On the seashore, upon an island, stood a village of the Maritime people. The village was very large, the houses were more numerous than the leaves on a tree. Several people began to talk among themselves. "Let us travel, that we may see all the wonders of the sea!" One of them was "a knowing one." 1 He knew all kinds of incantations, even the chief incantation of the Zyrian people. These Zyrian people were an ancient heathen tribe, who lived on the seashore. 2 All the other travelers were quite common people. They entered a skin boat and started off. After a long time the winds and the currents carried them toward an island. They landed at a safe place and walked along the shore. It was a broad strip of sand, and higher up was a steep bank of firm ground. On it were the houses of people. They climbed the bank, but the houses had disappeared. The entrances were not to be found. Only a number of willow bushes were scattered about and wherever they stepped, or wherever they put their feet a great clamoring of children came up from underground. The whole
bank resounded with the noise of their voices. At last they found an entrance among the roots of a willow bush, and entered a house, which lay entirely underground. The people bade them welcome, and gave them food and drink. These people were Polar Fox people. All of them were quite young and strong. Only one was an aged, decrepit old man who could hardly walk about, even with the help of his long staff. The other people soon went out; but the old man stayed behind, and immediately said to the guests, "O you Christians! 1 if you are such, indeed, do not stay here for a single night, but rather sail away. While walking above, you trod down ever so many Fox children. If you should stay here for a night, they would certainly kill you out of spite and revenge. Take warning and go away in time. So they entered their skin boat and sailed away. They moved on for a long time, and at last they saw another island. On that island was a village and some people were living there. In front of the island, in the sea, stood a tree of gigantic size, full of boughs. These boughs and branches were so close to one another, that not even a finger could be thrust in between them; and in the middle of the trunk there was an excrescence, ever so large. They stopped their skin boat and gazed at the new wonder. The tree stood bolt upright; then all at once it bowed down lower and lower, and at last was immersed in the water, boughs, excrescence, and all--and vanished from sight. Then they saw on shore a number of people, all one-sided, 2 running to and fro, and catching fish. They were just like ordinary men split in two. The two halves would meet and stick together and would become whole men. Then they would part again, and each half would race along the shore so swiftly that it would outrun a flying bird. These halves of men were catching fish in the following manner. They spread their fingers, ran down into the water and vanished in the sea. After a while they came back on a run and to every finger a fish was hanging. They caught the fish with their fingers. After that the big tree would also emerge from the water, bough after bough, and stand straight up again, as before; but it would be thoroughly white from the mass of fish on it. Every little bough would have a fat fish hanging on it. The tree stood up and trembled, as if alive; and then all the fish were swung up to the excrescence, when they vanished. 3
The voyagers gazed upon these wonders, but, being afraid of the one-sided people, they did not land there, but sailed by. After a while they were carried off to still another island. They landed there, and walked along the shore. A village stood there, with numerous houses. They approached, and saw near the village, down the steep bank, a great mass oi food lying in heaps higher than a man's stature. It was mostly meat of wild reindeer. The people had neither anus nor urethra. They killed many wild reindeer. Then they cooked the meat in huge iron kettles. When it was done, they put the kettle under their bare armpits and kept it there for a while. They lived on the steam they inhaled through their armpits. After that they would turn the kettles over and throw all the meat down the bank. The voyagers felt very hungry, and wanted to eat of this strange refuse; but all of a sudden there came from the houses men with long staffs, who shouted to them, "Don't touch that meat! It is bad. Rather come here! We will give you good meat, we will feed you with clean provisions. That is offal!" 1 They entered the nearest house. The people of the island gave them the choicest meat and dried fat and brought in large bladders filled with pure oil. They ate heartily.
An old man was sitting opposite them, and was all the time attentively watching their doings. "Ah!" said he, "so this is your manner of eating! It seems you relish it." The "knowing one," the man with incantations, wanted him to do the same. "Do try and have a morsel!" "I wish I could!" said the old man; "But you see yourself, with your own eyes that we have neither anus nor urethra. What, then, would become of, me?" The other one, however, did not desist. "Ah, father! Do take a morsel! I will arrange that you may enjoy it without danger." "Ah!" said the old man, "I have lived long enough; so let me try it once, though I die from it!", He took a small bit and swallowed it. "Ah! it is sweet." He took another piece, and by and by had eaten a large and hearty meal, in the manner of human beings. In due time, however, he felt uncomfortable, and shouted, "My buttocks prick me, my buttocks prick me!" Tears started from his eyes from pain. The man with incantations took a splinter of drift larch-wood and made it round and sharp-pointed. He pronounced several incantations over it, and then thrust it through the old man's breeches, thus making an anus for him. In a similar manner he made for him also a urethra. At the same moment the old man eased himself in both way and became like an ordinary man. But the others were without openings, as before.
The next morning, however, the visitors were requested to furnish the hole population with anus and urethra, for which they were paid generously with costly fur. Till then they had traveled among all these wonders and terrors without any provisions, but from here they took along plenty of dried meat. 1
They sailed on, and reached another island. A single house, quite large, stood on the bank. In it lived an old man and his wife. Before the entrance a big brown bear was tied to a post. It was their watch-dog. Close to the house stood two racks of drying poles filled with human flesh. There were shoulders along with arms and hands in one piece; and the fingers glistened with rings, gold and silver. The heads were ornamented with earrings, and the legs with feet booted in leather and chamois. The travelers were much afraid, but they did not dare to say anything. The old man said to his wife, "Bring some cloud-berries for our guests." So she brought a dish full of rosy finger tips of women and children, cut off with great care. These finger tips, indeed, looked like so many berries. The "knowing one" said to his companions. "Do not eat this food. Hide it in the bosom of your clothes." They were all clad in fur shirts, and girt around with large girdles of many-colored stuff, as is the custom with our people. So they did as they were told, and after the meal they went out of the house as if to ease themselves. They loosened their girdles, and all these awful finger tips glided down to the ground. They went back. The old woman was already preparing beds for them. "These places are for you, and these also. Lie down and have your rest." They went out again; and the "knowing one" said, "We cannot stay here. The only way to do is the following. We will return, and I shall take my pipe and have a short smoke. That done, I shall knock the glowing ashes out of the bowl. Then all at once I shall howl like a wolf. You must be careful and hold on to me at that very moment. I shall rush out and take you along."
He had a smoke, and knocked the glowing ashes out of the pipe bowl. Then all at once he howled like a wolf. The bear in front of the door fell down at once and snored loudly. The old man and the old woman within F the house fell asleep and slept like logs. The visitors went out and found
the skin boat.
They gave up journeying farther, and turned homeward. On the return journey, they made almost no landings, but sailed steadily on. They revisited only those people whose intestines they had provided with openings, and obtained from them more provisions for the last part of their journey.
[paragraph continues] They were traveling, not for a single year, nor for two years, but for three complete years, of twelve months each. All of them had wives at home, some of whom had been left with child. These women had had time to give birth to their children, and the children were already toddling about and babbling lustily, though not very intelligibly. So they came home. Their wives were told by neighbors, "Come out! Your husbands have come back!" They almost lost their senses for joy, because they had believed that their husbands were dead and gone. As soon as the men came into the house, the women glanced at them and swooned. They remained unconscious for many hours, and could hardly be restored. After that they lived with their husbands exactly as they had in former times. The end. 1
Told by Innocent Korkin, a Russianized Yukaghir man, in the village of Pokhotsk, in the Kolyma country, summer of 1896.
86:1 In local Russian знатливый. This is nearly the same as "shaman," but of more indefinite character. Cf. also Bogoras, "The Chukchee," 472--W. B.
86:2 The Zyrian tribe is of Finnish origin. The Zyrians live on both sides of the Northern Ural Mountains, along the Pechora River, and also along some tributaries of the Obi River. A confused remembrance of them was brought into northeastern Asia by Russian cossacks and other immigrants, the greater part of whom came from northern European Russia and all along the northern parts of Siberia--W. B.
87:1 Literally, "orthodox" привославные), an invocation much used in Russian among the larger classes of People, meaning about the same as the English "gentlemen."--W. B.
87:2 see Bella Coola (Boas, Franz, Indianische Sagen von der Nord-Pacifischen Küste Amerikas, 256); Chipewyan (Petitot, Emile, Traditions Indiennes du Canada Nord-Ouest, 363); Tsimshian (Boas, Franz, "Tsimshian Texts" Bulletin 27, Bureau of American Ethnology, Washington, 1902, 105.).--F. B.
87:3 see the Eskimo tale of Giviok (references in Boas, Franz, "Eskimo of Baffin Land and Hudson Bay" Bulletin, American Museum of Natural History, vol. 15, 36); Tlingit (Swanton, John R., "Tlingit Myths and Texts" Bulletin 39, Bureau of American Ethnology, Washington, 1909, 317).--F. B.
88:1 See references in Boas, "Tsimshian Mythology" (Thirty-first Annual Report, Bureau of American Ethnology, Washington, 1916), 773--F. B.
89:1 See Eskimo (Boas, "The Eskimo of Baffin Land and Hudson Bay" Bulletin American Museum of Natural History, vol. 15, ); for other references, Ibid., 360; Wishram (Sapir, "Wishram Texts" Publications, American Ethnological Society, vol. 2, 19).--F. B.
90:1 See p. 87, note 3.