Puslapio vaizdai

the entrance-hole. He has left his foxskin shirt outside. Evalooq aids him slip the bird-skin undergarment over his head. Tenderly she draws his boots off. One foot is festering from a touch of frost; both are swollen from heavy marching. She places the wet, frozen clothing on the drying-rack. Over the little blubber-lamp she hangs a soapstone bowl; it contains water. She adds several pieces of sealskin. While they are coming to a boil, she swiftly stitches the knee of the man's breeches, which have been ripped in his encounter with some sharp icepinnacle. She forks out the pieces of skin with a bit of bone. In silence she and her husband chew the soggy, unnourishing morsels, the ration of utter famine.

only a single sharp regret, which she voices, gazing wistfully at the sleeping infant. "It is the end-and he is so very small and beautiful! Ai-O!"

For an interminable time she lies, so it seems to her, in semi-consciousness. The blubber-lamp droops, then flickers out. The igloo grows cold, but she does not draw the skins about her. "It is the end," she murmurs from time to time; "it is the end. Ai-O!" Then sleep.

A tumult on the ice: dogs barking, men shouting, women screaming, children crying and calling and yelping; whips popping with crackling reports that echo from the cliffs; and all invisible in the smother of snow that sweeps and swirls and eddies and drifts till the inky blueness of the arctic midnight is

The chewing seems to stimulate the lost in an impenetrable fog. man slightly.

"I can remember," he articulates slowly, "when we were not so hungry that the thought of food was pain."

"I, too," says Evalooq, quietly. "Ai-O!"

After a sleep and another bit of sealskin, this time even unboiled, the man hitches his weak and unfed dogs to the sledge, and disappears into the darkness.

Silence again, only when Evalooq goes weakly out for snow to melt for water she hears far up among the towering cliffs directly behind the igloo a dreadful rustling. It is the signal of an approaching blizzard rolling in ponderous fury down from the great Greenland ice-cap.

"Ai-O!" she cries, "it is the end!" She crawls back, and throws herself face downward on the bed of skins. "It is the end," she repeats. Yet she is not afraid. Nor is there any weight of aching thought within her head. No,

Voices clamor at the igloo entrance. "Who's there? Come out! We're caught in the storm. Loads of meat, seven bears. Come out! come out!" Silence within.

But not too late. A hunter hurries through the entrance-tunnel, followed closely by two women. "Ai-O!" they chorus, "Ai-O!" The blubber-lamp responds to steel and stone. It flashes up. Evalooq is rubbed and warmed and fed. The baby screams intolerantly but a moment before a chuckling visitor has thrust it to her full breasts, bursting with life-giving liquid.

Though the igloo is only a single lowceilinged, buried den of rock, eleven men and women and children crowd in. A haunch of musk-ox, a shoulder of bear, the fat livers of two walruses, nearly a whole caribou, are dragged in after them to thaw with the growing heat.

"Ugh! too hot!" exclaims one of the hunters, and jerks a plug of grass from

the air-vent near the roof. And yet he 's stripped, just one step further than the breech-clouted women.

They eat, they sing, they gorge, they sing again. And again and again and again, till groans and sighs give way to and sighs give way to


gone with the three starving dogs to his death in the blizzard. So she drives away with the young hunter. She goes to live with him at the great cape, where four families dwell as security for one another. Toward the end of the summer she is about to become

Evalooq is still awake; she has been the mother of his child. sleeping for too long.

One of the young hunters comes smoking in from outside. He spies Evalooq.

"Ah, it is my fortune!" He smiles, and devours her with hungry animal eyes. "Is it not so, my pretty one?" She smiles back wanly.

"It is not that I should fail to see the compliment of your wanting me this night," she says; "but, Ai-O! if only I knew my man were safe!"

But the man and his three dogs do not return, neither he nor Elingwah, who had awaited him. When the blizzard has blown itself to shreds, he still is absent, and though Evalooq continues to sleep by the young hunter who has come so much to fancy her, she cannot keep the other from her mind.

When the moon comes there is much talk, and the men decide that Evalooq is no longer possessed by him who has

Suddenly, one brilliant arctic July day, a great commotion arises among the wasted drifts that lie upward toward the ice-cap. Sledges are coming!

Into Evalooq's skin tupik bursts the young hunter. "It's he-your man!" he cries. "He is coming back. He was only swept away last winter on the floe. He killed walrus and did not starve. And he has lived since then at Nugsuaq, awaiting the strength of his dogs to bring him back."

"And I shall go to him?" asks the girl, quivering with eagerness. "So is the law of the tribe," bitterly comes the reply.

"And the child-your child?" "Is his. Ah, how I long for the child!"

The young hunter buries his face in his hands.

"Ai-O!" breathes Evalooq, her eyes glistening with tears-glad tears



[merged small][graphic]

TRAGEDY occurred to-day. Obloy- small-sized children were to be feared.

A The bay bitch gave birth to six

pups. This was not tragic, nor was the brilliant arctic sun, which lit all twenty-four hours of the July day, deplorable. The sparkling sky was not depressing; it was a stimulant. The soft breeze and dancing whitecaps in the fiord were not in any way significant of sadness. There were no gloomy clouds, no ominous sounds, no forbidding odors. But brightness is sometimes the earmark of tragedy.

One of the puppies was a pure silvery white. After a few days she was fatter than any except one dog. He was black, and he bit her as they fought for the fullest breast.

In the warm weeks that followed the six puppies enjoyed life immensely. They soon found a way to escape from their cave, which was really an entrance to an old igloo. Near by was a tupik, or summer tent of sealskin, in which men and children lived. They could be distinguished chiefly by their size. This was necessary, because the large-sized men threw rich-smelling liquid and scraps of appetizing, greasy bone upon the ground. The

On the other side of the tupik lay a large number of big dogs, all like the puppies' mother, but at the same time much different. They growled and even bit when the puppies tried to play with them.

By going around the dogs a river was reached. The water tasted better than milk, especially after eating things cast out of the tupik. And then it was fun to run in and feel the cold stream instead of the hot sun.

Every waking hour was full of play and exciting discoveries. The best of these came one day after a great commotion among the large men and dogs. Down near the deep water, where the monstrous white ice-cakes lay, a strange smell filled the air; a tempting smell, too, it was. So tempting the white puppy found this odor that she licked some of the stones from which it seemed to come.

Instantly, a queer feeling came over her. Her hair bristled. She backed away from what she had thought was a mass of rock, for it smelt like the wonderful, but terrifying, taste in her mouth. Yet, for all her fear, she edged

up and licked the great mass. This was her first experience with bloody meat, with a dead walrus.

After that the puppies ate fresh meat every day. They tugged and chewed at the rich, warm flesh, and growled, puppy-like. Their hair became matted with blood and oil. Later, when the white puppy came near the big dogs, they snarled in a frightful way and strained their leashes toward her. She escaped, terrified by the threatening beasts. She did not know they had eaten only twice in all the weeks since her birth, and that she bore all the rich fragrance of freshkilled game.

One day the white puppy felt herself snatched up. Her heart raced, and her little shoulders trembled. It was either a child or a big dog, she thought, and gave herself up for lost. At the sound of a deep growl she flinched in the strong grip which held her.

"See this one?" The growl was Obloyah's voice. "Look to it that she is fed; I shall want to breed from her." The wife took the puppy and answered:

"All right. Has n't she soft, thick hair, though?" and tried to pull out a handful.

"Mother, do look at what a tiny tail it has!" said the youngest daughter, and gave the fuzzy thing a yank.

This was more than the white puppy could bear: she shrieked. Then they kicked her out.

The next time Pouak-for so they named her, meaning smoky-white came near the tupik, she was attracted by a great crying out and baying among the big dogs. She saw her master tie them to a queer square frame; he then whipped them all and shouted loudly. In a flash Eskimo

and dogs disappeared over the bank. Pouak sat astonished, her head cocked sidewise. It was the first time she had ever seen a sledge.

About the place now lay fresh snow. The puppies were delighted. They rolled and tumbled, and performed all sorts of crazy antics. The fluffy white stuff was far nicer than rocks or grass.

The puppies did not get so hot now. Part of the time it was dark, and strange sounds seemed to travel in the wind, like spirits of buried bones. But the puppies did not mind, for they were strong and fat and happy.

After many sleeps the big dogs came back. Pouak was glad to see her master, for he always gave her food. Also she had a strange troubled sensation that something was wrong.

So far as she knew, the world was a bright and sunny place containing lots of good things to eat, a multitude of fascinating corners to investigate, and only one or two things, like children and big dogs, to avoid. Now, somehow, the light was not pleasant. The hills were too gray; the water was too black. She liked the snow, but the wind drove it into her fur until she became wet and shivered. She did not notice that the sun came no more; only that the other dogs and men had a peculiar distorted appearance.

The wind came oftener and was colder. Big dogs were no longer tied. They were hungry, and could not be trusted to lie without chewing their traces. Through the darkness Pouak slunk about. She tried to keep near the igloo, for once in a while the woman gave her something to eat. The strong teams, even her own brothers, gave her no chance for scraps. All fought savagely for even a piece of skin. Many times she was bitten.

Once in a madness of fear at the murderous riot she fled away into the darkness. When hunger drove her back, she came suddenly upon a strong, pungent odor of rotten meat. With dripping lips, and quivering in anticipation, she nosed among the drifted snow. Suddenly she heard a sharp snap, and felt a terrific blow on her leg. It was a foxtrap. Obloyah's wife found her, and brought her to the igloo in her shirt.

Bitter, piercing cold came. Young dogs died in convulsions. Old dogs killed older dogs in fights for little parings of skin that dropped from the whip-lashes Obloyah made. Pouak's sister slept in the same spot through a long, howling blizzard. After the storm her hair was frozen to the snow; she could not rise. She cried, but it brought only the starving specters of the other dogs, who watched her die, then ate her.

The soft white puppy had now become thin and bony. She could not sleep comfortably, and when she stood up her back was so stiff that it humped like a fox's. Her tail, which had a big frost-sore on it, was always between her legs. But she looked much better than the other dogs, because she was fed occasionally, and being a female, she did not have to fight. Yet every shelter she sought was full of ghastly skeletons, which curled ugly lips and snarled unspeakable insults at her shrinking, shivering body.

Light grew at last, and the sun came back; but the cold was terrific.

Obloyah took his team down the coast after walrus. Pouak was left with two other dying dogs. On the icy beach lay the skeletons of her two brothers. The other dogs had eaten them, but she went often and gnawed their frost-whitened bones. Though

the native woman had no more food to spare, she was careful to let Pouak have her feces.

One knife-like March morning Pouak fell down the bank to the beach. She was too weak to rise. Suddenly she heard a team. Raising her head, she saw dogs galloping in across the ice. Obloyah gave her meat, so she did not die.

Next time he left, he hitched Pouak with the team. Because she was a bitch, they did not bite her; but she was in terror of them all the time. When the Eskimo cracked his whip, she tried to escape. The trace upset her, and she was dragged behind the sledge. Striking against a pinnacle of ice seemed to break every bone in her battered body and cruelly bruised her festered nose. festered nose. Obloyah stopped his team and beat her with his heavy whipstock for being so stupid. She could then see out of only one eye.

This sort of treatment continued until Pouak learned to keep her place with the other dogs. She also discovered that if she tried to alter her position while they were running or ceased to pull hard, a deafening crack would sound over her back, and something like a knife would plunge into her thin thighs. Sometimes the whip seemed to burn her flesh. When it bit into the abscess on her rump, she rolled on the ice in agony.

At Peterawik Obloyah hitched his team to a nubble of ice. He had no meat to give them, but the long journey had made Pouak insanely hungry. Hitched to the open ice-foot without any kind of shelter from the stinging drift, she found sleep impossible. Instinctively, she seized her sealskin trace and bit savagely. The hungered nerves instantly detected a

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