“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
“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
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
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
“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
“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,
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
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.