Alasie set her ulu down and wiped the gore from her hands. The seal would feed her family for weeks, but cutting through the blubber and harvesting the meat was hard work. Though the air was chill and the wind biting, sweat marked her brow.
With clean hands, she reached into her bag and withdrew her most prized possession; a pocket watch given to her by a trader from one of the big boats that were plying the icy waters nowadays. Allowed only brief instruction from the trader – her father did not trust these new men – she nevertheless knew that it read 3 o’clock. She didn’t know what that meant, but the watch always pointed there at the same time every day, as long as she remembered to wind it. The delicate and intricate mechanisms of the pocket watch were magical.
These new boats, filled with traders and fishermen intrigued Alasie. This curiosity was why she possessed the pocket watch; she had been the first to approach the new men when they had landed on the island. She had traded her bone knife for the watch.
That these boats and new men signified change for everyone on her little island there was no doubt. Father thought the change was a bad thing and wanted these new men to leave and never return. Mother was too frightened of them to meet them; she ran into their shelter every time a sail appeared on the horizon.
A loud bang brought her out of her reverie. She looked up as her youngest brother ran to her.
“What is it, Unnuk?” she asked.
“My dogs,” cried Unnuk, “A new man put a hole in one. He pointed his bang stick at Togo!” he tugged on her hand.
Alaise followed Unnuk, wondering what a bang stick was and fearing that perhaps her father was right.