There was a Lamut man, who traveled about looking for a wife. One time he found a stone in the likeness of a person. He took it home and put it near the fireplace. He awoke in the morning, and said to the stone, "There, wife, cook some food!" Since the stone never stirred, he got up and cooked the food himself. Then he went off to look for game. He came back in the evening, and said again to the stone, "Wife, cook some food!" But since the stone never stirred, he cooked the food himself. He awoke next morning, and, lo! the stone wife was cooking food. They lived together as husband and wife.
After a while he went to a river and walked along the bank. He felt thirsty; he found a water-hole and stooped down. When about to drink, he saw a girl down below, who was combing her long glossy hair. "Ah, come here! let us play!" She came out, and they played shooting at each other with bow and arrows. At last he looked up. The sun was already setting. "Ah! it is late. I must go home. He went home, but his wife pouted at him. "Why are you so late? Before this you used to come in time."--"I have been tracking a fox." The following morning he arose early and went to the river. The water girl was already down there in the water, combing her hair. "Come along, let us play!" They played again till sunset. When he came home, his wife was very angry. "Why are you so late?" He gave no answer, thinking of the girl, and promising himself, "Tomorrow morning I shall getup still earlier." The wife, however, caused a heavy sleep to fall upon him. Early in the morning the stone woman arose. She put on her husband's clothes, took his bow and arrows, and on snowshoes went to the river following her husband's tracks. She came to the water-hole and looked down. The girl was there, combing her hair. "Come along, let us play."--"Ah! my heart is in a flurry. I feel as if we had never played before."--"Oh, nonsense! Well, at least come up a little! Let me have a look at you." The other one appeared out of the water up to her armpits. Then the stone wife shot at her and pierced her breast with an arrow. Blood spurted from her breast and from her back. The girl dropped back, and the stone woman returned to her home. She
put her husband's clothes in their former place, also his bow and snowshoes. Then she removed the sleeping-spell from him. He jumped up, and saw that the sun was already high up in the sky. He took his bow, put on his snowshoes, and hurried to the river. The girl, however, was not to be seen. "Ah!" said he with many lamentations, "she is no more! I do not want to stay here either." He jumped into the water and sank down. His ears rustled, his body tingled all over. Then he found himself in a new world. He found a beaten track, and walked on. After a while he came to a city. All the houses of the city were covered with black calico. Apart from the others stood a little house in which lived a little old woman. He entered. The old woman asked, "Where do you come from?"--"I am from the other world. What has happened here! Is anybody sick? Why all this black calico?"--"Our chief's daughter is sick. Somebody hit her with an arrow."--"I want to heal her." The old woman hurried to the chief: "A man has come to our city who offers to heal your daughter." The chief ordered that the visitor be brought in. As soon as he entered the house, the girl moaned aloud, "Aah!" He touched the arrow, and in a moment she was dead. Then he asked for some men's clothes. These he put on her body, and on himself he put her clothes. "Well, father and mother, take your last farewell. I will watch the body all by myself." After sunset there came two young birds, two spoonbills. Two high larch trees stood there. The spoonbills alighted on the trees.
"O sister! get up!
Let us play, and let us flutter about!" 1
"O sisters! I cannot play,
I cannot flutter.
O sisters! my wings are broken,
My feathers fell down."
"O sister! who broke your wings?
Who plumed your feathers?"
"O sisters! he who broke them.
He lies down like one dead."
The spoonbills alighted on the ground, and turned into young girls. They came to the one who was dead. The first girl blew upon her, the second girl spat upon her. Then she jumped up, and exclaimed, "Ah, ah, ah! I slept very long! Now I am up again." "Ah! without our aid, you would have slept forever." They stayed there till the following morning. When
the other people awoke, they carried her to her parents. The mother immediately fell in a swoon. She came to herself only in the evening, and they married the girl to the visitor. They lived together. One time he said, "I want to visit my former wife." As soon as the stone wife saw him, she jumped up. "Ah! my husband is coming, my husband is coming!" She whetted her teeth, ready to bite; but the man strung his how and shot her. She fell back. "Ah! so it is. I wanted to devour you, but you got ahead of me." He built a great fire and burned the woman. Then he went back to the water girl and lived with her.
Told by Anne Sosykin, a Russianized Chuvantzi woman, in the village of Markova. Recorded by Mrs. Sophie Bogoras, winter of 1900.
124:1 See p. 21.
125:1 In Russian this is a kind of rhymed prose.