There lived an old man and an old woman. They had a small girl still in her swaddling clothes. They swathed her tightly and put her upon the bed. Then they heard Yaghishna coming. They were frightened, and ran
off, leaving the girl behind. Yaghishna came in shuffling over the floor with her bristle-soled frozen boots. 1 She seized the old man and the old woman, but forgot to take the girl. Then she came back and felt with her bands on the bed. She found the girl, put her into the corner behind the chimney, and covered her with a large dish. Yaghishna kindled a large fire, then she put a cast-iron frying-pan upon the fire and said aloud, "O girl! get up!" And the girl got up. Then she said again, "Take off your swaddling clothes." And the girl did so. "Now, come here!" And the girl went to her. She slapped her upon the face, and asked her, "For what did your mother bring you forth?"--"She brought me forth to carry water for you."--"I am strong enough. I shall carry it myself." She gave her another box on the ear, and asked again, "For what did your mother bring you forth?"--"She brought me forth to chop wood for you."--"I am strong enough. I shall chop it myself." She gave her another box on the ear, and asked the same question, "For what did your mother bring you forth?"--"She brought me forth to make fire for you."--"I am strong enough. I shall make it myself."
She put out the fire in the chimney, leaving only one small spark. Then she said, "Stay here and watch this spark. If it should go out, I shall tear you in two when I get back home." She prepared to go away, and warned the girl. "Keep house and take good care of everything. You may open and visit all the storehouses. There is only one which you must not open. It is the one tied with a bark thread and sealed with excrement. This storehouse is forbidden to you." Yaghishna flew away. The girl thought, "Why should I not examine this storehouse?" She went straight to it, tore off the bark thread, and broke the excrement seal. The storehouse was filled with charmed reindeer, neither living nor dead. She led all these reindeer out of the storehouse, and tied them one after another to a long heavy line. Then she pulled in one end of the line and threw it across the river. It flew off and carried her along with it. She dragged the reindeer across, and waited for Yaghishna. In the evening Yaghishna came home, and saw the storehouse open and empty. She went to the river, but the girl was on the other side. Yaghishna asked, "You opened my storehouse?"--"I did," said the girl. "You took my reindeer?"--"I did," answered the girl. "You fled across the river?"--"I did," still answered the girl. "And how did you do it?" asked Yaghishna eagerly. "I drank up all the water and dried up the river," said the girl. Yaghishna stooped down and drank of the river. She drank and drank, and became full like a water-bag; but the river still flowed on, as before. "I shall cross," said Yaghishna angrily. "Ah! it is too sticky here." Indeed, the river bank was
covered with slime. "Say! what did you take hold of when you left, this bank?"--"I took hold of a tree and then of a bush, and last of all of a small weed," said the girl. Yaghishna caught hold of a weed, and it broke off. She fell into the water, and her belly burst. A stream of water came out of it and carried her off to the middle of the river, and downstream. "Ah, ah!, help me out!" cried Yaghishna. "No, I will not," answered the girl. Then Yaghishna shouted to the girl when passing by:--
Take my head for your cup,
"Мою тевѣ башку на чашку,
Told by Mary Shkuleff, a Russian creole girl, in the village of Pokhotsk, the Kolyma country, summer of 1895.
112:1 Kundarik or Kundirik (in the Anadyr), a small bird (Acanthis exilipes) (cf. p. 139).--W. B.
113:1 Cf. Bogoras, "The Chukchee", 239--W. B.