Historical Events

Peter Freuchen eats buckets of eggs at a time with other Eskimo hunters, but hopes his stores aren't eaten up by the hungry carnivores.

Book of the Eskimos

When we arrived home, I was informed that the strong gale had broken the ice around Dalrymple Rock. Now that it was about to settle again, there was a chance of a good catch of walrus, because these animals could get closer to Saunders Island, where there are mussels and where they like to stay. Consequently, I left Navarana at the settlement and joined the hunters on the ice. It was a healthy life, but somewhat dull in the evenings when we were running around playing to keep ourselves warm. One day, a fresh young man had a bright idea.

"Somebody got the desire for eggs," he shouted. "There are eggs on this island. Let us go get eggs!"

The others seconded his motion, and the whole crowd scurried up to get—my eggs. It so happened that I was the only one who had collected and cached enough of them, and I had sneakily counted on them for myself and my guests. As a man of honor, I could of course do nothing but join the chorus and express my satisfaction that my wretched eggs were allowed to be included in the meal. They came down with bags filled with the stone-hard frozen eggs. Some were gnawed on the spot, like apples, others were put in the pot until it was filled up with eggs. Nobody gave it a thought that these eggs belonged to me. Had I owned the eider ducks? Had I done anything but hide the birds' eggs? Nobody in this country knew how to be content with an egg or two. Here the fun was to see how many could be downed. And every man had ten fingers and ten toes, that was enough to count on. We filled the pot several times.

When I returned home, I could really begin to appreciate my little woman. She had taken wonderful advantage of her visits. What she had paid with, I don't know, but now she had fine kamiks of white sealskin with a beautiful border of bear mane.

I told her of my experience with the eggs. She said immediately that she would take care of that, since I seemed to be so fond of eggs. I told her that she was not to ruin my good name and reputation as a hunter by passing my complaint on to the others. She turned her big black eyes toward me and looked at me as if I had wanted to avert a misfortune or heavy insult to both of us: "Do you really think that I could do that to you?" she said seriously.

She went down to her mother and said that she felt sorry that it would not be possible to treat guests to eggs this year, since the hunters had used them out on the ice and didn't leave any to take home to the women.

The next day, Kasaluk told her husband that she strongly feared that the walrus hunt would be of short duration this year. In her dreams, she said, she had seen that the ice was strewn with eggshells, and in the same vision she understood that this insulted the walrus so that they would decide to go elsewhere. The hunters talked the matter over. They agreed of course that a mere woman's dreams should have no influence. But for the sake of all eventualities it was decided that it was better not to eat any more eggs as long as the walrus hunt lasted. As a result, plenty of eggs were stored up in my quarters.

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