A boat with a black deer, a boat with a white deer

A boat with a black deer, a boat with a white deer

Once upon a time, men from a big seaside village boarded their large boat and sailed out to hunt for sea animals. They were down on their luck, so they had to sail further and further away from the shore. The sun went down, fog started creeping across the surface, and, finally, in became dark. The hunters got lost at sea. When the sun came up, they saw land in the distance. They approached the shore and saw a house there. Some women came out of the house and started towards the nearby river to fetch water. The hunters had got very thirsty by then, and one of them said, “I’m going to look around, see what kind of people live there, and get some water for us.”

He left and did not return for a long time. The hunters could not see anyone on the shore. Then the second man got out of the boat and went ashore. He did not come back either.  After that, the rest of the hunters decided to move on, exploring the coastline. After a while, they spotted a house. There were dogs barking and racks with drying fish nearby, but no people around.  Two of the hunters decided to get out of the boat and look for water. They entered the house and disappeared.

The fifth hunter then said, “I can’t wait anymore. I’m so thirsty!” He leaned over to drink some water but fell overboard. The sixth hunter jumped into the water to help his mate, but an evil spirit suddenly emerged from the depths of the sea and drowned the man. The spirit grabbed the boat with his bony hand to turn it over. The remaining hunters picked up their axes and chopped the monster’s hand off. They quickly sailed away from that place.

The men spent a long time in their boat, but then spotted land again. There were two old, grey-haired figures on the shore, a man and a woman. The old man shouted out to the hunters, “Come ashore, and be afraid of nothing!”

The hunters rowed towards the shore and got off the boat. The old couple invited them to their home and gave them a meal of dried yukola fish and some fragrant herbal tea.

The men told the old couple about their mishaps, how they went on a hunt for sea animals but got lost at sea, and that many of their teammates had already been missing or dead.

 “It’s good you are here with us,” the old man told them. “It’s dangerous on the other side. I will help you get home safely.”

No one knows how long the hunters stayed at the old couple’s home. The old man would go out every morning and get back every evening. He kept silent about his business. One evening, he brought in two boats lined with bog-rosemary leaves.

“Make sure you keep your heads inside while you are sailing back. Women will call you; do not listen to them and do not answer their calls. As the bottom of your boat starts scraping the sand, come ashore. Kill a white deer and place it in one small boat. Then, kill a black deer and place it in the other. Cover the deer with bog-rosemary leaves and offer the boats to the sea as a sacrifice.”

The hunters thanked the old man and sailed off, taking the two small boats with them. They sailed for a long time, keeping their heads inside. They heard women calling them, but never answered their calls.  After a while, the bottom of their boat started scraping the sand.   They came ashore, killed a white deer and placed it in a small boat.  Then, they killed a black deer and placed it in the other small boat. After that, they covered the deer with bog-rosemary leaves and sacrificed the boats to the sea.

The sea immediately devoured the boat with the white deer. When the hunters pushed the boat with the black dear into the sea, it revolted at first, foaming up and rotating the boat seven times. Eventually, though, the sea accepted the second sacrifice.

The hunters sailed on and soon reached their seaside village. Getting close to the shore, they saw little boys running around with bows in their hands, chasing chipmunks.

The hunters then asked the boys, “Where are your parents?”

“Our mothers are home, and our fathers went on a hunt a long, long time ago and never came back.”

It occurred to the hunters that those boys were their sons. They gave them each a small ring and told them to run to their mothers and shown them those rings.

The boys ran off, but soon returned, shouting with joy:

“Greetings, fathers! Welcome home!”

And so, the hunters got safely back to their homes and families.