There was a man and his wife. They had a little boy. One time the woman felt a yearning for some pike. Her mouth watered at the thought of it. Then she said to her husband, "Do go to the lake and set your nets! I want some pike to eat." He went to the lake, and on the same day he caught a large pike. The woman immediately cooked it. She ate the fish beginning at the intestine and ate as far as the head. When she came to the mouth and opened the teeth, she saw that they were of iron. She was scared, and threw away what was left of the pike; but from that time on she grew with child, and after due time gave birth to a girl. The girl grew up rapidly, not like an ordinary child from year to year, but hourly; so that on the next day she was playing out of doors with her brother, who, although older, was nevertheless much smaller than she. In playing, she said, "One day more, or perhaps two days, and I shall eat all of you." The boy went to his father and mother and told them of her words; but they did not believe him, and even punished him. "You do not like your sister, and therefore you slander her." The same happened in the evening and again the next morning. The boy could not stand it any longer. He felt angry, frightened, and sore. So he left his parents and fled. Far away in the tundra he saw a house with an outer room. He entered there. Two wolves and two bears were tied up in front of the inner door. The animals wanted to attack him; but he whistled three times, and they grew quiet and lay down. Then he entered the inner room. In the middle a white reindeer skin was spread. On the skin slept a naked girl, dazzling white of body. Her tresses were auburn and as long as the sleeve of an overcoat. He hid under her tresses and slept with the girl. In due time she awoke, sniffed about, and said, "Who are you? Make yourself visible. If you are an old man, I will have you for a father; if a young man, I will take you for a husband." So he appeared from under her tresses. She married him, and they lived together. After some time he wanted to visit his father and mother; so he asked his wife to give him some animal to drive, even if it were a wolf or a bear. She gave him a reindeer with six legs. He set off. When near the house of his parents, he tied the reindeer to a tree and went on foot. Then he arrived at the house and opened the door. The Pike-Girl had eaten up his father and mother long before, and was playing with the bare skulls. As soon as she saw him, she threw the skulls under the bed. The young man felt afraid. She rushed up to him, however, and said, "O brother dear! you have come at last." In the evening she asked him, "Where are you going to sleep?" He said, "I am going to sleep on the
roof." "Why do you do so?" said the girl, "I do not want to sleep alone. I have not seen you for such a long time."--"Well, then," said the brother, "I will lie down close to the chimney-hole, and will thrust my legs down the chimney-hole, so that you may look at them, when going to sleep." He did just so, and feigned sleep. The girl tried to catch at the legs, but the chimney was too narrow; and feeling tired, she desisted. After a while she was snoring. Then with great caution he left the roof and went away. He found his reindeer and raced off.
He drove the whole night through, then he looked back and saw that the pike girl was following in pursuit. He urged on the reindeer and it galloped off; but the Pike-Girl galloped still faster, just like a winged bird. After a while she overtook the reindeer, and at first tore off one of its extra legs. While she was eating that leg, the reindeer hurried on. She finished the leg, and again gave pursuit. This time she tore off the other extra leg. The reindeer galloped off with four legs. Then she overtook it again, and tore off one leg more. Then the reindeer could run no longer so the young man left it and hurried on afoot. He had one blunt arrow. Holding this, he ran onward. When the Pike-Girl had eaten the reindeer leg she gave pursuit again. When she was close to him, he lifted up the arrow and said, "There, arrow mine! You were an arrow. Now turn into an iron tree. I want to be safe on top of that tree." Instantly, it turned into a big iron tree, and he was high up on its top. The tree was as thick through as a man can embrace. The Pike-Girl came to the tree, and said, "O brother mine! your iron tree is not tempered, but my iron teeth are tempered and hard." So she gnawed at the tree, and iron splinters flew around like rotten wood. A jay flew by, and he said to it:--
"O jay! fly to my wife!
Bid her send off her dogs!"
[paragraph continues] But the jay answered with a man's voice, "I will not fly. When you were living with your father and mother, whenever I came to your drying poles and wanted to peck at the pike-roe, your blunt arrow would instantly hiss by close to my head. I will not fly." A snow-bunting flew by, and he said to it:--
"O, snow-bunting! fly to my wife,
And bid her send off her dogs!"
[paragraph continues] So the bunting flew away and came to his wife's house. It perched upon the window-sill, and twittered:--
Send off the dogs!"
[paragraph continues] She heard this, and in a moment she sent off two wolves and two bears. 1 They ran off and reached the tree. The Pike-Girl, as soon as she saw them, turned into an ermine and went under the roots of the tree. The bears dug at the roots to get at the ermine, and at last caught it. The young man descended from the tree with his ax and chopped up the ermine. He gathered the pieces and burnt them in the fire, and the ashes he let fly to the winds. Then he went back to his wife and told her all. After that they lived in peace, and they are still living. The end.
Told by Anne Korkin, a Russianized Yukaghir woman, in the village of Sukharnoye in the Kolyma country, in the autumn of 1896.
67:1 For comparative notes see Elsie Clews Parsons, "Folk-Tales of Andros Island, Bahamas." (Memoirs, American Folk-Lore Society, vol. 13, 66).--F. B.