Qalaganguase Who Passed To The Land Of Ghosts
Source: Eskimo Folktales
There was once a boy whose name was Qalaganguase; his parents lived at
a place where the tides were strong. And one day they ate seaweed, and
died of it. Then there was only one sister to look after Qalaganguase,
but it was not long before she also died, and then there were only
strangers to look after him.
Qalaganguase was without strength, the lower part of his body was
dead, and one day when the others had gone out hunting, he was left
alone in the house. He was sitting there quite alone, when suddenly
he heard a sound. Now he was afraid, and with great pains he managed
to drag himself out of the house into the one beside it, and here he
found a hiding-place behind the skin hangings. And while he was in
hiding there, he heard a noise again, and in walked a ghost.
"Ai! There are people here!"
The ghost went over to the water tub and drank, emptying the dipper
"Thanks for the drink which I thirsty one received," said the
ghost. "Thus I was wont to drink when I lived on earth." And then it
Now the boy heard his fellow-villagers coming up and gathering outside
the house, and then they began to crawl in through the passage way.
"Qalaganguase is not here," they said, when they came inside.
"Yes, he is," said the boy. "I hid in here because a ghost came in. It
drank from the water tub there."
And when they went to look at the water tub, they saw that something
had been drinking from it.
Then some time after, it happened again that the people were all out
hunting, and Qalaganguase alone in the place. And there he sat in
the house all alone, when suddenly the walls and frame of the house
began to shake, and next moment a crowd of ghosts came tumbling into
the house, one after the other, and the last was one whom he knew,
for it was his sister, who had died but a little time before.
And now the ghosts sat about on the floor and began playing; they
wrestled, and told stories, and laughed all the time.
At first Qalaganguase was afraid of them, but at last he found it a
pleasant thing to make the night pass. And not until the villagers
could be heard returning did they hasten away.
"Now mind you do not tell tales," said the ghost, "for if you do as we
say, then you will gain strength again, and there will be nothing you
cannot do." And one by one they tumbled out of the passage way. Only
Qalaganguase's sister could hardly get out, and that was because
her brother had been minding her little child, and his touch stayed
her. And the hunters were coming back, and quite close, when she
slipped out. One could just see the shadow of a pair of feet.
"What was that," said one. "It looked like a pair of feet vanishing
"Listen, and I will tell you," said Qalaganguase, who already felt
his strength returning. "The house has been full of people, and they
made the night pass pleasantly for me, and now, they say, I am to
grow strong again."
But hardly had the boy said these words, when the strength slowly
began to leave him.
"Qalaganguase is to be challenged to a singing contest," he heard
them say, as he lay there. And then they tied the boy to the frame
post and let him swing backwards and forwards, as he tried to beat the
drum. After that, they all made ready, and set out for their singing
contest, and left the lame boy behind in the house all alone. And
there he lay all alone, when his mother, who had died long since,
came in with his father.
"Why are you here alone?" they asked.
"I am lame," said the boy, "and when the others went off to a singing
contest, they left me behind."
"Come away with us," said his father and mother.
"It is better so, perhaps," said the boy.
And so they led him out, and bore him away to the land of ghosts,
and so Qalaganguase became a ghost.
And it is said that Qalaganguase became a woman when they changed
him to a ghost. But his fellow-villagers never saw him again.
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