There lived a man with his wife. They had a daughter. The name of this daughter was kept secret. The father announced that whoever should guess her name should have her for a wife. There came traders and hunters and all kinds of able young men, but nobody could guess her name.
The couple had only a single female servant. The suitors were too many, and the housework was too hard for her. The servant had to fetch water, chop wood, and cook food. Throughout the day and night she had no rest at all. She toiled and toiled. One time she went to an ice hole in the river to draw water, feeling wearied and unhappy. She wept and a tear fell down
straight into the water. At the same time she whispered to herself: "What is her name? They cannot guess it. Her name is, Kutika Mutika." All of a sudden some air bubbles danced on the water; and a Monster appeared from the ice hole, clad in hareskin.
So the Monster inquired, "What was it you whispered when crying over the ice hole?" At first the girl refused to answer; but after a while she said, "It is so and so. I feel wearied almost to death. And what is in her name, that they cannot guess it? Her name is simply Kutika Mutika." The monster jumped out of the water and rushed off, so that the ice resounded. He came to the house of the girl. All the people laughed at him, "This ugly old man also wants to guess her name." He hopped around on one leg, and said, "Her name is Spoon, her name is Ladle, her name is Big Fork, her name is Kettle-Hook." Then suddenly he said, "Her name is Kutika Mutika." All the people jumped up in wonder. The old father slapped himself on the mouth with the palm of his hand. The other suitors from mere shame and anger, left immediately without waiting for dinner to be served. The old Monster remained there. The next morning they were married. The father of the girl was wealthy and generous. He had a winged horse with a natural saddle and a natural bridle. 1 He gave this horse to his daughter as her dowry, so she mounted it. The Monster held the halter of silk, and led the way down the river directly through the ice hole. He went down, and she followed him. They descended into the river and found a trail. They followed it for a long time. At last the girl said, "O, old man! I feel hungry and thirsty. Is it still far to your houses?"--"Why," said the Monster, "Look there! Our houses are there." She looked, and saw a number of large bunches of grass which were standing like so many houses. From under every bunch smoke ascended. He took her to the largest of the bunches and helped her down from her horse. All kinds of monsters jumped out from under the grass. One had no trunk of the body, another was without a nose, a third even without a face. Last of all there jumped out a one-eyed old woman clad in hareskin. She hopped about on one leg, and cried, "Oh, oh! he has brought a reindeer and a doe withal." The young woman was frightened, so she cut the halter of the horse. The horse immediately flew up. It bolted through the ice-hole back to earth. It did not go back to the house of the bride's father, however, but flew on steadily. The old Monster followed it, running below. After
a long time the Monster was left behind. Then he shouted with all his might, "Mind, woman! You will marry somebody else, and you will have three children by him. The first one shall be a boy, and the second a girl, and the third again a boy. Bear in mind that then I shall come to you again!"
She wandered on, and came to a wild country unknown to any one. There she married a man, who was a mighty hunter. Not a single living thing could escape his skill. They had three children,--a boy and a girl, and again a boy. When the last was still an infant in the cradle, the husband one day said to his wife, "Give me your horse, I want to use it to go hunting." The woman said, "Take the horse! but be careful when stopping in the woods! Tie it only to an old dry tree. Be sure not to tie it to a green tree."
He used the horse once, twice, several times. At last one day he went into the woods. About the middle of the day he stopped for dinner, and quite forgot his wife's warning about tying the horse, and tied it to a green tree.
In the meantime the woman busied herself about the house. She cooked food, then she raked up the burning coals and covered them with ashes, as is customary. The children were playing near the fireplace. All of a sudden something fumed and smouldered among the coals. She thought it was the children's fault: so she grew angry, and said to the older boy, "Now, just scrape that off with a piece of wood and throw it on the floor!" He scraped it off on to the floor; and, lo! there was the Monster, clad in hareskin, sitting near the fireplace. She was so frightened that she nearly had a fit. Then she came to herself, and said, "I will bring some food from the storehouse." She went off, and the older boy followed her. The Monster said, "Be quick! Hardly step out of the house, and you are back again!" So she took off one of her boots and squeezed it between the door and the doorpost. They had in the storehouse an old box clamped with twelve iron hoops. The woman said to the box, "You were a box clamped with twelve iron hoops. Now become a raised storehouse with twelve iron supports, and every support as thick as a man can embrace!"
So the box turned into a storehouse raised on twelve supports, each support as thick as a man could embrace. The woman and the boy were on top of the storehouse. Then she shouted, and called for her husband; but he was so far away, he could hardly hear her voice. When he heard it, he ran for the horse; but the horse had been left in the woods quite a way behind. The horse also tried to make itself free, but the green tree held it fast, notwithstanding all its efforts. The Monster went out of the house, and saw the iron storehouse. He grew very angry. First of all, he caught
two of her children and swallowed them. The girl's legs just passed through his mouth like a flash. "You also shall not escape," said he, and began to vomit. After a few efforts he vomited out a large ax and attacked the iron supports. He chopped at them with supernatural force, and big iron splinters flew about. At this time a little She-Fox came and said, "O, granny! you are so tired, let me relieve you and chop a little in your stead!" He gave her the ax. She ran away and threw it into the sea. The monster vomited again and threw up a hatchet. With this he chopped at the supports with greater force than before. The Fox thought a little, then she wallowed in white clay and turned white, just like an arctic fox. She came to the Monster, and said again, "O granny! you are so tired, let me work in your stead for a while!"--"And who are you?" asked the Monster. "Methinks you are the same fox."--"Oh, no!" said the Fox, "don't you see! I am an arctic fox." He gave her the hatchet, and the Fox threw it into the sea. The Monster vomited again and threw out a large lance. With this he chopped at the iron supports harder than ever. Eleven supports were cut down. Only the last was left, and the storehouse swayed to and fro upon its base. Then the winged horse with a last effort uprooted green tree and ran home. It rushed straight to the storehouse and with the its iron hoofs it broke the Monster's back. Then the husband also came home. He cut up the Monster and chopped its body into small pieces. He put what remained on a leather sledge cover and dragged it toward the sea. Then he threw all the remnants of the Monster's body into the sea. After that they left, and wandered to another country. They lived there and had more children.
Told by Nicholas Kusakoff, a Russian creole, in the village of Pokhotsk in the Kolyma country, summer of 1895.
59:1 This is borrowed from Russian folklore, where it forms one of the well-known rhymed formulas:--
On` bîl` dogatîï da tarovatîï,
Bîl` y nego kon` krîlatîï
Ot` sebya cjdlatîï,
Ot` sebya uzdatîï.