Sacred-Texts Native American Inuit
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[From two rather defective copies.]
ALEKATOKAK went away with her brother Asuvina, to set up fox-traps. Having arrived at the place they had fixed upon, she told her brother that she wanted a flat stone to make a door for the trap, and asked him to bring her one. He went to get it; but as p. 225 he was rather long in returning, she went off to seek him: but in vain; he had completely disappeared; and she was obliged to return by herself. On her coming home, her father said, "I suppose thou hast hurt him—perhaps even killed him: I shall be sure to punish thee." He had often threatened to make away with her, having never liked her, but put her down as an idle wench, unable to make herself useful in any way. Her mother pitied her, and advised her to flee the society of men; and accordingly she made up a little bag with some clothes, and went far into the country. She kept wandering about, and could even overtake the reindeer. Having once passed a cleft in the mountains, she saw a little house down in a valley, with an opening in the centre of the roof. She approached the house, and peeping down observed a giant-like fellow, who returned the look, and addressed her, saying, "What dost thou want here, thou miserable daughter of the coast-people? Dost thou think that I will let thee off like that?" He then rushed out to seize her; but meanwhile she had found a hiding-place; and when he had returned to his house, she again hastened on her way farther into the country; and at last she came to another house, which had three windows. She noticed that cooking was going on inside, as well as other business, without any people being visible. Though not aware of it, she had been coming all the way to the place of shadows. A voice was heard saying, "Thou little one from the coast-side, come in, come in!" and when she had entered, a dish with boiled meat was set before her; and her hunger being stilled, the invisible shadows among whom she now found herself invited her to stay and sleep there. After farther wanderings, she at length reached the sea; and around a little creek she observed a great many tents pitched up near the strand. She waited till evening before venturing to go down; and sitting on a slope, she heard the children of p. 226 the place call out, "A kayaker is coming! he is towing a seal!" Presently a kayaker appeared from behind a point. She heard them repeat, "Asuvina has got a seal!" and she felt sure that she had found her lost brother. The people of the place had a chief, whose tent was larger than all the rest; and beyond this was a plain, where they used to practise ball-playing. She recognised her brother accompanying the men thither, and saw that he was ordered to lift up a large round stone; but not being able to do so, the others threw him down. In the evening she descended the hill, and went straight on to his house. He wondered very much at her coming, and told her that he had lost his way in seeking the slab for her fox-trap, but that he was now married, and that his wife had a sister. He went on to tell her that they had an idiot at the place, who—viz., by clairvoyance—would probably soon be aware of her arrival; and that she had better hide herself a while behind the skin-hangings of the wall. Next morning the fool entered, saying, "In the night I dreamt that a woman from the coast-side, and sister to Asuvina, came among us;" but Asuvina answered, "I have got no sister," upon which the other went away; but Asuvina stayed at home the whole day long, enjoying his sister's company. In the evening she went with them to the ball-play on the plain, disguised in the clothes of her sister-in-law. When the chief had lifted the round stone, he made a false hit, and let it fall down upon his own feet, and fairly crushed them. Alekatokak now told them quickly to fetch a little dog; but on hearing that they had not got one in the whole place, she hurried away and soon overtook and brought back a young deer. She cut an opening into it, and let the chief put the sore feet down among the entrails, and in this way cured him. She got married there, and had a son. At his birth they brought her an oblong dish with certain entrails of a fox, and ordered her to swallow them, p. 227 shutting her eyes the while. This was the custom with them, when they desired the new-born child to be clever and dexterous. After this remedy she was at once restored to her usual health, and her boy grew to be a very swift runner; and they remained in the place and had numerous descendants.