There was a small river that flowed into the sea. Some Tungus lived at the mouth of the river, and caught fish. One time they came to the sea and saw a sea-spirit as big as a whale coming up from under the water. The sea-spirit said, "O people! you are here. I want to devour you." They prayed to him to let them live. "All right," said the spirit, "I will devour only one man now, and the others may go home, but every day you must give me one man. You must bring him to the sea, and leave him near the water. He shall be food for me. Otherwise, if you do not do as I bid, I shall carry off your nets and drive away all the fish. I shall turn over your canoes, and so I shall surely devour you, nevertheless.
The Tungus went home, leaving one of their number behind. They went to their chief, and said to him, "What is to be done? We have to give away one man after another. We cannot live without the sea." So they gave to the spirit one victim after another. At last came the turn of the only daughter of the chief. They took her to the sea and put her down on the sand. Then they went back. The young girl sat there awaiting her death. Then she saw a young man coming. He was a wanderer, who, knew neither father nor mother, and was walking around aimlessly. "What are you doing here?" said the young man--"I am awaiting my death. The sea-spirit is coming to devour me."--"The sea-spirit! What is he, like? I want to stay here and see him."--"Young man," said the chief's daughter, "go home. What need of two human lives being destroyed?"--"I have no fear," said the young man. "I have neither father nor mother. There is not a single soul in the world that would lament my death. I shall sit here and wait for the sea-spirit." He took
his place close to the chief's daughter, and said to her, "Louse me a little, and make me sleep! But if anybody comes, make me get up!"
So he slept, and did not wake until the flood tide set in, and with the flood came the sea-spirit. He saw the young man, and said with joy, "Ah, good people! this time they brought two people instead of one." The chief's daughter wanted to rouse the young man; but he slept on, and took no heed of all her nudging and shaking. So she cried over him and a hot tear trickled down and fell upon his face." The young man awoke instantly and sprang up. "Ah, ah," said he, "you are already here!" He attacked the sea-monster, and they fought until late in the evening. At last the young man grasped the upper jaw of the monster, and tore it off along with the skull. "Oh, I am tired!" said the young man. He sat down again and put his head upon the girl's lap. "Louse me again," said he, and she did so. He went to sleep as before. One of the herdsmen of the chief came to the shore. He said to the girl, "Why, you are still alive?"--"I am," said the girl." And how is it with the sea-spirit?"--"This man has killed him."--"You lie!" said the herdsman. "Who will believe that a loitering fellow like this man with no kith or kin, could kill the monster? It is I who killed the monster."
He drew a knife and stabbed the man. He threw his body into the sea, and said to the girl, "Thus have I done; and if you contradict me with as much as a word, I shall do the same to you." She was frightened, and promised to obey him and to say that he had killed the monster. So he took her by the hand and led her back to her father. "Here," said he, "I have killed the sea-monster, and saved your only daughter from death. Your daughter is mine at present." The father was full of joy. "All right," said he, "take her and marry her." They arranged a great bridal feast for the next morning.
In the meantime, the chief's daughter called together all the girls of the village, and they prepared a large drag-net, as large as the sea itself. They cast it into the sea and dragged it along the shore, and then right across the sea. They toiled and toiled the whole night long, and in the morning at dawn they caught the body of her rescuer. "Here it is," said the chief's daughter. "This man saved me from the monster, and the herdsman stabbed him in his sleep. Now I shall stab myself, so that both of us may have one common funeral."--"Do not do so," said one of her companions. "I know a rock not far from here. From under that rock comes a stream of water, scalding hot, but good for healing all kinds of wounds." She went to the rock with a stone bottle and fetched some of the water. They washed the wound with it, and, lo! the youth came to life again. The girl took him by the hand and led him to her father. "This is the man who saved me.
The other one is a traitor and an impostor." So they killed the herdsman, the young man married the girl, and they lived there. The end.
Told by Innocent Karyakin, a Tundra Yukaghir on the western tundra of the Kolyma country, winter of 1895.
12:1 This story represents a Tundra Yukaghir version of the well-known tale of the dragon and the young princess.--W. B.--Bolte und Polívka, l. c., vol. 1, 547; E. Cosquin, Contes populaires de Lorraine, vol. 1, 66, and vol. 2, 260.--F. B.