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There was an old man who had a large herd. He had also six sons, who kept watch over the herd by night and day. One day a tumor began to grow upon the neck of the largest buck. This tumor grew larger and larger, and after nine days it burst, and a little infant dropped down from it. It was a boy in a combination-suit, with a diaper, who was already walking. The elder son said, "This is a strange reindeer! Let us slaughter it! And the boy is also strange. No need of him! Let us kill him too!" The old man retorted, "Why do you want to kill him? Maybe he is the real master1 of the herd. It is sinful to kill him. Also the large buck may still look (i. e., may still be living)." — "All right!" They took the boy home. In the evening there came a storm. The eldest son went to the herd for his night watch. The infant meanwhile exterminated the whole family. He was a ke´lẹ. Then he rushed toward the herd. The herdsman heard the clattering of his feet, and turned back. He saw him coming, but this one did not notice him. He was looking only at the reindeer. Every reindeer that he could overtake, he would immediately swallow, and run for another one.
"Oh," says the herdsman, "is this the real master of the herd? he destroys the whole herd. Oh, the father! I should like to talk with him now."
Meanwhile the pursuing one was drawing nearer. He had already swallowed quite a number of reindeer. The herdsman thought, "Let me leave the herd and go away. No need of this master for me!" He left the herd and Red across the tundra. On the other end of the pasture-land there was a large tree. He climbed to the top, reached the very tip, then dropped from it upwards, not downwards. Thus he reached the country where dwelled his Being (va´ịrġịn), his own Sacrifice-receiving Being of his.
He came to a camp. A single large house was standing there. A single woman was living in it, old enough, but healthy and strong. She was in looks similar to a young one. Men there were none. The woman was sitting and carefully patching one of her fur stockings. "Oh, oh! a guest!" — "Yes, I am a guest!" — "Where do you come from?" — "Oh, I came from afar. I am from the people of the lower space." — "And where is your house?" — "I have no house. I have no kinsmen. I am tramping around aimlessly." — "Well, since you have brought sacrifices to me for a long time, so that I have become rich through you; and, moreover, as men there are none here, and the house lacks a master; and since, living without a husband, I feel quite dull, — if you want to, you may marry me, and be master of the house." He married her, and they lived on. Their herd was quite large. The woman was a fat one, with a large broad pelvis, good for sleeping with, a skilful seamstress, one who kept the whole house in the best of order. After some p. 174 time, the man, however, began to feel dull. He thought of his former country, of the herd, the family, his father and brothers. "Oh, if I could only have a look upon all this!" The woman says, "Why are you so sad? What are you thinking about?" — "Nothing," he answered. The woman, however, said, "I understand you quite well. You are sad because you think, 'Oh, if I could see once more my old house and family, the country and the herd!' Well, I am not going to stand in your way. Go and visit them! I won't be angry with you for that!" He sprang up. "Oh, yes, yes!" She said again, "Here, take it! This is my reindeer with many legs, — a reindeer for flight, for an emergency. Drive it there! If anybody should pursue you, cut off one of its legs, and throw it away. If he should continue to pursue you, cut off another leg; and go on doing so until the reindeer has but four legs left. Then if he should still pursue you, kill the reindeer, leave it behind, and flee."
He descended to earth directly toward his own tent. He tethered the reindeer, and looked into the tent through a little hole. That infant was sitting in the house. He made a large fire, and cut off one of his own legs. He roasted that over the fire. He was slicing off the roasted crust of the meat and swallowing it piece by piece. All at once he turned his head and saw the new-comer, who was looking through the hole. "Oh, oh! you have come!" — "Yes, I have come." — "Well, then, come in!" — "Where are the other people?" — "They are among the herd." Thus the ke´lẹ deceives him. The man brought with him a quantity of food. They ate together. "Oh," says the ke´lẹ, "now I feel sleepy!" — "All right! Then let me louse you in your sleep!" He loused him and put him fast asleep. After that he looked around in the tent, and saw in the corner some old human bones. "Oh," said he, "let me rather flee from here!" He took off his outer garment, filled it with ashes, and hung it up on a cross-pole just above the hearth. After that he fled. The ke´lẹ awoke and again felt hunger. "Where has he vanished to, this one?" And he looked around, then upwards. He saw something big hanging down. He caught his knife, then opened his mouth, and threw the knife upwards at the hanging thing. But instead of fresh blood, a shower of ashes fell down, filled his mouth, and got into his eyes. "Oh," said he, "what a scamp! I will pursue him!"
When he was quite near, the man cut off one leg of his reindeer and threw it down; while the ke´lẹ was eating it, he fled farther on, then he cut off another leg; and so on till the reindeer had but four legs, as ordinary reindeer. The ke´lẹ again drew quite near, so he killed the reindeer. While the ke´lẹ was eating it, he reached the tree from which he had ascended before, and climbed to its top. The ke´lẹ came to the tree, and, instead of climbing it, he began to gnaw through it, and penetrated into the interior of it. There he was gradually ascending from below upwards.
A small bird was chirping on a bough, "Pĭči´k, pĭči´k!" — "O bird! help me in my need! My murderer is coming up!" — "Ah, ah! Pĭči´k, pĭči´k!" Two big wolves are coming. They asked the bird, "What do you want?" — "Oh, oh, this master of mine wants help! His murderer is approaching." — "Where is he?" — "In the inside of the tree." — "Ah, well, when we shall fight with him, and the blood shall flow in streams, look carefully at the color of the blood. Should the blood be red, then it is ours, and you may say, 'I am going to die.' Should the blood be dark, then say, 'Ah, ah! They are killing him at last.'" They penetrated into the tree, caught the murderer, and a fight began. Oh, what a clatter, noise, grinding of teeth! Then some blood oozed out. It was red. "Oh," said he, "then I am going to die!" After a while a big stream of black blood rushed down, large as a torrent. "Oh," said he, "I am glad! My murderer is near his end!" The Wolves came out, and said, "Well, we have killed your enemy at last."
He returned to his house of the upper country, and lived there with his wife and herd.
Told by Vịyê´nto the Blind, a Maritime Chukchee man, at Mariinsky Post, October, 1900.
Two people are living, a man and a wife. They bring forth children; but their children fare very badly, because, before having hair on their testicles, they die. The woman is with child and is delivered, but the children die one after another. The old man says, "Oh, it is bad! I will go to the herd and look among the reindeer (for a remedy)." He reached the herd, and saw that one of the reindeer-bucks had a tumor on his neck. Every day this tumor grows larger. At last it ripened and became quite big. Then it burst, and a small boy dropped out of it. The old man took him and carried him to his wife. He said to her, "Give him the breast!" She suckled the boy, because her breasts were just with milk. He grew up soon, and began to go to the herd to keep watch over it. One time, coming back from the herd, he said, "Some of the reindeer are lost!" — "Oh, where are they?" — "I do not know. I looked for them, but I could not find them." The next day some of the reindeer were lost again. On the following day the same was repeated. The old man said, "Oh, it is strange! Where do these reindeer go?" He quietly followed the son; and when they reached the herd, he saw that his son was destroying reindeer. He would catch a reindeer, put it into his mouth, and swallow it at once. The old man went back to his wife. He said to her, "Oh, it is very strange! Our little son from the reindeer-tumor is destroying the herd. He catches reindeer and p. 176 swallows them." They felt afraid, and fled. On their way they met a large Thunder-Bird. "What do you want?" — "We have fared badly. The boy born from a reindeer-tumor is destroying all our herd." — "Is that so? Well, enter here!" — "Where?" — "Here!" The Thunder-Bird opened his mouth. "Come in!" They entered. In the bird's interior they found a house, with a lamp and other necessaries. They lived there, and brought forth three sons. Thenceforward their children did not die. One time the old man said, "Let me go and look at our former house!" He went out and crept softly towards the house. There was no house. The boy had eaten up all the covering from the poles. He was looking around and muttering, "Where are those that were destined for my food?" Oh, the old man fled, frightened! All at once the boy scented him. He rushed onward, following the scent. He came to the Thunder-Bird, and said, "Where have you put those people that are destined for my food?" — "They are here!" — "Let them out!" — "No, it is shameful, since they are my guests. I cannot deliver them." — "Oh, I am hungry! Which way have they taken?" — "This way!" The Thunder-Bird opened his mouth, the ke´lẹ plunged in, but the Thunder-Bird caught him with his beak, and crushed him to pieces. " Well, come out! Your enemy is destroyed. . . . Go home and do not grieve about your herd. You shall have a herd." They went away, being five of them, together with their sons. The old man gathered reindeer-excrement and piled it up in one place. After five days he visited it. It had turned into a large herd. They lived, and bred reindeer. Soon they became a large settlement. All the time they were bringing forth children. The end.
Told by U´ttịqäi, a Reindeer Chukchee man, in a camp on the Opu´ka River, near the Koryak Frontier, February, 1901.
1 That is, the protecting-genius of the herd.