Native American Legends
Atdlarneq, The Great Glutton
An Eskimo Legend
This is told of Atdlarneq: that he was a strong man, and if he
rowed but a little way out in his kayak, he caught a seal. On no
day did he fail to make a catch, and he was never content with only
But one day when he should have been out hunting seal, he only
paddled along close to the shore, making towards the south. On the
way he sighted a cape, and made towards it; and when he could see
the sunny side, he spied a little house, quite near.
He thought: "I must wait until some one comes out."
And while he lay there, with his paddle touching the shore, a woman
came out; she had a yellow band round her hair, and yellow seams
to all her clothes.
Now he would have gone on shore, but he thought: "I had better
wait until another one comes out." And as he thought this,
there came another woman out of the house. And like the first, she
also had a yellow hair band, and yellow seams to all her clothes.
And he did not go on shore, but thought again: "I can wait
for just one more."
And truly enough, there came yet another one, quite like the others.
And like them also, she bore a dish in her hand. And now at last
he went on shore and hauled up his kayak. He went into the house,
and they all received him very kindly. And they brought great quantities
of food and set before him.
At last the evening came. And now those three women began to go
outside again and again. And at last Atdlarneq asked: "Why
do you keep going out like that?" When he asked them this,
all answered at once: "It is because we now expect our dear
When he heard this, he was afraid, and hid himself behind the skin
hangings. And he had hardly crawled in there when that master came
home; Atdlarneq looked through a little hole, and saw him.
And his cheeks were made of copper. He had but just sat down, when
he began to sniff, and said: "Hum! There is a smell of people
here." And now Atdlarneq crawled out, seeing that the other
had already smelt him. He had hardly shown himself, when the other
asked very eagerly: "Has he had nothing to eat yet?"
"No, he has not yet eaten." "Then bring food at
once." And then they brought in a sack full of fish, and a
big piece of blubber from the half of a black seal. And then the
man said violently: "You are to eat this all up, and if you
do not eat it all up, I will thrash you with my copper cheeks!"
And now Atdlarneq began eagerly chewing blubber with his fish;
he chewed and chewed, and at last he had eaten it all up. Then he
went to the water bucket, and lifted it to his mouth and drank,
and drank it all to the last drop.
Hardly had be done this when the man said: "And now the frozen
And they brought in the half of a black seal. And Atdlarneq ate
and ate until there was no more left, save a very little piece.
When the man saw there was some not eaten, he cried out violently
again: "Give him some more to eat."
And when Atdlarneq had eaten again for a while, he did not wish
to eat more. But then they brought in a whole black seal. And the
man set that also before him, and cried: "Eat that up too."
And so Atdlarneq was forced to stuff himself mightily once more.
He ate and ate, and at last he had eaten it all up. And again he
emptied the water bucket.
After all that he felt very well indeed, and seemed hardly to have
eaten until now. But that was because he had swallowed a little
stalk of grass before he began.
So Atdlarneq slept, and next morning he went back home again. But
after having thus nearly gorged himself to death, he never went
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