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6. (The Visitor.)

 Two men lived as neighbors in the same camp. One had a number of children. They remained for a long time in the country Ve´qän, but saw no wild reindeer there. They were without (food). They lived on a few stray ptarmigan, and were nearly starving. The Reindeer people from Ye´lkän did not come there this year for pasturage: so the whole autumn they had no "genuine food" (i. e., reindeer-meat). They suffered from hunger, and were starving. Then one of the men said to the other, "Let us go and look for other people! Where do they dwell?" They went afoot, because they had no dogs. The last one was eaten a long time ago. The one who had children, made a small covered sledge, and, together with his wife, they dragged it along. After a while both men said, "Let us separate! I will go to the right, and you go to the left." So they separated. The one who had children went to the left, dragging his covered sledge. It was growing dark. He said to his wife, "Stay here and wait for me. I will go a little farther on." He put his wife and children into the covered sledge, heaped snow around the sledge, so that they would be warm, then he went along. It grew quite dark. Then he saw a herd. It was very large, and spread around like water, — big-antlered bucks, spotted fawns. The herdsmen asked him, "Where do you come from?" — "We come from afar. We lived there quite alone, and were nearly starved because the Reindeer people had not come that way." — "Oh, oh! you are alone?" — "No, I have a family. I p. 168 left them behind. I put them in a covered sledge, and heaped snow around it so that they would be warm." — "Ah, ah! So they will come to-morrow!" — "Oh, yes! I shall bring them myself, dragging the sledge. It is quite near." — "Oh, well! let it be to-morrow. It is too dark to go now. As to the houses, they are also near. You would see them from here, like black dots under the snow-covered cliff, if it were not too dark now. So it is settled for the morning. Let us go, then, to the houses!" They came to the camp. An old man from the front house heard them coming. " Oh, oh! a guest! Where do you come from?" — "I come from afar. We lived in the country Ve´qän, and were nearly starved. So we started on foot to look for other people." — "Ah, ah! You there, in the outer tent! cook intestines, cook fat meat! We will feed the new-comer." They ate. "Have you any companions?" — "Yes, I did have. I left them behind in a covered sledge. I heaped snow around it, so that they would be warm." — "Oh, well! It is too late now. Let it be to-morrow." — "Yes, yes! I will bring them myself." — "Nay, they shall be brought with a good driving-team." In the morning he drove there with the reindeer of the old man. "Halloo!" No answer. "Halloo!" louder than before. Then the woman heard, and answered, "Halloo!" — "Are you alive?" — "Yes, we are; but the smallest one, the suckling, has died." — "Oh, oh! What can we do!" They went to the camp. "There, there!" A sleeping-room is put up for them, and new bed-skins are spread on the floor. "This is your sleeping-room. You may live in it." They remained in the camp. One day they went for a visit to a neighbor. The neighbor said to the new-comer, "Where do you live?" — "Where can I live? I live with those to whom I came first." — "Well, of course, they took you in, but this will last only for a time. Then the old man will send you away." — "Oh, oh! What am I to do?" — "Come over to me! You shall be my camp-assistant." — "Oh, oh I how can I leave? What can I say to them? I came to their camp first." — "Well, then, if you want me to, I will go there myself and take you and your family away." — "All right! Do come! Or, still better, let us go directly there, and settle the affair at once!" They went to the camp. The old man said, "You have come back!" — "Oh, yes! but we are going to leave. This one has come to take us away!" — "So! But why did you not go to him in the beginning? You came to me first of all. All right! Go away! Begone! Hurry up!"

 They left. A moon passed by, and a new moon rose. The neighbors came to settle the offence. They said, "Let us arrange a running-match! We will see then who is really the best man." — "All right!" They arranged a running-match, and as a prize for the winner they set a fox-skin and a beaver-skin. They started. The poor one, the pedestrian, who for a long time had been used to going on foot, ran along quite lightly, hardly touching the ground with his feet. He ran and ran; and in a short time he outran p. 169 all the others, and vanished from view. In due time he took the hill (as agreed upon), and then came back. But then the others were still out of sight, to such an extent did he outrun them all. He waited for them some time, but at last felt cold and entered the sleeping-room. At last they came far behind. All the people felt ashamed, because they were such poor runners. They had no desire to enter the sleeping-room; so they harnessed their reindeer, and attached them to the sledges. Then all the visitors left. The next morning the others also left. He was left quite alone, in the country. The end.

Told by Rịke´wġị, a Maritime Chukchee man, at Mariinsky Post, October, 1900.