Sacred-Texts Native American Inuit
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THERE was once a kayaker who had only one certain hunting-place to which he always resorted, and whither he was never accompanied by any one else. He was well skilled in his craft, and generally brought home a great quantity of seals. Not far off, to the north of his habitation, lived a number of other people in a large house with three windows. One day he had started as usual for his solitary hunting-ground; but for the first time found it preoccupied by another hunter. On coming closer to him, he recognised in him one of his northern neighbours. This man spoke to him and was so talkative that the other found it rather difficult to mind his work. At home he reported, "To-day I at length had a fellow joining me at my hunting-place; he turned out to be one of our neighbours: but to-morrow I intend to be off earlier and try p. 289 to forestall him." Accordingly he started sooner than was his wont, but on reaching the place, he found that the other man had already arrived, and was even more loquacious than on the first day. It was almost daybreak before they had begun their work. When they had both caught their seals they returned. But the first kayaker on coming home, remarked, "It seems almost impossible to be beforehand with this man; however, I will try it once more." He started early the following morning, while it was still pitch-dark; but the other one was on the spot. He rowed close up to him, hoping to find him in his usual polite mood, but to-day he did not speak at all; not until daybreak did he utter a single word, and then went away. The next day it was the same thing over again, he never spoke till sunrise; then he remarked, "To-day she remained in bed altogether; the day before yesterday she fell sick, and all the while she is growing worse and worse." It is to be understood that he was speaking of his wife, and this was the reason why he had thus changed. He now added, "If thou dost not meet me here to-morrow, thou mayst judge that she is still worse, and then pray look in upon us to-morrow and see how we are doing." Then the other made some further inquiry, and went home with his catch, relating his adventure to his family. He did not meet his new comrade the next day, and therefore called on him the day after. Entering the house, he found all the men within; not one of them was out kayaking that day. He entered the room and there remarked a man sitting far back upon the ledge and staring straight before him, and he soon recognised him to be his former companion. His wife had died and he had already buried her. Observing the general silence, he rose and moved alongside the widower, saying—"I have come to give thee some solace; thou wilt be sure to stand in need of some one to talk to thee at such an unhappy time: and if thou wouldst like it, I will bethink p. 290 me of something to tell thee." But at this the widower uttered some unintelligible words, at the same time looking very fierce and angry. Suddenly he advanced and took hold of the visitor by the throat and threw him down into the doorway. Taking it all for a jest, he quickly got up and re-entered the room; but he was again seized and thrust right against the doorposts and broke his spine, which immediately caused his death. The murderer again with downcast eyes seated himself on the ledge. Meanwhile a youth, the son of a widow, coolly proceeded to whet his knife; and when he had got it well sharpened, he sprang up behind the widower and made a long cut on each side of his back; the blood rushed out, and in a few minutes he fell down dead. At this sight they all got infuriated and took to their knives, and a terrible slaughter ensued; the widow and her son, with an adopted daughter were the only ones that remained unhurt; and having made their escape through the window, they went to take up their abode in the storehouse. But subsequently the winter became very severe, and the frost fearfully keen, so that the widow's son at last had to give up hunting, and remain indoors. They had almost finished their stock of provisions, only a few angmagsat (small dried fish) and a small bag with blubber were still left; and accordingly they could not afford to eat their fill every day. Not till supper-time did the widow venture to share out their portions. The son then got two and a half fish, while she herself and her step daughter had one and a half. Owing to this sensible management, they kept alive, though badly enough, and did not altogether starve with hunger, because they always got a morsel of blubber besides. For three succeeding days they went on like this, but on the fourth, the young man disappeared. However, he had only gone out to take a look round from some of the neighbouring heights. In the evening he put his p. 291 weapons and tools to rights, and on the very next day he returned home, dragging an immense white whale with him. The women were transported with joy, and at once began to flense and cut it up; but presently the daughter complained of her feet being so dreadfully cold. This was because the blood of the fish had got into her boots and filled them. Her mother, however, pretended not to heed her, and told her to go on helping her. A little afterwards the girl said that she saw all the mountains double, and then she was ordered to go inside; but the moment she bent down to descend through the entrance, she broke in twain, and was dead on the spot. In the evening the son wrought a spell upon the body of the deceased, and not till then was her mother aware of his being an angakok. They extinguished the lamps and he called forth the spirits, and restored her to life and health. They all remained living together at this place, and he afterwards married his adopted sister. At length they died there without removing to any other place, and without any accidents ever happening to them.