The Man Who Took A Vixen To Wife
: Eskimo Folktales
There was once a man who wished to have a wife unlike all other wives,
and so he caught a little fox, a vixen, and took it home to his tent.
One day when he had been out hunting, he was surprised to find on his
return that his little fox-wife had become a real woman. She had a
lovely top-knot, made of that which had been her tail. And she had
taken off the furry skin. And when he saw her thus, he thought her
very beautiful indeed.
Now she began to talk about journeyings, and how greatly she desired
to see other people. And so they went off, and came to a place and
settled down there.
One of the men there had taken a little hare to wife. And now these
two men thought it would be a pleasant thing to change wives. And so
But the man who had borrowed the little vixen wife began to feel
scorn of her after he had lived with her a little while. She had a
foxy smell, and did not taste nice.
But when the little vixen noticed this she was very angry, for it was
her great desire to be well thought of by the men. So she knocked
out the lamp with her tail, dashed out of the house, and fled away
far up into the hills.
Up in the hills she met a worm, and stayed with him.
But her husband, who was very fond of her, went out in search of
her. And at last, after a long time, he found her living with the worm,
who had taken human form.
But now it was revealed that this worm was the man's old enemy. For
he had once, long before, burned a worm, and it was the soul of that
worm which had now taken human form. He could even see the marks of
burning in its face.
Now the worm challenged the man to pull arms, and they wrestled. But
the man found the worm very easy to master, and soon he won. After that
he went out, no longer caring for his wife at all. And he wandered far,
and came to the shore-dwellers. They had their houses on the shore,
just by high-water mark.
Their houses were quite small, and the people themselves were dwarfs,
who called the eider duck walrus. But they looked just like men,
and were not in the least dangerous. We never see such folk nowadays,
but our forefathers have told us about them, for they knew them.
And now when the man saw their house, which was roofed with stones,
he went inside. But first he had to make himself quite small, though
this of course was an easy matter for him, great wizard as he was.
As soon as he came in, they brought out meat to set before him. There
was the whole fore-flipper of a mighty walrus. That is to say, it was
really nothing more than the wing of an eider duck. And they fell to
upon this and ate. But they did not eat it all up.
After he had stayed with these people some time he went back to his
house. And I have no more to tell of him.