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A NUMBER of brothers always used to have their fixed winter quarters at a certain place, while several of the older ones were married. Niakunguak, one of the younger brothers, had as yet no wife. His disposition p. 363 differed greatly from the others, who were all wild and boisterous. He would never join in any of their noisy pastimes and wanton tricks, although they tried to persuade him to do so. At last he got so weary of their company, that he would stay with them no longer. One morning he did not join them in their day's excursion, but as soon as they were well off, betook himself to his kayak, put out from land, and coasted away south. He travelled on for many days without seeing a human being; and he had fairly given up the hope of falling in with any, when suddenly he was hailed from shore, and at the same time discovered a little bay with many tents pitched round it, and people shouting to him to land. When he reached the beach, he was received by a crowd of men, who welcomed him very civilly, although he did not know any one of them. An old man now invited him to come to his tent. There were only his two daughters inside, but before long it was crowded with visitors, who were all very friendly and pleasant. The visitors having left, the old man said, "In case thou wouldst like one of my daughters, thou mayst choose for thyself." He took the youngest for his wife, and henceforth became the support and provider of the old man. The people there got very fond of him, and liked him for his great modesty; and he, too, felt very happy amongst them. When they assembled for social intercourse, boasting was not heard, nor boisterous manners displayed. When the days lengthened, and seals got scarce, Niakunguak chose his hunting-place at a good distance out. His wife in the meantime had borne him a son; and during his childhood a boat's crew of Southlanders arrived and took up their winter abode among them. It soon appeared that one of the strangers was presumptuous and full of conceit, though Niakunguak in his modesty felt loath to contradict him. One morning after the winter solstice, when the cold was very severe, Niakunguak p. 364 was the only man of the place who thought of starting. The bragging stranger, on seeing this, offered to go with him; and both put out to sea in quest of seals. Meantime the wind increased; but Niakunguak, nothing daunted, lanced his seal, hoping that his companion would come and help him to kill the animal. However, he showed no such intention, but had already turned homewards, frightened at the fury of the gale. Niakunguak made his seal fast to the tug-line, but did not return till he had got another. Meantime his companion had gained the shore, where Niakunguak's little son was standing on the beach gazing out upon the heaving sea, on the look-out for his father. The boy at once inquired about his father, having seen them go out together; but the other one answered, "Thou mayst as well go home; thy silly father will never return; there is no kayaking in such weather." The boy entered the house, and there kept tranquil and silent—he was already of an age to understand the ways of mourning—but the other men still kept outside the house on the look-out for Niakunguak's kayak. The opening of the bay was a very narrow one, and consequently a mass of foaming surf. Towards evening they espied two little black spots upon the white foam; these were his seals with the spears still sticking in them, and tossed along by the breakers setting in upon the shore. A third black spot on the surf appeared to be himself, carried quickly on across the heavy seas. Having got on shore and reached his house, his son told him what the other man had said—that no kayak could live in such a sea; and the father replied, "In such a sea and such weather one might go out even in a very poor kayak." When the briskets were boiled, the men were invited to partake of the meal; and when the dish was ready served, and the guests all assembled, Niakunguak during a pause remarked, "When I had harpooned my second seal, I looked about in vain for a kayaker to assist me in p. 365 securing it." Later on the guests grew talkative, and all passed the evening pleasantly, excepting his companion of the morning, who never spoke a word. When the days grew still longer, and there were no seals to be had, the men entertained themselves with ball-playing. Once there was a general calling for Niakunguak to come and join the ball-players. Though not disposed to do so, he at once obeyed their summons, but only went to look on at some distance. While occupied in watching the ball-players, and standing modestly with one arm drawn out of the sleeve of his jacket, the other kayaker owing him a grudge now approached, and threw him down. While Niakunguak was rising and shaking the snow from his garments, the men gathered round him, saying, "Is Niakunguak going to stand this?" On hearing this, his antagonist seized hold of Niakunguak, who, seeking no strife, only tried to keep his footing; but finding that the other would not let go his grasp, he was forced to defend himself, and a struggle ensued, ending in favour of Niakunguak, who soon got the better of his adversary, and hurled him to the ground with such force that his bowels burst, and the blood gushed from his mouth. His brothers instantly left off playing, and brought him into the house, where he soon expired. Niakunguak had now, much against his will, made himself enemies; and he told his young son that he ought to mind this, and train himself to endure hardships that he might attain strength and vigour. He should no longer practise lifting and flinging stones, but should try to pull up shrubs and bushes by the root. Afterwards he taught him everything belonging to kayaking. Before long he came to be his father's equal every way, and even in the roughest weather chased the seal far out seawards. Once another party of Southlanders arrived, and among them were two sons of the man whom Niakunguak had formerly killed. They also had been reared to manly exercise in order to promote p. 366 their strength. The strangers were polite and friendly enough, and chose to settle with them for the winter. The equinoctial gales proved very strong that autumn, with much bad weather; and often no kayaking was possible. On such a day Niakunguak with his son and other housemates was invited to the foreigners. They were well received, and afterwards regaled with many dainties; and there was no want of lively talking at the meal. At last there was silence; and during this, one of the two brothers stood forth, and, taking a bit of dried liver (this being exceedingly hard), raised his voice, saying, "I have been told that I have an enemy in Niakunguak." At the same time he tried to crush the piece of liver he held in his hand; but failing to do so, he again put it by. Silence still prevailed, when Niakunguak's son advanced, and, taking up the same bit, crushed it to atoms with his fingers, so that it fell like dust upon the floor. All were utterly amazed, and not a word was spoken. Niakunguak and his relations still felt some suspicion of their enemies; but these departed peaceably as soon as spring came on; and henceforth the Niakunguaks remained undisturbed until their death.