Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/700

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

had occasional opportunities, of which these are instances, to enjoy the study of such examples of the capacity of insect sounds to make music.—Translated for The Popular Science Monthly from Ueber Land und Meer.

 

ESKIMO BOATS IN THE NORTHWEST.
By JOHN MURDOCH.

AS we came in sight of the Eskimo village at Cape Smyth, late in the afternoon of September 8, 1881, some one called out that a boat full of natives was coming off under sail to meet us. We all rushed to the rail, eager for the first sight of our future neighbors, and saw running down before the wind a large boat shaped like a fisherman's dory, with one mast and a single square sail, of blue drilling, which looked almost black through the mist.

As she neared us the sail was taken in and the mast lowered, but the strong wind drifted her past us, and all hands were soon busy with their paddles driving her up against the wind till they were near enough to catch a line thrown from the schooner and gradually haul the boat alongside. A strange party they were as their boat was towed astern, dancing in the waves, while we crowded to the taffrail to look at them, and hail them with the few words of Eskimo that we knew.

All were dressed in deer-skins, over which many had drawn water-proof hooded frocks made of the entrails of the seal, while others wore outside gay frocks of calico, fluttering in the strong breeze which blew back the long hair from the men's foreheads.

All were grinning and shouting, and very strange to us looked the curious labrets or lip-studs which all the men wore at the corners of the mouth, like a couple of large sleeve-buttons stuck through holes in the under lip.

But the strangest of all was the boat they were in. About thirty feet long and six feet in the beam, she was merely a skeleton of wood covered with skin tightly stretched across this frame. This was the big family boat, used for traveling and the chase of the whale and walrus, the umiak. Like all the Eskimos who have boats at all, and but very few do not use them, the Eskimos of Point Barrow and Cape Smyth use two kinds of boats: one called an umiak, a large open boat capable of holding fifteen or twenty people; and the other called a kayak, which holds only one man, and is very like a racing shell boat or one of our "Rob Roy" canoes, which, indeed, were modeled after the Eskimo kayak. It is narrow and sharp, and decked all over except a round hole in the