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The Eskimo of Siberia, by Waldemar Bogoras, [1913], at

7. The Eagle-Boy. 1

   There was a man of very bad temper. All the time he beat his wife. When he was coming back from sea-hunting, he would call aloud, "There, come out! Shake the snow off my clothes!" If she did not jump out in time and meet him halfway down, he would threaten her, "Oh, I will kill you!"

   At last one day his wife resolved to flee. She took a bucket full of

p. 427 water and set it before herself. Into that bucket she put a small package of meat. The bucket turned into a sea; and the package of meat, into a boat. She put her little infant on her back, boarded the boat, and set off.

   A current caught her and carried her toward the shore. She came ashore, and saw a large house. She stood before the entrance irresolute. In the house lived a man with his daughter. He was a widower, and had no wife. Then he said to his daughter, "Go and see what woman is standing there!" She went out, and said to the stranger, "My father bids you enter." She entered, and they had a meal. The host said, "Let us sleep!" They lay down. His membrum virile was a fathom long. In the night-time it moved, and struck her little child. The child cried. "Oh, the child is crying! I had better go out." — "No, come back!" He wanted to copulate with her, but she staid throughout the night in the outer house.

   The next morning he went hunting. Before leaving he said to the woman, "You may look at everything here; but in that corner there lies a white thing you must not look at. It is evil." — "All right!" But as soon as he was gone, she thought, "Why did he forbid me to look at that white thing?" She looked at it. It was a woman's corpse, torn and lacerated by a large membrum virile.

   Oh, she fled, frightened! Soon he came home and gave pursuit. She took along her water-bucket and the package of meat. She put the bucket down. It turned into a lake. Then she threw down a tuft of her own hair, and it turned into high woods along the lake-shore. She climbed a tree and waited for her pursuer. After a while he came, all the time following her fresh tracks. Thus it happened that he saw her face in the water. She was sitting above, in the tree.

   "Oh, you are there!" She nodded on her tree. The woman in the water nodded also. He could not understand his mistake. "Oh, I will catch you yet! Let me plunge down!" He plunged down, and struck his head against the bottom. It was hard wood, being the bucket. He came up to the surface, and stepped out of the water. Then he looked down again. The face was still there. "Oh, I could not reach you!" She shook her head. "Ah, indeed! But I will try once more, and this time I will tie a stone around my neck so as to have more weight." He plunged down with a stone around his neck, and was nearly drowned. In the end he came ashore, and again he saw the face in the water. "Ah, indeed! I could not reach you by any means whatever." She shook her head. "Oh, you beloved one!" Then she laughed aloud. He raised his head, and saw her on the tree. "Aha, you are here!" He tried to chop down the tree with his membrum virile, and in a short time cut it down; but the woman jumped over to another tree. The tree, in falling, hit the assailant, and he was killed.

   The woman put her package upon the lake, and it turned again into a p. 428 boat. She boarded the boat, and set off downstream. After a while she came to the shore, and saw another house; but she was afraid to enter there. In the house there lived a man with five daughters. He said to his daughters, "Go and look at that woman and at her child. If it is a girl, drive her away; but if it is a boy, let her enter."

   One of the daughters came out, and said to the woman, "The old man says, if your child is a little girl, then you must go away; but if it is a little boy, then you may enter." — "Oh, I will not enter! You seem to be evil-minded. Indeed, my child is a boy; but I will not enter." The girl went back without success. "She refuses to come!" — "Oh, you are too awkward! — Go you, now, and call her." He sent another daughter; and she said, "The old man says if your little child is a boy, you may enter." — "Oh, I will not enter!"

   Finally the last daughter came out. "The old man sent me to take your boy into the house." She snatched the child away from her, and carried it in. "Oh," said the mother, "they have taken it by force! Now I must follow." She entered, following the girl. A tall lad was sitting in the sleeping-room opposite the entrance. "Where is my child?" — "This is your child!" The old man stretched the child's arms and legs by pulling them, and made him a grown-up man. "Oh, you are deceiving me! This is not my child. My child is quite small." — "Indeed, it is your child. You may recognize him by a scar on his neck, caused by that membrum virile." Then she recognized him. The next day the child went hunting, and killed a mouse. His new father was much pleased. The day after that he killed a hare. Then he killed polar foxes and wolves, and in due time even reindeer.

   The eagle dress of his new father was hanging outside of the house, on a horizontal pole. It was crying with the voice of an eagle. The boy tried to put it on, but could not do it. The dress was so heavy, he fell down under its weight. The Eagle-Sisters laughed at his awkwardness. In the evening their father asked him, "How did you try to put on this dress? I presume you put your hands into the wings, and your feet into the feet?" — "Yes, I did so." — "That was wrong. You should put your hands and feet together into the eagle's feet, and let the wings hang loose."

   He did so, and the dress proved to be quite light. He put it on, and walked in the manner in which birds walk. Then he flapped the eagle-wings and flew up. He saw under himself a big mammoth (literally, a "master of mammoth's bone"). He was as large as a house. His feet sank into the ground. He caught him, but could not lift him into the air. The mammoth was too heavy. So the mammoth fell down, and was sinking into the ground. He sank down to the shoulders, but the young man was still unable to free his talons. Then he called on the Eagle-Sisters for help. They came, and aided him to lift the mammoth again, and carried him to their father. The p. 429 father was pleased. "Oh, oh!" he said, "you are strong. At your time of life I could not do that much."

   After that the young man flew about and brought to his father all kinds of game. One day he saw a large whale, and caught it, but again could not lift it. So he called his Eagle-Sisters, and they assisted him. At last the father and his daughters said to him, "We want to eat man's flesh. We are not human. We are of a different nature, therefore we have a desire for human flesh." — "And where shall I get it?" — "There is plenty of it in the world below." — "All right!" said he. He flew down, and came to our world below. Men and women were walking along. He caught two, and carried them up. On the way he would let them drop, and then catch them again in mid-air. Thus he killed them and brought them home. He dropped them down to the ground near the house. "There is your meat!"

   The Upper Beings ate of the human flesh; but his mother said, "Do not eat of it. We are not of their kind. And this is not your real father. Your father is human. He lives there on the earth. He beat me too much. That was the reason why I fled." — "Then I will go and find him." His father was paddling in a canoe. The Eagle-Boy descended, and perched on the gunwale of the canoe. "Oh, is it you?" His father recognized him. "Let us go home! I will take you to my home." — "No, we are of a different kind from you. We live in the upper world. I shall take you to my home." He took up with his talons the canoe, together with the crew, and carried it up. Then he would let it drop, and immediately overtake it and catch it again in mid-air. Thus he killed his father and brought him to his house. He dropped him down before his mother. "Here he is! He shall not beat you any more." That is all.

Told by Ñịpe´wġi, an Asiatic Eskimo man, in the village of Uñi´sak, at Indian Point, June, 1901.


426:1 This tale was said, by the narrator, to come from the village Nu´yak, on the American shore.

Next: 8. The Old Woman and the Wild Beasts.