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p. 389


[A tale from South Greenland.]

AN angakok, who used to have his winter station a little north of Kakortok (Julianehaab), took a fancy to go and discover a nice and delightful country; and starting for his journey, he came to Nook (Godthaab). He had a daughter called Kakamak, and a son besides. From Nook they went farther on to Pisugfik, and met another angakok, named Kajuernek, who was the only person that had been far to the north. On being questioned concerning these parts, he answered, "Indeed all the country northwards is very fine, but no other part of it can be compared with Ilulissat" (Jakobshavn). On hearing this, the Southlander at once started, and after a long journey at length landed on the coast at Ilulissat, when the earth was already becoming hard with frost, in consequence of which they had great trouble in getting their house built; and being hardly able to manage the frozen turf, they made their house very small. During their stay at this place, a fine young man courted Kakamak, without the knowledge of her parents. Her brother's wife was a very modest and timid person; but Kakamak, on the contrary, was proud and presumptuous, and often abused her sister-in-law, who, however, did not mind her scolding, and her parents likewise let her have her own way, and never interfered. But one day another woman of the place told Kakamak's mother that her daughter was secretly married to the young man: the mother told it to her husband when they had gone to rest in the evening. On this the angakok at once had his boat put out, and everything p. 390 prepared for departing; and when so far ready, he ordered his daughter into the boat. People thought that he was only going on some excursion, but in reality he was quite resolved on going back to the south. The young man now stepped forward, saying, "Kakamak is mine, and I want her;" but her father replied, "No man shall ever have my daughter; and if any one should dare to take her by force, I shall be sure to fetch her back." So saying, he pushed from land; and travelling on incessantly, they at length came to a little island called Alangok, where, for the first time, they pitched their tent. In this place Kakamak secretly gave birth to a child, which she afterwards killed. Proceeding further, they came to a place just opposite Nook, where they built their house for the coming winter.

In his excursions here the angakok used to meet with a little manly kayaker, to whom he proposed to marry Kakamak. The other answered, "I am willing enough, but the women are always telling me that I am dark-skinned." The angakok did not mind that the least, but led him home to his daughter, saying, "Thou art a vain and frivolous girl, and thou hast great need of a good provider and husband, and such a one I have brought thee now." Kakamak made no reply to this, but did not reject him, and so he became her husband. One day he returned, bringing home three seals; but when he went to sit down beside her, without offering her any tobacco, she pushed him away, so that he fell down on the floor; rising quickly, he took his seat on the side ledge. Kakamak was exceedingly fond of snuff; and when he came to know of her inclination, he sometimes brought his goods to Nook to barter them for tobacco. Subsequently Kakamak got a son, whereat the grandfather rejoiced extremely; but one day, when the little one was running about and playing on the floor, he suddenly gave a loud shriek, the blood gushed out of his mouth and nostrils, and he was soon dead. p. 391 They had another son, who died about the same age, and in the same manner; and when the same misfortune befell a third, the angakok tried a conjuration. Not being able to find out anything about it, he said, "Perhaps we are too near akin: let Kajuernek be called;" and they at once started with a boat for him. In the evening, when the conjuration was performed, he said, "When the children died the sister-in-law of Kakamak always reproached her as being guilty of a crime, and having an anghiak (ghost of a child) who had killed the children." The sister-in-law did not utter a word in reply. Continuing his conjurations, he farther pronounced, "I see a kayak approaching from the north; it has the shape of a dog's head; it draws nigh; now it is in the doorway, but it cannot get through the inner entrance." The angakok now asked, "Who was thy sack?" (pôĸ, in the angakok language the same as mother.) All listening in silence, they heard an infant's voice replying, "Kakamak."—"Where is thy home?"—"I was born on the island of Alangok; it is I who have caused the death of all my younger brothers." Kajuernek ordered the anghiak to pass the threshold. It was very long in doing so; but having at length entered, he pursued it, hoping to get it destroyed. It was now seen also by the other angakok, but slipped away through a hole near one of the roof-beams. Kajuernek said, "It is difficult to get it, because it has already killed several individuals." The conjurations having terminated, they found Kakamak sitting coiled up in the farthest corner of the ledge all tears. Seeing her thus, the sister-in-law, mindful of all the bad language she had to put up with from Kakamak, took to rebuking and scolding her in turn. The following day Kajuernek tried to catch hold of the anghiak, but in vain; it made its escape through a small opening just as the day before, in consequence of which he was obliged to give it up. Kakamak now grew meek and more submissive; p. 392 but her father, being greatly depressed in spirits, determined to leave for another place; and choosing Niakungunak, they went to settle there along with another family, consisting of many brothers. Towards winter they all joined company, went out deer-hunting, and killed a great many animals with bows and arrows; but his son having the greatest luck in shooting, the others got envious and killed him out of jealousy. The angakok took the loss of his son so much to heart, that he at once returned to Nook, where he remained till the day of his death.