: Eskimo Folktales

Ikardlituarssuk, men say, had a little brother; they lived at a place

where there were many other houses. One autumn the sea was frozen

right out from the coast, without a speck of open water for a long

way out. After this, there was great dearth and famine; at last their

fellow-villagers began to offer a new kayak paddle as a reward for

the one who should magic it away, but there was no wizard among the

people of that

Then it came about that Ikardlituarssuk's little brother began to

speak to him thus:

"Ikardlituarssuk, how very nice it would be to win that new paddle!"

And then it was revealed that Ikardlituarssuk had formerly sat on

the knee of one of those present when the wizards called up their

helping spirits.

Then it came about that Ikardlituarssuk one evening began to call upon

his helping spirits. He called them up, and having called them up,

went out, and having gone out, went down to the water's edge, crept

in through a crack between the land and the ice, and started off,

walking along the bottom of the sea.

He walked along, and when he came to seaweed, it seemed as if there

lay dogs in among the weed. But these were sharks. Then on his way

he saw a little house, and went towards it. When he came up to the

entrance, it was narrow as the edge of a woman's knife. But he got

in all the same, following that way which was narrow as the edge

of a woman's knife. And when he came in, there sat the mother of

Tornarssuk, the spirit who lived down there; she was sitting by her

lamp and weeping. And picking behind her ears, she threw down many

strange things. Inside her lamp were many birds that dived down,

and inside the house were many seals that bobbed up.

And now he began tickling the weeping woman as hard as he could,

to encourage her; and at last she was encouraged, and after this,

she freed a number of the birds, and then made a sign to many of the

seals to swim out of the house. And when they swam out, there was one

of the fjord seals which she liked so much that she plucked a few of

the hairs from its back, that she might have it to make breeches of

when it was caught.

And when all this had been done, she went home, and went to rest

without saying a word.

When they awoke next morning, the sea was quite dark ahead, and all

the ice had gone. But when the villagers came out, she said to them:

"Do not kill more than one; if any of you should kill two, he will

never kill again."

And furthermore she said:

"If any of you should catch a young fjord seal with a bare patch on

its back, you must give it to me to make breeches."

When they came back, each of the hunters had made a catch; only one

of them had caught two. And the man who had caught two seals that

day never after caught any seal at all when he rowed out, but all the

others always made a catch when they rowed out, and some of them even

caught several at a time.

Thus it came about that Ikardlituarssuk with the little brother won

the new paddle as a reward.