Sacred-Texts Native American Inuit
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TWO men were living together, each of them having a son. When the young men were beginning to provide for them, the old ones resolved to abandon hunting altogether, and gave themselves up to their ease and comfort. One of them, who most valued a life of idleness and ease, soon got rid of all his tools and implements, while the other one had still a few left. Their sons used both to start in the morning as well as to return together at night; and they were accustomed to brave the fiercest gales, so that the parents were never alarmed on their account. Nevertheless, one day when they had left with fair weather in the morning, they happened not to return as usual in the evening. The reason was that they had fallen in with a man of more than common strength, well known in those parts as a formidable man-slayer, and he had killed them both. Under these circumstances, the old men had again to take to their kayaks; but as one of them had no hunting-tools, he made a bird-javelin, the point of which he fashioned out of a sharp-edged piece of bone, for want of iron; and for the point of his lance, having p. 331 nothing better, he used the rib of a seal. Their preparations made, they said to one another, "We may as well run the risk and be off; we are not of much account anyhow." Early the next morning they set off in their kayaks, and soon lost sight of the outermost islands; turning more to the north, they took care to keep right in the glittering sunshine, that they might not so easily be perceived. After a little while they detected an almost giant-like kayaker hunting to the north of them. They quickly paddled up to him, all the time keeping in the sun. While he was stooping down, resting on his paddle, they had recourse to charms, and hoped by this means to get the better of him. When they had got still closer, the one that had no weapons said to his companion, "When thou thinkest him to be within thy aim, lose no time in thrusting thy harpoon at him: if he sees us beforehand he will be sure to catch us both." At these words the other rushed forward and lifted his harpoon. His companion thought he was going to throw it, but while he was in the act of so doing, he took fright and whispered, "Where? where? when?" At length, however, he did fling the harpoon; but in the meantime the murderer had heard the noise, and as he was turning round to look for the cause, the other missed him, only hitting the kayak. On this his companion exclaimed, "Did not I tell thee to be quick lest he should forestall thee and make us both his prey? Now look well after thy bladder." The other merely replied, "Now is thy turn; lance thy javelin into him." It cleft the air with a whizzing sound, and though it first went beyond him, it quickly rebounded and struck the manslayer on the crown of his head with a crack. He was seen to stagger and fall over on one side; and now the first kayaker launched his spear at him, and another splash was heard. When they had thus killed him between them, they examined his body and found that the javelin with the bone point had killed him p. 332 without even penetrating as far as the barbs. They now thought, "If we leave him here his relatives will know nothing of him; let us rather bring him to the coast." Tying him to their kayaks, they tugged him to the shore, where they soon discovered his house near the beach, and saw a person emerge from it, who, shading her eyes with her hands, took a survey of the sea, and then re-entered. This person was the daughter of the strong man, who, not expecting any other kayak, was only on the look-out for her father. She soon came out again, and seemed greatly astonished that the strange kayakers had already gained the coast. They now called out to her, "This is only what thou mightst expect. He killed our sons, and we have paid him back in the same manner." She remained quite motionless for some time; but at last she said in a low voice, "You are in the right; it is only what he deserved:" but she briskly added, "Ye ought to come up and visit our house." She could not help wondering that those two wretches had been able to conquer her powerful father. When she went on urging them to come up, and herself came further down the beach to welcome them, one whispered to the other, "Since the father was so fearfully strong, the daughter, no doubt, is not less so, so don't go." Though they had already started, she followed them running along the water-side, still beseeching them to come. But the old men were only the more afraid of her; and though they had made a great distance from the shore, they could still see how she undressed herself, first taking off her jacket, then her boots, and at last her breeches, and seated herself thus naked on the water-edge. One of the old men seeing this, thought it good fun, and wanted to go back to her; but his companion rebuked him saying, "What is it thou art about? She will be sure to take thy life if thou goest." He gave up his intention, and having put further out to sea, they once more looked round and p. 333 saw the woman jump up and run up to the house without ever minding her clothes. The second kayaker now remarked, "Being so strong, she will very likely pursue us in her boat;" and he was not mistaken. Immediately they saw her creeping down beneath the boat, intending to carry it down on her back; and they could still hear her gnashing her teeth, calling out, "Would I could kill them both like this!" at the same time crushing a piece of wood to atoms between her fingers. They at length lost sight of her. At home they related how they had despatched the well-known murderer; and their mind was somewhat relieved by having had their revenge.