|The Eskimo Twins|
|by Lucy Fitch Perkins|
|Share the adventures of Menie and Monnie, 5 year-old twins in an Eskimo village, where the villagers have to provide for all their own needs. Their father, Kesshoo, is a brave fisherman and strong hunter and their mother Koolee is clever in making clothing and shoes out of the skins of the animals which he brings home. We watch the twins as they spot a polar bear while coasting on their sleds, then join with the villagers in the sharing of the meat and the feasting afterwards. Among the other activities they enjoy are ice fishing, building a snow house, hunting for seals, and traveling by boat to their summering ground where they catch salmon to dry for the winter. Children are captivated by the humor and playfulness in this community where the winter night lasts for four long months! Ages 6-8 |
URING the long, dark hours of the winter Kesshoo found many
pleasant things to do at home. He was always busy. He carved a
doll for Monnie out of the ivory tusk of a walrus.
Monnie named the doll Annadore, and she loved it dearly. Koolee
dressed Annadore in fur, with tiny kamiks of sealskin, and Monnie
carried her doll in her hood, just the way Koko's mother carried
For Menie, his father made dog harnesses out of walrus hide. He
made them just the right size for Nip and Tup.
Menie harnessed the little dogs to his sledge. Then he and Monnie
would play sledge journeys. Annadore would sit on the
 sledge all
wrapped in furs, while Menie drove the dogs, and Monnie followed
Nip and Tup did not like this play very well, and they didn't
always go where they were told to. Once they dashed right over
the igloo and spilled Annadore off.
Annadore rolled down one side of the igloo, while Nip and Tup
galloped down the other. Annadore was buried in the snow and had
to be dug out, so it was quite a serious accident, you see, but
Nip and Tup did not seem to feel at all responsible about it.
Kesshoo made knives and queer spoons out of bone or ivory for
Koolee, and for himself he made new barbs for his bladder-dart,
new bone hooks for fishlines, and all sorts of things for
He made salmon spears, and bird darts, and fishlines, and he
ornamented his weapons with little pictures or patterns. He
carved two frogs on the handle of his snow knife, and scratched
the picture of a walrus on the blade.
Sometimes Koolee carved things, too, but
 most of the time she was
busy making coats or kamiks, or chewing skins to make them soft
and fine for use in the igloo; or to cover the kyaks, or to make
their summer tent.
Once during the winter the whole family went thirty miles up the
coast by moonlight to visit Koolee's brother in another village.
They went with the dog sledge, and it took them two days.
They had meat and blubber with them and plenty of warm skins, and
when they got tired, Kesshoo made a snow house for them to rest
in. The twins thought this was the best fun of all.
When spring came on, there were other things to do. As the days
grew longer, the ice in the bay cracked and broke into small
pieces and floated away.
The water turned deep blue, and danced in the sunlight, and ice
floated about in it. Often there were walrus on these ice-pans.
 The twins sometimes saw their huge black bodies on the white ice,
and heard their hoarse barks. Then all the men in the village
would rush for their kyaks and set out after the walrus.
The men were brave and enjoyed the dangerous sport, but the women
used to watch anxiously until they saw the kyaks coming home
towing the walrus behind them.
Then they would rush down to the shore, help pull the kyaks up on
 where they cut the walrus in pieces and divided it
among the families of the hunters.
When the snow had melted on the Big Rock, hundreds of sea birds
made their nests there and filled the air with their cries.
Sometimes Kesshoo went egg hunting on the cliff, and sometimes he
set traps there for foxes, and he helped Menie and Koko make a
little trap to catch hares. There was plenty to do in every
season of the year.
At last the nights shortened to nothing at all. The long day had
begun. The stone but, which they had found so comfortable in
winter, seemed dark and damp now.
Menie and Monnie remembered the summer days when they did not
have to dive down through a hole to get into their house, so
Menie said to Monnie one day, "Let's go and ask father if it
isn't time to put up the tents."
They ran out to find him. He was down on the beach talking with
Koko's father and the other men of the village.
On the beach were two very long boats.
 The men were looking them
over carefully to see if they were water tight.
Koko was with the men. When he saw the twins coming, he tore up
the slope to meet them, waving his arms and shouting, "They're
getting out the woman boats! They're getting out the woman
This was glorious news to the twins. They ran down to the beach
with Koko as fast as their legs could carry them.
They got there just in time to hear Koko's father say to Kesshoo,
"I think it's safe to
 start. The ice is pretty well out of the
bay, and the reindeer will be coming down to the fiords after
All the men listened to hear what Kesshoo would say, and the
twins listened, too, with all their ears.
"If it's clear, I think we could start after one more sleep,"
The twins didn't wait to hear any more. They flew for home, and
dashed down the tunnel and up into the room.
Koolee was gathering all the knives and spoons and fishing-things
and sewing things, and dumping them into a large musk-ox hide
which was spread on the floor.
The musk ox hide covered the entrance hole. The first thing
Koolee knew something thumped the musk ox skin on the under side,
and the knives and thimbles and needle cases and other things
flew in all directions. Up through the hole popped the faces of
Menie and Monnie!
 "Oh, Mother," they shouted. "We're going off on the woman boats!
After only one more sleep, if it's pleasant! Father said so!"
Koolee laughed. "I know it!" she said. "I was just packing. You
can help me. There's a lot to do to get ready."
The twins were delighted to help. They got together all their own
treasures—the sled, and the fishing rods, the dog harnesses, and
Annadore, and bound them up with walrus thongs. All but Annadore.
Annadore rode in Monnie's hood as usual.
Koolee gathered all her things together again and wrapped them in
the musk ox hide. She took down the long narwhal tusks that the
dog harnesses were hung on.
These were the tent poles. She and the twins carried all these
things to the beach. The men stayed on the beach and packed the
things away in the boats. The other women brought down their
bundles from their igloos. There was room for everything in the
two big boats.
Only the skins were left on the
sleeping-  bench in the hut. When
everything else was ready, Koolee and the twins went up on top of
They pulled the moss and dirt out of the chinks between the
stones that made the roof, and then Koolee pulled up the stones
themselves and let them fall over to one side. This left the roof
open to the sky.
"What makes you do that?" Menie asked.
 "So the sun and rain can clean house for us," said Koolee.
Everybody else in the village got ready in the same way.
At last Kesshoo came up from the beach and said to Koolee, "Let
us have some meat and a sleep and then we will start. Everything
is ready. The boats are packed and it looks as if the weather
would be clear."
Koolee brought out some walrus meat and blubber for supper,
though it might just as well be called breakfast, for there was
no night coming, and the twins ate theirs sitting on the roof of
the igloo with their feet hanging down inside.
Once Menie's feet kicked his father's head. It was an accident,
but Kesshoo reached up and took hold of Menie's foot and pulled
him down on to the sleeping bench and rolled him over among the
"Crawl in there and go to sleep," he said.
Monnie let herself down through the roof by her hands and crept
in beside Menie. Then Kesshoo and Koolee wrapped
them-  selves in the warm skins and lay down, too.
It took Menie and Monnie some time to go to sleep, for they could
look straight up through the roof at the sky, and the sky was
bright and blue with little white clouds sailing over it.
Besides, they were thinking about the wonderful things that would
happen when they should wake up.
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