the Chukchee life. The Maritime Chukchee live beyond the forest-border, and the Reindeer Chukchee go for the summer to the tundra. They have no wooden canoes of the river type, nor have they much time in summer to hunt moulted geese or to pick berries, on the contrary, these details are very characteristic of the Yukaghir or the Chuvantzy River population, both Russianized and in their primitive condition.