At the time of the freezing of water some Lamut men crossed the mountain ridge near the Wolverene River. They came to the upper course of the Chogodon River and lived there. They wanted to separate their reindeer herds. In doing this, they talked among themselves. One said, "We must be very careful. From the east enemies may come to kill us and to drive our herds away." Another man, young and hasty, answered, "All right, let them come! We can kill them all." An old man, the oldest of all, whose son and son-in-law were the most active and swift of foot said, "Do not say so! You must be on your guard, and show no arrogance." Still another young man said, "You are too much afraid, a whole family of cowards. Let them come! We can destroy all of them." Another old man said, "Ah! stop talking! The evil one is watching for every rash word. He punishes arrogant people."
After that they separated their herds and went to sleep. In the morning at dawn there came from the east enemies as numerous as flees. Even the snowy mountains grew black with the multitude of men. They were the Chukchee. They moved on in large herds like reindeer. They attacked the tents in front, and were killing the people. At that very time those in the rear gathered a few things and moved off. They rode along. The Chukchee saw them and followed afoot, so nimble and light of foot were they.
One of the pursuers shot an arrow and hit a young woman. She sank down on the neck of her reindeer. Her husband, however,--the one who first said, "We can kill all of them,"--only glanced back, and hastily cut
off the halter of her reindeer, which was attached to his own saddle. After that he galloped on more headlong than ever.
The Chukchee followed on. Another of them shot an arrow, and hit a cradle. 1 The infant fell out. His father (the one who said, "We may kill all of them") glanced back, and cut off the reindeer halter. That done, he rode on with all possible speed. They rode across the mountain-ridge, and fled to steep rocks along the narrowest paths, so that the Chukchee sledges could not follow their riding reindeer. Whenever a pack reindeer fell down exhausted, they would not stop to take off the load, but would leave it there, load and all. At last they came to the mountains of Oloi. The pursuers were not there, so they stopped, and after a while pitched their camps.
Told by HIrkán, a Lamut man from the desert of Chaun, in the village of Nishne-Kolymsk, winter of 1896.