Legends and Fables from Around The World

June 3, 2007

Living Water

Filed under: Central Asia — Edvan @ 2:38 pm

This happened a long, long time ago, when the cedar, the fir, and the pine still had needles that yellowed and dropped in the fall instead of staying green all winter.

Once in those olden times a Tofalar went out into the woods to hunt. He walked and walked, and he came farther than any hunter had ever dared to go. He saw a bog so vast that no beast could have crossed it, no bird could have flown across.

And the Tofalar said to himself: “If our animals can’t run across this bog, and our birds cannot fly across it, what kinds of animals and birds live on the other side?”

The more he thought about it, the more curious he became.

“I must find out,” he said to himself. “Whatever happens, I must get there.

And so he took a good running start, and leaped right clear across the bog. He looked around: the same earth, the same grass, the same trees.

“Silly!” he said. “There was no need to jump.”

Suddenly his mouth dropped open with wonder.

In a little clearing stood seven harnessed rabbits. They stood quietly, waiting. Then seven people came out of seven burrows in the earth, exactly like all people, only tiny. When the rabbits flattened their ears, the people were taller than the rabbits. When the rabbits’ ears stood up, the people were smaller than the rabbits.

“Who are you?” asked the Tofalar. “We are immortal people,” said the tiny men. “We wash ourselves in living water, and we never die. And who are you?”

“I am a hunter.”

The little men clapped their hands with joy.

“Oh, good! Oh, good!” they cried in chorus.

And one of them, the eldest, with white hair and a long white beard, came forward and said: “A terrible, huge beast has come into our land. We don’t know where it came from. The other day it caught one of our people and killed him. We are immortal, we never die ourselves, but this beast killed one of us. You are a hunter—can you help us in this trouble? Can you hunt down the beast?”

“Why not?” answered the Tofalar, but to himself he wondered: “Will I be able to kill such a frightful beast?”

However, he went out to track the beast. He looked and he looked, but could find nothing except rabbits’ footprints. Suddenly, among the rabbit prints he noticed the track of a sable.

“Oh, that’s too fine a quarry to miss,” he said. “First I will get the sable, and then I’ll go on looking for the terrible, huge beast.”

He found the sable and killed it. Then he skinned it and went on with his search. He walked the length and breadth of the little people’s land, but could not find any trace of the beast.

So he came back to the little people and said to them: “I could not find your terrible, huge beast. All I have found was this sable.” And he showed them the little sable skin.

“That’s it, that’s it!” they cried. “Oo-h, what a huge skin, what thick paws, what terrible, sharp claws!” And the eldest of the little men said to the Tofalar:

“You have saved us and our people! And we shall pay for your kindness with kindness. Wait for us. We’ll come to visit you and bring you living water. You’ll wash in it and will become immortal too.”

The Tofalar jumped back across the bog and went back to his valley and told his people about the little men.

And the Tofalars began to wait for their guests, the immortal little men.

They waited one day, two days, three days, many, many days. But the guests did not come, and the Tofalars forgot about them and their promise.

Winter came. Everything around was frozen. And the bog was covered with a coat of ice.

One day the village women went to the woods to gather firewood. Suddenly they saw a little herd of rabbits galloping their way. They looked again, and saw that every rabbit was saddled, and in every saddle sat a tiny man with a little pitcher in his hands. The women burst out laughing at the sight.

“Look, look!” they cried to one another. “They are riding on rabbits!”

“And look at the little men, how funny!”

“Oh, what a joke!”

“Oh, I’ll die laughing!”

Now, the immortal people were a proud race. They took offense at this reception. The one in front, with white hair and a long beard, shouted something to the others, and all of them spilled out the contents of their pitchers onto the ground. Then the rabbits turned and hopped away so fast that you could only see their white tails flicker.

And so the Tofalars never got the living water. It went instead to the pine, the cedar, and the fir. And this is why they are fresh and green all through the year. Their needles never die.

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: