Sacred-Texts Native American Inuit
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SEVERAL brothers lived in a large house with five windows. About the time when the youngest of them had grown to manhood, a widow with one beautiful daughter happened to live at a place not far off. The brothers were very kindly disposed towards the widow, and when the youngest had made the daughter his sweetheart they grew still more intimate, and the p. 338 brothers never failed to bring her part of their hunt. Every night the bridegroom used to cross the country to see his bride, but unhappily there lived in that neighbourhood a wicked angakok, a man-slayer, named Inugtujusok. He had made himself a hiding-place by digging out a cave in the snow like those formerly used for fox-trapping. Close by the way on which the young man used to pass on going to his girl, Inugtujusok slyly made his cave, and went to hide himself there in order to waylay or murder him. One evening the young woman accompanied her lover home; when all of a sudden they caught sight of Inugtujusok emerging from the cave. On seeing him armed with a lance, they both took flight, and he pursued them closely, crying out to the girl, "Help me to tire him out; if thou canst not I will kill you both." The girl pitied her lover, but being obliged to help the dreadful angakok she pretended to be pursuing him, and before long he was overtaken and killed. She returned home, and mentioned naught about the matter to her mother. The following morning, however, the brothers all came up to her house, calling out, "Where is our brother?" No reply was made. Again they cried, "Where is our brother?" but again no answer came. At last they tore a hole in the window, and constantly repeating their question, went on to break down the roof. Nor until the mother said, "They have begun to unroof our house, do give them an answer," did she exclaim, "Yesterday, on his return from our house, I accompanied him on the way, and saw him killed by Inugtujusok;" and then she burst into tears. The brothers likewise returned in tears, and filled with hatred towards Inugtujusok. Well knowing that he was a great angakok, they durst not attack him at once, but gradually prepared themselves to defy him. At this time they heard that Inugtujusok intended to leave for the north for fear of his enemies. Inugtujusok travelled all the summer, and did not p. 339 settle down till late in the autumn, in the far north. There he got a son, whom he brought up with great care; saying, "That since they had many enemies he ought not to grow up a good-for-nothing." When he was full-grown he was so clever and dexterous that he could catch the very tikagugdlik (beaked whale, Balænoptera rostrata) with nothing but the ordinary kayak tools. When he had attained to his perfection, and could not be conquered by mere human beings, they remained no longer where they were, but travelled back to the south. The brothers had not meanwhile left their abode; but hearing that their enemy was drawing nigh they went on to meet him half-way. One had furnished himself with a girdle of whalebone three fingers wide; he had first made it out of the skin of a thong-seal, and tried to burst it open by pressing back his breath, but this was not nearly strong enough; and then he proceeded to make the one of whalebone, as much tougher. This man was thought the hardiest and strongest of all the brothers. While they had gone to lie in wait for him on the islands outside the country, Inugtujusok and his son happened to set off in their boat, but on seeing their enemies they would not go back there, but went to the place where the brothers had formerly lived. Having passed the night, they loaded their boat in order to proceed on their journey. In the meantime the brothers had also loaded their boat, ready to pursue them as fast as possible. Discovering their intention, lnugtujusok did not proceed, but returned to his former quarters; and the brothers said, "Let us rather remain where we are, that we may not frighten them away." Winter had now set in, and a little daughter belonging to one of the brothers was taken very ill. They now advised "Let us call in the angakok Inugtujusok that be may come and try his art upon her; and when he has done we will of course put him to death." An old bachelor who lived in the house with them was now sent off on this errand; p. 340 and when he had brought his message to Inugtujusok, the angakok answered, "Well, let it be so." His son was away at the time; but he was beginning to think that in the course of time their feelings had probably softened, and their thoughts of revenge been given up. He was himself beginning to grow old, and he accompanied the bachelor back. On entering, the brothers cried, "Poor thing, thou art getting rather aged!" "I am so," he answered; and this was all he spoke. They treated him to a good meal, and in the evening the invocation commenced; and soon they agreed that the little girl improved at once, The brothers thanked him, saying, "Thou mayst sleep without fear, and go back to-morrow." When he awoke and found himself all alone he suspected evil, and started up. On raising his head in stepping over the door-sill of the outer entrance, he encountered a man standing close by, who accosted him, saying, "It is very fine weather, but it is only daybreak, and rather dark yet." On hearing these words he trembled. After speaking, the man, though not he with the strong girdle, struck him on the head, and almost stunned him, upon which the others rushed in upon him, beating him so that his head was bruised, and the brain gushed forth. The next morning the son of Inugtujusok came on, ready for them. He was taking such strokes with his oars that the prow of his kayak rose right out of the water, and he exclaimed, "I suppose ye have done for him!" They made answer from land, "If thou venturest to approach this place we shall send thee straight after him." At these words he rushed on in a great passion; but they stood ready to receive and shake him off. Finding it quite impossible to get on shore he at length gave it up, and wheeled round, crying, "To-morrow ye shall be my spoil!" The old bachelor, however, warned him, saying, "Thou hadst better give it up, and leave thy father alone. He was only paid back according to his deserts, being himself a p. 341 man-slayer." And the son of Inugtujusok responded, "Let it be as thou proposest; perhaps I shall only get new foes if I carry out my thoughts of vengeance. People seeming to have no relatives, when they get enemies generally have some relations (viz., avengers) turning up." And report says that in this manner they were reconciled.