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Animal Stories Of The North
Translated by Fainna Solasko
Illustrated by Y.Rachov
Mousie was sitting under a burdock leaf when a man walked by. They did not see each other, because one was too big and the other was too small, but Mousie heard the song the man was singing.
"There are songs and stories about people, but there's nothing about us. How come?" Mousie wondered. "People become famous if they're very strong. There are fine wrestlers, marksmen, runners, hunters and brave men. What can I do to make people sing songs and tell stories about me? I know! I'll chew through this tree and carry it up to the top of a high mountain."
Mousie began gnawing away at the tree. He kept at it until he'd gnawed a circle around the trunk. Then he grasped the tree and began rocking it back and forth.
The tree did not budge. Mousie started gnawing at it again.
The tree creaked and fell. Mousie jumped aside in fright, but then realized he'd only toppled a blade of grass, not a tree. What a disappointment! People would have laughed if anyone had seen him.
"What can 1 do to become famous?" Mousie wondered as he pattered along in the tundra. At the foot of a mountain he saw a chain of large lakes.
"If I swim across a lake this big, and dry my parka and sealskin boots on the other side people will pass and see me. They'll say, ‘What a fine swimmer he is!' "
So Mousie swam across one of the lakes. It was hard going. He went under several times, gulped water and nearly drowned, but finally made it to the other side.
Mousie was very pleased as he stood drying his parka and sealskin boots by a campfire.
Just then a hunter approached, stepped across the lake and never even noticed the brave swimmer. New big lakes appeared in the hunter's wake.
Every time he set his foot down and made a dent in the ground it filled up with water. Now there was a new chain of lakes stretching off in the tundra.
Mousie was close to tears. He sat by the lake for a while, then pulled on his parka and boots and set off again, going farther and farther until he came to a mountain. There he stopped. "It's too high to climb and too far to circle round." Mousie said to himself and finally heaved it onto his back.
On and on Mousie trudged until he reached the sea. There he set the mountain down on the highest cliff of Bering Straits.
"Now I'm a real hero!" he squeaked as he sat down beside his mountain.
Mousie rested there a while and then decided to go to a trappers' camp for tea. As he started down the slope a gust of wind blew the pebble he had brought there down after him.
The people had overheard Mousie and had seen the pebble rolling down the slope. They made up a story about him and named the high cliff Mt. Avsynikh which, in Eskimo, means: "The Mountain Mousie Brought."
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