Sacred Texts  Asia  Index  Previous  Next 

p. 95


(Anadyr Version1

There were some Chuvantzi people, among them was an old man who had four sons. The middle one was of great strength. His name was La'la. He fought all the time against the Chukchee, and killed a great number of them, hundreds and thousands and more. The Chukchee sought revenge. One time La'la went into the woods to cut down a birch tree which he was going to use for making a new sledge. He took along his youngest brother. The latter climbed to the top of a birch tree and all at once muttered, "Ah! The Chukchee are coming!" La'la asked from beneath, "What are you saying? I cannot hear you."--"Oh, nothing. I only said 'Ravens and crows are coming.'" In truth the Chukchee were going to their father's house. After a while, the youngest brother muttered, "Ah! the Chukchee have attacked father and our brothers!"--"What are you saying? I cannot hear what you say."--"Oh, nothing. I say that some ravens and crows are attacking one another." After a while he muttered, "Ah! they have killed father and our brothers. They have driven off our herd; and mother is following in the rear, dragging the tent poles like a pack-reindeer."--"Ah!" said La'la, "let us go home! Oh, oh!" answered the brother, this time you did hear what I said."

They hurried home. Their father and their brothers lay there murdered. The herd had disappeared; and the ground had been trampled down by the feet of the invaders. "Let us make haste!" said La'la. They hurried along on their snowshoes. After some time they saw the Chukchee caravan. Their old mother, in the very rear, was dragging some heavy tent poles. She looked back and laughed softly. "Ah! now I am safe." The brothers saw that the Chukchee were stopping for the night. The women scraped the snow from the ground and pitched the tents. The brothers overtook their mother and said to her, "Mother, you stay behind here, and we will go on." They approached the Chukchee camp. Then La'la said to his brother, "You also stay here, and I shall go round about until I am in front of them. Then I shall come back to you. And when I make a sign with my first finger, thus, you must turn into a fox, and run about in full view of them. In this manner we shall vanquish them." He made a circuit, and boldly went straight to the Chukchee camp. "Who are you?"--"I live farther away than you. I came too late. I wanted, though to kill La'la." One man retorted, "La'la has been killed." Another

p. 96

contradicted, "No, he has not been killed." An old man said, "I am not sure. His weapons though, have been taken,--his bow, quiver, and arrows."--"Show them to me!" said La'la. It took six men to bring the bow, so heavy was it, and eight men to bring the quiver. "Ah! here they are!, He took the bow and tried to string it, and then he let it go. "It is too strong. I cannot string it." All at once he interrupted himself, and pointed at something far ahead. "Look there! What is that there?" It was his younger brother, who had turned into a fox, and was running about in full view of them. All the Chukchee looked at the fox, and forgot everything else. Then La'la seized the bow and shot them. In three hours he had killed five hundred people. Only a few were left. Then he laughed aloud, and said, "Ah! that is enough; but another time do not come here with such evil plans." The others, who were glad to be spared, immediately broke camp and drove away.

La'la went to his mother, and said, "O mother! now that our brothers are dead, how shall we live? I think I must look for a wife. You are too old. So I am going. Please get an overcoat ready for me of the worst shreds of skin. I want it for my journey." He put on his best suit of clothes,--trousers of white reindeer legskins, and a coat of spotted fawnskin, all embroidered around the skirts,--and over all this he donned a poor and shabby overcoat made of shreds of skin. He went along on his snowshoes, and came to a river. There was a village there of thirty houses. Near a water-hole he saw a number of women and girls. He went there and lay down close to the water-hole. When the women saw him, they laughed and scoffed at him. "What do you want, you shabby one, you dog of the springtime?" They spat at him, kicked him with their boots, and even poured water over him. Finally, three sisters came there too. The two elder ones also laughed at him, but the youngest did not laugh. They wanted her to ill-use him, but she would not do so. "Ah, ah! scoffed the others, "it seems that you like him! Perhaps you will marry him." At last they filled their pails and went away. "Who are you?" asked the girl, "and why are you lying here? Better get up and come to our house!"--"And how can I find your house? I do not know the way."--"Our house is the one farthest away, it stands by itself. It is the highest of all, and its skin cover is dazzling white. My father is the chief of the village. He is the strongest man, and the best hunter. If you want to do so, you may follow me." She went off, and he followed her. They came to the house. Her father said, "Who is it, so poorly clad, that you bring with you here?"--"He is to be my husband."--"Ah! if he is to be your husband, bid him welcome." She made him sit down, and brought reindeer fat and dried tongues. They ate heartily. After that she arranged the bed, and they lay down. He married her.

p. 97

Told by Mary Alin, a Russianized Chuvantzi woman, and noted down by Mrs. Sophie Bogoras, in the village of Markova, the Anadyr country, summer of 1900.


95:1 Inserted here for the purpose of ready comparison with the preceding tale.--W. B.

Next: 24. The Woman's Head