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There were three brothers who were married to three sisters. The oldest brother was married to the eldest sister, the middle brother to the middle sister, and the youngest brother to the youngest sister. When fall came, they set off to examine their deadfalls. Their wives and children stayed alone in their settlement.

The eldest sister had three children, the middle sister, had only one, and the youngest, none at all. One day the middle sister, who had been outside, came back saying, "Our husbands are coming home." The other said, "Why, it is too early. You are mistaken." She ran out again, and instantly came back: "Our husbands are coming home." So the others were quite angry. "Stop talking! Nobody is coming. It is sinful to talk such nonsense." But she would not obey, and repeated the same thing. In the evening, after sunset, they heard the rattling of runners and the yelping of dogs. Sleigh-bells jingled merrily, and voices rang with laughter. Their husbands were coming back from the forest. Oh, they felt quite joyful, and busied themselves getting supper ready. The eldest sister prepared tea for them; the middle sister brought in plenty of meat, and cooked the meal; the youngest sister had nothing particular to do. She looked at them from the sleeping compartment through a chink in the

p. 147

partition. All at once she noticed that the teeth of the men were quite black. She was astonished, and said to the middle sister, "Ah! sister dear, why is it that our husbands have such black teeth?"--"Oh, don't!" retorted the other one. "They are our own husbands. What can we say about their teeth. Maybe they have eaten some blackberries in the forest."--"It is cold weather now. There are no blackberries."--"Perhaps you gave them burnt meat."--"It is you who gave them meat, and it was juicy and not burnt."--"Or perhaps it is because they have iron teeth." At this time, the teeth of the men were half a foot long. They protruded from their mouths, sharp-edged, and bright like so many daggers. The youngest sister rushed out of the house. "Catch her, catch her!" cried the middle sister, but she was gone. She ran through the dense forest straight on, like a frightened doe; and in the end when she could run no more, she stopped at a small opening and started a fire. She found the stump of a tree that was similar to her in bulk and size. She cut it off and put it near the fire. She took off her clothes and wrapped them around the stump. She also put her cap on it. Then she took a stake as strong as a spear shaft and burnt its point in the fire until it became hard and sharp. With this wooden spear she concealed herself behind a bush. Oh! a noise was heard in the forest, a gnashing of teeth, and cracking of branches, which snapped off and fell down. It was the heretic coming in pursuit of her. He rushed toward the fire, and with his terrible jaws he instantly seized the stump about the middle. His iron teeth stuck in the wood and he could not disengage himself. The woman sprang from the bush and stabbed him from behind with her wooden lance. The burnt point entered his anus and came out at the mouth. He was there like a fish on a roasting rod. She ran the other end of the stake deep into the ground, and left him there. She was afraid to return home, and went to another settlement not far away. When she had told her story the men took their spears and axes and went in search of the monsters. When they came to the house, the heretics had gone. The women and children had also gone. They looked for the bones, supposing that the monsters might have eaten the people, but they found nothing: It is not known what they did to their captives. Perhaps they carried the women away and married them. The real husbands of the women came home after a week, but their house was empty. The end.

Told by Mary Alin, a Russianized Chuvantzi woman. Recorded by Mrs. Sophie Bogoras, in the village of Markova, the Anadyr country, winter of 1900.


146:1 In Russian Гайгайка Баба "woman crying 'hai, hai!'"--W. B.

146:2 Cf. p. 69--W. B.

Next: 18. Story of the Fox and the Wolf