Sacred-Texts Native American Inuit
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[From one of the older manuscripts.]

THERE was a widow with a son named Kujanguak; beyond her house was another one, inhabited by a number of brothers, all clever at their profession, and p. 229 well off. Whenever they had brought home any seals, the widow, according to the custom, would send her son to get a tamorasak (viz., little bit of blubber); but the men generally replied, "Thou lazy beggar, thou never assisted us in providing anything; so thou wilt not get anything neither." On his returning with this answer, his mother only said, "Never mind—just let them talk." One day they caught a mamartok (viz., a delicious kind of seal—one that has shed hair). The mother now took a stronger fancy than ever for a little morsel, and sent her son for it; but he was treated as usual: the men took a bit of whatever they could lay hand on, and flung it at him. When he came back and gave their message to his mother, she was in a great rage; and taking one of her boots, seated herself in a corner of the ledge to practise some charm. On the following morning, when her son looked into the pot, there was an eider-duck in it. The mother merely remarked, "Just take it." Part of it she boiled, and the rest was put by for future use. In the evening she repeated her charms and spells, and a small seal was found in the water-tub. The third day, the son, to his great surprise, saw standing on the floor a completely furnished kayak; the mother took him down to the beach, and made him practise paddling, as well as upsetting and again righting, till he had got quite expert at these things. The following day she let him go out again, and pointing to an iceberg, told him to round it in his kayak. He pushed off at her bidding, and when he was out of sight, she returned to the house. The neighbours likewise set off, and saw Kujanguak attacking a bear, which at last took refuge on an iceberg. The eldest of the brothers tried to climb it, but was not able. After him Kujanguak made the attempt; and having first asked the other to take care of his kayak, he clutched hold of the ice, and scrambled up. At the very top he encountered the bear, and immediately fell upon it; and taking hold of it by the neck, p. 230 flung it down into the sea, stone-dead. The youngest of the brothers, Sanak, cried out, "I have got a bear!" but Kujanguak quietly descended, got into his kayak, fastened his towing-line to the bear, and paddled home, followed by the other kayakers, who had given him their assistance. The mother now went down to the beach, accompanied by the sister of the brothers. While they were busy dragging the bear up to the house, the mother mockingly observed, turning to her, "Who knows how nourishing that flesh may be!" adding, "Now haul it up the rest of the way thyself; I am going to fetch water." Having finished this task, however, she returned to the bear, and now divided it into two equal parts, of which she gave her companion one, saying, "The skin thou mayst keep for a ledge-cover." She then boiled the flesh, and invited the whole party to partake of it. The other woman she asked to sit down on the main ledge; and when she had served the meal up she remarked, "It is a pity one cannot make sure whether there is any nourishment about this game of Kujanguak's." The woman visitor said, "I have been longing ever so much for bear's meat lately." They all ate well; and on taking leave the female visitor thanked her saying, that she had altogether found it a delicious and hearty feed. The following day Kujanguak again set off to the iceberg, and got a large seal. When he was returning towing it homewards, he chanced to encounter the brothers. Happily his mother had advised him beforehand, "If ever they venture to persecute thee, take some water out of the sea with thy left hand, and moisten thy lips with it." Kujanguak tried this as soon as they all came rushing in upon him. The eldest brother began the attack by catching hold of the kayak point, doing his utmost to upset it; but no sooner had Kujanguak tasted the water with his lips than the other let it go. Sanak now said, "Look at the foarning breakers there! let us try which of us can first get beyond them;" p. 231 and all of them pushed on as fast as possible. Kujanguak, who had a seal on his line, was first obliged to tighten it; but this done, he pushed on like a shot, and soon came up with the eldest brother, ahead of the others; and while they rowed outside of the breakers, Kujanguak went right across them, carried along by the surf. When the waves retreated, he jumped out upon the rocks; and when the breakers came rolling on again, he hastened back into the kayak. On the way home the brothers secretly consulted to surround him; however, he made his escape from them. Meanwhile his mother suddenly missed a certain lock of hair, and knowing this to be a bad omen for her son, was very anxious about him, until it shortly afterwards proved to be in its proper place on her forehead. Reassured with regard to her son, she now mounted the hills to look out for his return. On landing he was received on the beach by her along with the other woman, who asked him how her brothers had fared. He answered her, "I wonder thou carest to bother thyself about those stupid fellows!" When the flesh of the seal had been prepared, and the men were supping upon the briskets, the mother of the many sons grew envious and resentful because she was not invited to share the good fare. On hearing this the widow cut a piece of the loin, and having pronounced a spell upon it, carried it to her by way of a present. When they sat down to eat it, Sanak was almost suffocated, and presently his old mother likewise cried for water. Having got a drink, she recovered; Sanak, however, expired. When the widow re-entered the room, the eldest brother accused her of the deed, saying, "You only fed them to work their destruction—it is none but thou who hast killed them!" and, at the same time, he rose and rushed against the house-pillars, in order to shake it down and make it fall over her: but the widow replaced them quickly. Again he rose from his seat, and turning towards the widow herself, he quickly snatched off p. 232 the two points of her jacket—the one in front as well as the one behind. Little heeding this affront, she now ran out, and told her son that two of their adversaries had now been despatched. In the enjoyment of the happy event, they both bolted across the boat in great glee; however, the mother happened to break her back. When Kujanguak had got her indoors, she took some filth from beneath the place where her dead mother used to put all kinds of dirty refuse, and threw it out at the house of their enemies. This brought sickness upon them, from which all of them died excepting the sister, who turned kivigtok (i.e., one who has fled from mankind).