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THE WHITE SEAL
Oh! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us,
And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, o'er the combers, looks downward to find us
At rest in the hollows that rustle between.
Where billow meets billow, then soft be thy pillow,
Ah, weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas!
 ALL these things happened several years ago at a place called Novastoshnah, or North East Point, on the Island of
St. Paul, away and away in the Bering Sea. Limmershin, the Winter Wren, told me the tale when he was blown on
to the rigging of a steamer going to Japan, and I took him down into my cabin and warmed and fed him for a
couple of days till he was fit to fly back to St. Paul's again. Limmershin is a very quaint little bird, but
he knows how to tell the truth.
Nobody comes to Novastoshnah except on business, and the only people who have regular business
 there are the seals. They come in the summer months by hundreds and hundreds of thousands out of the cold
gray sea. For Novastoshnah Beach has the finest accommodation for seals of any place in all the world.
Sea Catch knew that, and every spring would swim from whatever place he happened to be in—would swim
like a torpedo-boat straight for Novastoshnah and spend a month fighting with his companions for a good place
on the rocks, as close to the sea as possible. Sea Catch was fifteen years old, a huge gray fur seal with
almost a mane on his shoulders, and long, wicked dog teeth. When he heaved himself up on his front flippers he
stood more than four feet clear of the ground, and his weight, if anyone had been bold enough to weigh him,
was nearly seven hundred pounds. He was scarred all over with the marks of savage fights, but he was always
ready for just one fight more. He would put his head on one side, as though he were afraid to look his enemy
in the face; then he would shoot it out like lightning, and when the big teeth were firmly fixed on the other
seal's neck, the other seal might get away if he could, but Sea Catch would not help him.
Yet Sea Catch never chased a beaten seal, for that
 was against the Rules of the Beach. He only wanted room by the sea for his nursery. But as there were forty or
fifty thousand other seals hunting for the same thing each spring, the whistling, bellowing, roaring, and
blowing on the beach was something frightful.
From a little hill called Hutchinson's Hill, you could look over three and a half miles of ground covered with
fighting seals; and the surf was dotted all over with the heads of seals hurrying to land and begin their
share of the fighting. They fought in the breakers, they fought in the sand, and they fought on the
smooth-worn basalt rocks of the nurseries, for they were just as stupid and unaccommodating as men. Their
wives never came to the island until late in May or early in June, for they did not care to be torn to pieces;
and the young two-, three-, and four-year-old seals who had not begun housekeeping went inland about half a
mile through the ranks of the fighters and played about on the sand dunes in droves and legions, and rubbed
off every single green thing that grew. They were called the holluschickie—the bachelors—and there
were perhaps two or three hundred thousand of them at Novastoshnah alone.
Sea Catch had just finished his forty-fifth fight one
 spring when Matkah, his soft, sleek, gentle-eyed wife, came up out of the sea, and he caught her by the scruff
of the neck and dumped her down on his reservation, saying gruffly: "Late as usual. Where have
It was not the fashion for Sea Catch to eat anything during the four months he stayed on the beaches, and so
his temper was generally bad. Matkah knew better than to answer back. She looked round and cooed: "How
thoughtful of you. You've taken the old place again."
"I should think I had," said Sea Catch. "Look at me!"
He was scratched and bleeding in twenty places; one eye was almost out, and his sides were torn to ribbons.
"Oh, you men, you men!" Matkah said, fanning herself with her hind flipper. "Why can't you be sensible and
settle your places quietly? You look as though you had been fighting with the Killer Whale."
"I haven't been doing anything but fight since the middle of May. The beach is disgracefully
crowded this season. I've met at least a hundred seals from Lukannon Beach, house hunting. Why can't people
stay where they belong?"
 "I've often thought we should be much happier if we hauled out at Otter Island instead of this crowded place,"
"Bah! Only the holluschickie go to Otter Island. If we went there they would say we were afraid. We must
preserve appearances, my dear."
Sea Catch sunk his head proudly between his fat shoulders and pretended to go to sleep for a few minutes, but
all the time he was keeping a sharp lookout for a fight. Now that all the seals and their wives were on the
land, you could hear their clamor miles out to sea above the loudest gales. At the lowest counting there were
over a million seals on the beach—old seals, mother seals, tiny babies, and holluschickie, fighting,
scuffling, bleating, crawling, and playing together—going down to the sea and coming up from it in gangs
and regiments, lying over every foot of ground as far as the eye could reach, and skirmishing about in
brigades through the fog. It is nearly always foggy at Novastoshnah, except when the sun comes out and makes
everything look all pearly and rainbow-colored for a little while.
Kotick, Matkah's baby, was born in the middle of that confusion, and he was all head and shoulders, with pale,
watery blue eyes, as tiny seals must be;
 but there was something about his coat that made his mother look at him very closely.
"Sea Catch," she said, at last, "our baby's going to be white!"
"Empty clam-shells and dry seaweed!" snorted Sea Catch. "There never has been such a thing in the world as a
"I can't help that," said Matkah; "there's going to be now." And she sang the low, crooning seal song that all
the mother seals sing to their babies:
You mustn't swim till you're six weeks old,
Or your head will be sunk by your heels;
And summer gales and Killer Whales
Are bad for baby seals.
Are bad for baby seals, dear rat,
As bad as bad can be;
But splash and grow strong,
And you can't be wrong.
Child of the Open Sea!
Of course the little fellow did not understand the words at first. He paddled and scrambled about by his
mother's side, and learned to scuffle out of the way when his father was fighting with another seal, and the
two rolled and roared up and down the slippery rocks. Matkah used to go to sea to get
 things to eat, and the baby was fed only once in two days, but then he ate all he could and throve upon it.
The first thing he did was to crawl inland, and there he met tens of thousands of babies of his own age, and
they played together like puppies, went to sleep on the clean sand, and played again. The old people in the
nurseries took no notice of them, and the holluschickie kept to their own grounds, and the babies had a
When Matkah came back from her deep-sea fishing she would go straight to their playground and call as a sheep
calls for a lamb, and wait until she heard Kotick bleat. Then she would take the straightest of straight lines
in his direction, striking out with her fore flippers and knocking the youngsters head over heels right and
left. There were always a few hundred mothers hunting for their children through the playgrounds, and the
babies were kept lively. But, as Matkah told Kotick, "So long as you don't lie in muddy water and get mange,
or rub the hard sand into a cut or scratch, and so long as you never go swimming when there is a heavy sea,
nothing will hurt you here."
Little seals can no more swim than little children,
 but they are unhappy till they learn. The first time that Kotick went down to the sea a wave carried him out
beyond his depth, and his big head sank and his little hind flippers flew up exactly as his mother had told
him in the song, and if the next wave had not thrown him back again he would have drowned.
After that, he learned to lie in a beach pool and let the wash of the waves just cover him and lift him up
while he paddled, but he always kept his eye open for big waves that might hurt. He was two weeks learning to
use his flippers; and all that while he floundered in and out of the water, and coughed and grunted and
crawled up the beach and took catnaps on the sand, and went back again, until at last he found that he truly
belonged to the water.
Then you can imagine the times that he had with his companions, ducking under the rollers; or coming in on top
of a comber and landing with a swash and a splutter as the big wave went whirling far up the beach; or
standing up on his tail and scratching his head as the old people did; or playing "I'm the King of the Castle"
on slippery, weedy rocks that just stuck out of the wash. Now
 and then he would see a thin fin, like a big shark's fin, drifting along close to shore, and he knew that that
was the Killer Whale, the Grampus, who eats young seals when he can get them; and Kotick would head for the
beach like an arrow, and the fin would jig off slowly, as if it were looking for nothing at all.
Late in October the seals began to leave St. Paul's for the deep sea, by families and tribes, and there was no
more fighting over the nurseries, and the holluschickie played anywhere they liked. "Next year," said Matkah
to Kotick, "you will be a holluschickie; but this year you must learn how to catch fish."
They set out together across the Pacific, and Matkah showed Kotick how to sleep on his back with his flippers
tucked down by his side and his little nose just out of the water. No cradle is so comfortable as the long,
rocking swell of the Pacific. When Kotick felt his skin tingle all over, Matkah told him he was learning the
"feel of the water," and that tingly, prickly feelings meant bad weather coming, and he must swim hard and get
"In a little time," she said, "you'll know where to swim to, but just now we'll follow Sea Pig, the Porpoise,
for he is very wise." A school of
por-  poises were ducking and tearing through the water, and little Kotick followed them as fast as he could. "How
do you know where to go to?" he panted. The leader of the school rolled his white eye and ducked under. "My
tail tingles, youngster," he said. "That means there's a gale behind me. Come along! When you're south of the
Sticky Water [he meant the Equator] and your tail tingles, that means there's a gale in front of you and you
must head north. Come along! The water feels bad here."
TEN FATHOMS DEEP.
This was one of very many things that Kotick learned, and he was always learning. Matkah
 taught him to follow the cod and the halibut along the under-sea banks and wrench the rockling out of his
hole among the weeds; how to skirt the wrecks lying a hundred fathoms below water and dart like a rifle bullet
in at one porthole and out at another as the fishes ran; how to dance on the top of the waves when the
lightning was racing all over the sky, and wave his flipper politely to the stumpy-tailed Albatross and the
Man-of-war Hawk as they went down the wind; how to jump three or four feet clear of the water like a dolphin,
flippers close to the side and tail curved; to leave the flying fish alone because they are all bony; to take
the shoulder-piece out of a cod at full speed ten fathoms deep, and never to stop and look at a boat or a
ship, but particularly a row-boat. At the end of six months what Kotick did not know about deep-sea fishing
was not worth the knowing. And all that time he never set flipper on dry ground.
One day, however, as he was lying half asleep in the warm water somewhere off the Island of Juan Fernandez, he
felt faint and lazy all over, just as human people do when the spring is in their legs, and he remembered the
good firm beaches of Novastoshnah seven thousand miles away, the
 games his companions played, the smell of the seaweed, the seal roar, and the fighting. That very minute he
turned north, swimming steadily, and as he went on he met scores of his mates, all bound for the same place,
and they said: "Greeting, Kotick! This year we are all holluschickie, and we can dance the Fire-dance in the
breakers off Lukannon and play on the new grass. But where did you get that coat?"
Kotick's fur was almost pure white now, and though he felt very proud of it, he only said:
"Swim quickly! My bones are aching for the land." And so they all came to the beaches where they had been
born, and heard the old seals, their fathers, fighting in the rolling mist.
That night Kotick danced the Fire-dance with the yearling seals. The sea is full of fire on summer nights all
the way down from Novastoshnah to Lukannon, and each seal leaves a wake like burning oil behind him and a
flaming flash when he jumps, and the waves break in great phosphorescent streaks and swirls. Then they went
inland to the holluschickie grounds and rolled up and down in the new wild wheat and told stories of what they
had done while they had been at sea. They talked
 about the Pacific as boys would talk about a wood that they had been nutting in, and if anyone had understood
them he could have gone away and made such a chart of that ocean as never was. The three- and four-year-old
holluschickie romped down from Hutchinson's Hill crying: "Out of the way, youngsters! The sea is deep and you
don't know all that's in it yet. Wait till you've rounded the Horn. Hi, you yearling, where did you get that
"I didn't get it," said Kotick. "It grew." And just as he was going to roll the speaker over, a couple of
black-haired men with flat red faces came from behind a sand dune, and Kotick, who had never seen a man
before, coughed and lowered his head. The holluschickie just bundled off a few yards and sat staring stupidly.
The men were no less than Kerick Booterin, the chief of the seal-hunters on the island, and Patalamon, his
son. They came from the little village not half a mile from the sea nurseries, and they were deciding what
seals they would drive up to the killing pens—for the seals were driven just like sheep—to be
turned into seal-skin jackets later on.
"Ho!" said Patalamon. "Look! There's a white seal!"
 Kerick Booterin turned nearly white under his oil and smoke, for he was an Aleut, and Aleuts are not clean
people. Then he began to mutter a prayer. "Don't touch him, Patalamon. There has never been a white seal
since—since I was born. Perhaps it is old Zaharrof's ghost. He was lost last year in the big gale."
"I'm not going near him," said Patalamon. "He's unlucky. Do you really think he is old Zaharrof come back? I
owe him for some gulls' eggs."
"Don't look at him," said Kerick. "Head off that drove of four-year-olds. The men ought to skin two hundred
to-day, but it's the beginning of the season and they are new to the work. A hundred will do. Quick!"
Patalamon rattled a pair of seal's shoulder bones in front of a herd of holluschickie and they stopped dead,
puffing and blowing. Then he stepped near and the seals began to move, and Kerick headed them inland, and they
never tried to get back to their companions. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of seals watched them being
driven, but they went on playing just the same. Kotick was the only one who asked questions, and none of his
com-  panions could tell him anything, except that the men always drove seals in that way for six weeks or two
months of every year.
"I am going to follow," he said, and his eyes nearly popped out of his head as he shuffled along in the wake
of the herd.
"The white seal is coming after us," cried Patalamon. "That's the first time a seal has ever come to the
"Hsh! Don't look behind you," said Kerick. "It is Zaharrof's ghost! I must speak to the priest about this."
The distance to the killing-grounds was only half a mile, but it took an hour to cover, because if the seals
went too fast Kerick knew that they would get heated and then their fur would come off in patches when they
were skinned. So they went on very slowly, past Sea Lion's Neck, past Webster House, till they came to the
Salt House just beyond the sight of the seals on the beach. Kotick followed, panting and wondering. He thought
that he was at the world's end, but the roar of the seal nurseries behind him sounded as loud as the roar of a
train in a tunnel. Then Kerick sat down on the moss and pulled out a heavy pewter watch
 and let the drove cool off for thirty minutes, and Kotick could hear the fog-dew dripping off the brim of his
cap. Then ten or twelve men, each with an iron-bound club three or four feet long, came up, and Kerick pointed
out one or two of the drove that were bitten by their companions or too hot, and the men kicked those aside
with their heavy boots made of the skin of a walrus's throat, and then Kerick said, "Let go!" and then the men
clubbed the seals on the head as fast as they could.
Ten minutes later little Kotick did not recognize his friends any more, for their skins were ripped off from
the nose to the hind flippers, whipped off and thrown down on the ground in a pile.
That was enough for Kotick. He turned and galloped (a seal can gallop very swiftly for a short time) back to
the sea; his little new mustache bristling with horror. At Sea Lion's Neck, where the great sea lions sit on
the edge of the surf, he flung himself flipper-overhead into the cool water and rocked there, gasping
miserably. "What's here?" said a sea lion gruffly, for as a rule the sea lions keep themselves to themselves.
"Scoochnie! Ochen scoochnie!" ("I'm lonesome,
 very lonesome!") said Kotick. "They're killing all the holluschickie on all the
The Sea Lion turned his head inshore. "Nonsense!" he said. "Your friends are making as much noise as ever. You
must have seen old Kerick polishing off a drove. He's done that for thirty years."
"It's horrible," said Kotick, backing water as a wave went over him, and steadying himself with a screw stroke
of his flippers that brought him all standing within three inches of a jagged edge of rock.
"Well done for a yearling!" said the Sea Lion, who could appreciate good swimming. "I suppose it
is rather awful from your way of looking at it, but if you seals will come here year after year,
of course the men get to know of it, and unless you can find an island where no men ever come you will always
"Isn't there any such island?" began Kotick.
"I've followed the poltoos [the halibut] for twenty years, and I can't say I've found it yet. But
look here—you seem to have a fondness for talking to your betters—suppose you go to Walrus Islet
and talk to Sea Vitch. He may know something.
 Don't flounce off like that. It's a six-mile swim, and if I were you I should haul out and take a nap first,
Kotick thought that that was good advice, so he swam round to his own beach, hauled out, and slept for half an
hour, twitching all over, as seals will. Then he headed straight for Walrus Islet, a little low sheet of rocky
island almost due northeast from Novastoshnah, all ledges and rock and gulls' nests, where the walrus herded
THE WERE ALL AWAKE AND STARING IN EVERY DIRECTION BUT THE RIGHT ONE.
 He landed close to old Sea Vitch—the big, ugly, bloated, pimpled, fat-necked, long-tusked walrus of the
North Pacific, who has no manners except when he is asleep—as he was then, with his hind flippers half
in and half out of the surf.
"Wake up!" barked Kotick, for the gulls were making a great noise.
"Hah! Ho! Hmph! What's that?" said Sea Vitch, and he struck the next walrus a blow with his tusks and waked
him up, and the next struck the next, and so on till they were all awake and staring in every direction but
the right one.
"Hi! It's me," said Kotick, bobbing in the surf and looking like a little white slug.
"Well! May I be—skinned!" said Sea Vitch, and they all looked at Kotick as you can fancy a club full of
drowsy old gentlemen would look at a little boy. Kotick did not care to hear any more about skinning just
then; he had seen enough of it. So he called out: "Isn't there any place for seals to go where men don't ever
"Go and find out," said Sea Vitch, shutting his eyes. "Run away. We're busy here."
Kotick made his dolphin-jump in the air and shouted as loud as he could: "Clam-eater!
Clam-  eater!" He knew that Sea Vitch never caught a fish in his life but always rooted for clams and seaweed; though he
pretended to be a very terrible person. Naturally the Chickies and the Gooverooskies and the Epatkas—the
Burgomaster Gulls and the Kittiwakes and the Puffins, who are always looking for a chance to be rude, took up
the cry, and—so Limmershin told me—for nearly five minutes you could not have heard a gun fired on
Walrus Islet. All the population was yelling and screaming "Clam-eater! Stareek [old man]!" while Sea Vitch
rolled from side to side grunting and coughing.
"Now will you tell?" said Kotick, all out of breath.
"Go and ask Sea Cow," said Sea Vitch. "If he is living still, he'll be able to tell you."
"How shall I know Sea Cow when I meet him?" said Kotick, sheering off.
"He's the only thing in the sea uglier than Sea Vitch," screamed a Burgomaster gull, wheeling under Sea
Vitch's nose. "Uglier, and with worse manners! Stareek!"
Kotick swam back to Novastoshnah, leaving the gulls to scream. There he found that no one sympathized with him
in his little attempt to discover a quiet place for the seals. They told him that men
 had always driven the holluschickie—it was part of the day's work—and that if he did not like to
see ugly things he should not have gone to the killing grounds. But none of the other seals had seen the
killing, and that made the difference between him and his friends. Besides, Kotick was a white seal.
"What you must do," said old Sea Catch, after he had heard his son's adventures, "is to grow up and be a big
seal like your father, and have a nursery on the beach, and then they will leave you alone. In another five
years you ought to be able to fight for yourself." Even gentle Matkah, his mother, said: "You will never be
able to stop the killing. Go and play in the sea, Kotick." And Kotick went off and danced the Fire-dance with
a very heavy little heart.
That autumn he left the beach as soon as he could, and set off alone because of a notion in his bullet-head.
He was going to find Sea Cow, if there was such a person in the sea, and he was going to find a quiet island
with good firm beaches for seals to live on, where men could not get at them. So he explored and explored by
himself from the North to the South Pacific, swimming as much as three hundred miles in a day and a night. He
met with more adventures than can be told, and narrowly
 escaped being caught by the Basking Shark, and the Spotted Shark, and the Hammerhead, and he met all the
untrustworthy ruffians that loaf up and down the seas, and the heavy polite fish, and the scarlet spotted
scallops that are moored in one place for hundreds of years, and grow very proud of it; but he never met Sea
Cow, and he never found an island that he could fancy.
If the beach was good and hard, with a slope behind it for seals to play on, there was always the smoke of a
whaler on the horizon, boiling down blubber, and Kotick knew what that meant. Or else he could see that seals
had once visited the island and been killed off, and Kotick knew that where men had come once they would come
He picked up with an old stumpy-tailed albatross, who told him that Kerguelen Island was the very place for
peace and quiet, and when Kotick went down there he was all but smashed to pieces against some wicked black
cliffs in a heavy sleet-storm with lightning and thunder. Yet as he pulled out against the gale he could see
that even there had once been a seal nursery. And it was so in all the other islands that he visited.
Limmershin gave a long list of them, for he said
 that Kotick spent five seasons exploring, with a four months' rest each year at Novastoshnah, when the
holluschickie used to make fun of him and his imaginary islands. He went to the Gallapagos, a horrid dry place
on the Equator, where he was nearly baked to death; he went to the Georgia Islands, the Orkneys, Emerald
Island, Little Nightingale Island, Gough's Island, Bouvet's Island, the Crossets, and even to a little speck
of an island south of the Cape of Good Hope. But everywhere the People of the Sea told him the same things.
Seals had come to those islands once upon a time, but men had killed them all off. Even when he swam thousands
of miles out of the Pacific and got to a place called Cape Corrientes (that was when he was coming back from
Gough's Island), he found a few hundred mangy seals on a rock and they told him that men came there too.
That nearly broke his heart, and he headed round the Horn back to his own beaches; and on his way north he
hauled out on an island full of green trees, where he found an old, old seal who was dying, and Kotick caught
fish for him and told him all his sorrows. "Now," said Kotick, "I am going back to Novastoshnah, and if I am
driven to the killing-pens with the holluschickie I shall not care."
 The old seal said, "Try once more. I am the last of the Lost Rookery of Masafuera, and in the days when men
killed us by the hundred thousand there was a story on the beaches that some day a white seal would come out
of the North and lead the seal people to a quiet place. I am old, and I shall never live to see that day, but
others will. Try once more."
And Kotick curled up his mustache (it was a beauty) and said, "I am the only white seal that has ever been
born on the beaches, and I am the only seal, black or white, who ever thought of looking for new islands."
This cheered him immensely; and when he came back to Novastoshnah that summer, Matkah, his mother, begged him
to marry and settle down, for he was no longer a holluschick but a full-grown sea-catch, with a curly white
mane on his shoulders, as heavy, as big, and as fierce as his father. "Give me another season," he said.
"Remember, Mother, it is always the seventh wave that goes farthest up the beach."
Curiously enough, there was another seal who thought that she would put off marrying till the next year, and
Kotick danced the Fire-dance with her all down Lukannon Beach the night before he set off on his last
 This time he went westward, because he had fallen on the trail of a great shoal of halibut, and he needed at
least one hundred pounds of fish a day to keep him in good condition. He chased them till he was tired, and
then he curled himself up and went to sleep on the hollows of the ground swell that sets in to Copper Island.
He knew the coast perfectly well, so about midnight, when he felt himself gently bumped on a weed-bed, he
said, "Hm, tide's running strong tonight," and turning over under water opened his eyes slowly and stretched.
Then he jumped like a cat, for he saw huge things nosing about in the shoal water and browsing on the heavy
fringes of the weeds.
"By the Great Combers of Magellan!" he said, beneath his mustache. "Who in the Deep Sea are these people?"
They were like no walrus, sea lion, seal, bear, whale, shark, fish, squid, or scallop that Kotick had ever
seen before. They were between twenty and thirty feet long, and they had no hind flippers, but a shovel-like
tail that looked as if it had been whittled out of wet leather. Their heads were the most foolish-looking
things you ever saw, and they balanced on the ends of their tails in deep water when
 they weren't grazing, bowing solemnly to each other and waving their front flippers as a fat man waves his
"Ahem!" said Kotick. "Good sport, gentlemen?" The big things answered by bowing and waving their flippers like
the Frog Footman. When they began feeding again Kotick saw that their upper lip was split into two pieces that
they could twitch apart about a foot and bring together again with a whole bushel of seaweed between the
splits. They tucked the stuff into their mouths and chumped solemnly.
"Messy style of feeding, that," said Kotick. They bowed again, and Kotick began to lose his temper. "Very
good," he said. "If you do happen to have an extra joint in your front flipper you needn't show off so. I see
you bow gracefully, but I should like to know your names." The split lips moved and twitched; and the glassy
green eyes stared, but they did not speak.
"Well!" said Kotick. "You're the only people I've ever met uglier than Sea Vitch—and with worse
Then he remembered in a flash what the Burgomaster gull had screamed to him when he was a little yearling at
Walrus Islet, and he tumbled backward
 in the water, for he knew that he had found Sea Cow at last.
HE HAD FOUND A SEA COW AT LAST.
The sea cows went on schlooping and grazing and chumping in the weed, and Kotick asked them questions in every
language that he had picked up in his travels; and the Sea People talk nearly as many languages as human
beings. But the sea cows did not answer because Sea Cow cannot talk. He has only six bones in his neck where
he ought to have seven, and they say under the sea that that prevents him from speaking even to his
companions. But, as
 you know, he has an extra joint in his foreflipper, and by waving it up and down and about he makes what
answers to a sort of clumsy telegraphic code.
By daylight Kotick's mane was standing on end and his temper was gone where the dead crabs go. Then the Sea
Cow began to travel northward very slowly, stopping to hold absurd bowing councils from time to time, and
Kotick followed them, saying to himself, "People who are such idiots as these are would have been killed long
ago if they hadn't found out some safe island. And what is good enough for the Sea Cow is good enough for the
Sea Catch. All the same, I wish they'd hurry."
It was weary work for Kotick. The herd never went more than forty or fifty miles a day, and stopped to feed at
night, and kept close to the shore all the time; while Kotick swam round them, and over them, and under them,
but he could not hurry them up one-half mile. As they went farther north they held a bowing council every few
hours, and Kotick nearly bit off his mustache with impatience till he saw that they were following up a warm
current of water, and then he respected them more.
One night they sank through the shiny water—sank like stones—and for the first time since he had
 known them began to swim quickly. Kotick followed, and the pace astonished him, for he never dreamed that Sea
Cow was anything of a swimmer. They headed for a cliff by the shore—a cliff that ran down into deep
water, and plunged into a dark hole at the foot of it, twenty fathoms under the sea. It was a long, long swim,
and Kotick badly wanted fresh air before he was out of the dark tunnel they led him through.
"My wig!" he said, when he rose, gasping and puffing, into open water at the farther end. "It was a long dive,
but it was worth it."
The sea cows had separated and were browsing lazily along the edges of the finest beaches that Kotick had ever
seen. There were long stretches of smooth-worn rock running for miles, exactly fitted to make seal-nurseries,
and there were play-grounds of hard sand sloping inland behind them, and there were rollers for seals to dance
in, and long grass to roll in, and sand dunes to climb up and down, and, best of all, Kotick knew by the feel
of the water, which never deceives a true sea catch, that no men had ever come there.
The first thing he did was to assure himself that the fishing was good, and then he swam along the
 beaches and counted up the delightful low sandy islands half hidden in the beautiful rolling fog. Away to the
northward, out to sea, ran a line of bars and shoals and rocks that would never let a ship come within six
miles of the beach, and between the islands and the mainland was a stretch of deep water that ran up to the
perpendicular cliffs, and somewhere below the cliffs was the mouth of the tunnel.
"It's Novastoshnah over again, but ten times better," said Kotick. "Sea Cow must be wiser than I thought. Men
can't come down the cliffs, even if there were any men; and the shoals to seaward would knock a ship to
splinters. If any place in the sea is safe, this is it."
He began to think of the seal he had left behind him, but though he was in a hurry to go back to Novastoshnah,
he thoroughly explored the new country, so that he would be able to answer all questions.
Then he dived and made sure of the mouth of the tunnel, and raced through to the southward. No one but a sea
cow or a seal would have dreamed of there being such a place, and when he looked back at the cliffs even
Kotick could hardly believe that he had been under them.
 He was six days going home, though he was not swimming slowly; and when he hauled out just above Sea Lion's
Neck the first person he met was the seal who had been waiting for him, and she saw by the look in his eyes
that he had found his island at last.
But the holluschickie and Sea Catch, his father, and all the other seals laughed at him when he told them what
he had discovered, and a young seal about his own age said, "This is all very well, Kotick, but you can't come
from no one knows where and order us off like this. Remember we've been fighting for our nurseries, and that's
a thing you never did. You preferred prowling about in the sea."
The other seals laughed at this, and the young seal began twisting his head from side to side. He had just
married that year, and was making a great fuss about it.
"I've no nursery to fight for," said Kotick. "I only want to show you all a place where you will be safe.
What's the use of fighting?"
"Oh, if you're trying to back out, of course I've no more to say," said the young seal with an ugly chuckle.
"Will you come with me if I win?" said Kotick,
 and a green light came into his eye, for he was very angry at having to fight at all.
"Very good," said the young seal carelessly. "If you win, I'll come."
He had no time to change his mind, for Kotick's head was out and his teeth sunk in the blubber of the young
seal's neck. Then he threw himself back on his haunches and hauled his enemy down the beach, shook him, and
knocked him over. Then Kotick roared to the seals: "I've done my best for you these five seasons past. I've
found you the island where you'll be safe, but unless your heads are dragged off your silly necks you won't
believe. I'm going to teach you now. Look out for yourselves!"
Limmershin told me that never in his life—and Limmershin sees ten thousand big seals fighting every
year—never in all his little life did he see anything like Kotick's charge into the nurseries. He flung
himself at the biggest sea catch he could find, caught him by the throat, choked him and bumped him and banged
him till he grunted for mercy, and then threw him aside and attacked the next. You see, Kotick had never
fasted for four months as the big seals did every year, and his deep-sea swimming trips kept him in
 perfect condition, and, best of all, he had never fought before. His curly white mane stood up with rage, and
his eyes flamed, and his big dog-teeth glistened, and he was splendid to look at.
Old Sea Catch, his father, saw him tearing past, hauling the grizzled old seals about as though they had been
halibut, and upsetting the young bachelors in all directions; and Sea Catch gave a roar and shouted: "He may
be a fool, but he is the best fighter on the beaches! Don't tackle your father, my son! He's with you!"
Kotick roared in answer, and old Sea Catch waddled in with his mustache on end, blowing like a locomotive,
while Matkah and the seal that was going to marry Kotick cowered down and admired their men-folk. It was a
gorgeous fight, for the two fought as long as there was a seal that dared lift up his head, and when there
were none they paraded grandly up and down the beach side by side, bellowing.
At night, just as the Northern Lights were winking and flashing through the fog, Kotick climbed a bare rock
and looked down on the scattered nurseries and the torn and bleeding seals. "Now," he said, "I've taught you
"My wig!" said old Sea Catch, boosting himself up
 stiffly, for he was fearfully mauled. "The Killer Whale himself could not have cut them up worse. Son, I'm
proud of you, and what's more, I'll come with you to your island—if there is such a place."
"Hear you, fat pigs of the sea. Who comes with me to the Sea Cow's tunnel? Answer, or I shall teach you
again," roared Kotick.
There was a murmur like the ripple of the tide all up and down the beaches. "We will come," said thousands of
tired voices. "We will follow Kotick, the White Seal."
Then Kotick dropped his head between his shoulders and shut his eyes proudly. He was not a white seal any
more, but red from head to tail. All the same he would have scorned to look at or touch one of his wounds.
A week later he and his army (nearly ten thousand holluschickie and old seals) went away north to the Sea
Cow's tunnel, Kotick leading them, and the seals that stayed at Novastoshnah called them idiots. But next
spring, when they all met off the fishing banks of the Pacific, Kotick's seals told such tales of the new
beaches beyond Sea Cow's tunnel that more and more seals left Novastoshnah.
Of course it was not all done at once, for the seals
 are not very clever, and they need a long time to turn things over in their minds, but year after year more
seals went away from Novastoshnah, and Lukannon, and the other nurseries, to the quiet, sheltered beaches
where Kotick sits all the summer through, getting bigger and fatter and stronger each year, while the
holluschickie play around him, in that sea where no man comes.