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xerath lmht

Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-06-14 12:20:38
Typefacelarge in Small

xerath lmht

Elated at their unexpected capture, the boys forgot all about their hunt and, fastening a line about the narwhal’s tail, they started to tow him to the schooner. It was slow, backbreaking work, but when at last they reached their vessel and showed their catch to those on board, they felt amply rewarded for their labors. “By the love av hivvin!” cried Mike, who was the first to see the dead creature. “Shure and ’tis a unicorn yez do be afther killin’!” “I’ll be swizzled!” exclaimed Cap’n Pem. “Ye everlastin’ young scallawags, what ye mean by a-goin’ in on one o’ them critters? Ye’re lucky he didn’t sink ye. Jes like ye though—fools allers——” “I know it!” laughed Tom. “I told Jimmy you’d say that. But we got him and didn’t get hurt, even if the cat did come back!” “Jes dumb luck,” declared the old whaleman. Then, as Captain Edwards appeared, he shouted, “Look a-here, didn’t I tell ye these here boys wuz born to be whalers? Jes take a squint ’longside an’ see what the young scallawags been a-doin’.” “I’ll be——” ejaculated the skipper. “Reckon you’re proud of yourselves. Whoppin’ big fellow, too. Give you a tussle, didn’t he?” “Oh, not so much,” replied Tom nonchalantly.[170] “But he had us scared. The line fouled and he towed us every which way and then went for us. And say, you ought to have seen Jim get him! Lanced him as he went scooting by the kayak full speed.” “Darned lucky he did!” declared Mr. Kemp who had joined the group. “If he hadn’t the blamed critter’d have turned and drove his horn through that kayak and through you too, like as not.” “Well, we didn’t know,” laughed Jim, “or we wouldn’t have tackled him. But I’m not sorry now. Just the same, we’ll know better next time. I’m not a bit anxious to catch another narwhal.” “I don’t know as we really did, this time,” said Tom. “Seems to me the narwhal caught us and we didn’t have much to say about it.” “H’lo!” exclaimed Unavik strolling up. “Ugh! me say bimeby you feller be big hunter. Gimme t’bac!” CHAPTER XII FROZEN IN On the morning after their capture of the narwhal, the boys came on deck to find the weather completely changed. Above stretched a dull gray sky, great flakes of snow were drifting down, the land was already hidden under a thin coat of white and, at the first touch of the biting wind, the two dodged back to their cabin to reappear clad from head to foot in their Eskimo garments. Mr. Kemp laughed heartily as he saw them. “All ready for the winter, eh?” he cried. “What you goin’ to wear when it’s really cold?” “You can’t say anything,” retorted Tom, “you’ve got on a sweater and a reefer and oilskins yourself.” “’Tis a bit sharp, I’ll admit,” replied the second officer. “Looks like summer’s about over. Them Eskimos know it. If this keeps up, they’ll be a-setting up their igloos to-morrow.” “Why, the water’s freezing!” exclaimed Jim who[172] had peered over the schooner’s side. “Hurrah, we’ll be able to walk ashore now!” “Walk ashore!” exclaimed Mr. Kemp. “Why, bless you, if the weather keeps on as it oughta, you could run a train acrost the bay inside a week.” Already thin ice had formed on the surface of the water and, although each swell coming into the Welcome broke the newly formed ice with a curious crackling sound, fresh ice formed almost as rapidly as it was destroyed, and the upended little cakes were congealing in a jagged, hummocky surface that bade fair to imprison the waves very soon and lock them fast for many months. The rigging was white with snow and a couple of inches of the soft feathery blanket lay on the decks. The crew, clad in oilskins and sweaters, with caps pulled over ears and mittens on hands, were busy hammering and pounding as they put the finishing touches to the long, shedlike structure that they had erected extending from the poop to the foremast. Ashore, the Eskimos were dragging their kayaks far from the water’s edge and were placing them upside down on racks of whale’s ribs. The women were piling stones upon the edges of their skin dwellings and the boys were yelling shrilly and cracking their long whips as they gathered the dogs together. [173] Hourly the cold increased. The snowflakes became finer and fell faster and faster; the wind came in fitful gusts and whirled the snow into drifts. When the pale light faded soon after noon and the boys knew that the sun had set, land, sea, and ship were covered deep with snow. Day after day the storm continued. The Eskimos’ tents were buried halfway to their peaked tops in the drifts; the rough plank house upon the schooner was like a huge snowbank, and even the tough and hardened old whalemen had donned suits of skins and furs. Then one day came a muffled hail through the blinding snow, and looking over the Narwhal’s side, the surprised boys saw two of the Eskimos standing upon the snow-covered ice beneath them. “Hurrah, they can walk on it!” cried Tom and, followed by Jim, he clambered over the schooner’s rails and leaped on to the ice. “Gee, we’re frozen in!” yelled Jim. “It’s really winter. Come on, let’s go and see what the Eskimos are doing.” “Look out, ye young scallawags,” roared Cap’n Pem. “Ye’ll git lost.” “No danger,” called back Tom. “We’ll get one of the Eskimos to go with us.” Turning, he spoke to the fur-clad men in their[174] own tongue and accompanied by one of them, the two boys pushed their way through the snow towards shore. “Oh, they’re building igloos!” exclaimed Jim as they came in sight of the Eskimos. “And on the ice too.” Interestedly the two boys watched the natives as they labored at their winter homes. With long-bladed snow knives carved from walrus tusks the men cut the blocks of frozen snow and piled them in a circle, tier on tier, each a little smaller than the one preceding. Rapidly the low-domed huts grew and took on form and soon the first one was completed. With yells of delight Tom and Jim crawled into the tunnel-like entrance and found themselves within the igloo. “Say, isn’t this jolly!” cried Tom. “Come on, Jim, let’s make one for ourselves. It’ll be great sport having an igloo with the Eskimos.” Enthusiastically the two set to work, borrowing snow knives from their Eskimo friends, but they soon found that building an igloo was an art and they joined heartily in the Eskimos’ merriment when the wall tumbled in and all their work came to nothing. They were not discouraged, and presently one of the Eskimo boys came to their aid. With his[175] help the boys soon got the knack of the work and before it was time to return to the schooner for dinner their igloo was completed. The night was almost as bright as day with the Northern Lights reflected from the vast stretch of spotless white. By midnight the storm was over; stars twinkled brilliantly in the deep purple sky, the little group of igloos rose above the flat, white plain of ice-like, snow-covered bee hives. The wind was so bitingly, intensely cold that the boys were glad indeed to seek shelter in the deck house with its cheery red-hot stove. Then followed days filled with constant novelty, interest, and delight for the two boys. They went with the Eskimos on hunts for seal, and learned to find the blow holes in the ice through which the creatures came up to breathe. With their snow knives they cut great rectangular slabs of frozen snow and placed them upright near the holes as windbreaks, and with rifles grasped in their fur-gloved hands, and warm as toast in their eider skin undergarments and sealskin costumes, they lay upon the surface of the frozen bay and watched the holes while the wind swept downward from the North Pole, and the thermometer dropped to many degrees below zero. Often their vigil would gain them nothing. But many times[176] a big hooded seal, a sheeny silversides, or a magnificent harp seal would fall a victim to their rifles. Much of their time too they spent in their igloo which they had fitted up exactly like those of their Eskimo neighbors, with skins and furs covering the bench of ice around the sides, a soapstone lamp filled with whale oil, with a moss wick to give light and heat, and with their weapons and trophies scattered about. From one of the natives they had purchased a team of dogs. Unavik had made them a sledge, and after many trials, unending merriment, countless upsets, and getting hopelessly tangled, the two boys had learned to drive their huskies fairly well. There was nothing they loved better than to go sledding over the frozen snow, yelling at their dogs, cracking their long whips, and now and then leaping on to the vehicle and traveling like the wind through the frosty stinging air lit by the pale winter sun or the gorgeous Aurora. Much time also they spent in the Eskimos’ igloos and, their first squeamishness at the dirt and filth of the people being overcome, they found them very pleasant and good company. Sometimes, as a blizzard howled outside, and the dogs cowered whimpering at the mouth of the entrance tunnel, the Eskimos would while away the hours telling stories. Some of[177] these were very quaint, others were humorous and still others were almost poems with their vivid descriptive phrases and beautiful sentiments. But the boys’ favorites were the folklore tales about the birds and animals they knew so well. Usually some chance remark or question of the boys would start the story and all would listen attentively while the gray-haired, wrinkled, old ananating (grandmother) would tell in story form why certain things were so. Once, for example, Jim was examining a reindeer skin and called Tom’s attention to the white rump and the stubby little tail. Amaluk, who was making a snow knife, glanced up. “Perhaps,” he said in the dialect the boys now understood perfectly, “Nepaluka will tell you how the reindeer lost their tails.” “Do,” begged Tom, “tell us the story, Ananating.” The old woman was busily mending a skin shirt, her near-sighted eyes close to her work, her clawlike fingers moving deftly as she plied the bone needle—for she alone of all the women still preferred the Eskimo needles to those of the white men. “Ai ai!” she exclaimed. “The clothes are mended and my eyes are weary and perchance it may be well to tell of Amook and the reindeer.” [178] Laying aside the carefully mended shirt she leaned back among the thick bearskins and began. “Many ages ago,” she said in her droning voice, “before the Eskimos first came to the land, all the reindeer were brown from head to foot and all wore bushy tails like the foxes. In those times lived a great anticoot (magician) named Amook and to him belonged all the animals and birds. And all the creatures roamed at will except the reindeer, for these Amook kept hidden in a great hole in the earth. “Every day Amook would come from the hole and, after pulling a big stone over the entrance to his home, he would travel far and wide caring for his creatures. In those days the birds and animals were all one color, and when winter came and snow fell upon the land their brown bodies were plain to be seen and the creatures saw one another afar, so it was easy indeed for the owls and hawks to see the ptarmigan and kill them, and for the foxes and wolves to see the hares and devour them. At last so many were killed that Amook grew afraid that his live things would all be destroyed, and he would be left without food to eat or furs to make his clothes. So, being a magician, he made many spells, until at last, by touching the fur of an animal or the feathers of a bird, he could change the brown to white. Then,[179] when the winter came, Amook would go forth and call the birds and the beasts together, and as they came at his call, he would stroke them with his hands, and they would go forth white and spotless. But soon Amook was again troubled, for when spring came and the snow melted and the rocks and moss were bare, the white creatures were like spots of snow upon the brown land and fell easy prey to their enemies. Then from far and near the birds and beasts flocked to their master and begged him to make them brown once more. So Amook made another spell in his hole under the earth, and when he came forth and touched the birds and the beasts, behold! they were changed from white to brown as before. “So, as each winter came, Amook would change the brown creatures to white and when the winter had passed and the geese came to the northland, he would again change the white to brown. “But some of the creatures were wary and would not come to their master’s bidding and Amook had hard work to capture them. It was thus with the great bear for he loved his white coat that helped him to hide on the bergs and floes, and try as Amook might, he never caught him to change his coat to brown, and so the bear to this day is always white and changes not to brown in the spring. So too, the[180] white owl in his white coat could perch motionless on a rock and all creatures would take him for a harmless bit of ice and would approach so near that he could pounce upon them easily. Time and again Amook crept close to catch the owl, but never did he grasp him, although the tips of his fingers touched the owl’s feathers as he flew off and to this day you may see the round brown finger marks left by Amook on the feathers of the owl. The weasel too, timid and suspicious, but too cowardly to disobey his master, crept sneaking from the rocks and crouched snarling to the earth as Amook passed his hand over his back, and the tip of his tail, which was hidden in the rocks, is always black and his belly that was pressed upon the earth remains ever white. Many other things—the geese and ducks, the snipes and hawks—flew southward before Amook came forth to change their colors and so, throughout the year, their coats remain the same. But the hare and the fox[2] and the ptarmigan came always at Amook’s call and grew cunning and hid safely from their enemies. “Through all this time the reindeer, deep in their hole, remained brown, for under the earth there was neither winter nor summer. One day as Amook came back to his hole the raven, flying by, saw him step out[181] of sight. Always curious, the raven wondered what Amook had hidden in the earth and pondering on the matter he flew to his friend the fox. ‘Ai, ai!’ he exclaimed. ‘Tell me, O brother, what your master keeps in his home beneath the earth. You whom he fondles and strokes to white or brown must know.’ “But the fox knew not and said so to the raven. This made the black bird more curious yet and he asked, ‘Why have you never found out? Have you never wondered, O brother, where this Amook gets his power to turn brown to white and white to brown? Think you how fine it would be to know the secret of his power. With it in thy paws thou couldst change color at will and like the owl pose as a bit of ice in summer or like a bare rock in winter. Truly, O little friend, you would find hunting easy.’ “Now the fox was a born thief and most cunning, and the words of the raven set him thinking. At last he spoke. ‘With thy help, black brother, I may find out. We will hide close to the hole of Amook and when he comes forth thou wilt fly high in the air and croak loudly, and when Amook looks up I will place a bit of rock beneath the cover of the hole so it will not close tightly. Then, when Amook has passed, we will enter his dwelling and steal the charm.’ [182] “So it came about that when Amook again went forth, the cunning fox lurked near, and, in the air above, the raven croaked hoarsely. Just as the two had planned, Amook looked up at the sound and the fox slyly slipped a bit of stone under the edge of the door to Amook’s house, and when he shoved the door in place a small opening was left which he did not see.


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