Source: Eskimo Folktales
Kanagssuaq, men say, went out from his own place to live on a little
island, and there took to wife the only sister of many brothers. And
while he lived there with her, it happened once that the cold became so
great that the sea between the islands was icebound, and they could no
longer go out hunting. At last they had used up their store of food,
and when that store of food was used up, and none of them could go
out hunting, they all remained lying down from hunger and weakness.
Once, when there was open water to the south, where they often caught
seal, Kanagssuaq took his kayak on his head and went out hunting. He
rowed out in a northerly wind, with snow falling, and a heavy sea. And
soon he came upon a number of black seal. He rowed towards them, to
get within striking distance, but struck only a little fjord seal,
which came up between him and the others. This one was easier to cut
up, he said.
Now when he had got this seal, he took his kayak on his head again
and went home across the ice. And his house-fellows shouted for joy
when they saw the little creature he sent sliding in. Next day he
went out again, and caught two black seal, and after that, he never
went out without bringing home something.
The north wind continued, and the snow and the cold continued. When he
lay out waiting for seal, as was now his custom, he often wished that
he might meet with Kiliteraq, the great hunter from another place,
who was the only one that would venture out in such weather. But this
did not come about.
But now there was great dearth of food also in the place where
Kiliteraq lived. And therefore Kiliteraq took his kayak on his
head and went out across the ice to hunt seal. And coming some way,
he sighted Kanagssuaq, who had already made his catch, and was just
getting his tow-line out. As soon as he came up, Kanagssuaq cut away
the whole of the belly skin and gave to him. And Kiliteraq felt now
a great desire for blubber, and took some good big pieces to chew.
And while he lay there, some black seal came up, and Kanagssuaq said:
"Row in to where they are."
And he rowed in to them and harpooned one, and killed it on the spot
with that one stroke. He took his bladder float, to make a tow-line
fast, and wound up the harpoon line, but before he had come to the
middle, a breaking wave came rolling down on him. And it broke over
him, and it seemed indeed as if there were no kayak there at all, so
utterly was it hidden by that breaking wave. Then at last the bladder
showed up behind the kayak, and a little after, the kayak itself came
up, with the paddles held in a balancing position. Now for the second
time he took his bladder and line, and just as he came to the place
where the tow-line is made fast, there came another wave and washed
over him so that he disappeared. And then he came up a second time,
and as he came up, he said:
"I am now so far out that I cannot make my tow-line fast. Will you
do this for me?"
And then Kanagssuaq made his tow-line fast, and as soon as he had
taken the seal in tow, he rowed away in the thickly falling snow, and
was soon lost to sight. When he came home, his many comrades in the
village were filled with great thankfulness towards him. And thereafter
it was as before; that he never came home without some catch.
A few days later, they awoke and saw that the snow was not falling
near them now, but only far away on the horizon. And after that
the weather became fine again. And when the spring came, they began
hunting guillemots; driving them together in flocks and killing them
so. This they did at that time.
And now one day they had sent their bird arrows showering down among
the birds, and were busy placing the killed ones together in the
kayaks. And then suddenly a kayak came in sight on the sunny side. And
when that stranger came nearer, they looked eagerly to see who it might
be. And when Kiliteraq came nearer--for it was Kiliteraq who came--he
looked round among the kayaks, and when he saw that Kanagssuaq was
among them, he thrust his way through and came close up to him, and
stuck his paddle in between the thongs on Kanagssuaq's kayak, and then
loosened the skin over the opening of his own kayak, and put his hand
in behind, and drew out a splendid tow-line made of walrus hide and
beautifully worked with many beads of walrus tooth. And a second time
he put in his hand, and took out now a piece of bearskin fashioned to
the seat of a kayak. And these things he gave to Kanagssuaq, and said:
"Once in the spring, when I could not make my tow-line fast to a seal,
you helped me, and made it fast. Here is that which shall thank you
for that service."
And then he rowed away.
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