A PICTURE-BOOK WITHOUT PICTURES 1115
willows and bilberry bushes stood clothed in green. The blooming lychnis exhaled sweet odours. My light was faint, my face pale as the water-lily that, torn from its stem, has been drifting for weeks with the tide. The crown-shaped Northern Lights burned in the sky. Its ring was broad, and from its circumference the rays shot like whirling shafts of fire across the whole sky, changing from green to red. The inhabitants of that icy region were assembling for dance and festivity ; but accustomed to this glorious spectacle, they scarcely deigned to glance at it. " Let us leave the souls of the dead to their ball-play with the heads of the walruses," they thought in their superstition, and they turned their whole attention to the song and dance. In the midst of the circle, and divested of his furry cloak, stood a Greenlander, with his small drum, and he played and sang a song about catching the seal, and the chorus around chimed in with ' Eia, Eia, Ah." And in their white furs they danced about in the circle, till you might fancy it was a polar bears' ball.
' And now a Court of Judgement was opened. Those Greenlanders who had quarrelled stepped forward, and the offended person chanted forth the faults of his adversary in an extempore song, turning them sharply into ridicule, to the sound of the drum and the measure of the dance. The defendant replied with satire as keen, while the audience laughed and gave their verdict.
The rocks heaved, the glaciers melted, and great masses of ice and snow came crashing down, shivering to fragments as they fell : it was a glorious Greenland summer night. A hundred paces away, under the open tent of hides, lay a sick man. Life still flowed through his warm blood, but still he was to die ; he himself felt it, and all who stood round him knew it also ; therefore Ins wife was already sewing round him the shroud of furs, that she might not afterwards be obliged to touch the dead body. And she asked, " Wilt thou be buried on the rock, in the firm snow ? I will deck the spot with thy kayak, and thy arrows, and the angekokk shall dance over it. Or wouldst thou rather be buried in the sea ? " " Li the sea," he whispered, and nodded with a mournful smile. " Yes, it is a pleasant summer tent, the sea," observed the wife. ' Thousands of