The Man Who Married The Bear-goddess

: Aino Folktales

There was a very populous village. It was a village having both plenty

of fish and plenty of venison. It was a place lacking no kind of food.

Nevertheless, once upon a time, a famine set in. There was no food, no

venison, no fish, nothing to eat at all; there was a famine. So in that

populous village all the people died.

Now the village chief was a man who had two children, a boy and a girl.

After a time,
only those two children remained alive. Now the girl was

the older of the two, and the boy was the younger. The girl spoke thus:

"As for me, it does not matter even if I do die, since I am a girl. But

you, being a boy, can, if you like, take up our father's inheritance. So

you should take these things with you, use them to buy food with, eat

it, and live." So spoke the girl, and took out a bag made of cloth, and

gave it to him.

Then the boy went out on to the sand, and walked along the sea-shore.

When he had walked on the sand for a long time, he saw a pretty little

house a short way inland. Near it was lying the carcase of a large

whale. The boy went to the house, and after a time entered it. On

looking around, he saw a man of divine appearance. The man's wife, too,

looked like a goddess, and was dressed altogether in black raiment. The

man was dressed altogether in speckled raiment. The boy went in, and

stood by the door. The man said to him: "Welcome to you, whencesoever

you may have come." Afterwards a lot of the whale's flesh was boiled,

and the boy was feasted on it. But the woman never looked towards him.

Then the boy went out and fetched his parcel, which he had left outside.

He brought in the bag made of cloth which had been given to him by his

sister, and opened its mouth. On taking out and looking at the things

inside it, they were found to be very precious treasures. "I will give

you these treasures in payment for the food," said the boy, and gave

them to that divine-looking man-of-the-house. The god, having looked at

them, said: "They are very beautiful treasures." He said again: "You

need not have paid me for the food. But I will take these treasures of

yours, carry them to my [other] house, and bring you my own treasures in

exchange for them. As for this whale's flesh, you can eat as much of it

as you like, without payment." Having said this, he went off with the

lad's treasures.

Then the lad and the woman remained together. After a time the woman

turned to the lad, and said: "You lad! listen to me when I speak. I am

the bear-goddess. This husband of mine is the dragon-god. There is no

one so jealous as he is. Therefore did I not look towards you, because I

knew that he would be jealous if I looked towards you. Those treasures

of yours are treasures which even the gods do not possess. It is because

he is delighted to get them that he has taken them with him to

counterfeit them and bring you mock treasures. So when he shall have

brought those treasures and shall display them, you must speak thus: 'We

need not exchange treasures. I wish to buy the woman!' If you speak

thus, he will go angrily away, because he is such a jealous man. Then

afterwards we can marry each other, which will be very pleasant. That is

how you must speak." That was what the woman said.

Then, after a certain time, the man of divine appearance came back

grinning. He came bringing two sets of treasures, the treasures which

were treasures and his own other treasures. The god spoke thus: "You,

lad! As I have brought the treasures which are your treasures, it will

be well to exchange them for my treasures." The boy spoke thus: "Though

I should like to have treasures also, I want your wife even more than I

want the treasures; so please give me your wife instead of the

treasures." Thus spoke the lad.

He had no sooner uttered the words than he was stunned by a clap of

thunder above the house. On looking around him, the house was gone, and

only he and the goddess were left together. He came to his senses. The

treasures were there also. Then the woman spoke thus: "What has happened

is that my dragon-husband has gone away in a rage, and has therefore

made this noise, because you and I wish to be together. Now we can live

together." Thus spoke the goddess. Afterwards they lived together. This

is why the bear is a creature half like a human being.--(Translated

literally. Told by Ishanashte, 9th November, 1886.)