Page:Eskimo Life.djvu/80

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many perish; but when once he is out he goes ahead as though it were all the most indifferent thing in the world.

It is a gallant business, this kaiak-hunting; it is like a sportive dance with the sea and with death. There is no finer sight possible than to see the kaiak-man breasting the heavy rollers that seem utterly to engulf him. Or when, overtaken by a storm at sea, the kaiaks run for the shore, they come like black storm-birds rushing before the wind and the waves, which, like rolling mountains, sweep on in their wake. The paddles whirl through air and water, the body is bent a little forwards, the head often turned half backwards to watch the seas; all is life and spirit—while the sea around reeks like a seething cauldron. And then it may happen that when the game is at its wildest a seal pops its head up before them. Quicker than thought the harpoon is seized and rushes through the foam with deadly aim; the seal dashes away with the bladder behind it, but is presently caught and killed, and then towed onwards. Everything is done with the same masterly skill and with the same quiet demeanour. The Eskimo never dreams that he is performing feats of heroism.

Here he is great—and we? Ah, in these surroundings we are apt to seem very small.

Let us follow the Eskimo on a day's hunting.