It was told in the olden times that in the Gishiga country, on the Okhotsk side, there lived some Lamut of the Lam branch who were all rich in reindeer. One of these reindeer owners had a bad temper. He used to strike his assistants for mere trifles. One time his herd went away from their usual pasture. One of the assistants set off to look for it. He came to the pasture, which was covered with the tracks of reindeer hoofs, but farther off there was not a single track. He walked and walked and grew tired. So he came home, and said, "I could not find the herd." The master gave him a severe thrashing, and then said, "How is it that you
could not find it? Where can it be? I will go and look for it myself." He came to the pasture, and walked all around it, but he also could not find any tracks outside of it. He grew quite tired. There was on the border of the pasture a boulder. He climbed it and sat down to rest. His head was resting on his hands, and so he sat thinking. All at once he heard a voice, "BIya!" 1 He sprang to his feet and looked up. High on the rock there stood an old man, large and white, as high as the sky. "O man you see me?"--"I see you."--"You hear my voice?"--"I hear your voice."--"What are you doing?"--"I am resting myself."--"And where are your reindeer?"--"I do not know."--"Ah, well! but why do you strike your assistants with so little reason? Now you must look for reindeer yourself." But the man did not stir. "Why do you strike your assistants? Is not each of them a man and a Lamut like you? Look upward! There are your reindeer." He looked up, and his reindeer were mounting up to the sky, all of them,--bucks and does and fawns. He looked on, but still did not stir. "So you will stand here forever." The white one vanished. Then the Lamut came to himself, and tried to climb down; but his feet stuck to the stone. He tried to disengage them, but he was unable to do so. After a while his feet and legs were sinking into the stone.
The next morning his people came to look for him. His feet had sunk into the stone up to his ankles. They tried to pull him out, but he cried for pain, "Leave me alone! I cannot stand it. It seems that I am done for. Better go away and tell the other people." So they went and told the neighbors what had happened. In a couple of days they came back. He had sunk into the stone up to the knees. They talked to him, but he did not answer. Only the look in his eyes was still life-like. They went away, and came back in the spring. He was all stone. And so he is up to the present, and stands there upon the boulder.
Told by Ulashkan, a Lamut man, on the Molonda River, in the Kolyma country, summer of 1895.
35:1 One of the usual invocations. "You man!" (BIy, "man").