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The favouring calm continued until Cheenbuk with his companion arrived at Waruskeek.

It was about mid-day when their canoe turned round the headland and entered the inlet near the head of which lay the Eskimo village.

The boy Anteek happened to be standing on the shore at the time, beside the young girl Nootka.  They were looking out to sea, and observed the canoe the moment it turned the point of rocks.

“Hoi-oi!” yelled Anteek with an emphasis that caused the inhabitants of the whole village to leap out of every hut with the celerity of squirrels, and rush to the shore.  Here those who had first arrived were eagerly commenting on the approaching visitors.

“A kayak of the Fire-spouters!” cried Anteek, with a look of intense glee, for nothing was so dear to the soul of that volatile youth, as that which suggested danger, except, perhaps, that which involved fun.

“The kayak is indeed that of a Fire-spouter,” said old Mangivik, shaking his grey head, “but I don’t think any Fire-spouter among them would be such a fool as to run his head into our very jaws.”

“I’m not ready to agree with you, old man,” began Gartok.

“No; you’re never ready to agree with any one!” growled Mangivik parenthetically.

“For the Fire-spouters,” continued Gartok, disregarding the growl, “are afraid of nothing.  Why should they be when they can spout wounds and death so easily?”

Poor Gartok spoke feelingly, for his wounded leg had reduced his vigour considerably, and he was yet only able to limp about with the aid of a stick, while his lieutenant Ondikik was reduced to skin and bone by the injury to his back.

Suddenly Mangivik became rather excited.

“Woman,” he said earnestly to his wife, who stood beside him, “do you see who steers the kayak?  Look, your eyes are better than mine.”

“No.  I do not.”

“Look again!” cried Anteek, pushing forward at that moment.  “He is not a Fire-spouter.  He is one of us!  But the one in front is a Fire-spouter woman.  Look at the man!  Don’t you know him?”

There was an intensity of suppressed fervour in the manner of the boy, and an unwonted glitter in his eyes, which impressed every one who noticed him.

“Yes, he is one of us,” said Mangivik, shading his eyes with one hand, “and he has stolen a Fire-spouting girl with her kayak!”

There was a look of pride in the face of the old man as he spoke, but it was as nothing to the shout of triumph-the shriek of ecstasy-that burst from Anteek as he uttered the word-“Cheenbuk!”

Just then a strong clear voice came rolling over the water to the shore, and a roar of joy burst from the whole assemblage, for there was no mistaking the voice of their comrade and best hunter.  The hearts of Nootka and her mother beat with no ordinary flutter as they heard the familiar shout, and as for Anteek, he went into a paroxysm of delight, which he sought to relieve by bounding and yelling till the canoe touched the shore.  Then, by a powerful effort, he subdued himself, and turned his energies into a prolonged look of unutterable amazement at Adolay.

Of course the eyes of the entire population were turned in the same direction-for Eskimos do not count it rude to stare-so that the poor girl felt somewhat abashed, and shrank a little behind her stout protector.

Observing the action, Cheenbuk took hold of her arm gently and led her towards his mother.

“This is my mother, Adolay,” he said; “she will take care of you.”

“Your wife?” asked Mrs Mangivik, with an anxious look.

“No, not my wife,” replied the youth, with a laugh.  “Take her to our hut, you and Nootka, while I go and speak with the men.-She saved my life, father,” he added, turning to Mangivik, “be good to her.”

On hearing this, Nootka and her mother took the girl affectionately by both hands and led her away.

Cheenbuk meanwhile went up to the big hut, just outside of which was held a meeting of nearly the whole population, to receive an account of his adventures from the man whom they had long ago given up as lost.

“My friends,” he began, surveying the expectant assembly with a grave straightforward look, “when I went by myself to the Whale River, my intention was to hunt around and find out if there were many birds and beasts on lands near to it, and if many men lived or hunted there, for it came into my mind that this little island of Waruskeek is not the best place in the world to live in, for our tribe is continually increasing.  I thought that if there were Fire-spouters there already, we must be content with the lands we have got, for it is not right to take what belongs to other men.”

Cheenbuk paused here and looked round, because he knew that he was treading on somewhat new and delicate ground in thus asserting a principle of right; and he was not mistaken, for, while the most of his audience remained silent, several of them expressed dissent.

“Besides,” he continued, “it is not wise to attack men with fire-spouters, which send into their enemies heavy little things like that which was lately picked out of Gartok’s leg; the same as still seems to be sticking in Ondikik’s back.”

“Ho! ho!” exclaimed a number of the men, as if that truth commended itself to their understandings.

“Well, when I got to the river, I found plenty of white-whales at the mouth of it, and great plenty of birds of all kinds, and of deer-a land good for man to dwell in, with many trees that would make sledge-runners, and much dead wood for our fires, and no one living there, nor signs of anybody.  Then I thought to myself, Why should we live always among the floes and bergs?  The few Fire-spouters whom we have seen and heard of have better food, better homes, better tools of every kind.  Why should not we have the same?”

Here the wise Cheenbuk drew from the breast of his seal-skin coat the axe and scalping-knife which Adolay had given him, and held them up.

This was a politic move, for it won over almost the entire audience to the young hunter’s views, while looks of ardent admiration were bestowed on the coveted implements.

“When men find it not easy to get food,” resumed Cheenbuk, in the tone and with the air of a man who has much to say and means to say it, “they change to some place where hunting is better.  When fish become scarce, they do not remain still, but go to places where the fishing is better.  They always seek for something that is better and better.  Is this not true?  Is this not wise?”

“Ho! ho!” exclaimed the assembly, assenting.

“Why, then, should not we go to a land where there is much that is far better than we find here, and live as the Fire-spouters live?  Did the Great Maker of all things intend that we should remain content with these treeless islands among the ice, when there are lands not very far away where we may find much of all kinds of things that are far better?  If it is wise to change our hunting and fishing grounds close at hand, surely it may be wise to change to those that are far away-especially when we know that they are better, and likely to make us more comfortable and happy.”

This suggestion was such a tremendous innovation on ordinary Eskimo ideas, such a radical conception of change and upheaval of age-long habits, that the assembly gazed in awe-struck and silent wonder at the bold young man, much as the members of Parliament of the last century might have gazed if any reckless M.P. had dared to propose universal suffrage or vote by ballot, or to suggest that measures should henceforth be framed in accordance with the Golden Rule.

“After I had travelled a short way inland,” continued Cheenbuk, “I met a Fire-spouter.  He was all alone.  No one was with him.  He pointed his spouter at me, and it clicked but would not spout-I don’t know why.  I threw my spear.  It went straight-as you know it always does-but the man was quick; he put his head to one side and escaped.  Again he pointed his spouter at me, but again it only clicked.  Then I rushed upon him and caught hold of it before it could spout.  We wrestled-but he was a very strong man, and I could not overcome him-and he could not overcome me.  Our breath came short.  The sweat poured down our faces and our eyes glared; but when we looked steadily into each other’s eyes we saw that we were both men of peace.  We let our bodies go soft, and dropped the spouter on the ground.

“`Why should we fight?’ said he.

“`That was just in my thought,’ said I.

“So we stood up, and he took hold of my hand in the way that the white traders do, and squeezed it.  I will show you how.-Give me your hand, Anteek-no, the other one.”

The boy extended his hand, and Cheenbuk, grasping it, gave it a squeeze that caused the little fellow to yell and throw the assembly into convulsions of laughter, for Eskimos, unlike the sedate Indians, dearly love a practical joke.

From this point Cheenbuk related the rest of his interview with the Indian, and was particularly graphic in his description of the pipe, which he exhibited to them, though he refrained from any reference to its effect upon himself.  Then he discoursed of his subsequent exploration of the mainland, and finally came to the point where he met and rescued Rinka.-“But tell me, before I speak more, is Rinka dead?”

“No, she is getting well.”

“That is good,” he continued, in a tone of satisfaction.  “Old Uleeta, I doubt not, told you of the fight I had with the Fire-spouters?”

“She did,” cried Anteek, with delight, “and how you gave them sore hearts!”

“H’m! they gave me a sore heart too; but I don’t care now!  And they would have roasted me alive, but one of their girls had pity on me, helped me to escape, and came away with me.  Adolay is her name-the girl you saw to-day.”

“Ho! ho! hoi-oi?” broke forth the chorus of satisfaction.

“Yes, but for her,” continued Cheenbuk, “I should have been under the ground and my hair would have been fluttering on the dress of a Fire-spouter chief by this time.  Now, I have promised this girl that I will get a large party of our young men to go back with her to Whale River and give her back to her father and mother.”

At this there were strong murmurs of dissent, and a man whom we have not yet introduced to the reader lifted up his voice.

This man’s name was Aglootook.  He was the medicine-man of the tribe-a sort of magician; a sharp, clever, unscrupulous, presumptuous, and rather fine looking-fellow, who held the people in some degree of subjection through their superstitious fears, though there were some of the men among them who would not give in to his authority.  As Eskimos have no regular chiefs, this man tried to occupy the position of one.  He had just returned from a hunting expedition the day before, and was jealous of the interest aroused by Cheenbuk’s arrival.  Moreover, Cheenbuk was one of the few men of the tribe whom he disliked, and rather feared.

“What folly is this that I hear?” said Aglootook, as he frowned on the assembly.  “Are we to get up a war-party and put ourselves to all this trouble for a woman-and a Fire-spouter woman!”

“It is not a war-party that I want,” said Cheenbuk quietly.  “It is a peace-party, and such a strong one that there will be no fear of war.  I will conduct it, and, as I know the way, will go by myself unarmed to the village of the men of the woods, tell them that I have brought back their girl, and that a large party of my people are waiting at the mouth of the river with plenty of skins and walrus teeth and other things to trade with them.”

“But does any one think they will believe that?” said Aglootook with something of scorn in his looks and tone.  “Will the Fire-spouters not accept the girl and roast Cheenbuk, and then meet us with their spouters and kill many of us, even though we should beat them at last?”

“It is my opinion there is something in that,” remarked Mangivik.

“Besides,” continued the magician, “what folly is it to talk of changing our customs, which have never been changed since the First Man created fish and animals!  Are we not satisfied with whales and walruses, bears and seals, deer and birds?  Is not our snow igloe as comfortable as the Fire-spouters’ skin tent?  What do we care for their ornaments or other things?  What does Cheenbuk know about the Great Maker of all things?  Has he seen him?  Has he talked with him?  If there is such a Maker, did he not place us here, and surround us with all the things that we need, and intend us to remain here?  Why should we go and look for better things?  If he had thought that woods and lakes and rivers had been good for us, would he not have made these things here for us, so that we should have no need to go far away to seek for them-”

“Ay, and if Aglootook is right,” interrupted Cheenbuk in a calm but firm voice, “why should we go far away to seek the bear, the walrus, and the seal?  Why does Aglootook go hunting at all?  If the Great Maker thought these things good for us, would he not have made them to walk up to our igloes and ask to be killed and eaten?  Why should they even do that? why not walk straight down our throats and save all trouble?  Is it not rather quite plain that man was made with wants and wishes and the power to satisfy them, and so advance from good to better?  Does not Aglootook prove by his own conduct that he thinks so?  He might make life easy by sitting near his hut and killing for food the little birds that come about our dwellings, but he goes on long hard journeys, and takes much trouble, for he knows that slices of fat seal and walrus-ribs are better than little birds!”

There was a general laugh at the expense of the magician, for his mental powers were inferior to those of Cheenbuk, and he felt himself unable to see through the entanglement of his logic.

“Boh!” he ejaculated, with a sweep of his long arm, as if to clear away such ridiculous arguments.  “What stuff is this that I hear?  Surely Cheenbuk has been smitten with the folly of the Fire-spouters.  His words are like a lamp with a very bad wick:  it makes too much smoke, and confuses everything near it.”

“Aglootook is right,” said Cheenbuk, who resolved to end the dispute at this point, “many words are like the smoke of a bad lamp:  they confuse, especially when they are not well-understood, but the Fire-spouters confuse themselves with real smoke as well as with words.  See, here is one of their things; the white traders call it a paip, or piep.”

As he spoke he opened the fire-bag which Adolay had given him and took out of it the clay pipe, tobacco, and materials for producing fire.  The medicine-man was instantly forgotten, and the mouths as well as the eyes of the whole assembly opened in unspeakable wonder as Cheenbuk went through the complex processes of filling and lighting the pipe.  First he cut up some of the Canada twist, which, he explained, was the tubuk of the white men.  Then having filled the pipe, he proceeded to strike a light with flint and steel.  In this he was not very successful at first, not yet having had much practice.  He chipped his knuckles a good deal, and more than once knocked the flint and tinder out of his fingers.  But his audience was not critical.  They regarded this as part of the performance.  When, however, he at last struck a succession of sparks, he also struck an equal number of short, sharp expressions of astonishment out of his friends, and when the tinder caught there was a suppressed grunt of surprise and pleasure; but when he put the fire into the pipe and began to smoke, there burst forth a prolonged shout of laughter.  To see a man smoking like a bad lamp was a joke that seemed to tickle those unsophisticated children of the ice immensely.

“Is it good?” asked one.  “Do you like it?” cried another.  “Let me try it!” begged a third.

Mindful of past experiences, Cheenbuk did not indulge in many whiffs.

“No, no,” he said, taking the pipe from his lips with solemn gravity.  “Not every one who wishes it shall have a taste of this to-day.  Only a great man of our tribe shall try it.  Some one who has done great things above his fellows.”

He looked pointedly at Aglootook as he spoke, with solemnity on his face but mischief in his heart.

Oolalik, however, with the reverse of mischief in his heart, interfered unwittingly with his designs.  He seized hold of Anteek, who chanced to be near him, and thrust him forward.

“Here,” said he, “is one of the great ones of our tribe, at least he will be one if he lives long, for he has killed a walrus all by himself-on land too!”

The boy, although pretty full of what is known among the civilised as “cheek,” was almost overwhelmed by this public recognition of his prowess, and was about to retire with a half-shy expression, when the audience received the proposal with a burst of applause.

“Yes, yes,” they cried; “he is a brave boy:  let him try it.”

Seeing that they were set upon it, Cheenbuk handed the pipe to the boy, and bade him draw the smoke in and puff it out, taking care not to swallow it.

But Anteek did swallow some at first and choked a little, to the great amusement of the assembly.  His pride carried him through, however; he tried again, and was successful.  Then his “cheek” came back and he went on, puffing out far larger volumes than his instructor had done.

“You had better stop,” said Cheenbuk, reaching out his hand to take the pipe; but the boy dodged him with a laugh and went on worse than ever.  Seeing this, Cheenbuk smiled significantly and waited.  He had not to wait long.  Suddenly the face of Anteek became unusually pale.  Placing the pipe hurriedly in the bands of a man near him, he bolted out of the hut and disappeared.

He was not seen again during the remainder of that conference!