: 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
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.