Nuna was also vigorous, but her sons Norrak and Ermigit, being amiable, came on each side of her, and took her in tow before the breaking-down point was reached. Thus they continued to advance until the darkness became so profound as to render further travelling impossible. The danger of delay they knew was extreme, but men must perforce bow to the inevitable.
Instead of answering the question, Okiok turned to two chubby and staring youths, of about fifteen and sixteen respectively, who were mending spears, and said sharply, "Norrak, Ermigit, go, harness the dogs." Norrak rose with a bound, and dived into the tunnel. Ermigit, although willing enough, was not quite so sharp.
It was a mighty berg an ice-mountain of nearly half a mile in length so that no sound of cracking lash or yelping dogs passed from the one party to the other. Thus when Ippegoo arrived at his destination he found his fair bird flown. But he found a much more interesting personage in the Kablunet, who had been left under the care of Angut and Ermigit.
When they had got fairly off, a spirit of emulation seized the brothers, and, without a direct challenge, they paddled side by side, gradually increasing their efforts, until they were putting forth their utmost exertions, and going through the water at racing speed. "Well done, Norrak!" shouted the father, in rising excitement. "Not so fast, Ermigit; not so fast," roared Simek.
Well was it for old Kannoa that night that Ermigit was, when roused, one of the fleetest runners of his tribe. Down to the shore he sprang partly tumbled and then sped along like the Arctic wind, which, we may remark, is fully as swift as more southerly breezes. The beach near the sea was mostly smooth, so that the absence of light was not a serious drawback.
Next day, being that of the great feast, the entire village bestirred itself with the first light of morning. Men and women put on their best garments, the lamps were kindled, the cooking-kettles put on, and preparations generally commenced on a grand scale. Awaking and stretching himself, with his arms above his head and his mouth open, young Ermigit yawned vociferously.
His residence in South Greenland had taught him many things. He dropped, therefore, quite naturally indeed gladly on his hands and knees on coming to the mouth of the tunnel, and crept slowly into the hut, followed by the whole family, except Ermigit, who was left to unfasten the dogs.
"He does not seem to know his own mind," remarked Okiok, as the bear again changed his course, and entered one of the small gorges that opened into the larger valley. "He knows it well enough," said Ermigit. "Don't you see he is making for the ice-top, where these gulls are sitting? The fool expects to catch them asleep."
At this point Ermigit caught sight of the gaping and glaring Ippegoo in the passage. With a bound he fell upon him, caught him by the hair, and dragged him in. Of course there followed a deal of questioning, which the hapless youth tried to answer; but the fascination of the Kablunet was too much for him.
Having performed the same feat on the other side, he nodded to Ermigit, and said "Now you go to work." Ermigit went to work so well, that even a critical judge could not have pronounced him better or worse than his brother. After that they both repeated the complete overturn and recovery already described.
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