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International Folktales Collection

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Story No. 1131


A Markova Tale

Book Name:

Tales of Yukaghir, Lamut, and Russianized Natives of Eastern Siberia

Tradition: Siberia

There was an old man and an old woman. The old man used to catch hares and bring them to his old woman. She cooked them, and they ate together. One time the old man brought a fat reindeer. The old woman jumped for joy. "Ah, the fat reindeer!" She skinned it and dressed it and chopped it; and then she put some of it into a large kettle, which she hung up over the fire. The meat was nearly done. Then the old man said to himself, "This old woman will consume all my meat. Eh, old woman, fetch some water!" The old woman took a pail and went down to the river. The old man in a moment secured the door on the inside and waited in silence. The old woman came back and could not open the door. "What is the matter with this door?" – "Oh, nothing! I have fastened it on this side." – "Why did you do so?" – "Oh, I was afraid you would eat all my fat meat." The old woman climbed to the roof. "Old man, I put the foot of a hare behind the chimney. Please throw it out to me." He did so. The old woman took the foot and went away. After some time she grew weary and sat down to rest. A magpie was flying by. "O magpie! please tell me where there are human people." – "I will not tell you. When you lived with the old man, each time that I wanted to perch on the fish racks, you would hurl sticks at my head, I will tell you nothing."

The old woman went on and after a while sat down again. A raven was flying by. "O Raven! please tell me where there are human people." – "I will not tell you. When you lived with the old man each time I wanted to perch on the fish racks you would hurl lumps of earth at my head. I will tell you nothing. He flew off, and the old woman went on. After a while she sat down to rest. A snow-bunting flew past. "O, Snow-Bunting! please do tell me, where there are human people." – "I will tell you. When you lived with the old men and whenever I perched upon the fish racks, you would do nothing to me; and when you were dressing fish for drying, you would leave for us some pieces of roe and liver. Follow me, I will show you the way."

The snow-bunting flew away, and the old woman followed. After some time she saw a village. She entered one of the houses. The people bade her welcome, and gave her shelter and food. After the meal they said, "O old woman! we have prepared a couch for you on which you may sleep." The next morning they gave her a goose, because they had a plentiful supply of wild and tame geese. They also showed her the way. She went on and came to other people. "Old woman, this couch is for you. Go to sleep." She looked around, and saw that these people owned many swans: so she said to them. "Please give my goose a place among your swans." Next morning she asked them, "Where is my little swan?" – "How is that. Did you not have a gosling?" – "No, I swear I had a little swan. I call God and the King to witness that I had a young swan." So they gave her a swan. She took it and went on until she came to other people who had plenty of does. "Please put my swan among your does. It wants to be among your does." They put it among the does. The next morning she asked, "Where is my doe?" – "Why, mother, you had a swan." – "No, I swear I had a doe." They gave her a doe and she went out. The next time she slept she stole a sledge and a reindeer-harness. She attached the doe to the sledge, and, seating herself on the sledge, drove on, singing lustily,[1] "On, on, on! Run along the track, harness not mine, on without stopping! Other man's sledge will never break down." An arctic fox jumped up. "Here, granny, take me along on your sledge!" – "Sit down, you S – – of a B – – , your anus on the stanchion!"

She drove on. A wolverene jumped up. "Here, granny, take me along on your sledge!" "Sit down, you S – – of a B – – , your anus on the stanchion."

They drove on. A bear jumped up. "Here, granny, take me along on your sledge!" "Sit down, you S – – of a B – – , your anus on the stanchion!" The bear sat down on the sledge and it broke. "Oh, goodness! Go and bring me some wood. I will repair the sledge." The arctic fox went and fetched a rotten log. "That is good for nothing," said the old woman. The wolverene went and brought a crooked pole. "That is good for nothing," said the old woman. The bear went and fetched a whole tree forked at about the middle. "That is too bad," said the old woman. She went herself, and meanwhile they devoured the doe and ran off. The old woman came back, and there was no doe, nor any of her companions. So she left the sledge and went back to the old man. He had eaten his reindeer, and was catching hares again: he took the old woman back and they lived as before. The end.[2]

Comments:

Told by Anne Sosykin, a Russianized Chukchee woman, in the village of Markova. Recorded by Mrs. Sophie Bogoras, winter of 1900.

This tale like some others, was indicated as a real Markova tale, in contrast to others which were indicated as Lamut, Yukaghir, or Chuvantzi tales, or again, as Russian tales coming from Russia. It represents, however, a mixture of elements, Russian and native. – W. B.

[1] In Russian all this is rhymed prose, though this rhymed version is somewhat different from the usual rhymed versions of the latter half of this tale as known In European Russia. – W. B.

[2] See Bolte und Polívka, l. c., vol. 1, 293; vol. 2,147 – F. B.

Abstract:

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