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13. (The Girl in the Stone Chest.1)

 There lived an old man who had an only daughter. He kept her in a large stone chest. Although her suitors were many, they could not do anything, since the girl was shut up in the chest. She was sitting there, with a lamp. She was very pretty. All the time she was sewing and preparing new clothes for herself. An orphan, poorly dressed, also wanted to be a suitor. He lost his way, however, in a storm. At last he saw a house. "Who is there?" — "I am here." — "Who are you?" — "I lost my way in a storm." — "Indeed!" The woman returned to the sleeping-room. "He, you! There is meat in the store-room.2 Take some and eat it." — "I will." He went to the store-room. A Mouse-woman come out from there, and asked him, "Who are you?" — "I am a suitor." — "All right! I will give you some of my saliva. Rub that upon the stone, then you will find a nail. Press that nail down. The chest will open, and let you in." He rubbed. The trunk opened. He saw a naked girl, who was lying on her back fast asleep. He pressed her down. "Ah, ah, ah!" cried the p. 181 girl; and the father cried from the sleeping-room, "I knew he was not a stray visitor, he is a suitor. — Well, then, if you have become my son-in-law, go and procure some good trimming for my fur-shirt collar."

 "All right!" But he did not know what kind of trimming was wanted. He set off, and at last was out of the bright world, and entered the dark one. He walked in the dark, and soon heard noise and thunder. A man was snoring. He came nearer, and found a house as large as a mountain. His ears rang with the noise. He entered, however, and saw a man as big as a tall tree. He was asleep and snoring. He had a very long beard. He caught him by the beard and wound his hand twice in it. Then he pulled up his head and drew the pillow from under the sleeping one. He emptied the pillow-bag, and rummaged among the contents. He found a piece of wolf-skin all clotted. He put it into his bosom; then he caught the sleeping man by the beard, just as before, and put his head upon the pillow. After that, instead of going out, he jumped up, caught hold of one of the roof-poles, and passed through the vent-hole to the top of the tent. There he also lay down to sleep, and snored too. The large one awoke. "Who is snoring there on top of the tent, disturbing my sound sleep so shamelessly?" He looked for the footprints; but all of them led only to the tent, and none led out. The large one was puzzled, then he lay down and snored again. Then the other one left. Before he returned home, he grew old. Just as he came, his father-in-law dropped down and died. The end.

Told by Nikon Rịte´ġreu, a River Chukchee man in a settlement "By the Cliffs," on the Middle Anadyr.



p. 180

1 This tale is probably borrowed from the Russian or from the Yukaghir, or at least is strongly influenced by the folk-lore of these peoples.

2 Ya´ñak (locative from ya´ñan), "in the background of the tent, behind the sleeping-room" (cf. Vol. VII of this series, p. 178).