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[The text of this story has been collated from eight copies, among which two have been received from Labrador, the rest from different parts of Greenland, three of them having been written down before 1828. Like the former, it seems to have no historical, but only a moral or mythological reference.]

A WIDOW had a son and a daughter. When the son grew up, he made himself useful in different ways, and also commenced seal-hunting. One day in the beginning of winter he caught a thong-seal (a very large species, Phoca barbata1). On bringing it home, his mother wanted the skin for a ledge-cover, but he insisted on having it for making hunting-lines.2 The mother grew angry, and in preparing the skin and removing the hairs, she practised some witchcraft on it, and spoke thus: "When he cuts thee into thongs, when he cuts thee asunder, then thou shalt snap and smite his face;" and she rejoiced in the thought that it would hit him. When she had finished her preparations, p. 100 and he had cut out the first thong, he stretched and strained it; but in scraping it with a shell, a small blister burst, and hitting both his eyes, blinded him.

The winter coming on, they were destitute of their main provisions, and had to live entirely upon mussels (Mytilus edulis); and the blind boy took his place on the ledge, unable to go out hunting any more. Thus he passed the first half of the winter. A great bear then appeared, which began to eat away their (skin1) window-pane, and next thrust its head into the room. The mother and the sister fled in great terror to the inmost retired part of the ledge; but the blind man said to his sister, "Please bring my bow;" and she having given it to him, he bent it, and asked her to take the right aim for him. Levelling it at the animal, she gave him the signal, whereon he shot, and the arrow struck the bear so that it fell to the ground. The mother said, "Thou hitst the window instead of the beast;" but his sister whispered, "Thou hast killed a bear." They had now provisions for the coming days; but the mother never gave her son any of the boiled bear-flesh, but only a few shell-fish instead, and never let him taste a meal from his own hunting, but, in order to starve him, concealed her having any flesh. His sister, however, gave him his portion when the mother was absent, and he swallowed it in haste before her return. In this manner the greater part of the winter passed away. At last the days lengthened; and one day, in the spring, the sister said, "Dost thou remember how very delightful the time was when thou hadst still got thy sight, and wast able to go out hunting, and how we used to roam about the country?" The brother answered, "To be sure; let us be off again. I can take hold of thee." And the next morning at daybreak they went out together, he taking p. 101 hold of her garments; and all day long they wandered about, the sister occupied in gathering shrubs1 for fuel. One day they came to a large plain beside a lake, and the brother then said, "I think I will lie down a little, while thou goest away to find more fuel;" and accordingly she left him. Whilst he was thus resting himself, he heard some wild geese flying in the air above him, and when they were right over his head, he heard one of them crying out, "Look at the poor young man down there; he is blind: would we could make him see." When the birds approached him he never stirred, but lay quietly on his back. At this moment he had a sense of something warm falling down on his eyes, one of the wild geese having dropped its excrement upon them, and heard a voice saying, "Keep thy eyes shut till the sound of our wings has altogether passed away, then thou mayst try to open them." Again he lay down motionless; while the wild goose, sweeping its wings across his face, repeated, "Mind thou dost not open thy eyes." The sound of their wings now dying away, he already observed a certain brightness; but when the noise had altogether passed away, he opened his eyes wide, and had his sight restored to him. He now called out, "Nayagta!" (so he called his sister). But she did not return till evening, when she was seen coming across the country, moody and downhearted, with one arm drawn out of the sleeve of her jacket, and her chin hidden in the fur collar. Perceiving her, he again called out, "Nayagta, now thou needst not be in want of food or anything else; I shall give thee clothes, for now I have my sight again." But she only gainsaid him, and would not believe him until she looked into his reopened eyes, and saw their sound and healthy appearance. They both agreed not to let their mother know what had happened. In descending the hills, and approaching p. 102 the house, he caught sight of his bear-skin stretched out to dry, and in front of the entrance its bones, and on entering the main room he got a glimpse of its paws. Shutting his eyes, he now took his usual place on the ledge, and feigning to have been asleep, he started up, saying, "I dreamt I saw a bear-skin stretched out behind the house;" but the old woman merely replied, "Thou must surely have been thinking about somebody who happened to hurt thee some time ago." Again the son feigned sleeping, and starting up, he said, "Methinks I also saw a lot of bear-bones outside the entrance." The old woman repeated her first answer; but the third time, on seeming to awake, the son said, "I dreamt I saw two bear's paws here underneath the couch;" and the mother again giving the same answer, suddenly opening his eyes, he said, "Mother, I mean these;" and then she knew that he had regained the use of his eyes, and she exclaimed, "Eat them, just eat them!" He now took up his old habits, and again commenced seal-hunting; but, after some time, the idea grew upon him to take revenge on his detestable old mother. The season was at hand when the white whales1 began to appear along the ice-bound shore, and he used to catch them in the following manner: he went out on the ice with his sister, and having fastened his hunting-line round her waist, he threw the harpoon which was attached to the line into the fish, thus making her serve him instead of a hunting-bladder.2 After which, they hauled together till they had safely landed the fish on the ice, where they afterwards killed it.

One day, returning home, he asked his sister, "Dost thou like our old mother?" She made no answer; but on his repeating the question she only answered, "I am p. 103 more fond of thee than of her; thou art the only one I do love." "Well, then, to-morrow she shall serve us for a bladder. I'll pay her off for having made me blind." They both agreed upon the plan; and returning to the house where they found the mother busy mending boots, he said, "Oh dear, how tired we are with hauling in the fish! Now let my sister have a rest to-morrow; meantime thou mightst serve me as a hunting-bladder. I suppose thou canst keep thy footing when the fish pull the line." The mother declaring herself willing, they all went down to the open sea the next morning; but when the white whales appeared, and he was preparing to harpoon them, she said: "Take one of the smallest, and not the large ones;" and perceiving some very little fish coming up, she cried, "Look out and try for one of these;" but be answered, "They are still too big." At the same instant, however, one of the very largest fishes rose to the surface; and harpooning it, he let go his hold of the line, and when the animal had drawn his mother pretty close to the water, he cried out, "Dost thou remember the time thou madest me blind?" and while she endeavoured to hold back, he pushed her on, saying, "That fellow will give me my revenge." When she was close to the very edge of the water, she cried, "My ullo!" (woman's knife)—"it was I who nursed thee;" and with these words she was plunged into the sea, which soon covered her. Still she reappeared on the surface, crying, "My ullo, my ullo; I nursed thee!" but then disappeared for ever. It is said that she was afterwards transformed into a fish, and that her spreading hair turned into long horny teeth, from which the narwals1 are said to have their origin. The white whales having all disappeared, brother and sister returned to the house, and lamented the loss of their mother, feeling conscious that she had nursed them, and taken care of them. p. 104 They now began to be terrified at their deed, and dared not stay in their little house; they therefore fled on eastward, far away to the large continent, roaming about the interior parts of the country.1 At first he would not even kill a bird, feeling pity towards them for having restored the use of his eyes to him; but at last he killed a swan, because his sister wanted to have it, and it is said that this was the only bird he caught for the remainder of his life. Far away from the coast they built their house; they grew to be immensely old, and were always without friends. At length they determined to show themselves among other people, and he resolved upon going to some place which had an angakok (priest of the heathens). After a while he found such people, and decided to await the time when the angakok was going to conjure his spirits. He then went up to the house; but ere he reached it, the angakok began to complain, and cried, "I am going to let a spirit out upon you; a large fire is just outside" (viz., the kivigtok, supernatural beings in general making their appearance like a flame or brightness). The man who was standing outside now made his inquiry: "Do you not know me?—have ye heard of him who used his mother for a hunting-bladder?" and as no one answered him, he repeated the same question over again. An old woman now rejoined: "I remember to have heard in my childhood that many many years ago there lived a brother and a sister who fastened their poor mother as a bladder to a white whale." The stranger outside then said: "I am that very man; I have come to denounce myself: do come out and see what I am like." The angakok went out, followed by his auditors, and they saw him standing erect in the bright moonlight beside the boat. The hair of his head was snowy white, as if he p. 105 had been covered with a hood of white hare-skins; but his face was black, and his clothes were made of reindeer-skins, and he told them that his sister was not able to move from old age, and that they had their hut far away in the interior of the country, and that their house-fellows

were terrible beings with heads like seals; and lastly he added: "After this, I will not show myself any more to human creatures; those to whom I wanted to denounce myself I have done it to." After having said these words he turned away, and has never been seen afterwards.

 NOTE.—The son's name has in Greenland been called Tutigak; in Labrador, Kemongak. According to the Labrador tale, the birds make him dive into the lake; according to the Greenland readings, the mother cried, "It was I who cleared away thy urine"—instead of "nursed thee."



p. 99

1 Or bearded seal—"the ground-seal" of the English sealers: also called a "thong-seal," because the Eskimo cut their thongs and lines out of its hide. See Robert Brown's 'Seals of Greenland;' Proc. Zoological Society of London (1868); and the Admiralty Manual of the Natural History of Greenland (1875).

2 Line or thong attached with one end to the harpoon, with the other to the hunting-bladder, an inflated entire seal-skin, which prevents the harpooned seals running away.

p. 100

1 In modern times, most of the Eskimo huts in Danish Greenland have got glass window-panes; but through Eskimo-land generally, the semi-transparent entrail of some animal serves this purpose.

p. 101

1 Such as the crowberry (Empetrum), the blaeberry (Vaccinium), the dwarf birch (Betula nana), &c.

p. 102

1 "White fish,"—a large sort of dolphin—the Beluga or Delphinus albicans of zoologists. It is captured in great abundance in Greenland.

2 The inflated skin or bladder attached to the line to bring up the animal, as well as the weapon when it has missed its mark and fallen into the sea.

p. 103

1 Monodon monoceros.

p. 104

1 People who fled from mankind in order to live in the desolate interior of Greenland were called kivigtoks, and believed to acquire supernatural qualities—such as clairvoyance, immense swiftness, and longevity.