Sacred-Texts Native American Inuit
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AN aged couple had a daughter who had a great many suitors; but the old people were very selfish, and wanted to keep her at home. Meanwhile a man came who was very anxious to get the daughter. At last he fought them, and had nearly killed them; but the old man escaped, and got into his boat. The other men of the place despised and scorned him; but they got the boat loaded, and left. The others shouted to him contemptuously, "It won't be easy for thee to get a husband for thy daughter! The poor old thing, who is quite unable to hunt—he to dare reject any one! Only let him come to be in want of necessaries, and p. 184 then look out if there be any one to help him!" But he set off without deigning to answer them, and landed at one of the outermost islets. There they built their house, and put up for the winter. One morning the old man awoke, saying, "I wonder what I have just been seeing? Methinks I saw a man gliding through the doorway." He questioned his daughter; but she keeping silence, he got suspicious. When he awoke the next morning, he saw a real man slip out of the doorway; and on being closely questioned, the daughter confessed that she was married to an atliarusek. On hearing this, the father was very happy; but she went on saying, "For fear thou wouldst not like him, he keeps out of sight; but if thou dost not mind, he will come and live with us." The father said it was all right, and he might come and take up his quarters with them at once. The next morning the old man, on awakening, turned his eyes towards the entrance, but saw nothing remarkable there; but on turning round to his daughter's resting-place, he saw a stout man sitting there beneath her lamp. The father was very well pleased, and leaned back on his couch; but listening again, and peeping out, the man was not to be seen. Towards evening the daughter several times left the room. At last she stayed away rather long, but after some time returned with a hunting-line, which she hung up on a nail to dry, saying that he had returned and brought home the produce of his hunt, but that he must take some part of it to his relatives. When her parents went outside, they saw many seals on the beach, and they rejoiced very much at their sudden prosperity. The following morning the old man peeped over the screen of the ledge, and there beheld the stranger reposing beside his daughter. The old man again lay down, believing him to be asleep. In a little while, however, he heard something stirring, at which he arose; but the son-in-law had already taken himself off. He again spoke to his daughter, saying, p. 185 "Why do you not make him come and stay with us? We like him very well indeed." In the evening, when he again returned with his catch, he went inside and made himself at home; and the parents were very civil to him. In the spring he wanted to go further inland along the fiord-side, as was generally his custom, but told them that he was obliged to join his parents, he being their only son, and as such he ought not to let his sisters be without protection. He then went away to his own home; and when they again met, he told them that now they were ready for starting. On hearing this, his father-in-law likewise put his boat into the water; and when it was ready loaded, and they were going to set off, another boat appeared, coming straight out of the beach. Both went along together, and made the land at the same time in the evening. Next morning they again started; and when they approached an inhabited place, the head-man of the atliaruseks told them always to keep close in their wake; and all of a sudden they saw his boat sink beneath the surface, and totally disappear. At this sight the old man got rather frightened; but on arriving at the spot, their boat dived down in the same manner, without any damage to the crew. Presently they caught sight of their companions' boat right ahead of them, and they continued their course beneath the waves of the sea. Having safely passed the inhabited places, they once more rose to the surface, and continued their voyage without further peril; and when they had arrived at their place of destination, went reindeer-hunting, and got their boats fully laden. When the old people had again taken up their winter-quarters, the son-in-law provided amply for them, and they prospered and were well off: About this time intelligence reached them that the men who had once scorned and abused them were living in great want, and the old man determined to help them. He loaded his kayak with matak, and brought it to p. 186 them. On his arrival, they asked him whence he had got it—whether it was not taken from the carcass of a whale that had been driven on shore accidentally. However, he left them without deigning them an answer to this question; and talking over this matter on his return home, the son-in-law exclaimed, "I should really like to have a look at these people;" whereat the old man went back to fetch off all the men who had formerly been his daughter's suitors, and returned with a large train of kayaks following him. They landed, and were very hospitably received, and regaled with reindeer-meat and seal-flesh; and when they had satisfied their appetite, the old man accosted them thus: "I wonder if ye can still remember what ye were telling me a long time ago when ye had nearly killed me, wanting by main force my daughter for your wife? Your words were these: 'Thou wilt surely never get a clever husband for thy daughter.' But you see I have, for all that. Likewise ye said that ye would deny me your assistance if ever I came in want: now help yourself, if ye please, and eat as much as ever ye like."



p. 183

1 The atliaruseks, probably identical with the ingnersuaks, were a sort of elves or gnomes, supposed to have their abodes within rocks along the sea-shore.