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At first his followers were inclined to treat his injunctions as mere vapourings, but they finally realized that the man was in deadly earnest, and were eventually compelled to comply with his wishes. The day being set, he was accordingly dressed in his finest garments, and, his dead wife being duly caparisoned and walled in in the customary manner, Kaiachououk, laid out on the rock beside her, was treated in an exactly similar fashion. There was no apparent alteration of the chief’s attitude of mind as they proceeded with the walling up, and the heavy slabs were already being laid over him when two of the largest happened to become lodged on his chest. For a short time he made no sign and offered no kind of resistance; but it was gradually forced upon him that this method of translation into other worlds was far from being as easy as he had been inclined to suppose. Consequently, before the cortege had broken up and his last friends departed, he was loudly appealing to them to return and release him.

He was never known afterwards to refer to the incident; but on the whole it had an excellent effect on the Innuits; and they realized, so far as their unimpressionable natures are capable of doing, the strong domestic affection for his wife which was one of their chief’s pre-eminent sources of greatness.

On this particular fall, when the last drama in Kaiachououk’s life was played, when the northern lights sent their many-coloured banners floating over the heavens, and the stars looked so large and shining that it seemed one must surely touch them from the tops of the high hills, he was camping with his family and two or three others on a small ledge at the foot of the mighty Kiglapeit (shining top) Mountains, hunting walrus. This year the hunt was doubly important to them, and they delayed longer than was their wont. Here the great cape with which the spur ends marks the division of the whole trend of the land north from that which runs more directly south toward Katatallik. There the whole force of the south-going polar streams, focused on the ice, keeps open water long after all the rest of the coast is locked in the grim grip of winter. The walrus herds seem, in the evolution of ages, to have got an appreciation of this fact through their adamantine skulls. Therefore, from time immemorial, it has been chosen as a rendezvous of the Innuits in spring and fall. The chaos of ancient walrus bones which strews the stony beach reminds one of nothing so forcibly as the stacks of bleaching buffalo bones which disgrace the prairies.

On several occasions during the year previous, Kalleligak (the Capelin) had been guilty of the worst crime in the Eskimo calendar–on several occasions he had failed to extend that hospitality to strangers without which life on the coast is scarcely possible. It had been brought to Kaiachououk’s notice, and he had lost no time in seeking out the man and taxing him with his remissness. A mixture of traits like the colours in a variegated skein of worsted formed the spectrum of Kalleligak’s character; and selfishness, which fortunately is rarer among the Eskimos than among those in keener competition with civilization, was too often the prevailing colour. After the interview, at which he had promised to mend his ways, he apparently always lived in fear that sooner or later Kaiachououk would have him punished, and even deprive him of some of his possessions. The obsession haunted him as the thought of the crime does the murderer, and at last impelled him to the act which, though it went unpunished by men, blasted the remainder of his days.

Among the others who camped around Kaiachououk’s igloo this year was as usual the sub-chief Kalleligak. He had been more than usually successful in his hunt, and was able to face the prospect of the oncoming winter with optimism. On the other hand, his supposed enemy, Kaiachououk, had been singularly unfortunate, largely owing to the fact that his kayak had been left farther to the north. He showed no signs of either impatience or jealousy, however, and never by word or act gave evidence that he so much as remembered the rebuke he had been forced to administer to the sub-chief. Finally he dispatched his eldest sons, Bakshuak and Kommak, with a big team of dogs, to hurry down north and bring the belated and forgotten boat back with all speed.