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Eskimo Stories

Animal Stories Of The North

Eskimo Stories

Translated by Fainna Solasko
Illustrated by Y.Rachov


The Lost Song
Try To Catch Me
Why Owl Has A Spooky Voice
Mighty Mousie
Mouse The Braggart
Fox Cub And Bullhead
Brave Vuvyltu
What A Friend!
Wily Teaches Crafty A Lesson
What'll I Be?
You're Luckier Than We Are
Fox Cub And Echo
Fox And The Teals

The Lost Song

It was spring. Two snow buntings returned to the cliffs of Bering Straits from the distant lands in the south. They built a nest on a high crag at the very edge of the sea.

Eskimo Stories

Mother Snow Bunting laid an egg. She sat in the nest, warming the egg with her body, afraid to leave it for a moment for fear the cold wind would chill it. She shielded it from the rain and hardly ate or slept.

Finally, her little son hatched. He was such a fine, darling son. No other birds on the coast had a fledgling as handsome as he. His only fault was that he cried so much. Truly now, his parents had no time to eat or drink, or sleep. If his father flew off to find him food, his mother would croon to him. If his mother flew off, his father would bustle about.

One day Mother Bunting perched on the edge of the nest and sang her son a song:

Tweet-tweet, whose little toes are these?
Tweet-tweet, whose little wings are these?
Tweet-tweet, whose dear little head is this?
Tweet-tweet, whose dear little eyes are these?
Tweet-tweet, whose are they?

Raven was flying by just then. He heard the song, stopped nearby and listened in amazement. He had never heard such a beautiful song before. When it ended he said to Snow Bunting,

"Let me have your song. Give it to me!"

"Oh, no! I could never do that. It's the only song we have. We have no other."

"Please give it to me. I'll never be able to live without it now."

"My son can't fall asleep if I don't sing him his song so it's no use your asking. I can't give it to you."

Eskimo Stories

"If you don't, I'll snatch it from you!" At this Raven swooped down, snatched Snow Bunting's song and flew away.

Just then Mother Bunting's little son began to squawk. She burst into tears. When Father Bunting returned from his hunt and saw his son wailing and his wife weeping he said,

"What's the matter? What happened?"

"It's too terrible for words," Mother Bunting replied. "Raven swooped down on us and carried off our song. Now our son will never fall asleep. He'll make himself sick with crying. What'll we do?"

Father Bunting became very angry. His eyes flashed. He stamped his foot."Give me my hunting gloves, my big bow and my swift arrows! I'll find the thief. I'll snatch our song from his throat! Just wait."

Father Bunting flew off. He passed many birds, but none of them were Raven. He saw Ptarmigan running among the rocks and heard Golden Plover whistling.

At last, spying a flock of ravens on the cliffs, he landed nearby, raised his bow and arrow and waited. He would shoot the one that sang his song.

However, none of the ravens were singing Snow Bunting's song or any other. The old birds were sunning themselves and gossiping, while the young were playing. Now and then one of them would caw, but that was no song!

Father Bunting flew on, winging back and forth until he spotted a raven perched among the branches of a tree. Its beak was raised, its eyes were shut and it was swaying from side to side as it warbled sweetly:

Tweet-tweet, whose little toes are these?
Tweet-tweet, whose little wings are these?
Tweet-tweet, whose dear little head is this?
Tweet-tweet, whose dear little eyes are these?

Raven would get this far and then begin at the beginning again, swaying back and forth:

Tweet-tweet, whose little toes are these?
Tweet-tweet, whose little wings are these?

"There's the villain! There's the thief who stole the best song in the world!" Father Bunting cried.

Landing on a branch of the same tree, he let his arrow fly, but it merely slipped off Raven's hard wing feathers and fell to the ground. Raven never even noticed it, never even opened his eyes. He just kept on warbling.

Eskimo Stories

Then Father Bunting took all his arrows from his quiver and began shooting them one after another at the thief.

Meanwhile, Raven sang on:

Oh! Tweet! Whose little toes are these?
Ow! Tweet! Whose little wings are these?
Ouch! Something hit me!
Oh, tweet! Whose dear little head is this?
Oww! Something's pricking me!
Oh! Tweet! Whose dear little eyes are these?
Oww! Help! Stop! Caw! Caw!

And Raven dropped the song.

Father Snow Bunting snatched it up and flew back to his nest. The closer he got, the louder were his son's wailing and his wife's weeping. "Stop crying! Stop weeping!" he called. "I've snatched our song from that thief, Raven. Here it is!"

Mother Bunting was overjoyed. She began singing her song. Her little son stopped wailing and fell asleep.

Now, whenever snow buntings see a raven, they at once stop singing. Not one will so much as open its beak. That is why they still have their song and why all snow buntings still sing it to their noisy children.

Read all Eskimo Stories

Author: Eskimo Folk Tale; illustrated by Rachov Y.

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