Here to return to
THE GHOST WOLVES OF THE NUNATAK
THE “Ankut,” as the Eskimos call him, the wizard, is the bane of life among the peaceful Arctic villagers. He is generally of greater intelligence than they, his craftiness mixed with great greed and ferocity, and he brings strife and misery to the community on which he fastens. Beginning with little tricks and pretended magic, he gains an ascendency over the tribe which often ends in their giving up to him most of their possessions and sometimes their lives. Growing thus in power and audacity, he becomes a veritable tyrant, and his career usually ends in the utter disaster of the people whom he rules, or else they in their extremity overcome their superstitious fears and drive him out. In either case he is apt to become an outlaw, living by brigandage, and working ruin wherever he goes. Among the tribes of northern Siberia the Russians have given him the name of “Shaman,” but in Alaska a Pacific coast term is applied to him when he becomes an outlaw, and he is known to the whalemen as a “highbinder.” Oftentimes he is a half-breed descendant of a white father and Eskimo mother, and seems to inherit the evil cunning of both races. Driven from a community by its utter ruin or by force, the highbinders band together and rove about, preying upon the gentle and superstitious villagers, and spreading disaster and terror wherever they go. They play strange tricks, murder, and rob with no fear of anything except superior force, and carry off boys and girls and sometimes grown men and women into slavery.
There came a week of chinook weather just at the last of February. The Indian tribes a thousand miles to the south have named the warm wind from the Japanese current “Chinook,” from the name of a tribe whose habitat was to the southwest of them, the direction whence this wind came, and the name has come to be applied to it the continent over. Down there, no doubt, this chinook melted the snow, and gave the first promise of coming spring. The faint breath of it that reached the far Arctic regions where our friends wintered could do nothing of that sort, but it did bring a period of mild, clear weather, when the dry air seemed positively warm during the few hours of sunshine, while through the long night, under the dancing light of the aurora, the thermometer barely descended to zero. The first night of this warm weather and faintly breathing southern air brought two bears in from the ice-fields, one of which was killed at the trap. The boys, rushing out, saw the other on the ice near by, and Harry killed him by a lucky moonlight shot with the 45-70. Thus two fine pelts were added to their collection, which now numbered ten fine and three less valuable ones, captured by themselves or bought from their Eskimo friends. Joe figured that the value of these in the San Francisco fur market would not be less than a thousand dollars, and they decided that they would keep watch while the south wind lasted and thus lose no chances of getting more.
That night Harry called Joe hastily, and the two, fur-wrapped and rifle in hand, listened into the magnificent whiteness of the moon-flooded night.
“There!” cried Harry. “There it is!”
A low, half-fierce, half-mournful, wailing howl came from the ridge of land above the Eskimo village. It was repeated to the right and left, and came again and again at brief intervals.
“Wolves?” asked Harry.
“I should think so,” said Joe; “but “Both boys shivered and drew nearer together, as if for mutual protection. The weird glamour of the Arctic night was upon them, and they thought again of the story that Harluk had told them of the winter ghosts at Icy Cape.
“Look there,” cried Joe. “The Eskimos are out.”
They dimly saw two figures, in the radiance of the full moon, come from the direction of the Eskimo village. Silhouetted against the snow, they moved to the right and left of the ridge, seemed to pause a moment, and then went back. There came the wolf-like howling again, but this time it had a sort of jubilant ring in it. It was heard no more that night, though both boys were up for a considerable time listening for it.
At dawn the next day Harluk appeared with woe in his countenance. “Good-by,” he said; “Eskimo all go to-day.”
“But why?” asked Joe in wonder; “are you not all right here with us?”
“Yesterday,” said Harluk, “plenty all right.
Last night Nunatak (ice spirit) people send ghost wolves for food. Eskimo put out plenty. Then they go away. To-morrow night come again. Bimeby food gone, furs gone, then they take Eskimo. More better Eskimo go away first. Too much winter ghosts at Icy Cape.”
Joe was in dismay at the thought of losing the village. The companionship of the Eskimos meant much to the two boys, and their leaving would break up their plans for the spring. But at first all argument was in vain. The Eskimos had had experience with the Nunatak people before. When Eskimos settled in their realm, they must pay tribute to the ghost wolves sent or move out. There was no alternative. If the wolves howled again, they must put out something in food or furs or other property to appease them, or else the ice spirit people would come and take the Eskimos themselves. The boys conferred together about this new difficulty.
“What do you suppose it is?” asked Harry.
“I don’t know,” replied Joe; “but whatever it is, ghost wolves or real ones, or just superstition, we must stop it. We can’t lose our friends this way, and they must not lose their little stock of food and furs. Will you guard the ship to-night and let me sit up with the Eskimos? Ghosts must be pretty hard to hit, but we’ll see what a 45-70 will do for them.”
There was a grim set to Joe’s square jaw, and Harry felt the spirit of battle rise within him as he saw it.
“You go ahead,” he said; “and if the ghost wolves come to the ship, I’ll deal with them.”
That night Joe sat in the snow igloo with Harluk, Atchoo his wife, and the two Eskimo babies, one a child of a year or so, the other four or five, both fat and roly-poly youngsters with beady black eyes that looked in wonder at the white man. A blubber lamp burned brightly in the centre of this igloo, while over it hung a kettle of melted snow-water. Round the wall was a seat of hardened snow covered with a few sealskins. In the corner was a bundle. Joe examined this bundle. It contained a small stock of food, all there was in the igloo, and some furs. Harluk was prepared to propitiate the evil spirits, should they again send their representatives. Later in the evening more of the Eskimos came in, until all the members of the village were concentrated in this igloo and that of Kroo, the head man, near by. Fear of their ghostly oppressors was strong upon the village, which, but for Joe’s offered protection, would have been already far on the road south toward Point Hope.
About midnight Atchoo shuddered and drew her children to her. The other Eskimos looked at Joe with their brown faces whitening with fear, for right down the smoke-hole came that weird, wailing howl. Joe snatched the rifle and scrambled out through the low passage. The moon shone brightly on the still whiteness of the Arctic midnight, but there was no sign of living creature in sight. Only over the ridge, some distance away, came the howl again, this time with mocking intonation, as if the messengers of the Nunatak people laughed at his futile efforts. Again it seemed to come right from the ship, and Joe, baffled and angry, yet felt a chill of fear thrill through him. He jumped as a figure appeared almost at his feet, but it was only Kroo with a bundle of provisions and furs in his hand, scrambling from the low passage of his igloo.
“The ghost wolves must be fed,” said Kroo resignedly. “My white brother is brave, but he cannot shoot spirits even if he could find them. I will go.”
Quaking with fear, but doggedly, the old man plodded through the snow toward the ridge. He had gone but a step or two when Joe was close behind him, walking as he walked, so close that from a little distance the two would look like one man in the uncertain light. When they reached a furrow between two drifts Joe dropped into this, out of sight. Kroo went on a few rods farther, placed his offering on the snow, and turned back. He would have paused by Joe, but the latter firmly motioned him on, and a few moments later he entered the igloo.
There was silence for a long time, while Joe watched the bundle narrowly where it showed dark against the white surface, holding his rifle ready for instant use. The minutes seemed to stretch into hours. He felt a chill that was not altogether cold, and his hand shook with a nervous tremor that was very close to fear. Real wolves he did not care for, yet with all his sturdy Anglo-Saxon sense, something of the superstition of the Eskimos seemed to touch him. Civilization slips easily from us when face to face with night, the wilderness, and the unknown. He had a haunting feeling that something was near him, yet peer as he would he could see nothing but the whiteness of the moonlit expanse of snow and the black bundle, untouched, where Kroo had dropped it.
Suddenly he sprang to his feet with a gasp of alarm and surprise, for, seemingly right behind him, sounded a snarling howl. He turned and looked eagerly, and ran in that direction for a few steps, breathless, yet there was no sign of man or beast. He listened intently. No sound for a moment, then right behind his back the howl sounded again, this time with a chuckle like laughter in it, and he gave an exclamation of disgust, for the bundle no longer lay dark upon the snow. The ghost wolves had found their offering and made off with it. It seemed to Joe, as he looked about, as if he could see a blur of a white figure moving along against a white snow ridge, and he brought his rifle to his shoulder to shoot, then hesitated, thinking he must have imagined it, so indistinct was the impression. As he hesitated, he saw another blur of white over a near-by ridge, almost within arm’s reach, with what looked like an evil face in it, and before he could turn, a heavy mass of frozen snow struck him in the head and stretched him senseless. The figure of a white bear with the face of a man leaned over him, then lifted its head and gave forth the wolf howl, a different cry from the others heard that night. There was no chuckle in this howl. It was rather a cry of rage which carried in itself a command, and it had scarcely ceased before three other bear-like figures hurried up. These, too, had the faces of men and they walked erect, yet they left behind tracks of claws. Hurried low words were spoken in Eskimo, and the four took up the motionless figure and carried it away from the igloos, yet a little toward the ship, down a long furrow behind a drift, to a place on the shore where the ice crushing in during the early fall had left a sheltering ridge. Here they vanished with their burden as if they had been dissipated into air.
Harry’s watch was long that night on the deck of the Bowhead. He felt appallingly lonely long before midnight, and it was all he could do to keep from setting out for the shore to see what was happening at the igloos. The ghost wolves seemed less a matter of superstition now that Joe’s sturdy presence was lacking, and he waited with apprehension for their howling, and shivered with nervous dread when it began. He watched narrowly, and saw what he thought was one figure go out from the igloo and return in the uncertain light. Again he heard the howling, now far, now seemingly near, and watching, with his rifle under his arm, he was surprised to see a figure appear dimly in the snow far over on the ridge. He saw this figure move back and forth. Then, to his astonishment, it seemed to rise up from the ground in a horizontal position and move off, disappearing again. All this was strange and disquieting, and for a long time there was silence.
What seemed hours followed, and at last he could stand it no longer. He fastened the galley door, took his repeating rifle under his arm, and marched down the hard drifted snow off the Bowhead in the direction of the igloos. As he did so, far off on the ice to the northward two great white bears lifted their noses and sniffed the wind, which blew from the south. On it came a faint odor of fish, always enough to attract any white bear, but this odor was more appetizing than any the two had ever smelled before. The salmon kettle was doing its work. Warily the two great creatures took their way southward over the rough ice.
At the igloos Harry’s call for Joe was answered by the furry Eskimo head of Harluk. He put this carefully out from the tunnel-like entrance and calmly said Joe was no more. He was a good man and a noble friend, but he was no longer even a spirit. The ghost wolves had no doubt eaten him, and thereby he became as nothing. Killed in battle, eaten by real wolves, his spirit would yet remain, but when the ghost wolves of the Nunatak people got a man, he simply vanished. If Harry did not wish to vanish, it would be well for him to come into the igloo.
Harry took Harluk by the shoulders and pulled the rest of him out into the moonlight.
“Look here, Harluk,” he said. “You stop this nonsense, and tell me where Joe is. Is he with you? If not, where did he go? Tell me and tell me quick.”
Like cures like, says the old adage. Harry’s manner was so fierce that he frightened his dusky friend, and for a moment drove some of the superstitious fear out of him. He spoke to the point when he got his breath. Joe, he said, had gone out with Kroo to bait the ghost wolves. In this direction they had gone, over toward the ridge. Kroo had come back, Joe had not. This was long ago.
“Harluk,” said Harry, “you get that repeating rifle that we gave you, load it, and come with me. Tell Kroo to come, too, and bring his gun and Konwa. The others shall stay with the women and children.”
The three came, reluctantly. Harry’s impetuosity carried them along, but some distance behind. Any one of them would have faced danger and probable death without a tremor, but this matter of ghosts was different. They reached the place where Kroo had left Joe, and Kroo pointed out his tracks, indistinct in the moonlight, then farther on they saw where he had gone on. But they saw neither the bundle nor Joe. Unlike his cousin, the Indian of the interior, the Eskimo has no special aptitude in following a blind trail, hence it was Harry who first noted in the snow the indistinct marks of clawed feet. At sight of this the three men of the north collapsed together in a shivering bunch. The ghost wolves had been abroad, their eyes saw the marks of their feet. Joe, brave and able as he was, had been eaten and was now no more, even in spirit. The Nunatak people were no doubt all about them at that moment, and if they got back to the igloos safe, it would be a wonder. They headed tremblingly for home, but Harry stepped resolutely in front of them. The spirit of battle was fully roused in him now, and he had no thought of ghosts. Joe was to be found, rescued if need be, and the Eskimos must be made to help. Force would be of no avail. He must meet superstition with superstition.
“Look here, Harluk,” he said, “do you not know that the white man is a great ankut, a wizard much greater than any? Did we not make the ghost ship real? Can I not make the spirit of a man or a place go into a little box and come out again so that you may see it and hold it in your hand? I tell you, if we do not find Joe and you do not help me, the ghost birds of the white man’s Nunatak shall fly away with you. They shall hang you head down in the smoke-hole of his igloo, and with fire shall torment your bones as long as the ice lasts in the sea. Now will you come with me?”
It was too bad, and Harry knew it, but there did not seem to be any other way. It certainly had a great effect on his superstitious friends. They drew suddenly back from him with an alarm that nearly made him laugh in spite of the fact that he felt the situation to be critical. He held one hand aloft and seemed to listen. “The ghost birds are coming,” he cried; “I hear their wings!”
Konwa’s teeth chattered audibly, Harluk was sullenly silent under this counter pressure of conflicting ghosts, but Kroo, the old head man, drew himself up with a certain dignity. He seemed to conquer his fears, and for the rest of the night he acted the part of a brave man. “There be many wizards abroad to-night,” he said, “and my white brother is perhaps one. Kroo will help his friends in spite of evil spirits.”
Then the hunt for the missing man began again. The full moon shone low on the horizon, and the stately hosts of the aurora began to parade the sky with flaunting crimson banners. The two lighted up the white wastes with a radiance that was but little less than daylight, and with their help they followed the claw tracks here and there. It seemed as if many ghost wolves had been out that night, prowling along the hollows between snow ridges. Here and there they found an imprint quite plain, showing the mark of a heavy foot with claws on the front. By and by Harry found a place where four of these converged in a spot, and something like a heavy body had fallen in the snow. Kroo looked at this place intently.
“Bundle here,” he said.
Then the four tracks blurred into one another and went on. Harry had a moment’s mental vision of the indistinct figure that had flitted back and forth in the moonlight, then risen and gone off in a horizontal position, and he guessed very nearly right as to the catastrophe. He found shattered fragments of a chunk of ice on the snow, and on one of these what looked like a spot of blood. A great anger swelled in Harry’s breast at the sight of this, and for a moment he choked for words.
“See,” he said, showing the blood-stained crystal to the Eskimos; “they have hurt him and carried him away. Here are their tracks. It cannot be ghosts. Ghosts do not draw blood. We shall find them and kill them. Kill them, do you hear? whether they are men or beasts.”
Kroo stepped forward and examined the deeper tracks critically. “Nanuk,” he said “bear; plenty bear.” Konwa, himself a mighty bear hunter, corroborated the testimony.
This put new courage into Harluk and Konwa. Bears they knew and would fight in any number, and for the first time they took an active interest in the proceedings. The trail was broad and easy to follow in the soft snow, and they went on for some distance. Down near the shore, however, they lost it, and did not pick it up again. Then, at Kroo’s suggestion, they spread out far apart and began to zigzag along the snow, each hunting carefully.
But if the light-hearted Eskimos had in a large measure lost their superstitious dread, the discovery of bear tracks had not helped Harry to overcome his. Why should bears attack Joe and carry him off bodily? Why had he not used his rifle before it happened? It was a good deal of a mystery, and he could not help feeling that the whole affair was ghostly and savored of the supernatural. This in no wise affected his courage and eagerness in the hunt.
There certainly were bears about, real bears, for the two that had been attracted by the salmon bait had nearly reached the ship. They slipped along cautiously from hummock to hummock, and were much disturbed by the presence of men ashore. These they winded; but the salmon bait was too much for their hungry stomachs, and they went cautiously toward it. The curiosity of madam bear, or else her hunger, was greater, for she was well in front and stepped forward and breasted the fatal line, while her lord and master stood to one side.
Meanwhile things had been happening rapidly over on shore. Harry, Kroo, and Harluk, armed with rifles, Konwa with his great walrus spear, had spread far apart and were hunting carefully for tracks in the snow, but it was drifted so hard thereabouts that they found none. Harry was nearest ashore of any, and he suddenly felt the snow giving way under his feet. He gave a cry of alarm and went down out of sight, landing full upon something solid, that in the indistinct light of an oil lamp looked and felt like a bear. This creature turned and grappled him, yet there was no clutch of bear’s claws, but rather the arms of a man that had hold of him. The face that was turned toward him was not that of a bear either, but seemed to be the evil face of a man.
“Kroo! Harluk! Help!” shouted Harry, and wrestled desperately with his opponent.
Other bear-like figures seemed to swarm about him and join in the battle. As he fought, he noted that he seemed to be in an igloo like that of one of the villagers, and he backed toward the low entrance, clinging to his adversary and dragging him with him. His rifle had dropped in the beginning of the mêlée, but there was no chance to use firearms. It was a hand-to-hand struggle, in which the numbers of his adversaries were of little use to them. As he backed toward this igloo entrance, he saw another figure rise from the further corner, not that of a man-faced bear, this one, but of a fur-clad man. It seemed to take his part in the conflict, and hustled toward the low entrance also. Then the lamp was kicked over, and the affray went on in the dark. It was a strange mix up, but Harry found himself outside after a little, where he could see and act, and, seizing an opportunity, he dealt his opponent a stunning blow in the face with his fist. It broke his hold, and he had a chance to turn, just in time, for another man-faced bear was leveling a rifle at him. Harry struck this aside as it went off, and the bullet whistled harmlessly by. He grappled with this new adversary, and found himself much stronger. Round and round on the snow they went; but another one seized him from behind, and the two bore him to the snow, and held him there.
The next moment he saw Joe, struggling weakly on the snow beside him, held down by other men clad in bearskins. He heard these bear-like men speak in Eskimo to one another. His own hands and Joe’s were hurriedly bound with walrus-hide thongs; then the five men, — he could count them now and take note of their actions, — rifle in hand, advanced toward the ship. They began to shoot hastily and inaccurately, as Eskimos will.
The struggle had taken place almost entirely under the snow, and the shot which had missed Harry was the first thing to call the attention of Kroo and his men to the affray. Harluk and Kroo could not fire while it lasted, lest they shoot their friends. Konwa, however, mighty bear hunter and fearing nothing but ghosts, set his walrus spear at the charge and plunged valiantly at the group. He received one of the first bullets from the fusillade and fell. Kroo and Harluk, seeing themselves over-matched, and both Harry and Joe out of the combat, emptied their rifles hastily and without aim, then turned and fled before the superior numbers.
The battle seemed lost. Joe and Harry tugged in vain at their bonds. Konwa lay face down upon his walrus spear, and Kroo and Harluk fled for safety. One, who seemed to be a leader of the enemy, spoke to the others.
“Let them go,” he said in Eskimo. “We can get them later. Let us attend to these two first.”
He beckoned to another, and the two took a stand by Joe and Harry. Harry recognized the one by him as the man with whom he had first struggled, and he saw with much satisfaction that one of his eyes was well closed by that last blow. The other eye, however, looked upon him with an evil gleam of vindictive triumph in it. He leveled his rifle full at Harry’s head.
“Shoot,” he said to the other one, who had taken a similar position by Joe. “We will be well rid of the dogs.”
Over on the ship madam bear had just received the charge from the Springfield musket, and was plunging and kicking in the death agony on the snow. Her mate watched this with dismay, then anger, and finally rushed in blind fury at the thing that had hurt her. He swept the rifle three rods away with one blow of his mighty paw. Then he plunged at the toll kettle, bit at it, and crushed it to his chest with one great bear’s hug. The tin can flattened, the oil showered from his shoulders to his feet as he stood erect in his rage, and igniting, made of him a huge torch that rushed landward over the snow, a dancing figure of flame that snarled and roared, leaped and somersaulted.
Harluk and Kroo saw this strange apparition first, and fled to the right and left with yells of superstitious fear. On it came, tearing across the snow, right toward the outlaw Eskimos and their victims. The two about to murder hesitated and lowered their rifles.
“What is it? What is it?” asked the men of the bearskins, one of another, and the reply was but one word, “Ghost.”
Harry heard and saw, and quick-wittedly took advantage of the opportunity. He struggled to a sitting position and shouted in Eskimo: “Come, spirit! I, the wizard, command you. Come and burn them with great fire. Come fire spirits all, and burn them.”
The strange figure of flame seemed to obey his words. It rushed, roaring and capering, at them. It was too much for the Eskimo mind to stand. The men who had themselves posed as ghosts were astonished at this far greater apparition than they could make. With one impulse of panic fear they turned and fled inland, leaving weapons and shedding their bearskins to hasten their flight. Nor did they stop till they had disappeared beyond the ridge.
The dancing figure of flame stumbled and stopped almost at the feet of Joe and Harry. There was a groan, and it lay motionless, while the flames flickered for a moment and then went out.
For some time Joe and Harry struggled with their bonds, but at last Joe slipped his and released Harry. They looked the field over. Konwa lay motionless where he had fallen. They examined the blackened figure that had been their flame deliverer, and finding it to be the carcass of a bear, guessed the strange accident that had set them free at the very moment when their case seemed hopeless. They shouted for Kroo and Harluk, and by and by the two came, hesitatingly. The sorrow of these two at the death of Konwa was genuine but undemonstrative. They were willing to believe that the battle had been with men clad in bearskins, but their theory of ghost wolves was in no wise shaken. Yes, there was the carcass of a scorched bear on the snow. They saw that, but they had also seen a fire spirit dancing and roaring across the snow. This spirit might have tipped over the kerosene kettle and burned the bear, but to say that the bear was the spirit was foolish. They knew enough about wizards and their work to know better than that. The white men were certainly great ankuts as well as good fighters. They had driven away the ghost wolves for the night, and they had brought forth a spirit of fire that had driven away men, or ghost wolves changed into men. Anyway, the spirit of the white man was evidently much the stronger, and they would have no fear as long as Joe and Harry were by.
Thus reasoned Harluk and Kroo. The two boys saw that it was of no use to argue with them and wisely let the matter stand. They gently carried the body of Konwa back to the igloos, and Joe and Harry stayed with their friends till daybreak. They had collected the weapons that their enemies had dropped in their flight, and they stood watch lest they return, but they saw nothing more of them. Joe’s head was slightly cut and somewhat bruised from the blow he had received, and it ached, but otherwise he was uninjured, and lie made light of the whole matter. There was no sign of the foe during the remainder of the night, nor did the ghost wolves howl again.
At daybreak, fully armed, they made a careful survey of the ground. The Eskimos, having no fear of the Nunatak people or their messengers as long as the sun was shining, turned out to a man. They found near the beach, in a big drift behind a sheltering ridge of ice, the igloo into which Harry had fallen. It seemed a temporary affair, built, perhaps, for the use of the outlaws in a future attack on the ship, or for a convenient hiding-place while they terrorized the Eskimos. Joe had no recollection between the time he was felled by the chunk of ice and the time he came to in the igloo and feebly joined Harry in his struggle there. The place was empty, except for one bearskin, evidently shed during the fight, that its wearer might have more freedom. An examination of this pelt showed the ingenuity of the outlaw Ankuts. The carcass had been taken from it through a slit beneath. This left the skin of the hind legs and feet intact, with the claws on. Walking in this bearskin suit, a man would leave the trail of an animal with claws, and be nearly invisible in the night, the white skin being so like the snow in color. Slipping along the drifts, they could thus play all sorts of pranks on the superstitious Eskimos with little fear of detection, and, as we have seen, even a white man could be much puzzled by their antics.
The party warily followed the tracks inland. The blowing, fine snow had nearly obliterated them in spots, but they found them again. Moreover, they found two more bearskins, shed in the hurry of flight. A mile inland they found also a larger and more carefully made igloo, with traces of dogs and a sled. The marks showed that the outlaws had hastily harnessed up their dog team and gone on, with all their belongings, straight toward the interior. This probably ended them, so far as the little community at Icy Cape was concerned, and they returned to the igloos, taking the three bearskins with them. They were excellent pelts; and Joe, after declaring the Eskimos to be half owners in them, proceeded immediately to buy out their share. The Eskimos recognized this even-handed justice, and admired and respected the boys for it. But when Joe tried to make them see how foolish it was to believe in ghost wolves and the evil spirits of the ice, the Nunatak people, they listened politely, but smiled incredulously. Had the boys not fought with them and heard them howl? Yes, there were bad men, too; but how did they know but the Nunatak people changed their wolves into bad men and then back again at pleasure? Thus the matter ended.
They buried Konwa the next morning. Harry thought they should read the service for the burial of the dead over him, but Joe vetoed it. He said that the Eskimos had funeral ceremonies of their own, and they ought not to be interfered with. They placed Konwa on a small walrus hide, dressed in his best furs, with his walrus-gut rain-coat over all. At one hand was his sheevee, or big knife, in the other the walrus spear with which he had made his last charge, and beside him were his plate and cup. On the very top of the ridge they laid him, carried thither by the men of the village, while his widow wailed loudly in the igloo. They brought stones from a ledge, blown bare by the wind, and piled these in a little cairn above him. Then they walked three times around him, chanting a weird chant, while the widow still wailed in the igloo.
Reaching the igloo on their return, they walked three times around this, and chanted again, while the widow wailed more loudly. Then the chanting ceased, the wailing was cut off with equal abruptness, and the little village resumed its round of daily life.
Harry carved the name “Konwa” deep on a board, and added the sentence, “He died bravely, fighting for his friends,” and placed this over the body, supported by the stones.