Kanagssuaq





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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