Kumagdlak And The Living Arrows
Source: Eskimo Folktales
Kumagdlak, men say, lived apart from his fellows. He had a wife,
and she was the only living being in the place beside himself.
One day his wife was out looking for stones to build a fireplace,
and looking out over the sea, she saw many enemies approaching.
"An umiak and kayaks," she cried to her husband. And he was ill at
ease on hearing this, for he lay in the house with a bad leg.
"My arrows--bring my arrows!" he cried. And his wife saw that all
his arrows lay there trembling. And that was because their points
were made of the shinbones of men. And they trembled because their
master was ill at ease.
Kumagdlak had made himself arrows, and feathered them with birds'
feathers. He was a great wizard, and by breathing with his own
breath upon those arrows he could give them life, and cause them to
fly towards his enemies and kill them. And when he himself stood
unprotected before the weapons of his enemies, he would grasp the
thong of the pouch in which his mother had carried him as a child,
and strike out with it, and then all arrows aimed at him would fly
wide of their mark.
Now all the enemies hauled up on shore, and the eldest among them
"Kumagdlak! It is time for you to go out and taste the water in the
land of the dead under the earth--or perhaps you will go up into
"That fate is more likely to be yours," answered Kumagdlak.
And standing at the entrance to his tent, he aimed at them with his
bow. If but the first arrow could be sent whirling over the boats,
then he knew that none of them would be able to harm him. He shot his
arrow, and it flew over the boats. Then he aimed at the old man who
had spoken, and that arrow cut through the string of the old man's
bow, and pierced the old man himself. Then he began shooting down the
others, his wife handing him the arrows as he shot. The men from the
boats shot at him, but all their arrows flew wide. And his enemies
grew fewer and fewer, and at last they fled.
And now Kumagdlak took all the bodies down by the shore and plundered
them, taking their knives, and when the boats had got well out to sea,
he called up a great storm, so that all the others perished.
But the waves washed the bodies this way and that along the coast,
until the clothes were worn off them.
Here ends this story.
Next: The Giant Dog
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