There lived a man all by himself. One time a woman came to him. She was Small-Pox. She was quite tall and lean of body, her teeth were long and sharp, and her eyes burned like glowing coals. "Where are the other people?" asked Small-Pox. "I do not know."--"How is it that you do not know? Are you not human-born? Where are your house and village mates?"--"No," said the man, "as long ago as I can remember, I always lived all alone." Small-Pox stayed with him. Every morning and every evening she climbed a very high tree and listened in every direction. One time she descended, and said, "Yonder to the east, I can hear early in the morning and late in the evening the ringing of iron;" and indeed, there were young men chopping wood, and young girls carrying water from the river in iron pails. For this reason, even at present, our old men forbid young men and girls to chop wood and to carry water early in the morning or late in the evening. Every one must prepare the wood and bring the daily store of water in broad daylight.
"Oh!" said Small-Pox, "human people are living on that side. You, must carry me to those people."--"And how shall I carry you to them? Here is a bladder of the ptarmigan. Creep into it. I will carry you concealed in the bladder." She entered the bladder which he tied up with a, cord, and then hung it up before the fireplace to dry. The bladder was drying up more and more, and she was drying with it. Day and night she struggled within the bladder, but by no means could she pierce it and come out. After a while she became quite shrivelled up,--mere bones and dried skin; and even her voice was hardly audible.
"Oh, let me go!" pleaded Small-Pox in a hoarse whisper. "I promise I will never touch any man whatever of your house and kin."--"And how will you recognize my house and kin?"--"Let the people of your house and kin wear small red tufts on their caps." For this reason the Yukaghir people of our clan wear red tufts on their caps even at the present time.
Then the man opened the bladder and took out Small-Pox. She was so weak that she could not stand up,--a mere soul without a body. He put her on a board and sent it floating down the river. "Go wherever you choose! Land wherever you may!"
Told by Nicholas Vostriakoff, the head man of the Vostriakoff clan of the Russianized Yukaghir in the village Omolon, at the confluence of the Omolon and Kolyma rivers, summer of 1896.