The Men Who Changed Wives
: Eskimo Folktales
There were once two men, Talilarssuaq and Navssarssuaq, and they
changed wives. Talilarssuaq was a mischievous fellow, who was given
to frightening people.
One evening, sitting in the house with the other's wife, whom he
had borrowed, he thrust his knife suddenly through the skins of the
bench. Then the woman ran away to her husband and said:
"Go in and kill Talilarssuaq; he is playing very
Then Navssarssuaq rose up without a word, and put on his best clothes,
and took his knife, and went out. He went straight up to Talilarssuaq,
who was now lying on the bench talking to himself, and pulled him
out on the floor and stabbed him.
"You might at least have waited till I had dressed," said
Talilarssuaq. But Navssarssuaq hauled him out through the passage way,
cast him on the rubbish heap and went his way, saying nothing.
On the way he met his wife.
"Are you not going to murder me, too?" she asked.
"No," he answered in a deep voice. "For Pualuna is not yet grown big
enough to be without you." Pualuna was their youngest son.
But some time after that deed he began to perceive that he was haunted
by a spirit.
"There is some invisible thing which now and again catches hold
of me," he said to his comrades. And that was the avenging spirit,
But about this time, many in the place fell sick. And among them was
Navssarssuaq. The sickness killed him, and thus the avenging spirit
was not able to tear him in pieces.