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p. 38



There was a family of Tungus. They lived in a tent. They had three daughters. The girls, when going to pick berries, would turn into female geese. In this form they visited the sea islands. One time they flew farther than usual. On a lonely island they saw a one-sided man. 1 When he breathed, his heart and lungs would jump out of his side. The Geese were afraid and flew home. After some time, they had nothing to eat, so they went again to the sea islands for berries. Wherever they chose a spot on which to alight, One-Side appeared and frightened them away. At last they found a place full of berries. They descended and laid aside their wings. They picked so many berries that they could hardly carry them all. They went back to the place where they had left their wings. The wings of the youngest daughter were gone. 2 They looked for them a long time. At last, evening came and the sun went down. It grew very dark. The two elder sisters reproached the youngest one: "Probably you have taken a liking to One-Side, and you have asked him to hide your wings. Now remain here alone and let him take you!" She almost cried while assuring them that their suspicions were unjust. "I have never seen him and never thought of him." They left her and flew away. She remained alone.

As soon as they were out of sight, One-Side appeared carrying her wings. "Well, now," he said, "fair maiden, will you not consent to marry me?" She refused for a long time, then she gave in, and said, "I will!"--"If you are willing," said One-Side, "I will lead the way." He took her to his house. It was the usual house, made of wood, with a wooden fireplace. 3 He proved to be a good hunter, able to catch any kind of game. Still he had only one side, and with every breath his heart would jump out. They lived together for a while, and the woman brought forth a son. The young

p. 39

woman nursed the infant. But One-Side did not want to stay at home. He would wander about all the time, and bring back reindeer and elk. They had so much meat that the storehouses would no longer hold it. He was a great hunter. He hunted on foot on snowshoes, for he had neither reindeer,--nor horses for traveling.

One time he set off to hunt as usual. Then his wife's sisters suddenly came and carried the youngest sister and her little son off to their own country. The small boy, while carried on high, shouted, "O father! O my father! We are being carried by aunties to their home, to their home." One-Side ran home as fast as he could, but he came too late. They were out of sight. Only the boy's voice was heard far away. Then he shot an arrow with a forked head in the direction whence the voice seemed to come, and the arrow cut off one of the boy's little fingers. One-Side found the arrow and the finger, and put them into his pouch.

Then he started in search of his boy. He walked and walked. A whole year passed. Then he arrived at a village. A number of children were playing "sticks." 1 He looked from one to another, thinking of his boy. There was one poor boy who was dressed in the poorest of clothing. His body was mangy, and his head bruised and covered with scars. First, One-Side paid no attention to him, but when he finally looked at this boy he saw that the little finger on his left hand was missing. He snatched the finger out of his pouch and placed it beside the hand, and indeed it fitted! The poor boy was his son! "Whose boy are you?" asked One-Side. "I am mamma's boy."--"And where is your father?"--"I have no father: I used to have one, but now I have none."--"I am your father." The boy refused to believe it, and only cried bitterly. "If my father were alive, we should not be so wretched, mother and I." The elder sisters had married and made their youngest sister a drudge in the house. "Why is your head so bruised and scarred?" asked One-Side. "It is because my aunts order me to enter the house only by the back entrance, and every time I try to go in by the front entrance, they strike my head with their heavy staffs." 2 "Let us go to your house." They arrived at the house. The boy

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went ahead and One-Side followed him. They came to the front entrance. As soon as the boy tried to go in, his eldest aunt jumped up and struck him with her iron staff. Then the woman saw the boy's father, and felt so much ashamed, that she fell down before him.

He entered the house. They hustled about, brought food of every kind, and prepared tea. They ate so long that it grew very late and it was time to go to bed. On the following morning, after breakfast, he said to his brothers-in-law, "Let us go and try which of us can shoot the best with the bow! You are two, and I am only one." They made ready their bows and arrows and began to shoot at each other. The elder brother-in-law shot first; but One-Side jumped upward, and the arrow missed him. The second brother-in-law also shot. One-Side jumped aside and dodged the arrow. "Now I shall shoot," said One-Side, "and you try to dodge my arrows." He shot once, and hit his elder brother-in-law straight through the heart. With the second shot he killed his other brother-in-law. Then he went back to the house, killed his wife's sisters, and took home his wife and his son.

One time he set off, as usual, to look for game. When he was out of sight of his wife, he took off the skin that disguised his true form and hung it up on the top of a high larch tree. He became a young man, quite fair and handsome, just like the sunrise. He went home and sat down on his wife's bed. While he was sitting there, he was about to take off his boots. The woman began to argue, "Go away from here! My husband will be here soon, and he will be angry with me. He will say, 'Why have you let a strange man sit down on your bed?'" "I am your husband," said he. "Why do you try to drive me away?" "No," said the woman, "my husband is one-sided, and you are like other men." They argued for a long time. At last he said, "Go and look at that tree yonder. I hung up my one-sided skin on it." She found the tree and the one-sided skin, and now she believed him. Then she caught him in her arms and covered him with kisses. After that they lived happier than ever. The end.

Told by Katherine Rumiantzer, a Russianized Yukaghir woman, in the village of Pokhotsk, in the Kolyma country, in the summer of 1896.


38:1 Samoyed (M. Alexander Castrén, Ethnologische Vorlesungen über die altaischen Völker [Petersburg, 1857], 160).--F. B.

38:2 Samoyed (Ibid., 172); Ainu (B. Pilsudski, Materials for the Study of the Ainu Language and Folklore [Cracow, 1912], 27); E. Cosquin, l. c., vol. 2, 16.--F. B.

38:3 The type of house generally used among Russian creoles and Russianized natives,--a square log cabin, having a fireplace in the corner, with a straight chimney made of wood and plastered with clay, the so-called "Yakut chimney." It is improbable that this chimney is really a Yakut invention. The ancient type of Yakut house had only an uncovered fireplace, with an opening in the roof above it. At the present time, however, the "Yakut chimney" is used everywhere among the Yakut, as well as among Russian creoles.--W. B.

39:1 A play of Russian provenience much in use among the Russianized natives--W. B.

39:2 This passage is interesting, since it shows that perhaps some of the native peoples on the Kolyma River had houses with two entrances, and that some members of the family were not allowed to pass through the main entrance. This recalls the type of house of the Maritime Koryak and Kamchadal, with its different entrances for winter and summer. Among the Koryak, as well as among the Kamchadal, in former times, women and children, also transformed shamans, often entered, even in the winter time, by the rear entrance from the storage room, while men considered it beneath their dignity to do so. (cf., for instance, W. Jochelson. "The Koryak," Publications of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition, vol. VI, 458). It is quite certain that this tale, though it mentions the Tungus, must have referred, not to the nomadic reindeer-riding Tungus, with their light tents of curried reindeer skin, but to the people living p. 40 more or less sedentary lives along the Kolyma River or on the seacoast near its mouth. On the Bear Islands, for example, were found remnants of some houses, deserted long ago. The people living along the Kolyma were chiefly Yukaghir; and along the seacoast, also the little known Ca'ačet and Shelags. At the present time, among the Russian creoles and the Russianized natives on the Kolyma, several type of houses are in use; but the ancient type of house cannot be ascertained, because of the preponderant influence of the Russian log cabin with its wooden chimney of so-called "Yakut" type.--W. B.

Next: 2. A Yukaghir Tale