Sacred-Texts Native American Inuit
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ATAITSIAK was a very celebrated angakok, who had his hunting-place close to his abode, and he used to frequent it all by himself. If he ever wanted company he used to invoke some of his tornaks belonging to the ingnersuit, and they always came at his call. One day he had just harpooned a seal, and was about to slacken the line, when suddenly the seal gave a pull which capsized his kayak, throwing him headlong out of it; and he could barely keep his head above the water by taking hold of the line. It was not till he began to grow stiff with cold that he thought of calling his tornaks. No sooner had he done so than they appeared, coming from the shore in their kayaks. The foremost called out to the others, "Quick, or he may be drawn down; make haste!" When the first was taking hold of his kayak he perceived that he was already lifted up, and when the others came up he saw that the kayak was emptied of the sea-water, whilst others supported his weak limbs. They then replaced him in his kayak, giving him dry warm clothes. Being well propped up, he noticed that his seal and kayak p. 371 were being towed along by the others, and that they carried him out seawards. They soon saw a great new land, and the oldest said, "Take care that the blood of the seal does not drop to earth; for in that case he will never see his home again." When they were near enough to hear what was said ashore, they heard people cry that a dolphin was probably caught; to which they answered, that they were only bringing their old angakok. Having got him inside, all the lamps were lighted. They first laid him naked down on the floor, and covered him well up; and after a while he again recovered his lost senses, and began to walk. In the evening they served all kind of victuals before him. During the meal he noticed a poor young man, who was very ill, lying down on the ledge. The oldest among them said, "A most distressing case with the lad yonder; he is failing fast. When he chased the reindeer in the autumn we feasted and were well off; he was equally clever at stalking deer and chasing white whales; and even in the worst season was always lucky; will you examine his case tonight? there must be something particular the matter with him, preventing his recovery." He said he would fain do it; but as he was going to set about it, he noticed the sick man's aunt (viz., her soul or ghost, she being a witch) going close up to him in order to touch him. On seeing this he said, "It would be an easy matter, and he would look to it the day after." When he began his conjurations the following night he saw the woman approaching still nearer to the sick youth, and then said, "In the practice of my art I must speak the truth; it is the woman there that does him the mischief." They cried with one voice, "Take her, do take her away." But Ataitsiak replied, "I must first question her." The base woman now explained, "Whenever he returned from the hunt, he used to supply me abundantly with sundry good things; but the last time he was out, though he brought home deer as well as dolphins, and p. 372 was in the highest expectation, he never gave me a bit. From that day I determined to blast and wither him, and but for thee I would have touched him now." Ataitsiak turned to the others, saying, "If you really want the young man to recover I must slay her; but mind you hold the harpoon-strings fast." He was about to hit her, but as long as she looked at him he could not conquer her. As soon, however, as she turned to the wall, he thrust at her, and a loud cracking noise ensued; but she, having watched him sharply, as soon as he moved, let herself down beneath the floor, and the harpoon only caught the sole of her foot. She went dragging the line down with her, so that the men with all their strength could hardly stop her. One after another they let go their hold. At last there was only one man at the line when Ataitsiak was happily in time to help him; and catching hold of a bit of bone, made fast to the line, he entirely stopped it. After a while he said, "Now go and see how his aunt is." She lived in a little house close by. They returned and reported that she lay on her couch with a bleeding foot. On the ensuing morning Ataitsiak went back to his home loaded with gifts. His family had not as yet given him up, being assured he would return before the three days were over. One day, at a later period, when he happened to be out in his hunting-ground, a great many kayakers were seen approaching, and first among them was the sick young man whom he had restored to health, bringing many gifts for Ataitsiak, and at the same time reporting that his aunt, the base old hag, had died.