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There was a large Yukaghir village on the Indighirka River. In that village lived a powerful shaman. One time he beat the drum; then he went out of the house and said, "A great disease is coming towards us, the like of which we have never seen." There was a crossway where three small trails converged into a single one which was very broad and straight. He went to the crossway and hid under the roots of a large tree. Lying there, he listened for those whose approach he had foreseen. Three sisters were coming along the road. They were riding red horses, their coats were as red as fire, and their hair was burning like lightning. The younger sisters were inquiring of the oldest one, "Where shall we go this time?" The eldest sister answered, "This time go on without me. Near by there is a large Yukaghir village. A powerful shaman lives there. I want to take him away."--"Do not speak so loud!" answered the other sister, "somebody may overhear you."--"Who should overhear me? Deep woods are all around us." The shaman, however, was hidden under the roots of a tree, and heard all. He ran home, and said to his house people, "Get the meal ready. At mealtime she will come to the people eating food." He had a magic iron box, sealed with a magic seal. He opened it and put it upon the table, close to himself. They ate, and during the meal a long red hair fell upon the table, at the left hand side of the shaman. All at once he caught the hair and put it into the box. He closed it and sealed it up with the magic seal. "Now make a big fire," said he to the people. They made a big fire, and he put the box into it, and began to rake the fire. Soon the box was glowing red. Then a wail, like that of a human voice was heard from the box. "Oh, set me free! I cannot stand it."--"Ah, you cannot!" said the shaman, and raked the fire. Thus, he roasted her for three days and

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three nights. On the fourth day there was a faint squeal like the voice of a red fox. "Oh, please let me go! I cannot stand it." Then he asked the other people of the village, "What shall I do to her? Shall I really set her free? You are the shaman," said the people, "do what you think best. We cannot tell."--"All right," said the shaman, "let me have a look at her." He opened the box. A red girl was sitting within it, half dead with exhaustion, mere skin and bones, dryer than a withered leaf. "Now you may go," said the shaman, "but be sure not to forget our treatment of you." "I shall not forget. But I am very weary, I cannot walk. Give me some food and a drink of water." So he kept her for three days, and gave her food and water. After that she grew a little stronger; so she went to the woods, found her own horse, and hurried off. When departing, she swore to herself that she would never go back to that awful place. So she came to the crossway. Her sisters had been waiting for her for two days. "Where have you been so long?"--"Oh, the Yukaghir shaman caught me and nearly murdered me. He put me into a box and burned me in the fire."--"There you are! Did we not warn you not to be so loud in your boasting lest somebody should overhear you?"--"You did. And where have you been?"--"Oh, we have had some little fun. We slew the people of one village, and in another we left only one boy and one girl." After that the sisters rode on.

Told by Timothy, a Tunguso-Yukaghir, on the western tundra of the Kolyma, spring of 1895.

Next: 15. Tale of a Shaman