O NE spring morning, very early, while the moon still shone and every one else in the village was asleep, Menie and Monnie crept out of the dark entrance of their little stone house by the sea.
The entrance to their little stone house was long and low like a tunnel. The Twins were short and fat. But even if they were short they could not stand up straight in the tunnel.
So they crawled out on all fours. Nip and Tup came with them. Nip and Tup were on all fours, too, but they had run that way all their lives, so they could go much faster than the twins. They got out first.
Then they ran round in circles in the snow and barked at the moon. When Menie and Monnie came out of the hole, Tup jumped up to lick Monnie's face. He bumped her so hard that she fell right into the snowbank by the entrance.
Monnie didn't mind a bit. She just put her two fat arms around Tup, and they rolled over together in the snow.
Monnie had on her fur suit, with fur hood and mittens, and it was hard to tell which was Monnie and which was Tup as they tumbled in the snow together.
Pretty soon Monnie picked herself up and shook off the snow. Then Tup shook himself, too. Menie was rolling over and over down the slope in front of the little stone house. His head was between his knees and his hands held his ankles, so he rolled just like a ball.
Nip was running round and round him and barking with all his might. They made strange shadows on the snow in the moonlight.
Monnie called to Menie. Menie straightened himself out at the bottom of the slope, picked himself up and ran back to her.
"What shall we play?" said Monnie.
"Let's get Koko, and go to the Big Rock and slide downhill," said Menie.
"All right," said Monnie. "You run and get your sled."
Menie had a little sled which his father had made for him out of driftwood. No other boy in the village had one. Menie's father had searched the beach for many miles to find driftwood to make this sled.
The Eskimos have no wood but driftwood, and it is so precious that it is hardly ever used for anything but big dog sledges or spears, or other things which the men must have.
Most of the boys had sleds cut from blocks of ice. Menie's sled was behind the igloo. He ran to get it, and then the twins and the pups—all four—started for Koko's house.
Koko's house was clear at the other end of the village. But that was not far away, for there were only five igloos in the whole town.
First there was the igloo where the twins lived. Next was the home of Akla, the Angakok, and his two wives. Then there were two igloos where several families lived together. Last of all was the one where Koko and his father and mother and baby brother lived.
Koko was six. He was the twins' best friend.
The air was very still. There was not a sound anywhere except the barking of the pups, the voices of Menie and Monnie, and the creaking sound of the snow under their feet as they ran.
The round moon was sailing through the deep blue sky and shining so bright it seemed almost as light as day.
There was one window in each igloo right over the tunnel entrance, and these windows shone with a dull yellow light.
In front of the village lay the sea. It was covered with ice far out from shore. Beyond the ice was the dark water out of which the sun would rise by and by.
There was nothing else to be seen in all the twins' world. There were no trees, no bushes even; nothing but the white earth, the shadows of the rocks and the snow-covered igloos, the bright windows, and the moon shining over all.
Menie and Monnie soon reached Koko's igloo. Menie and Nip got there first. Monnie came puffing along with Tup just a moment after.
Then the twins dropped on their hands and knees in front of Koko's hut, and stuck their heads into the tunnel. Nip and Tup stuck their heads in, too.
They all four listened. There was not a sound to be heard except loud snores! The snores came rattling through the tunnel with such a frightful noise that the twins were almost scared.
"They sleep out loud, don't they?" whispered Monnie.
"Let's wake them up," Menie whispered back.
Then the twins began to bark. "Ki-yi, ki-yi, ki-yi, ki-yi," just like little dogs!
Nip and Tup began to yelp, too. The snores and the yelps met in the middle of the tunnel and the two together made such a dreadful sound that Koko woke up at once. When he heard four barks he knew right away that it must be the twins and the little dogs.
So he stuck his head into the other end of the tunnel and called, "Keep still. You'll wake the baby! I'll be there in a minute."
Very soon Koko popped out of the black hole. He was dressed in a fur suit and mittens just like the twins.