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The Eternal Maiden By T. Everett Harre Characters: 31382

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:02


"Her cheeks were flushed delicately with the soft pink of the lichen flowers that bloom in the rare days of early summer. Her eyes played with a light as elusive, as quick as the golden radiance on the seas."

Great excitement prevailed among the members of the tribe. Along a mottled green-and-brown stretch of shore, which rolled undulatingly toward the icy fringe of the polar sea, more than twoscore hunters were engaged in unusual activity. Some were lacing tight over the framework the taut skin of their kayaks. Others sharpened harpoon points with bits of flint. Tateraq busily cut long lashings from tanned walrus hides. Maisanguaq deftly took these and pieced them together into long lines, which were rolled in coils lasso-fashion. Arnaluk and a half dozen others sat on their haunches, between their knees great balls made of the entire hides of seals. With cheeks extended they blew into these with gusto. Filled with air, the hides became floats, which were attached to the leather lasso lines. The lines in turn were fastened by Attalaq and Papik to harpoons, which were to be driven into the walrus, the natives' chief prey of the arctic sea.

A babel of conversation swayed to and fro among this northernmost fringe of the human race. Now and then it was drowned in the raucous, deafening shriek of auks which swarmed from nearby cliffs and soared in clouds over the shore.

"Aveq soah! Walrus! Walrus!" shouted Papik, tossing up his arms and dancing, his brown face twisting with grotesque grimaces of joy.

"Aveq soah! Aveq soah!" He leaped in frenzy. He seized his harpoon in mimicry of striking, and darted it up and down in the air. "Walrus! Walrus!" he cried, and his feverish contagion spread through the crowd.

"Aveq tedicksoah! A great many walrus," echoed Arnaluk. "Aveq tedicksoah! Walrus too many to count!"

They stopped their work and gathered in a group, Papik before them, his arms pointing toward the sea. His eyes glistened.

To the south, Im-nag-i-na, the entrance to the polar sea, was hidden by grayish mists which, as they shifted across the sun, palpitated with running streaks of gold. From the veiled distance the sound of a glacier exploding pealed over the waters like the muffled roar of artillery. The sun, magnified into a great swimming disc by the rising vapors, poured a rich and colorful light over the sea-it was a light without warmth. In the turquoise sky overhead, the moving clouds changed in hue from crimson to silver, and straggling flecks, like diaphanous ribbons, became stained with mottled dyes. Against the horizon, the arctic armada of eternally moving icebergs drifted slowly southward and, like the spectral ships of the long dead Norsemen who had braved these regions, flaunted the semblance of silver-gleaming sails. The sea rose in great green emerald swells, the wave crests broke in seething curls of silver foam, and in the troughs of descending waters glittered cascades of celestial jewels. It was late summer-the hour, midnight.

The keen eyes of the natives searched the seas.

To the south of where the watchers were gathered, the glacial heels of the inland mountains step precipitously into the sea and rise to a height of several thousand feet. At the base of these iron rocks, corroded with the rust of interminable ages, the fragments of great floes, like catapults, are tossed by the inrushing sea. Above, in summertime, rises and falls constantly a black mist resembling shifting cloud smoke. Millions of auks swarm from their moss-ensconced grottos; an oppressive clamor beats the air. Along the ocean, where crevices of the descending iron-chiselled cliffs are fugitively green with ribbons of pale grass, downy-winged ducks purr, mating guillemots coo incessantly, and tremulous oogzooks chirrup joyously to their young.

As the natives listened, a deep nasal bellowing from the far ocean trembled in the air.

Not a man stirred. The sound vibrated into silence. The auks screamed. Hawks shrilled. From the far interior valleys came the echoed wolf-howling of Eskimo dogs. There the mountain tops, perpetually covered with ice and snow, gleamed through the clouds with running colors of amaranth, green and mottled gold. The air swam with frigid fire. As the tribe stood in silence along the shore, a roar as of gatling guns pealed from the mist-hidden heights. After a taut moment of silence, a frightened scream rose from every living thing on land and sea. Yet the group of men only bent their heads. Then, like an undertone in the chorus of animate life, their quick ears detected the long-drawn, hoarse call of walrus bulls. The howls of the dogs from the distant mountain passes came nearer. More distant receded the stertorous nasal bellow on the sea.

The natives feverishly leaped to their tasks. There was a note of anxiety in their voices. Onto the forepart of the kayaks they placed their weapons, leather lines, floats and drags. More than twoscore boats were drawn over the land-adhering ice to the edge of the sea. A fierce chatter brought all the women to the doors of their seal-skin tents. They looked seaward and shook their heads with dismay.

"Many walrus-far away," the men shouted.

"No, no," the timid women returned. "Walrus too far away-Perdlugssuaq will strike you there!"

Against the distant horizon mighty bergs loomed. In swift eddies of water great floes swirled. The walrus were too far away to be seen. Yet the opportunity of securing walrus was too rare to be missed; for unless food and fuel were soon secured, starvation during the coming winter confronted the tribe. The previous winter had been one of unprecedented severity and had wiped out bears, and herds of caribou and musk oxen. The summer season, which was now drawing to a close, had been destitute of every kind of game. Musk oxen had been seldom found and then only in the far inland valleys. Some blight of nature seemed to have exterminated even the animals of the sea. The natives had lived mainly on the teeming bird life. From the scrawny bodies of the arctic birds, however, neither food that could be preserved nor fuel to be burned in the lamps could be secured. On musk oxen the tribes depend chiefly for hides and meat, and on walrus for both food and fuel. The ammunition, brought by Danish traders the summer before, was exhausted, so in the hunt they had for many sleeps to rely solely upon their skill with their own primitive weapons. For months the doughty hunters had gathered but few supplies. The prospect of the coming winter was ominous indeed. Wandering up and down the coast in their migrating excursions the tribes had scoured land and sea with but meagre results. At the village from which they now heard the inspiring walrus calls, a dozen visiting tribesmen-most of them in search for wives as well as game-had gathered. Joy filled them in the prospect of securing supplies-and possible success in love-at last.

As they launched their kayaks, in impatient haste lest the walrus drift too far seaward, some one called:

"Ootah! Ootah!"

They gazed anxiously about. Ootah, the bravest and most distinguished of the hunters, was missing. All the young men would gladly have started without Ootah, but the elders, who knew his skill and the might of his arm, were not willing.

To the younger men there was an added zest in the hunt; each felt in the other a rival, and Ootah the one most to be feared. A feverish anxiety, a burning desire to distinguish himself flushed the heart of each brave hunter. For whoever brought back the most game, so they believed, stood the best chance of winning the hand of Annadoah. Of all the unmarried maidens of the tribes, none cooked so well, none could sew so well as Annadoah, none was so skilled in the art of making ahttees and kamiks as Annadoah. And, moreover, Annadoah was very fair.

"Ootah! aveq soah! Hasten thou! The walrus are drifting to sea."

Attalaq rushed up to the village and paused at the tent of Annadoah.

"Ootah!" he called.

A voice from within replied.

"We start-the wind drifts-the walrus are carried to sea."

"I come!" replied Ootah.

The flap of the tent opened. The sunlight poured upon the face of the young hunter. He smiled radiantly, with the self-assertion of youth, the joy of life.

Ootah was graced with unwonted beauty. He was slight and agile of limb; his body was supple and lithe; his face was immobile, beardless, and with curving lips vividly red, a nose, small, with nostrils dilating sensitively, and eyebrows heavily lashed, it possessed something of the softness of a woman. His glistening black hair, bound about his forehead by a narrow fillet of skins, fell riotously over his shoulders. His eyes were large and dark and swam with an ardent light.

He turned.

"Thou wilt not place thy face to mine, Annadoah? Yet I love thee, Annadoah. My heart melts as streams in springtime, Annadoah. My arms grow strong as the wind, and my hand swift as an arrow for love of thee, Annadoah. The joy the sight of thee gives me is greater than that of food after starving in the long winter! Yea, thou wilt be mine? Surely for my heart bursts for love of thee, Annadoah."

He leaned back, stretching his arms, but Annadoah shyly drew further inside her shelter.

With a sigh he flung his leather line over his shoulder, seized his harpoons, and stepped from the tent. His step was resilient and buoyant, his slim body moved with the grace of an arctic deer. He looked back as he reached the icy shore. Annadoah stood at the door of her tent. Her parting laughter rang after him with the sweetness of buntings singing in spring.

Ootah's heart leaped within him. Annadoah possessed a beauty rare among her people. From her father, one of the brave white men who had died with the Greely party years before at Cape Sabine, Annadoah had inherited a delicacy and beauty more common indeed with the unknown peoples of the south. Her face was fresh and smooth, and of a pale golden hue. Her cheeks were flushed delicately with the soft pink of the lichen flowers that bloom in the rare days of early summer. Her eyes played with a light as elusive, as quick as the golden radiance on the seas. Her dark silken hair straggled luxuriantly from under the loose hood of immaculate white fox fur which had fallen back from her head. The soft skins of blue foxes and of young birds clothed her. From her sleeves her hands peeped; they were small, dainty, childlike. Almost childlike, too, was her face, so palely golden, so fresh, so lovely, so petite. There were mingled in her the coyness of a child and the irresistible coquetry of a woman.

She waved her hands joyously to the hunters leaving the shore. They called back to her. Some of the women frowned. One shook her fist at Annadoah.

Papik, lingering behind, approached Annadoah timidly.

"Thou art beautiful, Annadoah; thou canst sew with great skill. With the needles the white men brought thee, thou hast made garments such as no other maiden. Papik would wed thee, Annadoah."

"Thou art a good lad, Papik," Annadoah replied, laughing gaily. "But thy fingers are very long-and long, indeed, thy nose!"

Papik flushed, for to him this was a tragedy.

"But with my fingers I speed the arrow with skill," he replied.

"True, but the fate of him who shoots with a skill such as thine is unfortunate indeed; for soon the day will come when thou wilt not speed the arrow, when thy hands will be robbed of their cunning. When ookiah (winter) comes with his lashes of frost he will smite thy fingers-they will fall off. Then how wilt thou get food for thy wife? Ookiah will twist thy nose, and it will freeze. Poor Papik!"

Annadoah lay her hand gently on his arm, and a brief sorrow clouded her smiles.

Papik bowed his head. He understood the blight nature had set upon him and it made his heart cold. Truly his fingers were long and his nose was long-and either was a misfortune to a tribesman. He knew, as all the natives knew, that sooner or later during a long winter his fingers would inevitably freeze, then he would lose his skill with weapons; consequently he would not be able to provide for a wife. His nose, too, in all probability would freeze; then he would be disfigured and the trials of life would be more complicated.

From the inherited experience of ages the natives know that a hunter with short hands and feet is most likely to live long; a man's length of life can be pretty accurately gauged by the stubbiness of his nose. The degree of radiation of the human body is such that it can prevent freezing in this northern region only when the extremities are short; thus a man with long feet is almost for a certainty doomed to lose his toes, and the most fortunate is he whose feet and hands are short, whose nose is stubby and whose ears are small. The exigencies of life place an economic value on the structure of a hunter's body, and the little Eskimo women-endowed with a crude social conscience which demands that a father shall live and remain efficient so as to care for his own children-are loath to marry one afflicted as was Papik.

"But I care for thee, Annadoah," Papik protested.

"And well do I know thou art a brave lad, but seek thou another maiden; thou dost not touch my heart, Papik, and thy fingers are very, very long."

With native spontaneity, Papik laughed and turned shoreward. As he passed the assembled maidens he paused momentarily and greeted them. He made a brief proposal of marriage to Ahningnetty, a fat maiden, and was met with laughter.

"Go on, Long Fingers," one called. "How wilt thou strike the bear when thy fingers are gone? How wilt thou seek the musk ox when ookiah hath bitten off thy feet?"

The maiden who spoke was extremely thin.

"Ha, ha!" Papik returned. "How wilt thou warm thy husband when the winter comes? How wilt thou warm the little baby when thou art like the bear after a famished winter, thou maid of skin and bones!"

"Long-nose! Long-nose! may thy nose freeze!" she called.

The other maidens laughed and gibed at her. In anger she fled into her tupik, or tent. Being very thin she, too, like Papik, suffered from the bar sinister of nature. For, in selecting a wife, a native comes down to the practical consideration of choosing a maid who will likely grow fat, so that, during the long cold winters, her body will be a sort of human radiator to keep the husband and children warm. So love, you see, in this region, is largely influenced by an instinctive knowledge of natural economies.

As he launched his kayak, Ootah turned toward Annadoah.

"Thou art the sun, Annadoah!" he called.

"And thou the moon, Ootah," she replied. "I shall await thee, Ootah! Bring thou back fat and blubber, Ootah, to warm thy fires, Ootah." And she laughed gaily. Then she turned her back to Ootah, bent her head coyly and did not turn around again. To Ootah this was a good augury-for when a maiden turns her back upon a suitor she thinks favorably of him. This is the custom.

Ootah felt a new strength in his veins. He felt himself master of all the prey in the sea.

At the entrance of the tent of Sipsu, the angakoq, or native magician, stood Maisanguaq, one of the rivals for the hand of Annadoah. His face twisted with jealous rage as he heard Annadoah calling to the speeding Ootah. His narrow eyes glittered vindictively. Turning on his heel he entered Sipsu's dwelling place.

Sipsu sat on the floor near his oil lamp. When Maisanguaq entered he did not stir. He was as still, as grotesque, as evil-looking as the tortured idols of the Chinese; like theirs his eyes w

ere beadlike, expressionless, dull; such are the eyes of dead seal. His face was brown and cracked like old leather, and was covered with a crust of dirt; his gray-streaked hair was matted and straggled over his face; it teemed with lice. He held his knotty hands motionless over the flame of his lamp. His nails were long and curled like sharp talons. As Maisanguaq saw him he could not repress a shudder.

Sipsu was feared, and as correspondingly hated, by the tribe. They brought to him, it is true, offerings of musk ox meat and walrus blubber when members fell ill. But that was the urge of necessity. Of late years Sipsu's conjurations for recovery had resulted in few cures; his heart was not in them; but with greater vehemence did he enter upon seances of malediction. With almost unerring exactness he prophesied many deaths. For this the tribe did not love him. Nor did Sipsu love the tribe; especially did he hate the youthful, and those who courted and were newly wed. When Maisanguaq touched his shoulder, he turned with a growl.

"Canst thou invoke the curse of death upon one who goes hunting upon the seas?"

Through the rheum of years Sipsu's eyes gleamed.

The aged, gnarled thing found voice. It was hollow and thin.

"Ha, thou art Maisanguaq," his toothless jaws chattered. "Thou bearest no one good will. Seldom dost thou smile. For this I like thee."

He laughed harshly. Maisanguaq impatiently repeated his question:

"Can Sipsu invoke the great curse? Ha, what dost thou mean? Art thou a fool? Have not many died upon the word of Sipsu, Sipsu whose spirits never desert him! Harken! Did not Sipsu go unto the mountains in his youth? Did he not hear the hill spirits speaking? Did he not carry food to them, and wood and arrow points for weapons? And in ookiah (winter) did they not strike? Did they not kill one Otaq, who hated Sipsu? Did Sipsu not go unto the lower land of the dead-did he not speak to those who freeze in the dark? Yea, did Sipsu not learn how the world is kept up, and the souls of nature are bound together? And hath he not the power to separate them, yea, as a man from his shadow?"

"Thou evil-tongued wretch, well doth Maisanguaq believe thee! Here-I promise thee meat. I follow Ootah upon the chase. There are walrus on the sea. Invoke the curse of destruction upon Ootah-and I will give thee meat for the long winter."

"Ootah-Ootah-yah-hah! Ootah!" Sipsu snapped the name viciously. "With joy shall I bring the great evil unto Ootah. For hath he not despised my art, hath he not scoffed at my spirits! But thou-what reason hast thou to desire his death?"

"Ootah findeth favor with Annadoah," said Maisanguaq briefly. "I would she never make his kamiks (boots)."

"Yea, and she shall not. She shall not!" the old man shrieked in a sudden access of rage. "So saith Sipsu, whose spirits never fail."

Lying on the floor Sipsu closed his eyes and, moving his head up and down, called repeatedly:

"Quilaka Nauk! Quilaka Nauk! Where are my spirits? Where are my spirits?"

Presently he rose, and swaying his body crooned:

"Tassa quilivagit! Tassa quilivagit! My spirits are here-they are here! Tassa quilivagit!"

Grasping a drum made of animal tissue strung over a rib-bone he began to dance. He beat a slow, uneasy measure on the drum. His face grinned hideously. His voice at times rose to a harsh shriek, then suddenly it trailed away until it seemed like the voice of one speaking very far off. In a curious sort of intermittent crooning and shrieking ventriloquism he called down curses upon Ootah. His dance increased; he beat the drum frenziedly. His legs twisted under him, he described short running circles and jumped up and down in accesses of hysteria. His scraggy arms, with their tattered clothes, writhed in the air as he beat the drum above him. His head began to nod from side to side; his eyes glowed like coals; his tongue hung from his mouth; foam gathered at his lips.

"Ootah! Ootah! May his kaneg (head) swell with the great fire! May he see horrors that do not exist-what the wicked dead dream in their frigid hell! May the wrath of the spirits descend upon him! May the wrath of the spirits descend upon him!"

Sipsu uttered short howls. Maisanguaq joined in the incantation, and re-echoed the blighting curses.

"May he suffer from kangerdlugpoq (terrible body pains). May they end not! May he lie awake forever! May he never sleep! May his teeth chatter during the great dark!"

Sipsu groaned. He worked himself into an ecstasy of torture. His form became a black whirling figure in the dim tent.

"May Ootah's eyes close, may the lids swell; may they burn with fire."

"May he never see the light of day-may he never aim the arrow-may his harpoons strike forever in the darkness!" Maisanguaq replied rancorously. "May the wrath of the spirits descend upon him!"

"May Ootah's tongue fasten to his mouth-may it be as the tongues of dead ahmingmah (musk oxen)," chanted Sipsu. "May he never speak-may Annadoah never hear his voice," chorused Maisanguaq.

"May Ootah lose his pungo (dogs); may they all die!"

Maisanguaq, caught by the evil contagion, began to sway his body in rhythm to the weird dance.

"May Ootah become a cripple! May he break his bones! May he lie helpless for years! May his shadow leave him! May he suffer with the greatest of all pains!"

As he uttered this terrible curse, desiring that Ootah's shadow, wherein exists the soul, might depart from his still-living body, and thus cause the most excruciating bodily anguish, Sipsu sank exhausted to the ground. He writhed in a paroxysm.

"May Ootah die slowly; may his legs die, may his hands die-yea, may the spirits of his body be severed from one another as ice fields in the breaking; may the spirit of his hands, the spirit of his feet, the spirit of his lungs, the spirit of his head, the spirit of his heart wander apart-may they be torn asunder as the clouds in a storm! May they wander apart forever seeking and may they never find themselves! May Ootah suffer as never suffered the unhappy dead!"

And Maisanguaq's deep voice growled hatefully:

"May Ootah's body lie unburied! May he rot upon the earth! May the ravens peck out his eyes! May a murderer drink his blood! May the wolves eat his heart! May the spirit of the fog grow fat upon his entrails! And may the spirits of his body scatter-as the clouds in the wild anore (winds) scatter! May his soul forever seek to find its kindred spirits unavailingly and suffer in Sila, (throughout the universe) forever!"

From under a pile of skins Sipsu, his chant subsiding, brought forth a bundle. Opening it, he revealed a collection of old bones; there were the bones of musk oxen, seals, walrus and smaller animals.

"Yah-hah-hah! I shall create a tupilak!" he crooned vindictively. "I shall create a tupilak! And from the depths of the waters the tupilak shall see Ootah. Yah-hah-hah! I shall create a tupilak, and from the hands of Sipsu it shall carry destruction to Ootah on the sea. Yah-hah-hah!" He laughed crazily. Continuing his chant he constructed of the bones a crude likeness to an animal skeleton. Over this he sprinkled a handful of dried turf. Then, from beneath the cover of his bed he brought a stone pot and from it poured a sluggish red liquid over the strange object of his creation. This was a mixture of clotted animal blood and water kept for such purposes of conjuration. This done, he threw over the bones an aged sealskin. Then he rose to his feet, and in a low voice uttered the secret formulas whereby, in the depths of the sea, the result of his labor should take the form of an artificial walrus.

Maisanguaq stood by, silent, evil exultation shining in his eyes.

While the Sipsu was moaning his spell over the pile of bones, Maisanguaq turned and left the tent. Out on the sea he saw the kayaks of his departing companions.

"Good luck, Maisanguaq, have courage in the chase! Remember Annadoah awaits you all!" Annadoah called blithely and coquettishly after him.

Maisanguaq's lips tightened, his heart leaped, but well he knew that he meant nothing to the maiden, well he knew what little chance he had, and envy filled him, and bitter doubt, for he knew Ootah's prowess, his strength of limb, and braveness of heart. However, he put out with quick powerful strokes, and with a sense of anticipated triumph, for he was confident that the magician by his necromancy had created in the depths of the sea a tupilak, or artificial walrus, which should attack Ootah. He knew it might upset Ootah's kayak and cause him to be drowned. The probabilities were, however, that it would permit itself to be harpooned, in which case its blighting curse would fall upon Ootah, who would lose all power and strength of limb, whose body would become bent and crippled and racked with the kangerdlugpoq, and who would die slowly, inch by inch. Thus, Ootah would be helpless the rest of his days and as he died all the dreadful horrors of the curses would come upon him. Thus would Maisanguaq be revenged.

As the midnight sun dipped below the horizon, the sea became more deeply golden. To the women watching along the shore, the multitude of kayaks became mere black specks. They disappeared now and then behind the crests of leaping waves, and reappearing moved with the swiftness of birds along the horizon.

At the entrance of her tent Annadoah stood, one hand shading her eyes as they pierced the radiant distance. From the mountain passes behind the village echoed the joyous howls of approaching dogs. Something stirred in the heart of Annadoah-something fluttered there like the wings of a frightened bird.

Ootah's paddle touched the water with the softness of a feather, yet so quickly that the double blades emitted constant flashes of light intermittently on either side. His arms moved with consummate ease. His kayak made a dark blurred line as it sped forward over the yellow waters. Soon he had outdistanced the party. Then his speed slackened, he glanced behind.

The other kayaks darted after him like erratic bugs. The land was a mere curve on the horizon; all about him the sea rose and fell, and from the shimmering mirror of every wave the sunlight shot backward in various directions. A thousand golden searchlights seemed playing over the sea. Now and then through the coppery mists an emerald green berg loomed titanically, and as it slowly bore down upon him, Ootah would gracefully manipulate one end of his paddle and shift his kayak about while the berg lurched toweringly onward. As he gained distance from the land the ocean swelled with increasing volume. His frail skin kayak was lifted high on the oily crests of waves, and as it descended with swift rushes, Ootah felt exultant thrills in his heart. Far away he heard the resounding explosion of ice bergs colliding. A low bellow arose from a floe immediately ahead. Ootah's blood leaped, the spirit of the hunter throbbed in his veins, his nostrils sensitively quivered. With a slow silent movement of the paddle, he prevented his kayak from going too great a distance forward in order to await the others. Judging by the sound of the muffled bellowing, he assumed that the great animals were sunning themselves on the southern ridge of the floe. His tactics were to paddle about to the north, land on the floe, and descend upon the walrus from the protection of the ridges of crushed ice which always abound on these rafts of the arctic sea.

While he retarded the kayak and played with his paddle, Ootah became conscious of disquieting things in the world about him.

In the heavens he saw low lying clouds moving slowly southward. Higher above, clouds moved more swiftly in another direction.

"The quilanialeqisut (air spirits) are not at rest," murmured Ootah.

"O spirits of the air, what disturbs your ease?"

The clouds in the higher ether circled as if in an eddy of wind.

Certainly the spirits were not at peace among themselves.

"Spirits of the air," spake Ootah, "waft your caresses to Annadoah's cheeks. Tell her Ootah waits to kill the walrus, that Ootah loves her and would make Annadoah his wife-neuilacto Annadoah; tell Annadoah Ootah presses his nose to hers and calls her Mamacadosa (of all things that which tastes the most delightful)."

A gust swept the clouds from the zenith. Still no breath of air touched the sea.

To the lee a group of small icebergs passed. They rocked and eddied, and from their glacial sides the light poured in changing colors.

"O spirit of the light, carry thy bright message to the eyes of

Annadoah, tell her Ootah has loved her for many, many moons."

The bergs crashed into one another, and in the impact sank into the sea.

Ootah bit his lips. A vague misgiving was cold within his heart.

A flock of gulls passed low over the waters.

He called to them-that they should take his love to Annadoah. They were to tell Annadoah that he would soon return, laden with food and fuel for the winter. Their raucous cries mocked him. He demanded what they meant. "Ootah-Ootah," they seemed to call, "how foolish art thou, Ootah, how foolish art thou to love Annadoah. For fickle is Annadoah-fickle, fickle the heart of the maiden Annadoah!"

Ootah shrieked an enraged defiance. His eyes sought the horizon. Kokoyah, the sea god, was breathing deeply, and in the mists which rose like fire-shot smoke before the sun, singular forms took shape. Ootah saw the magnified shadows of great dogs. They seemed to be dashing along the horizon. Then, with crushing strides, behind the adumbration a great sled, a titan figure gathered substance in the clouds. It moved with terrific speed; it dominated the sky. Its dress was not that of the northern tribes. Ootah felt a resentful stirring, as, looking upward, in the clouds overhead, a white face, hard, fierce, scowling, with burning blue eyes, momentarily appeared.

"A white warrior from the south," Ootah murmured. "And he comes with swift tread. What can it mean?"

In common with many primitive peoples, Ootah possessed the soul of a poet-nature was vocal with him, and the disembodied beings of other worlds made themselves manifest and spoke in the light and in the clouds. To him everything lived; the clouds were the habitation of spirits, the waves were alive, all the animals and fish possessed souls; the very winds were endowed with sex functions and loved and quarreled among themselves. The interrelation of man and the forces of the universe were inseparably intimate and familiar; integral parts of one another, their destinies were bound together. And to Ootah nature found much to gossip about in the affairs of men.

Eagerly Ootah sought the clouds. Along the horizon they resolved themselves into a phantasmagoria of Eskimo maidens and white men resembling the Danes who came each summer to gather riches of ivories and furs. And the Eskimo maidens and white men danced together. As these mirage-forms melted, Ootah glanced into the water by his side. Looking up from the ultramarine depths he saw something white. For an instant it assumed the likeness of the face of Annadoah. He saw her golden skin, her cheeks flushed with the pink of spring lichen blossoms, her lips red as the mountain poppies of late summer. He started back and called aloud:

"Annadoah! Annadoah!" For she had smiled, cruelly and disdainfully. Hoarse laughter answered him-the laughter of white men from the south. A flock of hawks passed over the water. He was about to shout when he heard the sound of kayak paddles behind him. He recalled himself and beckoned silence.

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