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12. Tale about Qolênto´.

 Near the village Nunäɛ´mun in a place called Ci´ni, an orphan boy lived with his aged grandmother. The boy was all covered with scabs, and so weak was he that he could hardly move about. The grandmother was unable to get much food. So they suffered great hunger. One time the boy was sitting alone in the sleeping-room in utter darkness. Then he heard a voice, "Eġeġeġeġei´." A ke´lẹ came to him in the darkness. "Oh, I have come! "Eġeġeġeġei´!" and still louder, "Eġeġeġeġei´." — "Ah, ah! What is coming there? Is the (Spirit of) Epilepsy coming?" — "No, I am not coming to strike you down with epilepsy. I come through compassion for you. Why are you lying thus?" — "I am unwell." — "Oh, indeed! Have you eaten anything to-day?" — "Nothing at all." — "There, eat that!" The boy stretched out his hand in the darkness, and there was in it a little piece of dried meat. He put it into his mouth and began to chew. The meat in his mouth p. 177 gradually grew larger. He swallowed, but still his mouth was full. He ate and ate, and his belly became full. When he wanted no more, the food vanished. "Well, then, go across the sea and take the pretty young wife from the bad murderous ke´lẹ who is living there. Take your eight uncles as paddlers in the boat." Indeed, the grandmother had a younger brother, who lived in Nunäɛ´mun, and who had eight sons. "But they will not go." — "Send your grandmother to Nunäɛ´mun: they will obey. Now I am going. Brrr!"1 The ke´lẹ went out. He was still lying in the darkness. The old grandmother came home. "Oh, oh, I am so tired! I am hardly able to procure food at my age. Well, I have brought some few scraps. Here, eat!" — "No." — "What is the matter with you? Are you dying?" — "No." — "Then what is the matter?" — "I have had enough." — "What have you had?" — "Oh, cease! I want to send you to Nunäɛ´mun, that you may call my eight uncles as boat-paddlers on a journey of mine." — "Where are you going?" — "I am going to get the pretty young wife of the old ke´lẹ, who lives across the sea." — "Oh, you shall not!" — "Now, then, I shall kill you!" The grandmother went out of the house, sat close by, and wept bitterly. She covered her face with her palms. "How can I get to Nunäɛ´mun? It is too far for me." While she was weeping, she was carried to Nunäɛ´mun quite unawares. She looked up and said, "Is not this a boat-support of my father, made of whale-ribs!" Then she saw her younger brother, who was working on something near his house. He gave her a cordial welcome. "Oh, indeed! have you come?" — "Yes." — "What is the matter with you? Are you suffering from hunger!" — "No, but my little grandson has ordered me to take your sons as boat-paddlers. He is going to bring here the young wife of a ke´lẹ from across the sea." He did not say a word against this order. "Oh, hurry up! Go down to the water, get the skin boat ready; cause no delay!" They began to cover the frame of the boat with a skin covering. "Oh, how strange you are! Why are you taking old skins? You are from a family so strong in numbers. The people will point at you. You will be put to shame. The people will say, 'This numerous family are but bad hunters, since there are no new skins on their boat.'" They listened to his words, and took the hides of walrus newly killed. When everything was ready, they paddled toward the boy's place.

 The boy was lying in the inner room in utter darkness, as before. He was very weak, and covered all over with scabs. " Eġeġeġeġei´!" and again, still louder, "Eġeġeġeġei´! I have come again!" It was the ke´lẹ. "What are you doing?" — "I am lying down." — "What for?" — "Because I am very lame." Then he hears in the darkness, "Toq, toq, toq." The ke´lẹ passed water in a chamber-vessel. "There, take that, and wash yourself with it all p. 178 over your body!" He took off his clothes and washed his face and his whole body with this urine. Then he felt of his body with his hands. Oh, it was sleek all over, and his hand just slid along over his skin. "There, put those on!" He took breeches, outer and inner ones, and put them on. "There, also this!" It was a double fur shirt. He felt of it with his hands in the dark. It was covered all over with tassels. The ke´lẹ gave him also a cap, boots, and a scarf. All these he put on. He gave him a small piece of dried meat. "Now, that is your provision for the journey. This will suffice for the whole crew. And here is fresh water and a strike-a-light. Take this small parcel. When you want to rest yourself, unfold it, and then you will see. And this is a paddle, — the arm of a still-born infant, along with the shoulder-blade. The arm is the shaft, and the shoulder-bone the blade. Now I am going. Brrr!" The ke´lẹ vanished. The uncles were coming. "Who is that standing there on the shore?" — "It is your nephew," says the old woman. "But they say that he is quite lame." — "It seems that he is well now." As soon as they landed, he came to meet them. "Let us push off!" — "But we have no provisions, nor fresh water." — "I have." They pushed off. While paddling, they asked one another, "But where are his provisions?" Still they have not the heart to ask him. They paddled for a long time, and now were quite far from the shore. Evening came. He asked, "Are you hungry?" — "Yes!" He took his small piece of dried meat and detached for each one a tiny shred no larger than half of a human nail. They looked at it and thought, "Now we are starving to death. Our life is finished." They began to chew. The meat grew within the mouth. They swallowed, but it was still there. Their bellies were quite full. At last they wanted no more. Then the food vanished. "Do you want a drink?" — "Yes!" He unfolded the parcel and threw it upon the water. It was a small skin rug. It turned into a little island. A small lake was in the middle of this island. They landed on the island, drank from the lake, and eased themselves on the firm ground. After that they took their places in the boat. He took the skin rug by one edge and pulled it aside. Everything vanished. He rolled the parcel up and put it in its former place. The uncles paddled on. Night came. They felt quite exhausted. Then the boy said, "Now you may sleep! I will paddle myself." He took the infant's arm and paddled with it. The boat rushed forward more quickly than an American steamer (literally, leluɛ´tvet, "whisker boat"1), more quickly than a flying bird. With such swiftness it moved onward the whole night. The next morning the other men awoke and took their turn in paddling; but the boat moved much more slowly, though there were eight of them.

 On the third day there appeared from afar the mountain-ridge near the p. 179 shore. On the shore was a settlement, — a large group of jaw-bone houses. "Who comes here?" — "Qolênto´!" — "Where from?" — "From Nunäɛ´mun." — "What for?" — "To take the ke´lẹ's wife from him." — "Oh, oh! do not speak so loud. He will hear you. How strange you are! He will hear, and then he will eat all of you. Better take wives here." — Oh, the paddlers were frightened! "It is land. Let us land here." — "Oh, you good-for-nothings! you are the cause of the delay. Paddle on." The ke´lẹ was sitting on a cliff with his wife. He had eyes of fire, and a long tongue lolling down on his breast.

 "Who is coming?" — "Qolênto´." — "What for?" — "For you to eat. I have come, and have brought eight companions." Oh, he was glad! "Whom shall I eat first, whom shall I eat first?" — "How strange you are! They have paddled so long, they are quite exhausted. First give them food." — "All right! Bring some whale-skin, walrus-blubber, reindeer-fat, and reindeer-tenderloin. Let them eat their fill." They ate. Now, whom shall I eat first, whom shall I eat first?" — "How strange you are! They have not slept. Let them rest themselves. You shall eat them to-morrow morning. They shall not go away, since I brought them for your food." They slept. Early in the morning the ke´lẹ called out, "Qolênto´, get up! Whom shall I eat first, whom shall I eat first?" Qolênto´ had a small stone. He selected one paddler and drew a line with this stone all over his body, from the crown of his head to the tip of his toes. Then he pushed him forward. "Here, eat him!" The ke´lẹ wanted to chew, but could not do anything. He left him, and he rose to his feet. "Oh, he is too tough! I cannot eat him. Give me some one with meat more tender!" — "Then take this one!" But this one was also as hard as stone. He could do nothing to any of the eight. "Oh, is there no one who is more tender?" — "Perhaps I am. Try me!" As soon as the ke´lẹ wanted to catch him, he struck him with the stone upon the head and killed him. His wife was quite young, of human origin, had hardly once been slept with. Qolênto´ took her for himself. She said, "But he has another wife, an old one. She is very bad. She will kill you." — "We shall see!" — "Yes, she will, even with copulating she will kill you, with her vulva, which has strong teeth." — "Oh, oh!" — "And also with her anus, which also has teeth." — "Oh, oh!"

 Qolênto´ had a retriever.1 It had long hooks. He brought it along. A stamping of feet was heard from without, and a voice called, "Where is that Qolênto´; the mischievous one? He has carried away other men's wives. He has killed my husband. There, now! let him take me, and fare as my husband fared." — "All right!" They entered the sleeping-room. "Copulate with me!" The woman lay down and spread her legs apart. He took his p. 180 stone, still covered with her husband's blood, and shoved it into her vulva. She caught it greedily, and all her teeth stuck in it. She turned toward him her anus. "Copulate also into the anus!" He shoved into the anus the retriever with many hooks. All the teeth of the anus stuck into the retriever. She tried to chew it, but could do nothing. So at last she choked herself to death with it and was destroyed.

 He took the other woman. She was very pretty. He took also all the property. They came back to the settlement. No one came to meet them, so frightened were they. Then Qolênto´ called out, "Come out! I have killed him." Oh, they rushed onward. They caught the best of their girls and put them into the boat for wives for the paddlers, and the girls consented with joy.

 They left, and went across the sea. When they were nearing Nunäɛ´mun, they saw upon the cliff eight large tents. Each tent had a reindeer-herd of its own, two herdsmen, and a large bag of tobacco in the outer tent. "This is your reward for the journey." The front house had two herds, and two bags of tobacco for the master. "From now on be reindeer-breeders! So they left Nunäɛ´mun for Či´ni, and became reindeer-breeders. They lived there. That is all.

Told by Nuten·qeu´, a Maritime Chukchee man from the village of Nunäɛ´mun, in the village of Uñi´sak at Indian Point, May, 1900.



p. 177

1 The so-called moomġa´tirġịn ("gibbering"), a characteristic sound somewhat similar to the buzzing of a fly. It is supposed to be the voice of the ke´lẹ. Compare Vol. VII of this series, p. 437.

p. 178

1 Compare vol. VII of this series, p. 19.

p. 179

1 An implement for securing killed seals floating upon the water before the go down (cf. Vol. VII of this series, p. 121).