Source: Eskimo Folktales
A strong man had land at Ikerssuaq. The only other one there was an
old man, one who lived on nothing but devil-fish; when the strong man
had caught more than he needed, the old man had always plenty of meat,
which was given him in exchange for his fish.
The strong one, men say, he who never failed to catch seal when
he went out hunting, became silent as time went on, and then very
silent. And this no doubt was because he could get no children.
The old one was a wizard, and one day the strong one came to him
"To-morrow, when my wife comes down to the shore close by where you
are fishing, go to her. For this I will give you something of my
catch each day."
And this no doubt was because he wanted his wife to have a child,
for he wished greatly to have a child, and could not bring it about.
The old man did not forget those words which were said to him.
And to his wife also, the strong one said:
"To-morrow, when the old one is out fishing, go you down finely
dressed, to the shore close by."
And she did it as he had said. When they had slept and again awakened,
she watched to see when the old one went out. And when he rowed
away, she put on her finest clothes and followed after him along the
shore. When she came in sight of him, he lay out there fishing. Then
eagerly she stood up on the shore, and looked out towards him. And
now he looked at her, and then again out over the sea, and this went
on for a long time. She stood there a long time in vain, looking out
towards him, but he would not come in to where she was, and therefore
she went home. As soon as she had come home, her husband rowed up to
the old one, and asked:
"Did you not go to my wife to-day?"
The old one said:
And again the strong one said a second time:
"Then do not fail to go to her to-morrow."
But when the old one came home, he could not forget the strong man's
words. In the evening, the strong one said that same thing again to
his wife, and a second time told her to go to the old one.
They slept, and awakened, and the strong man went out hunting as was
his wont. Then his wife waited only until the old one had gone out,
and as soon as he was gone, she put on her finest clothes and followed
after. When she came in sight of the water, the old one was sitting
there in his boat as on the other days, and fishing. Now the old
one turned his head and saw her, and he could see that she was even
more finely dressed than on the day before. And now a great desire
of her came over him, and he made up his mind to row in to where she
was. He came in to the land, and stepped out of his kayak and went
up to her. And now he went to her this time.
Then he rowed out again, but he caught scarcely any fish that day.
When only a little time had gone, the strong man came rowing out to
him and said:
"Now perhaps you have again failed to go to my wife?"
When these words were spoken, the old one turned his head away,
"To-day I have not failed to be with her."
When the strong one heard this, he took one of the seals he had caught,
and gave it to the old man, and said:
"Take this; it is yours."
And in this way he acted towards him from that time. The old one came
home that day dragging a seal behind him. And this he could often
When the strong one came home, he said to his wife:
"When I go out to-morrow in my kayak, it is not to hunt seal; therefore
watch carefully for my return when the sun is in the west."
Next day he went out in his kayak, and when the sun was in the west,
his wife went often and often to look out. And once when she went
thus, she saw that he had come, and from that moment she was no
As the strong one came nearer and nearer to land, he paddled more
and more strongly.
Now his wife went down to that place where he was about to land,
and turned and sat down with her back to the sea. The man unfastened
his hunting fur from the ring of his kayak, and put his hand into the
back of the kayak, and took out a sea serpent, and struck his wife
on the back. At this she felt very cold, and her skin smarted. Then
she stood up and went home. But her husband said no word to her. Then
they slept, and awakened, and then the old one came to them and said:
"Now you must search for the carrion of a cormorant, with only the
skeleton remaining, for your wife is with child."
And the strong one went out eagerly to search for this.
One day, paddling southward in his kayak, as was his custom, he started
to search all the little bird cliffs. And coming to the foot of one of
them, he saw that which he so greatly wished to see; the carrion of
a big cormorant, which had now become a skeleton. It lay there quite
easy to see. But there was no way of coming to the place where it
was, not from above nor from below, nor from the side. Yet he would
try. He tied his hunting line fast to the cross thongs on his kayak,
and thrust his hand into a small crack a little way up the cliff. And
now he tried to climb up there with his hands alone. And at last he
got that skeleton, and came down in the same way back to his kayak,
and got into it, and rowed away northward to his home. And almost
before he had reached land, the old one came to him, and the cormorant
skeleton was taken out of the kayak. Now the old one trembled all over
with surprise. And he took the skeleton, and put it away, and said:
"Now you must search for a soft stone, which has never felt the sun,
a stone good to make a lamp of."
And the strong man began to search for such a stone.
Once when he was on this search, he came to a cliff, which stood in
such a place that it never felt the sun, and here he found a fine lamp
stone. And he brought it home, and the old one took it and put it away.
A few days passed, and then the strong one's wife began to feel
the birth-pangs, and the old one went in there at once with his own
wife. Then she bore a son, and when he was born, the strong man said
to the old one:
"This is your child; name him after some dead one." 
"Let him be named after him who died of hunger in the north,
This the old one said. And then he said:
"His name shall be Qujavarssuk!"
And in this way the old one gave him that name.
Now Qujavarssuk grew up, and when he was grown big enough, the strong
man said to the old one:
"Make a kayak for him."
Now the old one made him a kayak, and the kayak was finished. And when
it was finished, he took it by the nose and thrust him out into the
water to try it, but without loosing his hold. And when he did this,
there came one little seal up out of the water, and others also. This
was a sign that he should be a strong man, a chief, when the seals
came to him so. When he drew him out of the water, they all went down
again, and not a seal remained.
Now the old one began to make hunting things. When they were finished,
and there was nothing more to be done in making them, and he thought
the boy was of a good age to begin going out to hunt seal, he said
to the strong one:
"Now row out with him, for he must go seal hunting."
Then he rowed out with him, and when they had come so far out that
they could not see the bottom, he said:
"Take the harpoon point with its line, and fix it on the shaft."
They had just made things ready for their hunting and rowed on farther,
when they came to a flock of black seal.
The strong one said to him:
"Now row straight at them."
And then he rowed straight at them, and he lifted his harpoon and he
threw it and he struck. And this he did every day in the same manner,
and made a catch each time he went out in his kayak.
Then some people who had made a wintering place in the south heard,
in a time of hunger, of Qujavarssuk, the strong man who never suffered
want. And when they heard this, they began to come and visit the
place where he had land. In this way there came once a man who was
called Tugto, and his wife. And while they were there--they were both
great wizards--the man and his wife began to quarrel, and so the wife
ran away to live alone in the hills. And now the man could not bring
back his wife, for he was not so great a wizard as she. And when the
people who had come to visit the place went away, he could do nothing
but stay there.
One day when he was out hunting seal at Ikerssuaq, he saw a big black
seal which came up from the bottom with a red fish in its mouth.
Now he took bearings by the cliffs of the place where the seal went
down, and after that time, when he was out in his kayak, he took up
all the bird wings that he saw, and fastened all the pinion feathers
Tugto was a big man, yet he had taken up so much of this that it
was a hard matter for him to carry it when he took it on his back,
and then he thought it must be enough for that depth of water.
At last the ice lay firm, and when the ice lay firm, he began to make
things ready to go out and fish. One morning he woke, and went away
over land. He came to a lake, and walked over it, and came again
on to the land. And thus he came to the place where lay that water
he was going to fish, and he went out on the ice while it was still
morning. Then he cut a great hole in the ice, and just as he cast out
the weight on his line, the sun came up. It came quite out, and went
across the sky, all in the time he was letting out his line. And not
until the sun had gone half through the day did the weight reach the
bottom. Then he hauled up the line a little way, and almost before it
was still, he felt a pull. And he hauled it up, and it was a mighty sea
perch. This he killed, but did not let down his line a second time,
for in that way it would become evening. He cut a hole in the lower
jaw of the fish, and put in a cord to carry it with. And when he took
it on his head, it was so long that the tail struck against his heel.
Then in this manner he walked away, and came to land. When he came
to the big lake he had walked over in the morning, he went out on
it. But when he had come half the way over, the ice began to make a
noise, and when he looked round, it seemed to him that the noise in
the ice was following him from behind.
Now he went away running, but as he ran he fainted suddenly away, and
lay a long time so. When he woke again, he was lying down. He thought
a little, and then he remembered. "Au: I am running away!" And then
he got up and turned round, but could not find a break in the ice
anywhere. But he could feel in himself that he had now become a much
greater wizard than before.
He went on farther, and chose his way up over a little hilly slope,
and when he could see clearly ahead, he perceived a mighty beast.
It was one of those monsters which men saw in the old far-off times,
quite covered with bird-skins. And it was so big that not a twitch of
life could be seen in it. He was afraid now, and turned round, until
he could no longer see it. Then he left that way, and came out into
another place, where he saw another looking just the same. He now went
back again in such a manner that it could not find him, but then he
remembered that a wizard can win power to vanish away, even to vanish
into the ground, if he can pull to pieces the skin of such a monster.
When his thoughts had begun to work upon this, he threw away his
burden and went towards it and began to wrestle with it. And it was
not a long time before he began to tear its covering in pieces; the
flesh on it was not bigger than a thumb. Then he went away from it,
and took up his burden again on his head, and went wandering on. When
he was again going along homewards, he felt in himself that he had
become a great wizard, and he could see the door openings of all the
villages in that countryside quite close together.
And when he came home, he caused these words to be said:
"Let the people come and hear."
And now many people came hurrying into the house. And he began calling
up spirits. And in this calling he raised himself up and flew away
towards his wife.
And when he came near her in his spirit flight, and hovered above
her, she was sitting sewing. He went straight down through the roof,
and when she tried to escape through the floor he did likewise,
and reached her in the earth. After this, she was very willing when
he tried to take her home with him, and he took her home with him,
and now he had his wife again, and those two people lived together
until they were very old.
One winter, the frost came, and was very hard and the sea was frozen,
and only a little opening was left, far out over the ice. And hither
Qujavarssuk was forced to carry his kayak each day, out to the open
water, but each day he caught two seals, as was his custom.
And then, as often happens in time of dearth, there came many poor
people wandering over the ice, from the south, wishing to get some
good thing of all that Qujavarssuk caught. Once there came also two
old men, and they were his mother's kinsmen. They came on a visit. And
when they came, his mother said to them:
"Now you have come before I have got anything cooked. It is true that
I have something from the cooking of yesterday; eat that if you will,
while I cook something now." Then she set before them the kidney
part of a black seal, with its own blubber as dripping. Now one of
the two old men began eating, and went on eagerly, dipping the meat
in the dripping. But the other stopped eating very soon.
Then Qujavarssuk came home, as was his custom, with two seals, and
said to his mother:
"Take the breast part and boil it quickly."
For this was the best part of the seal. And she boiled it, and it
was done in a moment. And then she set it on a dish and brought it
to those two.
And now at last the one of them began really to eat, but the other
took a piece of the shoulder. When Qujavarssuk saw this, he said:
"You should not begin to eat from the wrong side."
And when he had said that, he said again:
"If you eat from that side, then my catching of the seals will
cease." But the old man became very angry in his mind at this order.
Next morning, when they were about to set off again southward,
Qujavarssuk's mother gave them as much meat as they could carry. They
went home southward, over the ice, but when they had gone a little way,
they were forced to stop, because their burden was so heavy. And when
they had rested a little, they went on again. When they had come near
to their village, one said to the other:
"Has there not wakened a thought in your mind? I am very angry with
Qujavarssuk. Yesterday, when we came there, they gave us only a kidney
piece in welcome, and that is meat I do not like at all."
"Hum," said the other. "I thought it was all very good. It was fine
tender meat for my teeth."
At these words, the other began again to speak:
"Now that my anger has awakened, I will make a Tupilak for that
But the other said to him:
"Why will you do such a thing? Look; their gifts are so many that we
must carry the load upon our heads."
But that comrade would not change his purpose, not for all the trying
of the other to turn him from it. And at last the other ceased to
speak of it.
Now as the cold grew stronger, that opening in the ice became smaller
and smaller, at the place where Qujavarssuk was used to go with his
kayak. One day, when he came down to it, there was but just room for
his kayak to go in, and if now a seal should rise, it could not fail
to strike the kayak. Yet he got into the kayak, and at the time when he
was fixing the head on his harpoon, he saw a black seal coming up from
below. But seeing that it must touch both the ice and the kayak, it
went down again without coming right to the surface. Then Qujavarssuk
went up again and went home, and that was the first time he went home
without having made a catch, in all the time he had been a hunter.
When he had come home, he sat himself down behind his mother's lamp,
sitting on the bedplace, so that only his feet hung down over the
floor. He was so troubled that he would not eat. And later in the
evening, he said to his mother:
"Take meat to Tugto and his wife, and ask one of them to magic away
His mother went out and cut the meat of a black seal across at the
middle. Then she brought the tail half, and half the blubber of a seal,
up to Tugto and his wife. She came to the entrance, but it was covered
with snow, so that it looked like a fox hole. At first, she dropped
that which she was carrying in through the passage way. And it was this
which Tugto and his wife first saw; the half of a black seal's meat
and half of its blubber cut across. And when she came in, she said:
"It is my errand now to ask if one of you can magic away the ice."
When these words were heard, Tugto said to his wife:
"In this time of hunger we cannot send away meat that is given. You
must magic away the ice."
And she set about to do his bidding. To Qujavarssuk's mother she said:
"Tell all the people who can come here to come here and listen!"
And then she began eagerly going in to the dwellings, to say that
all who could come should come in and listen to the magic. When all
had come in, she put out the lamp, and began to call on her helping
spirits. Then suddenly she said:
"Two flames have appeared in the west!"
And now she was standing up in the passage way, and let them come to
her, and when they came forward, they were a bear and a walrus. The
bear blew her in under the bedplace, but when it drew in its breath
again, she came out from under the bedplace and stopped at the passage
way. In this manner it went on for a long time. But now she made
ready to go out, and said then to the listeners:
"All through this night none may yawn or wink an eye." And then she
At the same moment when she went out, the bear took her in its teeth
and flung her out over the ice. Hardly had she fallen on the ice again,
when the walrus thrust its tusks into her and flung her out across the
ice, but the bear ran along after her, keeping beneath her as she flew
through the air. Each time she fell on the ice, the walrus thrust its
tusks into her again. It seemed as if the outermost islands suddenly
went to the bottom of the sea, so quickly did she move outwards. They
were now almost out of sight, and not until they could no longer see
the land did the walrus and the bear leave her. Then she could begin
again to go towards the land.
When at last she could see the cliffs, it seemed as if there were
clouds above them, because of the driving snow. At last the wind came
down, and the ice began at once to break up. Now she looked round on
all sides, and caught sight of an iceberg which was frozen fast. And
towards this she let herself drift. Hardly had she come up on to the
iceberg, when the ice all went to pieces, and now there was no way
for her to save herself. But at the same moment she heard someone
beside her say:
"Let me take you in my kayak." And when she looked round, she saw a
man in a very narrow kayak. And he said a second time:
"Come and let me take you in my kayak. If you will not do this,
then you will never taste the good things Qujavarssuk has paid you."
Now the sea was very rough, and yet she made ready to go. When a wave
lifted the kayak, she sprang down into it. But as she dropped down,
the kayak was nearly upset. Then, as she tried to move over to the
other side of it, she again moved too far, and then he said:
"Place yourself properly in the middle of the kayak."
And when she had done so, he tried to row, for it was his purpose to
take her with him in his kayak, although the sea was very rough. Then
he rowed out with her. And when he had come a little way out, he
sighted land, but when they came near, there was no place at all where
they could come up on shore, and at the moment when the wave took them,
"Now try to jump ashore."
And when he said this, she sprang ashore. When she now stood on land,
she turned round and saw that the kayak was lost to sight in a great
wave. And it was never seen again. She turned and went away. But as she
went on, she felt a mighty thirst. She came to a place where water was
oozing through the snow. She went there, and when she reached it, and
was about to lay herself down to drink, a voice came suddenly and said:
"Do not drink it; for if you do, you will never taste the good things
Qujavarssuk has paid you."
When she heard this she went forward again. On her way she came to a
house. On the top of the house lay a great dog, and it was terrible
to see. When she began to go past it, it looked as if it would bite
her. But at last she came past it.
In the passage way of the house there was a great river flowing,
and the only place where she could tread was narrow as the back of
a knife. And the passage way itself was so wide that she could not
hold fast by the walls.
So she walked along, poising carefully, using her little fingers as
wings. But when she came to the inner door, the step was so high,
that she could not come over it quickly. Inside the house, she saw an
old woman lying face downwards on the bedplace. And as soon as she had
come in, the old woman began to abuse her. And she was about to answer
those bad words, when the old woman sprang out on to the floor to fight
with her. And now they two fought furiously together. They fought
for a long time, and little by little the old woman grew tired. And
when she was so tired that she could not get up, the other saw that
her hair hung loose and was full of dirt. And now Tugto's wife began
cleaning her as well as she could. When this was done, she put up
her hair in its knot. The old woman had not spoken, but now she said:
"You are a dear little thing, you that have come in here. It is long
since I was so nicely cleaned. Not since little Atakana from Sardloq
cleaned me have I ever been cleaned at all. I have nothing to give
you in return. Move my lamp away."
And when she did so, there was a noise like the moving of wings. When
she turned to look, she saw a host of birds flying in through the
passage way. For a long time birds flew in, without stopping. But
then the woman said:
"Now it is enough." And she put the lamp straight. And when that was
done, the other said again:
"Will you not put it a little to the other side?"
And she moved it so. And then she saw some men with long hair flying
towards the passage way. When she looked closer, she saw that it was
a host of black seal. And when very many of them had come in this
manner, she said:
"Now it is enough." And she put the lamp in its place. Then the old
woman looked over towards her, and said:
"When you come home, tell them that they must never more face towards
the sea when they empty their dirty vessels, for when they do so,
it all goes over me."
When at last the woman came out again, the big dog wagged his tail
kindly at her.
It was still night when Tugto's wife came home, and when she came in,
none of them had yet yawned or winked an eye. When she lit the lamp,
her face was fearfully scratched, and she told them this:
"You must not think that the ice will break up at once; it will not
break up until these sores are healed."
After a long time they began to heal slowly, and sometimes it might
happen that one or another cried in mockingly through the window:
"Now surely it is time the ice broke up and went out to sea, for that
which was to be done is surely done."
But at last her sores were healed. And one day a black cloud came up
in the south. Later in the evening, there was a mighty noise of the
wind, and the storm did not abate until it was growing light in the
morning. When it was quite light, and the people came out, the sea was
open and blue. A great number of birds were flying above the water, and
there were hosts of black seal everywhere. The kayaks were made ready
at once, and when they began to make them ready, Tugto's wife said:
"No one must hunt them yet; until five days are gone no one may
But before those days were gone, one of the young men went out
nevertheless to hunt. He tried with great efforts, but caught nothing
after all. Not until those days were gone did the witch-wife say:
"Now you may hunt them."
And now the men went out to sea to hunt the birds. And not until
they could bear no more on their kayaks did they row home again. But
then all those men had to give up their whole catch to Tugto's
house. Not until the second hunting were they permitted to keep any
Next day they went out to hunt for seal. They harpooned many, but
these also were given to Tugto and his wife. Of these also they kept
nothing for themselves until the second hunting.
Now when the ice was gone, then that old man we have told about before,
he put life into the Tupilak, and said to it then:
"Go out now, and eat up Qujavarssuk."
The Tupilak paddled out after him, but Qujavarssuk had already reached
the shore, and was about to carry up his kayak on to the land, with
a catch of two seals. Now the Tupilak had no fear but that next
day, when he went out, it would be easy to catch and eat him. And
therefore, when it was no later than dawn, it was waiting outside his
house. When Qujavarssuk awoke, he got up and went down to his kayak,
and began to make ready for hunting. He put on his long fur coat,
and went down and put the kayak in the water. He lifted one leg and
stepped into the kayak, and this the Tupilak saw, but when he lifted
the other leg to step in with that, he disappeared entirely from its
sight. And all through the day it looked for him in vain. At last it
swam in towards land, but by that time he had already reached home,
and drawn the kayak on shore to carry it up. He had a catch of two
seal, and there lay the Tupilak staring after him.
When it was evening, Qujavarssuk went to rest. He slept, and awoke,
and got up and made things ready to go out. And at this time the
Tupilak was waiting with a great desire for the moment when he should
put off from land. But when he put on his hunting coat ready to row
out, the Tupilak thought:
"Now we shall see if he disappears again."
And just as he was getting into his kayak, he disappeared from
sight. And at the end of that day also, Qujavarssuk came home again,
as was his custom, with a catch of two seal.
Now by this time the Tupilak was fearfully hungry. But a Tupilak can
only eat men, and therefore it now thought thus:
"Next time, I will go up on land and eat him there."
Then it swam over towards land, and as the shore was level, it moved
swiftly, so as to come well up. But it struck its head on the ground,
so that the pain pierced to its backbone, and when it tried to see
what was there, the shore had changed to a steep cliff, and on the
top of the cliff stood Qujavarssuk, all easy to see. Again it tried
to swim up on to the land, but only hurt itself the more. And now
it was surprised, and looked in vain for Qujavarssuk's house, for
it could not see the house at all. And it was still lying there and
staring up, when it saw that a great stone was about to fall on it,
and hardly had it dived under water when the stone struck it, and
broke a rib. Then it swam out and looked again towards land, and saw
Qujavarssuk again quite clearly, and also his house.
Now the Tupilak thought:
"I must try another way. Perhaps it will be better to go through
And when it tried to go through the earth, so much was easy; it only
remained then to come up through the floor of the house. But the
floor of the house was hard, and not to be got through. Therefore
it tried behind the house, and there it was quite soft. It came up
there, and went to the passage way, and there was a big black bird,
sitting there eating something. The Tupilak thought:
"That is a fortunate being, which can sit and eat."
Then it tried to get up over the walls at the back part of the house,
by taking hold of the grass in the turf blocks. But when it got there,
the bird's food was the only thing it saw. Again it tried to get
a little farther, seeing that the bird appeared not to heed it at
all, but then suddenly the bird turned and bit a hole just above its
flipper. And this was very painful, so that the Tupilak floundered
about with pain, and floundered about till it came right out into
And because of all these happenings, it had now become so angered that
it swam back at once to the man who had made it, in order to eat him
up. And when it came there, he was sitting in his kayak with his face
turned towards the sun, and telling no other thing than of the Tupilak
which he had made. For a long time the Tupilak lay there beneath him,
and looked at him, until there came this thought:
"Why did he make me a Tupilak, when afterwards all the trouble was
to come upon me?"
Then it swam up and attacked the kayak, and the water was coloured
red with blood as it ate him. And having thus found food, the Tupilak
felt well and strong and very cheerful, until at last it began to
"All the other Tupilaks will certainly call this a shameful thing,
that I should have killed the one who made me."
And it was now so troubled with shame at this that it swam far out
into the open sea and was never seen again. And men say that it was
because of shame it did so.
One day the old one said to Qujavarssuk:
"You are named after a man who died of hunger at Amerdloq."
It is told of the people of Amerdloq that they catch nothing but
And Qujavarssuk went to Amerdloq and lived there with an old man,
and while he lived there, he made always the same catch as was his
custom. At last the people of Amerdloq began to say to one another:
"This must be the first time there have been so many black seal here
in our country; every time he goes hunting he catches two seal."
At last one of the big hunters went out hunting with him. They fixed
the heads to their harpoons, and when they had come a little way out
from land, Qujavarssuk stopped. Then when the other had gone a little
distance from him, he turned, and saw that Qujavarssuk had already
struck one seal. Then he rowed towards him, but when he came up, it was
already killed. So he left him again for a little while, and when he
turned, Qujavarssuk had again struck. Then Qujavarssuk rowed home. And
the other stayed out the whole day, but did not see a single seal.
When Qujavarssuk had thus continued as a great hunter, his mother
said to him at last that he should marry. He gave her no answer,
and therefore she began to look about herself for a girl for him to
marry, but it was her wish that the girl might be a great glutton, so
that there might not be too much lost of all that meat. And she began
to ask all the unmarried women to come and visit her. And because of
this there came one day a young woman who was not very beautiful. And
this one she liked very much, for that she was a clever eater, and
having regard to this, she chose her out as the one her son should
marry. One day she said to her son:
"That woman is the one you must have."
And her son obeyed her, as was his custom.
Every day after their marriage, the strongest man in Amerdloq called
in at the window:
"Qujavarssuk! Let us see which of us can first get a bladder float
for hunting the whale."
Qujavarssuk made no answer, as was his custom, but the old man said
"We use only speckled skin for whales. And they are now at this time
in the mouth of the river."
After this, they went to rest.
Qujavarssuk slept, and awoke, and got up, and went away to the
north. And when he had gone a little way to the north, he came to the
mouth of a small fjord. He looked round and saw a speckled seal that
had come up to breathe. When it went down again, he rowed up on the
landward side of it, and fixed the head and line to his harpoon. When
it came up again to breathe, he rowed to where it was, and harpooned
it, and after this, he at once rowed home with it.
The old man made the skin ready, and hung it up behind the house. But
while it was hanging there, there came very often a noise as from the
bladder float, and this although there was no one there. This thing
the old man did not like at all.
When the winter was coming near, the old man said one day to
"Now that time will soon be here when the whales come in to the coast."
One night Qujavarssuk had gone out of the house, when he heard a sound
of deep breathing from the west, and this came nearer. And because
this was the first time he had heard so mighty a breathing, he went in
and told the matter in a little voice to his wife. And he had hardly
told her this, when the old man, whom he had thought asleep, said:
"What is that you are saying?"
"Mighty breathings which I have heard, and did not know them, and they
do not move from that side where the sun is." This said Qujavarssuk.
The old one put on his boots, and went out, and came in again,
"It is the breathing of a whale."
In the morning, before it was yet light, there came a sound of running,
and then one came and called through the window:
"Qujavarssuk! I was the first who heard the whales breathing."
It was the strong man, who wished to surpass him in this. Qujavarssuk
said nothing, as was his custom, but the old man said:
"Qujavarssuk heard that while it was yet night." And they heard him
laugh and go away.
The strong man had already got out the umiak  into the water to
row out to the whale. And then Qujavarssuk came out, and they had
already rowed away when Qujavarssuk got his boat into the water. He
got it full of water, and drew it up again on to the shore, and turned
the stem in towards land and poured the water out, and for the second
time he drew it down into the water. And not until now did he begin to
look about for rowers. They went out, and when they could see ahead,
the strong man of Amerdloq was already far away. Before he had come up
to where he was, Qujavarssuk told his rowers to stop and be still. But
they wished to go yet farther, believing that the whale would never
come up to breathe in that place. Therefore he said to them:
"You shall see it when it comes up."
Hardly had the umiak stopped still, when Qujavarssuk began to tremble
all over. When he turned round, there was already a whale quite near,
and now his rowers begged him eagerly to steer to where it was. But
Qujavarssuk now saw such a beast for the first time in his life. And
"Let us look at it."
And his rowers had to stay still. When the strong man of Amerdloq heard
the breathing of the whale, he looked round after it, and there lay
the beast like a great rock close beside Qujavarssuk. And he called
out to him from the place where he was:
Qujavarssuk made no answer, but his rowers were now even more eager
than before. When the whale had breathed long enough, it went down
again. Now his rowers wished very much to go farther out, because
it was not likely that it would come up again in that way the next
time. But Qujavarssuk would not move at all.
The whale stayed a long time under the water, and when it came up again
it was still nearer. Now Qujavarssuk looked at it again for a long
time, and now his rowers became very angry with him at last. Not until
it seemed that the whale must soon go down again did Qujavarssuk say:
"Now row towards it."
And they rowed towards it, and he harpooned it. And when it now
floundered about in pain and went down, he threw out his bladder float,
and it was not strange that this went under water at once.
And those farther out called to him now and said:
"When a whale is struck it will always swim out to sea. Row now to
the place where it would seem that it must come up."
But Qujavarssuk did not answer, and did not move from the place where
he was. Not until they called to him for the third time did he answer:
"The beasts I have struck move always farther in, towards my house."
And now they had just begun laughing at him out there, when they heard
a washing of water closer in to shore, and there it lay, quite like a
tiny fish, turning about in its death struggle. They rowed up to it
at once and made a tow line fast. The strong man rowed up to them,
and when he came to where they were, no one of them was eating. Then
"Not one of you eating, and here a newly-killed whale?"
When he said this, Qujavarssuk answered:
"None may eat of it until my mother has first eaten."
But the strong man tried then to take a mouthful, although this had
been said. And when he did so, froth came out of his mouth at once. And
he spat out that mouthful, because it was destroying his mouth.
And they brought that catch home, and Qujavarssuk's mother ate of
it, and then at last all ate of it likewise, and then none had any
badness in the mouth from eating of it. But the strong man sat for a
long time the only one of them all who did not eat, and that because
he must wait till his mouth was well again.
And the strong man of Amerdloq did not catch a whale at all until
after Qujavarssuk had caught another one.
For a whole year Qujavarssuk stayed at Amerdloq, and when it was
spring, he went back southward to his home. He came to his own land,
and there at a later time he died.
And that is all.
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