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Red Rooney - The Last of the Crew
by R.M. Ballantyne
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It was evident that he was for the time quite mad and unaccountable for his actions—though by no means unaccountable for taking the accursed drink that reduced him to that state of temporary insanity. Red Rooney, aghast with horror at the impending fate of the dear old remembrancer of his grandmother, sprang forward with the agility of a wild cat, but his energy, intensified though it was by rage, could not have prevented the catastrophe if Ippegoo had not come to the rescue.

Yes, that mild youth was the instrument chosen to avert the blow. He chanced to be standing beside a mass of turf which Okiok had cut from the ground for the purpose of making a dry seat for Nuna. Seizing this, Ippegoo hurled it at the head of the drunken Eskimo. Never before did the feeble youth make such a good shot. Full on the flat face of the drunkard it went, like the wad of a siege-gun, scattering earth and debris all round—and down went the Eskimo. Unable to check himself, down also went Rooney on the top of him.

Next moment the luckless Kajo was secured with a piece of walrus-line, and flung on one side, while the indignant party held a noisy consultation as to what was to be done with him.



CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE.

THE ESKIMO ENCAMPMENT—A MURDER AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.

With Hans Egede, Red Rooney, and Angut as chief councillors, it may be easily understood that the punishment awarded to Kajo was not severe. He was merely condemned, in the meantime, to be taken to his own people as a prisoner, and then let go free with a rebuke.

"But how are we to carry him there?" asked Egede. "He cannot walk, and we must not delay."

"That's true," said Rooney; "and it will never do to burden the women's boat with him. It is too full already."

"Did he not say that he had his kayak with him?" asked Angut.

"He did," cried Okiok, with the sudden animation of one who has conceived an idea. "Run, Arbalik, Ippegoo, Ermigit, Norrak, and seek for the kayak."

The youths named ran off to obey, with the alacrity of well-trained children, and in half an hour returned in triumph with the kayak on their shoulders. Meanwhile Kajo had recovered slightly, and was allowed to sit up, though his hands were still bound.

"Now we'll try him. Launch the boat, boys," said Okiok, "and be ready to paddle."

The young men did as they were bid, and Okiok, unloosening Kajo's bonds, asked him if he could manage his kayak.

"O-of—c-course I can," replied the man, somewhat indignantly.

"Come, then, embark an' do it," returned Okiok, seizing his arm, and giving it a squeeze to convince him that he was in the hands of a strong man.

Kajo staggered towards his little vessel, and, lifting it with difficulty, went down to the beach. He would certainly have fallen and damaged it if Okiok had not stood on one side and Angut on the other to prevent a fall. When the kayak was launched, he attempted to step into the little oval opening in it, but with so little success that Okiok, losing patience, lifted, him in, and crammed him down. Then he sent him afloat with a vigorous push.

Feeling all right, with the familiar paddle in his hands, Kajo tried to rouse himself, bethought him of flight, gave a hiccoughing cheer, and went skimming away like a sword-fish.

"After him now, boys, and keep alongside," cried Okiok.

Responsive to the order, the boat shot after the kayak, but they had barely got under weigh when Kajo made a false stroke with the paddle, lost his balance, and disappeared.

"I expected that," remarked Okiok, with a laugh.

"But the poor man will drown," said Egede anxiously; "he is too drunk to recover himself."

This was obvious, for the overturned craft seemed to quiver like a dying whale, while its owner made wild but fruitless efforts to recover his proper position; and it is certain that the poor man would then and there have paid the penalty of his intemperance with his life, if the boat had not ranged alongside, and rescued him.

"So then," said Angut to Egede, as they were bringing Kajo ashore, "this is the effect of the mad waters that I have often heard of, but never seen till now."

"Yes, Angut, you see the effect of them—at least on one man; but their effects vary according to the nature of those who drink. Some men they make violent, like Kajo; others become silly; while not a few become heavy, stupid, and brutal. In my country most if not all of the murders that take place are committed under the influence of strong drink. The Red Indians, who dwell far to the south-west of your lands, call strong drink 'fire-water.' Your own name 'mad waters' is better, I think."

Kajo was led forward at this moment, looking very much dejected, and greatly sobered. He made no further attempt to resist, but, as a precaution, his hands were again tied, and then he was left to dry in the sun, and to his meditations, while the party made the traverse of the bay.

This was accomplished in three trips. As the last party was about to start, Okiok and Kajo alone remained on the shore.

"You had better think twice," said Rooney, as he was about to push off the boat. "He may give you some trouble."

"Fear not," returned Okiok, with a grin, in which there were mingled fun and contempt. "I have thought twice—three—four—ten times," and he extended the fingers of both hands.

"Very good; we'll keep an eye on you," said Rooney, with a laugh.

"He runs no risk," remarked Egede, taking up one of the paddles to share in the work. "His plan is one which Eskimos frequently adopt when one of their kayaks has been destroyed by rocks or walruses."

The plan referred to consisted in making the man whose kayak has been lost lie out on what may be called the deck of a friend's kayak. The well-known little craft named the "Rob Roy Canoe" bears much resemblance to the Eskimo kayak—the chief difference being that the former is made of thin, light wood, the latter of a light framework covered with sealskin. Both are long and narrow; decked entirely over, with the exception of a hole in the centre; can hold only one person, and are propelled with one double paddle having a blade at each end. The only way, therefore, of helping a friend in distress with such craft is to lay him out flat at full length on the deck, and require him to keep perfectly still while you paddle to a place of safety.

Okiok intended to take the helpless drunkard across the bay in this fashion, but for the sake of safety, resolved to do it in an unfriendly manner.

When the boat had shot away, he pushed the kayak into the water until it was afloat in the fore-part, arranged the spears which formed its armament, made fast the various lines, and laid the paddle across the opening. Then he went up to Kajo, who had been watching his movements with much curiosity, not quite unmingled with discomfort.

"Go," he said, pointing to the kayak, "and lay yourself out in front, on your face."

Kajo looked earnestly at the speaker. There was much less of the heroic in his gaze by that time, and therefore more of manly determination; but Okiok said "go" again. And Kajo went.

When he was laid flat on his face in front of the opening, with his feet on either side, and his head towards the bow, Okiok proceeded to tie him down there.

"You need not fear," he said; "I will not move." Okiok did not cease his work, but he said—

"I will make sure that you do not move. Any man with the sense of a puffin might be trusted to lie still for his own sake, but I have learned this day that a man full of mad water is a fool—not to be trusted at all."

Having expressed himself thus, and finished the lashing, he got softly into his place, pushed off, and paddled gently over the sea.

He had not advanced far when Kajo, feeling uncomfortable, tried slightly to alter his position, whereupon Okiok took up a spear that lay handy, and gave him a slight prick by way of reminding him of his duty. The rest of the voyage was accomplished in peace and safety.

In the evening the party arrived at the temporary abode of the tribe to which Kajo belonged. By that time the Eskimo was thoroughly sober, but the same could not be said of all his people—of whom there were upwards of a hundred men, besides women and children. It was found that a chance trader to Godhaab had brought a considerable quantity of rum, and the families of which we now speak had secured several kegs.

All of these Eskimos were well acquainted with Egede, and a few of them were friendly towards him; but many were the reverse. There was great excitement among them at the time the party arrived—excitement that could scarcely be accounted for either by the rum or by the unexpected arrival.

Egede soon found out what it was. A terrible murder had been committed the night before by one of the Eskimos, who was considered not only the best hunter of the band to which he belonged, but one of the best husbands and fathers. His name was Mangek. He was one of those who had been well disposed towards the missionary, and in regard to whom much hope had been entertained. But he had been treated to rum by the traders, and having conceived an ardent desire for more, had managed to obtain a keg of the mad water. Although kind and amiable by nature, his temperament was sanguine and his nerves sensitively strung. A very little of the rum excited him to extravagant exuberance of spirit, and a large dose made him temporarily insane.

It was during one of these fits of insanity that Mangek had on the previous night struck his wife, when she was trying to soothe him. The blow would not in itself have killed her, but as she fell her head struck on a stone, her skull was fractured, and she died in a few minutes.

Indifferent to—indeed, ignorant of—what he had done, the Eskimo sat beside the corpse all that night drinking. No one dared to go near him, until he fell back helplessly drunk. Then they removed the body of his wife.

It was bad enough to see this hitherto respected man mad with drink, but it was ten times worse to see him next day mad with horror at what he had done. For it was not merely that his wife was dead, but that, although he had loved that wife with all his heart and soul, he had killed her with his own hand. The wretched man had rushed about the place shrieking all the morning, sometimes with horror and sometimes with fury, until he was physically exhausted. Every one had kept carefully out of his way. When our travellers arrived he was lying in his hut groaning heavily; but no one knew what state he was in, for they still feared to disturb him.

No such fear affected Hans Egede. Knowing that he could point to the only remedy for sin and broken hearts, he went straight into the poor man's hut. Shortly afterwards the groaning ceased, and the natives listened with awe to what they knew was the voice of prayer. As they could not, however, distinguish the words, they gradually drew off, and circled round the strangers who had so unexpectedly arrived.

Great was their surprise when they found that their comrade Kajo had been brought home as a prisoner; and still greater was their surprise when they found that a bottle of rum which had been stolen from one of their hunters, and carried off the day before, was found on the person of Kajo—for Kajo had been, like Mangek, a respectable man up to that date, and no one believed it possible that he would condescend to steal.

One of those who was himself under the influence of rum at the time looked sternly at Kajo, and began to abuse him as a hypocrite and deceiver.

"Now, look here," cried Red Rooney, stepping forward; "listen to me."

Having regard to his commanding look and tone, the natives considered him the leader of the party, and listened with respect.

"What right have you," he continued, turning sharply on the last speaker, "to look with contempt on Kajo? You have been drinking mad water yourself. I smell it in your breath. If you were to take a little more, you would be quite ready to commit murder."

"No, I would not," replied the Eskimo stoutly.

"Yes, you would," said the sailor, still more stoutly. "Even my good-natured friend Okiok here would be ready to murder his wife Nuna if he was full of mad water."

This unexpected statement took our kindly Eskimo so much by surprise that for a moment or two he could not speak. Then he thundered forth—

"Never! What! kill Nuna? If I was stuffed with mad water from the toes to the eyelids, I could not kill Nuna."

At that moment an aged Eskimo pressed to the front. Tears were on his wrinkled cheeks, as he said, in a quavering voice—

"Yes, you could, my son. The wife of Mangek was my dear child. No man ever loved his wife better than Mangek loved my child. He would have killed himself sooner than he would have killed her. But Mangek did not kill her. It was the mad water that killed her. He did not know what the mad water would do when he drank it. How could he? It is the first time he has drunk it; he will never drink it again. But that will not bring back my child."

The old man tried to say more, but his lip trembled and his voice failed. His head drooped, and, turning abruptly round, he mingled with the crowd.

It was evident that the people were deeply moved by this speech. Probably they had never before given the mad water much of their thoughts, but now, after what had been said, and especially after the awful event of the previous night, opinion on the subject was beginning to form.

Red Rooney noted the fact, and was quick to take advantage of the opportunity.

"My friends," he said, and the natives listened all the more eagerly that he spoke their language so well, "when a cruel enemy comes to your shore, and begins to kill, how do you act?"

"We drive him into the sea; kill—destroy him," shouted the men promptly.

"Is not mad water a cruel enemy? Has he not already begun his deadly work? Has he not killed one of your best women, and broken the heart of one of your best men?"

"Huk! huk! Yes, that is true."

"Then who will fight him?" shouted Rooney.

There was a chorus of "I wills," and many of the men, running up to their huts, returned, some with bottles, and some with kegs. Foremost among them was the old father of the murdered woman. He stumbled, fell, and his keg rolled to Rooney's feet.

Catching it up, the sailor raised it high above his head and dashed it to splinters on the stones. With a shout of enthusiasm the Eskimos followed his example with bottle and keg, and in another moment quite a cataract of the vile spirit was flowing into the sea.

"That is well done," said Hans Egede, coming up at the moment. "You know how to take the tide at the flood, Rooney."

"Nay, sir," returned the sailor; "God brought about all the circumstances that raised the tide, and gave me power to see and act when the tide was up. I claim to be naught but an instrument."

"I will not quarrel with you on that point," rejoined Egede; "nevertheless, as an instrument, you did it well, and for that I thank God who has granted to you what I have prayed and toiled for, without success, for many a day. It is another illustration of prayer being answered in a different and better way from what I had asked or expected."

In this strange manner was originated, on the spur of the moment, an effectual and comprehensive total abstinence movement. We are bound of course to recognise the fact that it began in impulse, and was continued from necessity—no more drink being obtainable there at that time. Still, Egede and Rooney, as well as the better-disposed among the Eskimos, rejoiced in the event, for it was an unquestionable blessing so far as it went.

As the Eskimos had settled down on that spot for some weeks for the purpose of hunting—which was their only method of procuring the necessaries of life,—and as there was no pressing necessity for the missionary or his friends proceeding just then to Godhaab, it was resolved that they should all make a short stay at the place, to assist the Eskimos in their work, as well as to recruit the health and strength of those who had been enfeebled by recent hardship and starvation.



CHAPTER TWENTY SIX.

TELLS OF MEN WHOSE ACTIONS END IN SMOKE, AND OF OTHERS WHOSE PLOTS END IN DEEDS OF DARKNESS.

This is a world of surprises. However long we may live, and however much we may learn, the possibility of being surprised remains with us, and our capacity for blazing astonishment is as great as when first, with staggering gait, we escaped from the nursery into space and stood irresolute, with the world before us where to choose.

These thoughts arise from the remembrance of Okiok as he stood one morning open-mouthed, open-eyed, open-souled, and, figuratively, petrified, gazing at something over a ledge of rock.

What that something was we must learn from Okiok himself, after he had cautiously retired from the scene, and run breathlessly back towards the Eskimo village, where the first man he met was Red Rooney.

"I—I've seen it," gasped the Eskimo, gripping the seaman's arm convulsively.

"Seen what?"

"Seen a man—on fire; and he seems not to mind it!"

"On fire! A man! Surely not. You must be mistaken."

"No, I am quite sure," returned Okiok, with intense earnestness. "I saw him with my two eyes, and smoke was coming out of him."

Rooney half-suspected what the Eskimo had seen, but there was just enough of uncertainty to induce him to say, "Come, take me to him."

"Is the man alone?" he asked, as they hurried along.

"No; Ippegoo is with him, staring at him." They soon reached the ledge of rock where Okiok had seen the "something," and, looking cautiously over it, Rooney beheld his friend Kajo smoking a long clay pipe such as Dutchmen are supposed to love. Ippegoo was watching him in a state of ecstatic absorption.

Rooney drew back and indulged in a fit of stifled laughter for a minute, but his companion was too much surprised even to smile.

"Is he doing that curious thing," asked Okiok in a low voice, "which you once told me about—smookin' tibooko?"

"Yes; that's it," replied Rooney with a broad grin, "only you had better say 'smokin' tobacco' next time."

"'Smokkin' tibucco,'" repeated the Eskimo; "well, that is funny. But why does he spit it out? Does he not like it?"

"Of course he likes it. At least I suppose he does, by the expression of his face."

There could be little doubt that Rooney was right. Kajo had evidently got over the preliminary stages of incapacity and repugnance long ago, and had acquired the power of enjoying that mild and partial stupefaction—sometimes called "soothing influence"—which tobacco smoke affords. His eyes blinked happily, like those of a cat in the sunshine; his thickish lips protruded poutingly as they gripped the stem; and the smoke was expelled slowly at each puff, as if he grudged losing a single whiff of the full flavour.

Scarcely less interesting was the entranced gaze of Ippegoo. Self-oblivion had been effectively achieved in that youth. A compound of feelings—interest, surprise, philosophical inquiry, eager expectancy, and mild alarm—played hide-and-seek with each other in his bosom, and kept him observant and still.

"Why," asked Okiok, after gazing in silent admiration for a few minutes over the ledge, "why does he not swallow it, if he likes it, and keep it down?"

"It's hard to say," answered Rooney. "Perhaps he'd blow up or catch fire if he were to try. It might be dangerous!"

"See," exclaimed Okiok, in an eager whisper; "he is going to let Ippegoo taste it."

Rooney looked on with increased interest, for at that moment Kajo, having had enough, offered the pipe to his friend, who accepted it with the air of a man who half expected it to bite and put the end in his mouth with diffidence. He was not successful with the first draw, for instead of taking the smoke merely into his mouth he drew it straight down his throat, and spent nearly five minutes thereafter in violent coughing with tears running down his cheeks.

Kajo spent the same period in laughing, and then gravely and carefully explained how the thing should be done.

Ippegoo was an apt scholar. Almost immediately he learned to puff, and in a very short time was rolling thick white clouds from him like a turret-gun in action. Evidently he was proud of his rapid attainments.

"Humph! That won't last long," murmured Rooney to his companion.

"Isn't it good?" said Kajo to Ippegoo.

"Ye-es. O yes. It's good; a-at least, I suppose it is," replied the youth, with modesty.

A peculiar tinge of pallor overspread his face at that moment.

"What's wrong, Ippegoo?"

"I—I—feel f-funny."

"Never mind that," said Kajo. "It's always the way at first. When I first tried it I—"

He was cut short by Ippegoo suddenly rising, dropping the pipe, clapping one hand on his breast, the other on his mouth, and rushing into the bushes where he disappeared like one of his own puffs of smoke. At the same moment Rooney and Okiok appeared on the scene, laughing heartily.

"You rascal!" said Rooney to Kajo, on recovering his gravity; "you have learned to drink, and you have learned to smoke, and, not satisfied with that extent of depravity, you try to teach Ippegoo. You pitiful creature! Are you not ashamed of yourself?"

Kajo looked sheepish, and admitted that he had some sensations of that sort, but wasn't sure.

"Tell me," continued the seaman sternly, "before you tasted strong drink or tobacco, did you want them?"

"No," replied Kajo.

"Are you in better health now that you've got them?"

"I—I feel the better for them," replied Kajo.

"I did not ask what you feel," returned Rooney. "Are you better now than you were before? That's the question."

But Rooney never got a satisfactory answer to that question, and Kajo continued to drink and smoke until, happily for himself, he had to quit the settlements and proceed to the lands of thick-ribbed ice, where nothing stronger than train oil and lamp-smoke were procurable.

As for poor Ippegoo, he did not show himself to his friends during the remainder of that day. Being half an idiot, no one could prevail on him thereafter to touch another pipe.

Now, while the Eskimos and our friends were engaged in hunting, and holding an unwonted amount both of religious and philosophical intercourse, a band of desperadoes was descending the valleys of the interior of Greenland, with a view to plunder the Eskimos of the coast.

Hitherto we have written about comparatively well-behaved and genial natives, but it must not be supposed that there were no villains of an out-and-out character among those denizens of the north. It is true there were not many—for the sparseness of the population, the superabundance of game on land and sea, as well as the wealth of unoccupied hunting-grounds, and the rigour of the climate, rendered robbery and war quite unnecessary, as well as disagreeable. Still, there were a few spirits of evil even there, to whom a quiet life seemed an abomination, and for whom the violent acquisition of other men's goods possessed a charm far transcending the practice of the peaceful industries of life.

The band referred to was not remarkably strong in numbers—about thirty or so; but these were sturdy and daring villains, led by a chief who must have had some of the old Norse blood in his veins, he was so tall, fair of complexion, and strong.

Descending first on the little settlement of Godhaab at night, this robber band found that a Dutch trading-vessel had just arrived, the crew of which, added to the settlers attracted from their hunting-grounds to the village, formed a force which they dared not venture to attack openly. Grimlek, the robber chief, therefore resolved to wait for a better opportunity. Meanwhile, passing himself and band off as hunters, he purchased a few things from the traders and then proceeded along the coast, intending to hunt, as well as to wait till the vessel should depart.

While the robbers were thus engaged, they came unexpectedly on another trading-ship—a Dutchman—part of the crew of which had landed for some purpose or other in their boat. On seeing the Eskimos, the Dutchmen got quickly into their boat, and pushed off; but the robbers made signs of peace to them, and, carrying their bows, arrows, and spears up to the woods, left them there, returning to the shore as if unarmed, though in reality they had retained their knives. Again they made signs, as if they wished to trade with the Dutchmen.

Deceived by appearances, the sailors once more drew in to the shore. While they were approaching, Grimlek called his men round him and gave a few hasty directions. When the sailors had landed, the Eskimos mingled with them, and began to offer sealskins for trade—each selecting a particular man with whom to transact business. At a given signal they drew their knives from under their coats, and each robber stabbed his man to the heart. The men left in the ship, seeing what had occurred, and that it was too late to attempt rescue, instantly filled her sails, and went off to sea.

The villains having thus easily slain their victims, carried off the booty found in the boat, and hid it in the bushes, to be taken away at a convenient opportunity.

But this deed of darkness was not done unwitnessed. Early in the morning of that day, various hunting parties had dispersed in different directions—some to the hills, others to the sea. Among the latter was an oomiak full of women who went along-shore to fish, and with whom were old Kannoa, Nunaga, and others. They went in a northerly direction. Rooney, Angut, and Okiok proceeded along the coast to the southward.

The direction taken by these last brought them near to the spot where the Dutch sailors had landed, at the critical moment when the robbers were mingling with their unsuspecting victims.

Although only three to thirty, it is certain that our heroes would have sprung to the aid of the sailors if they had suspected what was about to happen, but the deed was done so promptly that there was no time for action. Fortunately Rooney and his companions had not shown themselves. They were therefore able to draw back into the shelter of the bushes, where they held a hasty council of war.

"We must run back to camp," said Rooney, "tell what we have seen, and return with a band of men to punish the murderers."

"Agreed," said Okiok; "but how are we to do it? The shore is open. We cannot take a step that way without being seen, and chased. We might outrun them, though I don't feel quite as supple as I used to; but we should barely arrive before them in time to warn the camp, and should then be almost unfit to fight."

To this Angut replied that they could go inland over the hills, and so come down on the camp in rear. It might not, he thought, add much to the distance. This plan was quickly adopted and put in practice.

But there are few things more deceptive than formation and distance in mountain lands. What seemed to the trio easy, proved to be tremendously difficult; and the distance they had to travel in order to avoid precipices and surmount ridges, gradually increased to many miles, so that it was late, and twilight was deepening into night, before they reached the camp.

Meanwhile the robbers were not idle. Although ignorant of the fact that their bloody work had been observed, they were not long ignorant of the near neighbourhood of the Eskimo camp. Early in the morning they had sent two of their swiftest young men to spy out the land ahead. These had discovered the camp, entered it, professing to be wandering hunters, and had then returned to their friends with the news that many of the men had gone away hunting, and would probably remain out all night; also that an oomiak full of women had gone off to the southward to fish.

The runners, happening to descend to the coast on the opposite side of a ridge from Rooney and his companions, just missed meeting them, and returned to their comrades shortly after the massacre. Grimlek knew that whatever course he should pursue must be prompt and decisive. He at once divided his men into two bands, one of which he sent to pursue and capture the women who had gone to fish; with the other, which he led in person, he resolved either to storm the camp or take it by surprise, as circumstances might point out.

By the straight way of the shore the distance was not great. In fact, the camp might have been seen from the spot where the massacre had been perpetrated, but for a high promontory which concealed it. On rounding this promontory, the party detailed to pursue the women glided into the bushes and disappeared. Grimlek, with the remaining men, advanced straight and openly towards the camp. He saw, however, on drawing near, that the number of men in it were more than a match for his small party, and therefore approached with friendly demonstrations.

They were hospitably received by Hans Egede.

"My friends," he said, "you have arrived just as we are assembling to talk about the things that concern our souls, the future life, and the Good Spirit. Will you and your men sit down and listen?"

For a few moments Grimlek did not reply. Then he said, "You are not an Eskimo?"

"No, I am a Kablunet," replied Egede; "I have been sent to tell the Eskimos about the true God."

Again the robber chief was silent. Then he said that he would consult with his men, and retired with them a short distance to do so.

"Nothing better could have happened," he said in a low tone. "The Kablunet is going to talk to them about his God. All we have to do is to mingle with them. Let each of you choose his man and sit down beside him. When I give the signal, strike at once, and let no second blow be needed."

A murmur of assent was all that the band returned to this speech, and Grimlek, returning to the missionary, said that he and his men were ready to hear.

In a few minutes each of the assassins was seated on the ground beside his chosen victim.



CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN.

A STRANGE MEETING STRANGELY INTERRUPTED.

The meeting which had been thus strangely invaded was no ordinary prayer or missionary meeting. It had been assembled by Egede for the express purpose of affording some unbelievers among the Eskimos an opportunity of stating their difficulties and objections in regard to the new religion.

Interesting though its proceedings were, as showing the similarity of the workings of the civilised and savage minds, we cannot afford space to enter much into detail, yet some account of the matter seems necessary in order to show what it was that induced the robber chief to delay, though not to alter, his fell purpose.

After prayer offered by the missionary, that the Holy Spirit might descend on and bless the discussion, a hymn was sung. It had been translated into Eskimo, and taught to his converts by Egede. Then the missionary made a brief but complete statement of the leading facts of the good news of salvation to sinful man in Jesus Christ,—this, not only to clear the way for what was to come, but for the purpose of teaching the newcomers, so as to render them somewhat intelligent listeners.

Then an old grey-haired man arose.

"I do not object to the new religion," he said, "but I am puzzled. You tell me that God is everywhere and knows everything; why, then, did he not go to our first mother, Eve, and warn her of her danger when the Evil One tempted her in the form of a serpent?"

"My friend, the question you ask cannot be fully answered," said Egede. "I can explain, however, that our first parents were put into the world to be tried or tested in that way. To have warned Eve would have rendered the test useless. Enough for us to know that she was told what to do. Her duty was to obey. But let me ask you a question: is not sin—is not murder—hateful?"

Grimlek imagined that Egede looked him straight in the face as he asked the question, and felt uneasy, but was by no means softened.

"Yes," answered the old man; "murder—sin—is hateful."

"Yet it certainly exists," continued Egede; "you cannot help believing that?"

"Yes, I must admit that."

"Then why did God permit sin?"

Of course the old man could not reply, and the missionary pointed out that some things were incomprehensible, and that that was one of them.

"But," he continued, "that is no reason why we should not talk of things that are comprehensible. Let us turn to these."

At this point a middle-aged man with a burly frame and resolute expression started up, and said in an excited yet somewhat reckless manner—

"I don't believe a word that you say. Everything exists as it was from the beginning until now, and will continue the same to the end."

"Who told you that?" asked Egede, in a prompt yet quiet manner.

The man was silenced. He resumed his seat without answering.

"You have talked of the 'end,' my friend," continued the missionary, in the same quiet tone. "When is the end? and what will come after it? I wait for enlightenment."

Still the man remained dumb. He had evidently exhausted himself in one grand explosion, and was unable for more. There was a disposition to quiet laughter on the part of the audience, but the missionary checked this by pointing to another man in the crowd and remarking—

"I think, friend, that you have something to say."

Thus invited, the man spoke at once, and with unexpected vigour. He was a stupid-looking, heavy-faced man, but when roused, as he then was, his face lighted up amazingly.

"We do not understand you," he said sternly. "Show us the God you describe; then we will believe in Him and obey Him. You make Him too high and incomprehensible. How can we know Him? Will He trouble Himself about the like of us? Some of us have prayed to Him when we were faint and hungry, but we got no answer. What you say of Him cannot be true, or, if you know Him better than we do, why don't you pray for us and procure for us plenty of food, good health, and a dry house? That is all we want. As for our souls, they are healthy enough already. You are of a different race from us. People in your country may have diseased souls. Very likely they have. From the specimens we have seen of them we are quite ready to believe that. For them a doctor of souls may be necessary. Your heaven and your spiritual joys may be good enough for you, but they would be very dull for us. We must have seals, and fishes, and birds. Our souls can no more live without these than our bodies. You say we shall not find any of these in your heaven; well then, we do not want to go there; we will leave it to you and to the worthless part of our own countrymen, but as for us, we prefer to go to Torngarsuk, where we shall find more than we require of all things, and enjoy them without trouble."

[See Note.]

With an energetic "humph!" or some such exclamation, this self-satisfied philosopher sat down, and many of his countrymen expressed their sympathy with his views by a decided "Huk!" but others remained silent and puzzled.

And well they might, for in these few sentences the Eskimo had opened up a number of the problems on which man, both civilised and savage, has been exercising his brain unsuccessfully from the days of Adam and Eve until now. No wonder that poor Hans Egede paused thoughtfully—and no doubt prayerfully—for a few minutes ere he ventured a reply. He was about to open his lips, when, to his astonishment, a tall strong man who had been sitting near the outside circle of the audience close to the robber chief Grimlek started to his feet, and, in a tone that had in it more of a demand than a request, asked permission to speak.

It was our friend Angut.

Before listening to his remarks, however, it behoves us to account for his sudden appearance.

Having been led, as we have said, far out of their way by the detour they were compelled to take, Red Rooney and his friends did not reach the camp till some time after the meeting above described had begun. As it was growing dusk at the time, they easily approached without being observed—all the more that during the whole time of the meeting men and women kept coming and going, according as they felt more or less interested in the proceedings.

Great was the surprise of the three friends on arriving to find the band of robbers sitting peacefully among the audience; but still greater would have been their surprise had they known the murderous purpose these had in view. Rooney, however, having had knowledge of men in many savage lands, half guessed the true state of matters, and, touching his two friends on the shoulders, beckoned to them to withdraw.

"Things look peaceful," he whispered when beyond the circle, "but there is no peace in the hearts of cold-blooded murderers. What they have done they will do again. 'Quick' is the word. Let us gather a dozen strong young men."

They had no difficulty in doing this. From among the youths who were indifferent to the proceedings at the meeting they soon gathered twelve of the strongest.

"Now, lads," said Rooney, after having briefly told them of the recent massacre, "fifteen of these murderers are seated in that meeting. You cannot fail to know them from our own people, for they are all strangers. Let each one here creep into the meeting with a short spear, choose his man, sit down beside him, and be ready when the signal is given by Angut or me. But do not kill. You are young and strong. Throw each man on his back, but do not kill unless he seems likely to get the better of you. Hold them down, and wait for orders."

No more was said. Rooney felt that delay might be fatal. With the promptitude of men accustomed to be led, the youths crept into the circle of listeners, and seated themselves as desired. Rooney and Okiok selected their men, like the rest. Angut chanced to place himself beside Grimlek.

The chief cast a quick, suspicious glance on him as he sat down, but as Angut immediately became intent on the discussion that was going on, and as the robber himself had become interested in spite of himself, the suspicion was allayed as quickly as roused.

These quiet proceedings took place just before the heavy-faced Eskimo began the speech which we have detailed. Notwithstanding the serious— it might be bloody—work which was presently to engage all his physical energies, the spirit of Angut was deeply stirred by the string of objections which the man had flung out so easily. Most of the points touched on had often engaged his thoughtful mind, and he felt—as many reasoning men have felt before and since—how easy it is for a fool to state a string of objections in a few minutes, which it might take a learned man several hours fully to answer and refute.

Oppressed, and, as it were, boiling over, with this feeling, Angut, as we have said, started to his feet, to the no small alarm of the guilty man at his side. But the chief's fears were dissipated when Angut spoke.

"Foolish fellow!" he said, turning with a blazing gaze to the heavy-faced man. "You talk like a child of what you do not understand. You ask to see God, else you won't believe. You believe in your life, don't you? Yet you have never seen it. You stab a bear, and let its life out. You know when the life is there. You have let it out. You know when it is gone. But you have not seen it. Then why do you believe in it? You do not see a sound, yet you believe in it. Do not lift your stupid face; I know what you would say: you hear the sound, therefore it exists. A deaf man does not hear the sound. Does it therefore not exist? That which produces the sound is there, though the deaf man neither sees nor hears, nor feels nor tastes, nor smells it. My friend, the man of God, says he thinks the cause of sound is motion in the air passing from particle to particle, till the last particle next my ear is moved, and then—I hear. Is there, then, no motion in the air to cause sound because the deaf man does not hear?

"O stupid-face! You say that God does not answer prayer, because you have asked and have not received. What would you think of your little boy if he should say, 'I asked a dead poisonous fish from my father the other day, and he did not give it to me; therefore my father never gives me what I want.' Would that be true? Every morning you awake hungry, and you wish for food; then you get up, and you find it. Is not your wish a silent prayer? And is it not answered every day? Who sends the seals, and fishes, and birds, even when we do not ask with our lips? Did these animals make themselves? Stupid-face! you say your soul is healthy. Sometimes you are angry, sometimes discontented, sometimes jealous, sometimes greedy. Is an angry, discontented, jealous, greedy soul healthy? You know it is not. It is diseased, and the disease of the soul is sin. This disease takes the bad forms I have mentioned, and many other bad forms—one of which is murder."

Angut emphasised the last word and paused, but did not look at the robber beside him, for he knew that the arrow would reach its mark. Then he resumed—

"The Kablunet has brought to us the better knowledge of God. He tells us that God's great purpose from the beginning of time has been to cure our soul-disease. We deserve punishment for our sins: God sent His Son and Equal, Jesus Christ, to bear our sins. We need deliverance from the power of sin: God sent His Equal—the Spirit of Jesus—to cure us. I believe it. I have felt that Great Spirit in my breast long before I saw the Kablunets, and have asked the Great Spirit to send more light. He has answered my prayer. I have more light, and am satisfied."

Again Angut paused, while the Eskimos gazed at him in breathless interest, and a strange thrill—almost of expectation—passed through the assembly, while he continued in a low and solemn tone—

"Jesus," he said, "saves from all sin. But,"—he turned his eyes here full on Grimlek—"He does not save in sin. Murder—foul and wicked murder—has been done!"

Grimlek grew pale, but did not otherwise betray himself. Reference to murder was no uncommon thing among his countrymen. He did not yet feel sure that Angut referred to the deed which he had so recently perpetrated.

"This day," continued Angut, "I saw a band of Kablunet sailors—"

He got no further than that, for Grimlek attempted to spring up. The heavy hand of Angut, however, crushed him back instantly, and a spear-point touched his throat.

"Down with the villains!" shouted Rooney, laying the grasp of a vice on the neck of the man next to him, and hurling him to the ground.

In the twinkling of an eye the fifteen robbers were lying flat on their backs, with fingers grasping their throats, knees compressing their stomachs, and spear-points at their hearts; but no blood was shed. One or two of the fiercest, indeed, struggled at first, but without avail— for the intended victim of each robber was handy and ready to lend assistance at the capture, as if in righteous retribution.

It was of course a startling incident to those who were not in the secret. Every man sprang up and drew his knife, not knowing where a foe might appear, but Rooney's strong voice quieted them.

"We're all safe enough, Mr Egede," he cried, as he bound Grimlek's hands behind him with a cord. The Eskimos quickly performed the same office for their respective prisoners, and then, setting them up in a row, proceeded to talk over the massacre, and to discuss in their presence the best method of getting rid of the murderers.

"I propose," said Okiok, whose naturally kind heart had been deeply stirred by the cowardly massacre which he had witnessed, "I propose that we should drown them."

"No; drowning is far too good. Let us spear them," said Kajo, who had become sober by that time.

"That would not hurt them," cried a fierce Eskimo, smiting his knee with his clenched fist. "We must cut off their ears and noses, poke out their eyes, and then roast them alive—"

"Hush! hush!" cried Egede, stepping forward; "we must do nothing of the kind. We must not act like devils. Have we not been talking of the mercy of the Great Spirit? Let us be just, but let us temper justice with mercy. Angut has not yet spoken; let us hear what he will propose."

Considering the energy with which he had denounced the murders, and the vigour with which he had captured Grimlek, Angut's proposal was somewhat surprising.

"Kablunet," he said, turning to the missionary, "have you not told me that in your Book of God it is written that men should do to other men what they wish other men to do to them?"

"Truly, that is so," answered Egede.

"If I were very wicked," continued Angut, "and had done many evil deeds, I should like to be forgiven and set free; therefore, let us forgive these men, and set them free."

We know not with what feelings the robbers listened to the inhuman proposals that were at first made as to their fate, but certain it is that after Angut had spoken there was a visible improvement in the expression of their faces.

Considerable astonishment and dissatisfaction were expressed by the majority of the Eskimos. Even Egede, much though he delighted in the spirit which dictated it, could not quite see his way to so simple and direct an application of the golden rule in the case of men who had so recently been caught red-handed in a cold-blooded murder. While he was still hesitating as to his reply to this humane proposal, an event occurred which rendered all their discussion unnecessary.

We have said that fifteen robbers had been captured; but there were sixteen who had entered the camp and joined the meeting. One of these had, without particular motive, seated himself on the outskirt of the circle under the shadow of a bush, which shadow had grown darker as the twilight deepened. Thus it came to pass that he had been overlooked, and, when the melee took place, he quietly retreated into the brush-wood. He was a brave man, however, although a robber, and scorned to forsake his comrades in their distress. While the discussion above described was going on, he crept stealthily towards the place where the captives had been ranged.

This he did the more easily that they sat on the summit of a bank or mound which sloped behind them into the bushes. Thus he was able to pass in a serpentine fashion behind them all without being seen, and, as he did so, to cut the bonds of each. Their knives had been removed, else, being desperate villains, they might now have attacked their captors. As it was, when the cords of all had been cut, they rose up with a mingled yell of laughter and triumph and dashed into the bushes.

The hunters were not slow to follow, with brandished knives and spears, but their chief called them back with a Stentorian roar, for well he knew that his men might as well try to follow up a troop of squirrels as pursue a band of reckless men in the rapidly increasing darkness, and that there was nearly as much likelihood of their stabbing each other by mistake in the dark, as of killing or catching their foes.

When the hunters had again re-assembled in front of their chief man's house, they found new cause of anxiety which effectually put to flight their annoyance at having been outwitted by the robbers.

This was the fact that, although night was coming on, the oomiak with the women had not returned.

————————————————————————————————————

Note. This is no fanciful speech. It is the substance of an actual speech made by a Greenlander to the Moravian brethren in 1737.



CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT.

A CAPTURE, FLIGHT, SURPRISE, AND RESCUE.

If true love is, according to the proverb, more distinctly proved to be true by the extreme roughness of its course, then must the truth of the love of Angut and Nunaga be held as proved beyond all question, for its course was a very cataract from beginning to end.

Poor Nunaga, in the trusting simplicity of her nature, was strong in the belief that, having been found and saved by Angut, there was no further cause for anxiety. With an easy mind, therefore, she set herself to the present duty of spearing cat fish with a prong.

It was fine healthy work, giving strength to the muscles, grace and activity to the frame, at the same time that it stimulated the appetite which the catfish were soon to appease.

"It grows late," said Pussimek, "and will be dark before we get back to camp."

"Never mind; who cares?" said the independent Sigokow, who was fond of "sport."

"But the men will be angry," suggested the mother of Ippegoo.

"Let them be angry—bo-o-o!" returned the reckless Kabelaw.

"Nunaga," said Nuna, looking eagerly over the side, "there goes another—a big one; poke it."

Nunaga poked it, but missed, and only brought up a small flat-fish, speared by accident.

Old Kannoa, who also gazed into the clear depths, was here observed to smile benignantly, and wave one of her skinny arms, while with the other she pointed downwards.

The sisters Kabelaw and Sigokow, each wielding a pronged stick, responded to the signal, and were gazing down into the sea with uplifted weapons when Pussimek uttered an exclamation of surprise and pointed to the shore, where, on a bush, a small piece of what resembled scarlet ribbon or a strip of cloth was seen waving in the wind.

"A beast!" exclaimed Pussimek, who had never before seen or heard of scarlet ribbon.

"Saw you ever a beast so very red?" said the wife of Okiok doubtfully.

"It is no beast," remarked the mother of Ippegoo; "it is only a bit of sealskin dyed red."

"No sealskin ever fluttered like that," said the mother of Arbalik sternly. "It is something new and beautiful that some one has lost. We are lucky. Let us go and take it."

No one objecting to this, the oomiak was paddled towards the land. Nunaga observed that the sisters Kabelaw and Sigokow were each eager to spring ashore before the other and snatch the prize. Having a spice of mischievous fun in her she resolved to be beforehand, and, being active as a kitten, while the sisters were only what we may style lumberingly vigorous, she succeeded.

Before the boat quite touched the gravel, she had sprung on shore, and flew towards the coveted streamer. The sisters did not attempt to follow. Knowing that it would be useless, they sat still and the other women laughed.

At the success of his little device the robber-lieutenant of Grimlek chuckled quietly, as he crouched behind that bush. When Nunaga laid her hand on the gaudy bait he sprang up, grasped her round the waist, and bore her off into the bushes. At the same moment the rest of the band made a rush at the oomiak. With a yell in unison, the women shoved off—only just in time, for the leading robber dashed into the sea nearly up to the neck, and his outstretched hand was within a foot of the gunwale when he received a smart rap over the knuckles from Sigokow. Another moment, and the oomiak was beyond his reach.

Alas for old Kannoa! She had been seated on the gunwale of the craft, and the vigorous push that set the others free had toppled her over backwards into the sea. As this happened in shallow water, the poor old creature had no difficulty in creeping on to the beach. The incident would have tried the nerves of most old ladies, but Kannoa had no nerves; and in regard to being wet—well, she was naturally tough and accustomed to rough it.

The disappointed robber observed her, of course, on wading back to land, but passed her with contemptuous indifference, as if she had been merely an over-grown crab or lobster. But Kannoa determined not to be left to die on the shore. She rose, squeezed the water out of her garments and followed the robber, whom she soon found in the bushes with his companions eagerly discussing their future plans. Nunaga was seated on the ground with her face bowed on her knees. Kannoa went and sat down beside her, patted her on the shoulder and began to comfort her.

"We must not stay here," said the leader of the band, merely casting a look of indifference at the old creature. "The women who have escaped will tell the men, and in a very short time we shall have them howling on our track."

"Let us wait and fight them," said one of the men, fiercely.

"It would be great glory for a small band to fight a big one, no doubt," returned the leader in a sarcastic tone; "but it would be greater glory for one man to do that alone—so you had better stay here and fight them yourself."

A short laugh greeted this remark.

"It will be very dark to-night," said another man.

"Yes; too dark for our foes to follow us, but not too dark for us to advance steadily, though slowly, into the mountains," returned the leader. "When there, we shall be safe. Come, we will start at once."

"But what are we to do with the old woman?" asked one. "She cannot walk."

"Leave her," said another.

"No; she will bring evil on us if we leave her," cried the fierce man. "I am sure she is a witch. We must carry her with us, and when we come to a convenient cliff, toss her into the sea."

In pursuance of this plan, the fierce robber tied the old woman up in a bear-skin—made a bundle of her, in fact—and swung her on his back. Fortunately, being rather deaf, Kannoa had not heard what was in store for her; and as the position she occupied on the fierce man's broad back was not uncomfortable, all things considered, she submitted with characteristic patience. Poor, horrified Nunaga thought it best to let her companion remain in ignorance of what was proposed, and cast about in her mind the possibility of making her escape, and carrying the news of her danger to the camp. If she could only get there and see Angut, she was sure that all would go well, for Angut, she felt, could put everything right—somehow.

In a short time the robbers were far away from the scene of their consultation; and the darkness of the night, as predicted, became so intense that it was quite impossible to advance further over the rough ground without the risk of broken limbs, if not worse. A halt was therefore called for rest, food, and consultation.

The spot on which they stood was the top of a little mound, with thick shrubs on the land side, which clothed a steep, almost precipitous descent. Just within these shrubs, as it were under the brow of the hill, Nunaga observed a small natural rut or hollow. The other, or sea, side of the mound, was quite free from underwood, and also very steep. On the top there was a low ledge of rock, on which the fierce robber laid his bundle down, while the others stood round and began to discuss their circumstances. The leader, who had taken charge of Nunaga, and held one of her hands during the journey, set the girl close in front of him, to prevent the possibility of her attempting to escape, for he had noted her activity and strength, and knew how easily she might elude him if once free in the dark woods.

Although these woods were as black as Erebus, there was light enough to enable them to distinguish the glimmer of the sea not far off, and a tremendous cliff rising in solemn grandeur above it.

"Yonder is a good place to throw your witch over," remarked the leader carelessly.

The fierce robber looked at the place.

"Yes," he said, "that might do; and the way to it is open enough to be crossed, even at night, without much trouble."

At that moment a bright idea suddenly struck Nunaga.

Have you ever noticed, reader, how invariably "bright ideas" deal sudden blows? This one struck Nunaga, as the saying goes, "all of a heap."

She happened to observe that the leader of the band was standing with his heels close against the ledge of rock already mentioned. In an instant she plunged at the robber's chest like a female thunderbolt. Having no room to stagger back, of course the man was tripped up by the ledge, and, tumbling headlong over it, went down the steep slope on the other side with an indignant roar.

The rest of the robbers were taken by surprise, and so immensely tickled with the humour of the thing that they burst into hearty laughter as they watched the frantic efforts of their chief to arrest his career.

All at the same instant, however, seemed to recover their presence of mind, for they looked round simultaneously with sudden gravity—and found that Nunaga was gone!

With a wild shout, they sprang after her—down the slope, crashing through the underwood, scattering right and left, and, in more than one instance, tumbling head over heels. They were quickly joined by their now furious leader; but they crashed, and tumbled, and searched in vain. Nunaga had vanished as completely and almost as mysteriously as if she had been a spirit.

The explanation is simple. She had merely dropped into the rut or hollow under the brow of the hill; and there she lay, covered with grasses and branches, listening to the growlings of indignation and astonishment expressed by the men when they re-assembled on the top of the mound to bewail their bad fortune.

"We've got the old witch, anyhow," growled the fierce robber, with a scowl at the bundle which was lying perfectly still.

"Away, men," cried their leader, "and search the other side of the mound. The young witch may have doubled on us like a rabbit, while we were seeking towards the hills."

Obedient to the command, they all dispersed again—this time towards the sea.

What Nunaga's thought was at the time we cannot tell, but there is reason to believe it must have been equivalent to "Now or never," for she leaped out of her place of concealment and made for the hills at the top of her speed. Truth requires us to add that she was not much better on her legs than were the men, for darkness, haste, and rugged ground are a trying combination. But there is this to be said for the girl: being small, she fell lightly; being rotund, she fell softly; being india-rubbery, she rebounded; and, being young, she took it easily. In a very short time she felt quite safe from pursuit.

Then she addressed herself diligently to find out the direction of the Eskimo camp, being filled with desperate anxiety for her old friend Kannoa. Strong, almost, as a young Greenland fawn, and gifted, apparently, with some of that animal's power to find its way through the woods, she was not long of hitting the right direction, and gaining the coast, along which she ran at her utmost speed.

On arriving—breathless and thoroughly exhausted—she found to her dismay that Angut, Simek, Rooney, and Okiok had left. The news of her capture had already been brought in by the women with the oomiak, and these men, with as many others as could be spared, had started off instantly to the rescue.

"But they are not long gone," said Nunaga's mother, by way of comforting her child.

"What matters that?" cried Nunaga in despair; "dear old Kannoa will be lost, for they know nothing of her danger."

While the poor girl spoke, her brother Ermigit began to prepare himself hastily for action.

"Fear not, sister," he said; "I will run to the great cliff, for I know it well. They left me to help to guard the camp, but are there not enough to guard it without me?"

With these words, the youth caught up a spear, and darted out of the hut.

Well was it for old Kannoa that night that Ermigit was, when roused, one of the fleetest runners of his tribe. Down to the shore he sprang— partly tumbled—and then sped along like the Arctic wind, which, we may remark, is fully as swift as more southerly breezes. The beach near the sea was mostly smooth, so that the absence of light was not a serious drawback. In a remarkably short space of time the lad overtook the rescue party, not far beyond the spot where the women had been surprised and Nunaga captured. Great was their satisfaction on hearing of the girl's safe return.

"It's a pity you didn't arrive half an hour sooner, however," said Rooney, "for poor Angut has gone off with a party towards the hills, in a state of wild despair, to carry on the search in that direction. But you look anxious, boy; what more have you to tell?"

In a few rapidly-spoken words Ermigit told of Kannoa's danger. Instant action was of course taken. One of the natives, who was well acquainted with the whole land, and knew the mound where the robbers had halted, was despatched with a strong party to search in that direction, while Rooney, Okiok, and the rest set off at a sharp run in the direction of the great cliff which they soon reached, panting like race-horses.

Scrambling to the top, they found no one there. By that time the short night of spring had passed, and the faint light of the coming day enabled them to make an investigation of the ground, which tended to prove that no one had been there recently.

"We can do nothing now but wait," said Red Rooney, as he sat on a projecting cliff, wiping the perspiration from his brow.

"But we might send some of the young men to look round, and bring us word if they see any of the robbers," said Simek.

"If we do that," replied Okiok, "they will get wind of us, and clear off. Then they would kill my great-mother before casting her away."

"That's true, Okiok. We must keep quiet," said Rooney. "Besides, they are pretty sure to bring her to the cliff, for that is a favourite mode among you of getting rid of witches."

"But what if they don't come here?" asked Ippegoo.

"Then we must hope that they have slept on the mound," returned Okiok; "and Angut will be sure to find them, and kill them all in their sleep."

"Too good to hope for," murmured Arbalik.

"We must hide, if we don't want to be seen," suggested Simek.

Feeling the propriety of this suggestion, the whole party went into a cave which they found close at hand and sat down to wait as patiently as might be. Rooney was the last to enter. Before doing so he crept on hands and knees to the extreme edge of the cliff and looked down. Nothing was visible, however; only a black, unfathomable abyss. But he could hear the sullen roar of ocean as the waves rushed in and out of the rocky caverns far below. Drawing back with a shudder, a feeling of mingled horror, rage, and tender pity oppressed him as he thought of Kannoa's poor old bones being shattered on the rocks, or swallowed by the waves at the foot of the cliff, while behind and through Kannoa there rose up the vision of that grandmother in the old country, whose image seemed to have acquired a fixed habit of beckoning him to come home, with a remonstrative shake of the head and a kindly smile.

They had not long to wait. They had been seated about ten minutes in the cavern when the man who had been left outside to watch came gliding in on tip-toe, stepping high, and with a blazing look about the eyes.

"They come," he said in a hoarse whisper.

"Who come, you walrus?" whispered Okiok.

"The man with the witch."

On hearing this, Rooney, Okiok, and Simek went to the entrance of the cave, followed by the rest, who, however, were instructed to keep under cover till required, if no more than three or four men should arrive.

A few seconds later, and the robber chief appeared on the flat space in front of them. He was closely followed by a squat comrade and the fierce man with the bundle on his back. As they passed the cave, the bundle gave a pitiful wail.

This was enough. With a silent rush, like three bull-dogs, our heroes shot forth. Rooney, having forgotten his weapon, used his fist instead, planted his knuckles on the bridge of the leader's nose, and ruined it, as a bridge, for evermore. The robber went down, turned a complete back-somersault, regained his feet, and fled. Okiok seized the fierce man by the throat almost before he was aware of the attack, causing him to drop his bundle which Rooney was just in time to catch and carry into the cave. There he set it down tenderly, cut the fastenings of the skin, and freed the poor old woman's head.

It was a beautiful sight to see the livid hue and gaze of horror change into a flush of loving benignity when Kannoa observed who it was that kneeled beside her.

"Poor old woman!" shouted Rooney in her ear. "Are you much hurt?"

"No; not hurt at all; only squeezed too much. But I'm afraid for Nunaga. I think she got away, but I was bundled, when I last heard her voice."

"Fear no more, then, for Nunaga is safe," said Rooney; but at that moment all the men rushed from the cave, and he heard sounds outside which induced him to follow them and leave the old woman to look after herself.

On issuing from the cave, he saw that the fierce robber was the only one captured, and that he was on the point of receiving summary justice, for Simek and Okiok had hold of his arms, while Arbalik and Ippegoo held his legs and bore him to the edge of the cliff.

"Now then!" cried Simek.

"Stop, stop!" shouted Rooney.

"One—two—heave!" cried Okiok.

And they did heave—vigorously and together, so that the fierce man went out from their grasp like a huge stone from a Roman catapult. There was a hideous yell, and, after a brief but suggestive pause, an awful splash!

They did not wait to ascertain whether that fierce man managed to swim ashore—but certain it is that no one answering to his description has attempted to hurl a witch from those cliffs from that day to this.



CHAPTER TWENTY NINE.

CONCLUSION.

Need we enlarge on the despair of Angut being turned into joy on his return, when he found Nunaga and Kannoa safe and sound? We think not.

A few days thereafter our adventurers arrived at the settlement of the Kablunets; and these northern Eskimos soon forgot their rough experiences under the influence of the kind, hospitable reception they met with from the Moravian Brethren.

The joy of the brethren at welcoming Hans Egede, too, was very great, for they had heard of his recent expedition, and had begun to fear that he was lost. Not the less welcome was he that he came accompanied by a band of Eskimos who seemed not only willing to listen to the Gospel but more than usually able to understand it. The interest of these devoted men was specially roused by Angut, whom they at once recognised as of greatly superior mental power to his companions.

"I cannot help thinking," said Egede, in commenting on his character to one of the brethren, "that he must be a descendant of those Norse settlers who inhabited this part of Greenland long, long ago, who, we think, were massacred by the natives, and the remains of whose buildings are still to be seen."

"It may be so," returned the brother; "your Viking countrymen were vastly superior in brain-power to the Eskimos. We are glad and thankful that our Father has sent Angut to us, for it is not improbable that he may one day become an evangelist to his brethren in the far north."

But of all those who were assembled at the station at that time, Red Rooney was the man who rejoiced most, for there he found an English vessel on the eve of starting for the "old country," the captain of which was not only willing but glad to get such an able seaman to strengthen his crew.

"Angut," said Rooney, as they walked one evening by the margin of the sea, "it grieves me to the heart to leave you; but the best of friends must part. Even for your sake, much though I love you, I cannot remain here, now that I have got the chance of returning to my dear wife and bairns and my native land."

"But we shall meet again," replied Angut earnestly. "Does not your great Book teach that the Father of all is bringing all people to Himself in Jesus Christ? In the spirit-land Angut and Nunaga, Okiok, Nuna, Simek, and all the Innuit friends, when washed in the blood of Jesus, will again see the face of Ridroonee, and rejoice."

This was the first time that Angut had distinctly declared his faith, and it afforded matter for profound satisfaction to Rooney, who grasped and warmly shook his friend's hand.

"Right—right you are, Angut," he said; "I do believe that we shall meet again in the Fatherland, and that hope takes away much o' the sadness of parting. But you have not yet told me about the wedding. Have you arranged it with the Brethren?"

"Yes; it is fixed for the day beyond to-morrow."

"Good; an' the next day we sail—so, my friend, I'll have the satisfaction of dancing at your wedding before I go."

"I know not as to dancing," said Angut, with a grave smile, "but we are to have kick-ball, and a feast."

"I'm game for both, or any other sort o' fun you like," returned the seaman heartily.

While they were speaking they observed a youth running towards them in great haste, and in a state of violent excitement. A whale, he said, had stranded itself in a shallow bay not far off, and he was running to let the people of the settlement know the good news.

The commotion occasioned by this event is indescribable. Every man and boy who could handle a kayak took to the water with harpoon and lance. Ippegoo, Arbalik, Okiok, Simek, Norrak, and Ermigit were among them, in borrowed kayaks, and mad as the maddest with glee. Even Kajo joined them. He was as drunk as the proverbial fiddler, having obtained rum from the sailors, and much more solemn than an owl.

While these hastened to the conflict, the women and children who could run or walk proceeded by land to view the battle.

And it was indeed a grand fight! The unlucky monster had got thoroughly embayed, and was evidently in a state of consternation, for in its efforts to regain deep water it rushed hither and thither, thrusting its blunt snout continually on some shoal, and wriggling off again with difficulty and enormous splutter. The shouts of men, shrieks of women, and yells of children co-mingled in stupendous discord.

Simek, the mighty hunter, was first to launch his harpoon. It went deep and was well aimed. Blood dyed the sea at once, and the efforts of the whale to escape were redoubled. There was also danger in this attack, for no one could tell, each time the creature got into water deep enough to float in, to what point of the shore its next rush would be.

"Look out!" cried Rooney in alarm, for, being close to Arbalik in a kayak, he saw that the whale was coming straight at them. It ran on a shoal when close to them, doubled round in terror and whirled its great tail aloft.

Right over Arbalik's head the fan-like mass quivered for one moment. The youth did not give it a chance. Over he went and shot down into the water like an eel, just as the tail came down like a thunder-clap on his kayak, and reduced it to a jumble of its shattered elements, while Rooney paddled out of danger. Arbalik swam ashore, and landed just in time to see the whale rise out of the water, lifting Ippegoo in his kayak on its shoulders. The electrified youth uttered a shriek of horror in which the tone of surprise was discernible, slid off, kayak and all, into the sea—and was none the worse!

By this time some dozens of harpoons had been fixed in the body of the whale, and the number of bladders attached to them interfered slightly with its movements, but did not render an approach to it by any means safer. At last Simek, losing patience, made a bold rush in his kayak, and drove his lance deep into the huge creature's side. The act was greeted with a cheer—or something like one,—which was repeated when Red Rooney followed suit successfully. Okiok and his two sons were not slow to repeat the process. Other Eskimos rushed in, hovered round, and acted their part, so that finally the whale was killed and hauled nearly out of the water by the united exertion of the entire population of the land.

Then succeeded the distribution of the prize.

Eskimos have peculiar and not unreasonable laws on such matters. If two hunters strike a seal at the same time, they divide it. The same holds in regard to wild-fowl or deer. If a dead seal is found with a harpoon sticking in it, the finder keeps the seal, but restores the harpoon to the owner. The harpooner of a walrus claims the head and tail, while any one may take away as much as he can carry of the carcass. But when a whale is captured, the harpooners have no special advantage. There is such a superabundance of wealth that all—even spectators—may cut and come again as often and as long as they please.

When, therefore, the whale whose capture we have described was dead, hundreds of men and boys mounted at once, knife in hand, on the carcass, and the scene of blood and confusion that ensued baffles description.

"Won't we stuff to-night!" remarked Kabelaw to her sister, as they went home bending under a weight of blubber.

"Ay—and to-morrow," replied Sigokow.

"And some days beyond to-morrow," observed old Kannoa, who staggered after them under a lighter load of the spoil.

But it was not the Eskimos alone who derived benefit from this unexpected prize. The captain of the English ship also got some barrels of oil and a large quantity of whalebone to fill up his cargo, and the bright shawls and real iron knives that were given in exchange soon graced the shoulders of the native women and the belts of the men.

It was indeed a time of immense jubilation—for every one was gratified more or less—from the chief of the Moravian Brethren down to Tumbler and Pussi, who absolutely wallowed in fun and unctuous food, while Angut and Nunaga were of course supremely happy.

The wedding ceremony, performed by Hans Egede, we need hardly say, was simple, and the festivities which followed were not complex. The game at kick-ball which preceded the wedding was admittedly one of the best that had ever been played at that station, partly, no doubt, because the captain and crew of the English ship, headed by Red Rooney, took part in it.

Strange to say, the only man who seemed to be at all cast down on that occasion was Ippegoo. He was found by his mother in the evening in a retired spot by the sea, sitting on the rocks with a very disconsolate countenance.

"My son, what is the matter?"

"Mother, my heart is heavy. I cannot forget Ujarak."

"But he treated you ill, my son."

"Sometimes—not always. Often he was kind—and—and I loved him. I cannot help it."

"Grieve not, Ippe," rejoined pleasant little Kunelik. "Do we not know now that we shall meet him again in the great Fatherland?"

The poor youth was comforted. He dried his eyes, and went home with his mother. Yet he did not cease to mourn for his departed wizard friend.

We will not harrow the reader's feelings by describing the leave-taking of the Eskimos from their friend the Kablunet. After he was gone those men of the North remained a considerable time at the settlement, listening to the missionaries as they revealed the love of God to man in Jesus Christ.

What resulted from this of course we cannot tell, but of this we are certain—that their "labour was not in vain in the Lord." When the time comes for the Creator to reveal His plans to man, surely it will be found that no word spoken, no cup of water given, by these Danish and Moravian Christians, shall lose its appropriate reward.

When at last the northern men and their families stood on the sea-shore, with their kayaks, oomiaks and families ready, Angut stood forth, and, grasping Hans Egede by the hand, said earnestly—

"Brother, farewell till we meet again. I go now to carry the Good News to my kindred who dwell where the ice-mountains cover the land and sea."

————————————————————————————————————

But what of the Kablunet? Shall we permit him to slip quietly through our fingers, and disappear? Nay, verily.

He reached England. He crossed over to Ireland. There, in a well-remembered cottage-home, he found a blooming "widow," who discovered to her inexpressible joy that she was still a wife! He found six children, who had grown so tremendously out of all remembrance that their faces seemed like a faint but familiar dream, which had to be dreamed over again a good deal and studied much, before the attainment by the seaman of a satisfactory state of mind. And, last, he found a little old woman with wrinkled brow and toothless gums, who looked at and listened to him with benignant wonder, and whose visage reminded him powerfully of another little old woman who dwelt in the land of ice and snow where he used to be known as the Kablunet.

This Kablunet—alias Ridroonee,—now regretfully makes his bow and exit from our little stage as RED ROONEY, THE LAST OF THE CREW.

THE END.

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