One of the Sitka KîksA'dî, a man named Qâq!Atcgû'k, was very fond of hunting and could use his spear very accurately. He had two wives and several children, to whom he always brought home a fur seal.
One time he heard a little fur seal crying continually, and he heard one of the others say to it, "Take care of that baby. Feed it. Qâq!Atcgû'k comes here hunting." Then Qâq!Atcgû'k was frightened and said to his companions, "Let us go back." So they went back and told the people in town what had happened. Then Qâq!Atcgû'k broke up his canoe, his paddles, and his spears, and burnt them, saying, "I will never go out hunting again." So he remained at home for a long time.
One day, however, when a crowd of people were eating fur-seal meat, his little ones looked on hungrily. He pitied them so much that he did not know what to do. Then he said to his wife, "Go to your brother and ask him to loan me his canoe and spears." Then he started off again, but, although there were many seals about, he could not get one. A young seal in particular he tried very hard to get. He kept chasing it farther and farther out to sea. At last he said to his men, "Let us go back. I can not get anything." When they started paddling, however, a light breeze was blowing out from Sitka, and, although they worked vigorously the shore seemed to get more and more distant. Finally all became tired, threw their paddles into the canoe, and lay down to sleep, letting themselves drift farther and farther out.
After a very long time they came to a rock crowded with sea lions, fur seals, and sea otters, which seemed very tame. They clubbed numbers of them. Fresh water they obtained from a wild celery (kûq!) which has hollow stalks full of water. They built a house out of dry bushes, cooked the flesh of the sea animals and lived thus until August.
At last they wanted to start home again, so they made ropes of sea-lion hide, dried four sea-lion stomachs to carry along as floats, and filled a fifth with water. In the bottom of their canoe they put numbers of sea-lion bristles and loaded the rest of it down with valuable furs. They also cooked a lot of dried and fresh meat for the journey. Then they started off, guiding themselves by the sun, which they knew came up right behind Sitka in summer. When the sun set, they anchored by means of their hide lines and put the four sea-lion stomachs around their canoe to float it in case of storms. They did this every day.
Finally, after many days were past, they saw what they thought was a sea gull, but it always stayed in one place, and at last they
discovered that it was a mountain. Then they felt brave and worked harder, and it became bigger and bigger. They did not know what mountain it was but said, "If we get to that place we can reach the village." After a while they saw another mountain farther back and then knew that the first was Mount Edgecumbe (L!ûx) and the second Verstovaia (Qanê'sdî-ca). By and by they reached the mountain and drew their canoe up in a little bay under it, which they named Place-where-canoe-rested (YAku-kusê'gAku). After two days they started on again. Then they said, "Everyone has now gone to the salmon creeks." By and by they came to Sitka village and had no more than done so before the Wind began to blow very hard. They must have been on the rock seven months. As they had anticipated, they found Sitka. empty, and started for the salmon creek, Daxê't.
All of the village people were then at Daxê't drying salmon, and both of Qâq!Atcgû'k's wives were with them. The younger had already remarried, but the elder sat near the point every day and cried for him. They had held a death feast for him and had set up a post. They were burning food and clothing for him.
That day, after the old wife had sat crying for some time, she looked up and saw a canoe with three men in it coming toward her. As she wept she looked up at it every now and then. When it got very close she suddenly stopped crying and thought to herself, "There is a fellow in that canoe that paddles just like my husband." It made her feel sad. But, when it was still nearer, she said, "That is he and his brothers who went with him. Nobody ever paddled so much like him." Then she got up and walked toward the house.
Then her husband, who thought a great deal of her, stood up and said, "That is my wife." He looked again and was certain of it. Then he said to his brothers, "That is my wife. She must have been sitting there, crying."
When the woman reached her house she said, "There is a canoe coming and I am sure that one of the men in it is my husband. Go out and look." Then all went out, and saw that it was indeed he, and began to shout his name, announcing that he had come back. When he at length landed, he asked first for his wives, and they said, "The younger is married again, but the elder has been grieving her life away." He asked whether his children were all alive and they said they were. Then they brought up his furs and other property from the canoe, and he began telling how he had happened to stay away so long. He told them how hard they had tried to get back, and how he had thought of his wife and children worrying at home, how they lived upon the large rock, how they provided themselves with water and meat, and how many valuable furs they could have gotten had they had bigger canoes. He told them how the seals, fur seals, sea otter, and sea lions were so tame that they looked at
them like human beings, and how numerous they were. He also told them what a dreadful thing it is to be out at sea without knowing where one is or which way to go home, that it is like being in the inside of a bucket. When it was cloudy they did not know where the sun rose or set. He said that that was a valuable rock out there, and that wherever one looked or stepped lay sea-lion bristles. He also told the people how much surprised they were at having fine weather out at sea and at having it become stormy as soon as they got to the village. He told how they camped in their canoe, how they fixed it for the night, and everything else connected with their journey. He said that he dreamed all the time of being with his people, and that he used to wake up and tell his brothers that his old wife and all of his children were well. He always had had bad dreams about the younger wife, however, probably because she was married again. He had also composed a song about his dreams, which he sang to them. In this song he said, "Here I am lost and yet I dream I am at home with my people. I have no hope of seeing them, and yet I see them in my dreams."
When he heard that the people had had a feast for him, he said, "Which of you gave a feast for me?" Then they pointed to a certain man and answered, "There is the principal one who gave a feast for you." They pointed to others and said, "That one gave so much for you and that one so much." He gave all of them valuable skins for what they had done.
225:a Story 101 is a Sitka version.