In ancient times the Lamut in all parts of the land ate one another. There was an old man who had an only daughter. The neighbors wanted to eat her. So the father and mother and girl fled, and wandered off for ten days and ten nights without stopping. They crossed several ridges of hills, and from the last they saw some tents standing in a pass. They descended, and pitched their own tent near by. The people, however, were also man-eaters, even worse then those whom they had left. Although they had large reindeer herds, they wanted to eat human flesh. A rich reindeer breeder of those people paid suit to the girl. He paid a hundred reindeer for her, and married her.
Every day the husband slaughtered fat bucks to feed his wife with their meat. They gave her of the best fat. Oh, the parents rejoiced! A poor young man who had no reindeer of his own, and who served throughout the year, summer and winter as a herdsman to the rich owner, said to them, "There is Do cause to rejoice. They simply want to fatten her before they slaughter her. When she is fat enough, they will kill her."
And, indeed, in the night time in the very act of copulation, the husband felt with his hand of the haunches and the belly of the woman, and muttered to himself, "Still not enough. Why do you not eat your fill? Eat more fat and marrow." So the woman understood. The next morning the young
herdsman said, "They are weary of waiting. Soon they are going to eat her. Why do you not flee? You may do so this very night, cut a way through the cover of the sleeping room."
Indeed, in the night time they ripped open the cover of the sleeping room and ran away. They took riding reindeer and rode off. They rode for a night and a day. Then they looked back, and saw three men in pursuit. So they turned in another direction and rode on. They rode again for a night and a day. Then they looked back and saw the same three pursuers who were this time nearer than before. The father grew angry, and said, "I will attend to this." He descended from the reindeer, and slipped his bow from over his shoulder. "You ride on without me. I shall wait here for the pursuers." The path was very narrow, and led through a pass, so that the three pursuers had to ride in single file. The foremost hurried on. He did not think of any danger. He only looked ahead.
When he was directly opposite the hidden man, the latter sent forth an arrow and shot him. In the same way he slew another and still another. After that he mounted his reindeer and overtook the women. They came to another country, and lived there. The girl was married again to a rich reindeer breeder, a well-meaning man, who knew nothing of man's flesh.
Told by Irashkan, a Lamut man, on the upper course of the Molonda River, in the Kolyma country, summer of 1895.
29:1 Among the Tungus and the Lamut, cradles of small children are so constructed that they may form one half of the usual pack load of a pack reindeer so they may be carried along with infants on the reindeer back.