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p. 162


[This is an abstract from three somewhat varying copies received from Greenland. In one of the Labrador legends traces of the same tale appear.]

TIGGAK was a famous angakok and sorcerer. He married a girl who had a number of brothers, and after this he grew neglectful of his duties, and gave up hunting. When the brothers-in-law left home in the morning, they could not persuade him to follow them; sometimes he even slept till the first of the kayakers returned, and then did nothing but keep his wife company, and dawdle the time away till bedtime came round again. This offended the other men, and they let him understand that they were vexed with him. One evening, when one of the brothers had ordered some boiled briskets, he said to Tiggak when they were served up, "Do eat some meat—that is easy work." Tiggak took a considerable quantity, and did not pay any attention to the brother-in-law's remarks, but ate away without giving any answer. In the midst of winter, they were one evening awakened by the noise of the wind. A gale from the north set in. The brothers left off hunting, and lived solely upon their stored-up provisions; but at last these were brought to an end. One day, when they could not even go out in the kayak, Tiggak was missing. Towards evening they looked about for him, and there was a terrible snow-drift. Late at night they heard a call, and they saw him approaching, and dragging two seals along with him. From that time he rose in their estimation, and was now highly thought of among them. He now had the briskets served up, and addressed the brothers, saying, p. 163 "Now come and fall to; the meat is boiled and served up, and eating it is easy work." They all ate, but nobody spoke. Next day the same scene was repeated; and all the winter he continued providing for the others: but in the summer he left off, and let his brothers-in-law undertake this task themselves. Subsequently Tiggak adopted a boy as his son. Once more it was winter, and the sea was covered with ice as far as the eye could see. Tiggak was the only one to roam about upon the ice, looking out for the haze and seeking open holes in the ice, indicating the places to which the sea animals resort in order to breathe. Far off, beyond the outermost islets, he went away for seals. One day the sky was cloudless and the wind down. He had resolved to go out on the ice with the brothers, and he turned to his adopted son saying, "To-day thou mayst come with us and try thy hand at seal-catching." On gaining the remotest islets, Tiggak made an opening in the ice to examine the state of the waters beneath. When he had done he said, "I believe it will come to pass; the sea-weed seems to be drifting landwards: just look." The brothers then saw that the current, setting towards land, was stronger than usual, and Tiggak said, "We shall have a gale presently; let us make all haste for the shore." And though they could hardly credit his words, the weather being so calm, they left their seals behind and followed him quickly. Then the snow was seen foaming on the mountain-peaks; and when they had only reached the first row of islets, the storm burst strong and fierce, and broke up the ice. Tiggak took hold of his son's hand, running as fast as possible, and leapt across the clefts in the ice. At last they came to a very broad one near the land, and all of them jumped over to the opposite side; the son only did not dare to try the leap, but kept running to and fro along the edge of the cleft. At last Tiggak took pity on him and returned to him, the others also following him; but now they all drifted away seawards, and now p. 164 and then the waves washed over the ice-floe they were standing on, and they grew silent with fear. At last one of them remarked, "It is said that Tiggak is learned in magic art, and we are drifting out to the wild sea." Tiggak said, "I only know a short song treating of the ocean foam;" and he at once began singing. Having finished, they saw an iceberg close in front of them, and in a short time they came up to it, and soon caught sight of an easy ascent. The iceberg, however, kept constantly driving up and down, so that they had to watch their chance to get over. When they were just on a level with the point where they intended to cross, Tiggak took the lead and jumped over, and managed to get a sure footing on it; and after him the others followed. They were all, however, drifting further out to sea, when one of them again remarked, "We will be sure to perish from thirst unless Tiggak knows some charm that will work." He answered, "I only know this one little song to get water." Having finished the incantation, a little spring bubbled forth from the centre of the iceberg. The brothers instantly wanted to drink; but he told them to wait, saying that otherwise it was sure to dry up at once. But when he had tasted it himself, he permitted them to drink; and now it could not change. After having drifted about for a long time, they came in sight of an extensive country; and Tiggak said to his companions, "If any of you is fortunate enough to leap ashore, he must not look towards the sea so long as any of us are behind, otherwise our place of refuge will break up and be annihilated." When they did jump ashore, one by one, none of them looked round; but when the last had safely landed, Tiggak turned round and exclaimed, "Behold our place of refuge!" and lo! nothing remained of it but a heap of foam. They now determined to go and find out the people of the country; and having crossed an isthmus, they came in sight of many houses, and were shortly afterwards invited into p. 165 one of them. They relieved themselves of their outer garments, and hanging them up on the boat-pillars,1 went inside. During the meal, a squint-eyed youth with a shaggy head of hair appeared in the doorway, and called out, "The strangers from the east are hereby invited to pay a visit." And shortly afterwards he returned to repeat the same message. The host now remarked, "Since he presses you so ardently, you will be obliged to go." And so they entered another house, where a great many people were assembled. On the main ledge a disagreeable giant-like man was sitting, and by his side a similar old woman, gnawing away at a big shoulder-bone. The huge man pulled forth a seal-skin, spread it on the ground, and, in a deep-sounding voice, exclaimed, "Now come on for a wrestling-match!" The brothers commenced whispering to Tiggak that he should take the first turn; but he said, "Not so; you go down first, then I'll follow." The other guests were all ordered away, and the old hag fastened the door with the shoulder-blade. One of the brothers now hooked his arm into that of the giant. Unable to vanquish him, however, he was soon obliged to give in to the strong man, who, catching hold of his lower parts, fell over him, and, with a deep groan, he was crushed to death. The giant next called out for a rope, and this being immediately let down through the ceiling, he fastened it round the dead man's body, and had him hoisted up to the roof of the house, where a sound of knives was presently heard, and whence one cried out, "Here is his eye; let it be kept for our master." Tiggak meanwhile thought, "In this manner I shall soon lose all my brothers-in-law;" and therefore he whispered to him who was going to stand forward, "Just let me take a turn with him!" They now hooked their arms together, and the giant, taking a pull in good earnest, nearly succeeded in hauling Tiggak's arm across to him. Fortunately, p. 166 however, he stopped him. Then pausing a minute, he feigned to have been overcome by his adversary, but suddenly threw him down, and leapt upon him. The brothers now came to his aid, and assisted in putting him to death in the same way as he had treated their brother. Imitating the voice of the other, Tiggak now called out, "A rope, a rope!" which instantly appeared, and was made fast round the neck of the giant; and again he cried, "Haul away!" Once more the sound of knives was heard; but after a while all was silent, and at last one cried out, "Are we not flensing our own master? We'll make them perish down below!" And presently they commenced pouring water down upon them. They tried to leave the house, but found no means of escape. Suddenly, however, Tiggak remembered that his amulet was sowed up in the lining of his outer jacket, which he had left on the boat-pillars on their arrival, and he called out, "Bring me my coat that lies outside; I want it for a shroud!" Contrary to his anticipations, it was instantly thrown down, and catching hold of it, he loosened something from within the fur-lining, and there was his amulet all right. He put it into his mouth, and, after saying "Revenge us!" he again took it out. Already they heard voices outside crying, "He is falling!—and he too!—and there is another one!" and so on; and after a while the amulet returned, covered with blood. Having well wiped and cleaned it, the owner again threw it out and cried, "All of them!" When the amulet next time returned no sound was heard outside. They now pushed forward, and from a corner of the ledge they found their way out. Not seeing any person alive, they went back to the house where they had been first received, and again set to work at their meal. But the silly-looking youth again appeared in the entry, and said, "I'll tell you what—Apiak is now doing her very worst: she is cooking the brains, hands, and feet of her son." Tiggak, p. 167 however, could not understand him. The youth returned and told the same thing over again; but still Tiggak did not understand him, and let him go. One of the brothers—the same who had made the remark that Tiggak was learned in magic art—now said, "It will be the brains, hands, and feet of the one thou didst kill up yonder, and his mother probably intends to regale thee with a dish made of them. When thou hast been asked to go, thou wilt perceive an oblong dish right in front of the entrance, filled with brains nicely served up. On entering the room thou must quickly take hold of it, and standing erect with thy face turned towards her, and with thine eyes shut, thou shalt eat it all up—if thou eatest it with open eyes, thou wilt go mad and die; and after having tasted it, thou must turn the dish upside down, and put it back in its place. That done, open thine eyes again, and sit down beside the lamp. She will then turn her gaze upon thee, and thou wilt still remain unchanged; and when she takes the dish and turns it round, the contents of it will be all restored, and thou shalt say to her, 'Now, please, eat something thyself, as I have done.' While she is eating, with her looks turned upon thee, just see what becomes of her!" When the brother-in-law had thus spoken, the squinting youth again appeared, saying, "The foreigner is invited to follow me!" Tiggak walked up to the house of the old hag, and acted exactly as he had been told; and having eaten, the wicked old woman turned raving mad and died. Tiggak now returned to his brothers-in-law, saying, "I have killed the old hag, but they will go on in this manner if we stay here; so we had better leave the place altogether and make for our home again." They again crossed the isthmus, and saw a snow-covered hill sloping down to the water's side. There they stopped, and Tiggak asked the eldest brother, "What kind of amulet didst thou take when thou hadst to make thy choice?" He answered, "A small piece of bear-skin." p. 168 Tiggak said, "That is first-rate." He then asked the second one; and he had the same amulet, and so had all of them: but when he questioned the youngest of them, he answered, "I am not quite sure; but I believe it's a piece of bear-skin;" whereat Tiggak said, "That's all right; you will all do very well." When, however, he asked the son he had adopted, he only answered, "I don't know indeed." But Tiggak then said, "We shall leave thee behind if thou wilt not tell." "But I don't know it." "If thou goest on that way, we shall certainly leave thee alone; so pray tell us!" He then said, "When I was able to judge for myself, I got a snow-bunting1 for my amulet;" at which Tiggak became silent, and shook his head. After a while he remarked, "And yet it may do; thou must perch down on us;" and Tiggak let himself slide downhill, right down into the sea, where he disappeared, and again reappeared in the shape of a bear. He shook the water from his ears, and turned to the others, saying, "Now follow me all of you;" and they were all transformed into bears. When the son's turn came, he had not the courage. However, when the others had long besought him to follow them, he went gliding slowly down; and when he reached the margin of the water, he grew a snow-bunting, and as such was able to fly. Meanwhile all the others were swimming homewards; and when the little snow-bunting got tired, he took a rest between their ears. At length they landed a little to the north of their old homestead; and when they first climbed up the shore, Tiggak shook himself well, and his bear-skin glided off. The rest all did the same. When the son's turn had come, he shook off the snow-bunting's skin; and thus all of them marched home, except the one who had been killed.



p. 165

1 Poles for supporting the boat during the winter.

p. 168

1 Emberiza nivalis.