There was a forest-being, a hairy man, who lived in the woods and roamed about the country. He married a Russian girl and had a son by her. The boy grew up and in his turn married and had two children. One time he said to his wife, "My father calls me to his place, but I do not wish to go. Let us rather go away from here." He took a barrel of alcohol (a barrel holding three pails 3), and they set off. They went throughout the day, and came to a dense forest. He said to his wife, "This evening my elder brother will come to fetch me; but I shall not go. Probably you will hear a noise and clatter in the night time. Be sure to stay in the tent! Not a single look outside, nor the faintest call!" He drank from the barrel as much as one pail, then he went out. The woman remained in the tent, but could not sleep. At midnight she heard much noise and clatter, but she did not dare to look out. In the morning, however, she went out. All the trees around the house had their bark peeled off and their branches were broken off. Her husband was sleeping on the bare ground, very tired. They moved off. In the evening he said to his wife, "This time my eldest brother will come to fetch me. I shall obey him as little as I did the other one. You must keep in the tent and wait until morning." He drank another pailful of alcohol and went out. At midnight she heard louder noises than before, shrill whistling, clapping of heavy blows, and the thud
of falling branches. In the morning she went out. All the trees had been cut down to the very roots, and her husband was lying on the ground, half dead and senseless. She nursed him and dressed his wounds, until he came, to. The next evening he said, "This time the old one will come; and even if he should murder me, I shall not go with him. Keep this well in mind. If I am killed, do not stay here in the forest; take our children and go away to your own father." He drank the last pail of alcohol and went out. In the middle of the night, the woman heard noise and clatter ten times worse than the two previous nights. Even the tent was torn from its supports and carried away. They fought the whole night long and then throughout the day, and the whole of the following night. This time it was the woman who lay like dead. After sunrise she came to and looked up. Nearby was a big larch tree, as thick as a man can embrace. The old forest-demon wound his son around the tree as he would a strip of leather. In this position he left him dead and disfigured. The woman took her children and went back to her father. The end.
Told by John Sukhomyasoff, a Russian creole, the clerk of the church in the village of Nishne-Kolymsk, the Kolyma country, summer of 1896.
108:2 In Russian Лѣшій which means also the master of the forest. Cf. Bogoras,---The Chukchee,--285--W. B.
108:3 A Russian "pail" is equal to 2.70 gallons. A barrel of three pails forms one side-pack of the usual load of the pack horse--W. B.