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p. 100


They say, in the district of Shigansk, near the Lena River, there is a lake. In that lake are some monstrous pikes, such as are able to swallow a man or even a reindeer. One time a big elk went there to drink, and the pike caught him by the muzzle. They fought, but neither was the elk able to drag the pike out of the water, nor did the pike succeed in drawing in the elk. So they both perished. Their bones were found in the shallow water. The cheek bones of the pike were used for a small hut which gave shelter to one man.

One time a chief officer of the country ordered a large iron hook to be hammered out. He baited the hook with elk brisket, and tied it to a strong cord plaited of three lines of tough elkhide and let it down into the lake under the ice. After a week, they went back to the lake and found that the pike had been caught. It was so heavy, that ten men could hardly pull it up. The strands of the cord snapped, until only one remained. They attached a team of twelve dogs to the line and continued to pull. The head of the pike came up to the ice; but the ice hole was too small, though they worked upon it for two days. The head butted against the ice, and the last line snapped and the pike was lost.

Another time they caught a pike, and found in the stomach fragments of a canoe which it must have swallowed together with the paddle.

A man traveled in a canoe on this lake. One time he cast his nets, and waited near them for a very long time. Then he looked down under water and he saw a big round eye, to the left of his canoe. He looked into the water to the right, and saw another eye, like the first one. They were the eyes of the big Pike. The distance between the eyes was about the length of the double paddle of the canoe. He was so badly frightened, that be paddled off, leaving behind him his fish nets; but the giant fish remained motionless, just as pikes are accustomed to do. The man came to the shore and brought a sacrifice to the whole family of pikes. After that he refused to eat of the flesh of pike, and so he was nicknamed Pike John. His descendants are still living. Their family name is Pike. 1

Told by Nicholas Kusakoff, a Russian creole, in the village of Pokhotsk, Kolyma country, summer of 1896.


100:1 in Russian Щукинъ. This name is quite common, and much in use also in European Russia. For giant pikes living in certain lakes, compare also the Chukchee story in Bogoras, "Chukchee Materials", No. 31, 129--W. B.--Ainu (B. Pilsudski, l. c., 232).--F. B.

Next: 26. Story of the Fish-Woman