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p. 111



An old woman had three daughters. One was Stone-Scraper, another was Scraping-Board, and the third was Whetstone. The old woman sent Stone-Scraper to the Bad Merchant. She said, "Go to him and ask him for some food." Stone-Scraper said, "I will not go." Stone-Scraper refused to go. The old woman gave her a flogging, and said to Scraping-Board, "Go to the Merchant." Scraping-Board said to Stone-Scraper, "Let us go together!" They went out, and stood for some time outside. Then they came back. They did not enter the Bad Merchant's house. They said to their mother, "The merchant was not at home." She sent Whetstone, "Go to the Merchant, ask him for some food." Whetstone went out, and also stood for some time outside. Then she went back, "Why did you come so soon?" cried the mother. "He is not at home." The old woman went herself, and said to the Merchant, "Were my girls here, have they lied to me?" He said, "They were not here." She went back and gave them a thrashing. She flogged Whetstone to death, and sent the other back to the Merchant. They went and stood at the door, without speaking. "What do you want?" said the Bad Merchant. "Go away!" So they went. They told their mother, "The Merchant drove us away." She grew angry, ran to the Merchant and reproached him with tears. "Why did you drive away my little girls?"--"They had nothing to do here," said the Merchant. "And now I will drive you away too. Be gone!" She went home. There she sat down on her bed and cried bitterly. She cried for a long time, then she jumped up and killed both her daughters. She struck them on the head with a club. After that she sat down again on the bed and cried more bitterly than before. She took her knife and stabbed herself through the heart. That is all.

Told by Annie Shkuleff, a Russian creole girl aged twelve years, in the village of Pokhotsk, the Kolyma country, winter of 1896.


111:1 The children of Russian creoles and Russianized natives (chiefly girls) in the Kolyma country have their own stories, which they relate to one another. These stories are mostly simple, short, full of reiteration. They consist partly of the usual folk-tale material, and partly of the details of real life. The latter is the case with this story. It is sad to think that young girls should compose stories exhibiting such dejection of spirit; but I must say that episodes like this fully correspond to the circumstances of life of the lower people in the Kolyma country, of Russians as well as Russianized natives. On the other hand, it is possible that all these incidents of hungry children choked to death by the first morsel swallowed, old men and old women dying or killing each other, etc., represent elements of a cycle of stories more ancient than the advent of the Russian, and belonging to the Yukaghir inhabitants of the country.--W. B.

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