Sedna thought for a moment. “Well, maybe Allawh. She should have a good husband.”
“She already has a husband, mother.”
“I said a good husband,” grinned Sedna and they both laughed.
Ahnah pulled the stitches tight on the garment she was working on. Sedna picked up a rock and looked at it, turning it over in her hands feeling its curves and sharp edges. People are like rocks or is it rocks are like people, she thought.
“Keelut hurts himself and others. It can’t last, his wife is too young for such sadness.”
“At least she’s not burdened with child,” said Ahnah, “that would make it worse.”
“True, but I think Keelut only took her to hurt Peter.”
Ahnah nodded her head, this she knew was true. To get back at her, Keelut decided to hurt Peter by taking the one girl he wanted, young Allawah, leaving her brother alone as Keelut felt Ahnah did to him. Keelut reasoned that Peter was unhappy because of Ahnah, not him.
They continued to speak of trivial things until the arrival of Peter, the son Sedna was so proud of. She could see much of his father the whaling captain in the young man. He was strong and confident. He had his father’s eyes and thin mouth. Had he lived, she was sure he would have taken Peter to sea and taught him his trade. As it was, he proved to be a dutiful son who provided for his mother and sister without complaint but Sedna knew. She knew that her son’s heart ached for what he could not have. He endured his sadness and disappointment in silence. To his credit, he did not blame his sister or show her ill will. Sedna, like all good mother’s only wished for her children’s happiness.
Ahnah put the sealskin trousers she was working on away and she and Sedna took the seal from Peter so it could be skinned. Peter sat down on the box his mother had rested on and with a yawn, removed a small bag of harsh tobacco and rolled himself a cigarette. A seal today, two from three days before, that would hold them over. Within a week they would shift their camp to hunt walrus. They could use the meat and the hide and ivory would bring good trade. There were a lot of things that needed to be done, but that was life. Besides, it kept him occupied, which was best for him. He was lost in thought when Sedna sat down across from him.
“You look tired my son.”
“I’m fine mother, you needn’t worry about me,” said Peter.
“But I do, I’m your mother,” she said simply.
“Yes, I know,” he smiled, “but really, I’m fine. We’ve the walrus hunt soon, my mind has been on that, that’s all.”
Sedna patted his knee, “Well, I’ll leave you be, Ahnah and I have work to do.”
When he finished his cigarette, Peter went to take care of his hunting weapons, the tools of his trade. Lances and knives needed sharpening and he was going to need some more bullets for his rifle which shouldn’t be a problem, he thought, as they could stop at a trading post on their way to their new hunting grounds. He checked his dogs, one of his bitches had delivered a litter of pups yesterday and he had to make sure they were separated from the rest of the pack or the other dogs might eat them. Four of them were still alive he hoped they would stay that way. When they left he’d have to put the young ones on the sleds until they were strong enough to run on their own. The dogs barked and growled, their noise disrupting the silence. Peter tossed them meat which they greedily pounced upon. A short distance away he could see Allawah sitting outside doing some sort of mending. He didn’t see Keelut but this did not surprise him. The night before he’d been drunk and woke all about with the noise he made before he passed out, much to everyone’s relief. Peter knew he would not stir until later and only then for some food and more drink. Keelut, a once proud and fine hunter had become a wreck of a human being, bringing much shame to the small band. Such a terrible thing to happen, thought Peter as he began to sharpen his tools.
Allawah saw Peter in front of his tent working. One might say she was as distressed as Peter. Though she loved Peter, others thought Keelut the better choice and she had no other choice than to follow their wishes, much to her regret. She enjoyed these quiet moments when Keelut was snoring his life away. She was left with her thoughts and spared any of Keelut’s dissatisfaction, real or imagined. Her life was one of drudgery and she didn’t know what to do. What could she do?
The evening meal was a simple one, fish and seal meat, around them small oil lamps which gave off flickering light, burned. While they did not have much, what they had was enough. Peter and Ahnah were laughing as their mother related some stories about their father to them.
“…and then the dogs ran away pulling the sled leaving your father sitting in the snow with the strangest look on his face.”
Peter and Ahnah rocked back and forth they always found that story amusing.
“He hunted the big fish, did he not mother?” asked Peter, already knowing the answer. Sedna smiled, Peter always asked that question.
“He did Peter, your father was the best, he had his own ship.”
“So he was their leader?” asked Ahnah.
Sedna nodded her head, “Yes, everyone did what he said.”
“Did you go on his ship?” asked Peter.
“Yes,” said Sedna, “It was very big, with big sails to catch the wind. It was all very difficult for me to understand, but your father, he understood it all.” Both her children smiled at the thought of their father being such a great and important man and they his children.
The dogs began to bark more quickly and louder than usual. Peter stood up just as the tent flap whipped aside and Allawah entered crying and afraid, her face was bruised her lip bleeding.