Page:Aino folk-tales.djvu/53

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and therefore wished to put the latter to shame, or to kill him by engaging him in the attempt to perform something impossible. So he sent for him, and said: "The sea may be a useful thing, in so far as it is the original home of the fish which come up the river. But it is very destructive in stormy weather, when it beats wildly upon the beach. Do you now drink it dry, so that there may be rivers and dry land only. If you cannot do so, then forfeit all your possessions." The other (greatly to the vainglorious man's surprise) said: "I accept the challenge."

So, on their going down together to the beach, the Chief of the Upper Current of the River took a cup, and scooped up a little of the sea-water with it, drank a few drops, and said: "In the sea-water itself there is no harm. It is some of the rivers flowing into it that are poisonous. Do you therefore first close the mouths of all the rivers both in Aino-land and in Japan, and prevent them from flowing into the sea, and then I will undertake to drink the sea dry." Hereupon the Chief of the Mouth of the River felt ashamed, acknowledged his error, and gave all his treasures to his rival.—("Written down from memory. Told by Ishanashte, 18th November, 1886.)


xxxiii.—The Island of Women.

In ancient days, an Aino chieftain of Iwanai went to sea in order to catch sea-lions, taking with him his two sons. They speared a sea-lion, which, however, swam off with the spear sticking in its body. Meanwhile a gale began to blow down from the mountains. The men cut the rope which was fast to the spear. Then their boat floated on. After some time, they reached a beautiful land. When they had reached it, a number of women in fine garments came down from the mountains to the shore. They came bearing a beautiful woman in a litter. Then all the women who had come to the shore returned to the mountains. Only the one in the litter came close to the boat, and spoke thus: "This land is woman-land, It is a land where no men