|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 |
THE SUMMER DAY
HE summer days flew by, only one really shouldn't say days at
all, but summer day. For three whole bright months it was just
one daylight picnic all the time!
The people ate when they were hungry and slept when they were
sleepy. The men caught hundreds of salmon, and the women split
them open and dried them on the rocks for winter use. The
children played all day long.
The men hunted deer and musk ox and bears up in the hills and
brought them back to camp. They hunted game both by land and by
sea. There was so much to eat that everybody grew fatter, and as
for the Angakok, he got so very fat that Koko said to Menie, "I
don't believe we can
 ever get the Angakok home in the woman boat!
He's so heavy he'll sink it! I think it would be a good plan to
tie a string to him and tow him back like a walrus!"
"Yes," said Menie. "Maybe he would shrink some if we soaked him
well. Don't you know how water shrinks the walrus hide cords that
we tie around things when we want them to hold tight together?"
It was lucky for Menie and Koko that nobody heard them say that
about the Angakok. It would have been thought very disrespectful.
 When the game grew scarce, or they got tired of camping in one
spot everything was piled into their boats again, and away they
went up the coast until they found another place they liked
better. Then they would set up their tents again.
Sometimes they came to other camps and had a good time meeting
new people and making new friends.
At last, late in August, the sun slipped down below the edge of
the World again. It stayed just long enough to fill the sky with
wonderful red and gold sunset clouds, then it came up again. The
next night there was a little time between the sunset sky and the
lovely colors of the sunrise.
The next night was longer still. Each day grew colder and colder.
Still the people lingered in their tents. They did not like to
think the pleasant summer was over, and the long night near.
But at last Kesshoo said, "I think it is time to go back to
winter quarters. The nights are fast growing longer. The snow may
be upon us any day now. I don't
 know of a better place to settle
than the village where we spent last winter. The igloos are all
built there ready to use again. What do you say? Shall we go back
"Yes, let us go back," they all said.
The very next day they started. The boats were heavily loaded
with dried fish, there were great piles of new skins heaped in
the woman boats, and every kyak towed a seal.
For days they traveled along the coast, stopping only for rest
and food. The twins and Koko sat in the bottom of the boat with
the dogs, and listened to the regular dip of the paddles, to the
cries of the sea birds as they flew away toward the south, and to
the chatter of the women. These were almost the only sounds they
heard, for the silence of the Great White World was all about
them. They talked together in low voices and planned all the
things they would do when the long night was really upon them
 When at last they came in sight of the Big Rock, they felt as if
they had reached home after a very long journey.
Koko stood up in the boat and pointed to it. "See," he cried,
"there's the Big Rock where we found the bear!"
"Yes," Monnie said, "and where we slid downhill."
"And I see where I got caught on the ice raft," Menie shouted.
"Sit down," said Koko's mother. "You'll tip the boat and spill us
all into the water."
Koko sat down; the boat glided along through the water, nearer
and nearer, until at last they came round the Big Rock, and
there, just as if they had not been away at all, lay the whole
village of five igloos, looking as if it had gone to sleep in the
The big boats waited until the men had all paddled to the shore
and beached their kyaks, then they were drawn carefully up on to
the sand, and every one got out. The beach at once became a very
busy place. The men pulled the walruses and seals out of the
water and took care of the boats,
 while the women set up the
tents, cut the meat into big pieces for storage, and carried all
their belongings to the tents.
Although the village looked just the same, other things looked
quite different. Nip and Tup were big dogs by this time. They ran
away up the beach with Tooky and the other dogs the moment they
were out of the boats. They did not stay with the twins all the
time now, as they used to do. The twins were much bigger, too.
Koolee looked at them as they helped her carry the tent-skins up
from the beach, and said to them, "My goodness, I must make my
needles fly! winter is upon us and your clothes are getting too
small for you! You must have new things right away." The twins
thought this was a very good idea. They liked new clothes as well
as any one in the world.
Koolee set up the tent beside their old igloo, and there they
lived while the men of the village went out every day in their
kyaks for seal and walrus, or back into the hills after other
game to store away for food during the long winter. The women
 and cured the skins and cut up the meat and packed it
away as fast as the men could kill the game and bring it home.
Each day it grew colder, and each night was longer than the last,
until one short September day there came a great snow storm! It
snowed all day long, and that night the wind blew so hard that
Koolee and the twins nearly froze even among the fur covers of
their bed, and when morning came they found themselves nearly
buried under a great drift.
That very day Koolee put the stones over the roof of the igloo
once more, and the twins helped her fill in the chinks with moss
and earth, and cover it with a heavy layer of snow, patted down
with the snow shovel, until everything was snug and tight again.
Then they moved in. By the next day all the igloos in the village
were in use, and when night came their windows shone with the
light of the lamps, just as they had so many months before.
Nip and Tup slept outside with Tooky now, in a snow house which
 built for them. Menie and Monnie missed them, but
Koolee said, "You are getting so big now you must begin to do
something besides play with puppies. Monnie must learn to sew,
and Menie must help Father with feeding the dogs and looking
after their harnesses, and driving the sledge."
"Maybe Father will teach you both to carve fine things out of
ivory this winter! Monnie will soon need her own thimble and
needles. They must be made. And she can help me clean the skins
and suck out the blubber, and prepare them for being made into
"Dear me! what a lot there is to do to keep clothes on our backs
and food in our mouths! The Giants are always waiting before the
igloo and we must work very hard to keep them outside!"
She did not mean real giants. She meant that Hunger and Want are
always waiting to seize the Eskimo who does not work all the time
to supply food for himself and his family. She meant that Menie
must learn to be a brave strong hunter, afraid of nothing
 on sea
or land, and that Monnie must learn to do a woman's work well, or
else the time would come when they would be without food or
shelter or clothing, and the fierce cold would soon make an, end
It was lucky they got into the warm igloo just when they did, for
the winter had come to stay. The bay froze over far out from
shore, and the white snow covered the igloos so completely that
if it had not been for the windows, and for people moving about
out of doors, no one could have told that there was any village
The Last Day of all was so short that Menie and Monnie and Koko
saw the whole of it from the top of the Big Rock! They had gone
up there in the gray twilight that comes before the sunrise to
build a snow house to play in. They had been there only a little
while when the sky grew all rosy just over the Edge of the World.
The color grew stronger and stronger until the little stars were
all drowned in it and then up came the great round red face of
the sun itself! The children watched it as it
 peered over the
horizon, threw long blue shadows behind them across the snow, and
then sank slowly, slowly down again, leaving only the flaming
colors in the sky to mark the place where it had been. They waved
their hands as it slipped out of sight. "Good bye, old Sun," they
shouted, "and good bye, Shadow, too! We shall be glad to see you
both when you come back again."
Then, because the wind blew very cold and they could see a snow
cloud coming toward them from the Great White World where the
Giants lived, the children ran together down the snowy slope
toward the bright windows of their homes.
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