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Main > Native American folktales > Fairy tale "Kalopaling"

Kalopaling

Ka-lo-pa-ling is a strange being who lives in the northern seas. His body is like that of a man except that his feet are very large and look like sealskin muffs. His clothing is made of the skins of eider ducks and, as their bellies are white and their backs are black, his clothes are spotted all over. He cannot speak, but cries all the time, "Be, be! Be, be!"

His jacket has an enormous hood which is an object of fear to the Inuit, for if a kayak upsets and the boatman is drowned, Ka-lo-pa-ling grabs him and puts him into the hood.

The Inuit say that in olden times there were a great many of these creatures, and they often sat in a row along the ice floes, like a flock of penguins. Their numbers have become less and less, till now there are but a few left.

Anyone standing on shore may see them swimming under water very rapidly, and occasionally they rise to the surface as if to get air. They make a great noise by splashing with their feet and arms as they swim. In summer they like to come out and bask on the rocks, but in winter they sit along the edge of the ice or else stay under water.

They often chase the hunters, so the most courageous of the men try to kill them whenever they can get near enough. When the Kalopaling sits sleeping, the hunter comes up very cautiously and throws a walrus harpoon into him. Then he shuts his eyes tight until the Kalopaling is dead, otherwise the hunter's boat would be capsized and he be drowned. They dare not eat the flesh of the creatures, for it is poisonous; but the dogs eat it.

One time an old woman and her grandson were living alone in a small hut. They had no men to hunt for them and they were very poor. Once in a while, but not often, some of the Inuit took pity on them and brought them seal's meat, and blubber for their lamp.

One day the boy was so hungry that he cried aloud. His grandmother told him to be quiet, but he cried the harder. She became vexed with him and cried out, "Ho, Kalopaling, come and take this fretful boy away!

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