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p. 431


[The story here given as having happened in the districts of Holsteinsborg and Sukkertoppen, in Greenland, is perhaps a variant of an older tale, only localised in this way. We give it here in an abridged form.]

IT is said that Kagsuk once had his wintering-place on the Karsit islands, outside of Amerdlok (Holsteinsborg), and that his son married the only sister of some men living at Satok, near Maneetsok (Sukkertoppen). Kagsuk, as well as his son, were powerful and strong men; the former was also a man-slayer, invincible to his enemies. Once, when the son had been out during the day with his brothers-in-law, at evening, when it was growing dark, he had some talk with his wife that ended in a quarrel. Her brothers, fearing his strength, at first kept silence; but soon after, when he gave her a kick, they all went up to him and seized him in order to protect their sister. He tried to appease their wrath, but in vain, and at last they struck him with a knife; but every time he was wounded he only rubbed the place with his hand, and directly it healed, after which he knocked them all down, one after another. From this time, however, he did not trust his brothers-in-law; and once, at dark night, he escaped from the house, leaving his kayak behind, and taking his way across the fast ice to the north, where he stayed a while with some other people, and at length came to the house of his father. When Kagsuk came to know how his son had been treated he got into a great rage. In vain the son tried to persuade him to delay his revenge. "If they have struck thee with a knife," he replied, "we will set out and destroy the people of Satok this very night." And off they went the same day for Satok, and slew the whole p. 432 of them, only sparing a boy and a girl. On returning to Karsit, Kagsuk became a still more desperate murderer. The people of Amerdlok, on becoming aware of this, did not venture themselves far away from the shore. Kagsuk and his son, being both very suspicious, agreed on the following mode of life: If the weather was fine, the son went out kayaking alone, and when the father went out, the son remained at home, unless it happened to blow very hard, in which case, and then only, they went out together. One winter, when the days were beginning to lengthen, two kayakers from Amerdlok, while out seal-hunting, were overtaken by a snowstorm, and could not make out their own land. Bewildered, they came to Kagsuk's house; at seeing which they got very frightened, lest he would kill them. As soon as they saw him come out of his house, and before he could utter a word, they said, "Chance brought us hither, and no intention of visiting you. We lost our way on account of the snow, and could not advance against the storm." Kagsuk asked them to come on shore, adding that, as soon as the weather abated, they might set off for home. On hearing this they were reassured, and entered the house, which was very hot. Kagsuk talked a great deal the whole day; but in the evening, when it was still blowing a gale and snowing as fast as ever, he suddenly became silent. At length he inquired, "Which kayak is he using to-day?" The housemates answered, "The narrow one." Kagsuk then remarked, "I was rather uneasy about him; but if he has taken that kayak I have no fear." Later in the evening there was a cry that he had arrived, tugging a walrus; and when the people whose business it was to haul it up on shore had gone out, Kagsuk said, "They don't intend to stop, but having lost their way, chanced to come in here much against their will." The guests, looking round, then first discovered that he was speaking to his son, who appeared in the entrance, and already had bent his bow and was p. 433 aiming at them, but now drew back, and directly after entered, asking if the guests had been offered something to eat. On hearing that they had as yet had nothing, he ordered different dishes to be set before them, saying he would share the repast with them. They afterwards went to rest, and slept quietly until Kagsuk roused them up, saying that now the weather was fine, they might as well start for their home. At their departure he ordered their kayaks to be filled with provisions, but at the same time added, "Take care that none of your people come hither to visit us, lest we should take their lives." They then pushed off, and arrived safely at their home. But when the people of Amerdlok saw the stores they had brought with them, they were all keen to visit Kagsuk; and notwithstanding their being repeatedly warned by those two chance visitors of what Kagsuk had threatened, several among them would not desist from trying their chance. They went accordingly, but never returned. Among the kayakers lost in this way were the sons of two old men, who were very clever in magic spells. They prepared bows of an arm's length, and having finished these, they said to their place-fellows, "Now we will set out to punish Kagsuk: while ye approach his house from the sea-side, we will come on from behind." Kagsuk had for his amulet a toogdlik (the Great Northern Diver—Colymbus glacialis) perched on the roof of his house, and giving him notice of every impending danger. One day on hearing its cry he went out, and observing the kayakers approaching, he said, "All right; I see you." But at the same moment the two old men, having escaped observation by means of magic spells, came stealing on from behind and shot him dead on the spot. The kayakers, coming on shore, killed all his housemates, with the exception of his son, who happened not to be at home, and afterwards fled to the north.

NOTE.—Some narrators have prolonged the story of Kagsagsuk (No. 1) by making him meet with Kagsuk in the far north, the house of the latter p. 434 being situated on a wide plain, the entrance to it being provided with a string leading into the inner room, and all along hung with a row of pieces of walrus-teeth, for the purpose of announcing the entrance of every stranger by the rattling sound.