“I tell you dumb ass! How many times I tell you? Because that son bitch Peter, he steal my wife, my people. I tell you many times, he bad!” “Yeah, Keelut we knows that but how’s can we help? Nobody trusts us for nothing,” said Smith. “Yes, but I trust you,” said Keelut, “No mate or captain but the son of a chief, that’s better!” “Yeah,” said Rodgers, “that’s like a prince or a king of sorts.” “So, we’s gonna be like royalty?” said Smith. Keelut nodded his head. He wasn’t quite sure of the meaning of “royalty” but it didn’t matter, these men were easy to understand and lie to. “Drink my friends,” said Keelut, “I have something for you, a gift from one friend to another.” The men smiled, they liked presents, they liked Keelut. He knew their true worth, yes he did, their true worth. It was getting dark and Ahnah was tired. Rendering whale fat into oil wasn’t easy but it was work and it kept the band busy. They were grateful for it and Peter’s leadership over the last two years, under which all seemed to have benefited. They had food and for the most part the group was strong and healthy. Allawah was happy and content and Sedna enjoyed playing with little Tah, there were lots of smiles and giggles. Everything seemed fine until they saw Keelut. For the last two months, the Inuit were uneasy, too many bad memories, far too many associated with Keelut. There were two pots of clean water from which to wash up. The women gathered around one and stripping off their tops, washed the grime off their naked arms and upper bodies from the day’s toil. Some of the women were looking forward to spending time with the whalemen, others like Ahnah only wished to spend the evening with their families. Finishing her washing, Ahnah began to walk back to the tupiq she shared with her mother, Peter, Allawah and little Tah. She hummed a tune she had heard somewhere, probably from a sailor or at the trading post. Her mind was on other things when a body stepped out in front of her, she recognized the person as one of those who followed Keelut, the man with the dark beard who never smiled and this time was no exception, he looked as grim as ever. She tried to go around him but another man on her left grabbed her arm, the thin one with missing teeth, on her right was the one with red hair, the air around them stank of cheap rum. The girl was dragged to a point farther away from the camp and work area, one that was secluded and offered…privacy. Keelut stepped out of the shadows, “You have a problem Ahnah,” he said addressing her in their native tongue. Ahnah glared at him, “You better call off your dogs Keelut, Peter will not like this!” Keelut smiled and shook his head. “Peter, Peter. Do you think I’m afraid of him, huh? Is that what you think? I’m afraid of that wife stealing brother of yours?” Ahnah spit in his face. “YOU deserted your wife, YOU deserted your people. You could never be the leader your father was or that Peter is!” Keelut’s hand came up quickly and slapped her face hard, grateful that the other three men could not understand their conversation. Ahnah could taste the coppery blood in her mouth Keelut smiled and looked at his followers. “My gift to you,” was all he said. Jenson nodded and he began to lick Ahnah’s face. She found him repulsive and raised her knee to his groin causing the unhappy man to collapse like a sack of potatoes. She twisted away from Smith’s grip and reaching for her “ulu”, a razor sharp, general all purpose cutting tool, she lashed out, slashing Jenson’s face as he began to stand. “Fucking bitch!” he growled, “hold her down!” He touched his face his hand was wet with warm blood. He pulled out his knife. “An eye for an eye, McCloud could appreciate that!” and he slashed Ahnah’s face, the blade crossing her left cheek to the bridge of her nose, cutting it deeply. Her scream stifled by a mitten stuffed into her mouth. While Smith and Rodgers held her arms down, Jenson ran his hands under her top and painfully pinched her nipples, causing the bearded man to grin for the first time and to her it looked demonic, a bloody face and an evil grin, eyes that betrayed the darkness of the man’s soul. Removing his hands from her breasts, he yanked down her trousers, in two swift movements. Using his own weight to pin her legs down as she struggled, he loosened his own pants and with some difficulty pulled them half way down, exposing his rear to the night air as he forced himself inside of her. Tears ran from her eyes, the pain and humiliation the girl felt was more than she ever thought possible. Keelut watched as each of the three men each took a turn satisfying their own savage sexual urges. He cared little for Ahnah’s suffering, it served her right. Let the men have their fun, Keelut enjoyed what he saw, yes, it served her right indeed. When they were finished, they left her lying on the dirty hard ground crying, in shock and bleeding. Keelut urinated on her before he left and Jenson splashed her with some rum, laughing at the young girl’s misfortune. A dumb ass native, who the hell cares? When Ahnah didn’t return Peter went out to look for her. He checked the other shelters wondering where she might be. All were polite, but each group of people he spoke to said the same thing, they had not seen Ahnah since she had finished working with the others at the trypots. Her brother thought this most strange as she always came back when she was finished, Peter was beginning to worry. She did not socialize with the outsiders but he thought he’d better check and see if they had seen her and after talking to some of the men he had worked with earlier that day, he was beginning to fear the worst. He wandered to the far tents, there was no one around and looking about he came upon what he first thought was a large bundle of foul smelling rags. When it moaned, he realized he had found his sister. The sight of her brought Peter’s anger to a head he knew who was responsible for this terrible act. He picked up Ahnah who just whimpered and carried her home. Putting her in the care of Sedna and Allawah, Peter grabbed his rifle and set off to look for Keelut, caring little about any objections the outsiders might have about Peter killing their favorite Eskimo, but like two years before he had disappeared and in the wake of the disappearance there was only hurt. Sedna, with tears running down her face, used a damp cloth cleaned her daughter’s wounds as best she could. Walters from the HARMONY arrived but just shook his head there was nothing he could do to alter the terrible assault the girl had suffered and little he could do for the face except stitch it up, which he did after knocking Ahnah out with half a bottle of brandy. Finishing his crude surgery, Walters stepped outside the tupiq where Peter was waiting with murder in his eyes. Walters couldn’t blame him. “I’m sorry Peter, I did the best I could, I wish it could be more,” said Walters. Peter nodded his head, “Keelut, three men,” he said doing his best to control his anger. “Yes,” said Walters, “three of the crew, Rodgers, Jenson and Smith are missing and nobody has seen Keelut, since he came ashore earlier.” “Umiak gone,” said Peter referring to one of the native canoes. “And I think I know who took it,” said Walters. “What the hell is happening!?” shouted McCloud walking up on Peter and Walters, angry that his private “meditation” had been disturbed and that he had been called to leave the ship for some trivial reason, his breath reeking of whiskey, his gait unsteady. “An Eskimo girl was cut and raped,” said Walters, “we aren’t completely sure yet but some of our men might be responsible.” “Might be?” asked McCloud, “so we don’t know?” “Ahnah say three men and Keelut,” said Peter, aware of what McCloud thought of him and not caring. “We go on the word of a native girl?” said McCloud with some astonishment, “No real proof, I can’t really see how we can convict these men until…” Walters turned on McCloud, fury in his eyes, “The girl was abused in one of the worst ways a woman could be and left for dead. She says three of our men our responsible, four if you include that son of a bitch, Keelut!” McCloud looked baffled, “I can’t believe Keelut would have anything to do with this! How do we know the girl herself isn’t responsible for this? We all know how they throw themselves at a sailor for a spoon or a button.” Peter felt his rage increase he brought up his rifle and pulled the hammer back pointing it at McCloud’s head. “You or them?” said Peter. McCloud looked offended, “How dare you threaten me, you unbelieving heathen! This is ridiculous! I’ll have you thrashed, you insolent scoundrel.” Peter eased the hammer of the weapon down and in one quick movement knocked McCloud out with the butt of his weapon. “I think we’re finished here,” said Walters, who though surprised as any (with the possible exception of Captain McCloud of course) at Peter’s action, recovered quickly and called some men over to carry the preaching captain back to the ship. Peter entered the tupiq without another word. McCloud awoke the next morning in pain. Worse from the drink and bruised from Peter’s rifle butt, he was in a foul mood when he came up on deck and looking ashore, didn’t improve it in any way. He was surprised by what he saw or rather, what he didn’t see. The beach was deserted. The trypots and dead whale carcasses were there, but except for the smoke from a couple of smoldering fires, the Eskimos were gone. McCloud approached Walters, who was standing aft looking over the rail, seeing the same thing. “Where are they?!” demanded McCloud, he wanted that God damned Peter. He would teach that bastard who was boss! Rebellious native, he’d never had a problem with Keelut, and for him to make those accusations! “Gone,” said Walters. “I can see that, where?” asked McCloud. Walters shrugged his shoulders and walked away leaving his captain alone on the fantail facing an equally lonely stretch of land.