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Title: Deep Sea Hunters in the Frozen Seas
Author: Verrill, A. Hyatt (Alpheus Hyatt)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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DEEP SEA HUNTERS IN THE FROZEN SEAS



_By A. HYATT VERRILL_


    THE RADIO DETECTIVES
    THE RADIO DETECTIVES UNDER THE SEA
    THE RADIO DETECTIVES SOUTHWARD BOUND
    THE RADIO DETECTIVES IN THE JUNGLE
    THE DEEP SEA HUNTERS
    THE DEEP SEA HUNTERS IN FROZEN SEAS
    THE BOOK OF THE MOTOR BOAT
    ISLES OF SPICE AND PALM
    THE REAL STORY OF THE WHALER
    THE REAL STORY OF THE PIRATE



[Illustration: “SEAL OVER TO WIND’ARD!” HE SHOUTED.]



                            DEEP SEA HUNTERS
                           IN THE FROZEN SEAS

                                   BY
                            A. HYATT VERRILL

                 AUTHOR OF “THE DEEP SEA HUNTERS,” “THE
                     RADIO DETECTIVES,” “THE BOOK OF
                          THE MOTOR BOAT,” ETC.

                             [Illustration]

                         D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
                       NEW YORK :: 1923 :: LONDON

                           COPYRIGHT, 1923, BY
                         D. APPLETON AND COMPANY

                 PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



CONTENTS


    CHAPTER                                   PAGE

      I. THE NARWHAL                             1

      II. THE BOYS SPRING A SURPRISE            12

     III. ON THE BANKS                          27

      IV. A CLOSE SHAVE                         43

       V. ON THE ICEBERG                        56

      VI. THE BATTLE                            70

     VII. THE GLACIER                           82

    VIII. WHALES AND WHALES                    103

      IX. THE WALRUS HUNT                      120

       X. UNAVIK SPINS A YARN                  137

      XI. THE BOYS CATCH A TARTAR              155

     XII. FROZEN IN                            171

    XIII. UNAVIK TO THE RESCUE                 189

     XIV. AN ARCTIC CHRISTMAS                  204

      XV. FRIENDS IN NEED                      222

     XVI. SOUTHWARD HO!                        249



DEEP SEA HUNTERS IN THE FROZEN SEAS



CHAPTER I

THE NARWHAL


Old Cap’n Pem was seated on the stringpiece of the wharf, his short black
pipe gripped firmly in his mouth, and his wooden leg stretched stiffly
before him like the stubby bowsprit of a coasting sloop. Beside him was
his crony, Mike, another wooden-legged old mariner, for since a cruise
the two had made to the Antarctic on the bark _Hector_, they had become
inseparable companions.[1]

Although they were fast friends, they were ever chaffing each other and
made it a point never to agree upon anything.

As Mike said, “Phwhat’s the use av talkin’ if yez don’t be afther
arguin’? Shure an’ if yez agrees there’s not a bit more to be said.”

So, as usual, the two ancient mariners were in the midst of a discussion
regarding a weather-beaten, disreputable, unkempt craft which was being
towed across New Bedford harbor by a fussy little tug.

“Looks like they wuz a-comin’ to berth her here,” remarked Old Pem.
“Reckon Dixon mus’ calc’late to fit the ol’ _Narwhal_ out fer a cruise.”

Mike snorted. “B’gorra thin ’twill be a cruise to Davy Jones she’ll be
afther takin’!” he exclaimed. “Shure, ’tis l’ave o’ yer sinses ye’re
takin’, ye ol’ walrus! ’Tis to junk the schooner they do be towin’ av her
here.”

“Walrus yerself!” retorted Cap’n Pem. “Ye’re a Irish lan’lubber if ye
think the ol’ _Narwhal’s_ only fit for junk. That there ol’ hooker’s
a-goin’ for to fit out, I bet ye. An’, by heck! if she do, I’ll be blowed
if I don’t ask Dixon to ship me erlong.”

Mike guffawed. “Glory be!” he cried. “An’ do yez be afther thinkin’ as
Dixon’ll be fittin’ out av a floatin’ horspittle, ye ol’ cripple?”

Pem bristled. “Dern yer hide!” he roared. “If he was I’ll be sunk if he
wouldn’t grab ye fust, ye peg-legged Harp. I’d——”

Cap’n Pem’s sentence was interrupted by a shout and Jim Lathrop and
Tom Chester, who had been with the old whalemen on the _Hector_ in the
Antarctic, came racing towards them.

“Hurrah!” cried Tom. “That tug’s coming in here with that old brig. Say,
Cap’n Pem, what do you suppose they’re going to do with her?”

“Bless ye, that ain’t no brig,” responded the old man. “That’s a torpsa’l
schooner—the ol’ _Narwhal_. Ain’t seed her afloat fer years. Reckon
Dixon’s goin’ fer to fit her out fer a cruise.”

“Cruise!” cried Jim. “Gee, you don’t mean to say any one would be crazy
enough to go to sea on her! Why, the old _Hector_ was bad enough, but she
was new compared to that tub, and was big enough to hoist this boat up to
her davits.”

Mike chuckled. “Glory be!” he exclaimed. “Even the b’ys is afther knowin’
’tis no cruise she’ll be takin’. Shure, me laddies, Oi wuz just afther
tellin’ Pem ’twas a-junkin’ av her they’ll be. But b’gorra, he’ll be
havin’ av it his own way an’, phwat’s more, the ol’ idjit’s a-sayin’ as
he’ll be afther a-tryin’ to ship along av her.”

The boys laughed. “I thought you were never going to sea again, Cap’n
Pem,” cried Tom. “You said you were going to settle down ashore and buy a
farm with your share of the _Hector’s_ catch.”

“And you said only an old fool like Mr. Nye would ship a wooden-legged
mate,” put in Jim. “Isn’t Mike going too to keep you company?”

“Divvil a bit!” declared Mike positively. “’Tis solid land Oi do be
afther wantin’ to feel ben’ath me two feet—an’ me havin’ but wan.”

“Waall, I’ll bet ye she’s a-goin’ fer a cruise annyways,” rumbled Cap’n
Pem, “an’ we’ll soon fin’ out.”

Rising, the old whaleman stumped across the dock to where the ancient
craft was being moored. At his heels followed the two boys and Mike.

“Hey there, Ben!” shouted the old sailor to the captain of the tug. “What
in tarnation ye bringin’ the _Narwhal_ over here fer?”

The tug’s skipper stuck his head from the pilot house, twirled the big
wheel with one hand, and jerked the bell pull with the other. “Goin’ for
a cruise,” he shouted back. “Heard Dixon’s aimin’ to send her to the
Arctic.”

Cap’n Pem turned triumphantly to Mike. “There ye be, ye ol’ derelic’,” he
cried. “Didn’t I tell ye?”

“Faith an’ yez did thot,” admitted Mike good-naturedly. “An’ by the same
token, ’tis goin’ along av her ye’ll be jus’ fer to be afther provin’ yez
was right altogether.”

“Well, I’m ready to believe anything now,” declared Tom. “You remember
I thought you were fooling about the _Hector_ when you said she was
fitting out, and I never dreamed we’d go on her. And she _was_ a fine
old ship! Gosh, do you remember the way she went through that blow in the
south Atlantic, Jim?”

“Do I!” replied Jim enthusiastically. “And say, I shouldn’t wonder if
this old _Narwhal’s_ just as staunch a ship too, after she’s fixed up.”

“Bet ye she will be!” exclaimed Cap’n Pem. “I tol’ ye whaleships wuz
built to las’ forever, and this here _Narwhal_ ain’t so drefful ol’. Why,
I can recollec’ when she wuz new. Le’s see, reckon I must ha’ been ’bout
the size o’ ye, an’ she warn’t more’n twenty year ol’ then. Yep, I’ll bet
she ain’t much older’n I be.”

“B’gorra, an’ that’s a-plenty,” chuckled Mike. “An’ faith, ’tis a foine
pair yez do be afther makin’! Shure yes, Pem, for the love o’ Hivvin be
afther shippin’ on her—’tis comp’ny yez’ll be for wan another.”

“And the captain of the tug said she was going to the Arctic!” cried Jim,
paying no heed to Mike’s interruption. “Do you suppose they’re going
after whales, Cap’n Pem?”

“Dunno,” replied the whaleman. “Reckon they’re goin’ fer mos’ anythin’
what they gets. Seals, walrus, furs, ile an’ bone.”

“Furs!” exclaimed Tom inquiringly. “What kind of furs do you mean?”

“Different kinds,” replied Pem. “White b’ar, fox, musk ox, reindeer,
anythin’ what the Eskimos bring in or the hands on the schooner kin
shoot.”

“Gosh, wouldn’t it be fun to go!” shouted Jim. “Say, Tom, I’m going to
ask Dad if I can go. That is, if Cap’n Pem goes. Now we’ve been on the
_Hector_ and everything came out so well I’ll bet he’ll let me.”

“Me too!” declared Tom. “Say, that will be bully!”

“’Tis daffy yez all do be afther gettin’!” declared Mike shaking his
grizzled head sadly. “Furrst ’tis ol’ timber-lig here an’ thin ’tis yez
b’ys—goin’ to look afther him Oi’m thinkin’, an’ ’tis meself’ll have to
be afther goin’ along to be lookin’ afther the three of yez.”

“Oh, you old fox!” cried Tom. “You know you’re just as crazy to go on
another trip as any of us. You said yourself that voyage on the _Hector_
made a man of you. And you’d never be happy ashore without Cap’n Pem.”

“Shure, Oi dunno but phwat it’s the truth yez do be afther sp’akin’,
Master Tom,” agreed the Irishman grinning. “But b’gorra ’tis wan thing to
be talkin’ av goin’ an’ another to be aboarrd. Shure ’tis no knowin’ as
Misther Dixon’ll be afther takin’ anny av us, at all, at all.”

“Well, we’re going to find out if we can go first—before we ask him,”
said Jim. “And if we can, I’ll bet we can get Mr. Dixon to take you and
Cap’n Pem. Mr. Nye and Captain Edwards can put in a good word for you,
and besides, everybody in New Bedford knows you’re the two best whalemen
here, and real whalemen are scarce nowadays.”

“Well, ’tis havin’ av me doots Oi do be, as the Scotchman sez,”
declared Mike. “Cruisin’ to the Ar’tic’s not a bit the same as cruisin’
south—phwat wid the oice an’ all.”

“Fiddlesticks!” snorted Cap’n Pem. “What do ye know erbout it? Ye
ain’t no whaleman. Bet ye he’ll be right glad fer to git us. ’Tain’t
so all-fired easy to git navergators these times. An’ I’ve been in the
ice—why, durn it, wuzn’t I ice pilot fer the ol’ _Petrel_?”

“Well, I hope he will take you—both,” said Tom. “Our folks will be
more likely to let us go if you two are along. When do you think the
schooner’ll be ready to sail? And say, I never saw a schooner like her.
She’s got yards on her foremast like a brigantine.”

“Course she has,” replied Cap’n Pem. “Thet’s what makes her a torps’l
schooner. Didn’t ye never seed one afore? But shucks, ’course ye didn’t.
Ain’t many on ’em knockin’ erbout nowadays. Time wuz when they wuz
thicker’n rats on a lime juicer. Yessir, an’ mighty handy craf’ in the
ice, I tell ye. Thet’s why Dixon’s a-fittin’ o’ the _Narwhal_ out I
’spect. Ye see a or’nary fore-an’-aft schooner’s all right fer a-sailin’
on the wind, or when the win’s on the quarter or abeam, but she ain’t no
use dead afore it, an’ ye can’t back her. An’ by glory! I’m a-tellin’ ye
that when ye’re a-handlin’ of a ship in the ice, with bergs fore-an’-aft
an’ to po’t an’ sta’board, an’ jes leads in the floes, ye wants a ship
what kin back an’ fill an’ make steerageway st’arn fummust. Yessir, an’
the torps’l schooner’s the hooker what fills the bill. An’ as fer gettin’
ready, how can I tell? Reckon if there ain’t too pesky much to be did,
she’ll be gettin’ away long ’bout the fust o’ June. Have ter fetch Hudson
Straits by fust o’ August to git through safe an’ soun’.”

“Hurrah! that makes it all the better,” cried Tom. “School will be pretty
near over and we could miss a few days—at the last. There’s just a lot of
graduation exercises and such things. Come on, Jim, let’s go and see what
our folks say.”

But the boys’ parents frowned upon the scheme at once. “That cruise in
the _Hector_ should be enough to last you boys for a lifetime,” declared
Mr. Lathrop. “And a cruise to the Arctic is a very different matter. The
_Narwhal’s_ a very old and small ship, and she’ll spend the winter there
probably, freeze in and take chances of being crushed. And you’d find it
far from a picnic. Why, just imagine being locked hard and fast in the
ice for six or eight months with the temperature fifty or sixty below
zero, and shut up in the ship with a crowd of greasy whalers and Eskimos.
No, Jim, there’s far too much risk.”

“Oh, hang it all!” cried Jim bitterly. “You said there’d be danger on the
_Hector_ and everything was all right, and I’d love to be in the ice all
winter and see Eskimos and hunt polar bears and walrus and everything.
Say, if Cap’n Pem and Mike go, can’t I go too?”

Mr. Lathrop shook his head decisively. “If the entire crew of the
_Hector_ went along, I’d not consent,” he declared. “But I’ll ask Tom’s
father and see if he agrees with me.”

Mr. Chester, however, was as much against the idea as Jim’s parent. “No,
Tom,” he said, after Tom had explained matters. “It would mean a year
from school at least, and while I realize the knowledge you boys would
obtain would be of real value, still it’s too risky a trip. You’d be
frozen in for six months or more, the ship might be stove—in which case
you might be killed or might be marooned in the Arctic for months or
years—or she might strike a berg or a floe and founder. Arctic whaling’s
dangerous, and I don’t feel sure the _Narwhal_ is seaworthy. Besides, I
don’t know who Dixon is sending as ice pilot. It’s been years since a New
Bedford whaler went to the Arctic and it takes men experienced in the ice
to bring the ships through safely.”

“But Cap’n Pem was an ice pilot—on the _Petrel_,” argued Tom. “And you
have faith in him.”

Mr. Chester laughed. “Yes, as far as looking after you boys to the best
of his ability and being a good whaleman is concerned. But don’t for a
moment think that Dixon will ship him or Mike. In the Arctic they need
able-bodied young men—half the work is done ashore and there are long
tramps over ice and snow. No, Tom, Cap’n Pem won’t go, that’s certain.”

“You said that about the _Hector_,” Tom reminded him. “And yet he went.
Oh, Dad, if Cap’n Pem and Mike go, can’t I?”

“I suppose you want me to make another bargain,” chuckled his father,
“and make a condition that seems impossible but may be fulfilled. No,
Tom, even if Cap’n Pem went I would hesitate to consent. But I’ll tell
you what. If the owners of the _Narwhal_ invite you to go—remember
you’re not to ask them—and if they guarantee that they’ll be personally
responsible for your safety, then I’ll consent.”

“Well that’s poor comfort!” exclaimed the disappointed boy. “Just as if
the owners are going to invite us without even knowing we want to go,
and as if they’d be responsible for us! Gee, they’d have to double their
insurance, I guess.”

“One’s as likely as the other, I admit,” laughed Mr. Chester. “But don’t
be so disappointed, Tom. Maybe there’ll be a ship going to the West
Indies or the Atlantic this summer that you can go on—some short cruise.”

“Bother the West Indies!” cried Tom petulantly. “I want to go to the
Arctic, and maybe Mr. Dixon may take Cap’n Edwards and maybe he or Cap’n
Pem or some one may tell him we can navigate, and if he wants mates
perhaps he will ask us.”

“Well, if he does you can go—that is, of course, if Jim goes too,” smiled
Tom’s father. “But remember you’re neither to ask, nor hint about it. And
I don’t think you’ll need to get out your winter things this June.”



CHAPTER II

THE BOYS SPRING A SURPRISE


The following day the two boys wandered to the wharf with disconsolate
faces.

“Reckon yer folks didn’t take to the idee, hey?” ventured Cap’n Pem, as
he turned from watching a gang of men working on the old _Narwhal_.

“No, they wouldn’t listen to us,” replied Tom. “Not even if you and Mike
went. Dad said if the owners invited us—and we didn’t ask—and that if you
and Mike went too, he’d let us, but there’s a swell chance of that.”

“H-m-m!” muttered the old whaleman. “Waall, I dunno as I’d be so
everlastin’ly cut up about it. I don’t reckon ye’d have went annyhow
without me, an’ there ain’t one chance in a million o’ that. Mike was up
to see Dixon and the ol’ grampus jes laffed at him. Asked what he thought
the _Narwhal_ wuz—a floatin’ old sailors’ home?”

“The mean old thing!” cried Jim. “Say, I’ll bet he won’t get a man
that’s as good a sailor as you or Mike.”

“Is he the owner?” asked Tom.

“Wall, not perzactly,” replied the old man. “He’s the agent. The
_Narwhal’s_ owned by a comp’ny—an’ I reckon they ain’t none too conf’dent
o’ the cruise a-bein’ so everlastin’ly profit’ble. Mike says he saw Cap’n
Edwards an’ ol’ Nye, a-tryin’ fer to get ’em to put in a word fer us,
an’ Nye says as how they’s a lot o’ shares—or stock or whatever ye calls
it—what ain’t been took up yit. He’s thinkin’ o’ buyin’ on it hisself if
he kin git a good skipper like Edwards.”

Tom let out a yell like an Indian, threw his hat in the air and danced.

“Hurrah!” he fairly screamed. “We _can_ go! I’ve a scheme! Oh, Jim! Oh,
Cap’n Pem! It’s bully! Oh gosh, we’ll put one over on Dad again!”

“Whatever be ye talkin’ on?” demanded the old whaleman. “’Pears like
ye’ve gone plumb crazy.”

“Listen!” cried Tom, as he quieted down. And in earnest tones he
explained his scheme to old Pem and to Jim.

“Gee!” commented Jim, “that _will_ work. Tom, you’re a wonder.”

“Derned if ’twont,” agreed the old whaleman. “I’ll be swabbed if I don’
reckon we’ll all be a-goin’ erlong o’ the _Narwhal_ arter all.”

A few moments later the boys were speeding towards New Bedford on a
trolley car. Alighting near the water front they hurried to Mr. Nye’s
office.

There was a long conference with the genial shipowner. Then another
visit, with Mr. Nye accompanying them, to a broker’s and to a law office.
Several hours later two grinning, jubilant boys made their way back to
Fair Haven and entered Mr. Chester’s home.

“Well, Dad, they’ve invited us!” exclaimed Tom, as his father turned at
their entrance.

“What?” cried Mr. Chester incredulously. “You mean to say the _Narwhal’s_
owners have asked you to go on a cruise—without your mentioning it to
them?”

Tom grinned and Jim chuckled. “They sure did,” declared Tom. “And they’re
going to take Cap’n Pem and Cap’n Edwards and Mike—and Ned if they can
find him—and all the others that were on the _Hector_ that can be hired.”

“But how—how on earth did they know you wanted to go?” demanded Tom’s
father, “and why are they going to take that crew of cripples? There’s a
mystery here, boys; what is it?”

The two boys were thoroughly enjoying themselves. “And that’s not all,
Dad,” went on Tom. “The owners said that if Jim and I couldn’t go, the
_Narwhal’s_ cruise would be given up—they wouldn’t even fit her out.”

“What _is_ all this nonsense?” exclaimed Mr. Chester. “The owners must be
crazy—talking about giving up a cruise if you two kids don’t go along!
Who _are_ the owners of the old ship anyway?”

“Well, you see it’s a company,” explained Tom, scarcely able to control
himself, “and the members who own the most shares are managing owners and
have the say about everything.”

“Yes, yes, I understand all that,” interrupted Mr. Chester impatiently,
“but who _are_ the managing owners?”

Jim could contain himself no longer. “We are!” he shouted. “Tom and I!”

Mr. Chester was speechless. “What?” he gasped presently. “You two boys
are the ship’s owners?”

“I’ll say we are!” cried Tom. “We took the money we got for our lays of
the ambergris and bought up the controlling shares to-day. Mr. Nye said
it was a good investment. And so we invited ourselves, and we won’t let
the _Narwhal_ sail unless we go, and we’re going to hire all the old
_Hector’s_ crew.”

“Well I’ll be——” began Mr. Chester, and then, a smile broadening on his
face, he turned to the telephone.

“Hello!” he exclaimed presently. “That you, Lathrop? Well, the boys have
put one over on us two old fogies again! Yes, owners invited them all
right. Say the ship won’t sail without them too. Yes. Guess we’ll have to
let them go. Oh, Edwards. Yes, both Mike and Pem. Oh, yes, I forgot—Tom
and Jim bought up the controlling interest—managing owners themselves.
Ha, ha! Yes, they’ve won out!”

“Then we can go!” cried Tom, as his father hung up the receiver.

“I always stick to a bargain,” replied Mr. Chester, “and Jim’s father
says he does too. So you might as well hire your crew and get the old
_Narwhal_ fitted out.”

Cap’n Pem and Mike were as tickled as two children over the boys’ ruse
and its success. Both the old sailors having been engaged, they set to
work, Cap’n Pem looking after the details of reconditioning the schooner,
while Mike haunted New Bedford’s water front and lodging houses,
searching out the former crew of the _Hector_.

The next few weeks were very busy ones for the two boys, who had
invested their little fortune in the _Narwhal_, and now found themselves
the principal owners of a real whaling vessel. The details of the
business, as well as the financial arrangements, repairs, and outfitting
were turned over to Mr. Dixon and to Mr. Nye, for the latter had bought
considerable stock in the _Narwhal_ also. And work proceeded rapidly
aboard the ship.

There seemed to be an endless number of things to be done. The old ship’s
timbers were in good shape and little of her planking had to be replaced,
but she had to be caulked and pitched and painted and ice sheathing was
put on. Her spars were worthless and her rigging had to be entirely
stripped from her, and new rigging rove. Much of her decks were also
badly rotted and, as Tom said, when on one occasion he looked ruefully
at the almost empty hulk, minus masts and rigging, “By the time they get
through she’ll be a new ship.”

But old Cap’n Pem did not agree with him. “Hanged if she will!” he
exclaimed, “why, Lor’ love ye, ’tain’t a ship’s spars an’ riggin’ what
makes the ship. It’s the timbers an’ hull. Bless my soul! If ev’ry time
a ship got dismasted an’ had ter have a new set o’ spars, it made a new
ship of her, thar wouldn’t be nary an ol’ ship lef’. Shucks! Ye wouldn’t
say yer Dad built a new house jes ’cause he put a new chimbly or a new
verandy on it, would ye?”

Tom laughed. “No,” he admitted, “but if Dad took out all the inside of
the house, and then took off the boards and just left the old cellar, I’d
call it pretty near a new house, and that’s what we’re doing with the
_Narwhal_.”

“Not by a long shot!” burst out the old whaleman, to whom an old hull was
almost sacred. “Ye’d find a purty diff’runce in what ye’d have to pay if
ye wuz to build a new schooner ’stead o’ refittin’ this here hooker.”

Then, when at last the hull and decks were done and it came to rigging,
dissension arose as to how the _Narwhal_ should be rigged. Mr. Dixon, who
was of the new school, wanted a three-masted schooner and some of the
other owners, a two-master, while one old fellow insisted a bark was the
only rig. But the boys stoutly insisted that their ship, as they called
her, must be rigged as she was originally and they were sustained by
Mr. Nye, while old Cap’n Pem vowed he’d not take the place as ice pilot
unless she was a square topsail schooner.

“If you take my advice,” said Mr. Chester, when on one occasion he was
discussing the matter with the boys and Mr. Nye, “you’ll put a motor in
her. I suppose it will be little less than heresy to suggest it to the
whalemen, but a motor will be a godsend in the ice.”

“You’re right,” assented Mr. Nye. “Whale-ships have had auxiliary power
before now and the _Narwhal_ can stand a motor. Yes, I think there’s no
question that a motor will prove a most valuable asset. Why, even in
towage it’ll save its own cost.”

But when Cap’n Pem heard of this he almost exploded. “Consarn sech
rattletrap contraptions!” he exclaimed. “Ain’t sails an’ the win’ God
gave us good enough fer to take this here ship where we aim fer to go?
Motor! By cricky! do ye want fer to make a ottymobil out o’ the ol’
_Narwhal_.”

“Shure thin’ an’ ’twill be a shofure yez’ll be afther wantin’,” put
in Mike. “An’ b’ the same token, ’tis a foine motorneer Oi am meself.
B’gorra ’tis a shame to be a-turnin’ o’ the ould schooner into a power
boat, but handy ’twill be Oi do be thinkin’ manny the toime.”

But despite Pem’s protests and contempt and sarcastic remarks, the motor
was installed and Mike, who really had had experience in handling motors
in the navy, was rated as engineer.

In regard to the rigging, Cap’n Pem and the boys had their way. Captain
Edwards had agreed with the old whaleman that a topsail schooner was the
handiest vessel to navigate in the ice; also he had pointed out that,
having been originally rigged as such, it was cheaper and easier to
re-rig the _Narwhal_ in the same way.

So the tall and tapering spars were set up, the long and beautifully
proportioned cross yards for the foremast were slung, the standing
rigging was bowsed taut, served, and tarred; the huge blocks and the maze
of halyards, lifts, braces, sheets, lines and ropes were rigged, and,
resplendent in a coat of new paint, the rejuvenated _Narwhal’s_ motor was
started and she chugged slowly across the harbor to the New Bedford dock.

“Now what do you think of her?” asked Tom of old Mike as the staunch,
trim schooner was warped alongside the dock, and her lofty, golden-tinted
spars loomed high above the water-front buildings.

“Waall, b’gorra, ’tis not the same ship at all, at all,” declared the
Irishman. “Shure ’tis loike the sailor’s knoife she do be—the same ould
knoife, barrin’ new blades an’ a new handle.”

“Gid out!” cried old Pem. “By heck, if ye got a new timber leg I ’spec’
ye’d be a dod gasted new man, eh?”

“No!” responded the Irishman. “But shure an’ if Oi foun’ me a foine new
hidpiece an’ a new body an’ a new pair o’ han’s, the wooden lig o’ me
remainin’ would niver be afther makin’ ould Moike out o’ the broth of a
b’y Oi’d be.”

“Well, I don’t care what you say, it’s the same old _Narwhal_,” insisted
Tom, “just as much as the _Hector_ was the same old _Hector_.”

“Yis, yis, so she do be,” agreed Mike. “An’ ’tis a foine cruise we’ll be
takin’ in her—an’ foine luck we’ll be havin’ Oi’m thinkin’—phwat wid the
same ould crew o’ the _Hector_. An’ thanks be to Hivvin there’ll be no
bo’sun burrds for to be a-perchin’ on the yarrds an’ a-scarin’ the loife
out of us all.”

Even when the ship was reconditioned there was much to be done. The boys
had thought that the old _Hector_ had carried vast quantities of stores,
but when they saw the mountain of barrels, shooks, boxes, cases and casks
that were piled on the wharf, and the steady stream of trucks and drays
that kept adding their loads to the accumulation, they declared that the
_Narwhal_ would sink at the wharf if all the supplies were stowed aboard
her.

“Don’t ye fergit we’re a-goin’ for a long v’yage,” Cap’n Pem reminded
them. “Lord knows when the ol’ _Narwhal_’ll be a-pokin’ of her jib boom
pas’ New Bedford light ag’in. An’ there ain’t no delic’tessen ’roun’ the
corner in the Ar’tic, by gum!”

“But what do they want all that salt for?” asked Jim, who had been
watching barrel after barrel of coarse Turks’ Island salt being slung
aboard.

“Curin’ skins,” replied the old whaleman. “’Spect we’ll be a-gittin’ a
purty good cargo o’ seals. Ain’t been hunted much fer a spell an’ pelts
is purty high. Yessir, better’n ile now’days.”

“And what do we need lumber for?” queried Tom. “Any one would think we
were going to build a house up there.”

“So we be,” declared Pem. “Come winter an’ she freezes in, we’ll be
a-makin’ on her shipshape an’ comfy for six months o’ everlastin’ night.
House the ol’ hooker in—didn’t ’spec’ ye could spen’ the winter in that
there mite of a cabin an’ the fo’c’s’le, did ye?”

“Well, I see we’ve a lot to learn yet,” laughed Tom. “What about guns and
things for shooting the seals and bears?”

Cap’n Pem guffawed. “Lor’ love ye!” he exclaimed. “They don’t scarcely
never shoot seals—jes knock ’em over the head same as we did them
there sea el’phunts. But they’ll be guns aboard fer huntin’ musk ox an’
reindeer an’ b’ars, an’ a lot o’ ol’ muskets fer to trade to the Eskimos.”

“Well, we’re taking our own rifles,” said Jim, “but I don’t see any heavy
clothes or overcoats in the stores.”

“Ain’t none,” declared the old whaleman. “Plenty o’ warm woolens an’
mitts an’ sea boots an’ sou’westers though. Don’ never take no overcoats
along. Jes git fur clothes from the Eskimos. They’re a heap sight warmer
an’ cheaper.”

So, with the boys constantly plying the old sailor with questions, and
daily learning more and more about the outfitting and the coming cruise,
the work of loading and storing the pile of supplies went on, until at
last, to the boys’ amazement, the stevedores and sailors managed to find
a place for everything.

Finally the final package was aboard. The _Narwhal’s_ deck was littered,
the cabin was choked with boxes, half the galley was filled with coal,
and even the spare boats were filled with stores. Still the _Narwhal_
showed plenty of freeboard and rode buoyantly on the water.

Then came trucks carrying huge rolls of new white canvas, a crowd of men
swarmed up the rigging and over the yards, the great sails were bent on
and stretched. The _Narwhal_ was ready to start on her long cruise to the
frozen north.

It only remained to get the crew together, and when the two boys finally
stepped on to the schooner’s decks on the day of leaving, they felt
as if they were once more aboard the old _Hector_. There was Cap’n
Edwards, with his merry blue eyes, white hair and leatherlike face.
Cap’ Pem stumped back and forth with a frown on his face and his old
cap at a rakish angle on his grizzled head. Mike was bawling orders and
punctuating quaint commands with his Irish wit, and Mr. Kemp, longer and
lankier than ever, grinned at the boys with his mouth twisted by the
ghastly scar received when his ship was sunk by a German U-boat. From the
galley door, the ebony-faced cook bobbed his woolly head in greeting,
and, with a mallet in one hand and wooden wedges in the other, the
dried-up, chin-whiskered Irish carpenter was busy battening down hatches
with the help of big, raw-boned Ole Swanson, the cooper. Even one-eyed
Ned and deaf-and-dumb Pete were there, and so the only faces the boys
missed from the _Hector’s_ crew were those of the pop-eyed boy and the
big gorilla-like black sailor.

“Why, you got all the old men back!” cried Tom delightedly, as he
recognized one after the other. “Even Pete!”

Cap’n Pem grinned. “Yep,” he replied, “that there old fool Mike jes’
nat’rally did like ye told of him. But, arter all, they ain’t sech an
all-fired bad lot o’ han’s, an’ they knows me and the skipper an’ Mr.
Kemp, an’ ol’ shipmates is ol’ shipmates—spite o’ their bein’ mos’ly
derelic’s. An’ I reckon Pete’ll be a sort o’ mascot—Eskimos is so dumb
they allers thinks dummies is big med’cine an’ is supe’stitious ’bout
’em. ’Sides, we had sech everlastin’ luck las’ v’yage, mebbe we’ll be
lucky ’long o’ this, seein’s we’ve got the hull crowd ag’in.”

As Cap’n Pem was speaking, the hawsers had been cast off, Mike had
started the motor and the screw churned the water. The crowd gathered on
the dock, shouted farewells and good lucks and the boys sprang to the
taffrail, and waved and yelled good-by to their parents. The _Narwhal_,
gay with bunting, her big sails hanging loosely in the buntlines and
brails, slipped into the stream, swung slowly about, and under her own
power was headed towards the harbor mouth.

Once more to the boys’ ears came the rousing chantey as the men piled
aloft, scrambled out on yards, and manned the halyards and hoists.

    The ship she’s a-sailing out over the bar,
      Away Rio! Away Rio!
    The ship she’s a-sailing out over the bar,
      We’re bound for the Rio Grande!

Thus sang the men as the sails rose slowly, with many a rattle and purl
of blocks, and the _Narwhal’s_ white wings gleamed in the bright June
sunshine. The boys thrilled with pride and delight as they glanced aloft
at the tapering spars and taut rigging and at the sheen of sails. As they
felt the gentle motion of the deck, Tom and Jim realized that they were
once more starting forth on adventures—and this time in their own ship.



CHAPTER III

ON THE BANKS


Once past the lighthouse, and with a fair wind, the _Narwhal’s_ motor
was stopped, sheets and braces were trimmed, and, heeling gently to her
immense square foretop and foretopgallant sails and the vast expanse of
her fore and mainsails the schooner plunged eastward.

“Golly, isn’t she a fine old ship!” cried Tom, as he stepped to the lee
rail and watched the hissing froth speed past. “Why, she’s going like a
yacht and there’s not much wind either!”

“Used to was the fastest hooker ’round the Cape,” rumbled Cap’n Pem.

“And spreads enough canvas to drive a clipper ship,” added Captain
Edwards, glancing at the straining spars and rigging. “Pem, you’ll have
to keep a weather eye liftin’ an’ be ready to shorten sail at the first
sign of a blow.”

“Yes, sir,” agreed the other, “that there’s the wust o’ these here
torpsa’l schooners—too derned much canvas aloft. It’ll drive ’em like
blazes in a light win’, but keeps the crew everlastin’ly on the jump
a-reefin’ and short’nin’ sail. Reckon soon’s ever we get no’thard o’ the
Banks, we’d be a leedle mite snugger if we housed that there to’gallant
sail.”

“Yes, better do that,” agreed the skipper, “we won’t need it in the ice.”

Now that the boys had a chance to look about, they noticed for the first
time that there were no swarthy-faced Portuguese among the crew.

“Never take ’em to the Arctic,” Mr. Kemp told them in reply to their
question. “Ain’t no good there—just shiver and freeze like a lot of
frozen turnips.”

“Is it really as cold as that?” asked Jim.

“Cold!” exclaimed the lanky second officer. “Cold! Well, let me tell you
a fellow doesn’t know what cold is ’til he’s spent a winter froze in up
’round the North Pole.”

“Have you ever been there?” asked Tom.

Mr. Kemp looked at Tom in surprise. “_Of_ course,” he declared. “Wish I
had as many dollars as I’ve put in days in the ice.”

“And did you ever shoot white bears, and walrus, and musk oxen, and see
Eskimos?” cried Jim.

“Did I?” grinned the officer. “Didn’t do much else durin’ the winter
’cept have shenannigans with the Eskimos aboard.”

“Do they talk English?” asked Tom. “Or do you have to know how to speak
Eskimo?”

“Well, some of ’em talk what they _call_ English,” said Mr. Kemp. “Those
are the fellows that’s been whalin’ long of Yankee and Scotch ships, but
the most of ’em just palaver in their own lingo—and I can talk that. I
was brung up with a Eskimo kid, and learnt it from him.”

“Why, how was that?” asked Jim, “I thought you came from right here on
Cape Cod.”

“Nope, Noank, back in Connecticut,” said the other. “And there was a
Eskimo there—Eskimo Joe they called him—what had a kid ’bout my age. We
went to school together and was reg’lar chums.”

“I didn’t know there were any Eskimos in Connecticut,” exclaimed Tom. “I
thought they always died when they came down here.”

“Joe didn’t,” the other assured him. “And say, he could have told you a
bully good yarn. I don’t know as I can spin the whole of it for you, but
he an’ his squaw come down on a cake of ice. That is, they come most o’
the way.”

“Oh, tell us about it!” cried Tom. “How did he happen to be on a cake of
ice and how could he come down on it?”

“Well, there don’t seem to be much to do right now, so I expect I _can_
spare a couple o’ minutes to tell you,” agreed Mr. Kemp. “Especially,” he
added with a grin, “as long as the owners is tellin’ me to.”

“You see,” he began, seating himself on a coil of rope and lighting
his pipe, “Eskimo Joe was one o’ the hunters an’ pilots on the old
_Polaris_—a ship what was up huntin’ for the North Pole long afore my
time—back in 1871 ’twas. Well, the _Polaris_ got froze in hard an’ fast,
and the crew, thinkin’ she might get stove, put most of the stuff on the
ice and was gettin’ ready for a bust up. But it come afore they expected
of it. Ice broke up and left some of the folks on the ice ’longside the
ship and the rest of ’em on a big piece of floe adrift in the water.
Eskimo Joe was with that crowd along with his squaw and Captain Tyson of
the _Polaris_ and a bunch o’ men—twenty there was all told—and nary a
mite of food.

“Just as soon as the ice got adrift it commenced to travel in a current,
and there they was, driftin’ about on an ice island that might go to bits
or capsize any minute. Times was when they pretty near starved, but
they caught gulls and murres and auks and other birds, and Joe fixed up
a fishin’ tackle and got fish now and then. Sometimes, too, a seal would
come aboard the cake and Joe’d get him; and once a white bear clumb on
to the ice and Joe nailed him, too. I don’t guess bear’s any too good
meat, but it sure was welcome to those folks. Well, to make a long story
short, they was driftin’ on that ice cake for six months, yes, sir and
the cake gettin’ smaller all the time as it drifted along south. Then,
along in April ’72 a sealin’ ship—steamer, _Tigress_, o’ St. John’s,
Newfoundland ’twas—hove in sight and picked ’em up, and every man jack o’
the twenty-one safe and hearty.”

“Why, I thought you said there were only twenty!” exclaimed Tom.

Mr. Kemp grinned. “So I did and so there was,” he declared, “when they
went adrift. But you see, while they was navigatin’ ’round on their ice
island, Joe’s squaw had a baby an’ that was the kid I used to be chums
with.”

“Gee, I hope we don’t get adrift like that!” exclaimed Jim. “But it must
have been some adventure!”

“Well, you can’t never tell,” remarked Mr. Kemp as he rose and hurried
off. “But I guess after bein’ sunk by a sub, driftin’ on a ice floe
wouldn’t be so bad as it might be.”

The Elizabeth Islands were now close ahead, and the _Narwhal_ was soon
passing through the narrow channel between Naushon and Woods Hole and,
to the south, Martha’s Vineyard was in plain sight. With every stitch of
canvas set, the schooner sped on across Nantucket Sound towards distant
Monomoy Light.

It was a perfect June day, warm and bright, and with a steady northwest
wind on the _Narwhal’s_ quarter. Captain Edwards declared that if the
breeze held throughout the day and night, they would pass George’s Banks
before noon the following day. Before dark, long, low Monomoy Point was
sighted and with the last of the land astern, Cap’n Pem roared out orders
and the willing crew raced to sheets and braces.

    Oh, whisky is the life of man,
      Whisky! Johnny!
    It always was since time began,
      Oh, whisky for my Johnny!

Lustily the men roared out the old chantey as the fore and mainsail
sheets were hauled in, and the big foretopsail yard swung to the heave
of the braces. Then, as the _Narwhal_ turned towards the north and the
freshening wind abeam buried her lee rails under the tumbling suds-like
froth, the crew swarmed aloft. Presently the foretopgallant sail was
thrashing and snapping like a battery of rapid-fire guns, as the men
furled the canvas to the rousing chantey:

    Around Cape Horn, where wild gales blow,
      To me way-hay, hay-yah!
    Around Cape Horn through sleet and snow,
      A long time ago——!

The schooner headed across the broad Atlantic, and darkness fell upon the
sea. Monomoy Light was but a tiny twinkling star astern, and the boys
felt their cruise had really begun.

The next morning was fair but almost calm. As the boys came on deck, they
were surprised to see a score and more of trim schooners riding easily on
the long ocean swell under light canvas.

“It must be a yacht club!” exclaimed Tom, “but I didn’t know they came so
far to sea.”

“Fishing fleet from Gloucester,” said Captain Edwards, who heard Tom’s
remark. “We’re passing George’s Banks. Don’t you see the dories yonder?”

“Oh yes, I do now,” declared Tom. “But why do they call it a Bank? I
don’t see any land.”

“Waall, I swan!” cried Cap’n Pem. “To think o’ ye young scallawags
a-bein’ navigators an’ owners o’ a torps’l schooner, and a-havin’ v’y’ged
to the Sou’ Shetland’s, an’ not a-knowin’ on a fishin’ smack when ye
sees ’em, nor a-knowin’ nothin’ ’bout the Banks. Lor’ love ye, there
beint no lan’ here ’bouts ’ceptin’ straight down. Ye see the Banks is
’bout a hundred fathom deep, an’ that’s plumb shaller fer mid-ocean, so
they calls on ’em Banks. Ain’t no ’cause to be skeert o’ runnin’ the ol’
_Narwhal_ agroun’!”

“Well, I suppose we _are_ awfully green,” laughed Tom, “but they never
told us that in school when we learned about the ocean and the coast in
physical geography, and I thought fishing schooners were dirty old boats.”

“Finest little ships afloat,” declared the skipper. “And just as fast as
they can be built. Have to be to get the catch to market—price depends on
the first to make port. Look there! There goes one of ’em now. She’s got
a full catch an’s beatin’ it for Boston.”

As he spoke, he pointed to one of the schooners that had run a flag to
her maintopmast head. As the boys looked, the schooner blossomed into a
perfect cloud of snowy canvas.

“Gosh, look at her go!” cried Jim delightedly, as the trim black
schooner heeled towards them until they could see the full sweep of her
deck. With a mountain of foam about her bows, she fairly raced through
the oily sea.

“And hardly enough wind to fill our sails,” added Tom. “Say, I wish the
_Narwhal_ could go like that!”

“And there goes another and another!” cried Jim. “Golly, it’s like a
race.”

“So ’tis a race,” chuckled the captain. “With thousands of dollars to the
winner.”

“Jiminy, I’d like to sail on those boats,” declared Tom as the schooners
swept by with a hiss and roar. “It must be exciting.”

“Pesky hard work if ye asks me,” declared Cap’n Pem. “An’ no fun, come
winter, I tell ye. By gum, I’d ruther be froze up in the Ar’tic.”

“And plenty of danger too,” added the skipper. “Hardly a week passes that
fishermen are not lost on the Banks—though it’s on the Grand Banks more
than here.”

“I don’t see what’s dangerous about it,” said Tom as they turned to go to
breakfast. “Just coming out here in a fine schooner and fishing.”

“There’s not—on a day like this,” agreed Captain Edwards, “but in fog,
the schooners or dories are often run down by steamers; the dories get
parted from their ships and are lost, and in winter storms they are often
swamped or driven to sea by gales. I tell you, boys, if you want to read
exciting stories of heroism and hardship, just get the Gloucester papers
and read ’em. Why, it’s worse than whalin’—almost.”

By the time breakfast was over, the fishing fleet was a mere group of
flashing white specks astern, and the boats which had raced to port were
out of sight.

Presently Cap’n Pem called Mr. Kemp and suggested that it was a good day
to break in the green hands. For several hours the boys were amused by
watching the frightened men, who had never before been to sea, as they
were compelled to go aloft. It was a familiar sight to them for they had
seen it day after day on the _Hector_ but they could not help being sorry
for the fellows, as the two whalemen forced the men into the rigging.

There was no actual brutality—although, judging from the words and looks
of Cap’n Pem and the second mate, the men might well have thought they
were ready to do murder if they were not obeyed. After a bit, the green
hands were allowed to come down, the big yards were swung, the schooner
was hove to, and for several hours the “greenies” were put through a
grilling boat practice. This they thoroughly enjoyed, and they chaffed
and jollied one another whenever they caught a crab with the huge ash
oars, or made some similar breaks that brought down a fiery string of
comments from the officers. But there was not a great deal of this
drilling and breaking in, for the _Narwhal’s_ crew was small and only a
very few of the men were raw hands, the captain explaining that the bulk
of the work on the “grounds” would be done by the Eskimos who could be
taken aboard at Labrador or Greenland.

“Gee, it sounds funny to be talking about going to Greenland!” laughed
Tom. “I can’t really believe it yet. How long should it take us to get
there, Captain Edwards?”

“Impossible to say,” replied the skipper. “Depends on wind and fog and
how much ice we find when we get to the Straits.”

“Oh, there—there she blows!” shouted Jim. “Off the port bow!”

Instantly all eyes were turned in the direction Jim indicated, and Mr.
Kemp raced up the rigging. The next moment a dozen little fountains of
spray rose above the green surface of the sea, and a number of the huge
black bodies rolled sluggishly into view.

“Blackfish!” shouted Mr. Kemp.

“So they be!” echoed Cap’n Pem. “Don’t ye youngsters know whales yit?”

“Aren’t they whales?” demanded Tom. “They look like ’em to me.”

“No, blackfish-grampus,” declared the skipper. “But after all, they _are_
a kind of whale.” Then, after a moment, he exclaimed. “Pem, let’s lower
away and go after ’em. Good practice for the men, an’ blackfish ile’s
worth takin’. There ain’t no wind an’ we won’t lose ’nough time to count.”

“Stan’ by to lower away the sta’board boats,” roared the old whaleman.

Then, as the yards were swung and the schooner came to a standstill, the
boats were lowered, the men tumbled in, and to the pull of the six long
ash oars in each, they went racing towards the school of blackfish.

To the boys’ delight, they were allowed to go after the grampus, for
they had always longed to go in one of the boats as it dashed across the
waves after a whale. To be sure “going on” the blackfish was not the same
as attacking a monster cetacean. But it was the nearest thing to it,
and both Tom and Jim thrilled with excitement as the ash oars bent to
the brawny muscles of the men, and the keen-stemmed boat fairly leaped
through the water.

Cap’n Pem was as excited as if he were after a real whale. Standing at
the huge steering oar, with his hair flying, he shouted to the straining
crew.

“Lift her, lads!” he cried. “Get in on the pesky critters! Don’t let that
there swab o’ a secon’ mate git fust! Git arter ’em, ye lubbers!”

Forward the harpoonier or boat-steerer laid aside his oar and unsheathed
a keen-pointed harpoon or “iron,” a lighter weapon than the one the boys
had seen used for sperm whales. Bracing his knee in the clumsy cleat, he
stood ready to strike the blackfish that were now but a few hundred feet
distant.

Close behind came Mr. Kemp’s boat, his crew striving their utmost
to reach the grampus in time to make a strike before the fish were
frightened. Almost side by side the two boats swept upon the unsuspecting
creatures.

Nearer and nearer the boat crept. The boat steerer raised his weapon,
braced himself, every muscle taut, and was on the point of heaving the
iron at a huge grampus a few yards ahead when Tom let out a terrified
yell.

Within a few feet of the boat a huge, triangular fin had cut through the
water and the next instant an immense body hurled itself into the air
and, with a sweep of its stupendous tail, struck the water with a blow
like a bursting shell, drenching the occupants of the boat.

“Thrasher!” shouted Cap’n Pem.

The harpoonier picked himself up from where he had stumbled, as the
deluge of water almost drowned him. He poised his iron and glanced about.
Not a grampus was in sight.

“Dern his everlastin’ hide!” yelled Cap’n Pem. “Look out! There, he’s
a-comin’! Strike him, Nat!”

As the old whaleman spoke, the big fin again ripped through the sea and
with a grunt the boat-steerer heaved his long weapon. The next second
the water was lashed into foam, the heavy manilla whale line was rushing
through the chocks like a streak of light, and the heavy boat was tearing
through the sea at express-train speed.

“Fast!” screamed Cap’n Pem, as he tugged and strained at his big oar.

Then, “Breachin’!” he cried, as once more the immense creature flung
itself clear of the water. The boys, dazed, frightened, and gasping, saw
that it was a gigantic shark with an enormously long tail.

Hardly had the thrasher struck the water again when the line ran out a
few feet. Suddenly it grew slack and the boat came to a standstill.

“Drew!” exclaimed Cap’n Pem. “Consarn it, reckon we might’s well go back.
Nary mite o’ use a-tryin’ fer them blackfish now.”

Crestfallen, the men took to the oars and started to pull back to the
ship.

“What _is_ a thrasher?” asked Tom, now that the excitement was over.

“Kind o’ shark,” replied Cap’n Pem. “Biggest nuisance ever was. Jes rush
in an’ thresh about and kill a lot o’ fish, and then gobbles of ’em up.
That there consarn rascal was after them blackfish, though.”

“Whew, do they kill—Oh, look, Mr. Kemp’s boat’s fast!”

Sure enough, the second mate’s boat was rushing through the sea evidently
towed by some creature, and a few moments later the boys saw the officer
stand erect in the bow, poise his lance and lunge forward with it.

“Reckon we might jes as well pull over thataway an’ mebbe get a chanct to
strike,” remarked Cap’n Pem, swinging the boat’s head as he spoke.

In a few minutes they were within hailing distance of the second mate’s
boat.

“Did you get one?” yelled Tom.

“I’ll say so,” shouted back Mr. Kemp. “Come over here and bear a hand to
tow this critter to the schooner.”

“Waall I’ll be sunk!” cried Cap’n Pem. “What’s the matter with thet there
crew o’ yourn? Ain’t they got beef ’nough for to tow in a consarned
leedle blackfish?”

The boats were now close together and the boys saw a huge black body
rolling in the swell beyond the second mate’s boat.

“Blackfish?” yelled Mr. Kemp. “You’re a fine whaleman! What’s the matter
with your eyes, Pem?”

But the old whaleman had now caught sight of the other boat’s kill
and the expression that came over his weather-beaten old face was so
ludicrous that the boys roared. His eyes seemed popping from their
sockets, his mouth gaped and he looked as if he had seen a ghost.

“By the great red herrin’!” he ejaculated at last. “I’ll be everlastin’ly
keelauled if ’tain’t a whale! An’ sparm at thet!”



CHAPTER IV

A CLOSE SHAVE


“I told you they were whales!” exclaimed Tom triumphantly, as the two
boats drew side by side, and the men busied themselves getting tow lines
fast to the dead whale.

“They wasn’t,” declared Cap’n Pem, “jes or’nary blackfish.”

“But this is a whale,” argued Tom.

“Jes dumb luck o’ Mr. Kemp,” replied the old whaleman. “Jes happened to
be ’long o’ them there grampuses. An’ ’tain’t much o’ a whale neither—jes
a baby.”

“Well it’s just our luck to be in the boat that didn’t get the whale,”
lamented Jim. “Did you have much of a tussle, Mr. Kemp?”

“Nothin’ worth while,” responded the second officer. “Towed us a bit and
died with nary a flurry.”

“I didn’t know they had sperm whales ’way up here,” said Tom, as the
crews bent to their oars with the whale in tow.

“Don’t, so everlastin’ly often,” Cap’n Pem told him. “Come warm weather,
they swims in by the Banks now an’ ag’in—that is, sparm do—an’ times gone
there used to was a powerful lot o’ Biscay whales ’roun’ about the New
Englan’ coast. Yes, sir, I recollec’ when a ship could v’yage out o’ New
Bedford or Nantucket an’ fill up with Biscay ile an’ bone inside o’ six
weeks.”

The schooner had now caught a light wind and was bearing down upon the
boats. A few moments later, the whale was alongside and the two boats
had been hoisted to the davits. Then followed the dirty, busy work of
cutting in and boiling, with all of which the boys were familiar from
their cruise in the Antarctic. But the whale, as Cap’n Pem had said, was
scarcely more than a baby. The work was all over before midnight, with
twenty barrels of oil stowed in the schooner’s hold.

“Pretty good beginning—for three days out of port,” chuckled Captain
Edwards. “I reckon you boys—ahem, owners—must be mascots. Just hope the
luck holds all through.”

“Well, there won’t be any bo’sun birds to bring bad luck, anyway,”
laughed Jim. “Although I suppose there must be some bad omen even up here
or sailors wouldn’t be satisfied.”

“Plenty on ’em,” declared Cap’n Pem. “But don’t go to talkin’ an’
a-bringin’ o’ it on. Ain’t it bad ’nough to have that there black cat
aboard—an’ nary a dod-gasted soul a-knowin’ where she come from?”

The boys roared. “I knew you’d find something,” cried Tom. “Why, I
thought the cat belonged to the crew. Why don’t you kill her or something
if she’s such bad luck?”

“Kill her!” exclaimed the old man. “By the eternal, don’t ye know no
more’n thet? Ye mought jes as well kill a Mother Cary’s chicken or a
bo’sun bird. No sirree! Let good enough alone’s my motter.”

“Well, you _are_ the most superstitious old whaleman I ever saw,” laughed
Tom. “I’ll bet the cat’s what brought the good luck.”

Cap’n Pem snorted. “Ye mark my words,” he muttered as he strode aft.
“We’ll be gittin’ inter some sort o’ mess long o’ that there cat yit.”

But for the next three or four days none on the _Narwhal_ could have
asked for better weather. The breeze, though light, was fair and steady.
The sea ran in long, easy swells and the schooner, curtseying gently and
with every stitch of canvas set, pressed steadily on her course.

Then one night the boys were awakened by the tolling of a bell and the
ear-splitting screech of a horn. Hastily throwing on a few clothes, they
hurried on deck.

At the first glance about they realized what the trouble was. The man at
the wheel was barely visible, although less than a dozen feet distant.
The faint light of the binnacle was a mere glow and the sails, spars, and
forward part of the vessel melted into nothingness. The _Narwhal_ was
enveloped in a dense fog.

From the unseen bows of the ship came the monotonous tolling of the bell.
At intervals the raucous horn screeched from the blanket of gray mist.
Borne in strangely ghostly fashion from the blackness, came the voices of
men.

Tom glanced at his watch and found that it was nearly sunrise but nowhere
was there a hint of light or of dawn.

“Gosh, but it’s thick!” exclaimed Tom. “I wonder where we are.”

“Where I wish we wasn’t,” replied a voice so close to the boys that
they jumped. “Right plumb on the Grand Banks,” continued the invisible
speaker, whom the boys now recognized as Captain Edwards.

“What’s wrong with the Banks?” asked Tom.

“Nothing wrong with them,” replied the skipper who now stepped from the
curtain of fog and stood near the boys. “But Lord alone knows when we
may be a-knockin’ into a fishin’ smack, or a-bearin’ down on a dory, or
gettin’ run down by a liner. I wish to heaven this condemned fog would
lift.”

Hardly had he ceased speaking when there was a hoarse shout from forward,
a tearing, grating sound, and a vast dark mass loomed alongside as the
_Narwhal_ scraped past a fishing schooner, snapping off the smack’s jib
boom. A moment later the stranger was lost in the fog and only faint,
angry cries told of her whereabouts.

“Sarved the lubbers right!” exploded Cap’n Pem, as he came hurrying aft
to see if the _Narwhal_ had been injured. “Never a-blowin’ o’ nary a
horn, nor a-ringin’ o’ their bell!”

“Did it hurt us any?” asked Tom excitedly.

“Carried away a couple of backstays,” replied the skipper. “Lucky we was
both headed the same way.”

By now the fog was getting lighter with the rising sun. The boys could
see the lower portions of the sails, the lower masts, the ship’s deck
as far forward as the forerigging, and the dull gray-green sea for a
few hundred feet about the schooner. Beyond that, all was a solid wall
of gray through which the _Narwhal_ forged slowly ahead, horn and bell
constantly sounding warnings, and with men aloft striving to peer into
the impenetrable murk.

“I should think they’d stop and anchor, or heave to until it lifts,”
remarked Jim.

“Better to keep movin’,” declared Mr. Kemp, who was peering first to one
side and then the other. “Long as we’ve steerage way on, we’ve a chance
to dodge another ship—if we see ’em in time.”

Presently, from the starboard, came the sound of a bell. Then from ahead
came the muffled roar of a horn, and soon, from all directions, there
were warnings issuing from the fog.

“Golly, there are boats all around us!” cried Tom. “Look! See there, Jim.”

Jim turned in time to see a ghostly phantomlike shape appear as if by
magic—a schooner with all sails set, and seemingly within a dozen yards
of the _Narwhal_. But almost before he could grasp the fact that it was a
vessel, it had vanished as weirdly as it had appeared.

For an hour or more the schooner picked her way through the fog, often
swinging sharply to port or starboard at the skipper’s hoarsely bellowed
orders, a dozen times avoiding collision with a smack by a few feet
and twice swerving just in time to avoid running down the tiny bobbing
dories.

At last the bells and horns grew faint. The captain breathed more freely
and declared he must have left the fleet astern. As the fog began to lift
and a wider expanse of sea and the upper sails became visible, the boys
decided all danger was over and prepared to go to the cabin and dress
properly.

Then, from the lookout, a frightened yell rang out. A shrieking bellow
roared from the fog ahead. With a bound Captain Edwards leaped to the
wheel. “Hard aport!” he screamed, as he grasped the spokes and strained
with the steersman at the helm. Startled, realizing that imminent unknown
peril threatened, confused by the shouts, orders and rush of men, the
boys stood gazing helplessly about.

Then once more that ear-splitting, terrific bellow thundered from the
fog. As the _Narwhal’s_ head swung slowly to starboard, a vast, towering,
mountainous shape came tearing, rushing, through the fog. Dimly through
the opaque gray mist, the terror-stricken boys saw the tremendous fabric
bearing down upon them. Far above the schooner’s crosstrees reared the
lofty stem of a gigantic steamship. Within a cable’s length of the
_Narwhal_, the billowing mass of foam about the keen steel stem roared
with the sound of surf. Each second the boys expected to hear the
crashing blow, to feel the splintering, terrific impact that would spell
their doom. Paralyzed with fright, they stood motionless and speechless.
Nothing, they felt, could save them. The great, shearing prow of the
steamer seemed to overhang their heads. Their staring eyes glimpsed dim,
tiny figures leaning over the rails far above, shouting, gesticulating,
life rings in hand.

And then, with a hissing roar like a passing train, the huge liner swept
by. Endless rows of port holes filled with white faces rushed past the
terror-stricken boys. The next second the _Narwhal_ was bobbing and
jumping like a cork on the tumbling heaving wake, with only the pall of
smoke and the churning foam to mark the liner’s passage.

Leaping upon the schooner’s wildly tossing taffrail, Captain Edwards
shook his fist at the spot where the liner had disappeared in the fog.
Cap’n Pem, unable to stand on the rail, seized a belaying pin, hurled it
after the liner and, throwing his cap on the deck, fairly danced with
rage.

“Consarn their everlastin’ hides!” he screamed. “A-tearin’ ’crost
these here Banks like a house afire, an’ fog thicker’n cheese. Blasted
murderers! A-riskin’ lives o’ honest sailor men jes fer to make time an’
save a few dirty, blasted dollars! I’d like to git at ’em!”

Despite the narrow escape, the seriousness of the situation, and the old
whaleman’s earnestness, the boys could not suppress a grin at the old
fellow’s towering and thoroughly justified rage at the reckless officers
of the liner.

Then, as if the steamship’s passage had been the signal, the fog lifted
rapidly. A fresh breeze came up and presently the _Narwhal_ was speeding
over a wide clear sea with only a few wisps of whitish vapor to mark the
fog which had so nearly brought an end to the schooner and those upon her.

“Didn’t I tell ye that there black cat would a be bringin’ o’ bad luck!”
cried Cap’n Pem, as his temper cooled down and the fog disappeared.

“Nonsense!” laughed Tom. “She brought good luck three times now—first the
whale, then escaping from that schooner, and then being saved from the
steamer. And I shouldn’t wonder if she made the fog lift, too.”

“Humph!” snorted the old man. “’Course ye’ll have it your way, but if she
didn’t bring that there fog an’ that consarned pesky liner, what did?”

“And if she didn’t save us and make the fog clear, what did?” responded
Jim.

Cap’n Pem pursed his mouth, jerked his cap down over his eyes and stumped
off. “No use argufyin’,” he declared. “But ye’ll see! Mark my words.”

Three days after their narrow escape from the liner, the boys saw Cape
Breton light. Tacking in long reaches, the _Narwhal_ worked across the
Gulf of St. Lawrence, and with the thrill of seeing strange lands,
Tom and Jim stared through their glasses at the forbidding shores of
Newfoundland and at bleak Anticosti.

It was slow, hard work beating against tides, currents and head winds.
Late in the season though it was, masses of ice still lingered in the
coves of the shores. Once, as they watched the dirty white masses of ice,
Tom cried out in delight as he saw a number of sleek brown creatures
scramble into the sea when the schooner approached.

“Hurrah, those were seals!” he cried.

“Yep, harbor seal,” said Captain Edwards. “Not worth much. But you’ll see
a-plenty of real seals after a bit. Shouldn’t wonder if we’d get some
hides up round Belle Isle. Never did see so pesky much ice in the Gulf
this time o’ year.”

At last the Straits of Belle Isle were reached, the wind shifted and
once more sailing free, the _Narwhal_ made good time through the narrow
waterway between Newfoundland and Labrador.

As they passed the lonely, wave-washed Belle Isle, men were sent aloft on
the lookout for seals. Nothing but a few herds of the little harbor seals
were seen, however, and these were so wary that Captain Edwards vowed it
would be a waste of time to attempt to hunt them.

Then, swinging past Cape St. Lewis, the schooner was headed up the coast
of Labrador for Hebron where she was to put in for Eskimos.

Two days after passing the Cape, the boys were scanning the ugly green
sea with their glasses when a faint, shimmering, cloud-like shape rose
upon the horizon.

“Oh, there’s a ship!” exclaimed Jim. “And a big one.”

Mr. Kemp looked up, shaded his eyes with his hand and stared in the
direction Jim indicated. “Ship!” he exclaimed. “That’s a berg.”

“A berg!” cried Tom. “You mean an iceberg?”

“Sure,” replied the second mate. “Pretty sizeable one too.”

“Oh, let’s sail over and see it!” exclaimed Jim.

“Less we see of ’em the better it’ll suit me,” said the skipper who had
been studying the berg. “But you’ll have a chance to see it all right.
We’ll have to go out of our course if we don’t want to bump plumb into
it.”

Rapidly the berg rose before the schooner, a massive mountain of ice, its
summit carved and melted into spires, pinnacles and huge, overhanging
shelves, steep precipitous sides rising from the wide hummocky base just
above the waves and gleaming and shimmering with every color of the
rainbow.

“Gee, isn’t it pretty!” cried Jim. “I never knew ice was so many colors.
And look at those big caves in the sides.”

“And look—oh look, Jim!” exclaimed Tom. “There’s some one on it! See,
right in front of that big green cave!”

“What in tarnation ye talkin’ of?” demanded Cap’n Pem. “Here, gimme them
glasses.”

Adjusting the glasses, the old whaleman stared fixedly for a moment
at the distant iceberg. “Some one on it!” he exclaimed. “Waal, I’ll
be blowed if there beint—but ’tain’t no human critter. That there’s a
whoppin’ big b’ar!”

“A bear?” cried Tom. “Hurrah! that’s all the better. Oh say, Captain
Edwards, can’t we go over and shoot him?”

“Hmm,” muttered the skipper, “I dunno, but I reckon you can. Pem, soon’s
ever we get ’bout half a mile from the berg, have the yards swung an’
lower the sta’board quarter boat. White bear skins is worth takin’ and
it’ll give the boys—I mean owners—a chance to try their hands. Better let
Mr. Kemp go along with ’em.” Then, turning to the boys, he continued.
“Now mind you do just as Mr. Kemp tells you. Bergs is mighty pesky
things, an’ a gun shot’s li’ble to start a break or a slide or topple the
dumb thing clean over. Better to lose the bear than get kilt.”

The boys scarcely heard what he said. Filled with excitement at thoughts
of visiting the berg and shooting a polar bear, they dashed to their
cabin, hastily got out their rifles and, stuffing their pockets with
cartridges, rushed back on deck.



CHAPTER V

ON THE ICEBERG


Within half a mile of the berg, the _Narwhal_ was hove to and lay resting
motionless, gently rising and falling to the swell. Towering like a
mountain peak, the mass of ice shimmered and scintillated like a gigantic
gem against the sky.

Rapidly the boat sped towards the ice; and the boys shivered and buttoned
their coats and turned up their collars as they drew near the immense ice
mountain that chilled the air for a mile or more.

The bear still squatted upon a hummock in front of the deep green
cavern in the side of the berg. As they drew close and the men rowed
more slowly, the two boys crept to the bow of the boat and loaded their
rifles. Nearer and nearer they came. The air was like the interior of a
refrigerator. Still the huge white bear sat motionless, as if awaiting
the boat, and wondering why he was to receive visitors on his drifting
ice home.

Now a scant one hundred yards of open water lay between the boat and the
berg. In low tones, Mr. Kemp ordered the men to cease rowing and as the
boat lost headway, he spoke to the excited boys. “Aim for his breast and
shoot,” he said. “He’s a fair mark and you ought to get him first crack.”

Kneeling in the bow of the boat, Tom and Jim rested their rifles on the
gunwale, took steady aim, and pulled triggers. At the dual report a
shower of ice splinters flew up from beside the bear. The big creature
reared up on his hind legs, roared out a growl that echoed from the
cavern behind him, pawed wildly at the air and toppled backwards out of
sight.

“Got him,” shouted Mr. Kemp. “Give way, lads!”

“Hurrah!” yelled Jim. “Gee, won’t he make a fine skin for a trophy. Say,
I wonder which of us hit him.”

“We can tell when we get him,” replied Tom. “One of us missed and hit the
ice; but your rifle’s a .30-.30 and mine’s a .45 so we can tell by the
bullet hole in him.”

A moment later the boat grated on the shelving ice. The boys leaped on to
the berg, and Jim, being the first to land, rushed up the rough hummocky
ice towards where the bear had fallen.

As he reached the spot where the bear had stood, he uttered a terrified
yell, leaped back, slipped on the ice and came rolling and tumbling down
the slope towards Tom. Rearing gigantic at the summit of the ridge was
the bear, his lips drawn back over his huge white teeth, blood dribbling
from his mouth, his long neck stretched out, and his wicked-looking head
swaying from side to side.

Instantly Tom threw his rifle to his shoulder and took hasty aim at the
bear’s breast.

“Hey, look out!” yelled Mr. Kemp. “Don’t——”

But his warning was too late. The roar of the rifle cut his words short.
There was a stunning, rending, thunderous crash, the solid ice reeled and
tossed like the deck of a ship in a heavy sea, and the boys and Mr. Kemp
staggered drunkenly and fell sprawling.

“Wha—what happened?” cried Jim picking himself up with a dazed expression
on his face.

“Berg’s goin’ to pieces!” yelled the second officer. “Come on back to the
boat! That shot started the darned ice to slippin’! It’s rotten as punk.
Come on, the whole blamed thing’s likely to go any minute!”

“But, but, where’s the bear?” gasped Tom, still unable to fully grasp
what had occurred.

“Blast the bear!” ejaculated the second mate. “Get a move on!”

Urging the boys forward, Mr. Kemp rushed down the slope. As the boat drew
in to the edge of the ice, the three scrambled aboard.

“Lift her, lads!” cried the excited officer as the boat shoved off, and
the men bent to the long ash oars with a will. Hardly had they cleared
the berg when there was a terrific, ripping, splintering roar. The
overhanging summit of the berg moved bodily forward, hesitated an instant
and then, with the deafening roar of thunder, came plunging, crashing
down upon the spot where the three had been but a few moments before.

“Gosh!” exclaimed Tom. “Gosh! I’m glad we got away.”

“Gee Whitaker! yes,” cried Jim. “That old bear must be squashed flat as a
pancake.”

Everywhere about the berg, huge detached masses of ice were floating,
bobbing and turning and twisting about. Constantly more and more of
the ice mountain was crashing down to the berg’s base, falling with
prodigious splashes into the sea. Once started by the reverberations of
Tom’s shot, the berg, softened, full of holes, and rotten, was going to
pieces before the boys’ wondering eyes. It was a marvelous, fascinating,
awe-inspiring sight to see the huge avalanches of gleaming ice, the
jewel-tinted spires, the needlelike pinnacles, and the great overhanging
precipices rending and tumbling. And as each mass dashed itself to
pieces upon the base of the berg, or plunged into the waves, sending
great mountains of spray into the air, the vibrations and shock of the
blow loosened other masses. Then, as those in the boat gazed upon the
dissolution of the mighty berg, Tom uttered an excited cry.

“Look!” he yelled. “The berg’s moving!”

It was true. The towering summit of the iceberg was swaying. Slowly,
almost imperceptibly, it swung to one side. More and more it leaned and
then, with a sudden rush, the mountain of ice toppled over. Vast billows
of green sea rose high and, with the noise of a mighty cataract, the
berg capsized. Where the sharp, sky-piercing berg had loomed, only a low
hummocky stretch of ice tossed and heaved upon the waves.

The boys, overwhelmed with the wondrous spectacle, clung to the boat’s
gunwales as the tiny craft bobbed and rocked on the great combers from
the berg’s final plunge.

“Whew!” cried Jim when at last the seas subsided and the men pulled
towards the schooner. “Wasn’t that a sight though? Say, that _was_ worth
seeing.”

“You bet!” agreed Tom. “But just the same I’m mighty sorry we lost that
bear.”

Mr. Kemp grinned. “You ought to be glad you didn’t lose your own hides,”
he declared. “I never seen a berg so plumb rotten or go to pieces so
blessed fast.”

“Jiminy, I’d hate to be drifting south on one the way Eskimo Joe did,”
said Tom, “if that’s the way they act.”

“’Twouldn’t be no picnic,” agreed Mr. Kemp, “but even a berg’s a heap
better’n nothin’.”

“Thank Heaven you’re all safe!” cried Captain Edwards as the boat reached
the _Narwhal’s_ side. “When I saw that first slip, I thought ’twas all
over with you.”

“Waall, I reckon a miss’s good as a mile,” commented Cap’n Pem. “But I
swan, if you two young scallawags ain’t everlastin’ly gittin’ inter more
close shaves than ever I heerd of afore.”

Tom winked at the skipper. “I suppose the black cat started that!” he
remarked.

“Drat that there cat!” cried the old whaleman petulantly. “Jes the same
I wish t’ blazes she was a-settin’ over to that there berg ’stead o’ on
this here ship.”

For several days after the boys’ adventure on the iceberg the _Narwhal_
bore steadily on. Several times she passed tiny rocky islets over which
were clouds of screaming sea birds, and through their glasses the boys
could make out the thousands and thousands of black and white birds that
covered the rocks from sea to summit. There were great white gannets, big
gray-and-white gulls, shining black cormorants, acres of swallow-tailed
terns, row after row of closely packed auks, puffins, and guillemots.
Even though the schooner was a mile or more from the rookeries, the
harsh cries and screams of the countless birds came to the boys’ ears in
raucous chorus.

“Say, I thought there were a lot of birds down at Tristan da Cunha,” said
Jim. “But they weren’t a patch on these.”

“Why, there must be millions of them!” agreed Tom. “Wouldn’t it be fun to
climb up there among ’em?”

Constantly in the schooner’s wake also were flocks of birds and many of
these were strange to the boys. Some—big gray fellows with pearly white
breasts and enormously long wings—Mr. Kemp told them were shearwaters.
Others, that seemed constantly attacking the gulls and terns, and that
looked like swift-winged hawks with spiked tails, they learned were
jaegers and the captain told the boys these lived by robbing the other
birds, and a few snowy white creatures that Tom thought were sheathbills
were fulmar petrels, he was told.

By now the weather was cold, cheerless, and chilly and the boys were glad
to don their winter clothes. Though the sun shone brightly, the wind was
raw and had winter’s bite and sting to it and the spray felt like ice
water as it dashed into the boys’ faces.

“Whew, but it’s cold!” cried Tom as he came on deck one morning, and
buttoned his reefer and oilskins tighter. “Feels like midwinter. I
wonder—oh, say, Jim! Look here!”

Fascinated, the two boys gazed about. On every hand, some within a
few hundred yards, others a mile or two distant, still others mere
ghostly forms upon the horizon, were scores of gleaming, shimmering,
rainbow-tinted icebergs.

“Reckon there’s enough bergs to suit you!” exclaimed Captain Edwards. “I
never seen so pesky many of ’em so far south this time o’ year. Must ha’
been a mighty cold winter up this way.”

“Is that what makes it so cold?” asked Jim.

“Yes,” replied the skipper, “a sailor can feel ice long before he sees
it, and there’s enough ’round us to keep all the whales in the sea in
cold storage for a million years.”

All through the day the _Narwhal_ navigated slowly through the
berg-filled sea. Throughout the night the boys were constantly aroused
by shouts, the creaking of tackle, and the rushing feet of the crew as
the schooner turned, and tacked, and picked her perilous course among
the mountains of ice. But the next morning only a few distant bergs and
scattered masses of honeycombed floe ice were visible, and before noon
the gray shores of Labrador were sighted, with the little port of Hebron
straight ahead.

To the boys it was a wonderfully novel experience to gaze shoreward at
this out-of-the-world village in the Arctic. They cried out in delight
when tiny, sharp-ended kayaks came dancing towards the _Narwhal_, with
their Eskimo occupants paddling furiously. But as the tiny, skin-covered
craft drew near, the boys were disappointed.

“Oh pshaw!” cried Tom, “they don’t look like Eskimos. They’re not dressed
in furs, but are wearing dirty overalls and caps. They look like Chinese
dressed up like whalemen.”

“Shure ’tis that they do!” agreed Mike, who stood near. “B’glory they do
be wan an’ the same specie with the haythen Chinee, I do be thinkin’.”

“Ye’ll be seein’ plenty on ’em in hides an’ furs afore ye’re done,”
declared Cap’n Pem. “These here boys is whalin’ han’s, an’ is sort o’
civ’lized. But ye don’t expect ’em to be a-wearin’ o’ a everlastin’ lot
o’ furs in this hot weather, do ye?”

“Hot weather!” cried Jim. “_I_ call it cold.”

The old whaleman chuckled. “Waall, by cricky, ye don’t know what’s
a-comin’ to ye, then!” he declared. “This here’s midsummer; but come
’long an’ meet these Eskimo lads.”

The kayaks were now alongside and the Eskimos were clambering over the
schooner’s rails. They were a happy, good-natured-looking lot, with
broad yellow faces, flat noses, little slant, beady black eyes, wide
mouths, made still wider by a constant grin, and lank, stiff black hair
hanging to their shoulders. All looked so much alike that the boys could
not understand how any one could tell one from another, and all were
identical in the matter of dirtiness.

“Whew, but they _are_ dirty!” exclaimed Jim. “I’ll bet they haven’t ever
taken a bath!”

“And aren’t they little!” added Tom. “Why, they’re no bigger than boys.”

But if the two boys were interested in the Eskimos, the latter were
simply fascinated with the boys, and gathered about them talking and
laughing and jabbering in their own tongue.

Mr. Kemp, Cap’n Pem and the skipper were also busy conversing with two of
the Eskimos who appeared to be leaders or chiefs. When the second officer
addressed one of them in his own dialect, the filthy little fellow fairly
beamed with pleasure.

Presently one of the men approached Tom and held out a greasy,
soot-blackened paw. “H’lo!” he exclaimed with a broad grin. “Me Unavik,
plenty good whaler feller, betcher life!”

Tom laughed and shook hands gingerly. “Glad to know you, Unavik. My
name’s Tom. This is Jim, my cousin. You going along with us?”

Unavik shook hands very cordially with Jim—far too cordially to suit him
in fact—and rolled his tiny eyes as he looked over the schooner. “Betcher
life!” he announced. “Gimme chew t’bac. How much feller you want?”

“Oh, Mr. Kemp, get us some tobacco,” cried Tom, “this boy wants some.”

“Boy!” exclaimed Mr. Kemp, as he tossed over some plugs of tobacco. “He’s
an old man—great-grandfather, I expect.”

Unavik bit off a huge chunk of the plug, passed it to his companions,
and nodded his big head. “You betcher!” he mumbled. “Me ol’ feller. Got
fif’y year mebbe.”

Then the other Eskimos began talking, telling their names—which the
boys could not remember or pronounce—jabbering away with their quaint
broken English, and surrounding the boys, so that they were thankful when
Captain Skinner broke up the party by inviting them to go ashore.

Accompanied by the flotilla of kayaks, the boat pulled to the beach. To
the boys’ surprise they found that there were a number of white people in
the settlement; which contained several good buildings, a tiny church, a
little mission school, a post office, and a police station.

There was also a low, rambling trading-post, presided over by a
red-faced, white-whiskered old Scotchman and this proved the most
interesting spot to the boys.

Here was exactly the sort of place they had read about in stories—the
low-ceiled, big room with shelves piled with blankets, sacks of meal,
axes and knives, guns and ammunition, and great bales of furs. Antlers
and heads decorated the walls. There was a huge open hearth, snowshoes
and dog sledges were stacked in corners, polar bear skins covered the
floor and the stocky Eskimos, and even a few tall, grave-faced Indians,
were lounging about or dickering over a trade with the clerk.

Here Captain Edwards secured a number of fur garments as well as other
supplies. Then with the boys he strolled about the village. The boys
had never stopped to realize that Eskimos did not dwell in ice igloos
all the time and they were greatly surprised to find them occupying
roughly built huts and much-patched tents of old canvas and skin. They
saw drying racks covered with thousands of salmon and other fish which
the Eskimo women—even more unkempt and dirty than the men—were cleaning
and splitting and suspending on the racks. They visited the church and
talked with the good-natured, rotund priest. They looked at the school
and watched the bright-eyed, broad-faced Eskimo kiddies striving to
master the rudiments of English and arithmetic. They even stopped for a
chat with the straight, clean-featured, bronzed-faced, military-looking
representative of the law.

“Gosh, I never saw so many dogs!” exclaimed Tom as they walked back
toward the boat. “They simply swarm here.”

Captain Edwards laughed and the police officer, who was with them,
smiled.

“And I’ll warrant you never saw such pure bred mongrels!” he chuckled.

“But they’re mighty useful to the natives—they hunt with them, use them
for teams and, if they’re hard up, eat them.”

“Well, they look as if there’d be mighty little to eat on them,” declared
Jim.

Taken altogether, there was not much to be seen, while the overpowering
smell of fish which filled the entire village almost nauseated the boys,
and they were mighty glad to be once more aboard the _Narwhal_.

In the afternoon the boat again went ashore and returned packed with
Eskimo hands who had been signed on. The bundles of garments and other
things were hoisted aboard, and with the Eskimos helping the crew at the
capstan, the _Narwhal’s_ anchor was hoisted, the sails were spread, and
Hebron was left astern.



CHAPTER VI

THE BATTLE


Steadily, day after day, the _Narwhal_ continued on her way northward.
From morning until night—throughout the short night as well—bergs or floe
ice were constantly in sight; but the boys had become accustomed to such
things and scarcely gave the ice mountains a second glance. They had
spent hours searching each berg or ice cake they passed, in the hopes
of seeing another bear but, aside from an occasional seal or flocks of
birds, not a living creature was seen.

The Eskimos, much to the boys’ surprise, proved splendid sailors. Always
at the mastheads men were on the lookout for whales. At times the
schooner wallowed slowly through the cold green seas, with barely enough
wind to enable the captain to steer clear of jagged cakes or towering
bergs. At other times, she tore storming through the tremendous waves
under shortened sails, rushing between giant bergs, crashing into masses
of drift ice hidden in the foam of breaking waves. Again she would rest
motionless, becalmed, shrouded in dense fogs, while resounding through
the impenetrable mist came the roar of surf on bergs, the crashing of
falling ice masses, and the shrill screams of sea birds. Then every man
was on the alert, peering with straining eyes into the blanket of fog. A
dozen times the boys’ hearts seemed to skip a beat, as, close at hand, a
vast white phantom loomed suddenly from the fog, and the _Narwhal_ rocked
and rolled to the backwash of the giant seas breaking upon ice. Again
and again, too, the schooner drifted so dangerously close to a berg that
boats were lowered and, straining at the oars, the men towed the heavy
vessel clear.

“Funny thing, that,” remarked Mr. Kemp, as the _Narwhal_ was thus being
dragged from a towering berg. “Put two ships, or a berg and a ship, in
the middle of the sea and the blamed things’ll drif’ together—jes as if
they loved comp’ny.”

“That is funny, though I never thought of it before,” said Tom. “Don’t
you suppose it’s currents or something?”

“Nope,” declared the second officer, “just chuck a couple of matches into
a basin of water an’ leave ’em be, an’ you’ll see they’re boun’ to git
side of each other.”

“Say, I have noticed that!” exclaimed Jim. “What’s the reason?”

“Give her up,” replied Mr. Kemp. “Mystery to me, but then there’s a heap
of mysteries at sea.”

The boys had been greatly surprised too to find that they could see
throughout the night, that there was no darkness, and that the sun set
like a dull yellow ball, hung at the rim of the sea for a space, and
almost before it disappeared, popped up again.

“Gosh, I never realized we were where the sun never sets,” cried Tom the
first time he noticed this. “Somehow I can’t believe we’re way up here in
the Arctic.”

The boys were vastly interested and fascinated in the Northern Lights,
although compared with the midnight sun, they were faint and pale.
Captain Edwards told them they would see the sight of their lives when
winter came, and the Aurora blazed in all its glory.

But all these things grew tedious, and the boys longed for a whale to
be seen, or for some exciting thing to happen. Then one day the shout
so long expected rang from the masthead, and at the cry, “She blows!”
all was excitement. Leaping into the shrouds, the two boys ran up the
rigging. As Captain Edwards’ shout of, “Where away?” was answered by,
“Three points off the lee bow!” the boys stared in that direction to
see two little fountains of spray rise above the waves, and two immense
rounded black objects break the water.

“Hurrah! there’re two of them,” cried Tom. “Oh, Captain Edwards, can’t we
go after them?”

“Not a bit of it!” snapped the skipper. “I ain’t riskin’ your lives goin’
on whales!”

“Well, suppose the owners order you to take us?” demanded Jim.

Captain Edwards scowled and tried to look savage. “Have to ’bey orders, I
guess.”

“Well, then you’re ordered!” yelled the boys in chorus, and without
waiting to hear the skipper’s comment, they raced toward Cap’n Pem’s boat
and leaped into it with the men.

“Here, what the tarnation ye doin’ in here?” demanded Cap’n Pem as he saw
the two boys. “This here boat ain’t no place fer youngsters.”

“Owners’ orders,” grinned Tom, “come on, Cap’n Pem, or Mr. Kemp’ll get
those whales ahead of you.”

“Waall, I’ll be blowed!” exclaimed the old whaleman, as he entered
the boat. “Annyhow, mind ye keep still an’ don’t go a-screechin’ or
a-talkin’. Bowheads has derned sharp ears.”

“All right, we’ll be as still as mice,” promised Jim.

To the boys’ surprise, the men did not take to their oars, but set up the
short mast and spritsail in the boat. With Cap’n Pem at the rudder, they
went speeding before the wind toward the two whales.

Mr. Kemp’s boat was also sailing swiftly toward the huge creatures and
neck and neck the two little craft danced over the long green seas. Then,
shifting the helm slightly, Cap’n Pem swung around and held his course
directly towards the heads of the monsters.

“Gee, that’s funny,” whispered Tom. “When they rowed after those whales
on the _Hector_ they always went at them towards the tail. They’ll see
the boat coming this way, sure.”

A minute later Cap’n Pem raised his hand and the men silently and quickly
furled the sail and unshipped the mast. Pulling noiselessly on the oars,
the crew drove the boat closer and closer to their quarry. The two whales
were swimming slowly along, now and then sinking below the surface until
they were almost invisible, and then rising high and blowing. The boys
noticed that the little columns of vapor rose from the middle of the
creatures’ heads instead of from the tip of the noses as was the case
with the sperm whales they had seen.

Tom nudged Jim. “That’s one thing I’ve learned,” he whispered. “You can
tell a bowhead whale from a sperm by the blow.”

“Ssh!” muttered Jim. “Cap’n Pem’s scowling at us.”

The boat steerer had now unsheathed his harpoon and was standing in the
bow and the boys, glancing towards the other boat, saw that Mr. Kemp’s
boat steerer had done the same. Evidently both men would strike at almost
the same moment and the boys hardly knew whether to keep their eyes fixed
on their own harpoonier or the other. Nearer and nearer to the great
black creatures the boat crept. The boys could see the huge curved upper
jaws, the gray fringed masses of whalebone in the animals’ mouths and
even the rough growth of great barnacles on the whales’ noses. Then,
when it seemed as though the boat would bump into the nearest monster,
the craft was deftly swung to one side. It slipped past the enormous
head and, before the surprised whale could dive or dodge, the harpoonier
lurched forward with a grunt, and the immense, heavy, barbed iron struck
the whale with a sickening thud. Instantly the men backed water furiously
and not a second too soon. With a crash that almost stunned the boys,
the whale’s stupendous flukes struck the water within a yard of the
frail boat, sending a deluge of water over the occupants, and the next
instant the boat was being hurtled through the sea at a terrific pace
as the stricken whale strove to escape the stinging iron in its side.
White-faced, gripping the gunwale tightly, the boys stole a hurried
glance towards Mr. Kemp’s boat and saw that he too was fast. But unlike
their own craft, which was being towed at express-train speed, the second
mate’s boat was being whirled in circles as the whale milled.

Hardly had the two boys noticed this, when their craft tipped perilously.
Green water poured over the rail as the whale altered his course. There
was a warning shout from Cap’n Pem and the boys saw that they were headed
directly towards Mr. Kemp’s boat.

“Git ready to cut loose!” yelled Cap’n Pem. “Dod gast the critter, we’ll
foul Kemp!”

At his cry, one of the men started forward to seize the hatchet. But
as he raised it, the whale again turned, the boat almost capsized and
the man, in his frantic effort to prevent himself from being thrown
overboard, dropped the hatchet which flashed into the sea.

Before he could whip out his sheath knife, the whale had dashed across
the line fast to the second mate’s boat. The two crafts careened, rocked,
zigzagged wildly and crashed together with a bump that tumbled the
occupants from their seats. Then, before the dazed and struggling men
could act, the two boats were dashing through the sea with rails together
and with the two whales tearing at topmost speed side by side as though
having a race.

“Let ’em go, dod gast ’em!” screamed Cap’n Pem. “Never seed nothin’ like
it afore. Stand ready to cut loose ef they mill or soun’!”

Onwards the two creatures sped. The schooner was miles astern and then,
so suddenly that the skilled steersmen could not swerve their craft one
of the whales checked his onward rush and sounded. The next instant he
rose within a dozen rods of the terrified boys, and, with thunderous,
crashing, terrific blows of his huge tail, strove to demolish the boat
and his enemies.

Speechless with deadly fear, the boys cowered in the boat, while
seemingly over their heads the great black mass of flukes waved and
whipped, striking down to right, to left, in front of the frail
cockleshell of a boat, half filling it with water churned up by the
fearful, irresistible blows. The men strained and shouted and pulled
frantically, grim-faced, wild-eyed and with superhuman efforts dodging
the lashing, death-dealing flukes by a hair’s breadth.

To the boys it seemed hours that they were within that awful danger zone.
Each second they expected to be tossed high in air, bruised, battered,
crushed amid the shattered planks and timbers of the boat.

Then there was a sickening crash as Mr. Kemp’s boat banged into them. For
a moment the two craft were locked tight and then the second mate’s boat
leaped ahead, dragging Pem’s boat with it. Scarcely had it moved a yard,
when the great trip-hammer tail struck a fearful blow where it had been
an instant before, and, as the boat sprang into the air on the upflung
wave, the second mate’s boat drew free and flew off after the whale to
which it was fast.

“Go in!” yelled Cap’n Pem excitedly. “We’ll git him!”

At his words, he dropped the steering oar, scrambled forward and, as the
boat steerer reached the stern and seized the big oar, the grizzled old
whaleman braced his wooden leg against the knee chock and seized a bomb
lance. Then he tossed the weapon down, unsheathed the long, keen-bladed
hand lance, and poised it ready to strike. Bobbing on the water, still
being churned up by the furious creature’s tail, the boat crept close.
The boys’ hearts seemed to cease beating as they saw the great mountain
of black skin almost within arm’s length. Now but a few feet separated
the boat from the maddened whale. Cap’n Pem gathered himself for the
death stroke; the boat’s bows seemed almost to touch the whale’s side,
when, without warning, the great body sank beneath the sea and, drawn by
the swirling suction of the whale submerging, the boat leaped forwards
directly over the creature’s back. But the gray-headed old veteran of a
hundred battles with giant whales was not to be cheated of his prey. As
the boat lurched forward into the eddying froth above the whale, Cap’n
Pem leaned over the boat’s bow, and with a shout drove the long lance
straight down.

The next instant the boat was flung high. It careened dizzily, oars were
wrenched from the men’s hands and, as the mortally wounded whale flung
himself up, the craft slid like a toboggan from his back, buried its
bow beneath a wave, rose sluggishly, and swung around broadside to the
thrashing, rolling mass of pain-crazed flesh and blood and bone.

So close was the boat to the whale’s side that the men struggled to
fend it off by their oars. With wild yells and shouts, Cap’n Pem warned
them to keep close; for all around them the awful tail was striking,
crashing, whipping, as the dying whale lashed the water into a maelstrom
of foam and, only by keeping the boat so close to the monster that his
tail could not reach them, could their lives be saved.

That they could escape seemed impossible. They were in the very center
of a cyclone of mortal peril, a circle of death, and even the tough,
fearless, experienced whalemen grew white-faced. Their jaws were hard set
and they knew that any second might spell their doom.

Then, with one stupendous effort, the whale reared its head high. The
flukes swept above the boat, a crimson column spurted from the monster’s
head and, with a whistling sigh like escaping steam, the whale rolled
upon its side, dead.

“Fin up!” screamed Cap’n Pem. “By Moses, that there was the closest shave
I ever seen. Jes dumb luck, nothin’ more!”

At this instant a strange sound issued from the bottom of the whaleboat.
Cap’n Pem’s jaw fell. The men stared at one another wonderingly.

“What’s thet?” gasped the old whaleman.

Tom leaned forward, reached into a locker and drew out—the black cat!

Cap’n Pem’s eyes seemed about to burst from their sockets. “Waall, I’ll
be——” he began and then stood staring absolutely bereft of speech as Tom
dragged out the canvas bucket and disclosed four blinking-eyed kittens.

“Now what about bad luck!” he cried triumphantly.

Cap’n Pem scratched his head, frowned and spat over the boat’s side. “I
calc’late them kittens must ha’ changed the luck,” he declared. “I don’t
recollec’ ever hearin’ o’ sech a thing afore. But jes the same, I’ll bet
ye if that there cat hadn’t been ’long of us, we’d never ha’ had all this
here fracas. Wussedest fight I ever seed.”



CHAPTER VII

THE GLACIER


Now that the excitement was over and the boys had a chance to look about,
they searched the sea for Mr. Kemp. But nowhere was he to be seen. Then
their glance turned towards the schooner, and Tom uttered a frightened
cry.

“The _Narwhal_’s gone!”

Cap’n Pem turned from where he was directing the men as they labored to
get a fluke chain about the dead whale’s tail, shaded his eyes and swept
a swift glance around the horizon. “Reckon she are,” he remarked quite
undisturbed. “Get a waif up, Nate,” he continued, addressing the boat
steerer. “Swan if I know whar she be. An’ looks like Kemp’s hull down,
too.”

“But what will we do?” cried Jim. “How can we get to the _Narwhal_?”

“Won’t,” replied the old whaleman, once more bending to his work. “Let
the schooner come to us. Reckon the skipper hain’t los’ track o’ us.”

“Ye see,” explained the boat steerer as he fastened a red flag to the
mast and, with two of the men to help him, stepped the spar, “folks
’board the schooner can see us a heap farther than we kin see them.
They’ll be havin’ a lookout to the to’gallan’ crosstrees an’ keep track
o’ where we be.”

“Oh, I understand,” said Tom. “But say, Nate, why did you go for the head
of that whale? When we were on the _Hector_ they were always careful to
go on them from the tail end.”

“Them was sparm whales,” replied the boat steerer. “A sparm whale kin
see for’rard but not aft, an’ a right whale or bowhead kin see aft an’
not for’rard. ’Sides, a sparm fights mos’ly with his jaw an’ a right or
a bowhead fights with his flukes. ‘Bewar’ o’ a sparm’s jaws an’ a right
whale’s flukes,’ is a ol’ whalin’ motter.”

“But what’s become of Mr. Kemp, do you suppose?” queried Jim. “Do you
think anything’s happened to him?”

“Naw, I guess he’s jus’ been towed out o’ sight,” declared Nate. “Anyhow
it’s every man for hisself a-goin’ arter whales. Reckon the Old Man kin
see him.”

The fluke chain was now fast about the whale’s “small,” as the portion
of the creature’s body near the tail is called, and the boat, fastened
to it by the stout hemp line, rode as steadily and as easily as though
moored to an island. The immense carcass formed a lee, and the oil oozing
from his wounds, smoothed the water, making a broad “slick.”

“Purty good-sized critter,” commented Cap’n Pem, as he seated himself and
lit his pipe. “Bet ye he’ll turn a hundred bar’ls, an’ nigh half a ton o’
bone. Put up a right smart fight though—blowed if he didn’t. Waall, boys,
how did ye like the fun?”

“Fine, now it’s over,” laughed Jim. “But I admit I wished I was on the
_Narwhal_ a good many times while that old whale was thrashing around
with his flukes.”

“Gosh, but he did come near smashing us!” cried Tom. “Just the same, I’m
glad we were here, and that the first time we went in on a whale he was a
fighter. Say, won’t the boys back home open their eyes when we tell them
about this?”

“Oh, there’s the _Narwhal_!” exclaimed Jim, who had stood up and was
gazing about. “And not a bit where I expected her to be.”

“Waall, if ye could ha’ kep’ track o’ which way was which, ye’d ’a been
a heap sight better’n I be at keepin’ my bearin’s,” chuckled Cap’n Pem.
“By heck, fer a spell I actooaly did think that there ol’ whale was
a-goin’ fer to git the best on us.”

“Would have if ye hadn’t a-fetched him as we run over his back,” declared
one of the men. “By glory, Cap’n, that was some stunt ye pulled off. But
say, it mos’ made me split, a-seein’ of ye a-diggin’ that lance into the
water like as if ye was a-spearin’ eels.”

“Shucks, that weren’t nothin’,” declared Cap’n Pem. “I don’ calc’late to
miss a chanct even if the dumb critter do sound jes when I’m a-gettin’
ready fer to lance him.”

“But he almost wrecked us!” exclaimed Tom. “If he’d come up a second
sooner, he would have capsized the boat and we’d all have been drowned or
smashed by his flukes.”

The old whaleman chuckled. “Waall, I reckon we mought ha’ been,” he
admitted. “But we wasn’t. ’Sides, no whaleman never thinks o’ sech
things. We wuz out fer to git this here whale, and it’s git him or git
stove.”

“But why didn’t you use the bomb lance?” asked Jim. “You had a good
chance.”

“Look here, son,” said the old man petulantly. “I was brung up along with
a reg’lar iron an’ a reg’lar lance. These here new-fangled contraptions
may be all right fer them as likes ’em, but give me the old fashion’
weepons every time. By gum, I want ter see whar I’m a-drivin’ o’ the
lance at. ’Sides, any dumb-foozled lan’lubber could git whales by a
settin’ off an’ a-shootin’ of ’em. They ain’t no sport in it.”

By now the _Narwhal_ was within a quarter of a mile of the boat. As her
yards were swung and she was hove to, the men picked up their oars and
headed for the schooner. As they drew alongside, Cap’n Pem shouted up to
Captain Edwards and asked if they had seen the second officer’s boat.

“No, he was towed hull down,” replied the skipper. “But we can fetch him
all right. Just stick a waif in that whale, get your boat aboard and
we’ll run down to him.”

One of the men scrambled on to the whale’s body, and drove a sharp
pointed iron bar bearing a flag at the end into the carcass. Then,
casting loose the line to the fluke chain, the crew clambered on to the
schooner and hoisted the boat to its davits.

“Well, boys, how did you like it?” asked Captain Edwards as Tom and Jim
reached the deck. “Had a right pretty tussle—I was watchin’ you from
aloft.”

“Fine!” declared Tom. “But we _were_ scared some of the time, and oh, we
had a great joke on Cap’n Pem! The cat was in the boat and she had four
kittens.”

The skipper roared. “Well, that must have broken the spell!” he
exclaimed. “What did Pem say?”

“Same thing,” replied Jim, “but he added that if it hadn’t been for the
cat we wouldn’t have had so much trouble.”

“Waall, I bet ye that’s so!” burst out the old whaleman. “An’ there’ll be
other bad luck a-comin’ from the dumb critter.”

“B’ the powers!” exclaimed Mike who stood near. “’Tis a ol’ fool yez be.
Shure, didn’t yez know a cat bein’ afther havin’ kits aboorrd a ship do
be the foinest luck in the world? B’gorra ’tis four av thim yez is afther
sayin’? Thin ’tis four whales yez should be afther gettin’.”

Instantly, as usual, the two one-legged old sailors began to argue, and
the boys and the captain turned away to let them have it out. Presently,
from the masthead, came a shout that the missing boat was sighted. Soon
it was visible from the deck. But the boys, even with their glasses,
could not distinguish a whale fast to Mr. Kemp’s boat.

“I wonder if they lost it,” said Jim. “Say, if they did, Cap’n Pem will
swear it was the cat.”

But a moment later, Tom’s sharp eyes spied a tiny rag fluttering above
the waves some distance from the second mate’s boat. “There’s the whale!”
he shouted. “See, it’s got a waif on it.”

“You’re right,” agreed Jim. And then a moment later, “Gosh, Tom, is that
another waif—over there to the west of the boat?”

Tom looked steadily for a moment. “Golly, it is!” he cried. “Oh, Captain
Edwards, they’ve got two whales!”

“What?” cried the skipper hurrying to the boys and taking Tom’s glasses.
“By the great red herring, you’re right!”

“Why in tarnation ain’t he fas’ to ’em?” cried Captain Pem, who had
stopped his discussion with Mike at the boys’ announcement.

“Expect he was pullin’ for the ship and couldn’t tow ’em,” said the
skipper.

A few minutes later they were within hailing distance. Then the schooner
was hove to, and the boat drew alongside.

“See you had good luck, Mr. Kemp!” cried the Captain heartily. “Pem got a
big bull too—put up purtiest tussle I ever seen—and that’s three bowheads
in a afternoon! Guess Mike’s right about those kittens, boys! Only need
one more whale to make the four!”

Mr. Kemp grinned. “If you’ll jus’ run down to the east’ard a couple o’
miles, you’ll find t’other one,” he announced.

“What in thunder ye talkin’ ’bout?” cried Cap’n Pem, staring at the
second mate as though he thought he had gone mad. “Ye don’t mean to stan’
there an’ say—oh, ’tain’t nat’ral!”

“True jus’ the same,” grinned Mr. Kemp. “I beat ye by two bowheads, Pem.”

“Shure, Oi knowed it,” commented Mike. “B’gorra, ’tis hopin’ the blessed
cat’ll be afther havin’ o’ kittens iviry day, b’jabbers.”

Every one aboard the schooner was in high spirits over the phenomenal
luck of getting four whales in one day, and as one after the other of the
big carcasses were picked up and made fast by stout hemp lines, the men
sang and laughed. Nate, the harpoonier, roared out the quaint song:

    My father’s a hedger and ditcher,
    My mother does nothing but spin,
    While I hunt whales for my living,
    Good Lord, how the money comes in!

And lustily all joined in the chorus, for thousands of dollars had been
won in the past few hours, and every member of the _Narwhal’s_ crew would
share in the prize. Even old Captain Pem grudgingly agreed that he could
find no fault with the ship’s luck, and admitted the black cat’s spell
must have been broken. “But don’t fergit weather’s allers ca’mest jes
afore a squall,” he said as a parting shot.

Mr. Kemp’s three bowheads were soon alongside, but that taken by Cap’n
Pem’s boat was several miles distant, and the schooner could make no
progress with the light wind with the three huge carcasses in tow.

“Now aren’t you glad we had that motor put in?” asked Tom of Cap’n Pem,
as Mike started the motor and, with the staccato reports of the exhaust
echoing over the Arctic sea, the _Narwhal_ slowly pushed through the
long swells, with the dead whales like a string of deeply laden barges
trailing astern.

“Waall, I reckon I got ter admit ’tis a bit handy,” replied the old
whaleman. “An’ I ain’t so all-fired ol’ fashioned I can’t admit it,
neither. An’ time we gits inter the ice pack, I reckon it’ll come in
mighty useful, too. But jes the same I ain’t got no use fer bumb lances
nor dartin’ guns, nor such new-fangled contraptions. No, siree, my father
and my granther used good, hand-wrought irons, an’ what was good ernough
fer them’s good ernough for me, by cricky.”

With the four whales alongside, cutting in and boiling began in earnest,
and so anxious was the crew to get the oil and bone stowed and start
after more whales, that they worked almost without cessation, cutting
their periods or watches of rest to half the usual time.

“Mighty glad we took them Eskimos aboard over to Hebron,” remarked Mr.
Kemp, as he paused a moment from his labors and watched the busy brown
men, who had stripped to the waist and were scrambling about, jabbering
incessantly, reminding the boys of a group of big monkeys. “And that
‘boy’ as you called him, Unavik, is a corker. Guess we’ll make him boss
of the Eskimo bunch.”

A little later Unavik approached the two boys, grinning from ear to ear,
covered with grease and soot, and gnawing at a strip of raw blubber.
“H’lo!” he exclaimed. “Plenty work me tell. Suppose you no got chew
t’bac?”

“No, but I’ll get you some,” said Tom, and hurrying to the cabin he
returned with a plug.

The Eskimo bit a huge piece from the tobacco, tore off a mouthful of the
blubber and industriously chewing both together smacked his lips.

“Gosh, but that must be _some_ combination!” exclaimed Jim.

“I suppose it’s a regular treat to him,” said Tom. “But it makes me sick
just to think of eating that oily blubber, not to mention the tobacco.”

“All right, me go work, you betcher!” ejaculated Unavik as soon as he
could talk. “You good frien’. Bimeby me go ’long hunt bear ’side you
feller.” Stuffing the tobacco in his grease-soaked trousers, the Eskimo
hurried back to the cutting stage.

All through the night, with the Aurora flickering above the northern
horizon, and with the dull orange sun just visible upon the southern rim
of the sea, the men toiled on. All through the following day the dripping
strips of blubber were hauled on deck, the mincing knives thudded through
the greasy mass upon the horse, the try works belched thick columns of
black smoke, the cooper’s hatchet rang incessantly as casks were headed
up, the tackles groaned and whined as the filled barrels were lowered
into the hold, great masses of the whalebone were piled on deck and
carcass after carcass, having been stripped of its precious covering of
blubber, was cut loose and drifted slowly away from the ship.

Screaming, screeching, and squawking, a vast flock of sea birds had
gathered about, swooping fearlessly among the men to tear bits of
flesh and blubber from the whales. The birds rested by hundreds upon
the grease-slicked water, sweeping back and forth above the decks, and
hovering in clouds above the discarded, floating bodies. Never had the
boys seen so many birds. They spent hours watching them as they sailed
and wheeled and fought over the scraps and offal. Then at last the fourth
carcass was cast adrift, the final pieces of blubber were boiled, the
smoke from the try works dwindled and died out, the casks were stowed,
and with over three hundred barrels of oil and more than two tons of
choice bone in her hold, the schooner’s sails were hoisted. The men
cleaned and swabbed the decks, and onward into the north and east the
_Narwhal_ held her course.

For two days the schooner sailed steadily on, but no whale, no tiny puff
of spray, broke the even surface of the sea. On the third morning, the
boys glanced ahead to see soft gray mountains looming against the sky.

“Greenland!” announced Mr. Kemp who was on watch.

“Gosh, it doesn’t seem possible,” exclaimed Tom, gazing fixedly at the
distant land. “Now we really _are_ in the Arctic. Will we have a chance
to go ashore, Mr. Kemp?”

“Guess you will,” replied the second officer. “The skipper’s goin’ to get
some more Eskimos yonder—puttin’ into Disko Bay. Shouldn’t wonder if he
did some sealin’ or walrus huntin’ too.”

“Hurrah! won’t it be great to say we’ve really been in Greenland?” cried
Jim. “Golly, I never realized there were mountains there though.”

Rapidly the land grew more distinct. The boys could see deep bays—which
Captain Edwards told them were fiords—great clefts cut far into the
cliffs and marvelously colored with soft purples, mauves and blue. Here
and there a valley between the hills gleamed green as an emerald, while
vast, glistening, white masses of ice and snow zigzagged through narrow
defiles. Stretching seaward from the shores was a broad white plain that
rose and fell and moved like a restless white sea.

“What _is_ that white?” asked Tom who could not make it out.

“Shore ice, pan ice,” replied the captain. “Tide and wind sets it
inshore, but it’s all pretty mushy now. Look, there’s a bit of it ahead.”

Bobbing up and down upon the waves, gleaming like silver in the sunshine,
the boys saw several acres of drifting ice. As the schooner slipped by
it, they exclaimed in delight at the wonderful beauty of the vivid green
and blue of the submerged parts of the ice.

“Why, the water’s as clear as in the West Indies!” exclaimed Jim. “And
almost as blue. Say, I always thought this place was dull and gray and
covered with ice and snow, and it’s as fresh and lovely as anything. Now
I know why it’s called Greenland.”

“Oh, what’s that big white wall there?” cried Tom.

“It looks like a great white cliff.”

The skipper glanced shoreward. “That’s a glacier,” he replied. “River of
ice, like. They’re what make icebergs.”

“How on earth can they make icebergs?” asked Jim, studying the
precipitous face of the glacier.

“Water cuts under ’em and they break off, and the pieces are the bergs,”
explained the captain. “That’s what we call calving.”

“Well, it’s the prettiest colored thing I’ve ever seen,” declared Jim.
“It’s for all the world like a giant opal and constantly changing. Gosh,
it doesn’t look like any ice I ever saw.”

The _Narwhal_ was now sailing close to the outer edge of the pack ice and
a sharp lookout was kept for seals or whales. Then, rounding a jutting
cape, the boys saw a deep blue fiord with a stupendous glacier leading
down a great valley to the rocky beach. The mouth of the fiord was clear
of ice, and so the _Narwhal’s_ course was shifted, and she slipped into
the dark shadows of the towering cliffs. The water, calm as a millpond,
was deepest indigo, and upon it the rocky heights and the great glacier
were reflected as in a burnished mirror. Fascinated, the boys were gazing
at the beautiful picture when the lookout’s hail reached the deck. “_Pod_
o’ seal over to wind’ard,” he shouted. “Close in shore!”

Captain Edwards sprang into the rigging, gazed in the direction indicated
and leaped back to the deck. “Harps!” he announced. “We’ll have a try for
’em. Stand by to lower away the port boat. Mr. Kemp, you take charge,
you’ve had more experience with them critters than any one else.”

“Can we go?” asked Tom.

“Guess you can,” responded the captain, “no danger sealin’.”

In a few moments the boat was in the water, the sealing clubs, with guns
and rifles, were placed in readiness, and with a will the crew pulled
toward the dark specks that marked the dozing, unsuspecting seals.

As they drew near shore, the mountains seemed to overhang the boat, and
the face of the glacier loomed enormous against the background of the
hills. Here and there, grounded on bars or shoals, were small bergs and
one enormous one, with lofty pinnacles like the many spires of a great
cathedral, was floating majestically near the head of the fiord. From the
cliffs, where they stood in endless rows, the auks, guillemots, puffins,
and cormorants gazed down and protested in raucous cries. Presently the
boys could distinguish the seals—great brownish yellow creatures with
dark harp-shaped markings on their backs—a hundred or more, drawn far up
on the shore among the rotting cakes of ice and sleeping soundly in the
warm summer sunshine.

Silently the boat crept nearer. Without a sound, it grated against the
shore. Armed with their clubs and one or two firearms, the men leaped
towards the herd. Instantly the seals were awake, their heads were thrown
up, their big lustrous eyes turned wonderingly. Then in terror at the
onrushing horde of men, with short sharp barks and yelps of fear, they
commenced scrambling towards the sea and safety. But the men, led by the
Eskimos, had spread in a half circle. They were between the seals and
the water. As the first panic-stricken creatures reached the shouting,
yelling crew, the heavy clubs rose and fell with dull, sickening thuds.
The seals dropped dying in their tracks and the others, turning, strove
blindly to get away from these new enemies.

“Gosh, it makes me sick!” exclaimed Tom as he saw the slaughter of the
poor helpless creatures. “It’s worse than killing sea elephants. No more
sealing for me!”

“Nor me either,” declared Jim, “it’s just murder. And aren’t they pretty
things!”

In a few moments it was all over. The beach and ice were strewn with
the dead seals—not a single one had escaped—and the men, flushed and
perspiring with exertion, and shouting triumphantly, tossed aside their
bludgeons and commenced stripping the hides from the dead seals.

The two boys shouldered their rifles and started along the beach
towards the glacier, now and then stopping to pick up some odd shell
or bright-colored pebble. Once they came to a tiny brook brawling over
the stones and followed it into a little valley, rich green with grass
and brilliant with scarlet poppies and bright golden yellow flowers.
From almost under Tom’s feet, a ptarmigan whirred up and stopping, the
boys discovered the nest filled to overflowing with the heavily spotted
brown eggs. A moment later Jim had his turn as he flushed a black and
white snow bunting and found its cleverly hidden nest and spotted green
eggs in their bed of fur and down. All about, from waving weeds stalks
and jutting bowlders, buntings and longspurs, gray sparrows and dainty
horned larks twittered and sang. From far up in the blue sky came a sweet
rollicking song as a lark soared and bubbled over with joy. The boys,
seating themselves on a ledge of rock, looked silently about, enjoying
the peaceful scene and unable to believe that this warm sun, these bright
flowers, these trilling birds were in far-off Greenland, a land they had
always pictured as barren, desolate, and cold. Then, as they retraced
their steps towards the beach, Jim jumped as a big Arctic hare leaped
from its resting place and went bounding off among the rocks.

“Whew, he _was_ a whopper!” cried Tom. “Why didn’t you shoot him, Jim?
He’d have tasted fine for a change from canned meat.”

Jim laughed. “I was so startled I forgot I had a gun,” he admitted, “and
say, I’m rather glad I did. Somehow I’d hate to shoot anything here, it’s
so pretty and happy.”

“Well, I guess we can struggle along without stewed rabbit for a while
yet,” said Tom. “It does seem kind of a shame to kill anything here.”

“The men aren’t half through yet,” announced Jim as the two boys reached
the beach once more. “Say, Tom, let’s walk over to the glacier.”

“All right,” agreed Tom readily, “it isn’t far and it will be fine to see
it close to. Say, doesn’t the _Narwhal_ look like a speck off there—with
all these big hills round!”

“Yes,” assented Jim, “and just think of how she looked when we first saw
her being towed into Fair Haven. Say, Tom, it’s almost weird, looking at
her off there and with us here and thinking she’s that same old tub we
saw, and that we came clear up here on her.”

“Yep, and that we’re her principal owners,” chuckled Tom.

So, talking and chatting, the two drew closer and closer to the towering
face of the great glacier. Presently they stopped to admire the play
of colors in the mighty mass of ice and, to get a clearer view, they
clambered up the steep slope of the rocky hillside. They were standing
there, gazing at the gigantic face of the glacier, when there was a
splintering, awful roar, the whole end of the glacier plunged forward
like a falling mountain and, as the crash of its fall echoed and
reverberated from the hills, a mighty, foaming, surging wave came hissing
and roaring up the beach. Never had the boys seen such a huge comber.
Green and irresistible, it raced straight towards them, the mighty swell
raised by the plunge of the stupendous mass of ice. The boys, already
startled and frightened half out of their wits by the deafening crash of
the falling ice, stood breathless and wide-eyed, watching the oncoming
wave that threatened to engulf them.

But they were just beyond its reach. With the upflung spray drenching
them to the skin, the wave dashed itself against the rocks at their feet
and then, with a sullen growl, drew back. Again and again the big waves
came tearing in, but each was smaller than the preceding, and soon the
beach stretched smooth and clear to the gently lapping ripples.

“Whew! it was lucky we climbed up here!” exclaimed Jim. “Say, it wouldn’t
have been any fun to have been down on the beach.”

“Or alongside that glacier,” added Tom. “Jiminy, look at that berg! We
_are_ lucky! We’ve seen a glacier calving!”

“And it’s _some_ calf!” cried Jim, as he gazed at the enormous berg which
but a few moments before had been a portion of the glacier.

“And look at the _Narwhal_!” exclaimed Tom.

The schooner was tossing and bobbing as if beset by a tempest, the masts
cutting great arcs against the sky, the bow shipping green water, white
froth pouring from the scuppers.

“Golly, that berg _did_ set a sea going!” ejaculated Jim. “I’ll bet Cap’n
Pem’ll swear it was all due to the cat.”

“Well, it’s no bad luck anyhow, unless—Say! Jim, how about the men? Gosh!
perhaps they were drowned or smashed by the waves. Come on, let’s beat
it!”



CHAPTER VIII

WHALES AND WHALES


Shouts assured the boys that the men were still there long before they
rounded a point and came in sight of the scene of the killing. They had
not escaped unscathed. The rending crash of the falling ice had warned
them and, knowing what would follow, they had raced up the beach beyond
reach of the waves. But the boat, lifted on the tremendous sea, had been
left high and dry, wedged among the rocks and ice, hopelessly shattered.
The bodies of the seals had been scattered far and wide. Some were
floating far from shore, others had been cast high on the beach. The
skins which had already been stripped from the creatures were rolled and
tossed among the rocks for a hundred yards up and down the shore. The men
searched out the pelts and proceeded to skin the remaining seals. A waif
had been raised on the boat’s mast to attract attention of those on the
schooner, and as the boys arrived at the spot another boat was speeding
across the bay towards them.

“Hello!” cried Mr. Kemp as he caught sight of the boys. “I was just about
settin’ off to look for you. Feared you might ha’ been catched in that
wave or somethin’. Where was you?”

“We were on the way to the glacier,” said Tom, “and got up on a rock to
see it better when it calved.”

“Darned lucky you wasn’t ’longside of it,” declared the second officer.
“Don’t never go foolin’ ’round a glacier this time of year. Never can
tell when they’re goin’ to bust loose. Stove our boat too, darn it.”

By the time the second boat arrived, the last of the seals was skinned.
Piling the hides and the contents of the stove boat into the other craft,
and dragging the shattered boat to the water, the party set out for the
_Narwhal_, towing the injured craft.

“By gum, didn’t I tell ye thet cat was a-goin’ fer to bring bad luck?”
exclaimed old Pem as the boys and Mr. Kemp climbed over the rail, and the
old whaleman saw the boat with its shattered planking.

“Oh, dry up!” burst out the second officer. “Don’t care if you are mate,
you’re an old croaker. Ain’t nothin’ to do with the puss. You know’s well
as any one glaciers is always calving in summer.”

Cap’n Pem’s eyes opened in wonder and he stared speechless at Mr. Kemp.
Twice he opened his mouth as if about to speak, but both times he failed.
At last, shaking his grizzled head dolefully, he turned and walked away.

Soon the schooner was again under way, chugging out of the fiord under
her own power. Once more in the open sea, she heeled to the wind and bore
northward for Disko Bay. As she came in sight of Disko Island, passing
close to the many islets at the bay’s mouth, the boys were enthusiastic
over the beauty of the scene. Presently they caught sight of a little
cluster of huts and tents before which a row of kayaks were drawn upon
the beach.

Before the _Narwhal’s_ anchor plunged overboard the schooner was
surrounded by the little bobbing skin canoes. To the boys’ joy they saw
that these Eskimos were clad in skins and were exactly like the pictures
they had always seen of these people. The Eskimo hands on the schooner
greeted them with yells and chattered rapidly with them. Presently the
newcomers were scrambling on to the _Narwhal’s_ deck. But at close
quarters these Greenland Eskimos proved as greasy and filthy as those the
boys had seen at Hebron.

“I never saw such dirty people!” exclaimed Tom as he edged away from the
ill-smelling crowd.

“Don’t be expectin’ of ’em to be nothin’ else, do ye?” said Cap’n Pem.
“How the Sam Hill they goin’ fer to keep clean? Reckon ye’d be a mite
dirty if all the fresh water ye had fer to bathe in wuz melted snow.”

“But I should think they’d all be sick and die,” said Jim. “Why, they
must live exactly like pigs.”

“Shure thin’, ain’t pigs the hilthiest av’ cr’atures!” exclaimed Mike.

But later, when, the boys went ashore, they found much of interest,
despite the odors and the dirty inhabitants. They saw fat-faced Eskimo
women, their hair done up in big greasy topknots, industriously chewing
skins to cure them. They saw others carrying their bright-eyed little
kiddies in the pouchlike hoods on their backs. They peered into the smoky
reindeer skin tents and saw the soapstone lamps with their wicks of moss
floating in oil. They saw the men carving walrus tusks into weapons and
utensils, and they watched a couple of boys as they broke a dog team to
harness. The Eskimos seemed very friendly and good-natured, and when Tom
uttered an exclamation of surprise as a boy lashed out with his rawhide
whip and deftly flipped the ear of a surly dog a dozen feet distant, the
young Eskimo grinned broadly and said something in his own tongue.

“Says if you’ll give him a coin he’ll show you something,” interpreted
Mr. Kemp who stood near.

Tom tossed the boy a quarter which the youngster examined critically,
and bit with his firm white teeth. Apparently satisfied, he walked a
short distance away and placed the coin upon the top of a little bowlder.
Retracing his steps until fully twenty feet from the coin, he swung his
whip about his head, suddenly lurched forward and with a crack like a
pistol the snakelike lash struck the coin and sent it spinning high in
the air. Dashing forward the boy caught it dexterously as it fell.

“Gosh, that _was_ fine!” cried Tom. “Whew! he _can_ handle a whip!”

Instantly the two boys were surrounded by the Eskimo lads, all clamoring
for a chance to exhibit their skill and for some time the two boys were
busy handing out their loose change and watching the Eskimos flip them
from resting places with whips or hit them with their arrows as the coins
were tossed into the air.

Not until the boys’ money was exhausted did they stop. Then, followed by
the troop of young Eskimos, Tom and Jim continued on their round of the
village.

“I never knew Eskimos lived in tents,” said Jim as Mr. Kemp stopped to
bargain with a wrinkled old man for some carved ivory curios. “I thought
they lived in igloos.”

The second mate laughed. “Funny, most all folks get that idea,” he
replied. “Wonder how they think these lads is goin’ to build snow houses
in summer.”

“Well you see we never realized it was summer—that is, warm—up here,”
said Tom. “Somehow we always thought of the Arctic as cold and covered
with ice all the year round.”

“Won’t we have a lot to tell the fellows at home?” said Jim. “How these
women chew the skins to tan them, and how they live in wigwams just like
Indians and say—what’s that man doing? Look, he’s splitting up a match.”

Sure enough, the Eskimo they were watching was very carefully splitting a
sulphur match into tiny shavings with his knife while holding it over a
bit of dry moss.

“He’s getting a light for his pipe or a lamp,” replied Mr. Kemp. “Matches
are scarce and the Eskimos ain’t folks to waste nothing. When they want
to use a match, they split it same’s he’s doin’, and bimeby one of the
pieces’ll light and he’ll have his fire, and ’stead of havin’ a match
less he’ll have a dozen more. Look, there she goes!”

“Well that _is_ funny!” cried Tom. “But those tiny slivers can’t be used.
They’d break just as soon as he tried to scratch them.”

“Trust the Eskimos to look after that,” chuckled the second mate. “When
he wants to use one of them slivers, he’ll tie it on to a bit of bone
afore he scratches it.”

“Gee, but they _are_ clever!” declared Jim. “Talk about thrift!”

“I’ll tell you another thing,” went on Mr. Kemp. “Tobaccer’s scarce too,
so, after they’ve smoked a pipe for a spell, they cut up the wooden stem
and smoke that along with the tobaccer. Jus’ as good flavor, I reckon,
and goes a blamed long ways towards savin’. Yes, sir, they’re a thrifty
bunch. Even a Scotchman’d have blamed hard work to teach ’em much. And
say, don’t throw away them brass shells from your rifles. Over to Hudson
Bay you can trade ’em for good pelts. Yes, sir, get good fox skins for a
shell each.”

“Oh, you’re kidding us!” cried Tom. “They can’t be such fools as all
that.”

“Honest Injun, I ain’t,” protested the mate. “And they ain’t fools to
do it. What a thing’s worth depends on how much you want it. And them
Eskimos want brass shells a heap more’n they want fox skins. They can go
out and get foxes most any old time, but they can’t dig up brass or shoot
it.”

“Yes, I suppose that’s so,” said Jim thoughtfully. “Sorry we threw away
those shells we fired at the bear, but I guess we’ll have plenty more
before we’re through.”

Although the boys were anxious to get some of the beautiful skins
they saw, Mr. Kemp advised them to wait, assuring them that they’d be
able to get all they wanted from the Eskimos about Hudson Bay, where
the _Narwhal_ would winter, even if they did not succeed in killing
the creatures themselves. But they could not resist the temptation to
buy a complete fur suit each. Tom chose a costume of white baby bear
trimmed with blue fox, while Jim secured a suit of sheeny, silvery
seal elaborately ornamented with intricate designs worked in strips of
reindeer skin and with a fringe of white fox fur about the hood and
collar.

Both boys roared with laughter as they tried on the suits while the
Eskimos gathered about and joined in the merriment.

“Gosh, if you wear that and any one sees you, they’ll take you for a
bear and shoot you,” declared Jim.

“And if they see you they’ll think you’re a new kind of walrus,” retorted
Tom.

“Hello, been getting outfits, eh?” exclaimed Captain Edwards who now
appeared. “But come along, we’re getting off within the hour.”

A dozen Eskimos had been obtained at the village, and in addition, the
skipper had secured several bales of valuable furs, nearly two hundred
pounds of walrus ivory, and a quantity of whalebone.

“Guess you’ll have a chance to hunt walrus, boys,” remarked Captain
Edwards as the boat pulled towards the _Narwhal_. “We’ll run across to
Baffin Island. These Eskimos tell me there’s a herd of walrus over about
Cape Hewitt. Then we’re off for Hudson Bay, after dropping these chaps
here again.”

“Well, if hunting walrus isn’t any more sport than sealing, I’ll not care
for it,” announced Tom.

“You’ll find it very different,” the skipper assured him. “No knocking
walrus over the head. Not a bit of it—they’re tough propositions and show
fight. You’ll have all the excitement you’re looking for.”

A number of the Eskimos had come off to the schooner in their kayaks,
some of which were large boats with double apertures in their
skin-covered decks to accommodate two men. These were all hoisted on to
the _Narwhal’s_ deck, Mr. Kemp explaining to the boys that much of the
walrus hunting was done by the Eskimos in their frail boats.

Once more under way, the _Narwhal_ headed westward across Baffin Bay.
As usual the lookouts were constantly searching the sea for whales.
Tom and Jim, anxious to test their skill and having nothing else to
amuse them, also went aloft and relieved the men, for Captain Edwards
had already had a demonstration of the boys’ keen vision when on the
_Hector_ in the Antarctic. For a long time the two boys swept the broad
expanse of sparkling water in vain. Here and there floating ice broke
the blue-green surface, rafts of big eider ducks floated lightly on the
waves, cormorants, gulls, and other birds sailed and wheeled about and
occasionally a round black head, which the boys recognized as a seal,
would break through the surface, stare curiously at the schooner and with
a splash and a flirt of the back flippers, disappear in the depths. But
no great, shiny, black expanse of glistening skin, no tiny fountain of
spray, rose above the rippling water and the boys drowsed at their posts.

Then, Jim’s sleepy eyes noted a curious looking object upon the sea half
a mile or so to the north. At first he took it for a soggy cake of ice,
but it seemed to be moving as though carried in a swift current. Then he
decided it was a water-logged spar, and yet it did not look just right
for that either. Puzzled, he stared and then gave a shout. Clearly from
the grayish white object a little puff of steamlike vapor had risen.

“Blows!” he yelled almost unconsciously, and then, half ashamed of his
involuntary cry and realizing it was no whale he saw, he cried out, “Come
up and take a look, Mr. Kemp.”

The second mate ran nimbly up the rigging, glanced about, gazed fixedly
in the direction Jim indicated, and cupping his hands yelled down,
“Beluga! ’Bout four p’ints off the starboard bow—school of ’em.”

“Beluga?” exclaimed Jim as the officer started down the shrouds. “What’s
that?”

“White whale!” replied Mr. Kemp, as he rapidly descended to the deck.

“Well, that’s a new one on me,” declared Jim, yelling across to Tom. “I
thought all whales were black. Oh look, Tom! There _is_ a school of the
things and—Gosh! I thought they were ice!”

Already the boats were being swung, and by the time the boys reached the
deck, two craft were being lowered over the side and the men and Eskimos
were tumbling into them. Without waiting to ask permission, the boys
leaped into one of the boats and a moment later were speeding towards the
odd whitish creatures swimming slowly along and all unconscious of danger.

As the boats drew near the whales, they spread out, the harpooniers
laid aside their oars and stood in the bows with irons in hand, and in
a moment more were within striking distance of the creatures. Almost
at the same instant the various harpoons darted forward, and as the
keen points of the irons buried themselves in the animals’ sides, the
belugas leaped half from the water, looking to the boys’ wondering eyes
far more like gigantic white seals than whales. Then, with a rush, the
creatures started off, towing the boats at a terrific rate through the
water, turning and twisting, sounding and milling, sometimes leaping
high in air, at other times rolling over and over, and striving by a
hundred unexpected moves to rid themselves of the stinging weapons in
their sides. As Tom said afterwards, it was like playing enormous trout,
for the men alternately hauled in or let out the line; they laughed and
shouted and yelled as if thoroughly enjoying the sport and there was none
of the tense strained attitude that the boys had seen when attacking the
bowheads.

But the fight did not last long. Within fifteen minutes from being struck
the white whale was tired out. He rested almost motionless, blowing
frequently; and, hauling in the line hand over hand, as the crew urged
the boat forward, the men drew the craft close to the big, dirty-white
creature. An instant later the long, keen-bladed lance flashed, the
stricken whale threw its head high in air, thrashed madly with its tail,
and rolled slowly over on its side in the reddening water.

“That wasn’t much of a fight!” exclaimed Tom as the boat was run
alongside the dead beluga and the fluke chain was made fast.

“Never do give much of a tussle,” said Mr. Kemp, “they ain’t much more’n
second-rate whales anyhow. No bigger’n blackfish.”

Towing the dead whale, the boat pulled toward the schooner and a few
minutes later the other three boats came in, each with his white,
twenty-foot carcass bobbing along behind it. Then for the first time,
the boys saw that the Eskimos were also out in their big kayaks and were
paddling furiously over the waves in pursuit of the remaining belugas.
Running into the rigging the boys watched the Eskimos through their
glasses. They saw the foremost paddler in the nearest kayak urge his skin
craft among the speeding whales; the man in the forward seat raised his
arm, there was a flash as a harpoon sped through the air, and the next
moment a huge, dark-colored, balloon-shaped object was bobbing up and
down, dashing this way and that where the beluga had been, while the
kayak paddled off in another direction.

“Gee, he missed him!” cried Tom. “And say, what on earth is that thing on
the water?”

“Search me!” replied Jim. “Golly, there’s three more of ’em. And not a
single kayak is fast to a whale. Let’s ask about it.”

Hurrying to the deck the boys approached Captain Edwards. “Oh, Captain,”
cried Tom, “what are those big round things out there by the Eskimos’
kayaks? And how is it not a single kayak is fast to a whale? Those
fellows must be dubs not to get fast when they’re right among the whales.”

The skipper roared with laughter. “Dubs!” he exclaimed. “Why, my boys,
I’ll warrant not a Eskimo missed gettin’ fast. But of course you don’t
understand. Them things you see a-bobbin’ about yonder are floats—skin
bladders, and fast to the Eskimos’ irons in the whales. They don’t risk
their kayaks a-gettin’ fas’, but jus’ let the whales tire ’emselves out
a-towin’ the buoys ’round and meantime go after other critters. They’ll
bring ’em all in, don’t you worry.”

“Well, we _have_ got a lot to learn,” remarked Jim turning away. “Look,
Tom, there comes a kayak now, and—yes, they’re towing two whales.”

Interestedly the two boys watched the approaching Eskimos, and one after
another, the kayaks came paddling alongside, each towing one or more
belugas. By the time all were alongside the schooner, twelve white whales
were floating under the vessel’s lee and the crew were working like
beavers cutting in the dull white creatures. The work was easy and rapid
compared with cutting in the bowheads or a sperm whale, for the belugas
were tiny creatures compared with the other monsters the boys had seen.

Within twenty-four hours after first sighting the school, the last of the
catch had been cast adrift, and the _Narwhal_ was again sailing westward
toward Baffin Island and the walrus grounds.

Elated at their success in sighting the white whales, the two boys ran up
the rigging to their places on the crosstrees. Scarcely had Tom glanced
about when his shout of, “She blows!” rang out. Barely a mile ahead a
sparkling jet of vapor had risen above the sea, and an instant later a
stupendous body had broken the surface, gleaming like polished metal in
the sun. Cataracts of water poured from it. Tom fairly gasped at the size
of the creature, and his voice was shaking with excitement as he yelled
back, “a point off the port bow, about a mile away,” in response to the
Captain’s call of, “Where away?”

“It’s the biggest whale ever!” he cried excitedly to the officers as he
reached the deck. “Say, we _will_ have a fight with him!”

Captain Edwards chuckled. “I’ll bet we would—if we gave him a chance,” he
replied. “But we ain’t a-goin’ to meddle with that critter.”

“You mean you’re not going after him?” cried Tom in wondering tones.
“Why, why, he’d give over a hundred barrels!”

“Don’t doubt it,” smiled the skipper, “but he can keep it under his
blamed old hide for all of us.”

“Do you mean you’re afraid to tackle him?” demanded the puzzled boy.

Mr. Kemp and Cap’n Pem burst into a roar of laughter. “Yes and no,”
declared the second officer, “that’s a finback.”

“Finback!” exclaimed Jim. “What’s that?”

“Consarndest critters there be,” declared Cap’n Pem. “Ef ye wanter git
stove or kilt or towed ter kingdom come, jes go in on a finback. ’Course
I ain’t skeered o’ doin’ of it—never seed a whale yit thet skeered me,
but shucks, what’s the use? Derned critters’ll tow ye nigh fifty mile
’fore ye kin lance ’em an’ fight like Sam Hill. An’ arter ye’ve druv home
the lance, ef yer boat ain’t smashed ter kindlin’ wood, an’ ye ain’t
kilt, the consarned critter’s jes mean an onderhanded enough fer to sink.”

“Then you don’t touch them!” exclaimed Tom. “Gosh, it seems a shame to
let such big fellows go. Aren’t they ever killed?”

“Steam whalers—Scotch and Skowhegians take ’em,” replied Mr. Kemp. “But
you got to have harpoon guns and bomb lances and three inch cables and
steam winches to get ’em.”

By now the whale which had been the subject of the conversation was
within plain view from the deck, and the boys fairly gasped as they noted
its enormous size. An instant later it had caught sight of the schooner
and in a swirl of foam sounded and disappeared.

“Well, we’re still learning,” laughed Tom. “I always thought whales were
whales, but I know now that there are whales _and_ whales.”



CHAPTER IX

THE WALRUS HUNT


Hour after hour the _Narwhal_ sailed steadily on, and ever as she
proceeded, the floating ice and lofty drifting bergs grew larger and more
numerous. When the shores of Baffin Island at last rose above the sea,
the water was only visible as narrow lanes of green amid the wide stretch
of rough ice. How the schooner could ever get through the vast field with
its bobbing close-packed cakes and its towering bergs, was a mystery to
the boys. They watched intently as old Cap’n Pem, now in charge as ice
pilot, bawled out quick, sharp orders, and at his commands, the helm was
shifted, yards were swung and sails trimmed instantly as the _Narwhal_
tacked and turned and twisted and threaded her devious way through the
narrow leads. Often after the schooner’s passage, the ice, disturbed by
her wake, would drift across the channels, and soon the boys, looking
astern, could see nothing but the vast field of ice showing no sign of
the open water by which they had entered.

Here, too, the boys saw why the topsail schooner was such a favorite
with Arctic whalemen. To be sure, Cap’n Pem had already explained it to
them when they had first discussed the _Narwhal’s_ rig, but until they
actually saw it demonstrated they did not fully realize how handy the rig
was amid the ice. Often, as the vessel plunged forward along a narrow
lead, the passage would end in an impenetrable barrier, and the boys held
their breaths as the schooner seemed about to dash into the mass of ice.
But each time the old whaleman’s voice would roar out an order. The men,
ready at sheets and braces, would bend to the ropes and, as the huge
topsail yard swung about, the _Narwhal_ would slow down, hesitate, and at
the very instant the boys expected to hear the splintering of ice and the
crashing of shivered planking, the schooner would begin to move backward.
But at last the leads became so narrow, so tortuous and so choked with
ice that Cap’n Pem declared they could go no farther.

“Reckon we’d better be gettin’ out ice anchors, an’ lyin’ here till she
opens up,” he declared, addressing Captain Edwards. “Soon’s wind or tide
changes, the derned ice’ll begin ter move.”

“Humph, and take us with it, like as not,” responded the skipper. “Never
did see such a lot of ice ’long here this time o’ year. And time’s
flyin’. If she don’t open up mighty quick, we’ll have to put about and
make for the Straits or we won’t be a-gettin’ into the Bay this season.”

“Can’t you run in with the motor?” asked Tom. “Seems to me that’s easier
to handle than sails.”

“By glory! I must be gettin’ old,” cried the captain. “Say, Pem, what
sort of a’ ice pilot are you that you didn’t think of that?”

“How in tarnation’d I think o’ thet there contraption?” demanded the old
whaleman. “Fust time I ever wuz shipmates long o’ one.”

In a few minutes the motor’s exhaust was ringing loudly across the ice
pack, and under half speed, the schooner was cautiously feeling her way
through the zigzagging, winding lanes of water; bumping into floating
cakes, grating against the solid masses on either side, but each moment
getting farther and farther into the vast field and nearer to the gray
rocky coast. Presently, from the lookout came the shout of “Open water
ahead!” An hour later the _Narwhal_ was resting at anchor in a broad
expanse of open sea with only isolated grounded bergs and drifting floes
upon the surface. Seaward, the white barrier through which she had
passed stretched to the horizon to north and south.

Hardly had the schooner come to rest before the Eskimos were launching
their kayaks, and in a few minutes were darting away in various
directions.

“Where are they going?” asked Tom as he and Jim watched the skin boats
leave the vessel’s side.

“Lookin’ for walrus,” replied the captain. “When they sight a herd
they’ll come back and report and like as not get a few to bring along as
samples.”

“I’d love to be with them,” declared Jim. “I’m going to ask Unavik to
take us in a kayak some day.”

“Better start with a real boat,” advised the captain. “If you see a big
bull walrus rearin’ up his head and glarin’ at you with them red eyes of
his, and roarin’ and bellowin’ and heavin’ his tusks up and down, and
rushin’ at you like he’s gone crazy, you’ll be mighty glad you’re in a
whaleboat ’stead of a skin kayak.”

“Whew, are they like that?” cried Tom. “They look so big and clumsy in
the pictures and when they’re stuffed, that I didn’t suppose they could
really do much harm.”

“Wussedest critters I know,” declared Cap’n Pem, “and ye wouldn’t git me
fer to hunt ’em in them there cockleshells o’ kayaks, not fer nothin’.
With a good musket an’ a whaleboat ’tain’t so bad, but a bull walrus
ain’t to be sneezed at, lemme tell ye!”

“All the more excitement,” laughed Tom. “I’m just crazy to go after them!”

“Guess ye mus’ be crazy to wanter,” muttered old Pem. “But long’s ye’re
out fer to git adventure an’ own the consarned ol’ ship, there ain’t a
mite o’ use my tellin’ ye not to.”

Jim laughed. “You know perfectly well you wouldn’t let us go and neither
would Captain Edwards, if there was any real danger,” he said.

“There’s always danger on a whaler in the Arctic,” said the skipper,
“but you two boys know how to shoot and ain’t reckless, and Kemp’s an
old hand, and there ain’t any likelihood of your gettin’ hurt, in a good
boat.”

“But there’s that there cat——” began Pem.

“Oh nonsense!” interrupted Tom. “If we go, we’re going to take that cat
with us as a mascot.”

“Waall, fools _will_ rush in, ye knows,” muttered the old whaleman as he
stumped aft.

While waiting for the Eskimos to return with word as to the whereabouts
of the walrus herd, the boats were lowered, the masts stepped, guns and
other appliances and weapons stowed, and all prepared in readiness for
the hunt. At last, after several hours wait, the boys spied the kayaks
returning. As they drew near, Tom and Jim saw that the two leading craft
were towing some huge object. Grasping the glasses, Tom ran up the
rigging. “They’ve found them!” he cried out an instant later. “They’re
bringing in the ‘sample’ just as the captain said.”

“How they can get a walrus and tow him in with those kyaks gets me,”
declared Jim.

“Trust those boys to do it though,” said Mr. Kemp. “Why, they even get
big bowheads in kayaks. They can handle them canoes to beat all. I’ve
seen ’em flop clean over and come up a smilin’ t’other side.”

Tom laughed. “You must think we’re greener than we are, to swallow that,”
he declared.

The second officer grinned. “All right, I’ll prove it,” he announced, and
calling to a young Eskimo who stood near, he said something to him in the
fellow’s own language.

With a broad grin the Eskimo slipped over the schooner’s rail, settled
himself in the tiny craft, pulled the string of the lacing to the
circular opening about his body, and with a few strokes of his paddle
drew away from the _Narwhal_.

“Now watch him!” exclaimed Mr. Kemp.

Glancing up at the watching boys, the Eskimo waved his hand, gave a
sudden lurch to one side, and to the boys’ utter amazement, the kayak
capsized. The next instant they could see only the smooth rounded bottom
of the canoe.

“Oh, he’ll be drowned!” cried Tom. “He’s laced in and can’t——”

Before he could finish the sentence, the kayak had rotated, and scarcely
believing their eyes, the boys saw the craft bob right side up with its
swarthy occupant still grinning.

“Well, that _is_ a stunt!” cried Jim.

“Yes, I take it all back,” said Tom. “I’ll believe any yarn you tell us
after that.”

Over and over again the Eskimo performed the feat for the boys’ benefit,
and then, the walrus hunters approaching, he darted off and joined them.

As the kayaks came alongside, the boys looked with wonder at the enormous
creature they had in tow—a huge bull walrus, partly supported by
air-filled skin floats, and with gleaming white tusks nearly two feet in
length.

Swarming on to the schooner, the Eskimos all began chattering at once in
a mixture of broken English, Danish, and their own tongue, until Captain
Edwards threw up his hands in despair. “Here, Mr. Kemp,” he called, “come
and get this. I can savvy a bit o’ the lingo, but this is too much for
me. They’re worse nor a flock o’ poll-parrots!”

The second officer pushed his way through the group, uttered a few sharp
words in the Eskimos’ dialect, and instantly all ceased talking. Then,
turning to a man who appeared to be a leader, he asked him a question.
Rapidly and with sparkling eyes the fellow replied, and Mr. Kemp turned
to the skipper. “Says there’s a whoppin’ big herd of walrus over to
Lewis’ Inlet,” he announced. “’Cordin’ to him, must be pretty nigh two
hundred of the critters. Leastwise, he says ‘twenty pair of hands of ’em’
and that’s all the same as two hundred. Says they’re well up on land and
easy to cut off from water. They picked the bull up outside on a cake of
ice.”

“All right,” replied the captain. “Man the boats and get started. Guess
you’ll need pretty near all hands. Swanson’s been after walrus afore, he
tells me, and I guess Pem and Mike and two or three of the men can take
care of the ship. I’ll go along in one boat, you take another, Swanson
can take the third and—hmm, Mr. Chester, you’re to take the fourth boat!”

For a moment Tom did not realize that the captain was addressing him, and
then, as it dawned upon him, “Wha—what’s that?” he stammered. “You don’t
mean——”

“That you’re in charge of the port after-boat,” interrupted the skipper
with a twinkle in his eye. “You can take Mr. Lathrop as mate if you wish.
Might as well learn how to handle a boat now as ever.”

“Gee Whitaker!” exclaimed the dazed boy as he and Jim dashed to their
cabin for their rifles. “I’m as nervous as a cat! Of course I can steer
the boat—with the rudder and under sail; but I don’t know what to do when
we get to the walrus.”

“Oh, just do like the others do,” advised Jim. “Gosh, I’d like to have
your chance! Say, you’ll be a regular boat steerer next! Besides, Captain
Edwards will probably tell you what to do when we get near.”

But despite Jim’s encouraging words, Tom’s knees were shaky as he took
his place in the boat assigned him, slipped the rudder in place, and sat
waiting the captain’s order to cast off.

“When you get near the herd, spread out,” directed Captain Edwards, “and
go in as near the same time as you can. Pick the biggest bulls and aim
for the ear or neck close to the head. Take them that’s near the water
first, and if one of ’em comes for you, keep off and shoot him. Don’t
take no chances—a bull walrus can stave a boat’s easy as a egg shell.”

A moment later the boats were cast off, sails were trimmed, and the
little fleet went dancing across the calm sea, each boat towing several
kayaks with their Eskimo occupants behind it.

Nearer and nearer they approached the shore. The schooner was a mere
speck in the distance, and the captain’s boat, guided by a wrinkled old
Eskimo, swung more towards the south. Presently they passed a jutting,
rocky cape, about whose shores the drift ice was piled high, and entered
a tiny bottle-shaped bay. And at the sight which greeted them, the boys
exclaimed in wonder.

Everywhere upon the shingle and the grounded cakes of ice were the bulky,
dull-brown, clumsy-looking walrus. There were scores—hundreds of the
creatures. Giant bulls with enormous, wrinkled, warty-skinned necks and
gleaming ivory tusks; smaller, light-colored cows, and little seal-like
pups. The pups and cows were some distance from the water’s edge, the
younger bulls were scattered in groups near by and along the shore.
Resting on rocks or ice cakes with their tiny heads raised high, were the
old veterans of a thousand fights, the giant, scarred, elephantine bulls.

Instantly, as with one accord, sails were lowered, the kayaks were cast
off and, under oars and paddles, the fleet of boats and canoes swept upon
the herd. For a moment the bulls stared wonderingly at the unexpected
visitors. Then a low, growling, barking roar echoed across the bay. The
great creatures wheeled about to face the intruders and, shaking their
tusked heads threateningly, prepared to defend the cows and their young.

The next instant, rifles and muskets roared. The boys glimpsed several
big bulls as they swayed and sank lifeless. They heard the shouts of the
excited men, the shriller cries of the Eskimos, and then forgot all else
as their boat approached a gigantic bull walrus who had dragged himself
to the very verge of an ice cake, and was on the point of diving into the
sea. Taking careful aim, Jim fired; but at the very instant he pulled the
trigger, the boat lurched, his rifle wavered, and the bull with a roar
plunged with a tremendous splash into the water.

“Gosh, I missed!” cried Jim.

“There’s another!” screamed Tom. “Get him!”

Once more Jim’s rifle crashed out and a smaller bull sagged like an empty
sack upon the shingle.

“Hurrah!” cried Tom, and then his glad shout died on his lips and he
screamed a warning filled with terror. Within two feet of the boat—so
close he could have touched it with his outstretched hand—a great,
ferocious-looking head had burst from the water, the tiny, wicked eyes
gleaming like those of an enraged elephant, the stiff, horny whiskers
bristling, the two-foot yellow tusks dripping blood from a deep gash
across the forehead where Jim’s bullet had cut its way.

Wounded, mad with fury, the walrus reared its massive neck above the
water and hurled itself at the boat. Frantically Tom yelled. The men
seized the oars and struggled desperately to swing the boat. Jim hastily
reloaded and strove to shoot. But the boat was swaying and tipping to the
men’s efforts and Jim could not aim. Almost before they realized their
peril, the boys saw the maddened creature’s head raised above the edge
of the boat. With a tremendous blow, the long tusks came crashing down,
splintering the thwart, breaking the stout oak rail and bearing the boat
down to the water’s edge.

Instantly the men threw themselves to the opposite side of the craft.
With oars, clubs and whatever they could grasp they rained a shower of
blows upon the animal’s head, but they might as well have struck at a
helmet of steel. With blood pouring from the wounds, but not affected by
them in the least, the bull walrus lashed the water into a maelstrom
of froth, wrenched his head back and forth, bellowed with rage, and
swung the heavy thirty-foot boat from side to side and up and down as
though it were a thing of paper. Excited, rattled, terror-stricken, Tom
was paralyzed with fear, and neither he nor any of his men realized
that their antagonist was striving with might and main to tear free his
tusks wedged in the splintered wood; that, with his head thus held as
in a trap, he could not lift himself high enough to withdraw his tusks,
and that he was in reality almost as terrorized as the occupants of the
boat. Owing to some mistake, none of the old hands were in Tom’s boat.
Not a member of his crew had ever before seen a live walrus, much less
an infuriated wounded one. They were so thoroughly frightened by the
creature’s sudden and savage onslaught, that they completely lost their
heads.

Then, suddenly and with a wild shout, one-eyed Ned leaped forward, seized
a boat spade and, yelling like a fiend and holding the weapon as though
it were a bayonet, he plunged the keen-edged spade time after time
into the thick, wrinkled neck of the walrus. The sea turned crimson,
the walrus lashed the water into scarlet foam. Gradually his struggles
ceased, his eyes closed, and he lay dead, with his tusks still locked
over the boat’s rail.

But the danger was not over. The inert, heavy body tipped the craft until
every wave lapped over the side, and while several men struggled and
heaved and tugged to lift the creature’s head free, the others bailed for
their lives, but seemingly to no purpose. Not only was the buoyancy of
the boat pressing upwards against the weight of the walrus, but the tusks
were driven so firmly through the thwart that they were locked as though
in a vise. Each second it seemed as if the boat would fill and all would
be struggling in the icy water.

Their shouts and cries had attracted the attention of the other boats
and Swanson, who was nearest, had come racing to Tom’s aid. Before his
boat was alongside, the battle was over, however, and seeing the trouble,
the cooper and several of his men leaped into Tom’s boat and with their
weight on the upper side, the water ceased to come in. Then Tom, suddenly
remembering his responsibility, recovered his scattered wits. “Here!” he
shouted. “Get the handle of an oar under his head and pry him loose!” But
even with the stout handle of the heavy ash oar as a lever, the walrus’
head could not be budged.

“Get the hatchet and cut away the thwart!” ordered Tom. As the keen-edged
little ax cut through the splintered wood, the men heaved up on the oar,
and with a splash the animal’s head slipped over the rail into the sea.

Swanson stood up, pulled at his huge mustache, drew his pipe from his
pocket and commenced to fill it with a blunt, blackened forefinger. “Ay
tank you bane have close shave,” he remarked, as he glanced about. “By
yiminy, you bane pretty near cut das fellow head off.”

“I’ll say we had a close shave!” exclaimed Tom. “And if it hadn’t been
for Ned we’d all have been drowned or killed. Gee, I’d have hated to be
overboard with that beast. Ned was the only one who kept his head.”

The big Swede nodded approvingly, squinted his pale blue eyes and turned
his gaze curiously on the ex-soldier.

“Ay tank mebbe das glass eye he got more better as two some fellers got.
He bane gude fellow, Ned,” he declared gravely.

“Aw, forget it!” exclaimed the one-eyed veteran flushing. “I didn’t do
nothin’. The bloomin’ beast’s face was so darned like that of a Hun what
stuck his ugly mug into my dugout over there, that I plumb forgot myself
an’ went at him with a bay’net same’s if he was a Heinie.”

“Well, if that was a sample of the way you went after the Germans, I’m
sorry for them!” laughed Tom.

“Vell, Ay tank Ay bane goin’ back,” remarked Swanson as he scrambled into
his own boat. “Yumpin yiminy! Das bane vun big bull you get!”

Now that the excitement was over, the boys glanced about. No more
walruses were to be seen ashore. The rocks and ice were deserted save for
a half dozen dead bulls and a couple of badly wounded ones. A few cows
could be seen swimming some distance away. The other boats’ crews were
busy working at the kill. The Eskimos, however, were paddling furiously
about and the interested boys saw the forward man in the nearest kayak
lunge forward with his harpoon as a bull walrus broke water.

“Golly, if that fellow goes for ’em they’ll be sunk!” exclaimed Jim.

But the Eskimos gave the stricken and angry creature no chance. As with a
snort of rage he broke the surface and charged the kayak, the tiny craft
whirled as on a pivot, dodged the oncoming creature and, as it passed by
him, the Eskimo in the bow leaned over and drove a long lance into the
animal’s neck. Over and over again the maneuver was repeated. Fascinated
the boys and men watched this battle between the wounded, infuriated bull
walrus and the frail craft of skin, with its Eskimo occupants armed
with their primitive weapons. But, as always, brains and intelligence
triumphed, and presently the grinning natives were paddling toward shore,
towing the carcass of their victim behind them.



CHAPTER X

UNAVIK SPINS A YARN


Many days had passed since the boys’ first walrus hunt. They had learned
much by experience and had killed many of the enormous ugly creatures
without mishap. They had retained the skull of that first huge bull as
a trophy, and no walrus taken since had approached it in the length
and beauty of the perfectly matched and pointed tusks. Tom, to his
unspeakable delight, had been made boat steerer and had been assigned to
the same craft in which they had battled with the walrus and Jim, not to
be outdone, had bent every energy to acquiring skill in using the harpoon
and lance.

In this Cap’n Pem had played an important part, and finding the regular
irons far too heavy for the boy, he had had the blacksmith fashion some
special lighter weapons for Jim’s private use. Jim was as proud as a
peacock of these and kept them, sharpened to a razor edge and carefully
sheathed and greased, in the bow of the boat. And when, one day, two
white whales were sighted and Tom’s boat drew into one of the creatures,
and Jim had his first chance to test his skill, he was trembling with
excitement.

Standing in the bow, bracing himself in the knee cleat, the boy raised
his iron, and as the huge beluga broke water close by, he heaved the
iron with all his strength. A roar of approval came booming across the
waves from Cap’n Pem as the weapon struck fair and buried itself in the
white whale’s back. All by themselves the boys and their crew played the
stricken creature and by Tom’s orders the men worked as the line was
hauled or slackened. When at last the white whale lay tired upon the sea,
the boat drew close, and Jim killed the beluga with a single stroke of
his lance. Then indeed, the two boys felt that they were full-fledged
whalemen and they longed for the time when they could go on a real whale,
a bowhead, and fight the thrilling, exciting, dangerous battle with a
monster of the deep and bring him “fin up” unaided.

But no bowheads were seen, and the boys were forced to content themselves
with lesser game. They had learned to handle the kayaks, and under
Unavik’s tutelage they had become quite expert with the ticklish
skin-covered craft. Often they had paddled ashore and, armed with rifle
and shotgun, had gone hunting in the rocky hills or over the tundra, but
they had seen neither bear, musk ox, reindeer, or other large game. But
they invariably returned with full bags, for ducks, plover, geese and
swan, as well as the big Arctic hares, were everywhere, and those on the
_Narwhal_ never suffered for lack of fresh meat. Once too, Jim had spied
a grayish shape skulking along a hollow several hundred yards away and
taking careful aim had brought it down at his first shot.

“Gee, I guess it’s some Eskimo’s dog!” he exclaimed when the two boys
reached the creature and saw a gaunt, pale, grayish yellow, doglike
animal lying among the rocks and sparse grass.

“Well it’s got a good hide anyway,” said Tom. “We’ll skin it and take it
along. It’ll make a nice rug when we get home.”

But when, on reaching the schooner, they exhibited the skin, and Mr.
Kemp told them they had killed a huge wolf, the boys fairly gasped with
astonishment and then danced and yelled with delight.

Another time, Tom had killed a beautiful blue fox as the creature raced
away from a half-devoured young Canada goose, and in a pen on the forward
deck, they had a miniature menagerie of young ducks, geese, swans, gulls,
and other birds.

It was now late summer and the young birds of the year were able to take
care of themselves, but when the boys had first gone ashore on their
hunts, ducks, geese, and other wild fowl were nesting by thousands in
every hollow and swale.

It was on their first trip that Jim had an amusing experience, and for
months afterwards Tom and the ship’s officers never ceased teasing him
about it. The two boys were strolling across a little vale, a spot
carpeted with deep reindeer moss and stunted bushes, when, from almost
under Jim’s feet, a duck fluttered away apparently unable to take wing.
Leaping forward to grasp it Jim’s foot tripped and he plunged headlong
into the bushes. There was a crunching crash beneath him and, as he
regained his feet, Tom fairly doubled up with uncontrollable laughter.
From chest to waist Jim was drenched with a sticky yellow mass dotted
with broken and crushed bluish egg shells. He had fallen squarely upon
the duck’s nest!

“Oh you _are_ a sight!” choked Tom. “Gosh, you certainly did find that
nest, Jim!”

Jim looked ruefully at the dripping mess and without a smile exclaimed:
“Gee, I like eggs, but I don’t like ’em scrambled that way!”

The story was too good to keep, and whenever eggs were served thereafter
some one would invariably ask Jim if he’d have his scrambled.

At last the signs of approaching autumn warned Captain Edwards that
they must leave the shores of Baffin Island and speed southward to
Hudson Straits and winter quarters in Hudson Bay. Long strings of swans
and great V-shaped flocks of geese passed daily across the sky, headed
south. The vast rafts of ducks became uneasy. The Old Squaws whistled
querulously, the eiders swam restlessly about, buffle heads and teal
winged swiftly back and forth, and the blackheads darkened the sky
with their veering, ever-turning flocks. The plover lost their black
waistcoats and took on silvery white ones; the snow bunting became gray
and white; the ptarmigan were dotted with white feathers among their soft
brown plumage and the Arctic hares grew paler and paler as they gradually
assumed their winter coats to match the spotless snow. The days grew
shorter, the sun disappeared below the horizon, and the Aurora glowed and
flashed and scintillated in tongues and bands of lambent hues across the
zenith. The wind was chill with the feel of frost and ice as it swept
across the land which now showed hardly a tint of green or a speck of the
scarlet, blue and yellow that had formerly decked the hillsides.

So, with many casks of oils, great piles of walrus hides, bundles of
sealskins, sacks stuffed full of eider feathers, and many hundred pounds
of walrus ivory in her hold, the _Narwhal_ picked and felt her way out
through the leads among the ice pack and into the broad waters of Baffin
Bay. To the strong and biting wind her sails were spread, and across the
short sharp waves with their spiteful hissing caps of foam, the schooner
plunged towards Disko Bay. Here the Eskimos were landed laden with axes,
powder and lead, cloth, brass, and gee-gaws as their wages. Then with
yards braced sharp up and sheets close hauled, the _Narwhal_ buried
her blunt nose deep in the tumbling foam, and with lee rail awash sped
southward for the entrance to Hudson Straits.

Twice bowheads were sighted and boats lowered; but to the boys’ chagrin
and disappointment, Captain Edwards absolutely refused to let them go
in on the giant creatures without an experienced man in charge, for the
weather was squally, swirling flakes of snow fell now and then, the sea
was rough and time was precious.

At last, the entrance to the Straits was reached. Passing Resolution
Island close to windward and with a fair wind, the _Narwhal_ sped
through. Slipping swiftly past Coats Island and through the narrow
Fisher Strait with big Southampton Island on the north, she headed for
Rowe’s Welcome, where Captain Edwards planned to pass the long and dreary
Arctic winter.

“Gosh!” exclaimed Tom as the boys gazed across the vast expanse of the
bay. “This is like the ocean. I thought Hudson Bay was just like a big
lake.”

Captain Edwards chuckled. “Mighty big lake!” he laughed. “About six
hundred miles wide and a thousand miles long—big enough to drop all
New England into it and just make a little island about the size of
Southampton yonder. And did you know we could go on sailing and come out
over north’ard of Alaska—that is, if the ice’d let us?”

“No, I never did,” admitted Tom. “I wish geographies taught us all these
things. We learn that Lake Superior is awfully big but they never say
much about these out-of-the-way places.”

“Well, Superior’s a pretty sizable pond,” declared the skipper. “But it’s
just a puddle ’longside this bay. Why, from James Bay to the north’ard
point of Melville Peninsula’s as far as acrost the Atlantic at the mouth
of the St. Lawrence; and from Nottingham Island at the end of the Straits
to the Seal River, t’other side of the bay, it’s as far as from New York
to Chicago.”

“Whew, I guess I’ll have to remember that and tell the boys at home,”
said Jim. “Are there whales in here?”

“Whales!” exclaimed the skipper. “One of the best grounds I know. If this
weather holds out we’ll get a heap of ile afore ice begins to make.”

Cap’n Pem who stood near shook his head dolefully. “Too consarned good
fer to las’,” he declared. “Li’ble to come down a rip-snortin’ mos’ anny
minnet. Storm breeder’s what I calls it. Yes, sir. Feels like summer now,
but I’ll bet ye we ketch it afore we git to the Welcome.”

It was, as the old whaleman said, “too good to last”—a soft, warm day
with a blue sky, a calm sea barely ruffled by the light southerly wind,
and altogether like an Indian Summer day in New England. But to the
experienced eye of the old whaleman there were many signs that the
weather would not last and that something was wrong. The ducks, that had
been winging southward, huddled together, raised their heads uneasily and
gabbled ceaselessly. The V-shaped flocks of geese were mere specks in
the sky, and their hoarse honks came faintly through the air. The gulls
uttered raucous cries and wheeled and screamed. Little knots of auks and
guillemots kept rising from the waves, heading on rapidly moving wings
for the craggy shores. The sun had a pale, hazy appearance while about it
was a huge ring of light, like the ghost of a rainbow.

Lighter and lighter became the wind. It fell to a flat calm, the water
was smooth as oil and the _Narwhal_ drifted idly. Then the boys noticed
that the vast bulk of Southampton Island seemed to be fading away, the
farther shores of the bay were becoming faint and blue. Almost before
they realized what it meant, the air grew suddenly chill, a cold wind
whipped against their faces and, like a gray blanket, the fog descended
swiftly, unheralded, and wrapped schooner and bay in its dense gray folds.

“Knowed sutthin’ wuz a-comin’ out o’ this,” declared Cap’n Pem. “Bust it
all, why couldn’t she ’a’ held off ’til we got inter the Welcome?”

“What on earth _is_ this ‘Welcome’ you’re always speaking of?” asked Tom.

“Shucks, ’course ye don’t know,” replied the old whaleman. “Why, a
Welcome’s a sort o’ harbor-bay like, where a ship kin put in an’ be snug
an’ safe from ice jams an’ win’s.”

“Well, it’s a good name for such places,” laughed Tom. “I suppose the
first people who found them called them that because they were so
welcome.”

“Yep, I reckon so,” assented Pem. “But this here blasted fog ain’t
welcome, an’ like as not it’ll come on cold and blow harder’n blazes fer
a week arter it lifts. I knowed that there cat’d play the everlastin’
fumdiddles with us.”

The fog was now so dense that only a few feet of the deck and bulwarks
were visible about the spot where one stood. The water although so near
was completely hidden and looking down into the greenish gray vapor, the
ship seemed floating in air. From every side came the whimpering cries of
gulls, the querulous chatter of ducks, the honk of geese, and the shrill
notes of other birds. Presently Unavik loomed silently close to the boys
and leaning upon the rail peered into the fog.

“H’lo!” he greeted the two. “Plenty fog, me say. Me t’ink Ukla bus’ dis
day.”

“What _are_ you talking about?” queried Jim. “What’s ‘Ukla,’ and what do
you mean by its busting?’”

The Eskimo grinned. “Gimme t’bac, me say you,” he replied.

So accustomed had the boys become to Unavik’s inevitable requests for
tobacco, that they always carried a plug or two in their pockets, and so,
at the Eskimo’s request, Jim handed him the coveted weed.

“Reckon he’s goin’ to spin a Eskimo yarn,” remarked Mr. Kemp, who
stepped like a phantom from the surrounding mist. “These boys is full
of stories—have one to account for blamed near everything. Some of ’em
mighty good, too.”

Unavik grinned, tore a huge mouthful of tobacco from the plug with his
strong white teeth and, having masticated it for a moment, began to
speak. It was not difficult for the boys to understand him, for they had
become familiar with his bizarre English. They listened intently to his
tale which, without Unavik’s dialect, was as follows:

“Many, many winters ago,” commenced the Eskimo, “there was one great
white bear named Ukla. He and his wife lived many days’ travel towards
the west in a great skin house on a rocky plain, and all about the house
were the skulls of men and women, for Ukla and his wife ate people’s
flesh, and every night he traveled across the land to the Eskimo
villages. Then he would kill any one he found outside the huts, and if he
could not do this, he would steal the bodies of the dead and fastening a
thong about their feet, would drag them to his home.

“Sometimes he was seen by the Eskimos, but oftener the people saw only
his giant footmarks in the snow, or found the graves opened and the dead
gone. For many years old Ukla did this, and although the Eskimos held
medicine feasts and asked the Great Spirit to help them, no help came.

“Many times also the people lay in wait and tried to kill Ukla, the giant
bear, with their spears and arrows, but Ukla was a great _anticoot_
(magician) and the weapons fell from his shaggy skin bent or broken. Then
one day a stranger came to the Eskimos—a tall fair man, and said:

“‘Take heart, for I will destroy Ukla.’

“Then the Eskimos danced and beat their drums and were happy, and the
stranger said to them: ‘To-morrow I will pretend to be dead, and you must
wrap me in skins and bury me among the stones; and when Ukla comes let
him take me away in peace.’

“Then the people were sad, but the stranger said: ‘Weep not, for I will
return and never again will Ukla rob the graves or kill the people.’

“So the Eskimos did as the stranger told them, and wrapping him in skins
placed him among the stones and went to their homes, crying loudly as if
he had died. In the night came the great bear who had heard the Eskimos’
wails across the hills, and seeing the body of the stranger, he fastened
a thong about the man’s ankles and started for his home. But the man
spread out his arms and grasped at stones and bushes, and although Ukla
pulled and tugged he could not travel fast, and every few miles he had
to stop and rest. Then as he looked at the man’s body lying quiet on the
ground he would shake his head in wonder.

“‘Ah,’ he would mutter to himself, ‘who would think such a small man
would weigh so much; but he must be very fat and fine indeed! What a fine
supper he will make!’ Then, thinking of the fine feast he would have,
Ukla would start on again. At last, very tired, he reached his hut, and
dragging the man inside, the bear pushed him into a corner, and too tired
to eat he crawled into his sleeping bag, telling his wife they would
feast in the morning.

“After a time the stranger opened his eyes to look about, but Ukla’s
wife, who was trimming the lamp, saw him and cried out to her husband:
‘This man is not dead—he is looking about!’

“But Ukla was very weary and said sleepily: ‘Oh, man dead, man frozen
stiff.’

“Then the man kept very still, and when the bear’s wife turned away, he
seized Ukla’s knife, and leaping up, killed her. As she fell dead Ukla
awoke, but the man, throwing down the knife, dashed out of the door and
across the plain with the big bear at his heels, panting and growling and
snapping his teeth.

“At last, no matter how fast he ran, the man found Ukla was getting
nearer and nearer and would soon overtake him. But the man was a great
_anticoot_, and as he ran he made a great hill rise between himself and
Ukla. So as the bear climbed slowly up one side, the man raced swiftly
down the other. But when Ukla reached the top he curled up in a ball and
rolled so quickly down the hill that he almost caught the man.

“Then the stranger made a big river flow between himself and the bear,
and weary with running he seated himself on a stone to rest. When Ukla
came to the river he roared and growled in anger and in a great voice
called out: ‘How, O man did _you_ cross the river?’

“And the man laughed and answered, ‘I drank my way across.’

“When Ukla heard this, he plunged into the water and drank and drank
until at last he made a dry path across the river, and crawled slowly
up the other bank towards the man. But his long hair was wet and heavy
and his body was swollen with the water he had drunk, so that the man
had no fear of him and taunted him. Then Ukla grew very angry and with
growls like icebergs clashing in a storm he roared: ‘Ugh! even though I
cannot overtake you, yet you shall not escape me!’ and giving himself a
mighty shake he burst, and the water which he had swallowed flew in all
directions and made a thick fog over the land.

“Now the man was greatly troubled, for the hills and plains could not be
seen and he was lost. But he skinned Ukla, and taking the shaggy hide in
his hands, he waved it many times about his head. This made a great wind
which drove away the fog and the man walked safely to the Eskimo village.
Then there was great rejoicing and the men did not work or hunt for three
days, and the women did not comb their hair for three days and three
nights, but all danced and beat drums and feasted.

“For many years the stranger dwelt among the people and taught them many
things, and so that the people would always remember him, he told them
that Ukla’s spirit would roam the plains, and would burst from time to
time, and that then, as the fog came, they must give offerings and hold
medicine dances, and that then he would know they had not forgotten and
would wave Ukla’s skin and drive away the fog.”

“That is a good yarn!” cried Tom as Unavik ended. “And say, hurrah, the
fog’s lifting!”

Unavik grinned. “Man, he hear plenty drum. You no hear? Me say he please
an’ wave um skin.”

“Gee, I do hear drums!” declared Tom. “From over to the west.”

“Sure Mike!” exclaimed Unavik. “Me say all same. Fog go.”

Tom laughed. “Do you believe that yarn, Unavik?” he asked.

The Eskimo stared at Tom with a puzzled expression. “Sure,” he declared,
“me see hill, me see river, me see fog. All time fog come Eskimo make-um
plenty dance, plenty drum, fog go, all same now.”

As if further argument was useless in the face of such evidence, Unavik
waddled off towards the bows.

Presently the water was rippling against the vessel’s sides. The fog had
thinned until the entire schooner was visible from where the boys stood.
In wisps and shreds the vapor was scudding by, while out of the west came
a strong, cold wind.

As the last of the fog swept by, there was a hoarse frightened bellow
from forward. Quick sharp orders were roared out and the boys, racing
to the lee side of the schooner, fairly gasped. Almost under the bows
was a jagged reef of sharp black rocks! For a brief instant the boys
stood petrified. The schooner seemed doomed. Before her sails could be
trimmed, before she would have steerageway upon her she would be on the
rocks. Each second she was drifting, slipping nearer to the reef. The
boys listened with bated breath, expecting to hear the rending crash, the
awful jar that would mean the _Narwhal’s_ end.

All about orders were flying thick and fast. Cap’n Pem was roaring from
the break of the poop. Captain Edwards had leaped to the wheel and was
shouting commands. Mr. Kemp in the main shrouds was cursing the men for
their slowness. Back and forth to braces, sheets and halyards the men
were rushing and hauling in a vain effort to save the ship. Then, from
under the boys’ feet came rapid pistol-like reports; above the cries of
the men, drowning the creak and squeal of block and sheave, barked the
exhaust of the motor; the _Narwhal_ forged ahead, she swung slowly to her
rudder and, with not five feet to spare, slid by the threatening reefs to
safety.

With blank faces boys and men gazed at one another. Who had saved the
ship? It was not Mike, he was stumping hurriedly aft as puzzled as any
one.

“B’ Saint Pathrick!” he cried. “’Tis a sphirit Oi’m thinkin’!”

With the boys by his side he hurried through the cabin towards the tiny
engine room where the motor was still throbbing steadily.

“Glory be!” he exclaimed, as he caught sight of the figure bending over
the motor. “Glory be, ’tis thot dummy av a blacksmith!”

“Gosh, it is!” cried Tom. “The deaf-and-dumb man!”

“B’jabbers thin ’tis no dummy in his brains he do be, at thot!” roared
Mike. “B’ the powers, ’tis lucky we do be, thot Oi tould him to be afther
doin’ a bit o’ worruk on the injine.”

The deaf mute straightened up and stared blankly at the three. Then,
moving his fingers in an attempt to explain matters, he shut off the
motor, picked up his kit of tools and walked forward.

“Gee, I’d like to know how it happened,” declared Tom. “He couldn’t have
heard the orders or excitement. I’m going to ask Swanson.”

A broad grin overspread the big Swede’s features as, in response to Tom’s
questions, he interrogated the deaf mute and watched the fellow’s fingers
communicating his reply.

“He say he bane fix das machine an’ he bane want to try him out. Ay tank,
by yiminy, it bane lucky he try him yust den.”



CHAPTER XI

THE BOYS CATCH A TARTAR


It was indeed a lucky thing for the _Narwhal_ and all upon her that the
deaf-mute had been tinkering with the motor and had started the machine
at exactly the right instant. Scarcely had the schooner cleared the reef
when, to the north, the bay was blotted from sight by a white wall, a
roar like a cataract came booming across the water and sea birds flew
screaming past with wings aslant.

One glance Cap’n Pem gave and then, at the top of his leathern lungs,
he bellowed orders fast and furiously. The men, yet at their posts,
leaped to his bidding. Captain Edwards who was still at the wheel tugged
desperately at the spokes. Mr. Kemp himself led the willing crew aloft
and, working like demons, the men stripped the vessel of her lighter
sails. And not an instant too soon. Before the first reef cringle was
knotted in the foresail, the squall was upon them. With a maniacal shriek
the gale tore through the rigging, the water dashed in bucketfuls of
icy spray across the decks, and at the sudden irresistible pressure the
_Narwhal_ heeled until half her decks were awash, and a raging blizzard
blotted out sea and land.

Farther and farther the staunch old schooner heeled to the wind. Clinging
to shrouds, backstays, and rigging, the men and boys waited, expecting
each second that the schooner would actually capsize. The sleet beat upon
them, stinging like needles, and the blinding snow swirled and eddied and
piled in drifts upon the deck.

Cap’n Pem’s mouth opened and shut. Mr. Kemp cupped his hands to his lips,
but not a word could be heard above the terrific din of the howling wind,
the rattle of hail, the roaring of the gale in the sails, the whipping
of loose rigging, the creak and groans of straining spars and the
lashing thunder of the rapidly rising seas. Then slowly, inch by inch,
the _Narwhal_ swung around. Gradually she righted, the water poured in
cataracts from her scuppers and, shaking herself like an impatient horse,
she leaped forward and tore madly through the foaming water towards the
south.

Onward she sped through the blizzard, before the howling gale. With
jaws hard set and eyes straining, the three men at the wheel panted and
strained and threw their weight upon the spokes in a mighty effort
to hold her to her course. Forward, Mr. Kemp and two men huddled in
the lee of the winch and peered ahead, striving to pierce the eddying,
whirling wall of white. The two boys, awed, frightened, and shivering,
crouched beside the deck house, too fascinated, too thrilled to go
below for warmer garments. Twice great dim shapes loomed ahead. Each
time the frenzied shout of the lookout came in time and the _Narwhal_
sped past the bergs in safety. Again and again a thundering crash shook
the schooner from stem to stern as her plunging bow sheared through
floating cakes of ice. Once a dark mass of rocks loomed for an instant
within a hundred yards and the next second was gone, swallowed up in the
all-enveloping white.

But luck was with those on the _Narwhal_. By a miracle she escaped the
bergs; no large pan ice lay in her course; jagged reefs and rock-bound
islets were safely passed, and an hour after she had first started
on her mad rush before the gale, the squall ceased as suddenly as it
had commenced. The wind dropped to a steady blow, the snow ceased to
fall, blue sky showed overhead, and, ten minutes later, the decks were
streaming with water and there was a steady downpour from aloft as the
sun melted the tons of ice and snow that had accumulated during the
brief but terrific blizzard.

“Didn’t I tell ye it’d blow a rip-snorter?” exclaimed Cap’n Pem
triumphantly, as, with sails once more spread, the _Narwhal_ turned back
on her course. “I knowed it,” he continued, “drat that there cat!”

“B’gorra thin we’ll be afther havin’ foine luck fer the rist av the
cruise,” declared Mike. “Shure, the poor puss is gone entoirely. Didn’t
Oi see her with me own eyes—washed clane overboarrd whin the old schooner
wuz afther thyrin’ for to do the lay-me-down-to-slape stunt back there.”

“Oh, that’s too bad!” cried Tom. “Couldn’t you save her?”

“Save her, is it!” exclaimed Mike. “Shure yez wuz there and ’tis well
yez arre afther knowin’ ’twas a-savin’ av our own souls we wuz thinkin’
av—and divvil a bit av the cat’s.”

“Derned ef I ain’t glad,” declared Pem. “Mebbe we’ll be gittin’ on a mite
better now.”

Mike grinned, winked an eye at the boys and, as he turned away, remarked,
“Shure, ye ould croaker, Oi’d not be afther countin’ av me chickens afore
they do be hatched, thin. ’Tis noine loives a cat does be afther havin’
and b’gorra by the same token she’ll be a-comin’ back and be a-drowndin’
eight toimes yit, loike as not.”

“Shet up, ye dumb fool!” shouted the old whaleman. “We’re consarned well
rid o’ her.”

“Well, we’ve still four cats aboard,” Jim reminded him teasingly. “And
two of them are black.”

Cap’n Pem glared at the boy and stumped off without another word.

Slowly the _Narwhal_ beat back to the northward. Two days later she
entered Rowe’s Welcome and came to anchor in the sheltered bay within
a short distance of the shore. Close to the spot, near the mouth of a
river, were a score or more of Eskimo skin tents, and upon the shingle
at the river’s mouth were drawn dozens of kayaks. Before the _Narwhal’s_
chains roaring from the hawse holes had roused the echoes of the
hills, the Eskimos were paddling towards the schooner. At their first
glance the boys saw that here at last were the Eskimos they had always
pictured. Clad in garments of skin and fur they came scrambling over the
_Narwhal’s_ rail, laughing and grinning, copper-faced and slant-eyed,
but far cleaner than those at Hebron or Disko, and with something about
them which at once marked them as true primitive people untouched by
civilization. Their spears, harpoons, and arrows were tipped with
ivory or bone, their faces were tattooed and their garments were highly
decorated with beads and skin embroidery.

Presently, from the waist of the ship, came roars of laughter and
good-natured shouts. The boys, glancing up, saw a number of the crew
leaning over the bulwarks while others were hurrying to join the group.

“What’n tarnation’s up now?” exclaimed Cap’n Pem as with the boys by his
side he hurried forward.

As they reached the crowd of men, Swanson straightened up from the rail
over which he was leaning, took his pipe from his mouth and grinned under
his big yellow mustache. With a humorous twinkle in his deep-set blue
eyes he remarked, “Ay tank das cat bane come back.”

As the old whaleman peered over the ship’s side, his eyes seemed about to
pop from his head, his jaw dropped and he stared down at the kayaks below
as if he had seen a ghost. Perched on the rounded skin deck of one of the
canoes was the black cat!

“Well, I’ll be everlastin’ly keelhauled!” ejaculated the old man and, as
a roar of laughter rose from the men’s throats, he jammed his cap over
his eyes and stumped aft.

But even the superstitious old whaleman could find nothing in the way
of ill luck with which to blame the cat during the next few days. The
Eskimos had quantities of walrus ivory, many fine skins and pelts and a
goodly amount of whalebone on hand, and this was soon in the _Narwhal’s_
hold while the natives were richer in calico, knives, iron, beads and
matches than they had ever dreamed of being.

Old Pem fairly beamed, and he rubbed his calloused hands gleefully as he
saw the bales, packages, and bundles being stowed. “Purty nice little
nest egg,” he chuckled. “Nigh two thousand dollars wuth o’ stuff I
reckon. Swan, if this keeps on if we don’t go sailin’ inter New Bedford
full up.”

The boys were far more interested in the Eskimos and their village than
in the skins and bone. They spent most of their time ashore, and with Mr.
Kemp or Unavik as interpreters they learned much of the Eskimos’ life
and ways. They watched them fish in the river, made friends with the
Eskimo boys, played with the roly-poly children, and spent hours in the
tents watching the women as they chewed the hides to cure them and deftly
fashioned the skins and furs into garments.

“Gee, they use bone needles!” exclaimed Jim the first time he saw one of
the women sewing a pair of moccasins, “and thimbles made of raw hide and
threads of sinew. Say, I wonder how they’d like real needles and thread.”

The next time they went ashore they carried a supply of needles, thread,
thimbles and other sewing material and presented them to the women.
Instantly the crude bone and rawhide utensils were cast aside and with
beaming faces and ejaculations of delight, the women chattered and
laughed as they experimented with the bright steel needles and shiny
thimbles. As Tom said, they were like children with new toys and when
in return—for even the least gift calls for a return present with the
Eskimos—the women loaded the boys down with exquisitely worked moccasins,
shirts of eider skins, blouse-like coats of fox and seal and robes of
wolf and musk ox skins, the two lads were as pleased and excited as the
women had been.

“Say, we’ve got to learn to talk Eskimo,” declared Tom. “It’ll be lots
more fun if we can talk to these people.”

So, with Mr. Kemp’s help, the two boys set diligently to work to learn
the Eskimos’ language and progressed rapidly. At first they found it a
most difficult task to pronounce the odd, clucking gutturals, but once
they mastered the rudiments they got on famously. Within a short time
they were able to ask questions and understand the replies, and they had
acquired quite a vocabulary of names and words.

In the meantime, the crew of the ship had not been idle. The schooner
had been stripped of sails, topmasts and yards were sent down, and
preparations made for the coming winter. Daily the whale boats had been
manned, and under their spritsails had gone dancing off across the bay in
search of whales. Sometimes they were gone for several days and returned
empty handed, but often they would come sailing back in a long line and
towing the carcasses of one or two huge bowheads. Then every one worked
like beavers, cutting in and boiling until the oil and bone were safely
under hatches.

At first the boys were crazy to go out on these hunts, but after one or
two experiences, they decided there was far more of interest about the
village and the shores, and devoted their time to hunting and paddling
about the Welcome in a kayak which they had secured for themselves.

Near the village there was little game, for the Eskimos’ dogs roamed
about, picking up every stray hare, ptarmigan, or other live thing, and
so the boys went farther and farther afield on their excursions. The
weather still held warm and pleasant, although the nights were cold
and the little ponds and lakes between the hills were coated with ice.
A few miles from the village the boys found game in abundance. One spot
in particular was a favorite hunting ground—a little island in the broad
estuary of the Welcome where the Wager River emptied into the bay. Here
there were always ducks in the coves, hares nibbled the stunted shrubs
among the rocks, ptarmigan gathered in flocks on the southern sides of
the hills, and twice the boys had secured seals which they had surprised
basking on the shore. One of these was a magnificent silver seal; the
other a half-grown hooded seal. The two handsome hides had been cured and
made into garments by the boys’ Eskimo women friends.

One day as the two boys were paddling their kayak around the island
keeping a sharp lookout for game, Jim muttered a low exclamation and
pointed towards the open water of the estuary. Tom peered intently as he
ceased paddling, but for a moment could see nothing. Then, a few hundred
yards away, something broke the surface of the water and a tiny column of
spray rose in the air.

“Golly, it’s a whale!” cried Tom in subdued tones. “Say, let’s go for
him!”

“All right,” assented Jim, “it’s a little fellow—a white whale, I guess.
Say, won’t it be fine if we can get him all by ourselves?”

Swinging the kayak, Tom drove his paddle into the water while Jim, laying
aside his rifle, got out the harpoon and placed the lance ready for use.

Apparently totally unaware that enemies were near, the creature remained
almost stationary, now and then rolling lazily at the surface, sometimes
raising its tail and bringing it down with a resounding splash as if
in play, and constantly blowing. Rapidly the kayak approached. Jim
grasped the harpoon firmly, saw that the line was clear and, shaking
with excitement, he prepared to strike. Then, as the frail craft slipped
within a dozen feet of the cetacean and Jim raised his arm, he realized
that it was no white whale, but a strange, dull-colored, bluish creature
with the skin covered with irregular blackish spots. But, whatever
it was, the animal was within striking range and, summoning all his
strength, Jim hurled the iron into the spotted animal’s back just as it
rose above the surface to blow.

The next instant a volcano seemed to have burst into eruption beneath the
waves. The water boiled and frothed; a broad tail flashed and struck and
swung to right and left, the kayak danced and careened and bobbed upon
the heaving surface. Then as Jim, frightened half out of his wits by the
actions of the strange beast, was about to cut the line, the creature
hurled itself forward and raced off like a cyclone. With a terrific
jerk the kayak swung about, tipped until it almost capsized, and went
tearing after the stricken animal. This was something the boys had not
counted on. They had watched the Eskimos when they struck white whales
and had intended to follow the native method of throwing overboard the
float of skin. They had no intention of being towed in a cranky kayak by
a maddened whale. But the line had kinked and had fouled. Jim, despite
his frantic efforts, could not free it while it was under the terrific
strain, and so it was a case of either being towed and trusting to luck
to escape being capsized and drowned, or cutting the line.

“Don’t cut it!” screamed Tom as he saw Jim raise his heavy hunting knife.
“Wait till we see we’re in danger!”

Breathing hard, thrilled with the excitement and yet filled with terror,
Jim waited, knife in hand, while the whale sped this way and that,
sounded and milled; but to the boys’ surprise, never breached. But as
the bouyant kayak continued right side up and nothing happened, the boys
gained confidence and each time the creature slackened its pace Jim
hauled in line until the kayak was almost within striking distance of
the whale. Then, so suddenly that Tom could not check the kayak’s motion,
the creature halted in its rush and the next instant dashed straight
towards the canoe.

Jim gave a terrified scream of warning. Tom dug his paddle into the water
and as the kayak responded to the effort and swung slightly, the spotted
creature dashed by within a foot of the craft.

Jim, who had been expecting to kill the animal an instant before, still
held the lance in his hand. As the cetacean rushed past him, he lunged
forward and scarcely knowing what he did, plunged the weapon into the
creature’s side. At the blow, the animal threw itself from the water,
the lance was wrenched from Jim’s grip and the boys’ eyes grew wide in
wonder. In the brief instant that the whale was out of water they had
seen that a long, gleaming shaft projected from its head!

But before they could utter a cry, before they realized what had
happened, the big spotted body crashed back into the water, bloody froth
spouted from its blow hole and with a convulsive flip of its tail it
rolled over on its side against the kayak, stone dead.

“Whew!” cried Jim, as he wiped the perspiration from his face and
blinked his eyes. “We did catch a tartar that time!”

“You bet we did!” agreed Tom heartily. “But we got him just the same.
Gosh, but that _was_ a dandy stroke of yours—getting him on the wing that
way. And did you see his head—he’s been struck before and the lance or
iron’s sticking in his nose. I wonder what the dickens he is anyway.”

“Gee Christopher!” cried Jim who had been examining their catch. “That’s
not a lance in his nose—it belongs there—it’s a sort of horn. Look, it’s
like ivory and twisted.”

“Hurrah!” shouted Tom. “I know what ’tis—we’ve killed the schooner’s
namesake. It’s a narwhal!”

“Golly, you’re right!” cried Jim. “Won’t Cap’n Pem and the others be
surprised! But say—I’d never have dared touch him if I’d known. Remember
how Mr. Kemp told us about these fellows driving their tusks right
through a whaleboat and sinking it?”

“I’ll say I do,” replied Tom. “I know what they’ll say—‘fools rush in,’
you know.”

“Well, fools or not, we won,” declared Jim, “and this old fellow’s
horn’ll make _some_ trophy up in our room.”

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. “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 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.

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 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 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 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 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.”

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, 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 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 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.’

“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.

“Then, when Amook had gone, the raven flew down, and with his friend the
fox entered Amook’s home. After a long time they came to a great valley
and there, feeding on rich green moss, was a great herd of reindeer all
brown and with bushy tails. The fox and the raven were filled with wonder
at this sight of the strange creatures with the branching horns, and
the deer, who had never seen another living thing save Amook, were also
filled with wonder, and with fear as well, at sight of the fox and his
friend.

“But the raven with his flattery and the fox with his cunning soon
overcame the reindeer’s fears and talked with them. The deer knew nothing
of Amook’s spell, for they had never been changed to white; and the fox
and raven, finding the deer dull and stupid, began to tell them of the
wonders of the outside world. At last the simple deer were interested,
and longed to go forth and gladly followed the raven and the fox to the
opening in the rocks.

“One after the other they squeezed through and just as the last one had
come forth Amook came home. When he saw that the deer had escaped, he
rushed forward and with outstretched hands tried to push the deer back
into the hole. But the deer, pleased at the outside world, struck at him
with their feet and where Amook’s hands had touched their foreheads broad
white marks appeared, for Amook had been forth to turn all creatures
white for the coming winter and the charm was still upon his hands.

“Then Amook, running about, seized the deer by their tails and strove to
pull them into the hole. The deer struggled and tugged and all at once
their tails broke off in Amook’s hands and the magician, tumbling head
over heels, rolled into the opening beneath the stone.

“Then the deer pushed the bit of rock from beneath the stone door which
fell into place and shut Amook up forever. But as the deer’s leader
closed the rock door, one of the prongs of his antlers was caught between
the stones and in drawing it free it was bent and twisted in front of the
deer’s face.

“And so, to this day, every reindeer has a twisted part to his horns
before his face and a stubby tail, and where Amook grasped their tails
and touched their rumps and pushed on their foreheads, the white patches
still remain.”

“Bully!” cried Tom, quite forgetting the old woman did not understand
English, and then thanking her in her own tongue and telling her what a
fine story it was, the boys started to leave.

At that instant a tousled black head appeared in the entrance tunnel, a
broad face grinned up, and Unavik crawled into the igloo.

“H’lo!” he exclaimed in his invariable greeting. “Me feller see plenty
reindeer. Sure Mike, much plenty! Mebbe you like for shootum?”

“Would we!” yelled the two boys in unison. “Come on, Unavik. You bet we’d
like to shootum.”

Outside the igloo, Unavik’s sledge stood waiting. Stopping only to get
their guns the two boys piled on to the sledge, Unavik cracked his whip,
shouted to the shaggy dogs and they were off. Over the snow-clad land,
through the still, intensely cold air they sped, swinging along frozen
water courses, toiling up steep hills, dashing with dizzying speed down
the slopes for mile after mile. Then, with a low command, Unavik halted
his team, and signaling to the boys for caution, he unhitched his dogs
and led the way up a low knoll. Crouching on the snow beside the Eskimo,
Tom and Jim peered over the ridge. Below was a small swale or valley and
there, quietly feeding on the gray moss scraped free from snow with their
broad hoofs, was a herd of fully fifty big reindeer.

But they were far out of range; there was no cover by which the boys
could stalk them, and it seemed as if their trip would be fruitless. As
the boys, disappointed, drew back, Unavik was rapidly freeing his dogs
from their rawhide harness, and with a low word of command he led them to
the hill top and turned them loose.

With low growls the animals leaped forward and tore down the slope
towards the deer, yelping and barking, teeth bared and hair bristling.
Instantly, at sight of the dogs, the reindeer gathered together in
a close packed bunch, tails in center and threatening antlers in a
defensive ring. For a moment the dogs hesitated, and circled about,
uttering short savage snarls, but knowing well the deadly peril that
lurked in those sharp, lowered prongs and knife-edged hoofs. Then one big
husky, more courageous than his fellows, sprang forward with a yelp, and
the next second was tossed howling and bleeding for a dozen feet in the
air.

Unavik touched the boys’ arms and beckoned for them to follow. Down
the hill he led them, across the end of the little valley and up a
frozen mound of drifted snow. Intent on the dogs, the deer gave no heed
to the fur clad figures sneaking across the snow, if indeed they saw
them, and in a few moments the three were within a few hundred feet of
the herd. Taking careful aim at the two largest deer, the boys fired.
As the reports rang out across the frozen land, the reindeer threw up
their heads and, forgetting the dogs in their new terror, raced down
the valley leaving two of their number dead upon the trampled snow. Now
was the dogs’ chance, and yelping, snapping, barking, they raced after
the deer, nipping at their heels, biting savagely at their flanks like
the half-wolves they were. Now and then a deer would turn and strike
viciously with his big hoofs at his tormentors and presently the herd
again formed in a circle with lowered heads and menacing hoofs. Already
they had forgotten the gun shots in the face of this greater peril of the
wolfish dogs, and the boys once more raised their rifles to shoot.

“We don’t need more than one more,” whispered Jim. “You kill him, Tom.
Your gun’s better at that range.”

Once more, as the report roared out, a deer fell and the herd, now
thoroughly terrified, fled at top speed towards the east with the savage
dogs at their heels. The dogs followed only a short distance. There in
the valley were the fallen deer and the scent of blood and, snarling
and baying, they came tearing back and dashed ravenously upon the body
of the last deer killed. Before they could tear the skin or bury their
sharp white teeth in the carcass, Unavik was among them, lashing out with
his cruel whip, shouting shrill orders and striking cutting blows right
and left. Growling sullenly, the dogs drew back, crouching, whimpering,
cringing with tails between legs and ears laid back. Paying no heed to
the threatening bared teeth and updrawn lips, the Eskimo stepped among
them, rapidly secured the thongs about their necks together and then,
with a word to the boys, drove his huskies over the knoll before him.

In a few moments he was back with the sledge, and with the boys’ help the
deer’s body was lifted upon it and lashed securely in place. But one deer
was all the sled could carry, and Unavik told the boys they would have to
carry the first deer to the village and return with the sledge and more
dogs for the others.

“But won’t something eat them while we’re gone?” asked Tom.

“Sure Mike, mebbe,” replied the Eskimo who, proud of his fragmentary
English, never spoke to the boys in his own tongue if he could avoid it.
“Me say plenty wolf, plenty bear, mebbe eatum.”

“Hurrah!” cried Jim as a sudden idea came to him. “Say, Tom, we’ll stay
here and watch while Unavik goes to the village. Then if wolves or bears
come we can shoot them.”

“That’s a bully scheme,” agreed Tom. “Go ahead, Unavik, we’ll wait here.”

For a moment the Eskimo hesitated. He knew the boys had no idea as to
where they were and he was responsible for their safety. But the sky was
clear, there was no danger of a blizzard and as long as they remained
within sight of the dead deer there seemed no danger.

“A’right,” he agreed presently. “No try walk. You feller make get los’
die plenty quick, me say; sure Mike!”

“We’ll stay right here,” declared Tom. “No fear of our wandering off.”

Satisfied that the boys were all right, Unavik shouted to his dogs,
cracked his whip, shoved on the handles of his sled to start it, and the
next minute was speeding away towards the village.



CHAPTER XIII

UNAVIK TO THE RESCUE


Returning to the spot from which they had first shot the deer, the two
boys hollowed a little cavity in the frozen snow within easy range of
the dead reindeer and cuddled down cozily to await Unavik’s return or
the appearance of any wild beast that might be attracted by the scent of
blood. At first the land, stretching in undulating white hills to the
horizon, seemed deserted, absolutely devoid of life, a desolate, barren
waste. But presently the boys discovered that all about were living
creatures.

A subdued twitter drew their attention to a sheltered spot under a
projecting ledge. Peering intently at it, the boys saw a little flock of
snow buntings and longspurs hopping about. On a low snow ridge a few rods
away, a bit of the white surface moved, and a big Arctic hare rose from
its hiding place and looked suspiciously about before leaping off.

Suddenly there was a frightened cry from behind them. As the boys
wheeled, a great broad-winged white gyrfalcon swooped like a meteor,
struck deep into the snow and, with a cloud of dazzling, glistening
crystals like diamond dust swirling from his powerful wings, rose slowly
with a ptarmigan grasped in his talons.

Presently from far up in the blue sky came a hoarse raucous croak.
Glancing up the boys saw two tiny black specks that rapidly increased
in size as two great ravens came flapping downwards. Perching upon the
antlers of the dead deer they eyed the carcass suspiciously and, cocking
their heads on one side, they peered in the boys’ direction as though
they knew human beings were there—as no doubt they did.

“Say, if those birds start in they’ll ruin the deer,” whispered Tom.

“No, they won’t,” replied Jim. “The bodies must be frozen stiff by now.
Don’t you remember Unavik told us ravens wait for some animal to tear the
hide and meat and scatter bits of it about before they can eat?”

“That’s so,” agreed Tom. “Hello, look there!”

Close to the deer a shadow seemed to slip across the snow. The boys
glanced up, expecting to see some big hawk or a snowy owl sailing above
the valley. But the sky was unbroken by any bird. Curiously Tom and Jim
stared through the narrow slits of their snow spectacles at the slowly
moving, indistinct shadow. Closer and closer the thing drew to the dead
deer. It seemed to have no definite outline, to be merely a faint,
bluish, shapeless haze against the snow—a ghostlike thing so unreal that
the boys began to think the dazzling snow had affected their eyes. Then,
with a sudden motion, the shadow sprang across the snow and a little ball
of white appeared upon the dark surface of the deer’s body as if by magic.

“It’s a fox!” whispered Jim. “A white fox. I’m going to shoot him.”

“Aim for his head,” cautioned Tom in a whisper, “or you’ll spoil the
skin.”

Resting his rifle on the frozen ridge before him, Jim glanced through the
sights. But the fox’s head was turned and he hesitated, waiting until
he had a fair shot, for he knew that his soft-nosed bullet, striking
the beautiful snowy body, would tear it to bits and ruin the pelt.
Second after second passed and still the fox kept his head turned away
from the boys as he gnawed ravenously at the edges of the bullet wound
in the deer’s side, while the two ravens croaked at him in protest and
cautiously hopped nearer and nearer, in the hopes of stealing a stray
morsel from under the fluffy white creature’s nose.

Tom chuckled softly. “There’s the raven asking brother fox where Amook
keeps his magic,” he whispered. “I can almost imagine I can understand
the black rascal’s words.”

But Jim did not reply. The fox had suddenly stiffened. His head was
raised. His ears were pricked forward as if listening. The ravens flapped
back to their perch on the antlers. Jim’s finger pressed against the
trigger. If the fox raised his head an inch higher, he would send the
bullet true between the ears. And then, just as the sights were lined
fair upon the round white head, the fox leaped away. There was a sound
of crunching snow from the hillside and Jim, glancing around, uttered a
suppressed, startled exclamation. Within fifty feet of where the boys
crouched, a huge white bear was moving towards the dead deer!

“Gosh!” whispered Tom. “What luck!”

“Let’s both shoot together,” whispered Jim, his voice trembling with
excitement. “We can’t miss. Aim back of the fore shoulder and when I
count three, fire.”

Instantly both rifles were swung towards the big, yellowish white
creature, and as for a moment he halted and his long neck moved back
and forth, and his black nose sniffed the air, Jim counted; “One, two,
three!” and the two guns roared out as one.

With startled hoarse croaks the raven took wing. The huge shaggy bear
reared on its hind legs, pawed frantically at the air, growled, snapped
his long white teeth savagely, and then lurched forward and slid a dozen
feet down the hillside.

“Hurrah! we got him!” yelled Jim and leaping up the boys raced towards
the fallen bear without stopping to reload their rifles.

Like a miniature mountain of shaggy white fur he lay there, a broad red
splotch upon his side. The two elated boys, whooping and yelling, hurried
forward. They were within a dozen feet of the enormous creature when to
their horror and amazement the bear scrambled to his feet and with open
jaws and savage growls sprang at them.

Uttering one wild yell of terror, the boys turned and fled up the hill
for their lives. Behind them they could hear the low, menacing, awful
growls and the sound of crunching snow. As they gained the summit of the
ridge they turned, threw up their rifles, took quick aim and pulled the
triggers.

But the hammers clicked harmlessly upon the empty shells. There was no
time even to throw fresh cartridges into the chambers of their rifles.
Less than twenty feet separated them from the infuriated, wounded
monster. Again, yelling, they took to their heels. Then, to Tom’s brain,
came a sudden remembrance, the story of Ukla and the fog which Unavik had
told them, and in panting, gasping words he shouted to Jim:

“Don’t run down hill! Run along the side and then up again!”

Scarcely knowing why he did so, Jim obeyed, and winded, almost ready
to drop, the boys again gained the summit of the ridge. Once more they
glanced back. Tom’s ruse had worked. The bear, heavy and cumbersome, had
been unable to check his own momentum as he topped the ridge and had half
slid, half rolled for fifty yards down the slippery slope. But he had now
turned and was once more lumbering towards them. With shaking, trembling
hands they reloaded their rifles, took aim at the bear’s breast and fired.

Their shots went wild. Bits of fur flew from the bear’s back. He jerked
his head to one side as a bullet nicked his cheek and then, with
redoubled roars of rage and increased speed, he fairly hurled his great
body up the slope.

“Gee, I wish we were magicians!” gasped Tom. “Come on—run down the hill
a way and then up again. It’s our only chance!”

Once more the two exhausted boys raced down the hillside and then,
quickly turning, ran to the top. But this time the bear did not follow.
He was no fool and had learned a lesson. Galloping along the ridge top he
was almost upon the boys before they knew it. As they glanced back and
saw his drooling red mouth and great yellow fangs within arm’s reach they
screamed in terror, dropped their rifles, and thinking only of escape,
tore straight down the hill.

A roar behind them caused them to look back. The bear was standing upon
the hill, reared upon his haunches and striking terrific sweeping blows
at the rifles. Maddened with pain, all his savagery aroused, the creature
was venting his anger on the guns and the boys, almost exhausted,
drenched with perspiration, encumbered by their heavy fur garments, won a
breathing space by the reckless abandonment of their weapons.

“We mus—must hu—hurry!” panted Jim. “May—maybe if we—if we can keep up
a wh—while longer he’ll get ex—exhausted from loss of blood. C—come on,
Tom. Gosh, I w—wish Unavik would come!”

Before them rose the steeper hill bordering the valley to the west and up
this the boys hurried as fast as their wearied limbs would permit.

“Golly, wh—why isn’t there a ri—river he can drink up?” panted Tom whose
sense of humor could not be downed even in the face of such danger. “Say,
wouldn’t _he_ ma—make a fog if he burst!”

Barely had they gained the hill top when the bear, his fury spent upon
the rifles, was once more sliding and slipping down the opposite hill and
the boys knew that it was only a question of minutes before he would be
upon them. Near by, a ledge of rock jutted above the snow with its steep
sides sheathed in ice. The boys, too utterly exhausted to run, saw in
this their only hope.

“If we can get up there, perhaps he can’t reach us,” suggested Tom. “Come
on, Jim. It’s our last chance.”

“But we can’t get up,” objected Jim.

“Yes, we can,” declared Tom as they hurried towards the rock. “I can
climb up on your shoulders and then reach down and pull you up.”

With their last strength, the boys gained the rock. Tom clambered on
Jim’s shoulders, drew himself on to the flat summit and with a desperate
effort reached down and drew his companion up beside him.

And not an instant too soon. Before Jim’s feet were over the edge the
bear had gained the base of the rock. He reared up, made a terrific swipe
with his fore paws at Jim’s dangling feet, and the boy escaped death
by an inch. Even as it was, one of the beast’s swordlike claws ripped
through Jim’s moccasin and he howled with terror.

They were not yet safe. The bear, standing on his hind legs, could
actually reach the edge of the rock’s summit and again and again he
strove to draw himself up; growling horribly, cutting great grooves in
the ice on the sides of the rock as he dug his hind claws into it. The
boys huddled close and yelled each time one of the great, shaggy feet,
with its three-inch claws, appeared over the edge of their refuge.
Presently something of courage and confidence returned to them. Unless
the bear found a grip, a crevice or a roughness on the rock for his
hind feet, he could not reach them. Wounded as he was, his strength was
unequal to the task of lifting his enormous weight by his front feet
alone. Still, those fearful claws brought mortal terror to the boys each
time they appeared. Then an idea came to Jim. Whipping out his heavy
knife, he reached forward and each time a paw appeared he rapped it and
slashed at it with the heavy steel blade.

Roaring until the air trembled, the bear drew back his feet and hurled
himself bodily at the rock. At his second onslaught the boys’ faces grew
white, their hearts seemed to stop beating. The rock moved! There was
not a question of it. Instead of a solid, upjutting ledge as they had
thought, it was merely a big upstanding bowlder, a loose stone frozen to
the hilltop. At any moment it might crash over and throw them, injured
and helpless, into the grip of the bear!

Sick with deadly fear, speechless, scarcely breathing, the boys cowered
on their narrow refuge, while with each blow of the bear, the stone
swayed and rocked. Each time the boys expected to feel it toppling to
crash down into the snow.

Never in all their lives had such utter terror filled their hearts. They
were absolutely at the bear’s mercy. The hope that his wounds might
tell and that his strength would give out were groundless. He seemed as
fresh, as strong and more maddened than ever. The boys felt that only
their mangled bleeding bodies would remain to tell of their fate when
Unavik arrived. It was awful to be killed this way—ripped and slashed and
torn by the infuriated bear. Bitterly the boys regretted having remained
behind to guard the bodies of the slain deer.

“I—I guess it’s all up with us,” stammered Tom, trying to choke back the
lump in his throat.

“Yes, I—I only hope we—we get stunned when we fall,” replied Jim, his
voice breaking. “The—then we won’t suffer so much.”

Scarcely had he spoken when the bear again threw himself at the rock.
With a crackling of ice the bowlder gave and swayed perilously. The boys
clutched wildly at the ice-filled crevices. They knew that one more such
effort on the part of the bear would send the rock crashing over.

And then a new light came into their eyes, their hearts beat faster. From
beyond the next ridge had come the sound of yelping dogs, the shrill
shout of an Eskimo.

The bear, despite his rage, had heard it too. With lowered head and
swaying neck he stood listening. The next instant the galloping dogs
swung over the ridge. Behind them came the sledge with a fur-clad figure
shouting and brandishing the long whip. At the top of their lungs the
boys screamed, shouted and yelled. Forgetting their precarious position,
they leaped to their feet and waved their arms. Unavik’s sharp eyes
had taken in the situation at a glance. Midway in its mad career, he
overturned the sledge and swung it sidewise. The dogs, suddenly arrested
in their race, tumbled head over heels, and the next second, Unavik was
among them, slashing through the thongs and traces and shouting commands.

Already the scent of the bear had reached the dogs’ nostrils. With stiff
hairs bristling on their shoulders they hurled themselves forward. Like
a pack of great, tawny wolves they came plunging towards the bear. At
their heels came Unavik, his old musket in his hands. As the bear turned
to face the snapping, snarling, savage ring of big dogs, the Eskimo
approached within a dozen feet, raised his heavy 50-caliber Remington and
fired at the bear’s broad chest.

With a gurgling roar the great beast lurched forward, struck wildly with
his paws at the dogs and sank lifeless on the snow.

“Gee Christopher!” cried Tom, as the two boys scrambled from their perch.
“It was lucky you came, Unavik. Another minute and we’d have been killed.”

The Eskimo grinned. “Sure Mike!” he replied. “How you feller likeum hunt
bear?”

“We didn’t,” declared Jim. “He hunted us. My, but isn’t he a whopper!”

“Mos’ big all same Ukla, me say,” agreed Unavik. “Why you no killum?”

“That’s what gets me,” said Tom. “We hit him all right. Look, there back
of the shoulder.”

But when the boys stooped and examined the wound they knew instantly
why the bear had not died from their shots and why he had not become
exhausted from the wounds. Their bullets had struck the edge of the
massive shoulder blade and had glanced, tearing a great strip of hide and
flesh away, splintering the edge of the bone, but inflicting no mortal
injury, and not even disabling the leg. No wonder the bear had been able
to chase the boys, although the shock of the bullets had temporarily
knocked him out.

Hardly had the boys satisfied themselves of this when the second sledge
arrived. The Eskimos gathered about, chattering and exclaiming. All
agreed that it was the biggest bear they had ever seen. To carry the huge
carcass to the village was impossible and so, as one of the men went with
the boys to the dead reindeer, Unavik and the other Eskimo set to work
to skin the bear. After having cut a haunch from the beast, and with its
skin and the deer loaded on the sledge, the party started on their return
to the village.

Now that it was all over and their excitement had subsided, the two boys
felt weak and shaky and found it impossible to trudge through the snow.
For a while they gamely stuck it out, but at last they were obliged to
give in. Throwing themselves upon the sleds they lay almost as helpless
and motionless as the dead animals beside them.

Great was the rejoicing in the village that night, for the death of a
bear is always celebrated. The rest of the beast’s carcass had been
brought in and the Eskimos gorged themselves on the meat. Throughout the
night the drums throbbed, the Eskimos’ voices rose and fell in discordant
chants and, grotesque in their fur garments, they danced and pranced
while the dogs howled in unison.

“I’ll bet this is when the men don’t work or the women comb their hair
for three days,” laughed Tom as, fully recovered from their exciting
afternoon, they watched the merrymaking.

But there was a fly in the boys’ ointment, so to speak. When they had
told their story to the captain he had grown serious and had told the
boys that hereafter they were not to go any distance from the village
alone under any circumstances.

“I’d feel nice going home and telling your folks a bear or a wolf had
eaten you up, wouldn’t I?” said the skipper. “You may be owners, but I’m
responsible for you, and hereafter you take one of the Eskimos and a pack
of dogs with you if you stir from the village. I know you came through
safely this time, but you might not be so lucky next time. And don’t you
dare stay alone out there. If your Eskimo goes anywhere, you go too. Now,
that’s final.”

“All right,” agreed the boys, “we’ll be careful.”

While they knew the captain was looking after their safety, it galled the
two boys to think that their sled trips must be chaperoned by a native
and that they were being treated like “tenderfeet,” as Tom put it. But as
they looked at the enormous shaggy skin—twelve feet from nose to tail—and
thought how it would look upon the polished floor of the house in Fair
Haven, all else was forgotten in their pride at having secured such a
trophy, and their hearts beat more quickly as vivid memories of their
narrow escape from such a terrible death came to them.



CHAPTER XIV

AN ARCTIC CHRISTMAS


Although the boys’ fathers had painted a picture of long and dreary
months in the Arctic with the ship frozen in, and only the whalemen and
Eskimos for company, the boys found it far from dull.

To be sure there were many days when snowstorms raged and the wind
howled, and no one stirred from the long house on the deck. But even
then there were things to amuse and interest the boys. A number of the
native Eskimos were usually there, as well as those from Hebron, and the
two lots of tribesmen were never tired of holding competitions of skill
or strength. Gathered in a circle about the contestants, the whalemen
and the boys would clap and applaud, shout encouragement and roar with
laughter as the stocky natives struggled and strained in friendly,
good-natured contests. Often a prize of tobacco, knives, clothes, or
hatchets would be offered to the winner.

Many of the contests were wonderfully novel and amusing and sometimes
the two boys would try their hands at them, much to the merriment of the
assembled men.

One game which was a favorite with the Eskimos was a sort of tug of war.
Kneeling on the deck with heads close together, the competitors would
have their friends tie their necks together by a rope or thong, and then,
at a signal, would strain and tug and heave, each trying his utmost to
drag the other over a chalk line on the deck. Evidently there was a knack
in it, aside from strength of neck muscles; for very often the smaller
and weaker man would win. The boys after one or two trials decided this
was too strenuous a contest.

Another game consisted of two Eskimos locking arms and legs together
while perched on a third man’s back, and then trying to see who could
dismount the other. Hard bumps and thumps always resulted, but the men’s
heads were well padded with their mops of coarse black hair, and they
always rose grinning and as good-natured as ever.

The greatest sport was to see the Eskimos attempt to box. The whalemen
were always boxing, and after watching the white men for some time,
the Eskimos wanted to try their skill. At their antics as they struck
blindly at each other, dodged blows, ki-yied and shouted, twisted and
turned, and often fell sprawling, the boys and the assembled whalemen
roared until they almost choked.

But the Eskimos were apt imitators, they had unlimited perseverance,
and gradually several of them began to develop skill in the use of the
gloves and before long there were acknowledged champions among them. The
sport-loving whalemen matched them up as lightweights, welterweights,
and featherweights; for not a native could be found who, by any stretch
of imagination, could be classed as a heavyweight. So interested did
the crew become that several of the whalemen took to training their
favorites; arguments over their respective merits grew heated, and the
men bet recklessly on the results of the bouts. They even nicknamed the
Eskimos, and Tom and Jim roared until their sides ached as Cap’n Pem
would get excited and leaping up would pound his wooden leg on the deck
and shout, “Wallop him, Dempsey! That’s a good one!” while Mike, whose
favorite was a bull-necked, fat-faced, bow-legged man from Hebron whom he
called Sullivan, would shout derogatory remarks about “Dempsey” and would
dance wildly about the improvised ring, urging his man to the utmost.

While such things served to pass the time in bad weather and at night,
the boys found far more pleasure with their dogs and their Eskimo friends
ashore. Day after day they went hunting, always accompanied by Unavik or
some other Eskimo. They were woefully disappointed in not finding musk
oxen or another bear, but they often secured reindeer; and the pile of
fox, wolf and seal skins which they reserved for themselves increased
rapidly. The crew, too, went hunting, each man accompanied by an Eskimo,
and each week the _Narwhal’s_ cargo increased in value by many hundreds
of dollars. Very often also the men had better luck than the boys, and
several fine bearskins were brought in which spurred the boys to still
greater efforts and longer trips. At last they were rewarded. They had
traveled much farther than they had ever been before, following the
valley of the river, and had reached a district of low, sharp hills,
narrow ravines and small, rock-strewn valleys. Suddenly Unavik, who was
with them, halted his dogs, peered intently at the snow, and pointed to a
trampled trail leading across the valley.

“Musk ox!” he exclaimed. “Me say him feller near. Mebbe shootum.”

“Gosh, do you think we can?” cried Tom.

“Sure, Mike, mebbe,” replied the Eskimo as he unharnessed his dogs.

Cautioning the boys to be silent, Unavik crept to the top of the nearest
ridge and peered about. No living thing was in sight. Then, with eyes
on the tracks of the animals, he descended the ridge while the dogs,
sniffing and whimpering, strained at their thongs, and the boys, thrilled
with excitement, followed at the Eskimo’s heels. Along the little defile
the trail led, over another ridge, through another valley, and up a third
hill. “Him feller near,” declared Unavik, pointing to bare patches of
rock and moss where the animals had scraped away the snow.

Very cautiously the three crawled among the ice-covered bowlders up the
hill. The boys could scarcely restrain a cry of delight as they peered
between the rocks and saw a dozen big, shaggy beasts pawing in the snow
and nuzzling in the moss beneath.

Jim was about to raise his rifle, for the musk oxen were within easy
range, when Unavik stopped him with a gesture and rapidly slipped the
thongs that bound the dogs together. The next instant the huskies were
bounding towards the surprised musk oxen who threw up their heads, armed
with huge broad horns, snorted, and with one accord tore off up the
valley.

“Gee, now we’ve lost them!” exclaimed Tom in disgust. “Why didn’t you let
us shoot, Unavik?”

The Eskimo grinned but said nothing. Beckoning to the boys he turned
and ran rapidly along the ridge in the direction the animals had gone.
Presently, to the boys’ ears, came the barks, yelps, and growls of the
dogs. Rounding a rocky hillock they came in sight of the pack, nipping
and snapping at the musk oxen who had formed in a close ring with lowered
threatening horns towards their enemies.

With their long, shaggy, black hair, their wild, reddened eyes and great
recurved needle-pointed horns, the creatures looked very savage indeed
and the dogs knew full well that death lurked in that ring of broad heads
and sharp horns. These were no timid reindeer and, though the wolflike
huskies now and then took chances and dashed at the snorting, stamping
creatures before them, none dared approach too closely.

Suddenly one of the oxen uttered a low bellow, plunged forward and,
before the dogs could retreat, the wicked horns swung to right and left,
and a howling husky was tossed high in air to fall dead and bleeding on
the snow.

“Golly, they’re _some_ fighters!” exclaimed Jim in a low voice. “Come on,
Tom, let’s shoot!”

But before the boys could fire, the musk oxen had scented them.
Forgetting the dogs in their greater fear of human beings, they dashed
off in a close-packed bunch with the huskies at their heels. Once more
Unavik and the boys raced after them, and once more the dogs brought
the animals to bay. This time Unavik led the way behind bowlders and
snowdrifts down the wind. All unsuspected by the wild cattle, the three
approached within easy range and picking out two of the biggest bulls,
the boys fired.

At the double report the musk oxen again dashed off and, confused by the
dogs, they came galloping, plunging, directly towards the three hunters.
Before the astonished boys realized what had occurred, the great shaggy
beasts were upon them. There was no time to reload and fire, no time to
rise and run. Like an avalanche the stampeded creatures bore down upon
the frightened boys. With lowered heads, rolling eyes, steaming nostrils
and swinging horns they came. With terrified yells the boys threw
themselves to one side, rolled among the rocks, and buried their heads,
faces down, in the snow. All about them pounded the galloping hoofs. Tom
screamed as he was struck a terrific blow and hurled aside. Over them
they heard the panting breaths, the loud snorts and the low bellows of
the creatures. Each second they expected to feel the sharp hooked horns
ripping through their garments and their flesh.

But in an instant it was over. The musk oxen had passed; the boys were
unhurt, and slowly, and with wondering expressions, they cautiously
raised themselves as the pack of dogs raced by.

“Jiminy crickets!” exclaimed Jim, “I thought we _were_ goners that time.”

“Gosh, yes!” assented Tom. “One of ’em stepped on me, but I guess these
furs saved me. Say, what’s the matter with us? We didn’t kill a single
one.”

“Search me,” replied Jim, “I don’t see how we missed.”

“Me say hitum, sure Mike!” cried Unavik who was searching the trampled
snow where the beasts had passed.

The boys hurried to his side and glancing down, saw big splashes of
crimson on the snow. Evidently they had not missed. Racing after the
Eskimo they hurried as fast as they could travel towards the distant
barking of the dogs. As they leaped the crest of a hummock, Unavik
uttered a sharp cry, and the boys shouted with delight as they saw a big
black bull lying half buried in a snow drift where he had fallen.

“We got one anyway!” cried Tom as they hurried on. “Say, we _are_ in
luck!”

Once again they found the oxen at bay and, this time when they fired, two
of the creatures were left behind when the herd galloped off.

“Gee, that’s enough!” declared Jim, as panting and utterly exhausted
the boys seated themselves on one of the dead oxen. “I’m all in. These
clothes were never made for sprinting.”

“Get the dogs, Unavik,” said Tom. “No use in killing more. We can’t even
get these three in to the village. We’ll wait here for you.”

The Eskimo started off, but there was no need for him to recall his pack.
The musk oxen were thoroughly frightened and demoralized and had fled
over hill and dale into the vast white waste, and the dogs, realizing
that the creatures could not be brought to bay again with the scent of
blood behind them, came trotting back towards the dead oxen.

It was, as Tom said, impossible to carry the three creatures to the
village and so, having regained their breaths, the two boys and Unavik
set to work skinning the two oxen. It was a hard slow job, but at last
it was done and the boys straightened their aching backs and eased their
cramped muscles.

“Well, that’s over!” exclaimed Jim. “But how on earth can we carry those
skins and heads back? They weigh pretty near a ton, I’ll bet.”

Unavik grinned. “Me say plenty easy,” he remarked and rolling the skins
in a bundle with the hair inside he lashed them firmly with the tough
sinews from the creatures’ legs, attached his dogs to the whole and with
a sharp command sent the huskies galloping over the snow with the bundle
of skins sliding like a sled behind them.

“Golly, that’s easy!” cried Tom. “But I’d never have thought of it.”

With the musk ox trail to guide them, the three had no difficulty in
locating the sledge and having harnessed the dogs they drove the team
back to the first ox they had killed. This Unavik dressed and, after a
deal of hard work, the body was loaded on the sled and the triumphant
and elated boys turned towards the distant village. It was a long, hard
tramp, the boys were tired, and except when traveling down a steep slope,
they could not rest by leaping on to the sledge, for the dogs had all
they could do to haul the vehicle with its load. But the boys did not
complain. With three musk oxen to their credit they could well afford to
undergo some hardship; but over and over again they were forced to halt
and rest. As a result, it was nearly midnight when they at last saw the
rounded igloos and the ghostly outline of the schooner in the flickering
light of the aurora, and with heartfelt thanks, they reached the end of
their journey.

“Where’n tarnation ye been?” demanded Cap’n Pem, who was the first to see
them. “I swan, ye’ll have us all plumb crazy worryin’ over ye.”

“You needn’t have worried,” declared Tom, “Unavik was with us.”

“Shucks, he’s jes’ as bad as ye be,” declared the old whaleman. “H’ain’t
got no sense ’tall. What——”

“Hello!” cried Captain Edwards, interrupting the old whaleman. “You boys
are late. Just beginning to think we’d have t’ start out to search for
you. Have any luck?”

“Three musk oxen,” replied Jim. “We’re pretty near starved.”

“I’ll bet ye be,” cried Cap’n Pem. “Blow me if ye ain’t reg’lar hunters.
Fetched in three o’ the critters, eh? Waall, I’ll be sunk!”

As the half-famished boys ate ravenously, they told their story of the
hunt to the men and officers and then, having been unanimously acclaimed
the champion hunters of the ship, they crawled into their bunks, snuggled
among their furs, and were instantly sound asleep.

So rapidly had the time passed that the boys could scarcely believe that
half the winter was over. As Tom, on the morning after their musk ox
hunt, started to write down the events of the preceding day in his diary,
he uttered a surprised ejaculation.

“Gosh, Jim, it’s only two weeks till Christmas!”

“No!” exclaimed Jim. “Gee, I didn’t realize it. We’ll have to have a
celebration. I wonder what they do up here.”

“Of course we celebrate,” the captain assured them when they spoke to him
about the holidays. “Reckon we’d better be gettin’ ready pretty quick.”

So for the next ten days every one aboard the _Narwhal_ was busy. There
was the same delightful mystery in the air as at home; preparations for
the Christmas festivities proceeded rapidly; and the boys were amazed to
discover what resources the men and the schooner possessed. Mike and the
carpenter worked early and late at building a miniature whaling ship to
serve in place of a Christmas tree. The grinning black cook labored from
morning until night—or rather from breakfast until bedtime—baking cakes
and pies, making mysterious dishes, and boiling great kettles of molasses
for candy, and from dinner until nearly midnight, the boys and men had
glorious fun pulling the molasses candy, roasting quarts and pecks of
peanuts, and popping hundreds of ears of corn. Half shyly the rough
whalemen brought out clumsily wrapped packages and placed them on the
pile of gifts on the chart table. Even the Eskimos seemed to catch the
spirit of Christmas, and grinned and clucked and chuckled as they saw the
preparations going on, for they had seen Christmas celebrations before
and knew what a fine time was in store.

Two days before the great day, the completed model of the ship was set
up in the deck house, and all hands busied themselves stringing the pop
corn in its rigging, hanging the presents to the yards and masts, piling
candy wrapped in bright-colored paper on the decks, and attaching colored
candles along the bulwarks, up the shrouds, and along the yards.

“Say,” cried Jim, as the boys surveyed the completed substitute for a
tree with approval. “Every one’ll have to hang up his stocking. Look at
that heap of presents!”

At first the men demurred, trying to laugh off their embarrassment, but
the boys insisted, the captain seconded them, Mr. Kemp added his pleas,
and old Pem chuckled.

“’Spec’ I’m a ol’ fool!” he exclaimed. “But I rec’on we kin all ’ford to
be kids, come Christmas. I’m a-goin’ fer to hang my stockin’!”

Stumping to his cabin, the old whaleman returned carrying a huge rabbit
skin under-boot. “On’y stockin’ I got,” he declared as all burst out
laughing.

“Well, b’gorra, ’tis lucky for ould Santa that yez have but wan lig
thin!” cried Mike. “Faith an’ wid two av thim there’d not be a prisint
for the rist av us.”

Now that Cap’n Pem had started the fun, the men quickly caught the
spirit. Shouts of merriment, roars of laughter and good-natured chaffing
floated over the frozen wastes from the schooner as the whalemen brought
out socks, fur boots and heavy woolen stockings, and hung them in a long
row along one side of the deck house, while the captain and the boys
hurried back and forth filling them with bundles and packages.

Christmas day dawned clear and cold. Not a breath of wind stirred the
frost filled air. The thermometer registered 45° below zero and the
boys noted that the sun rose above the frozen plain of the bay at 9.30.
Jumping from their bunk, the two boys ran hither and thither, wishing a
“Merry Christmas” to every one. Presently the men came trooping in and
seated themselves at the long table loaded with the Christmas breakfast.

The meal over, the Eskimos began to arrive, for all had been invited to
spend the day aboard the schooner. Soon the deck house was packed with
the grinning men and laughing girls and women all decked out in their
richest furs and most elaborate costumes, every one carrying some bundle
of fur or skin.

Then peanuts and pop corn were passed around, which the Eskimos munched
and enjoyed hugely. Presently the captain jumped upon a chair and
announced that there would be a dance. Swanson appeared with a much
battered concertina, the carpenter brought out a wheezy fiddle, the
ebony-skinned cook arrived with a banjo, and, to complete the orchestra,
Nate produced a mouth organ.

Whatever the tune was—if tune it could be called—the boys never knew,
but the men cared not a jot and seemed perfectly satisfied. Presently
the deck was covered with couples, each dancing a different step, all
laughing and all as happy as a crowd of youngsters. Tom and Jim roared
with merriment as old Cap’n Pem seized a stout Eskimo woman and started
to waltz with her. Mike took the center of the deck and executed a weird
hornpipe which brought down thunderous applause, and Mr. Kemp, with
blackened face and with a strip of gaudy calico wrapped about his long
legs and a gay bandanna on his head, pranced up and down in a cakewalk.

Then the Eskimos had their turn. The skin drums throbbed and boomed, a
man with a curious tambourinelike instrument, like a thin drum filled
with pebbles, added to the din, and the natives pranced around and
around, chanting a weird song, stepping high, twisting and turning and
moving in intricate figures.

Then came games, followed by boxing matches, and the fun waxed fast and
furious. Finally there was a tug of war, Eskimos against whalemen, and
when, with wild shouts and yells, the Eskimos had pulled their rivals an
inch over the chalk line and were declared the victors, Captain Edwards
announced that the presents would be given out.

As he ceased speaking, there was a shout from the companionway and every
one turned and gaped in astonishment, for there, pushing his way through
the narrow entrance was Santa Claus! Even the boys were surprised, for
Santa had been kept a profound secret. Clad in a suit of brown wolfskin
with ermine trimming, and with big sealskin boots on his feet, the fat
little fellow beamed upon all through his voluminous white whiskers of
bearskin, and entering the deck house, tossed down his heavily loaded
pack and brushed the snow from his sleeves and shoulders.

At first no one recognized him, but at his first words a roar of
merriment burst from every one’s lips. “Had a everlastin’ tough time
a-gettin’ to ye, clean up here!” he cried, striving ludicrously to
disguise his voice. “But I reckon I brung presents fer all.”

“B’ the saints, ’tis the fursst toime Oi iver see a wan-ligged Santa!”
chuckled Mike. “But sure ’tis a foine wan he do be afther makin’ at that.”

Rapidly the presents were distributed. There were comfort bags for each
member of the crew, every bag containing buttons, thread, wax, combs
salve, thimbles, pins and a small mirror. Every Eskimo woman received a
bundle of bright-colored cloth and a little package of beads. The girls
were given bead necklaces and gold plated rings. Each native boy got a
shiny new jackknife, and every Eskimo man received a file and a plug of
tobacco. Then the presents piled around the ship were distributed, and
finally the men, sheepishly and flushing like children, received their
well filled stockings and giggled and snickered like schoolgirls as they
unwrapped the packages.

The Eskimos had done their part also. The men and boys were fairly loaded
down with moccasins, fur boots, carved ivory curios, selected skins and
similar things, while the natives were mad with delight over the powder
and lead, the matches, the hatchets and knives, and the brass and iron
they received.

Then came dinner, and such a dinner! There was a roast haunch of
reindeer, bear chops, musk ox steaks, roast ptarmigan and potted hare.
Even the cranberry sauce was there, with mince and pumpkin pies, and to
cap the climax, a great steaming plum pudding which the grinning cook
brought triumphantly in with its brandy sauce ablaze.

And the Eskimos at their table also had a feast. The dainties so
appreciated by the white men held no attractions for the natives, and so
their feast consisted of canned fruits, thick tinned milk, and, to their
minds best of all, vast quantities of lard and oleomargarine. Not until
midnight did the celebration end. When the last Eskimo had departed and
eight bells pealed through the night, all vowed that this Christmas in
the Arctic was the jolliest one they had ever known.



CHAPTER XV

FRIENDS IN NEED


One morning Tom came on deck, glanced ashore and rubbed his eyes. He
could hardly believe what he saw. Beyond the igloos, several of the
Eskimos were busily putting up a skin tent on the shore.

“Golly, Jim!” he cried to his cousin. “Look, there—they must know that
spring’s coming. They’re putting up their skin tents.”

“Cricky, so they are!” exclaimed Jim. “Say, I didn’t know spring came so
early.”

“Won’t be here for some spell yet,” laughed Mr. Kemp who had overheard
the boys. “You’re rushing the season. Getting tired of winter?”

“Not a bit of it,” declared Tom. “We’re having a bully time and I
wouldn’t mind being frozen in here for six months more. But if spring’s
not near, why are they moving ashore and putting up the skin tents?”

“Going to mend some clothes,” replied the second officer.

“Oh, say, you must think we’re easy,” laughed Jim. “They could mend
clothes in the igloos, couldn’t they? What’s the joke?”

“No joke,” Mr. Kemp assured him. “And of course they _could_ mend clothes
in the igloos—only they don’t think so. That is, some kinds. You see,
these Eskimos believe there’s a water god and a land god—sorta spirit I
reckon—and each one’s boss of the critters where he reigns. So they think
if they mend clothes made of sea critters’ skins on shore, the water
spirit’ll be peeved, and if they mend things made of land animals’ hides
on the ice, t’other god’ll be vexed. I’ll bet, if you was over to that
tent, you’d find the old lady sewin’ at a shirt or somethin’ made of bear
or reindeer or fox, or some other land thing’s hide.”

“Well, that is the funniest thing yet,” declared Tom. “Come on, Jim,
let’s go and see.”

They found that it was exactly as Mr. Kemp had said. Inside the tent, two
of the Eskimo women were busily mending some garments which the boys at
once saw were made of wolf and deer skins. This discovery aroused their
interest and all of their spare time was spent questioning the Eskimos
about beliefs and habits. The two boys learned a great number of most
interesting things. All of these they recorded in their notebooks, and
once, as Tom was busily writing down a folklore story, Newilic, who had
been watching him, asked what he was doing. Tom explained as best he
could and the Eskimo grinned. Then, asking Tom to let him take the book,
the Iwilic[3] grasped the pencil in his fist, screwed up his mouth, bent
his eyes close to the paper, and commenced to draw several pictures.
Presently he handed the book back to Tom and as the boys saw what the
Eskimo had drawn they roared with laughter. There, unmistakable and
indescribably quaint and funny, were the birds and animals of the story
with a stiff-jointed, woodeny Eskimo among them.

From that time on the boys had Newilic illustrate all the stories they
recorded, and the result was a collection of the most fascinating
pictures they had ever seen. Both boys declared they would have them
bound and the stories printed with them as soon as they reached home.

Of course the two boys never lost their interest in hunting and one day,
when out for meat for the schooner’s table, Jim killed an Arctic hare,
and picking him up, was amazed to see that he was speckled with brown.

“Hurrah!” he shouted to Tom. “Now I know spring’s coming. The hares are
getting brown.”

“Perhaps Amook forgot to rub his hands all over him,” laughed Tom. “You
know one swallow doesn’t make a summer, and I don’t believe one hare with
brown spots makes a spring. Let’s get another one and see if he’s the
same way.”

But oddly enough, now that the boys wanted a hare, there were none to be
found. Finally, tiring of searching for them, the two turned back. As
they crossed a little swale, a pair of ptarmigan fluttered up and Tom
bagged them.

“Gosh, I guess you’re right,” he cried as he picked up the birds. “These
fellows have got brown feathers on them.”

“Yep, ain’t no doubt of it,” declared Cap’n Pem when the boys returned to
the schooner and showed the brown feathers and hairs to the old whaleman.
“Can’t fool these here critters, by gum! I’ll bet ye, ye’ll see the geese
a-honkin’ back afore long.”

Despite the fact that the hare and the ptarmigan, as well as many other
creatures the boys brought in, were all assuming their summer coats of
gray and brown, there was no let up in the biting wind. Snow storms
came and piled the drifts higher, and the thermometer hovered around the
thirty or forty mark below zero.

Then one day the boys came on deck to find a soft wind blowing from the
south, water was dripping from the icicles on the _Narwhal’s_ rigging,
the sky was clear and blue, and there was an unmistakable feel of spring
in the air. Day after day the south wind blew, and the sky was cloudless
and though the nights were cold, the ice and snow thawed rapidly during
the short days. One morning a faint, faraway sound caused the boys to
look up, and they saw a little V-shaped string of black specks winging
swiftly across the sky.

“There are the geese!” cried Tom. “I guess spring really is here.”

Evidently the Eskimos were of the same mind, for they were all busy,
erecting skin tents and moving their household belongings from the igloos
to their new homes. Before long the low, rounded houses of ice were
deserted.

“Looks like the ice might break up pretty soon,” remarked Captain
Edwards. “That is, if this weather holds. What do you think, Pem?”

The old whaleman squinted at the sky, sniffed the wind and scratched
his head. “I reckon ’twill,” he replied at last. “But I’ll be sunk
if I hanker arter a early thaw. Mos’ gin’rally there’s a’ all-fired,
dod-gasted freeze arterwards an’ the ice buckles an’ raises Sam Hill.
I’ve seen many a good ship stove an’ sent to Davy Jones by a freeze
arter the ice breaks. No, sir, gimme a late spring an’ no danger of it
a-freezin’ solid arterwards.”

“Hmm,” muttered the skipper. “Yep, I know that, Pem, but if the ice
breaks we’ll clear it away about the schooner and then she’d ought to
stand it. Clear water’ll freeze smooth black ice and won’t do any harm.”

“Mebbe ye will, an’ mebbe ye won’t,” grumbled the old man. “Course I
ain’t a-lookin’ fer trouble but I’ll bet ye we git it.”

A few days after this conversation the boys were wakened by a report like
a cannon and started up. “What’s that?” cried Tom.

“Ice breakin’ up,” called back Mr. Kemp from the next berth. “Reckon
she’ll be a-goin’ good by to-morrow.”

Throughout the rest of the night the crackling reports, dull crashes and
sharp detonations woke the boys a score of times, and when they reached
the deck the next morning, they gazed with amazement at the vast plain of
white that marked the bay. Where yesterday it had been solid ice—rough,
hummocky and rugged—it was now broken, and cracked in every direction.
Narrow strips of dark water could be seen here and there, and the mass
rose and fell in undulations like the swell of the ocean.

“Hurrah! it’s broken!” cried Tom. “Now we’ll soon be getting away.”

It did indeed look as though the bay would soon be cleared of ice, for
the tide or current and the wind were slowly but surely moving the ice
away from the land. Already a stretch of fifty feet of water separated
the igloos from the shore, and along the beach tiny waves were lapping
at the shingle. For the first time in many months, the boys felt the
schooner gently rising and falling beneath their feet. But Tom and Jim
did not know the treacherous Arctic weather. Two nights later they were
aroused by shouts and cries, the sound of hurrying feet, and crashing
shivering blows that shook the schooner from stem to stern. At first they
thought the _Narwhal_ had gone adrift and was on the rocks. Hurrying into
their garments they rushed on deck to gaze upon a terrific, wild and
magnificent sight. The wind had shifted and was blowing half a gale from
the east and the broken ice, that had been drifting out of the bay for
the past three days, was now being driven back.

Tossing on the waves, the great masses of gleaming ice came in, grinding
together, crashing like thunder as one collided with another, bumping and
roaring as they lifted and fell upon the seas. In a vast solid rampart,
the upended jagged cakes were approaching the _Narwhal_, and already she
was surrounded by scores of the cakes—huge, sharp-edged bits of floe
twenty feet or more in thickness, and hurled like battering rams by wind
and waves.

Instantly, the boys realized the peril the schooner was in. Each time a
great cake was flung against the stout ice sheathing of her hull, the
_Narwhal_ shivered and trembled. It seemed impossible that any vessel
could withstand the steady buffeting, the constant impacts, of the
tossing cakes.

Shouting, and yelling, the men and the Eskimos labored, striving to ward
off the ice with poles, by lowering great rope fenders over the sides,
and by paying out cable, but their puny efforts made no impression on
the irresistible oncoming ice. Presently, however, the boys noticed that
there were fewer shocks, that the blows seemed less severe and then they
saw the reason. The first cakes of ice had reached the shore, others had
piled upon them, back of these the oncoming ice was checked and, unable
to move farther, the countless thousands of heaving, crashing, grinding
cakes were jammed together and the schooner was locked fast in their
embrace.

“Gosh! that _was_ a narrow escape!” cried Jim. “But I guess we’re all
right now.”

“All right!” burst out Mr. Kemp. “Here’s where we’re a-goin’ to get it
good an’ plenty. If the _Narwhal_ ain’t stove it’ll be nothin’ short of a
miracle.”

For a moment the boys could not see where the danger lurked and every one
was too busy to answer the questions they longed to ask. But presently
they understood. The gale, the heavy seas outside the bay and the tide
were all pushing with terrific force against that vast mass of millions
of tons of ice, and the schooner was gripped within it as in the jaws of
a titanic vise. Only her hull of oak and pine, a mere egg shell in that
stupendous field of ice, lay between the cakes, and no fabric built by
human hands could withstand that awful pressure.

With sickening creaks the timbers and planks began to give. With
horrified eyes the boys saw the stout sides and bulwarks bending and
buckling inwards. The heavy oak rail parted, splintered and ripped like a
match stick. With a report like a gunshot the decks sprang into the air
and rose in a steep hill-like ridge above the shattered bulwarks.

“Gosh, Jim, it’s all over with the old _Narwhal_!” cried Tom, scarcely
able to realize that the stout old schooner had met her fate at last.
“Now what _will_ we do?”

Even as he spoke the boys were thrown headlong on to the ripped deck
and with a terrific lurch the schooner’s stern reared high in air. She
careened terribly, and a moment later was lying almost on her beam ends
on the top of the floe which had forced its way beneath her keel. Captain
Edwards, old Pem and Mr. Kemp were shouting and yelling orders while the
Eskimos who had seen their plight from the shore came hurrying over the
ice to help. Soon every one was laboring like mad, unloading the cargo,
getting out stores and supplies and preparing to desert the schooner, for
all knew, that should the wind shift and the ice go out, the _Narwhal_
would plunge to the bottom like a lump of lead.

Rapidly the casks of oil, the bales of whalebone, the bundles of skins,
and the sacks of walrus ivory were lowered over the schooner’s sides.
In a constant stream the Eskimos’ sledges went back and forth between
the stove schooner and the shore, carrying the salvaged goods which were
piled in a great mound well back from the beach.

At last everything movable had been saved. The spars and sails, the
chains and cables, the blocks and tackle and the running rigging were
stripped from the _Narwhal_ and with lumber hastily torn from the long
deck house a shed was built over the pile of valuables and supplies.

“Gee, we’re marooned here now,” cried Jim when the last sledge had come
from the schooner and her sorrowing crew had tramped over the hummocky
ice and stood gazing at the pitiful-looking ship which had served them so
well.

“Reckon we won’t have to stay here long,” said Captain Edwards. “The
_Ruby_’s up to Nepic Inlet and, if we can make her, we’ll be all right.”

“The _Ruby_?” queried Tom. “What’s she?”

“Little brigantine out o’ Nova Scotia,” replied the skipper. “Bluenose
sealer. Guess her skipper’ll be willin’ to come in here an’ pick up this
stuff of ourn an’ give us a lift to port.”

“But how can we get to her?” asked Jim.

“Sleds,” replied the captain. “’Tain’t over a hundred miles by land to
the inlet an’ we can make it all right. Snow’s still good enough for
sleddin’.”

Since another warm spell and a thaw might arrive at any moment, and make
it impossible to travel over the slushy snow, no time was to be lost.
Within two hours from the time the crew had come ashore, all were on
their way across the snow-covered land toward Nepic Inlet and the _Ruby_.

Leading the party was Amaluk, with his sledge laden with necessities, the
men’s personal belongings, food, and supplies. Behind him came team after
team and the schooner’s men and officers. In the rear were the two boys
with their own dog team, their sledge laden with their trophies, and with
Unavik a few paces ahead of them.

Although the snow had been softened by the warm spell, the change in
wind and temperature had frozen a hard crust upon it, and sledding was
easy and rapid. But the heavily loaded sledges broke through here and
there and the boys, bringing up the rear, found that they could travel
far easier by swinging to one side on to the unbroken crust. Often,
for several miles, they were out of sight of the others, for they made
detours around hills and deep drifts and once or twice stopped to shoot
game. They had no fear of going astray for the shrill shouts of the
Eskimos, the cracking of whips, and the yelps of the dogs were borne
plainly to them on the strong easterly wind.

They had traveled in this way for several hours when Tom, who was running
ahead, halted and signaled the dogs to stop. “Look here, Jim,” he cried,
“there are reindeer near. See, here’s where they’ve been scraping away
the snow and feeding.”

“Golly, that’s so,” assented Jim as he saw the bits of moss on the white
surface and the bare spots where the animals had pawed away the snow from
a deep bed of moss.

“Let’s go after them!” suggested Tom. “They may be near, and Captain
Edwards said to get meat if we could, to help out the provisions.”

“Better not,” cautioned Jim. “You know he told us not to go off alone.”

“But that was different,” argued Tom. “He meant not to go off on long
trips. There’s no danger in this. We can’t get lost. It’ll be dead easy
to find the others’ trail, or follow our own back. See, it’s plain as can
be.”

“No, I guess there’s no danger of that,” admitted Jim. “All right, come
on, but if we don’t find the deer soon, we’ll have to come back.”

Urging their dogs forward, the boys followed the deer’s trail and
presently, by the dogs’ yelps and growls and the way they strained at
their traces, the boys knew they were on a fresh scent, and that the deer
could not be far away. The trail led up a narrow circuitous valley, and
as the marks of the reindeer’s hoofs became more and more distinct, and
the bits of moss where the animals had stopped to feed were fresher, the
boys knew they were nearing the herd, and halted their dogs.

“Let’s look over that ridge before we go farther,” suggested Tom. “They
may be in the next hollow.”

Crawling up the low ridge, the boys peered over and to their joy saw a
dozen reindeer lying down and resting. Hurrying to the dogs, the boys
unharnessed them, looped the neck thongs together and led the pack to
near the summit of the hill. Then, unleashing them, they let them go.
With loud barks and growls the dogs rushed down at the surprised deer.

Leaping to their feet the reindeer, as always, formed a defensive ring,
and while they were busy keeping off the snapping dogs, the boys slipped
around the hill to get within easy range. So intent were the deer upon
their four-footed enemies that the boys crept within fifty yards and
brought down two of the creatures. It was almost as simple and as little
sport as killing domestic cattle but the boys were out after meat and not
for sport and, having all they needed, they ran towards the herd, yelling
and shouting.

Instantly the survivors turned and fled, and the dogs, after chasing
them a short distance, came loping back to the dead deer.

“We can’t carry both these, as they are,” said Tom. “And we can’t afford
to waste them. Let’s dress them and leave the heads and horns. We have
better ones than these and the meat’s what we want most.”

“Guess we’ll have to,” agreed Jim, and at once the two set to work.

Although the boys had assisted Unavik and the other Eskimos in dressing
deer and musk oxen, they had never before tried it alone and they soon
found that it was a hard and difficult undertaking. The deer were heavy,
the boys were no expert butchers and the time passed more rapidly than
they imagined.

As they finished the first deer and with grunts of satisfaction stood
up and looked about, they noticed for the first time that the sky was
overcast, that heavy dun-gray clouds were scudding low overhead, and that
the wind had increased.

“Gee, I guess it’s going to storm!” exclaimed Jim. “Don’t you think we’d
better leave the other deer?”

“Why?” asked Tom. “If it does storm, it won’t make any difference. We’re
not two miles from the trail, and we can make it in a few minutes. Come
on, let’s get busy on this other fellow. If it storms it will be all the
easier to catch up with the other sledges. They’re slower than we are and
may have to stop.”

Once more the boys bent over the deer, cutting and dressing the big
carcass, and they had almost finished when a few big snowflakes dropped
upon the animal’s hide.

“Golly, it’s snowing!” exclaimed Jim. “Say, we’ve got to hurry!”

The snow was falling thick and fast by the time the deer was dressed.
Bending to the force of the wind, the boys called to their dogs and
started for the sledge.

And then they realized that they had made a fatal blunder. All intent
upon dressing the deer they had forgotten to knot the dogs’ thongs
together, the animals had been eating their fill of the offal from the
deer, and instinctively knowing a storm was approaching, they were
running nervously about, sniffing the air and whining.

At Tom’s call, two of the dogs, old huskies who had been long trained to
obedience, came trotting to him, but the others kept their distance.

“Come on, we’ll have to get them,” cried Jim, as the boys knotted the
thongs of the two together. “Gosh, we _were_ boobs not to have fastened
them!”

But as soon as the boys started towards the dogs, the animals turned,
dashed away with tails between their legs and growled savagely.

“Confound them!” cried Tom, and yelling a command in Eskimo he made a
rush at the nearest dog.

With a sharp bark, and baring his teeth, the creature leaped away and
then, lifting his head in air, he uttered a long wolflike howl and
galloped off over the hill with the pack at his heels.

The boys looked at each other with real fear upon their features.

“They’ve gone!” exclaimed Tom. “Now we _are_ in a fix.”

“We’ll have to leave the deer and the sledge and hike it,” declared Jim.
“Maybe these two dogs can lead us to the trail.”

It was their one chance and urging the dogs on, the boys started back
over the trail of their sledge. But presently they were again at a loss.
The rapidly falling snow had now covered the runner marks, the dogs
seemed confused and ranged back and forth, and the boys grew more and
more frightened. Then one of the dogs gave a glad yelp and with noses to
the snow they strained at the leading thongs.

“It’s all right!” shouted Tom. “The dogs have picked up the trail!”

“Well, they’re going in exactly the opposite direction I think they
should have gone,” declared Jim. “But I suppose they know.”

Over low hills and through valleys the dogs led the boys while the
blizzard raged. To the frightened and nervous lads it seemed as if they
had covered twice the distance they had come when the dogs barked loudly,
sniffed the air and tugged harder than ever at the leash.

“Guess the others are near now!” panted Tom, striving to keep pace with
the dogs. “They smell something.”

The next instant the dogs cringed back, the hair rose upon their necks
and with tails drawn in they whimpered as if in fear.

“Gosh, I wonder what’s up now!” exclaimed Tom.

“Maybe a bear or wolf ahead,” suggested Jim, cocking his rifle.

Anxiously the boys peered into the misty white ahead and saw a low,
irregular mound of snow with a dark object projecting from it.

“Say, what’s that ahead?” queried Jim in low tones.

“Looks like a sled covered with snow,” replied Tom. “We’ll soon see.”

Approaching cautiously, while the dogs struggled to keep back, the
boys neared the little white mound, and the next instant Jim uttered a
piercing, frightened cry and leaped back. Sticking stiffly up from the
snow was a human arm!

“Gee, it’s a man!” exclaimed Tom. “What are you afraid of? Maybe he’s got
lost or injured and is not dead yet. Come on, let’s see.”

With fast beating hearts the boys, overcoming their fears and
nervousness, stepped close to the ominous pile of snow. Tom grasped the
outstretched fur-clad arm.

But the next instant he let go, yelled, and jumped away with a white
face. The arm was frozen stiff. It was the arm of a corpse!

“He—he’s dead!” stammered Tom.

Jim had now recovered himself. “Well, he won’t hurt us if he is,” he
reminded Tom. “It’s awful I know, but we must find out who he is. It may
be one of our men.”

“Ugh, I hate to go near it!” declared Tom.

“So do I, but we’ve got to,” said Jim. “Come on, Tom, we’re no babies or
silly nervous girls. Brace up.”

Striving to control their nervous fears, the boys grasped the furs
encasing that gruesome stiff arm and tugged. Presently, with a horrible,
terrifying motion, the arm moved, the snow broke loose and the boys
involuntarily screamed and jumped away as the body rolled over free from
snow.

With wide eyes the two gazed upon the corpse and backed still farther
off. The body, clad in furs, was that of a short, heavily built man, but
the face, swarthy, black-bearded and black-browed, was frightful with the
expression of fear and awful agony stamped upon it. At the first glance
the boys saw with inexpressible horror that the whole side of the skull
was crushed in and the scalp ripped off.

“Wha—wha—what killed him, I wo—wonder!” stammered Tom, his teeth
chattering.

Jim, summoning all his courage, took a step nearer. “A bear!” he
exclaimed, as he caught sight of a row of great gashes in the man’s neck
and the ripped and torn back of the fur coat.

“Well, le—let’s get away from here,” stuttered Tom. “We ca—can’t do
anything.”

Without replying Jim turned and with boyish terror of death gripping
their hearts, and all their courage flown, the two raced away from the
body.

Not until they had topped the next rise did they stop. Then, as they
halted to regain their breaths, they noticed that the snow had almost
ceased, the wind had gone down and they could see for a long distance
across the white landscape.

A moment later Tom gave a glad cry. “Look Jim! Look!” he yelled. “We’re
all right! see, over on that second hill! There’s some of the men!”

“Hurrah! you’re right!” yelled Tom as he too caught sight of two sledges
just topping a distant ridge. “Come on!”

Yelling and shouting, the boys raced forward as fast as the newly fallen
snow would permit. As they gained the summit of the second hill, they
waved their arms wildly. But they were already seen. The dogs wheeled,
the sleds swung around, and with the two drivers riding the runners, they
came racing towards the boys.

As they came near Tom and Jim looked at each other in surprise. The
dogs, they knew, were not the Eskimos’. One team was made up of huge
black and white Newfoundlands, the other of shaggy-haired, magnificent,
cream-colored huskies. At the boys’ first glance they were sure the men
were utter strangers.

“Hello!” cried the foremost man as his sledge, drawn by the
Newfoundlands, came to a halt close to the boys. “What you kids doing out
here?”

“We got separated from our party and lost,” explained Tom. “Our dogs
broke away and cleared out. You’re from the _Ruby_ aren’t you?”

That any other white men should be here had never occurred to the boys,
and yet the men did not look like whalemen or sailors. One was clad in
a gay Mackinaw, the other in furs; both were large, powerfully built
fellows and both had an alert, erect, peculiar bearing that was very
different from any whalemen the boys had even seen. The man in the
Mackinaw was lean-jawed, with keen gray eyes and wore a close-cropped
mustache, while the other was smooth-faced. Although both were as red
as Indians from wind and weather and had a week’s stubble of beard upon
their faces, they wore an indefinable stamp of authority about them.

The boys remembered that Captain Edwards had said the _Ruby_ was a Nova
Scotia ship, and as they had never seen Nova Scotia seamen, they thought
the men before them might be the officers of the brigantine.

But at Tom’s words the man with the mustache laughed pleasantly.

“Well, hardly!” he replied. “I’ve been taken for most everything, but
never for a sealer before. No, we’re just ordinary Northwest Police. I’m
Sergeant Manley and this chap”—jerking his head towards his comrade—“is
Private Campbell. We’re from Fort Churchill. Been mushing it for two
weeks. Looking for the darkest-dyed rascal that ever disgraced the
Dominion. Fellow named Pierre Jacquet—Chippewa half-breed. Wanted for
murder and with a thousand dollars reward for him, dead or alive. Haven’t
seen anything of him, have you?”

Tom shook his head. “No,” he replied. “But say, Sergeant, we found a dead
man back there. He’d been killed by a bear or something. He was awful!
His head smashed in and torn to pieces! Gee, it makes me feel sick to
think of him.”

“Dead man!” snapped the Sergeant. “What did he look like?”

“He was short and stout with a black beard and bushy, black eyebrows,”
replied Tom, “and had on a suit of harp seal trimmed with blue fox.”

The Sergeant whistled. “Boys,” he cried, slapping Tom on the back.
“You’re lucky kids! Not many can get lost and make a thousand dollars by
doing it!”

“Why, what do you mean?” asked Tom puzzled.

“Mean!” cried Sergeant Manley. “Why, that dead man’s Jacquet. You’ve won
a thousand dollars by finding him. Come on, lead us to him.”

Now that the snow had ceased to fall it was easy to retrace their
footsteps, and in a few minutes the party was once more approaching the
dead man.

“It’s Pierre all right!” declared the Sergeant, as he glanced at the dead
man.

“Aye, there’s nae doot o’ it,” agreed Campbell. “Mon, but ’tis a fit
endin’ he met.”

“Can’t take him back to the Fort,” commented the Sergeant, half to
himself. “Can’t bury him. Guess we’ll have to leave him. Campbell, search
his clothes for anything that will identify him.”

Rapidly the private went through the pockets of the dead outlaw, turning
the body over as nonchalantly as though it were a log, and presently he
straightened up.

“Aye, here’s his dirk an’ a wee bit o’ siller,” he announced as he handed
the Sergeant a long-bladed hunting knife reddened with blood and a
buckskin bag of money.

“Must have shot at the bear and wounded him, and had a hand-to-hand
fight,” remarked Manley. “Used his knife evidently, but the bear got in
the finishing blow. Hmm, there must be papers or jewelry or a watch or
something on him.”

Stooping, the Sergeant again examined the body, stripping aside the furs,
and presently rose with a satisfied grunt. “Guess this is all we need,”
he said as he showed a heavy, old-fashioned silver watch, a bundle of
letters and small book. “Nothing more to do here,” he continued. “We’ll
see you to the _Ruby_ now.”

“But we can’t leave our sledge,” objected Tom. “It’s got all our things
on it.”

Sergeant Manley stroked his mustache and bit his lip as he hesitated.
“All right,” he assented at last. “Guess we can find it. You saved us a
lot of hard work by finding Jacquet, so we can afford to do our bit.”

With keen, trained eyes the officers followed the boys’ trail, half
hidden though it was, and long before Tom and Jim realized that they were
near it, private Campbell sighted the abandoned sled covered deep with
snow.

“Might as well take your meat, too,” said the Sergeant. “These
Newfoundlands can manage one deer and we can load the other on your sled
and hitch your two huskies on with Campbell’s dogs to haul it.”

In a few minutes the deer were lashed to the sledges, the boys’ dogs had
been harnessed to Campbell’s team, and with the boys riding, the dogs
raced forwards over the soft fresh snow.

“Have to give us your address so that reward can be sent you,” said the
Sergeant as they dashed down a long slope.

“I don’t want it,” declared Tom. “It belongs to you and private Campbell,
doesn’t it, Jim?”

“Of course,” agreed Jim. “I wouldn’t think of taking it. Why, we just
stumbled on the body by chance and you’d have found it if we hadn’t.”

“That’s being too generous,” declared the Sergeant. “It belongs to you.
We might have passed by and never found the body.”

“Well, we want you to have it—even if you call it a present—or to show
our gratitude for finding you and getting saved,” insisted Tom.

“I can’t thank you—only to say thanks awfully,” declared Manley, “and
I’ll tell the wife what a couple of fine kids you are when I get back to
the Fort.”

“Aye!” shouted the private. “Yon bit o’ siller’ll come muckle handy i’
celebratin’ o’ a weddin’ wi’ a bonny lass awaitin’ me i’ yon Fort.”

Then as the boys sped on, they talked with the two stalwart guardians of
His Majesty’s law in the frozen wastes, and told them all about their
trip, their hunts, and the staving of the _Narwhal_, and even of their
former cruise in the _Hector_, to the Antarctic.

To all of this Campbell and his Sergeant listened attentively, laughing
gaily over Cap’n Pem and Mike, now and then asking a question, uttering
surprised ejaculations as the boys told of their adventures, and now and
again glancing at each other and raising their eyebrows as Tom and Jim
told of the rich catch of furs, hides, and ivory the _Narwhal_ had made.
Rapidly the time passed. Untiringly the powerful dogs raced on, until at
last, Sergeant Manley raised his fur-mittened hand and pointed ahead.

“Tinavik Cape,” he said. “See that conical hill? Guess you’ll see your
people when you get to the ridge there.”

Down into a deep, wide valley the sledges sped; across a broad frozen
river, and up the farther slope, and gaining the top of the sharp, high
ridge the dogs came to a standstill, panting and winded.

“Hurrah! We’re there!” shouted Tom as the boys looked down from the
hilltop. “There’s the brigantine!”



CHAPTER XVI

SOUTHWARD HO!


For a moment the little group paused on the summit of the ridge, and
gazed down at the inlet with the brig floating amid the great cakes of
ice.

“Gosh, we weren’t far off after all!” exclaimed Jim.

Sergeant Manley smiled. “You don’t have to be far off to get lost up
here,” he said, “and I’m blessin’ the day we met you. Best of luck all
around. Saved you boys, saved us the Lord alone knows how many weeks of
mushing it, and ended the hunt for Jacquet.”

“Aye, an’ nae forgettin’ the tidy bit o’ siller comin’ to our pockets,”
put in the practical Campbell.

“Say, what _are_ they doing on the shore?” cried Tom who had been
studying the scene intently. “Look, they’ve got tents and I can see a lot
of the men there. Why aren’t they on the brig?”

Sergeant Manley whipped out his glasses and focused them on the shore of
the inlet.

“Something queer!” he exclaimed. “Wonder if the _Ruby’s_ stove too. Let’s
go.”

The next moment the powerful Newfoundlands were tearing down the slope
with the lighter, cream-colored Eskimo dogs in the rear, and with the two
stalwart policemen riding the runners and “yip-yiing” at the teams. Like
the wind the sleds raced down the steep hillside, and the two boys bent
their heads as the cold wind whistled across their faces.

Out on to the flat they dashed, and leaping off, the two officers brought
their teams to a sudden halt within a dozen yards of the first tent.

“Wall, I’ll be squeegeed!” cried Cap’n Pem as he turned at the sound
of the party’s arrival. “Where’n——” Then, catching sight of the boys’
companions he leaped forward with a hop and a skip.

“By the etarnal, I’m glad to see ye!” he cried. “Nor’west perlice, ain’t
ye? Where’n Sam Hill’d these youngsters pick ye up?”

“Any trouble?” demanded Sergeant Manley without stopping to reply to the
old whaleman’s queries.

“Trouble!” exploded old Pem. “Mut’ny! Them there critters has seized the
_Ruby_ an’ won’t let nary a man aboard, dod gast their hides!”

“Where’s the captain?” snapped out the sergeant as he slipped his carbine
from its sheath and Campbell did the same.

“Here he comes,” said Tom. “What started the mutiny, Cap’n Pem?”

“Them there gutter snipes!” replied the old whaleman. “Said this here was
a salvage job an’ wouldn’t stir hand nor foot lessen we give ’em half the
valer o’ the _Narwhal’s_ cargo. I swan, I never heered o’ sech a thing.
Never knowed a whaleman t’ talk o’ salvage. That’s what comes o’ these
here unions an’ new-fangled idees.”

“Hello!” cried Captain Edwards, who now joined the group with Mike and
the other members of the _Narwhal’s_ company behind him. “See you’ve
brought reënforcements, boys. Glad you’re here, officers.”

“Understand you’ve a mutiny aboard,” said the Sergeant.

“Not my ship,” replied the captain, “that’s the trouble. We could rush
’em but they’ve got their skipper an’ mates there and she’s a British
ship and I don’t know how far we Yankees could go.”

“Got any guns?” snapped out Manley.

“’Bout a dozen,” Captain Edwards assured him.

“Plenty!” declared the Sergeant. “Get your best men together, give them
the guns, and I’ll take charge. Campbell, get the kayaks ready.”

Throwing off his mackinaw, Sergeant Manley strode forward, uttered
sharp, crisp orders and with twelve of the _Narwhal’s_ crew, including
Nate, one-eyed Ned, Swanson, and Mr. Kemp, he marched to the waiting
kayaks, ordering the men to shoot and shoot to kill if he gave the word.
With ready carbine he stepped into a canoe. Behind him came the little
flotilla. Instantly all was excitement on the decks of the brigantine.
Men ran here and there. One or two leaped into the rigging, and the
watching boys saw the flash of steel, and the glint of gun barrels.

“Golly, they’re going to fight!” exclaimed Jim.

“B’jabbers thin ’twill be a sorry day for thim!” declared Mike. “’Tis the
King’s constabulary they do be afther resistin’, bad cess to thim.”

But the battle the boys expected never took place. No sooner did the
mutineers recognize the police officers than all ideas of resistance were
cast aside. Clambering on to the rail a man waved a white rag frantically
in token of surrender. An instant later the kayaks were alongside, and
Sergeant Manley and Campbell leaped over the bulwarks.

Cowed, with all the braggadocio gone from them, the _Ruby’s_ crew backed
away and stood muttering together near the foremast.

“Where’s the captain and mate?” snapped out the Sergeant, keeping the men
covered with his weapon.

“Aft, in the cabin,” replied one of the men.

“Search that crowd, Campbell!” ordered the Sergeant, “and hold ’em.”

A minute later he reappeared accompanied by the skipper and his chief
officer.

“Those are the ringleaders,” declared the captain, pointing to a big,
bull-necked, low-browed fellow and a weasel-faced, shifty-eyed creature.
“They started the trouble. Jones there’s the one killed the bo’sun.”

“That’s a lie!” roared the heavy man. “S’help me——”

“Silence!” roared Sergeant Manley. “Here, Campbell——”

With a quick motion, the bull-necked fellow whipped out a revolver. There
was a sharp report and the mutineer plunged forward upon the deck and
his gun clattered upon the planking. Campbell nonchalantly threw out the
empty shell and snapped another into his carbine.

Terrified at the death of their leader, the mutineers, already
frightened at the realization of their position, drew back with blanched
faces while the rat-faced ringleader fell on his knees and pleaded for
mercy.

“Get up!” ordered the Sergeant, and as the fellow rose a pair of
handcuffs snapped upon his wrists.

“We’ll take him along with us,” announced Sergeant Manley. “Any others
you want to lose, Captain?”

“I’d jolly well like to lose the whole bally lot,” replied the skipper
earnestly, “but I can’t. Got to handle the ship you know.”

“Don’t think they’ll give you further trouble,” declared the Sergeant.
“Have ’em searched. Keep ’em workin’ an’ carry a gun—each of you. Don’t
forget you’re on a British ship and labor unions don’t go under that
flag. You’re boss and let ’em know it. Expect those Yankees’ll be glad to
lend you a hand with this crowd.”

Presently Captain Edwards and old Pem, with the remaining members of the
_Narwhal’s_ crew, came aboard; the few belongings of the shipwrecked
whalemen were stowed and preparations were made for departure.

“Think I’ll go along with you to Rowe’s Welcome,” said Sergeant Manley
as the whale boats were lowered and the repentant crew prepared to tow
the _Ruby_ out of the worst of the ice. “Have to report the loss of the
_Narwhal_, and I’d like to see you safe on your way. Campbell, take the
dogs and go overland.”

Then, as the brigantine moved slowly from the inlet, bumping her blunt
bows into the floating ice and grinding between the cakes which went
bobbing astern, the boys had their first chance to tell the story of
their adventures.

“Thank heaven, this cruise is over—or near it!” cried Captain Edwards.
“I’d be a nervous wreck if I had you boys to look after much longer, even
if you do always come out smilin’ as a clam.”

“I’ll be b’iled if ye can’t git into more consarned scrapes’n a passel
o’ monkeys!” declared Cap’n Pem. “Fast as ye’re outen one ye’re into a
wusser.”

Mr. Kemp spat reflectively into the sea. “Some kids,” he remarked tersely.

At last the brigantine was clear of the shore ice, ahead stretched
patches and lanes of open water, and under a light wind the _Ruby_ went
bumping and crashing on her way towards Rowe’s Welcome and the stove
_Narwhal_.

“I suppose you men have a heap of queer adventures,” remarked Mr. Kemp as
Sergeant Manley stopped for a chat. “I was mate with a chap what was in
the force once, when I was on the destroyer.”

The Sergeant smiled. “Yes, we get our share,” he replied, “but most
of ’em pretty much alike—runnin’ down renegades and outlaws. If any
one wants plenty of exercise and out-doors air, I’ll recommend the
force. To-day’s job’s the queerest I ever had yet, though. A Northwest
policeman’s supposed to do most anything that turns up, but I’d never
have dreamed of bein’ called on to board a ship and put down a mutiny.”

The next day the _Ruby_ worked her way past Southampton Island into the
Welcome. Eagerly the boys peered ahead for the first glimpse of the
_Narwhal_ and the village of their Eskimo friends.

“It’s been a fine cruise,” declared Jim, “but it makes me feel almost
sick to think of leaving the old _Narwhal_ here.”

“Humph!” snorted Cap’n Pem. “Ships has got ter go sometimes—same’s folks.
Reckon the Welcome’s as good a place’s any ter let her ol’ bones rest.
’Sides, ye won’t lose nothin’, Dixon had her insured ter the limit.”

“That’s not it,” said Tom. “It’s like losing an old friend. Why, you know
how we’d feel if we left you or any of the others up here, Cap’n Pem.”

The old whaleman turned his head, blew his nose loudly on his red cotton
handkerchief and cleared his throat. “Derned if I don’t know jes how ye
feel,” he replied. “Hate fer to see a ol’ ship go myself. Wall, there
ain’t no help fer it. Everlastin’ lucky we salvaged all the cargo.”

“And luckier yet the _Ruby_ was up here,” added Captain Edwards.

“Seems to me the whole trip’s been lucky—no matter what happened,” said
Tom.

“Even with the cat,” laughed Jim.

“Gosh, where is she?” cried Tom. “I’d forgotten all about her and her
kittens.”

“Lef’ her an’ t’others behin’,” said Cap’n Pem. “Ye didn’t think we could
be a-totin’ a passel o’ cats ’long o’ us on that there sledge trip, did
ye? Jes the same, I reckon I got ter take back what I said erbout her.
Mebbe times has changed an’ cats is lucky now’days, what with injines an’
bumb lances an’ perlice a-puttin’ down mut’nies an’ all sech new-fangled
contraptions.”

“Hurrah, you do admit it!” cried Jim. “If we keep on we’ll knock all your
superstitions to pieces.”

But Cap’n Pem had not waited to hear.

A few minutes later, the _Ruby_ rounded a jutting cape and there, before
them, was the well-known cove with the _Narwhal_, forsaken and deserted,
looming above the cakes of ice.

“Why, why—Gosh! She’s afloat!” cried Tom, hardly able to believe his eyes.

“Holy mackerel, she is!” agreed Mr. Kemp.

“I’ll be blowed!” exclaimed Captain Edwards. “By glory, we may go home in
her yet!”

With wondering eyes the crew of the _Narwhal_ gazed upon their schooner,
for the ship they had left with her deck bulging above the bulwarks from
the terrific pressure of the ice; the vessel whose stern had been raised
high in air and that they were positive would sink to the bottom of the
bay when the ice broke up, was now floating on an even keel, low in the
water to be sure, but apparently sound and unhurt.

Scarcely had the _Ruby’s_ anchor dropped over before Captain Edwards,
Pem, Mr. Kemp, and the boys tumbled into a boat and were pulled rapidly
to the _Narwhal_. Grasping the main chains, Tom leaped on to the deck and
as he did so a ball of black fur sprang from a coil of rope and with a
friendly “meow” the ship’s cat rubbed herself against the boy’s legs.

“Hurrah!” he shouted as the others jumped on to the deck. “It’s all
right, here’s the cat!”

“Waall, I’ll be everlastin’ly swizzled!” cried Cap’n Pem as he looked
about. “The ol’ deck’s dropped inter place. I’ll be b’iled if I think
there’s a mite the matter with her!”

“Five feet of water in the hold,” announced Mr. Kemp who had been
sounding the well.

“Course there is,” replied the captain. “May have sprung a leak, but if
she did, it’s stopped now. If it hadn’t she’d have sunk. Reckon she dove
off the ice too an’ shipped some down the for’ard hatch. Men, what do you
say? Shall we take the chance and sail in the old _Narwhal_?”

“Aye! aye!” responded the men in chorus. “No lime juicers for us, long’s
the schooner’s a-floatin’.”

“But how—how could she be squeezed all together as she was and be all
right now?” asked Tom. “Why, her deck was like a hill and her bulwarks
were bent in.”

Cap’n Pem chuckled and rubbed his hands together in glee. “Didn’t I tell
ye whaleships was built to las’ forever?” he cried. “Bless yer souls!
what’s a mite o’ squeezin’ to a ol’ hooker like the _Narwhal_. I bet ye
she’s a-sailin’ an’ a-crusin’ an’ a-gettin’ jammed in the ice arter you
an’ me and the rest ’re dead an’ gone. Yes, sir, nothin’ like a Yankee
whaleship!”

All having agreed that they would sail home in the _Narwhal_, the crew
were transferred from the _Ruby_. Then Sergeant Manley bade them all
good luck and a quick voyage, and joining Campbell, who had arrived the
day previously, he sped swiftly into the southwest towards distant Fort
Churchill with his rat-faced mutineer prisoner.

With doleful shakes of his head the skipper of the _Ruby_ said farewell,
muttering something about “Yankees taking chances where no sane man
would,” and hoisting sail, he headed his tubby old craft for the open sea.

Working steadily, toiling for hour after hour, the men pumped the water
from the _Narwhal_. They labored with light hearts, for steadily they
gained and when at last the pumps sucked, and the following day the
sounding rod showed less than a foot of water, all knew that the schooner
was tight and safe. Rapidly the long deck house was dismantled, the big
foretopmast yard was sent up to the words of a rousing chantey, sails
were bent on and running rigging rove. Then, like beavers, the men and
the Eskimos toiled, bringing the casks of oils, the bales of whalebone,
the great bundles of skins and hides, the sacks of ivory, and the
countless other valuables, as well as stores and supplies, from the shore.

At last all was done. The last of the cargo was stowed. The standing
rigging was taut and well tarred. The carpenter had patched the cracked
rails and bulwarks, and had relaid some of the deck planks. The motor
had been overhauled and tested. The sails hung loosely in their brails
and the boats were at their davits. All this had taken much time to
accomplish, and the Arctic spring had come swiftly to the land. The
hills and valleys showed gray and bare. The black rocks loomed above
the patches of sodden snow. The ice, rotten and spongy, had almost
disappeared from the bay. The Eskimos’ igloos had long since gone, and
the natives were living in their skin tents once more. Far overhead in
the blue sky, the long files of geese and swans winged northward; great
flocks of eiders gathered on the bay; curlew and snipe filled the night
air with their plaintive whistling, and the snowbirds twittered from
rocks and last year’s weeds.

For the last time the boys paddled ashore in their kayak and bade
farewell to Nepaluka, to Newilic, to Kemiplu, the wrinkled old story
teller, and to all their Eskimo friends whom they had grown to love and
respect.

Then the clank of the windlass and the rousing chantey of the men warned
them it was time to leave, and swiftly they paddled to the schooner, gave
a farewell wave of their hands to the crowd of Eskimos ashore, and saw
their little kayak hoisted to the deck.

    Oh first came the herring, the king o’ the sea,
      Windy weather! Stormy weather!
    He jumped on the poop. “I’ll be capt’n,” says he!
      Blow ye winds westerly, gentle sou’westerly
    Blow ye winds westerly—steady she goes!

Loudly the chantey rang over the bay. Loudly the Eskimos shouted and
yelled as the dripping chain came in link by link, and the great anchor
rose from the mud that had held it fast for half a year. Up the rigging
the men sped. Quickly the huge sails were spread and sheeted home. Braces
were manned, and the _Narwhal_ slowly gathered way and the short seas
splashed in spray from her forefoot. Out towards the vast reaches of the
bay she sailed. Behind her, the land grew dim and faint. To a fair, stiff
breeze she heeled, with every sail drawing, headed southward.

Battered by countless storms, scarred by ice, the veteran of a thousand
battles with hurricanes and tempest, with crushing floes and grinding
bergs, still staunch and sound, the gallant old schooner lifted her bow
and plunged through the hissing green seas.

Safe within her old hold were the hard won treasures of the Arctic; yard
long icicles and masses of frozen spray draped her bobstays, her rails,
and her chains. But shaking the icy brine from her decks as she reared
on the crests of the waves, sliding into the great hollows, crushing
ice cakes with her shearing bows, she tore onward, while at braces and
halyards and sheets the men roared out that most welcome and glorious of
whaleman’s songs:

    Did you ever join in with those heart-ringing cheers,
      With your face turned to Heaven’s blue dome,
    As laden with riches you purchased so dear
      You hoisted your topsails—bound home?


THE END



FOOTNOTES


[1] See _The Deep Sea Hunters_.

[2] The Arctic Fox is the one referred to in this story.

[3] The tribe of Eskimos inhabiting the vicinity of Rowe’s Welcome.





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