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PAGE 3

Kaiachououk
by [?]

Kalleligak, obsessed by his jealousy and chagrin, was able from his camp to watch every movement of the chief’s. He positively brooded so much over the incident that he came to believe that his life was in danger at Kaiachououk’s hands. The next steps were easy, for he was favoured both by the innocence of his superior and the weather. Days are short in the late fall in the North, and darkness falls before work is finished.

In the late afternoon, two days after Bakshuak and Kommak’s departure, while Kaiachououk was still out of his igloo and the darkness was rapidly coming on, Kalleligak stole inside and took the chief’s gun. This he unloaded and then reloaded with two balls. Early next morning, before the dawn, he crept out, carrying his own and the stolen weapon, to watch his chance. Kaiachououk, emerging soon after from his snow house, turned his back on Kalleligak’s igloo while he stooped to make a trifling repair on his own. Without a second’s hesitation, Kalleligak seized Kaiachououk’s own gun, and crawling and crouching up behind the five-foot snow ramparts which the Eskimos invariably build around their winter houses, he fired two bullets through the unsuspecting man’s back and body. The chief fell head foremost, having received two fatal wounds; but Kalleligak, throwing down one gun had instantly grabbed the other, in order if necessary to finish the deed before the mortally wounded man could tell who was responsible. But Kaiachououk never moved, and his enemy slunk inside, believing that he had been unobserved.

As fate would have it, Anatalik, another of the hunters, appeared at the entrance of his igloo just in time to see the smoking gun-barrel over the edge of the snow wall. Running to his fallen chief, he begged him to tell him what had occurred. The dying man had only strength left to whisper “Kiapevunga?” (“Who has killed me?”), and Anatalik could barely discern from his eye that he understood the answer, “Kalleligamut” (“It was Kalleligak who did it”).

It was probably this, to us, unimportant item which caused a confession ever to be made. Kalleligak, now convinced that the spirit of his dead chief knew he was the murderer, believed it would haunt him without mercy, and that his own life might be immediately forfeit unless he could appease it. He therefore at once set about preparations for a funeral befitting the dignity of the deceased; which, in the absence of Kaiachououk’s eldest son, he himself personally supervised. When all was over he went to the igloo carrying gifts, and offered to support the entire family till the sons should be of an age to assume it. His overtures were as unwelcome as they were importunate; but the poor women were forced to listen in silence. Helpless as they were, with their young men away, they dared not anger the man, whose character was only too well known. Kalleligak, in order further to allay the anger of the spirit, with all speed set out on the trail to meet the dead man’s returning sons, and apprize them personally of his version of the story.

Bakshuak, the eldest, listened in silence while Kalleligak first recounted the long list of imaginary wrongs which he had suffered at the hands of his father, then made his plea of self-defence, and lastly recited the hateful overtures which he had made to the helpless family, who were now, in spite of themselves, under very definite obligations to the murderer.

Angrily the lad repudiated any parleying. The family would far rather starve than be beholden to such infamy as was suggested. He was only a boy now, he declared, but he said fearlessly that if no one else killed him, he would do the deed himself as soon as he was big enough; and he raced on with his dogs, to reach home and comfort his poor mother. Had he but known it, he was really indebted for his life to the supposed wrath of his father’s spirit and the restraining effect which it had on Kalleligak.