Ankakumikaityn the Nomad Wolf
- A Siberian Tale -=
One summer the fox heard that Ankakumikaityn the nomad wolf was courting his neighbor, the elder she-dog. So the wily fox made himself an outfit of wolf's clothing: a grey fur cloak, boots and cap. Then, when the she-dog's brothers were away and she was at home with her younger sister, he called upon her.
"I have two herds of fat reindeer," said the fox to the elder sister, as he sipped the bilberry tea she offered him. "I have come to seek your hand."
Thinking that this was, indeed, Ankakumikaityn the nomad wolf, the she-dog treated him to reindeer meat, hot mare's-blood sausages, raw walrus liver and pickled fish, the very choicest pieces. All the while, the fox sat in his cap, unwilling to take it off lest he be recognized.
"Being a wealthy person," he explained, "I keep my cap on that people might respect me."All of a sudden, the sound of dogs barking could be heard from afar."It is my brothers returning from hunting," the she- dog said."Oh dear," exclaimed the fox, "they will likely scare my herds. I must run to caution them."
Once away from the tent, the fox quickly dashed up the nearby hill and loosened some rocks. When the dog brothers came in sight, he pushed the boulders down the hillside and crushed them all. Thereupon, he returned to the tent and finished his tea, charming the sisters with his oily-tongued tales. As dusk fell and the sisters were busy about their housework, he made off with all their food supplies.
Early next morning, the sisters became most alarmed on discovering their supplies gone and their brothers still absent. As they searched the valley and found their poor brothers dead, they wept in despair.
"Who could have done us such harm?" they wailed. In their sorrow, they decided to go to Ankakumikaityn to seek his counsel. The nomad wolf was puzzled. "But I never came to you yesterday!" he exclaimed.
It was not long before the sisters realized they had been tricked by the fox. With the wolf's help, they worked out a plan to get their revenge.
Next day, the fox, unaware that he had been discovered called on the sisters again dressed as Ankakumikaityn. But this time they were expecting him. While the fox drank bilberry tea and exchanged pleasantries, the nomad wolf stealthily entered the tent, grabbed the treacherous fox and tied him up.
"What shall we do with the scoundrel?"asked the wolf. "Let's put him in a sack and leave him in the tundra," suggested the two sisters. That they did. The poor fox almost fainted from fright, wondering what his fate would be. At last, he was set down with a bump; the younger sister collected a heap of dry grass and brushwood for a fire, piled it round the sack, surrounded the tinder with stones and then lit the fire. Poor fox. He at last burst out of the burning sack, his wolf's clothing aflame, and rushed headlong over the tundra like a burning torch. Satisfied at their revenge, the dog sisters and the wolf returned to the tent.
Ankakumikaityn wed the elder sister, and the younger dog looked after their children. Some time later, she found herself a husband too. Since that time red foxes began to appear in the tundra. So it seems that wily old fox, scorched and fiery red, managed to survive his roasting after all.
The wolf and his shadow
Roaming by the mountainside at sundown, a wolf saw his own shadow become greatly extended and magnified, and he said to himself,
"Why should I, being of such an immense size and extending nearly an acre in length, be afraid of the lion? Ought I not to be acknowledged as King of all the collected beasts?"
While he was indulging in these proud thoughts, a lion fell upon him and killed him.
He exclaimed with a too late repentance,
"Wretched me! this overestimation of myself is the cause of my destruction."
Wolf Myths of the Middle ages
During the middle ages, wolves were ascribed magical powers and wolf parts became an important part of many early pharmacies. Powdered wolf liver was used to ease birth pains. A wolf's right paw, tied around ones throat, was believed to ease the swelling caused by throat infections.
It was widely believed that a horse that stepped in a wolf print would be crippled
The gaze of a wolf was once thought to cause blindness
Others believed that the breath of the wolf could cook meat.
Naturalists of the day believed wolves sharpened their teeth before hunting
Dead wolves were buried at a village entrance to keep out other wolves (a bizarre belief echoed today by farmers who continue to shoot predators and hang them on fence posts to repel other predators.)
Travelers were warned about perils of walking through lonely stretches of woods, and stone shelters were built to protect them from attacks. Our modern word "loophole" is derived from the European term "loup hole," or wolf hole, a spy hole in shelters through which travelers could watch for wolves.
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