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Scraping the Clouds

Scraping the Clouds: An Inuit Legend

An Inuit Legend

Long ago, on the shores of the ocean, two Inuit boys were walking from their own home to a far-away village. While they were going along, a terrible storm overtook them, and they had to hold each other by the hand to keep from falling. Pretty soon the wind rose so high, and the snow fell so fast, they felt they could go no farther. In despair, they clung to each other, blinded by the snow, when a tremendous gust of wind suddenly caught them, and blew them against the side of a little snow house. How glad they were to find shelter!

Inside the house was an old woman, living all alone. She was very kind and invited them to sit down and rest; then she gave them something to eat, and told them that she was going out.

“Do not look after me to see what I am doing,” said she, “or you will be sorry.”

She put on her parka and mukluks, and took her stone skin scraper in her hand and went out the door.

The Inuit women have a scraper which they use to scrape the flesh, or meat, from the skin of the animals they prepare for clothing. This scraper is somewhat the shape of a carpenter’s plane. The blade is made of a sharp piece of stone. That was the kind of thing the old woman took out with her.

The boys were devoured with curiosity, and after she had gone the oldest one said, “Let us go out and look at her.” But the younger boy whispered, “No, no.” He was afraid; but his brother was determined to see what that old woman was doing out there with her knife, so he persuaded the little one to creep softly to the door with him, and peek out.

Where do you think the old woman was? And what do you think she was doing? Way up in the sky she sat, scraping away at the clouds. She had already scraped off half the clouds, and where she had scraped, the sky was as blue, as blue as could be, but the other half was still covered with thick black clouds.

When she saw the two boys peeping at her, she let go of the sky and fell down. As she came into the house, the boys were sitting on the floor, just as she had left them, hoping she had not really seen them looking at her.

“You rascals! You bad boys!” she cried. “You did just what I told you not to do. If you had not looked out at me, and made me fall off, I would have cleaned all the clouds away, and we should never have had any more storms. But alas! I cannot go up there again, and now we shall have both clear and cloudy weather.”

Ever since then it has been sometimes clear and sometimes stormy, because the old woman had only had time to clean off one-half of the sky.

Citation: Riggs, Renee Coudert. Animal Stories from Eskimo Land. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1923. Edited by S.E. Schlosser. This story is in the public domain and is part of the cited work.

S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series published by Globe Pequot Press. She has been telling stories since she was a child, when games of “let’s pretend” quickly built themselves into full-length tales acted out with friends. A graduate of both Houghton College and the Institute of Children’s Literature, Sandy received her MLS from Rutgers University while working as a full-time music teacher and a freelance author.