Sacred-Texts Native American Inuit
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p. 373


ON the isle of Umanak in the Isortok firth (South Greenland) lived a very strong man, besides a great many other people. He gained great fame from his extraordinary strength, and was likewise considered a first-rate hunter and skilled angakok. He was in fact a principal provider for the whole place, and their angakok into the bargain. He used to take his little son on his knee when conjuring, in order to teach him his art. The people themselves had no lack of good hunting off the coast in the autumn season; but after the winter solstice the angakok used to roam about on the open sea all by himself, and when he had caught a couple of big seals, he used to put them upon his kayak, one in front and the other behind (viz., instead of towing them), making them fast with his harpoon-line. Before the sun had gone round to the west he was sure to have reached home with his two seals; and then lost no time in ordering the women to cook the briskets. When the meal was served, the men sat down to it, and generally the angakok started the conversation by saying, "I was again caught in a heavy snowstorm from the north." This seemed very strange, for on shore the weather had been fine, and far away seawards only a small mist-band had been noticed. Being a man of such rare qualities, he naturally wished his son to come up to his own standard, and carefully trained him with this view. When full grown the son also would go far out to sea in all weathers, and bring big seals home with him. From that time the father grew quite easy about him, and occasionally remained at home himself, though perfectly hale and hearty. Once in the long days the son p. 374 had started by himself, and at night the father in vain expected his return. The next morning at daybreak he set out in search of him. When so far from land that the southern islands looked quite dim and shadowy, he heard a voice calling out "Eek!" On hearing this strange voice, which he soon knew did not belong to any of his countrymen, he hastened on southwards, steering towards the sun; and in a little while he suddenly stopped short, again hearing a voice shouting "Where?" Soon after he came in sight of an immense kayak, and on nearing it found it to be a kayariak (fabulous kayaker). The huge kayaker had a paddle with only one blade, which he plied vigorously by shifting it alternately from one side of the kayak to the other. Approaching him from behind, he discovered one of his son's arms lashed on to the after-part of the kayariak. At this sight he got into such a rage that he instantly darted his harpoon and killed the kayaker. Having drawn out the harpoon, whose point was the length of half an arm, he kayaked still further along, until he heard the former cry repeated. He answered it, and continuing his way soon fell in with another kayaker, who carried the second arm of his son, aft on his kayak. Having killed him also, he stood out to sea, till the high mountains of his own country were almost lost to sight. He again heard a deep rough voice, belonging to a similar kayaker, who was the father of the two he had already killed. The weather being calm, with a swell from the south-west, he put in his oar, and having secured it by means of the kayak-line, drifted along, steering only with his hands. Approaching the great kayaker thus, he discovered his son's body behind him on his kayak. He did not throw his lance, but rowed right in upon him, and kept alongside of him by hooking his oar into the stranger's kayak-straps. This somewhat startled the former, and he was heard to exclaim, "Where are those whom I am seeking?" and then the angakok understood of whom he was speaking. p. 375 Turning landwards, they soon fell in with one kayak, floating bottom up. The angakok now inquired, "Canst thou revive him there?" To this the kayariak rejoined, "Why, yes, I could;" and lifting the wounded man up he merely touched him, and brought him to life again. Then they reached the next, and the father did the same to him. Being now four in number, the angakok went on, "Perhaps ye would not mind making him alive too whom ye have got there on your kayak." The other replied, "It might be done if a fitting place can be found to manage it properly." On reaching a piece of floating ice they landed upon it, and when the kayariak had joined the severed limbs together, and had revived him that had been slain, the father said, "What is to be done next? he has got no kayak; can't we have the loan of one of those?" "Well, take it, but be sure ye bring it back immediately, and when ye land do not let any one look into it." The angakok now returned with his son, who found his kayak such a size that he went down into it to the pit of his arms. On reaching land he cried out that no one must look down into the big kayak. But one unbeliever among their placemates did so, in consequence of which the son of the angakok who had made use of it grew lame in his legs. The unbeliever also was found close by, having been frightened to death at something he had seen inside the big kayak. Meantime the angakok brought the kayak back to the big man, who stood waiting for him on the ice. The sons now both descended into their kayaks, but the father remained a while, and first took a general view of the whole horizon, and then producing a small pipe he had hidden in his own boat, he blew it successively towards the four quarters of the horizon, and then repaired to his boat. When the angakok left them the weather was fine and calm, but he was hardly off before clouds arose, the sky became overcast, and all of a sudden a heavy gale was blowing. The wind rushing on from different p. 376 quarters almost prevented his making the land. However, he went ahead undauntedly, having a first-rate kayak covered with skins, joined together lengthways. When the storm abated, and the stars again shone out, a high land became visible, which he recognised to be Akilinek, on the shore opposite his own. He was again caught in a tempest; but this having also subsided, he landed at the southernmost point of our country (Cape Farewell), and finally reached his own home, where his family had long believed him dead.