There was a Mouse and a Snow-Bunting. Winter came, the coldest season of the year. Mouse gathered plenty of provisions, stacks of roots, and heaps of grain; but Snow-Bunting gathered much less of everything. She found that the snow fell too thick, and the cold came too early. Then Mouse coiled herself up in her warm nest; but Snow-Bunting did not prepare her hut for the winter, and felt cold. Snow-Bunting came to Mouse, and said, "I should like to live with you."--"All right!" said Mouse, "then leave your cold hut and come over to my nest!" Snow-Bunting went to live with her.
The next morning Mouse brought a root for her breakfast, Snow-Bunting did the same. At dinner time Mouse brought a few grains and Snow-Bunting did the same. At supper time Mouse brought a root, Snow-Bunting did the same. Then Mouse said to Snow-Bunting, "Why, sister! I have plenty of provisions, and you have much less than I. Moreover, my provisions are of better quality than yours. At present, however, the days are short, let us feed on your provisions! Afterwards, when the days are longer, we will feed on my provisions." Oh, Snow-Bunting was very glad! "I am willing." She brought her provisions, and continued bringing them morning and evening, until everything was spent. A month passed, then another month. Snow-Bunting said to Mouse, "Now, sister, I have nothing more."--"All right!" said Mouse. She opened her storehouse. At first she brought the breakfast, then she brought the dinner and also the supper, for Snow-Bunting and for herself. A week passed, and Mouse felt annoyed thinking that she had to share her food with Snow-Bunting. Therefore, the next morning she brought a root for herself, and for Snow-Bunting nothing. About dinner time she brought some seeds for herself, and for
[paragraph continues] Snow-Bunting nothing. Then Snow-Bunting cried from grief. "Why, sister, you are acting unfairly toward me. You eat all by yourself, and give me nothing at all."--"Ah, the deuce!" said the Mouse, "I give you lodging, and now I must also feed you! If that is the case, I will drive you out into the cold. Snow-Bunting cried, more, grieved than ever, "Ah, sister! even if you do not give me food, at least do not drive me out from a warm place!" So they continued to live. Mouse continued to eat of her provisions and Snow-Bunting ate nothing, and became very lean, mere bones without flesh, a soul without a body. Perhaps she might have starved to death, had not the month of March come in, as good chance would have it, mild and quiet, and brought unusual warmth, the bright sun shining from a cloudless sky. Some bunches of grass and hillocks became bare of snow; so that Snow-Bunting could go there at mid-day and look for grains left from the preceding year, and peck at the berries safely hidden under the snow. At last summer came. The ice in the rivers broke up and then came all kinds of birds, large and small. The birds alighted on the lakes, rivers and sea. On the shore of a lake, in thick grass, lived a toad, which was a transformed girl, the daughter of a prince, etc. 1
Told by Nicholas Kusakoff, a Russian creole, in the village of Pokhotsk, the Kolyma country, summer of 1896.
105:1 This pretty tale is used as a kind of introduction to the well-known story of a young prince who married the transformed Toad-Girl: I omit the story itself, however, which treats throughout of princes and princesses, and has nothing whatever to do with the life of northeastern Asia.--W. B.