There lived an old man and an old woman. They had two sons and two daughters. They sent the younger daughter to get provisions. "Go to the roof and bring the reindeer leg that is there." She brought it. They took off the skin, broke the bone and extracted the marrow. They put it on a plate and ate it. Then the old woman sent the younger son: "Go and bring the reindeer tongue that is outside." He brought the tongue. They cut it up small and ate of it. One morsel stuck in the throat of the younger daughter, and she died. The mother cried much. Then she sent the elder boy to get from the roof the remaining food; but he found nothing there, and came back empty-handed. The mother cried more bitterly than ever, "How shall we live now? We have nothing to eat. The old man said, "Do not be afraid! We shall find something. Till now we always have found something." He went into the storehouse and found a piece of bread. He brought this to his wife. She was very glad, and ate it. The children, however, whimpered again, "Mother, we are hungry!" She said, "I have nothing. Go ask your father." They went to their father. "Father we are hungry!" The old man was furious. "I have nothing at all for you! Go away!" The younger boy cried louder than the others, so the father caught him and gave him a flogging. "I have nothing. Go and look in the storehouse!" He took the other boy and gave him a flogging. The old woman seized the oven rake and struck the old man on the back. He fell
down and died. The night passed. In the morning the children awoke, but the old woman slept on. They wanted to waken her, but were unable to do so. One of them took up an ax and struck her on the loins. The old woman was cut in two. After that they cried again; but the older boy said, "Why do you cry? We did it ourselves, so there is no reason for crying. The younger boy quarrelled with him, until he took him by the neck and thrust him into the oven which was burning brightly. He shut the door, and the younger boy was burned to death. The little sister cried, so he put her too into the burning oven. She tried to creep out, but he struck her on the head. Then he said, "Now I am left alone. I will go away from this place." Then he saw a cloud of dust coming down the road. It was Yaghishna. She came to the house and entered it. Then she took that boy by the nape of his neck. With her large knife she struck him on the head. The head jumped off and rolled away. Yaghishna went home. So they have lived till now, but get nothing good whatever. 1The end.
Told by Mary Shkuleff, a Russian creole girl, in the village of Pokhotsk, the Kolyma country, summer of 1895.
115:1 One of the usual final refrains of the Russian folk-stories. The most frequently used are: "They live and live and get much of the good." (Живутъ, поживаютъ, добра наживаютъ); "They lived and lived, and live till now." (Жить да быть, до теперева живутъ). But in northeastern Asia, with the ill-starred creoles, the first refrain changed to a negative "They live and live, and get nothing good whatever." (Живутъ, поживаютъ, никакого добра не наживаютъ).--W. B.