The Inland-dwellers Of Etah
Source: Eskimo Folktales
There came a sledge driving round to the east of Etah, up into the
land, near the great lake. Suddenly the dogs scented something, and
dashed off inland over a great plain. Then they checked, and sniffed
at the ground. And now it was revealed that they were at the entrance
to an inland-dweller's house.
The inland-dwellers screamed aloud with fear when they saw the dogs,
and thrust out an old woman, but hurried in themselves to hide. The
old woman died of fright when she saw the dogs.
Now the man went in, very ill at ease because he had caused the death
of the old woman.
"It is a sad thing," he said, "that I should have caused you to lose
that old one."
"It is nothing," answered the inland-dwellers; "her skin was already
wrinkled; it does not matter at all."
Then the sledges drove home again, but the inland-dwellers were so
terrified that they fled far up into the country.
Since then they have never been seen. The remains of their houses
were all that could be found, and when men dug to see if anything
else might be there, they found nothing but a single narwhal tusk.
The inland-dwellers are not really dangerous, they are only shy,
and very greatly afraid of dogs. There was a woman of the coast-folk,
Suagaq, who took a husband from among the inland folk, and when that
husband came to visit her brothers, the blood sprang from his eyes
at sight of their dogs.
And they train themselves to become swift runners, that they may
catch foxes. When an inland-dweller is to become a swift runner,
they stuff him into the skin of a ribbon seal, which is filled with
worms, leaving only his head free. Then the worms suck all his blood,
and this, they say, makes him very light on his feet.
There are still some inland-dwellers left, but they are now gone very
far up inland.
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