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There was a Tungus man who had a large reindeer herd, and no son at all. One time he came to his herd, and saw that a doe had brought forth a fawn which looked quite human. "What is this?" asked the man. "This is a small boy," said the doe. "I brought forth for you. Take him and have him for a son." The Tungus took the boy, who grew up quickly. Every day he would swallow live reindeer,--one in the morning, another at noon, and still another in the evening,--three meals a day, three living reindeer. So this man, who was rich in reindeer, soon had almost none at all, and was poor. Then he felt afraid, and said to himself, "He will finish the reindeer-herd, and next it will be my turn." He left his house and goods,

p. 25

and fled away, not knowing where he was going. He walked on for a long time. Then he saw an iron house.

In the house was a very pretty girl, so pretty that all the food she swallowed was visible though her transparent body. 1 He thought in his mind, "Oh, I wish I had a wife like that girl!" And she answered immediately, "Really, you wish it?" She knew his thoughts, though he had not uttered. a single word. She called him in and gave him food and drink. Then they lay down to sleep together. He stayed in that iron house three days and three nights. On the fourth morning his wife said, "It seems that you area runaway." He said, "Maybe I am."--"From whom were you running? I wish you would tell me the truth." Then he said, "I took a foster child from the herd, Reindeer-Born; and I was afraid he would eat me up, together with my last reindeer."--"All right," said the woman, "have no more fear! Go back to your home. Here, take this neckerchief, and if the Reindeer-born should see you and should pursue you, run to some tree and hide behind it. Reindeer-born will not be able to catch you. And it Reindeer-born should not desist, touch the tree with this neckerchief."

The man went back and came to his house. All at once he saw Reindeer-born, who rushed straight for him. The man turned about and ran for his life. He came to a tree, and hid behind it. Reindeer-born gave chase, and ran straight into the tree, striking his forehead against it with all his might. "Ah!" said Reindeer-born, "Your strength is greater than mine. I cannot make you fall." In the meantime the man took the neckerchief and touched the tree with it; and instantly the kerchief turned into iron, and its outward shape was similar to that of a saw. This saw sawed at the tree and cut it down. The tree fell and struck Reindeer-born directly upon the head. It broke his head as if it had been an egg-shell, and killed him outright. The man returned to the iron house and lived there, having the young woman as a wife.

Told by Innocent Karyakin, a Tundra Yukaghir man, on the western tundra of the Kolyma country, winter of 1895.


24:1 Cf. Bogoras, "Chukchee Texts", (Publications, Jesup North Pacific Expedition, vol. 8) 175.

25:1 This detail is borrowed from Yakut folklore in which it is frequently met. See also Radloff, l. c., vol. 1, 11--F. B.

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