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PAGE 4

Kaiachououk
by [?]

Eskimos never refer to painful events if they can help it. They go even farther than certain modern “scientists,” for if a person who dies happens to have had the same name as one still living in the vicinity, the latter incontinently changes his. As a result, confusion not infrequently arises, for a man whom you have known all his life as “John” is “William” the next time you meet him. Thus they avoid the mention of the word the memory of which might bring pain to the relatives. Much less would they bring bad news to a white man.

They took good care, however, that the local Innuits should know that Kaiachououk was dead, hoping that they might give the great white man at the post the sad news of the loss of his friend. Barlow, as soon as he was certain of the main facts, at once dispatched messengers to summon to him Kalleligak, and Anatalik, who had seen the deed. The murderer had already expressed his willingness to surrender to the white man, and he at once packed up and accompanied the couriers back to Katatallik.

Meanwhile the news had also reached Ekkoulak, the sister of Kaiachououk, and her husband, Semijak, immediately summoned his council to discuss matters. All were agreed that the tribal custom must be observed. “A life for a life” was the only law they recognized, and the two elder sons of Semijak were selected to carry the sentence into effect. Well armed and equipped, they started the very next morning for the North. The following day they walked into the Hudson’s Bay Post to apprize the white man of their errand, so that there might be no suspicion of their blood-guiltiness, not knowing that by a strange whim of fortune Kalleligak and Anatalik were already there and were seated in one room while they were being received in another.

In the room with Kalleligak and Anatalik was Mr. Barlow’s daughter, a little child of six, who was amusing herself with a picture book of the life of Christ. The little girl began to show the pictures to the two men, telling them the story in their own tongue as she went along. She at last came to the picture of Christ upon the Cross between the two thieves. Mr. Barlow in the adjoining room heard Kalleligak ask the child if she thought Jesus would forgive any one who had killed another man, to which the little one replied, “Why, yes, if he were really sorry and tried to be better.”

The house of friends is neutral ground, and to start a quarrel in the great white man’s house would be about as likely as that we should begin one on the steps of the altar. Thus, when Kalleligak and Anatalik were summoned to dinner, both parties proceeded as if nothing unusual were in the air and all refreshed themselves at the same board.

Bidding them to keep the peace, Mr. Barlow made an effort to get to the bottom of the affair; but he found it very hard to know what to advise. The sister of Kaiachououk had begged and prayed her sons, now chosen as avengers, to have nothing to do with the slaying, saying, “It will only make more trouble. It will be Kalleligak’s family who will suffer. They will surely starve to death.” She had even sent a special messenger to the agent with an earnest plea that he would use all his influence to save her lads from the shedding of blood.

Having decided that the matter should be settled in open court and to abide by the decision of the great white man, all concerned now adjourned to the kitchen, and not for the first time that humble room was transformed into a court of justice. Kalleligak first gave his version of the story without the slightest attempt to conceal anything. He said he had lived in constant terror of what Kaiachououk might inflict upon him; and then, turning to the two men, who were fully armed with loaded guns, he said:–