Sacred-Texts Native American Inuit
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p. 258


AMONGST a number of people who lived in the same house, one woman was in the act of childbirth, when all of a sudden the midwife attending her cried out in great dismay, "Ah, it is a monster, with great big teeth; it is tearing my arm!" As she spoke, all the inmates fled away to the boat, which was turned keel upwards, and to the top of a great rock; only two boys with their sister could find no room there, and they therefore hurried out to the provision-house. Meantime the monster appeared, dragging along his own mother, her hair all loose and flying about her, and it soon turned upon those on the boat. Not being able itself to climb, it ate away the pillars beneath, so that, when they gave way, all the people came tumbling down, and were devoured. It next came to the rock, and those who had taken refuge on it pushed and knocked against each other for horror, till all but one lost their footing, and came down heads over heels. The monster now ordered the rock to upset, and the very last of them was made away with. When these were all killed, the beast turned against the provision-house, but stopping, entered the main house instead; this process was repeated several times, and it always remained inside a little longer each time. During the last interval the children fled out of sight, and went far into the country, until they came in sight of a house. They went in and told their story and the cause of their flight, and stayed there for the night. Most of the inmates had gone to sleep; the sister, however, did not dare to do so, and kept awake. At midnight she heard some one saying, "They have probably themselves put their housemates to death, though they tell us a different p. 259 story. The safest thing will be to have them killed in the morning." At this speech she got greatly alarmed, and when the others had gone off to sleep, she roused her brothers, and once more they fled on and reached another house, where they met the very same fate. But when they made their escape from this place the second night, the sister took one of her brother's boots and thrust it several times against the house-door, at the same time pronouncing a spell, that the people within might all perish. Pursuing their way, they fell in with a man of extraordinary size, carrying one half of a reindeer on his shoulders. The sister said to the youngest brother, "Go and try to make him understand why we have come here;" and she told him how to put his words. When the boy had finished, the big man took them along with him to his own house, the interior of which was nicely furnished and hung with reindeer-skins all along the walls. There they remained, and made a meal upon some dry meat. This done, the girl said to her brothers, "Reindeer-meat is good eating, no doubt; but what would make it eat still better?"—"Mixing it up with some nice partridges, to be sure."—"So thou must make haste and go out and get some." Off they went; a flapping of wings was presently heard, and lots of birds were brought into the house. While they were busy eating them, the sister repeated, "Partridges are very nice, sure enough; but what would make them eat still better?"—"Mixing them up with some nice hares, to be sure!"—&c.; and so they went out and caught a great many hares. The sister once more repeated what she had said, mentioning all kinds of game and fowls, and at last she said, "Young serdlernaks (fabulous birds) are exceedingly nice, but the large ones,—oh, be quick, be quick!" But the huge man said, "I never hunted that fowl without some misgivings; when she is hatching her eggs on the lee side of yonder point, and catches the seals, she is rather dangerous." Still, they all ran p. 260 out to have a look at it; but seeing it perched on its rock, and sometimes rising to snatch at them, they were afraid, and again retired; only the younger brother remained, and was torn asunder by it. Then the sister shouted, "It is now time for me to interfere;" upon which they all ran out together; she quickly pulled out her boot, struck at the bird with it, and killed it on the spot. She now cut it up, and found its pouch filled with seal-bones, among which she likewise found those of her brother. When these had all been singled out, she carried them with her. While she was yet on the way, she felt them move; and when they got close to the house she put them down, and the brother quickly revived, seemingly quite unhurt, and they all of them reached home safely.

NOTE.—We find several stories treating of this same subject, generally representing the monster as the revenger of some act of atrocity or misbehaviour and injustice. In one of them the monster at first is an imbecile child, called Tungavik, neglected and ill-treated by its housemates, till all of a sudden, having been mute before, it acquired the faculty of speech, and set to eating its mother's breast, afterwards devouring both its parents and all its housemates, excepting two orphan children, who had shown kindness towards it.