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Title: Animal Stories from Eskimo Land - Adapted from the Original Eskimo Stories Collected by Dr. Daniel S. Neuman
Author: Riggs, Renée Coudert
Language: English
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ANIMAL STORIES FROM ESKIMO LAND


[Illustration: “‘Who are you?’ said the boy.”]


ANIMAL STORIES FROM ESKIMO LAND

Adapted from the Original
Eskimo Stories Collected by
Dr. Daniel S. Neuman

by

RENÉE COUDERT RIGGS

With Illustrations and Decorations by George W. Hood



New York
Frederick A. Stokes Company
MCMXXIII

Copyright, 1923, by
Frederick A. Stokes Company

All rights reserved

Printed in the United States of America



                                  WITH
                         AFFECTIONATE GREETING
                               I DEDICATE
                           THIS SMALL VOLUME
                                   TO
                           MY LITTLE FRIENDS
                         THE CHILDREN OF ALASKA



FOREWORD


The Eskimos are a kindly, industrious, smiling people. To our way of
thinking their lives are uncivilized and cheerless. And yet, in their
own primitive way, they find much happiness in life. They live from one
moment only to the next. When food is plentiful, they gorge. When seals
and game are scarce, they patiently do without.

Eskimo children never cry. They are never punished by their parents, for
the spirits which inhabit their little bodies might take offense and
depart. They play happy games as do children the world over, with balls
sewed together from reindeer or seal hides and with toys carved from
ivory, bone or wood.

The people are courteous and considerate. I have sat in their kasgas
when the oomaliks (head men) were in council with my husband, who at
that time was Governor of Alaska. The dignity and order of their debates
would honor any legislative assembly. There is no interruption to a
speaker until the final “I have spoken.”

The council finished, comes the customary dance in the kasga. The dance
is always symbolic—the coming of spring, the flight of the ducks, the
spearing of the whale, the wolf dance, or the killing of the bear. The
men dance with grotesque gesture until exhausted, while the women with
quiet feet, sway gently in unison in the dim light from the opening
overhead. On the platform at the end of the kasga the musicians beat
industriously on their drums.

The stories in this little book are adapted from some of the great
number gathered through many years by Dr. Daniel S. Neuman, of Nome. It
was Dr. Neuman who painstakingly made the splendid and unequaled
collection of Eskimo antiquities and modern implements now on exhibit in
the territorial museum at Juneau. The acquiring of this collection for
the Territory was one of my husband’s last official acts as governor.

I have endeavored to rewrite these tales for boys and girls in the hope
that they may take an interest in that quaint people, living still in
the stone age, who, on account of their contact with the so-called
civilized races, are gradually vanishing into the past.

                                           Renée Coudert Riggs.



                                CONTENTS

                    Foreword
                    The Journey to Eskimo Land
                    Ivango or the Lost Sister
                    The Robin, the Crow and the Fox
                    The Proud Mouse
                    The Crow and the Daylight
                    The Orphan Boy
                    A Race Between a Reindeer and a Tom-Cod
                    Why They Have Summer on St. Lawrence Island
                    The Lost Son
                    The Crow and the Owl
                    The Running Stick
                    The Treacherous Crow and His Cousin, the Mink
                    Good and Bad Weather
                    How the White Whales Happened
                    A Giant and His Drum
                    Lovek and Seranak
                    The Caribou
                    A Fox Story
                    Mi-e-rak-puk



                             ILLUSTRATIONS

        “‘Who are you?’ said the boy”
        “Looking up into the tree, saw Kaytak standing by his nest”
        “At last he saw that it was shining from a big snow house”
        “Stopped to say good-morning to the fish”
        “Poured the black oil all over the crow”
        “The bear came round by the same track and saw the salmon”
        “‘Lovek, I have you at my mercy now’”
        “_Snap_, Mr. Smart Fox was caught at last”



THE JOURNEY TO ESKIMO LAND


The big easy-chair was drawn up before the fire, its hospitable arms
extended, to embrace a father with a little boy on one knee and a little
girl on the other. It was story-telling time.

“Well,” said Father, “where shall we travel tonight?”

The glowing embers showed two eager little faces. “Take us to Eskimo
Land!” they said. So the father settled deeper down in the cosy chair
and stretched out his long legs.

“Very well, to Eskimo Land we shall go. I will take you inside a ‘kasga’
and let the Eskimos tell you their own stories; but before we go there I
must explain to you that in every Eskimo village there is one house
called a ‘kasga.’ Now this kasga is the place where they all go to pass
the long, dark hours of winter, with song and story. Sometimes they
dance to the weird music of beating drums and chanting voices, and
again, they sit quietly mending their weapons, their fishnets or spears;
or again, some of them will be carving beautiful pieces of ivory taken
from a walrus tusk.

“The house called ‘kasga’ in which they meet is built by all the people
of the village. Every one lends a hand; even the little children do
their share of the work. There are logs of driftwood to be hauled: there
is turf or moss from the tundra to be put over the round roof, and
digging to be done with the big bone shovels. So they all help to build
the place in which they spend so much of their time. The men gather
there when they get home from hunting. They cannot be out long in
winter. It is dark most of the day as well as the night, and the storms
are so bad they do not dare to go very far away. The women bring their
sewing too, which they do with thread made from dried sinews from the
leg of the caribou or from the white whale which the old women patiently
pull apart into long threads.

“Now,” said Father, “shut your eyes tight and we will put on our
invisible caps and go to Eskimo Land, right inside a kasga to see what
is happening there this cold winter night.”

So the little boy and girl shut their eyes and clung tightly to Father’s
hand while he counted very slowly, “One, two, three!”

“Stoop over,” said Father, “and creep on your hands and knees, for to
get into the kasga we have to go through a long, low, tunnel-like
entrance, until we come to a hole right over our heads. Here we are! I
will give you a push. Jump up now!” And they popped right through a hole
into the middle of the floor of a big room. Isn’t that a funny way to
get into a house? They were in the kasga at last.

There are no windows to this house, but a round hole in the middle of
the ceiling, or roof, serves both as window and ventilator. This, in
winter, is usually covered with a curtain of bear or seal intestine,
which keeps out the cold. Also it keeps out the fresh air. Sometimes,
when the room is very full of people, the warmth from their bodies and
the steam from many breaths form a moisture that drops down upon them
like rain.

The room is square, and about it runs a wide platform. This platform is
about four feet from the ground. All the men sit on it, while the women
sit on the floor at their feet, with the little children gathered about
them. There are lots of little children in Eskimo Land. They are good
little ones, too. Their parents love them dearly, but they have to learn
early in life to be good and patient, for sometimes they get little or
nothing to eat for days at a time, when game is scarce and their fathers
come back from hunting without any meat for them. So these little ones
do not fuss and cry, for they know that they cannot always have what
they want when they want it.

There are no electric lights in Eskimo Land, nor do they have big open
fireplaces in the houses, with bright, crackling logs to keep them warm,
for wood is hard to get.

About the floor of the kasga are placed lamps of heavy stone, hollowed
out like dishes, in which wicks of moss soaked in seal oil are burned.
The lamps give a yellow, flickering light and a little heat. The women
take care of the lamps, keep them clean and see that they do not smoke
or go out.

On the middle of the platform, at the end of the room, sits the
“Ommalik” of the village. Eskimos do not have real chiefs like Indians,
but in every village there is a rich man; that is a man who has more
than the others of what the Eskimos use and need the most. The Ommalik
is like a chief for the time being, a sort of boss, so we will call him
chief for convenience sake.

In the kasga we are in now there are two shelves high up, one at each
end, where the unmarried men, the bachelors, sit; and quite a scramble
they have, too, in getting up so high.

On the floor at the feet of their husbands sit the married women with
their babies in their parka hoods and their children playing near them,
but the little ones keep very quiet and never dare to make a noise when
the grown-ups are talking—which would be a good example for lots of
little white children I know.

Huddled up in a corner sat a very dark little man, with long black hair
that hung down into his eyes. He was as close as he could get to one of
the lamps, and in his hand he held a piece of creamy ivory, upon which
he was carving the story of a walrus hunt, in pictures. Near him sat a
man busily mending a spear. Ommalik looked around the room. Soon his
eyes rested upon Ungukuk, the little man carving the picture story.
“Ungukuk,” said Ommalik, “will tell us a story.”

The little dark man stopped his work, but did not move or look up. No
one seemed to have heard the chief speak. Some of the little children
still slept on with their heads against their mothers’ knees.

Again Ommalik looked about him and said, “Ungukuk will tell us a story.”

Again there was silence, and the boy in the far corner went on mending
his fish net. At last, after five or six minutes had passed, Ungukuk
raised his head and peered into the dark faces about him. In a
monotonous, sing-song voice, he began the following story:



IVANGO OR THE LOST SISTER


Long ago, in a village in the Far North, there lived a young man named
Ivango. He was the oldest of the family and had four brothers and a
little sister, eleven or twelve years old.

One clear spring evening, the little girl was playing out on the sand
pit with some other children. They were playing “house,” and on the
beach near them was the huge skull of a whale.

When they had finished making a toy house out of pieces of driftwood,
Ivango’s sister climbed to the top of the whale skull to rest.

No sooner had she sat down, than suddenly the skull began to roll
quickly toward the sea. It moved so fast and the child was so frightened
that she just held on tight and screamed.

All the little ones ran after her, adding their cries to hers, until the
skull plunged into the waves, turned into a whale and, with the little
girl still clinging to his back, swam away out of sight on the gray
ocean.

The children ran out into the water as far as they could, calling to
their little playmate, but soon she was gone from sight. A sad troop of
weeping children ran to Ivango’s igloo, to tell him what had happened.

Ivango and his brothers were in despair, for they loved their sister
very dearly, as indeed did every one in the village.

That very night in the kasga they held a council as how best to find the
little girl and bring her home again.

Ivango called all the shamans or witch-doctors to his house and bade
them sing, hoping that they would sing something about his lost sister,
and where she had been taken; but each one told him a different tale, so
that he soon saw that they knew nothing at all about it. So he sent them
all away again.

Now there was one woman among his neighbors, who was very wise, although
not a sorceress. This woman could sing about many things that no one
else knew, so Ivango sent for her and told her to sing.

After a while she began. She told Ivango and his brothers that the whale
had taken their sister to a far off country. This country, she said, was
guarded by two great cliffs of solid rock, which could open wide apart
and then come together again with a crash like thunder, crushing to
death any living creature daring to venture between.

Ivango asked her what they must do to rescue their sister. She answered,
“You must make a skin boat so swift that it will go faster than the
swiftest bird can fly. When the boat is finished, kill a young seal and
take it with you. When all is ready, I will go with you to tell you what
to do.”

They thanked the woman very much and went to work to make the boat as
soon as it was daylight. They worked as quickly as they could, for they
were very anxious to rescue their sister. When they had finished, they
took the boat down to the shore, and waited for a bird to come along.
Presently they saw a beautiful gray gull with a white breast, sailing
gracefully through the sky. They got into the boat and paddled along as
fast as they could, but the gull was soon far ahead of them and they
could not catch up with it at all. This was a dreadful disappointment,
for it meant a long delay. They came back to land very much discouraged,
but Ivango said, “We must not lose heart so easily. Let us go to work at
once and take more care this time that we are doing our very best. It
does not pay to be in too much of a hurry.”

So they started making another boat, and this time they worked very
carefully, for they must not fail a second time. They made the frame out
of the lightest driftwood and covered it with white whale skin. First
they wet the skin to make it soft, then stretched it over the frame and
tied it in place with rawhide. When the skin dried it became tight over
the frame and was quite water-proof. Ivango, who was a very strong man,
made a paddle for himself from the shoulder-bone of a whale. When they
had finished the second boat, it looked fine and they all felt happy
again; but it had taken many precious days to make.

When all was ready they got into the boat and raced with the first gull
that came along. This time they beat it easily, so they came back to
shore to get their provisions and to kill a baby seal to take with them.

The woman, who was waiting to go along too, told them that they must
watch for a flock of eider ducks and follow them closely. Pretty soon a
flock of eider ducks flew over. The brothers and the woman got quickly
into the boat and paddled off as fast as they could. When the birds sank
to rest, the men would stop paddling and rest, also, or eat. When the
ducks flew, the boat traveled along as swiftly as though it too had
wings. When the ducks slept, the men stopped paddling and also slept,
while the woman kept watch. When the birds rose again to fly, the woman
would awaken the men and take her turn at sleeping.

They traveled this way for many days and nights, until at last they
could hear a faint, rumbling noise like distant thunder. The sound lent
renewed strength to Ivango’s mighty paddle. So powerfully did he wield
it that they went faster than the ducks, who were leading them straight
to their sister.

Nearer and nearer they came to the strange sound, and louder and louder
it grew, until it seemed as though mountains of rock were being hurled
together by the hands of some mighty giant.

Soon they could see two great cliffs drawing swiftly together through
the ocean. They met with a mighty crash that seemed to shake the sea and
sky. Ivango had trouble in keeping the boat upright, so high were the
waves made by the rocks when they came together.

As the boat came nearer, the cliffs slowly drew apart, and some sea
parrots and seals tried to pass through the opening, but the rocks
rushed together and the birds and seals were caught and crushed to
death.

Ivango felt his heart fail within him. Could they ever pass through
alive, or must they all be crushed like the animals and birds? It did
not seem possible that they could ever reach the other side of the
cliffs. Oh! if they only might fly over in the sky like the ducks were
doing! Then they would be safe.

Ivango, however, had not time to think about it. He must act quickly, or
the ducks soon would be out of sight and then they would have no one to
show them the way to their sister. So when the cliffs parted again,
Ivango wielded his mighty paddle and the little boat shot into the
foaming pass. It seemed as though they must be drawn down into the
whirling waters and be drowned, but Ivango gathered his strength into
one mighty effort just as the towering walls started to come together,
and when they met with a deafening roar, Ivango and his little boat were
safe in the quiet waters beyond.

At last they had reached their journey’s end and passed safely through
the great danger. How happy and thankful they were to leave the menacing
rocks behind!

They landed near a sandy cliff and walked carefully behind one another
so as to make only one track in the sand with their mukluks. Their
mukluks are their seal boots. Then they dug a hole in the ground, put
the boat in it and hid.

The next day while Ivango was peeping out of the hole, he saw a man
walking toward the cliff from the opposite direction from which they had
come. When he reached the footprints on the sand, which looked as though
only one person had walked up from the beach, he stopped and examined
them carefully for a long time, then, jumping over, so as not to step on
them, he went his way. After a while the man came back. This time he did
not stop, but jumped over the footprints and went on. On his back he was
carrying a lot of birds.

Now one of Ivango’s brothers was very brave and wanted to jump out to
kill that man and take the birds, but Ivango would not let him.

Soon another man came along, and seeing the track, stopped to examine
it, then jumped over, just as the first man had done. When he came back
with all the birds he could carry, the brave brother could wait no
longer. They were all hungry and tired and wanted the birds for food, so
he sprang out and captured the man and hid him back of the hole, then
they all had those fine birds to eat.

In the morning, being rested and refreshed, Ivango and his brothers got
into their boat and paddled in the direction from which the men had come
walking along the beach.

Soon they saw a village in the center of which stood a large igloo.

Ivango and the brothers felt sure their sister must be there, so Ivango
went to the door of the igloo and entered. Sitting on a big white bear
skin on the floor was his sister, looking very sad and lonely.

When she saw Ivango she sprang up joyously, but quickly put her finger
to her lips, which meant, “Be quiet!” and whispered to Ivango, “O
Brother, you should not have come for me. The whale man is waiting to
kill you!”

She looked terribly frightened, but Ivango comforted her, saying,
“That’s all right, Sister. We came for you and will die if we have to.”

Before long, they heard the whale man coming in. He pretended to be a
kind man and very polite, but Ivango knew better than to believe him.
The whale man could not fool Ivango.

After a little while, the whale man told Ivango to fetch his brothers to
eat supper with them, and the brothers came. The whale man gave them a
good supper with plenty to eat, but they watched carefully, for they
knew that he was just waiting for a chance to do them some harm.

When night came the whale man suggested that they play all sorts of
games. Ivango beat him every time, and he did not seem to like that at
all.

The next morning he took them out to see a big ditch that had been dug
during the night. All the men of the village were bringing logs of wood
and pokes (skin bags) of oil to the ditch.

The whale man called Ivango and told him to look down into the ditch,
and while he was looking gave him a shove. Ivango, taken by surprise,
lost his balance and fell in.

Down went Ivango into the deep dark hole. When he reached the bottom he
stood still and felt the sides of the ditch all about him, until
suddenly his hands came upon a great stone embedded in the earth on one
side of the hole. Digging quickly into the earth with his fingers, he
dragged out the huge stone and found a deep hole in the earth back of
it. Into this hole he crept, pulling the stone into place after him.
Outside, the whale man built a big fire with logs and oil and shoved it
into the pit, thinking that Ivango would be burned up; but Ivango was
safe behind the rock, and the fire never even singed his mukluks. When
the flames had died down and there was nothing left but ashes, he crept
out from his hiding-place and called for some one to let down a rope for
him to climb up by. Soon he saw the rope coming down. It was made of
walrus hide such as is used for lashing boats. Ivango took hold of the
end of the rope and his brothers pulled him out.

The whale man stood there looking much surprised to see him come out
unharmed, and Ivango, springing upon him, hurled him into the pit. Then
turning to the people, Ivango said, “If this man is unkind to you, bring
some more wood and oil and we will burn him up. If he is good to you,
let down the rope again and pull him out after we have gone away.”

“No, no!” they shouted loudly. “We do not want to pull him out. He is
not good to us at all, but very wicked and cruel. Let us burn him up!”
and they all ran to bring more wood and oil, much more than before and
made a great fire themselves and threw it into the pit before Ivango
could stop them.

Ivango and the brothers and their little sister hurried down to the sea,
where the woman was waiting for them with the boat, and started off for
home as fast as they could paddle.

This time they passed through the moving cliffs without fear or trouble,
but no sooner had the cliffs closed together behind them, than a big
white whale rose to the top of the water and pursued them.

Although they could make the boat go as fast as the swiftest bird, the
whale was faster than they and was getting very close. Just as the
monster rose beside them, the woman cut off the right flipper from the
seal they had brought with them and threw it to the whale, which stopped
to eat. This gave them time to get quite far ahead; but after the whale
had finished eating he soon caught up with them. Then the woman threw
out the left flipper. Again the whale stopped to eat, and again caught
up with them, but they were nearly home, so they threw over the rest of
the seal and paddled to shore. When they landed the whale hurried after
them so fast that he swam right up on the beach, where they killed him
and cut him up for meat.

The people of the village crowded about to welcome Ivango and his
brothers and the little lost sister, and they all had a fine feast of
the meat of the whale.

They lived happily after that and Ivango made many presents to the good
woman who had helped them to find their sister, so that she was never
allowed to want for anything all her life long.

When Nugukuk had come to the end of the story, he raised his eyes to the
face of the chief. “And so is the winter shortened,” said Nugukuk
solemnly. For that is the way they bring their story-telling to an end.

After that the father and the little boy and girl came very often to the
kasga and heard different men of the village tell their wonderful tales,
until they had heard all of the following stories. Perhaps next winter
they will go back to hear some more.



THE ROBIN, THE CROW AND THE FOX


A robin had its nest in a tree, and there were six pretty blue eggs in
the nest.

After a while the eggs broke open and out came six baby robins.

The father robin, whose name was Kaytak, thought them the most beautiful
birds in the world, and brought them fine worms and little bugs, and
watched over them very carefully.

One day a red fox came by, and looking up into the tree, saw Kaytak
standing by his nest.

“Hey, Robin,” called the fox, “I see you up there.”

“What do you want?” said the robin.

“Give me one of your little birds for breakfast,” said the fox.

“No, indeed,” said the robin. “I will not give you one of my babies.”

“Well,” said Red Fox, “you say ‘no.’ If you don’t drop down one to me
this minute, I will take them all.”

“You cannot get them,” said the robin.

[Illustration: “Looking up into the tree, saw Kaytak standing by his
nest”]

“Indeed I can,” said Red Fox. “I have an ax, and with my ax I will cut
that tree down and then eat up all your little robins.”

When the robin heard that he was terribly frightened. Then, rather than
lose all his babies, he took one of them in his beak and dropped it down
to the fox, who grabbed the little bird and ran away. After that Red Fox
came back twice and did as before, the poor father robin being afraid to
refuse to do what was asked. Trembling with fright and very sad, the
poor bird looked about for some one to help him. The only living thing
in sight was a crow flying by, and he called to him for help. The crow
flew down into the tree and said, “What is it you want?”

Then the robin told him all about the wicked red fox, and how there were
only three baby robins left, and that he feared the fox would get them
all.

The crow laughed. “Haw, haw! Red Fox thinks he is smart, but he is
really foolish. He fooled you, though. He really has no ax, and he could
not cut down this tree. When he comes again, you say to him, ‘I will
give you no more of my baby birds. You have no ax.’ If he says, ‘Who
told you that?’ you say, ‘Crow told me,’” and the crow flew away.

The next day Red Fox came back to the tree and demanded a little bird
for his breakfast.

“No, no, Mr. Red Fox,” said the robin. “No little bird any more for you
out of my nest.”

“You had better give me one quick,” said the fox, “or I will chop the
tree right down and eat them all.” But the robin felt very safe and
saucy now, so he sang a little song and said, “No, you won’t chop down
this tree, because you haven’t any ax, and you are not as smart as you
think you are, only foolish.”

“Who told you all that stuff?” asked the fox angrily. The robin sang
another teasing song, then said, “Crow told me all that—about the ax and
the ‘foolish’ and everything. So you had better get away, for you get no
more of my babies.”

Then the red fox was very angry indeed and went off swearing he would
get even with the crow for depriving him of the tender baby robins for
breakfast and calling him “foolish.” He vowed he would find that crow
and kill him.

Pretty soon the summer had passed, and winter with its short dark days
had come.

One cold, stormy morning Red Fox was walking about, wondering how he
could catch that crow. After thinking about it for a long time, he said,
“I know what I will do!” So he lay down in the snow and played “dead,”
for he knew that crows like to pick at dead animals.

After a while the crow came flying about, looking for food. He spied the
red fox lying there, and slowly flew down nearby. At first he was afraid
the fox was not really dead, but the fox lay very still. Then the crow
touched the fox a little with his beak. The fox did not move, and the
crow grew bolder.

“He is really dead,” said the crow, “and I will go around and have a
look at his eyes.”

He walked around the fox and started to peck his eyes, but when he came
near the head, Red Fox opened his big mouth and snapped, and snapped the
crow in it, tight as a trap.

Crow thought he would die of fright before the fox got a chance to eat
him, he was so scared, but Red Fox started up the mountain with Crow in
his mouth.

Then Crow gathered his wits together in spite of his terror, and tried
to think of some way he could get out of Red Fox’s mouth. “If I can only
make him open his mouth to talk,” thought Crow, “then I can get out.” So
he said, “O Fox, I know you are going to eat me, but I pray you tell me
one thing before I die. Which way is the wind blowing?”

“West wind,” said the fox, and opened his mouth very wide to say “West.”

Out flew Mr. Crow as fast as he could, much to the surprise of Red Fox.

As he flew away the crow lingered a little over the head of Red Fox.
“Haw, haw, Mr. Fox,” laughed he, “haw, haw! I saved myself from your
mouth. You cannot fool me. No animal can fool me.” Then he flew off
flapping his wings and laughing “Haw, haw!” Red Fox slunk away with his
tail dragging on the ground. He was very much ashamed of how the crow
had fooled him twice, and he did not like to be beaten, for he and Crow
are considered the two smartest animals at trickery and deceit; but no
one can beat the crow.



THE PROUD MOUSE


There was once a mouse who thought a great deal of himself and was
always longing for a chance to do something which would show how great
he was.

One night while he was asleep in a corner of the kasga, under the shelf,
he was startled by a strange noise and woke up with a jump. He looked
about him, but could see nothing; then he crept very quietly toward the
door, and there he saw a great fire burning.

“Now I am going to be burned up,” said the mouse. “What shall I do to
save myself?”

The fire was growing bigger and brighter every minute, and in despair he
gave up all hope of getting out of the door, for he could never pass
through those terrible flames. He sat down and began to think and think
what he had better do.

“Well,” he thought, “I will burn up if I stay in here, so I might as
well try to get out. If the fire burns me while I am getting out, I
can’t help it.”

Then he made a dash through the flames to the door.

He was soon out, but he was much surprised that he did not feel burned
at all. He looked himself over very carefully but his fur was not even
singed.

“Now I know that I am very great indeed, because fire does not burn me,”
said the mouse, and he walked about proudly whisking his little tail and
thinking how great he was; then he looked back at the kasga, and saw
that there was really no fire at all. What he had taken for fire was
just the sunshine at the door. The proud mouse felt very much ashamed
and said, “What a poor fool I am! What can I do now to show that I am
really great?”

He looked about for a long time. At last he said, “I know what I shall
do. I shall jump over that high bank.”

So he started to walk to the bank, and when he got there, he looked up,
and it seemed very high indeed.

“If I jump over this bank,” said he, “I shall be great.”

He ran, and then sprang as high as he could into the air, and came down
on top of the bank.

“Surely I am great now, since I can jump so high.” When he looked back
he saw that the bank was not high at all, only a little heap of sand.

“Shame on me!” groaned the mouse. “Now I must do something this time. I
shall swim across that great lake.”

He started for the lake and at last, after walking a long time, he got
there.

“That lake is very big,” he thought, for he could see only part way
across.

Then the little mouse began to feel proud once more.

“If I swim across that lake, all the animals will call me great.”

He swam, and he swam, and it took him all day to swim over. Before he
reached the other side, he was so tired he could only swim very slowly.
Looking back, he saw all kinds of fishes on his tail. He shook them off,
and at last he reached land.

“Now,” thought he, “I am really great, for I swam across that lake;” and
he lay down for a good rest. When he got up he looked proudly back to
see the wonderful lake, and there was no lake at all. What he had
thought was a big lake was only a man’s footprint full of muddy water,
that he had taken all day to cross, and the fishes he had seen on his
tail were the little bugs swimming about in the mud-puddle.

“Now, I am surely ashamed of myself!” he cried. But he would not give up
trying to be great, though he was beginning to see that he was really
not as great as he supposed.

Far on the horizon, he saw something tall and slender.

“I must go cut down that pole that reaches from earth to sky,” said he,
and off he started for the pole. When he reached it he walked all around
the pole, looking up, but he could not see the top.

“That high pole holds up the sky,” thought he, “and if I cut it, the sky
will fall down upon the earth, and everybody will be killed. I will cut
that pole because I am ashamed of myself.”

First he dug a hole in the ground, to get into when the pole was cut.
When the hole was finished he said, “I will do like this when the sky
falls down,” and he ran as fast as he could into the hole. He came out
then and started to cut the pole with his sharp little teeth.

He worked very hard, until at last the pole was cut, when he ran into
the hole as fast as he could scamper, to listen for the falling of the
pole.

Said the mouse to himself, “Now the sky has come down and killed every
living thing.”

Pretty soon he began to wonder how it would look with the sky fallen
down, and he peeped out of his hole; but everything seemed to be the
same as before. He looked up where the sky used to be, and there it
still was, all blue and shining. Then he looked down at the pole on the
ground, and saw that it was only a tall blade of grass.

“Shame on me, shame on me! Now I am truly ashamed of myself. Because I
am so ashamed of myself, I will pack that great mountain across the
tundra.” So he journeyed to the mountain, and at last he got there.

First he dug all around with his little claws, then he lifted one grain
of sand and packed it over the tundra. Back and forth he went for many
weary days, carrying a grain of sand at a time, until he had carried the
whole mountain across.

“Now,” said the little mouse, no longer proud, “I know that no one can
be great unless he is willing to work hard and patiently.”

So that is the way the mountain got there, far out over the tundra, and
the little mouse was rewarded at last for his perseverance.



THE CROW AND THE DAYLIGHT


Long, long ago, when the world was new, there was no daylight in Alaska.
It was dark all the time, and the people in Alaska were living in the
dark, just doing the best they could. They used to quarrel about whether
it was day or night. Half of the people slept while the other half
worked; in fact, no one really knew when it was time to go to bed, or if
in bed when to get up, because it was dark all of the time.

In one village lived a crow. The people liked this crow because they
thought him very wise; in fact he told them so himself; so they let him
live in their kasga.

The crow used to talk a lot too, and tell of all the wonderful things he
had seen and done, when he had spread his wings and flown away on his
long journeys to distant lands.

The people of Alaska had no light but the flame of their seal-oil lamps.

One evening the crow seemed very sad and did not speak at all. The
people wondered what was the matter, and felt sad too because they
missed their lively crow, so they asked him: “Crow, what makes you so
sad?”

“I am sorry for the people of Alaska,” said the crow, “because they have
no daylight.”

“What is daylight?” said they. “What is it like? We have never heard of
daylight.”

“Well,” said the crow, “if you had daylight in Alaska you could go
everywhere and see everything, even animals from far away.”

This seemed very wonderful to them all, and they asked the crow if he
would try to get them that “daylight.”

At first the crow refused all their entreaties. “I know where it is,”
said he, “but it would be too hard for me to get it here.”

Then they all crowded around and begged him to go to the place where
daylight was and bring them some.

Still the crow refused, and said he could not possibly get that light;
but they coaxed him nicely, and the chief said, “O Crow, you are so
clever and so brave, we know you can do that.”

At last the crow said, “Very well, I will go.”

The next day he started on his journey. Of course it was dark, but it
was not stormy, and when he had said goodby to all the people he spread
his wings and flew away toward the East, for the sun comes from the
East.

He flew on and on in the dark, until his wings ached and he was very
tired, but he never stopped.

After many days he began to see a little bit, dimly at first, then more
and more, until the sky was flooded with light.

Perching on the branch of a tree to rest, he looked about him to see if
he could find where the light came from. At last he saw that it was
shining from a big snow house in a village nearby.

Now in that snow house lived the chief of the village, and that chief
had a daughter who was very beautiful. This daughter came out of the
house every day to fetch water from the ice hole in the river; which is
the only way the Eskimos can get fresh water in winter. After she had
come out, the crow slipped off his skin and hid it in the entrance of
the house; then he covered himself with dust, and said some magic words,
which sounded something like this:

    “Ya-ka-ty, ta-ka-ty, na-ka-ty-O.
    Make me little that I won’t show.
    Only a tiny speck of dust,
    No one will notice me, I trust.”

Then he hid on a sunbeam in a crack near the door, and waited for the
chief’s daughter.

When she had filled her seal-skin water-bag, she came back from the
river, and the crow, who looked like nothing but a speck of dust
floating on the sunbeam, lighted on her dress and passed with her
through the door into the house where the daylight came from.

[Illustration: “At last he saw that it was shining from a big snow
house”]

Inside, the place was very bright and sunny, and there was a dear little
dark-eyed baby playing on the floor, on the skin of a polar bear which
had recently been killed.

That baby had a lot of little toys, carved out of walrus ivory. There
were tiny dogs and foxes, and little walrus heads, and kayaks (Eskimo
canoes). He kept putting the toys into an ivory box with a cover, then
spilling them out again.

The chief was watching the baby very proudly, but the little one did not
seem satisfied with his toys.

When the chief’s daughter came in she stooped to pick the baby from the
floor, and a little speck of dust drifted from her dress to the baby’s
ear. The dust was the crow, of course.

The baby began to cry and fuss, and the chief said, “What you want?” and
the crow whispered into his ear, “Ask for the daylight to play with.”

The baby asked for the daylight, and the chief told his daughter to give
the baby a small, round daylight to play with.

The woman unwound the rawhide string from his hunting bag and took out a
small wooden chest covered with pictures, which told the story of the
brave things the chief had done. From the chest she took a shining ball,
and gave it to the child.

The baby liked the shining ball, and played with it a long time; but the
crow wanted to get that daylight, so he whispered in the little one’s
ear to ask for a string to tie to his ball. They gave him a string, and
tied the daylight to it for him; then the chief and his daughter went
out, leaving the door open behind them, much to the delight of Crow, who
was waiting for just that chance.

When the little boy got near to the door in his play, the crow whispered
again in his ear, and told him to creep out into the entrance with his
daylight.

The baby did as the crow told him, and as he passed the spot where the
crow’s skin was hidden, the speck of dust slipped out of the child’s
ear, back into the crow’s skin and the crow was himself again. Seizing
the end of the string in his beak, away flew Mr. Crow, leaving the
howling baby on the ground.

The child’s cries brought the chief and his daughter and all the people
of the village rushing to the spot; and they saw the crow flying away
with their precious daylight.

In vain they tried to reach him with their arrows, but he was too
quickly out of sight.

When the crow came near the land of Alaska he thought he would try the
daylight to see how it worked, so when he passed over the first dark
village, he scratched a little bit of the brightness off, and it fell on
the village and lighted it up beautifully. Then every village he came to
he did the same thing, until at last he reached his home village, where
he had started from. Hovering over it, he shattered the daylight into
little bits, and scattered them far and wide.

The people greeted him with shouts of delight. They were so happy they
danced and sang, and prepared a great feast in his honor. They were so
grateful to him they couldn’t thank him enough for bringing that
daylight.

The crow told them that if he had taken the big daylight, it would never
be dark in Alaska, even in winter, but he said that the big daylight
would have been too heavy for him to carry.

The people have always been thankful to the crow since then, and never
try to kill him.



THE ORPHAN BOY


Long ago, in a big village on Shismarief Inlet, lived a chief who had
one child, a daughter.

The chief’s brother died and left a little boy, without any one to take
care of him, so the chief took the boy to live with him.

The boy and girl were cousins, and they had very happy times playing
together.

One day they had been out making snowballs, and stopped to shake the
snow off their parkas before coming into the house. The Eskimo parka is
a sort of middy blouse with a hood attached to it. In winter these
parkas are usually made of reindeer skin, with a big ruff of fur around
the edge of the hood to protect the face. The best fur to trim the hood
is that of the wolverine, for it does not collect moisture from the
breath.

The children stamped their feet and brushed the snow from each other
with small flat ivory sticks shaped for that purpose. In doing this the
boy broke the beautiful string of beads which the girl wore around her
neck.

Now these were very precious beads; and the boy was afraid of his uncle,
and did not like to tell what he had done, but he bravely took his
little cousin by the hand and went into the house trembling with fear.
Walking up to the chief he said, “Uncle, I am sorry but I broke the
precious beads.”

His uncle was furious. “How did you do it?” he asked, and the boy told
him.

“Now,” said the uncle, “I am going to kill you for that. Those beads
were my sign of chief. Now you have broken the beads, the people will
say I am no longer chief, and will make some one else chief instead of
me. You will have to die.”

He took the boy out of the house and led him to the kasga. There were
many people in the kasga, but he drove them all out; then he took off
the little boy’s clothes, and went away, leaving him all alone to die of
cold and hunger. That cruel uncle closed the door, putting heavy pieces
of wood against it, so that the little fellow could not push it open,
and then went up to the top of the kasga, where he took the skin cover
off from the round window hole, to let the cold air in. After that he
went away.

When left alone in the cold without any clothes on, the little fellow
started to run quickly around and around on the floor to keep warm.

Now in that village lived a man and wife who were very sad because they
had no children of their own. These two people loved the little ones
very dearly, and were good to all the children in the village; and the
children were very fond of them in return for all their kindness.

Long after the chief had gone away from the kasga, and the little boy
had run about until he was too tired to run any more, and could no
longer keep warm, that kind man who loved little children came on top of
the hut, put his head through the window hole, and called, “Hello,” and
the little boy answered, “Hello.”

The man said, “You are alive yet?” Then he put his head through the
window hole and handed a bundle of things to the boy.

“I have brought you some food and some water in a bag, a little oil and
a good warm sleeping-bag. Put the sleeping-bag under the floor, and get
into it and keep warm.”

When the kind man had gone away, the boy put the sleeping-bag through
the hole which is in the middle of the floor of every kasga, then, after
eating some of the food and drinking some of the water, he fell fast
asleep inside the nice, warm bag.

Early in the morning the boy crept out of the hole on to the floor, like
a little rat without any fur, and began to run around and around again,
to keep warm. It was still dark because the sun is lazy, way up there in
Alaska, and gets up very late. It was cold, too, icy cold.

With the first rays of daylight came the uncle’s footsteps on top of the
kasga; then the surprised and angry face peering down at the boy through
the window hole.

Now the chief had come up there expecting to find his nephew frozen
stiff, and was not at all pleased to see him skipping about all bare and
so lively. It made him more angry than ever, and he called down in a
big, fierce voice, “You are alive yet?” as though he could not believe
his own eyes.

The boy looked up without a word, and kept on running; then the uncle
called him all kinds of names, and said, “You try to keep alive as hard
as you can. This is the last day for you. I’ll fix you.” Then he went
away.

The boy crept back into his warm bag. When it was getting dark again, he
heard some one at the window hole calling, “Hello.”

The boy answered, “Hello.” Then the kind man said, “Listen, your uncle
is determined to kill you. He sent for the shaman and told him that he
must kill you tonight. I cannot save you this time, for the shaman is
more powerful than I. You must try your best to save yourself.” So
saying, the kind man went away.

It was night; dark, quiet and cold. The little boy stood shivering and
wondering what was going to happen to him. Suddenly he heard a sound, a
strange rustling sound. He was terrified, and thought of what the kind
man had told him about the shaman, who was very powerful, and knew all
kinds of magic.

The strange sound came nearer, and he could see by a light at the door
that a big snake was coming near to him. Now, while there is a kind of
water serpent in one part of the North, there are no real snakes in
Alaska, so the boy had never seen one, and did not know what it was.

The big snake hissed at him and said, “I will eat you up.”

The boy was terribly frightened, but he was a brave little fellow, so he
answered, “All right, I am ready.”

All the time he was looking desperately about for a weapon of some sort;
but the only thing he saw was the skin of the flipper of a seal. This he
pulled quickly onto his own right hand, which it fitted like a glove.

“Come on, Snake, and eat me up,” said he.

The big snake opened his mouth very wide, and quickly the boy thrust his
hand with the seal claws on it down the snake’s long throat, and pulled
out the snake’s stomach. Such an angry hissing as there was! Then the
snake glided away very fast.

Early in the morning, knowing that his uncle would come to see if the
shaman had killed him, the boy got out of his bag, and started to run
around on the floor to keep warm.

Soon the uncle climbed to the top of the kasga and peered down through
the window hole to see if the boy was there. When he saw his nephew
running about, he was more angry than ever, and called down in a loud
voice, “Try as hard as you can to live, I will kill you.” Then the boy
heard the footsteps going away over the snow, and crept back into the
sleeping-bag.

When it began to be dark, some one crept up to the window hole and said,
“Hello.” It was the kind man, and happy indeed was the poor little boy
to hear the voice of his friend.

The man was very much surprised to hear the boy’s answering “Hello,” and
very much pleased, and said, “Last night, the wicked shaman transformed
himself into a snake and went out. In the morning he came crawling back
without his stomach, and died. You killed that shaman, I am sure. Now
tonight your uncle sent for the very highest shaman of all, and told him
he must kill you himself. I am afraid he will succeed this time, with
his great magic. You must try your very best to save yourself any way.”

Leaving some food and water, the kind man went away, and the boy,
shivering with cold and fright, crept back into his bag.

Pretty soon he heard a great noise by the door, and there was a bigger
snake than before; a real monster this time. My! How scared that poor
little boy was!

He looked about for a weapon to fight the snake with, but there was
none.

Nearer and nearer came the horrible creature, with his mouth wide open.

Then the boy’s eyes fell upon the big stone lamp. It was very heavy, but
he took it in his hands and went right up to the snake.

“If you are going to eat me, Snake,” he said, “open your mouth as wide
as you can, and swallow me quick.” The snake hissed loudly, and opened
his mouth very wide, and the boy threw the lamp right down the monster’s
throat. When the snake had swallowed the lamp, he thought it was the boy
and went out. After that the boy got into the bag as before and slept
until morning.

As soon as it was daylight the chief came to see if the shaman had
obeyed his command. He looked down through the window and saw the boy
standing there looking up at him. He surely was surprised.

“How dare you be alive?” said he. “This is the last day for you anyway.
If the shaman can’t kill you, I will do it myself.”

Long after the uncle had gone, when it began to be dark, some one came
to the window hole and shouted, “Hello!” It was his friend, and how
happy it made the little boy to hear that kind voice!

“I am thankful that you are alive,” said the voice. “When the shaman
came back last night, he said he had something heavy inside of him, and
this morning he was dead. I am sure you killed the wicked shaman, but I
fear you will be dead tomorrow yourself. Your uncle has told every man
to try to kill you, but I brought you a little spear, and a bow, and a
crown; also a warm parka, and some oil. When you put on your clothes,
take some of this oil and grease yourself all over, then take some coals
from one of the lamps and blacken your face. When you have done this,
sit still until your uncle calls you; then go out.”

After saying this and giving him the things, the man went away, and the
boy was alone again; but this time he felt more hopeful, for did he not
have a spear and a bow? And had he not a nice warm parka to put on?
Then, too, he was going to get out, anything was better than staying
there alone in the dark and cold.

In the morning the boy got up and put on his clothes, which fit as
though made for him, and which felt so good and warm after having had no
clothes at all for such a long time. He tried the little bow, and that
was just the right size for him, too. When he had blackened his face,
and put on the little crown, he sat down to wait for the chief.

He did not have long to wait. Pretty soon he heard the _crunch, crunch_,
of footsteps coming over the snow; then the cruel voice of his uncle
calling him to come out.

Now the little fellow knew that he was going through that door to be
killed, but he took his spear and his bow, and went out as bravely as
any man.

When he got outside he saw his uncle standing by the door with a big
spear, and a crowd of people armed with spears and bows, all waiting to
kill one little boy.

As soon as they saw him they raised a great howl, and hurled their
spears at him and shot their arrows; but the weapons struck the oily
surface of his parka and glanced aside without harming him at all. Then
the boy hurled his spear at his uncle with all his might. It struck deep
into his flesh, and the wicked man went off, howling like a dog, and
never came back; for which every one was sincerely thankful.

After that the boy heard some one calling, and looking up he saw the
kind man and his wife standing on the roof of their igloo, and they were
shouting, “Let us make him chief! Let us make him chief!”

Then the people who wanted to kill him when the wicked uncle was there,
shouted, “He will be our chief now! He will be our chief!” So the boy
became chief, and went to live with the kind man and his wife, and took
them for his parents and was good to them, just as they had been good to
him when he was in trouble.

From that time on, the Eskimos have continued the custom of adopting
little orphan children into their homes, and taking care of them; being
very kind, and never like the wicked uncle at all.



A RACE BETWEEN A REINDEER AND A TOM-COD


Long ago somewhere on the shore of the Arctic Ocean a reindeer was
taking a walk on the beach, enjoying the fine air, and the sea salt of
which the reindeer are so fond. As he passed a little point on the beach
jutting out into the ocean, a fish called tom-cod said, “Well, Deer, how
do you do?” The deer stopped to say good-morning to the fish, and asked
him if he did not think it would be fun to run a race, and settle for
all time which could go the fastest, a reindeer or a fish.

[Illustration: “Stopped to say good-morning to the fish”]

The tom-cod thought about it for a while; then said, “I am very busy
today, Reindeer, but if you will come this time tomorrow morning, we
shall race, and I shall beat you.”

“We shall see,” said the deer, and went home.

When the deer was out of sight the fish sent a message to all the
tom-cods near that shore. He told them that the next morning he would
have a race with a deer, and that they must answer the deer ever time he
said, “Fish, are you there?”

At sunrise the next day the deer came to the meeting-place and said,
“Fish, are you there?”

“Yes,” answered the tom-cod. “I am waiting for you.”

The reindeer walked along the shore, but the tom-cod laughed to himself
in fish language, and stayed quietly in the same place in the water.

After walking about a mile, the reindeer said, “Fish, are you there?”

Then another fish answered him, and said, “Yes, Reindeer, I am here, and
I could go much faster if I did not have to wait for you.”

The reindeer hurried on a little faster. After a while he said, “Fish,
are you there?” and still another fish answered him and said, “Yes,
Reindeer, I am here, but I could go much faster if I did not have to
wait for you.”

Then the reindeer, who thought it was the same fish all the time, ran as
fast as the wind for a little way. When he stopped he asked, “Fish, are
you there?” and still another fish answered, “O yes, I am here, but you
are too slow for me.”

After that the deer fell exhausted on the beach and could run no more.
So in that way the tom-cod won the race.



WHY THEY HAVE SUMMER ON ST. LAWRENCE ISLAND


Long, long ago, on St. Lawrence Island, there lived an old woman with
her little grandson. They were very poor, so poor that the old woman had
a hard time to feed and care for the boy.

It was always cold and stormy, and sometimes they had almost nothing to
eat for days at a time, because the wind blew so hard that the little
boy could not stay out to catch tom-cods.

One time when it had been stormy for many days, and the old grandmother
was nearly dying of hunger, the little boy said to her, “Grandma, do you
know what makes storms like this?”

“No,” said she; “I only know that it is always cold and windy; only some
days are worse than others. In some places they have sunshine, but never
here. We will die of hunger and cold, but the wind will go on blowing
just the same, and the snow will fall.”

The poor grandmother bowed her head, and the tears fell on her cheeks.

The boy said, “How is it, Grandma, that you live so long and do not know
what makes storms? I shall find out myself.”

The grandmother had to laugh, weak and sad as she was. “Why, how can you
find out such things? You are only a little boy.”

He stood up beside her and tried to look very big and strong.

“Grandma,” said he, “I will teach you about storms myself, even if I am
only a little boy. I will find out how to stop these storms.”

Then he asked her to mend his mukluks and his mittens, and to be sure
there were no holes in his parka, for he was going out.

The old woman said “No” at first, and begged him not to go, but seeing
how determined he was she let him have his way, and got his things ready
as he had asked her to do.

When she had finished, the little fellow put the parka over his head,
and with his high fur mukluks, and good mittens, he was well protected
from the wind.

Outside the igloo he stopped to watch the storm and which way the snow
was drifting. After studying it for a while he said to himself, “I know
now where the storm comes from,” and putting his head down he took a
long breath and started to walk against the wind, which was so strong
that it took him a long time to make any progress at all. The snow was
thick and caused him to stop every few steps, and turn his back to the
wind, to rest and get his breath.

At last, when he began to despair of getting any farther, he saw
something big and dark moving through the snow. It was a man, a very big
man. He had on a fine parka with a big band of wolverine fur about the
hood, that stood out from his face like the rays of the sun; only the
little boy had never seen the sun, so he never thought of that.

Luckily the man had his back to the boy, and of course could not hear
him in such a howling wind.

Back and forth, the man walked in the snow, intent upon his work, and
not looking about him at all.

The boy watched him closely, and saw that he had a spear, and a big
shovel made from the shoulder-bone of a whale. First the man would break
up a lot of snow with the spear, then he would scoop it up with his
shovel, and with a great shout fling that snow wildly about in every
direction. He seemed to be singing some kind of a wild song, and as he
waved his shovel high in the air the snow flew thick and fast, whirling
away in the great blast of wind made by the fanning of the shovel.

The boy listened for the words of the song. They sounded something like
this:

    “Whir-r-r-r away.
    Away blow.
    Fill the day,
    With flying snow.
    Here you go.
    There you go.
    Blow, blow, BLOW!”

At the last “BLOW” he would give a great shout, and whirl around so
fast, and fling the snow so hard, that he would almost lose his balance
and fall over on the ground.

How do you think the boy felt when he realized that he had all
unexpectedly come upon the Storm Man himself? He was so excited he
forgot to feel cold or tired, and began to wonder what he could do, he,
a little boy, as his dear old grandmother had so rightly said, to stop
the Storm Man from making any more storms. The man was very big and
fierce and strong, and he himself was so very little, and had had so
little to eat for a long time that he was not strong at all.

Watching the Storm Man, he noticed that every time he got through
chopping a lot of snow, he would drop the spear behind him, and stoop to
pick up the shovel; so, waiting until the man was entirely absorbed in
his shovel and his song, the little boy grabbed the big spear and
scampered off across the snow for dear life.

My! How heavy that spear did feel, and how the boy did run! For in spite
of his burden, he was so sure the Storm Man was after him that Fear lent
wings to his feet and he fairly flew over the snow toward his
grandmother’s little house.

Safely he reached the door, and fell breathless on the floor behind his
grandmother with the spear in his hand. Almost at his heels, he heard
the Storm Man shouting behind him, “Give me my spear! Give me my spear!”

The old woman roused herself, opened her eyes, and saw the boy.

“My son,” said she, “if you have anything belonging to that man, give it
to him or he will kill us.”

“Grandmother, dear Grandmother, don’t make me give back the spear, for
that is the Storm Man, and if I give it back now, he will make a
terrible big storm and we shall die anyhow. If I keep it he cannot make
the storms.”

Then the man shouted louder than ever, “If you do not give me back my
spear the sky will fall on you! You will be killed and every one on St.
Lawrence Island will die, too; but if you give it back right away, it
will be summer when you wake up tomorrow morning. The sun will be
shining, and the salmon-berries will be ripening all about the house.
Then go down to the river and set your nets, and they will quickly be
full of fine salmon. Hurry! Hurry! Give me my spear!”

The grandmother again said, “Boy, give that man his spear.”

The little boy was very angry, because he did not believe the Storm Man,
and thought they would be killed anyway, but he did not dare disobey the
grandmother, so he took the spear to the fireplace and struck the point
against the stone lamp to make it dull. When he had finished, he threw
it out of the window hole, and called, “There is your spear. I know you
are the Storm Man.”

The Storm Man only laughed, and said, “Konnu has sharpened my spear.”
Now “Konnu” was the boy’s name.

After that the grandmother and the boy heard the howling song of the
Storm Man grow fainter and fainter in the distance, until they both fell
asleep to its soothing sound.

Early in the morning the boy was awakened by a strange dazzling light in
his eyes. It was the sun. True to his word, the Storm Man had let the
summer come.

Outside it was warm. Sunshine was everywhere, making everything look
bright and beautiful. The ground about the house was thick with ripening
salmon berries, and the sky was blue, with little white puffy clouds
floating over it.

Konnu took his nets down to the river, and saw the salmon swimming
lazily about. His heart was full of joy, for he knew the Storm Man had
kept his word, that this was summer, and they need not be hungry and
cold any more.



THE LOST SON


Long ago, in a village on the Arctic coast of Alaska, there lived a man
and his wife, with their only son.

The boy was clever and brave, and a good hunter. Every spring he went
out with his harpoon and killed a whale, but he did not worship the
whales as his father did. The father thought the whales had great power,
and he used to pray to them.

One winter while the young man was out hunting, the ice broke and
drifted away from land, leaving him on the ice floe with a great expanse
of shining sea between himself and the shore. There was no way for him
to reach land, and, to make matters worse, a storm arose, and the wind
blew and howled, and the waves grew so big that they looked like
mountains. Pretty soon the ice was all broken up, so that he found
himself on a very small, high iceberg. He had scarcely room to turn
around, and all night long he clung there, cramped up and cold.

When daylight came again, and he saw that he was all alone on a little
piece of ice, floating on a big black ocean, without even a glimpse of
land to cheer him, he fell into deep despair. Very miserably he waited
there, looking out over the sea until night began to fall once more;
then he could bear it no longer. Taking his hunting knife from its
sheath, he made ready to kill himself. As he raised the knife, a hand
from above seized his hand, and a great voice spoke in his heart,
saying, “You must not do that. It is wrong.” On hearing this, he dropped
the knife in the water, and suddenly he felt himself being drawn up
swiftly through the air. When he recovered his breath and looked about
him, he was in heaven. It was very light, and he was not cold or sad any
more.

While he stood there enjoying the balmy air and warm sunshine, a kind
man came along, and took him to his home, where he was as well fed and
treated as by a loving father.

Now his own father and mother were in great distress, and scarcely knew
how to live without him. The neighbors were sorry for them, and every
one in the village spoke kindly of the young man, whom they looked upon
as lost forever.

At the far end of the village, in a tiny hut, there lived an old woman
with her little granddaughter.

One day the little girl said, “Grandma, I wish I might bring back that
young man.”

“Indeed, my dear, I wish so too,” answered the old woman; “but how could
one little girl do what all the wise people in the village have not been
able to accomplish?”

But the little girl kept on thinking about it and wishing she could
bring the young man back to his unhappy parents; until at last she could
think of nothing else, and could neither eat nor sleep for thinking of
it.

One night, while her grandmother slept, the little girl lay looking at
the old stone lamp, dreaming of the sadness that had come over her
village because the boy, whom they all loved, was lost. She fancied the
flickering light, from its wick of moss, winked at her, as much as to
say, “I know something you would like to know.” So she began to talk to
it in a low voice, that she might not awaken her grandmother. “Lamp,
dear Lamp, can’t you go and find that boy? Your eyes are so bright, and
you look so wise. Won’t you please go and find him?”

She sat up on her little heels, with her hands clasped, speaking
eagerly.

The old grandmother stirred uneasily among her bear skins on the floor.
The lamp twinkled and flickered, then, trembling a little, began to hop
with short quick hops at first, then higher and higher, until at last,
waving a bright goodby to her, the little lamp shot right out through
the hole that is in the roof of every Eskimo house, and went straight up
to heaven to get the young man, and bring him home.

“O Grandmother!” cried the little girl. “Our lamp has gone after him.”

The grandmother shivered, for without the lamp which supplied their heat
and light, she felt cold. Drawing the little girl down beside her, she
snuggled under the big fur rugs and went to sleep.

When the lamp reached heaven it went straight to the house where the
young man was. It hopped so quickly through the ventilator, into the
house, that some of the oil spilled out on the floor. The man who lived
there tried to grab it, but each time he thought he had caught it, the
lamp slipped from his fingers, and hopped away through the air,
beckoning to the young man to come. Quickly jumping into the bowl of the
lamp, the boy sat there and was carried straight down to the little
girl.

When the little girl opened her eyes in the morning, she was
disappointed to see the old lamp twinkling away in its accustomed place,
looking very innocent indeed. The child thought it must have been a
dream. Then a shadow came between her and the lamp, and she saw the boy
standing, smiling down at her and the grandmother, and she knew that her
dream had come true.

When they had recovered from their astonishment, and the boy had asked
all about his parents and his friends, they talked a long while together
and arranged a fine plan to give his father and mother a surprise.

The grandmother was to go to his house at once and ask his parents to
give her some clothes, for those he had on were shabby and soiled, but
she was to make believe that she wanted them for herself.

When the old woman reached the boy’s home, the parents welcomed her very
kindly and asked what they could do for her.

“Let me have some of your son’s clothes,” said she. “My little
granddaughter and I are very poor, and the weather is cold.”

“Alas!” sighed the man. “Our son is lost to us, and I fear he will not
want his clothes any more. He would be happy to know that they were of
use to you.”

They gave her the very best parka and mukluks the boy had, also some
food. She thanked them heartily, and went home as fast as she could, for
the sight of their sad faces made her feel that no time must be lost in
making them happy again.

By the time the boy was dressed, and they had all had some food, it was
evening. Then the two children ran hand in hand to the kasga, where the
people were gathering to sing songs and play games.

The little girl went in first, and asked if she too might sing. They
gave her a drum, and she sang a wonderful song, all about a dream she
had had, which really was the story of how the lamp had found the boy
and brought him home.

The sad parents were there, and the mother began to cry for her son, and
the father said, “I wish that dream would come true!”

Just as he said this, the boy gave a shout and rushed into the room. You
can imagine how surprised they all were, and how happy too.

Then the little girl slipped quietly out and went home with a shining
face.

“Grandmother,” said she, “I can sleep well tonight, for I know everybody
is glad again.”

The next day the boy came to the grandmother, and asked her and her
granddaughter to come to live at his home with his father and mother.

They went with him, and after that they were always happy and
comfortable, for the boy became a famous hunter, and kept them all
supplied with good things to eat, and plenty of fur skins to keep them
warm.

The little girl grew big, and the old grandmother bossed them all.
Grandmothers always do in Eskimo Land.



THE CROW AND THE OWL


Long ago, when crows were white, a crow and an owl sat on a log, talking
together.

The crow said he did not like his color, and the owl said, “I wish I had
some pretty spots on my back.”

“So do I,” said the crow. “Let us paint each other with black oil from
the lamp.”

“To-whit, to-whoo,” said the owl. “What fun that would be!”

Now when a clay lamp gets old there is a lot of thick black oil in the
bottom of it. The Eskimos make chewing-gum out of this oil.

The crow took one of the owl’s feathers, dipped it into the oil, and
painted beautiful black spots all over the owl’s body. He did it very
well and made the owl look fine.

Then came the owl’s turn to paint the crow. At first he liked to do it,
and made such pretty round spots that the crow began to feel very proud
indeed; but before he was half through, the owl got tired of working so
hard; and taking the lamp, he turned it upside down, and poured the
black oil all over the crow.

How angry that crow was when he found himself black all over! He tried
his best to get it off, but it was no use. The black stuck fast.

Ever since then, the crow has been the blackest of all birds.

[Illustration: “Poured the black oil all over the crow”]



THE RUNNING STICK


Long ago, in the village of Na-ki-a-ki-a-mute, there lived a strong man,
or chief, with his wife, to whom he was very devoted. They had no
children, but among their neighbors was a little girl who lived in a
tiny house with her grandmother. These two were very poor, but the chief
was rich, and the chief’s wife loved the little girl and had her often
with her. Indeed the child used to come every day to fetch water for the
chief’s wife, from the water hole through the ice in the river nearby.

One day the man went off hunting, and when he came back with a fine fat
seal for their food his wife was gone. He called and called her, but she
did not answer. Then he went to all his neighbors seeking her, but no
one had seen her, and no trace of her could he find anywhere. There was
not even a footprint to show in which direction she had gone.

The poor man was nearly crazy with grief and anger, for he felt sure
some one must have taken his wife away from him. He became fierce and
sullen, brooding over his troubles and loneliness, and would speak to no
one. In fact no one dared to come near him for fear of being killed.

All day long he would sit out in front of his house with his big bow and
quiver full of arrows, watching; and at night he did not sleep, nor
could he eat.

One day the old grandmother said to the little girl, “I am sorry for
that poor man; he is so unhappy. You go to him and ask him to come and
eat with us. His wife loved you. He will not hurt you. Try to bring him
back with you.”

Very timidly the little girl obeyed, for in her heart she was afraid to
go. When she got near the chief’s house she stopped and felt like
turning back, for he sat there looking so fierce and gloomy that she was
frightened; but when he saw the child standing there he motioned to her
to come. Then she felt no longer afraid, but went and sat beside him,
and told him what her grandmother had said. The chief answered nothing,
but when she slipped her little hand in his, he got up and went with her
to her home, where the old woman had already cooked him a fine supper of
reindeer meat.

The poor man had not eaten for so long that he was starving, and when he
had finished all the meat the old woman had, he sent the little girl to
his own house to get some more.

As soon as the little one had gone out of the room, the grandmother said
to him, “I sent for you because you have been kind to us, and I believe
I can help you to find your wife. You must make a good strong staff of
driftwood, then take this bunch of charms and tie it firmly to the
stick,” and she gave him a little bunch of charms. These charms were
ivory animals and faces and some tufts of feathers from sea birds.

Next she said that he must set the stick upright in the ground, in front
of his house, very firmly, so that the wind could not blow it over. When
he had done this he should go to bed and sleep. In the morning he must
examine the stick carefully, and go in the direction in which the stick
leaned. Wherever he stopped for the night he must set the stick up in
the same way, and in the morning the stick would point in the direction
he must follow to find his wife.

“If you obey my instructions,” said she, “the stick will lead you
straight to your wife.”

Then the little girl came in with some more reindeer meat, and the man
ate until he was satisfied, and went home.

As soon as he reached his house, he made a fine staff, tied the charms
to it and planted it firmly in the ground before the door. Then he went
in, and rolling himself up in a big bear skin, fell asleep.

He woke up in the morning feeling well rested, and more like himself
than at any time since his wife’s disappearance. It was late and the sun
had already risen. He hurried out anxiously to look at his stick. It was
bent directly toward the North, so he pulled it up and started on his
journey, with the staff moving along before him.

For two days and two nights he traveled without rest, having a hard time
to keep up with that stick, which hopped along in front of him. Then,
being tired, he stuck the staff into the ground and went to sleep.

When he woke, the stick was again pointing North. This time it leaned
over more than before.

For three days and nights he traveled, then he slept, and in the morning
his faithful staff was bending way over, still toward the North.

“Now my wife cannot be very far away,” he thought.

That night he slept again, and when he awoke, the staff had leaned so
far over that the tip almost touched the ground; so he felt sure he must
be near his journey’s end.

About noon, when the sun hung very round and very red, low down in the
sky, he came to a huge snow house, the biggest house he had ever seen.
Right by the house stood four posts close together, and on these posts
was hung the skin of an enormous bird.

Hiding himself among some willow bushes, he watched to see what would
happen.

Pretty soon a very tall man came out of the house and went to the posts.
Climbing up on them, he took the skin, put it on, and flew away over the
sea.

When the bird man was out of sight, our friend took his faithful staff
and went into the house. There he found his wife, who was very happy to
see him.

“I knew you would come and find me,” she said. “That terrible big bird
carried me away in his claws; that is why you could not find my
footprints in the snow.”

Her husband wanted her to come home with him at once, but she told him
that it would be better if she could first see the bird man, who would
come back soon again. Her plan was to send the bird man on some far
distant fight, so that they might get away during his absence. She gave
her husband some food, and he went back to his hiding-place to wait for
the bird man to come and go.

After a short time the bird came back with a walrus in one claw and a
seal in the other. Flying to the rack, he took off the bird skin, hung
it up, and went into the house.

When he came in, he found the woman crying. “What do you want?” said he.

“I want a white whale and a hump-back whale. I didn’t want any seal. I
am tired of seal and walrus meat. Boo-hoo!” and she howled and wailed
dismally.

“Only be quiet,” said the bird man, “and I will get you what you want.”
And he came out again and, putting on his bird skin, once more flew out
over the sea.

When the bird was out of sight, the woman ran from the house to her
husband, who put her on his back and started for home as fast as he
could go. He was the swiftest runner in his village, and covered the
ground pretty fast; but, after all, legs are not wings. It was not long
before they met the bird man coming back with a whale in each of his
talons. When he saw the man carrying the woman away on his back, the
bird was very angry, and circled about in the air over their heads,
calling out to them, “I shall kill you. First, however, I am going to
take these two whales home, then I shall come back and kill you.” And
away he flew.

The man ran as fast as he could, but just as they reached the banks of a
big river the bird came in sight.

The man and his wife dug a cave in the river bank, and hid in it while
the bird flew by looking for them. Nowhere could the big bird find those
two people, although he was sure they must be hiding somewhere nearby.
Suddenly he circled about, and flew down to the water. “I shall set my
great wing across the river like a dam, and the water will rise and
drown them,” cried he; so he stretched his great wing across the river
and the water rose over the wing, and crept nearer and nearer to where
the man and his wife were hidden.

The two poor people were in despair. They thought that surely they would
be drowned, when suddenly the man remembered his father, who was a witch
doctor, and some magic words came to his mind:

    “Kluk-a-luk.
    Muk-a-luk.
    puk-a-luk.
    Freeze up hard,
    Or you must run dry.”

He said these words over three times aloud. At that moment the water of
the river began to freeze. It was the month called “Naz-ze-rak-sek” by
the Eskimos, which means October.

At last the river froze so hard and solid, that the bird’s wing was
frozen fast into the ice and he could not pull it out. Then the husband
killed the wicked bird, and plucking one of the long feathers from its
wing for a charm, took his wife safely home without any further trouble.

They brought the old grandmother and the little girl to live with them,
and they were all happy the whole winter long with the meat of the big
bird for food.



THE TREACHEROUS CROW AND HIS COUSIN, THE MINK


Long ago, a crow and a mink lived together. The crow called the mink his
cousin. They made a little cabin where there was a sand bar and willows.
In summer time when the weather was fine they played together on the
sand bar, which was bigger than any sand pile any children ever had.

One day they saw some dead salmon on the beach, and the tracks of a
brown bear.

The crow said to the mink, his cousin, “What shall we do if that brown
bear comes around here?”

The mink answered, “We cannot catch that bear. He is bigger and stronger
than we are. He will kill us.”

Then the crow laughed, “Haw, haw! I know how to kill that bear; it is
easy. Cousin, you will go inside the dead salmon, and I will put it in
the bear’s track.”

“O no!” said the mink. “I am afraid. You go yourself into the salmon.”

But the crow was boss. “I do not wish to go into the salmon,” said he.
“You go yourself. I am bigger than you, and I have wings. I will put you
into the salmon, and I will put the salmon in the bear’s track, and
don’t you move one bit, even if you are scared. I will tell you what to
do. If the bear comes, keep very still. If he opens his mouth to bite,
you just jump down his throat, and go in as far as you can. Bite him
hard inside, and then he will drop dead.”

The mink was terribly afraid, but the crow said, “I will help you. When
the bear drops dead, I will run out of my hiding-place, and cut a little
door in his side with my knife, and you will jump out. If you do that,
we will live well and have lots of meat to eat all winter.”

The poor mink looked very sad indeed, but did not dare to refuse to do
what the crow told him.

“All right,” said the mink, “I will do it, but I know that I shall die.”

The crow went to work to prepare the big fish. He skinned it nicely, and
when it was ready, put his cousin, the mink, inside of it, and laid it
where the bear track was.

The mink was terribly frightened inside the salmon, because he knew the
bear would eat him up. The crow hid among the willows and watched his
cousin.

[Illustration: “The bear came around by the same track and saw the
salmon”]

After a while the bear came around by the same track, looking for a fish
to eat, and saw the salmon. First he sniffed at it, and noticed that it
smelled a little different, but very good. Then he sniffed again, and,
being very hungry, he opened his big mouth wide, and the mink popped
right down his throat. Down he went, down as far as he could jump,
biting hard all the time. The crow was watching from the willows, and
pretty soon the bear danced around on his hind legs and fell to the
ground. Quickly the crow flew to the bear, and with his little knife cut
a door for the poor frightened mink to jump out of.

“See,” said the crow, “I told you it was easy to kill the big bear. Now
we have killed him, we will have meat all winter, and will not have to
go out to hunt in bad weather.”

The mink said nothing, but went to work to help the crow fix up the bear
into fine steaks.

They dried the meat and hung it up, and there was enough to feed the
whole village.

One night the crow said to the mink, “Cousin, once upon a time in the
olden days people of one village used to invite the people of another
village to come to a feast and dance. I should like to do that myself.”

“Why,” said the mink, “I have never heard of that before. I don’t know
what that would be like, but I should love to see it.”

“We will do it,” said the crow. “We have plenty of fine bear meat for
every one, and we will give a party. I will tell you what to do, Cousin,
and tomorrow you will start, but you must do just what I tell you.”

Then they went to sleep, and early in the morning, the crow sent his
cousin to the sea.

“You walk until you come to a village,” said he, “but don’t stop at that
one; go right on until you come to a second village; pass that one also.
When you come to the third village, stop, and the people will ask you
where you come from. Say to them, ‘I come from a big village. We have a
chief in our village, and he has sent me to invite you all to his big
dance.’ If they ask you what kind of a chief you have, don’t tell them
it is a crow, because if you tell them that, no one will come. Just say,
‘We have a fine chief.’”

When the crow had finished talking, the mink jumped on to the ice, and
went toward the sea. He went on until he came to a village, but he did
not stop at that one; he passed it as his cousin had told him to do, and
went on again. Then he came to the second village, but he passed that
one too, and at last came to the third village. Here he stopped, and the
people were happy when he gave them his cousin’s invitation.

Everybody in the village wanted to go to the feast, and the next morning
they all started off.

When they passed the first village, where the crow had told the mink not
to stop, two people came out and asked if they might go also.

The mink said, “No, we do not want you.” But they came anyway.

Just before dark the mink got home to the crow. What was his surprise to
see a fine village, where he had left only a cabin the day before; and a
lot of people coming out to meet him and his guests.

The mink saw his crow cousin surrounded by a crowd of people, all
dressed up in fine clothes, looking very fine indeed. The crow was so
happy to see the mink coming with the people of the sea village that he
started up a great shout. They all shouted loudly, and the crow, in his
excitement, forgetting that he was a crow, tried to shout with them, but
all he could say was “Caw, caw!”

The two people from the first village, who had not been invited, were
watching very closely to see what sort of people these were who gave
this great feast, and when they heard the crow shouting, “Caw, caw,”
they called, “Look out, friends. We see that the chief of this village
is a crow!”

Then the crow spoke up and said, “I am not a crow, people. Don’t be
afraid. I promise you a good time. We will dance tonight only, then I
will send you home.”

Before the dance they had some races. The marten came first, then the
wolf, then the lynx. The Arctic hare came fourth, and fifth, the fox.
The Arctic hare could have won first prize if he had wanted to, but he
kept sitting down every minute. One of the people, a muskrat, had not
come back from the race when the dance started, and when he came in all
hot and tired the people laughed and made fun of him. That made him so
angry that he was in a great temper, but the crow said, “Don’t you mind
them; you are all right.” So he felt better about it.

Before the dance started, the crow stood up on top of the house, and
called out, “People, I am going to do something fine for you. I am going
to rub some oil on your eyes that will make you all see every animal
when you go hunting. Last fall I killed a bear, and the oil is from that
bear.”

At this the mink was in a terrible rage, because the crow did not tell
them that it was he who had killed the bear, and he began to shout, “He
lies, he lies! He did not kill the bear. I killed it myself.”

Well, the crow was so embarrassed and surprised when he heard his cousin
say this that he fell right down from the top of the house where he had
been standing.

The mink, too, was terribly sorry he had spoken so hastily, and he
called out to the crow, “O dear Cousin, forgive me; I did not mean that.
I was only jealous. People, listen to me. I did not kill the bear at
all. My cousin told the truth. He really killed that bear.”

Then the crow was happy again, and flew back to his high perch, where he
recovered his dignity.

Then the people began to ask about the oil, and all stepped up to the
crow in turn, and he put it on their eyes.

The two people from that first village were watching the crow all the
time, and suddenly one of them jumped up and began to shout, “Stop,
people! Stop! He is putting glue on your eyes!”

There was great excitement, and the people tried to open their eyes, but
could not, for their eyes were stuck together with glue.

All at once salt water began to pour into the house, and every one
rushed to get out of the door, but their eyes were glued, so they could
not see the hole to go out.

Now the crow took a big stick, and the mink one also, and all the crow’s
people armed themselves with big sticks, and killed all the people the
mink had gone to sea to invite, and who turned out to be seals after
all.

Then the treacherous and tricky crow gave one of the seals to each of
his own people and sent them home.

This is how the crow got the name of being the trickiest of all the
birds, and no animal really likes him, because they know they cannot
trust him.



GOOD AND BAD WEATHER


Long ago, on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, two Eskimo boys were
walking from their own home to a far-away village. While they were going
along, a terrible storm overtook them and they had to hold each other by
the hand to keep from falling. Pretty soon the wind rose so high, and
the snow fell so fast, they felt they could go no farther. In despair,
they clung to each other, blinded by the snow, when a tremendous gust of
wind suddenly caught them, and blew them against the side of a little
snow house. How glad they were to find shelter!

Inside the house was an old woman, living all alone. She was very kind
and invited them to sit down and rest; then she gave them something to
eat, and told them that she was going out.

“Do not look after me to see what I am doing,” said she, “or you will be
sorry.”

She put on her parka and mukluks, and took her stone skin scraper in her
hand and went out the door.

The Eskimo women have a scraper which they use to scrape the flesh, or
meat, from the skin of the animals they prepare for clothing. This
scraper is somewhat the shape of a carpenter’s plane. The blade is made
of a sharp piece of stone. That was the kind of thing the old woman took
out with her.

The boys were devoured with curiosity, and after she had gone the oldest
one said, “Let us go out and look at her.” But the younger boy
whispered, “No, no.” He was afraid; but his brother was determined to
see what that old woman was doing out there with her knife, so he
persuaded the little one to creep softly to the door with him, and peek
out.

Where do you think the old woman was? And what do you think she was
doing? Way up in the sky she sat, scraping away at the clouds. She had
already scraped off half the clouds, and where she had scraped, the sky
was as blue, as blue as could be, but the other half was still covered
with thick black clouds.

When she saw the two boys peeping at her, she let go of the sky and fell
down. As she came into the house, the boys were sitting on the floor,
just as she had left them, hoping she had not really seen them looking
at her.

“You rascals! You bad boys!” she cried. “You did just what I told you
not to do. If you had not looked out at me, and made me fall off, I
would have cleaned all the clouds away, and we should never have had any
more storms. But alas! I cannot go up there again, and now we shall have
both clear and cloudy weather.”

Ever since then it has been sometimes clear and sometimes stormy,
because the old woman had only had time to clean off one-half of the
sky.



HOW THE WHITE WHALES HAPPENED


Long, long ago, on St. Lawrence Island, there lived with his grandmother
a little blind orphan boy. He was so blind that he could not even see a
ray of light.

The grandmother was a wicked old witch, and treated him very badly.

They were frightfully poor, and had to eat muskrats, for they had no one
to go hunting food for them.

One day the old woman came in very much excited because she had seen a
polar bear with two cubs. Now you must understand that the bear cubs are
the baby bears, and are nice and round and plump and juicy and covered
with white fluffy fur. The grandmother smacked her lips at the thought
of those delicious little bears.

After grumbling about for a while, and scolding the boy because he could
not see to go hunting, she handed him a strong bow made from driftwood
and some fine arrows tipped with bone, and told him to go out and kill
those bears.

“But, Grandmother,” said he, “how can I kill the bears when I cannot see
to shoot them?”

“Come out and I will show you.” And she shoved him out of the house.

They sat down outside and waited for Mother Bear to come by with her
babies.

The grandmother told the boy to hold the arrow pointed straight in front
of him, and that she would tell him when to let it fly.

They waited a long time for the bears to come, and just as he was
getting so tired he feared he would drop the heavy bow, who should come
sauntering slowly along but Mother Bear and her two frisky babies. Just
as they passed the very spot at which the blind boy was aiming, his
grandmother whispered, “Shoot!” and he let fly the arrow. One by one he
killed the three bears in this way.

Of course the poor little fellow could not see the bears at all and was
not sure that he had killed them, but when he asked her the old witch
would tell him nothing. She only scolded him and shoved him into the
house.

Saying that she was going to gather sticks for the fire, she took her
big knife, with a green jade blade and walrus ivory handle, and went out
to skin the bears. Having carefully removed the skins, she hung the meat
to dry in the cache, a sort of high drying-frame, where no wild animal
could get at it.

When dinner time came the old grandmother feasted greedily on bear
steak, but she gave only lean muskrats to the hungry little boy.

In the morning the little fellow crawled out on his hands and knees to
search for willow weeds, which the Eskimos like to make tea from. They
chew it too sometimes. He had to feel his way very carefully so as not
to hurt himself, for of course he could see nothing.

While he was crawling along, reaching out with his hands for the
willows, he heard something hopping lightly before him.

A little twittering voice said, “Good-morning, boy.”

“Who are you?” said the boy, and he stopped to listen.

“I am a snipe, and I can make your eyes see if you will let me.”

“Well,” said the boy, “I have always been blind, and I don’t think a
snipe could give me my sight, but I could not be worse off than I am
now, so you might try, if you want to.”

No sooner had he said this than the snipe hopped on his shoulder and
began brushing his eyes very lightly with the tip of her pretty spotted
wing. This she did gently back and forth many times, until at last he
shouted gladly that he could see.

The little snipe did not let him go just then, but made him keep very
quiet until she had polished his eyes so bright that he could see the
tiniest speck of sand in the bottom of the ocean; then she sent him
home.

Thanking his little new-found friend, the boy ran back as fast as his
feet could carry him. When he got near the house, he dropped down on his
hands and knees again, and closing his eyes, came crawling in. As he
entered he detected the odor of bear meat.

“Grandmother, what is that good smell that makes me so hungry?” said he;
but the old woman spoke harshly, and scolded him for not bringing back
any willow weed. He still kept asking for food, hoping she would give
him some of the bear, but she placed the muskrat before him again, while
she ate the bear steaks. When she was too busy eating to notice him, he
peeped at her with one eye, and saw her devouring greedily. When she was
too well filled to eat any more, she went down to the sea to wash the
bear grease off her hands and face, but she was so heavy with food that
when she leaned over she fell into the water head first.

The boy heard a shriek and ran to the shore just in time to see her rise
to the surface, turn into a white whale, and swim away.

Ever since then the Eskimos have believed that all white whales were
once old women. Indeed, to this day, they insist that a bunch of white
hair is found inside the brain of a white whale, which makes them all
the more sure of it.



A GIANT AND HIS DRUM


Long ago, in a village in Eskimo Land, there lived a man with his wife
and five sons, of whom they were very proud.

One day the oldest son came to his father and said, “Father we have
always been in the same place, and seen the same kind of people. I think
it is time for me to go in search of another village and see something
of the world.”

So bidding them all goodby, he took his hunting knife and his strong bow
with a quiver full of arrows and went away.

The next day the second son said that he must go after his brother. So
he went too; and after him the third. At last the fourth followed the
others and the parents found themselves alone with the youngest son, who
was only a boy. He of course wanted to go to find his brothers, and the
father and mother, who were already very sad at losing four boys, had
hard work to keep him at home. They shut him in the house, and took
turns watching that he did not get away.

One day, however, the mother fell asleep and the boy, who had been
waiting for a chance, slipped out of the house and ran as fast as he
could go. After he had run far enough to feel sure they could not catch
him, he made the image of a man out of birchbark and fastened it to the
top of his parka hood, where it stood up very high and white. Having
done this he went merrily on his way.

After walking a long time he saw a huge house, with an enormous giant
standing out in front of it. Beside the giant hung a drum. This drum was
a big box, with seal intestine stretched over the ends, and all around
the edge of it was bone, as sharp as a knife. The Eskimos use drums for
their ceremonial dances, but the boy had never seen such a big one as
this. On the ground all about the giant were the bones and skulls of the
men he had devoured.

The little fellow was so frightened he wanted to run away, but it was
too late, for the giant had already seen him and shouted to him that he
must dance. The boy obeyed, and while he was dancing the giant beat upon
the drum and sang a long song. When he came to the end of the song, he
gave a mighty shout and hurled the drum at the boy’s head. Whizzing
through the air, the drum struck the arm of the birchbark image and
broke it off; then the boy took the drum and sang the giant’s song. When
he had finished, he threw the drum back and it cut off one of the
giant’s arms. They kept throwing the drum back and forth at each other
until at last the image was broken, and the giant fell dead. The
birchbark image had saved the boy’s life, because the giant mistook it
for the boy and threw the drum at it every time.

The boy was terribly proud of himself; indeed, he could hardly believe
he had killed that great giant, and he waited a little way off until he
saw that the giant did not move; then he went into the house. When he
got inside he heard a sound of crying that seemed to come from under the
floor. There, in a deep pit, he found his four brothers, who were being
kept by the giant for a great feast that was to take place the next day.
If the boy had come two days later he would have found nothing left of
his brothers but their bones.

You may be sure the four boys were happy to be saved from such a cruel
fate, and they could not praise their brother enough for his cleverness
and courage.

Bringing the great drum with them, they hurried back as fast as they
could to their parents.

After that they were all content to stay at home and hunt walruses and
whales; for they had had enough of going abroad in search of adventure.



LOVEK AND SERANAK


Long ago, on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea there lived a strong
man named Lovek. This man was very bad; indeed, he was a big bully.
Whenever any of his neighbors went hunting, Lovek would take away
whatever they had killed, as soon as they had hauled it over the ice to
the shore. Every one in the village was afraid of this man who took away
all their food, and who was so strong no one could beat him. The people
did not know what to do, and were almost afraid to go hunting at all,
for Lovek was sure to find them and take away their game.

Now in this village there lived an orphan boy with his uncle. The boy’s
name was Seranak, and he was so poor he had scarcely any clothes to wear
and almost no food to eat.

One night at the kasga, Seranak heard the people talking about Lovek.
They hardly dared to speak aloud, and Seranak had to creep up close to
his uncle to hear what they were saying; but he heard enough to make him
feel very sorry for all the people, and determined to do something to
help them get rid of such a bad man.

When his uncle reached home, Seranak begged for some clothes and weapons
that he might go hunting.

At first his uncle refused, saying, “No, Seranak. What would a little
boy like you do if Lovek came along? He would take away anything you had
caught and might kill you too.”

Seranak begged so hard that at last his uncle said he might go, and gave
him a warm parka, a good pair of mukluks and a fine strong spear with a
sharp tip made of walrus ivory, and a long line made of walrus hide. The
boy thanked his uncle and went down to the ice which spread out like a
roof over the sea.

No sooner did he reach the edge of the ice than a walrus stuck his great
head up out of the water. To Seranak that walrus looked very funny with
his whiskers like an old man and two long tusks; he seemed to be saying,
“What do you think you can do, little boy, with that long spear?” But he
soon knew what “little boy” could do, for quickly Seranak raised his
arm, gave the spear a thrust, and it sank deep into the side of the
walrus. After that the boy hauled the animal upon the ice and began
cutting him up for meat.

[Illustration: “‘Lovek, I have you at my mercy now’”]

While he was working away with his uncle’s fine hunting knife, Lovek
came along, and stopping beside him with an evil grin, said, “Ha ha,
Seranak. So you are a big man now that you have killed a walrus! It is
good of you to go hunting for me. I will take the head now and the meat
later.”

Seranak said not a word but went on with his work just as though he had
heard nothing at all.

This surprised Lovek, whose stupid big face took on a puzzled
expression. He had never been treated like that before. Usually people
jumped and looked scared when he shouted at them.

Coming a little nearer, he roared at Seranak, “Boy, don’t you hear me?
Hand me that walrus head!”

Seranak paid no attention at all, until Lovek was almost on top of him;
then suddenly springing to his feet, he flung the surprised Lovek into
the deep water between the floes of ice. After a while Lovek came to the
top, puffing and blowing like a whale. Every time he stuck his head out
of the water, there was Seranak with his big spear. At last, when Lovek
was nearly drowned and almost frozen, Seranak said, “Lovek, I have you
at my mercy now and I will not let you out unless you promise to be good
and never again take that which does not belong to you.”

Of course Lovek promised. He was terribly frightened and greatly
surprised to find that he could be beaten by a little boy. After that he
was good to the hunters and became the kindest man in the village.

From that time Seranak was the hero of the people, and when he grew up
the people called him “Ommalik,” which is the same almost as “Big
Chief.”



THE CARIBOU


Long ago there was an Eskimo family living in a place quite by
themselves, and far away from any village.

The father had been killed by a caribou some years before, so the
widowed mother was alone with her two sons. They had been little boys
when the father died, but now they were young men and fine hunters.

Every day they used to go hunting. Always they brought back game of some
kind, so the family lived on the fat of the land.

At that time there were many caribou, which in those days had long sharp
teeth and could bite and kill people. Men used to hunt them with bows
and arrows and spears.

One day the two young men went out to hunt as usual, but this time they
did not return.

Days passed and they did not come. Their poor mother was sad and
anxious, waiting for them. Every day she looked about and watched and
waited, but still they did not come home. She did not dare to go far
from the house to search for them, for she was afraid of the fierce
caribou with their sharp teeth.

One day as she was watching, always hoping to see her sons coming back,
a big crow came flying by. She called out, “Crow, Crow, can you tell me
where are my two boys?”

And the crow said, “Yes, I know where your two boys are.” Then he flew
up still higher and circled about saying, “Caw, caw!” and the poor
mother was nearly frantic for fear that he would fly away without
telling her.

“O please come back!” she cried; but he flew a little higher, teasingly
saying, “Caw, caw! Wouldn’t you like to know?”

The woman went into her house and brought a piece of seal blubber and
held it up.

“I will give you this, Crow, if you tell me where to find them.”

Lazily the crow floated down and perched on the ground nearby.

“Give it to me,” said he.

“Tell me first,” said she.

So cocking his head on one side he said, “All right, I will tell you,
but your sons are both dead. The caribou killed them with their long
teeth.”

The poor mother was in despair, but she remembered to give the crow his
meat, and as he was about to fly away, she said, “Crow, if you will show
me the way to my sons, I will feed you whenever you come.”

So the crow told her where to go, but he said, “You will never feed me
again if you go there, because the caribou will tear you with their
teeth.”

Then he flapped his big black wings and said, “Caw, caw!” And the woman
thought he was laughing at her.

Going into the house, she covered herself all over with the red juice of
cranberries. It is very sour and tastes very bad. Her whole parka was
stained bright red with it; even her mukluks and mittens. Then, without
taking a weapon of any kind, she started off for the place where the
crow had told her she would find her boys.

It was a long way, and many caribou came after her and caught her parka
in their teeth and tried to bite her, but as soon as they tasted the
cranberry juice it was so terribly sour all their teeth fell out,
leaving them unable to bite any more.

When the mother came to where her two sons were lying, they seemed to be
asleep and covered with wounds from the bites of the caribou.

Crying, “Wake up, wake up!” in a loud voice, she kicked the soles of
their feet, first one then the other. As she did this, each one in turn
sat up and opened his eyes. They were very happy to see their mother,
and she rejoiced to find them alive. Then she helped them to their feet
and took them home and nursed them back to health.

As soon as their wounds healed, the boys went hunting as before, but
without fear, for from that time on, the caribou have never had any long
teeth.



A FOX STORY


Long ago, in the mountains of the Seward Peninsula, there lived a fox
who had a family of babies in his den. It was summer time, and he was
busy trying to find food for his little family. Every morning he used to
go hunting, while Mother Fox stayed home to take care of the baby foxes,
and see that they got into no mischief. When the young foxes grew big
enough to hunt for themselves, Father Fox decided to go on a journey of
adventure.

One day he climbed a high mountain. There was a deep ravine and then
another mountain, and he thought he would like to cross the divide to
see if there was any game on the opposite mountain. He had never been
over there, and he hoped he might find some good, fat ptarmigans or
rabbits on a new hunting-ground. Looking about, he saw a bear who was
eating a newly killed caribou.

The fox called to the bear in a coaxing voice, saying, “Dear Cousin,
give me a piece of that meat and some of the fat.”

“No!” growled the bear. “You get away from here right away! If you don’t
I will kill you, too!” That bear was not at all polite, nor was he very
generous, but the fox did not dare to say anything because he was really
afraid of the bear, so he just went slinking away through the brush with
his bushy tail dragging on the ground.

“I will get even with the bear somehow,” he muttered.

After a while what should he meet but another bear.

“Good-morning, Cousin,” said the fox most politely; “I was looking for
you.”

“What were you looking for me for?” asked the bear.

“Well, if you are hungry, I know where you can get a fine dinner,” said
the sly fox.

“Where is that?” asked the bear, beginning to look interested.

“A little while ago I saw another animal like you, only not so big, and
he was eating a fine, fat caribou. I will show you where he is if you
want; then, together, we can kill that other bear, and both have plenty
to eat.”

The bear looked surprised. “O no,” said he. “We never do such things as
that. Bears do not kill each other. We are friends.”

“That is nothing,” said the fox. “When we are hungry, we foxes kill each
other, and eat each other, too. The bear I saw is a bad bear. He said he
would bite you, if he met you.”

Now the fox knew he was telling an untruth, but he wanted to make this
bear angry with the other one. He was not a good character, that fox. Of
course, the bear was angry at that.

“We will go fight now, and I will see what that bear means by saying
such things.” He was really furious, and went off through the woods with
great strides, so that the fox had to run to keep up with him.

As soon as he saw the bear with the caribou, he jumped at him and a
desperate battle began. While they were busy fighting, the fox took all
the fat from the caribou and hid it under his skin.

When the second bear had beaten the bear with the caribou, and had
driven him away, he saw the fox lying on the ground moaning and groaning
as though in great pain.

“What is the matter, Cousin?” asked the bear.

“O!” groaned the fox, “I am almost dead!” And he rolled over and made
believe to cry. “I got terribly hurt helping you in that terrible fight.
It was I who gave your enemy the blow that drove him away.”

Now of course this was not true at all, but the bear was very sorry and
thought him a brave and loyal friend.

“You are a brave fox,” he said, “and we will always be friends.”

Then they ate all they wanted of the caribou, and left the place
together.

When the fox got hungry he would just take some of the fat of the
caribou from under his skin and feed on that. When the bear got hungry
he could find nothing to eat but a few blueberries. The poor animal who
was starving began to wonder why the fox was never hungry, so he asked
him, “Cousin have you been eating something?” and the fox said, “When I
am hungry, I just make a little hole in my skin and eat some of my own
fat, then I am satisfied.” Wasn’t he an awful story-teller?

The bear thought he would like to try that, too, so he took a bite out
of himself, and pretty soon he died. The wicked fox laughed at that, for
it was the very thing he had planned. He was pleased to have the bear to
eat, and removing the fat from his one-time friend, he stuffed it under
his own skin, and for a long while lived not on the “fat of the land” as
they say, but on the fat of the companion who trusted and admired him.

Winter was coming; the days were growing dark and cold, and Mr. Sly Fox
was beginning to get hungry again. He wondered what he should do for
food, and began to hunt about the woods.

One day he met a wolf who was also in search of food.

The wolf asked him, “Fox, Fox, where have you been, you look so fine and
fat, while all the other animals are hungry these cold days?”

“Of course I look fine,” said the fox. “I hunt all the time and get
plenty of food.”

“What do you hunt?”

The fox had to think hard for an answer; then he said, “Well, I fish
every day.”

It was winter then, and so far north the days were very short. The sun
got up late in the morning, and went to bed again in about three hours;
even then he didn’t get far up in the sky, but hung low like a great big
red balloon on the horizon.

The wolf asked the fox where he was getting all that fish.

The fox answered, “O, I have a big lake where I get all the fish I want.
I will show it to you if you would like me to.” And he asked the wolf if
he had any hooks to fish with.

“No,” said the wolf. “I have no fish-hooks because I never fish. I don’t
know how.”

“I will make you a hook and show you how to fish. It is easy,” said the
fox.

Then he took some of the dried grass which is used by the Eskimo women
for making baskets; weaving a rope out of it, he put a piece of stone on
the end, and he and the wolf went fishing like the best of friends. When
they reached the lake the fox made a hole in the ice and told the wolf
to sit near the hole and to drop the stone into the water through the
hole, then to keep moving it up and down by the string.

“Now,” said the fox, “you must remain the whole day moving that string
up and down. When the sun sets you will get fish.”

The fox stayed, playing about watching the wolf, who sat patiently by
the hole splashing the stone up and down in the water. Pretty soon the
fox saw the wolf’s big, bushy tail was getting covered with water. Now
it was getting colder every minute, and almost dark, and at last the fox
saw that the wolf’s tail was freezing fast to the ice of the lake. Then
he began to laugh out loud: “Ha ha ha!”

The wolf looked around suspiciously to see if the fox was laughing at
him, as he was beginning to get cross. He was tired, anyway, of sitting
there joggling that line up and down all day.

“What are you laughing at, Fox?” he said. “Are you trying to trick me
like you do every one?”

Mr. Sly Fox put on a very surprised and sorry face. “O no,” said he. “I
wouldn’t think of doing such a thing. I was just laughing with joy at
the thought of all the fine whitefish we will soon have for supper.”
Then he began to play around the wolf, and soon he laughed. “Ha! ha! ha!
O my! I will have plenty to eat now!”

The wolf turned with an angry snarl, showing his long fangs. “What! Are
you talking about me? Do you think you will eat me? We will see!” And he
made a leap for the fox, but his tail was stuck fast to the ice so that
he could not get away. Throwing himself from side to side, and yelping
like a dog, he struggled to get free, but still the ice held him
prisoner, until at last, with an angry howl, he snapped off his tail
with his own sharp teeth, and ran furiously after the treacherous fox,
who was already nearly out of sight. The wolf chased him as hard as he
could, and had nearly caught up with him, when the fox saw a hole in a
steep bank and popped inside. The wolf was too big to go into the hole,
so he sat outside, waiting for the fox to come out; but Mr. Fox was not
to be caught that way. Knowing that the wolf would die from having
chopped off his tail with his teeth, the fox just stayed safely where he
was until morning; then came out and ate up his former friend. When he
had finished devouring the wolf and felt well fed and comfortable, he
started out in search of some other animal to fool.

In his wanderings he came upon a high mountain, which had a long smooth
place down its steep side, made by a snowslide which had swept
everything before it, leaving a glistening path in its wake.

The fox began to play sliding-down-the-mountain, and was enjoying it
hugely. In one place he had to pass close to some big, sharp rocks, and
he dug into the snow a little with his claws to get safely by. After
that he climbed up to the top again, and there he saw a mountain sheep
coming toward him.

“Hello, Sheep. Don’t you want to play with me?” asked the fox; but the
sheep said that he did not want to slide there.

“Why not?” inquired the fox in a surprised sort of voice.

“Because I know that if I slide down there, I shall be killed by those
sharp rocks,” said the sheep.

But the fox answered, “Why, I thought a mountain sheep would not be
afraid of a nice little slide like that. I will tell you how to do it.
When you slide down, shut your eyes tight, as soon as you come near the
rocks, and you will get past all right.”

The sheep said, “Let me see you do it first.”

So the fox lay down on the snow and slid. As he came near the rocks he
dug his claws a little into the snow to steer himself safely past. When
the sheep saw the fox come back without a scratch on his fine red coat,
he said, “Well, I will try it, for surely a mountain sheep is as brave
as a red fox!”

Shutting his eyes tight, he said, “One, two, three!” And away he went,
down like the wind straight into the sharp rocks, and was killed.

That wicked fox was glad. He laughed again, for now he had a whole
mountain sheep to eat, and that is the sweetest and tenderest meat in
the world, and would last him a long time.

Before he had finished eating the sheep, a bear came along.

“Fox, how did you kill that sheep?”

“I didn’t kill that sheep. I found it dead,” said the fox, for he did
not want the bear to know how treacherous he was.

“Well, we will share what is left,” said the bear; and of course the fox
did not dare to refuse him. He was a pretty big bear, and looked rather
fierce and very hungry.

No bear has any business to be wandering about the forest in winter. He
should have been snugly sleeping in his den until summer time like any
self-respecting bear does, except a polar bear, who stays out all night.

They filled themselves up on sheep meat, and then walked away through
the woods together like old friends.

“Fox,” said the bear, “are you ever afraid of animals?”

“There is not an animal in the world I am afraid of,” said the fox,
“except that two-legged creature called Man. Of him I am in constant
terror.”

The bear laughed at him. “You are silly to be afraid of that. I am not
afraid of a man; only of ptarmigan.”

Then it was the fox’s turn to laugh. “Why, I kill ptarmigan and eat
them!”

The bear did not like to be laughed at much by a fox, so he walked
quietly along for a while, thinking; then he said, “Well, Fox, I will
make a bargain with you. If you will kill two ptarmigan for me, I will
kill two men, and give you one.”

The fox looked pleased. “That is easy,” said he. “You wait here.” And
off he went trotting out of sight.

I am sure he played some trick again, for ptarmigan are not easy to see
in winter against the snow, when they wear their white dresses.

Mr. Fox very shortly came back with a ptarmigan in his mouth. He gave it
to the bear, who after eating it said, “Now, Fox, I will go and find a
man for you.”

For two whole days the fox waited for the bear, and the bear did not
come back. Then the fox felt sure that the bear had been killed, and he
wanted to see how the man had killed him.

Closely following the bear’s tracks, he found the tracks of two men
also. The fox was really scared at the sight of the men’s tracks. He was
terribly afraid of men, and he began to be sorry that he had been so
wicked and had killed so many of his friends.

Sneaking through the woods with his tail dragging, he passed near a
trap, which he could smell for a long distance, it was so dirty. There
was no danger of his being caught in that trap. He said to himself,
“That man is lazy; he will never catch any animals in his dirty traps. A
lazy man will never catch anything.”

After a while he passed another trap, but this one had been set out
hastily, so the fox got the bait without getting caught.

“That man is lazy, too,” said the fox, “for he gets up too late in the
morning to put out his trap. These men are stupid creatures anyway. I
don’t believe I am afraid of them after all.”

Just as he said this, snap, Mr. Smart Fox was caught at last.

[Illustration: “_Snap_, Mr. Smart Fox was caught at last”]

“Ah!” sighed the fox. “There is one man who is not lazy. His trap is
clean; I could neither smell it, nor see it. I am caught now.”

So this is what happened to the bad fox who had killed so many animals.

It never pays to be treacherous. One should always be loyal to one’s
friends.



MI-E-RAK-PUK


Long ago, near the mouth of the Copper Mine River, which flows into the
Arctic River, there lived an enormous giant whose name was Mi-e-rak-puk,
which in the Eskimo language means “Giant.” His cave was not far from an
Eskimo village, and he kept the people of that village in constant
terror because when he could not get enough whale meat, or seal to eat,
he would capture the little children and eat them up.

One fine day in the autumn a band of children went out from the village
to gather berries. There were different sorts of berries all about there
that were good to eat: blueberries, lowbush cranberries, salmon-berries
and still others. The mothers put these berries away, so that they would
all have something good during the long cold winters.

Before starting, the children had been cautioned not to go near the
giant’s cave; but the sun was bright and warm, and the farther they got
from home, the bigger and sweeter the berries seemed to grow. Then, too,
they grow close to the ground, so that the children were looking down,
and not noticing where their footsteps were leading them.

There was great rivalry as to which one would get the most berries.

One little girl said, “Look at my basket. It is nearly full!” And
another one said, “Mine are the biggest berries!”

Then they all fell to quarreling about their berries, and no one thought
of the giant; until suddenly a big voice roared at them, and there he
stood.

Before they had time to recover from their surprise and run away, the
giant gathered them all up in his immense hands and popped them into his
big parka. Then, laughing loudly, he threw the coat over his shoulder
and carried them to his cave. Poor little things! They writhed and
wriggled and screamed and cried, but it did them no good at all.

The giant only laughed the louder.

“Oh, if we had only paid attention to our parents,” cried one little
boy, “we would not have come near the cave! Now the giant will eat us
up!”

They all fell to weeping bitterly, saying they would never be
disobedient again, if only they could get away from the giant.

Just outside of the cave was a tall post with the giant’s totem, which
was a large whale. Mi-e-rak-puk tied the parka to the post and left it
hanging there.

Pretty soon, one of the children saw a bird fly by. They all began to
sing:

    “Please come and set us free,
    For if we must stay here,
    Then eaten up we’ll be.”

But the bird was a sea gull, and flapping his beautiful gray wings he
sailed past them as though he heard nothing. Then they all fell to
crying again.

After a while a weasel came along, and they started again to sing:

    “O Weasel, if you are kind,
    Please come and set us free.
    For if we must stay here,
    Then eaten up we’ll be.”

But the weasel went along about his business, and never even turned his
head around.

Then the children spied some little mice playing around the foot of the
post, and sang their song to them; but the wretched little creatures
only frisked their little tails and scampered away.

At last a fox came by, the kind called “cross fox” because he has a
beautiful dark cross on his back.

When the fox reached the post, he stopped and sniffed the air and looked
up.

Then the little children sang their song once more, and the fox freed
them by biting the rawhide rope with which they were tied to the post.
But there was one little girl who had fallen asleep, way down deep in
one of the sleeves of the parka, and didn’t hear the others when they
tumbled out, which they did in such a hurry that they did not notice her
absence.

The fox, who was very wise, suggested that they fill the coat with the
white reindeer moss which grew so abundantly about them, so that the
giant, seeing the coat so full, might think the children were still
inside of it. Quickly they set to work and stuffed it out; then, hearing
the giant coming, hid themselves behind a clump of low bushes nearby,
and watched.

Pretty soon he came striding along with a huge jade knife in his hand
which he was busily sharpening on a great boulder he had picked up in
front of his cave.

He smacked his lips as he walked along, just as if he were tasting
something good.

When he came to the post, he raised the knife and slashed open one of
the sleeves, saying, “Now, my little birds, you are going to make me a
fine dainty for my dinner!”

When he said that, and a bunch of moss fell out of the sleeve instead of
a nice tasty baby, Mi-e-rak-puk flew into a rage, and stormed about the
place and stamped his foot until the earth shook and the seismographs
recorded an earthquake. Ask your parents what a seismograph is.

Well, then the angry giant tore at the coat, and the moss fell out and
got into his hair and eyes, it blew about so; when suddenly out tumbled
the frightened little girl from the end of the sleeve. Mi-e-rak-puk
picked her up by the back of her dress, and held her out with her legs
and arms waving in the air, just as a person sometimes holds a kitten by
the back of its neck.

“Ha ha!” roared the giant. “Now I’ve got you! But there’s so little of
you, I couldn’t even make one good bite out of you.”

The little girl squirmed and kicked, and then she said, “O please, Mr.
Giant, if you only won’t eat me, I will be good and work for you all my
life, and keep your house clean, and do the cooking.”

So the giant carried her in and put her down on the floor.

“If you dare to try to run away, I will throw you into the soup,” he
said, pointing to a huge stone pot.

Then he made her take off her little parka and put on one of his, which
dragged about her feet so that she could hardly move at all without
falling down. After that he tied her by a long rope made of walrus hide,
which is very strong, so that she could go out of doors but could not
possibly get away.

While the giant was off hunting one day, the little girl’s parents came
looking for her, and wanted to take her home at once; but she told them
that the giant would surely come after her and destroy the whole
village, if they did that; so the parents planned a trick to fool the
giant.

The father and mother hid behind some bushes, and when the giant came
home with a seal on his back, the child began to cry pitifully.

“What is the matter with you?” said the giant. “You squeak like a
mouse!”

“Oh, some of my old friends, the little children I used to play with,
passed by picking berries, and they made fun of these clothes.” Then she
cried some more.

“Well,” said the giant, “stop that silly squalling, and put on your own
parka. You can’t get away from me anyway, for I keep you tied all the
time. But give me my dinner first. I am hungry, and would eat you, if
you were fat enough.”

The little girl placed a whole cooked seal before him, which he devoured
as though it were a dainty lamb chop, then she sang a little song, and
he went to sleep. He snored so loud that the people thought it was
thunder, which is very seldom heard so far north.

Softly slipping into his hand a tiny seal-skin pouch containing some
“sleep charms” the witch-doctor had given her father, the little girl
slipped out of the giant’s clumsy parka into her own small one. Taking a
last look at the giant, to make sure that he was fast asleep, she ran
out to her father, who cut the rope with his hunting knife. Lifting the
little girl to his back, he started for the village as fast as he could
go. The mother trotted along behind, keeping a sharp lookout over her
shoulder to see if they were being followed.

Before they got out of sight, the giant snored so loud that the bag
shook out of his hand and he awoke. Loudly he called for the little
girl. No one answered. Muttering angrily, he rushed outside, and saw
them hurrying away.

With a howl of rage, he strode after them, gaining rapidly upon them at
every step.

When the little girl saw that he was catching up with them, she slipped
down from her father’s back and struck the ground with her little
fingers, saying some magic words that just came into her mind.
Immediately a deep river flowed between the giant and her. It was so
deep and wide that he could not cross it.

The little girl and her parents sat on their side of the river to rest,
and watched the giant, who tried in vain to get across.

After a while he called out to the little girl to tell him how to get
over.

She told him to get into a mussel shell, so he looked and found a mussel
shell, but as soon as he touched it, the shell sank.

Then he called over to the child again, commanding her to show him a way
across, and she told him to drink up the river and walk over.

Stooping down, the giant began to drink. He drank and drank until he was
so full of water that he rolled right over into the river and was
drowned.

Then the little girl and her parents went home, and the people of the
village were safe and happy once more.

And so the winter is passing.





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