« AnteriorContinuar »
deerskin, under which lay my friend, his two wives, and their favourite puppy, all fast asleep and stark naked. Supposing this was all according to rule, I left them to repose in peace, and resigned myself to sleep.
“On rising, Dunn and I washed with soap in a pond, which caused great speculations among the by-standers, on some of whom we afterward performed miracles in the cleansing way. A large as. semblage being collected to hear me talk of Ney. uning-Eitua, or Winter Island, and to see us eat, the women volunteered to cook for us; and, as we preferred a fire in the open air to their lamps, the good-natured creatures sat an hour in the rain to stew some venison which we had saved from our shares of the deer. The fires in summer, when in the open air, are generally made of bones previously well rubbed with blubber, and the female who attends the cooking chews a large piece, from which, as she extracts the oil, she spirts it on the flame.
“ After noon, as I lay half asleep, a man came, and, taking me by the hand, desired Dunn to follow. He led to a tent, which, from the stillness within, I conjectured was untenanted. Several men stood near the door, and, on entering, I found eighteen women assembled and seated in regular order, with the seniors in front. In the centre, near the tentpole, stood two men, who, when I was seated on a large stone, walked slowly round, and one began dancing in the usual manner, to the favourite tune of Amna aya.' The second person, as I soon found, was the dancer's assistant; and, when the principal had pretty well exhausted himself, he
walked gravely up to him, and, taking his head be tween his hands, performed a ceremony called Köö. nik, which is rubbing noses, to the great amusement and amid the plaudits of the whole company. Af. ter this, as if much refreshed, he resumed his performance, occasionally, however, taking a koonik to enliven himself and the spectators. The rub. bee, if I may be excused the expression, was at length brought forward and put in the place of the first dancer, who rushed out of the tent to cool himself. In this manner five or six couples exhib. ited alternately, obtaining more or less applause, according to the oddity of their grimaces. At length a witty fellow, in consequence of some whis. pering and tittering among the ladies, advanced and gave me the koonik, which challenge I was obliged to answer by standing up to dance, and my nose was in its turn most severely rubbed, to the great delight of all present.
“Having been as patient as could be wished for above an hour, and being quite overpowered by the heat of the crowded tent, I made a hasty retreat, after having distributed needles to all the females, and exacting kooniks from all the prettiest in return. A general outcry was now made for Dunn, a most quiet North countryman, to exhibit also ; but he, having seen the liberties which had been taken with my nose, very prudently made his ré. treat, anticipating what would be his fate if he remained.
“During a short interval of fine weather, we hung out our clothes to dry, and the contents of our knapsacks, instruments, knives, and beads were strewed on the ground, while we went inland to
shoot a few ducks, We cautioned no one against thieving, and were so much at their mercy that everything might have been taken without a possibility of detection ; yet not a single article was found to have been removed from its place at our return. At night I was attended by the same bedfellows as before; the young puppy, however, being now belter acquainted, took up his quarters in my blanket. bag, as from thence he could the more easily reach a quantity of walrus-flesh which lay near my head; and I was awakened more than once by finding him gnawing a lump by my side.
“On the morning of the 29th I was really glad to find that the ships were not yet in sight, as I should be enabled to pass another day among the hospitable natives. While making my rounds I met several others, who were also visiting, and who each invited me to call at his tent in its turn. Wherever I entered, the master rose and resigned his seat next his wife or wives, and stood before me or squatted on a stone near the door. I was then told to speak ! or, in fact, to give a history of all I knew of the distant tribe, which, from constant repetition, I could now manage pretty well. In one tent I found a man mending his paddle, which was ingeniously made of various little scraps of wood, ivory, and bone, lashed together. He put it into my hands to repair, taking it for granted that a Kabloona would succeed much better than himself. An hour afterward the poor fellow came and took me by the hand to his tent, where I found a large pot of walrus-flesh evidently cooked for me. His wife licked a piece and offered it, but, on his saying something to her, took out another, and, having
pared off the outside, gave me the clean part, which, had it been carrion, I would not have hurt these
poor creatures by refusing. The men show. ed me some curious puzzles with knots on their fingers, and I did what I could in return. The lit. tle girls were very expert in a singular but dirty amusement, which consisted in drawing a piece of sinew up their nostrils and producing the end out of their mouths. The elder people were, for the most part, in chase of the tormentors, which swarm. ed in their head and clothes; and I saw, for the first time, an ingenious contrivance for detaching them from the back, or such parts of the body as the hands could not reach. This was the rib of a seal, having a bunch of the whitest of a deer's hair attached to one end of it, and on this rubbing the places which require it, the little animals stick to it; from their colour they are easily detected, and, of course, consigned to the mouths of the hunters.
“ The weather clearing in the afternoon, one ship was seen in the distance, which diffused a general joy among the people, who ran about screaming and dancing with delight. While lounging along the beach, and waiting the arrival of the ship, I proposed a game at leap frog,' which was quite new to the natives, and in learning which some terrible falls were made. Even the women with the children at their backs would not be outdone by the men, and they formed a grotesque party of opposition jumpers. Tired with a long exhibition, I retreated to the tent, but was allowed a very short repose, as I was soon informed that the people from the farthest tents were come to see my performance, and, on going out, I found five men
stationed at proper distances with their heads down for me to go over them, which I did amid loud cries of koyenna (thanks).
“ As the ship drew near in the evening, I per. ceived her to be the Hecla, but, not expecting a boat so late, lay down to sleep. I soon found my mis. take, for a large party came drumming on the side of the tent, and crying out that a little ship’ was coming, and, in fact, I found the boat nearly on shore. Ooyarra's senior wife now anxiously beg. ged to tattoo a little figure on my arm, which she had no sooner done than the youngest insisted on making the same mark; and while all around were running about and screaming in the greatest confusion, these two poor creatures sat quietly down to embellish me. When the boat landed, a general rush was made for the privilege of carrying our things down to it. Awarunni, who owned the lit. tle dog which slept with me, ran and threw him as a present into the boat; when, after a general koo. nik, we pushed off, fully sensible of the kind hos. pitality we had received. Toolemak and Onyar. ra came on board in my boat, in order to pass the night and receive presents, and we left the beach under three hearty cheers.”