Sacred Texts  Asia  Index  Previous  Next 

2. Big-Raven and the Mice. 1

Some Mouse-Girls walked along the seashore. The youngest Mouse also wanted to follow. Her mother said, "Tie her (and leave her) on the seashore." They bound her with two strings of her diaper. She began to squeal, "Pawawawa'!" and they said, "What is it?"--"I have found a genuine small nail."--"Go to her!" They went to her. "What is it that you have found?" But it was only a small shell. "Oh, strike her!" They struck her, and she whimpered, "Iġiġi'!"

p. 24

After a while she turned to them again, and began as before, "What is it that I have found? Oh, indeed, it has nails! Oh, indeed, it has eyes! Oh, indeed, it has whiskers!"--"Go to her and see what she has found!" They came to her, and really it was a small ringed seal.

Big-Raven said, "Eh, eh! Why are those Mouse-Girls shouting and dancing?" Miti' said, "Oh, leave off! Why do you want to go to them?" But he went to them. "Well, there! Mouse-Girls, what is the matter with you?"

"Oh, nothing! only this Hairless-One grew angry with us." He said, "Louse me, (one of you!)" One Mouse-Girl said, "I have pricked myself with my father's awl."

p. 25

[paragraph continues] One might think she were the daughter of some artisan. He said to another small girl, "Louse me!"--"I have pricked myself with my mother's needle." One might think she were the daughter of some seamstress. "O Hairless-One! louse me." She said, "Eh, all right!" She loused him. (He said,) "Oh, say (these words): 'Grandfather's lice taste of fat!'" 1

Then he shook his head, and the small mice were scattered in all directions. Some fell into the sea, some into the coast-slime, others into the river, and others again on the pebbles. Big-Raven took the little ringed seal and carried it home. The Mouse-Girls crawled to the shore

p. 26

and asked one another, "Where did you fall?"--"I fell into the sea."--"Then you were cold."--"And where did you fall ?"--"I fell on the small pebbles."--"Then you were pricked."--"And where did you fall?"--"I fell into the coast-slime."--"Then you were cold."--"And you, Hairless-One, where did you fall?"--"I fell on the moss 1 spread by mother."--"Then you fell easy."

They said, "Let us go home!" They went home and told their mother, "See, mamma! we have found a small ringed seal, but grandfather took it away."--"Did he? Then we will fetch it back. O daughters! go and look

p. 27

into his house." They looked in. Then they came back and said, "Eine'mqut is skinning it."--"Now you there, [you Mouse-Girl,] go and look in!" She looked in. "Just now they are cooking it."--"Now, you there, this one, go and look in there!" She looked in. "Just now they are taking the meat out of the kettle." Mouse-Woman said, "Oh, I wish Big-Raven would say, 'We will eat it to-morrow!' We must find a shaman's small stick (used in magic). Oh, you there, small Mouse-Girl! take this bundle of grass (on which magic had been practised) and carry it to Big-Raven's house. There drop it through the vent-hole."

They (the Mice) took it and carried it there, and dropped it into the house. Big-Raven immediately said, "Miti',

p. 28

we had better eat this meat to-morrow." And she said, "All right!"--"Oh, you, small Mouse-Girl! go and look into the house!"--"Just now Miti' is arranging the bed."--"And now you, go and have a look!"--"Just now they have gone to sleep, they are snoring."--"Now, there, let us go!" They took bags and iron pails, went there, and put all the cooked meat into them, also what was left of the broth. They defecated (into the kettle), also filled Miti''s and Big-Raven's boots with small pebbles.

Next morning they awoke. "Miti', get up! Let us eat!" Miti' began to put on her boots. "Ah, ah, ah! ah, ah, ah!"--"What is the matter with you?"--"Oh, nothing!"

p. 29

[paragraph continues] Big-Raven then put on his boots. "Ah, ah, ah! ah, ah, ah, ah!"--"And what is the matter with you? You cry now, just as I did."--"Oh, stop (talking), bring the cooked meat, heat the broth!" Miti' drank some broth, (and immediately cried out,) "It tastes of excrement, it tastes of excrement!"--"Oh, bring it here!" Then Big-Raven also cried, "It tastes of excrement, it tastes of excrement!"--"Mouse-Women have defiled us."--"I will not forgive this. I will stun them with blows. Bring me my big club!" She gave it to him, and he started to go to the Mouse-Women. "Oh, grandfather is coming. Tell him, 'Eat some pudding of stone-pine nuts!'" "What good are those puddings of stone-pine nuts! I have no

p. 30

teeth."--"Then have some cloud-berry-pudding." "Yes, I will eat some of the cloud-berry-pudding." He ate of the pudding. ""Grandfather, lie down on your back and have a nap!"--"Yes, I will have a nap, lying thus on my back."

He slept, and they fastened to his eyes some red shreds. "Grandfather, enough, get up!"--"All right! now I will go home." He went home; and when he was approaching, and came close to the house, he shouted all of a sudden, "Miti', tear in twain the worst one of our sons, to appease the fire!" Without any reason she tore her son in twain. "And where is the fire? just now you said, 'It burns.' What happened to your eyes? They have shreds fastened

p. 31

to the eyelids. The Mouse-Women have defiled you." He said, "Hm! now at last grew angry. Bring me my club. I will go there and club them."

He went there. "Oh, grandfather is coming! Say to him, 'Have some pudding of root of Polygonum viviparum!'"--"What for?" "Then have some pudding of berries of Rubus Arcticus."--"Yes, I will have some pudding of berries of Rubus Arcticus." He entered, and began to eat the pudding. "Grandfather, lie down on your side and have a nap!"--"All right! I will lie down on my side and have a nap."

He slept, and they painted his face with charcoal. "O grandfather! get up, the day is breaking!"--"Yes,

p. 32

all right! I will get up." He awoke. "Grandfather, have a drink from the river there!"--"All right! I will drink." He went away, and came to the river. He began to drink, and there he saw in the water his own image. "Halloo, Painted-Woman! you there, I will drop a stone hammer as a present for you." Oh, he dropped it. "Halloo, Painted-Woman! I will drop down my own body! Halloo, Painted-Woman! shall I marry you?" Oh, he jumped down into the water. That is all.


23:1 See Jochelson, The Koryak, l. c., No. 88, p. 260.

25:1 It seems that the Hairless Mouse-Girl, according to the custom of many native tribes of this country, was killing the lice with her teeth.

26:1 Used as a child's diaper. See W. Jochelson, The Koryak, l. c., p. 252.

Next: 3. The Mouse-Girls