T HIS is the true story of Menie and Monnie and their two little dogs, Nip and Tup.
Menie and Monnie are twins, and they live far away in the North, near the very edge.
They are five years old.
Menie is the boy, and Monnie is the girl. But you cannot tell which is Menie and which is Monnie,—not even if you look ever so hard at their pictures!
That is because they dress alike.
When they are a little way off even their own mother can't always tell. And if she can't, who can?
Sometimes the twins almost get mixed up about it themselves. And then it is very hard to know which is Nip and which is Tup, because the little dogs are twins too.
Nobody was surprised that the little dogs were twins, because dogs often are.
But everybody in the whole village where Menie and Monnie live was simply astonished to see twin babies!
They had never known of any before in their whole lives.
Old Akla, the Angakok, or Medicine Man of the village, shook his head when he heard about them. He said, "Such a thing never happened here before. Seals and human beings never have twins! There's magic in this."
The name of the twins' father was Kesshoo. If you say it fast it sounds just like a sneeze.
Their mother's name was Koolee. Kesshoo and Koolee, and Menie and Monnie, and Nip and Tup, all live together in the cold Arctic winter in a little stone hut, called an "igloo."
In the summer they live in a tent, which they call a "tupik." The winters are very long and cold, and what do you think! They have one night there that is four whole months long!
For four long months, while we are having Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and even Lincoln's Birthday, the twins never once see the sun!
But at last one day in early spring the sun comes up again out of the sea, looks at the world for a little while, and then goes out of sight again. Each day he stays for a longer time until after a while he doesn't go out of sight at all!
Then there are four long months of daylight when there is never any bedtime. Menie and Monnie just go to sleep whenever they feel sleepy.
Although many Eskimos think twins bring bad luck, Kesshoo and Koolee were very glad to have two babies.
They would have liked it better still if Monnie had been a boy, too, because boys grow up to hunt and fish and help get food for the family.
But Kesshoo was the best hunter and the best kyak man in the whole village. So he said to Koolee, "I suppose there must be girls in the world. It is no worse for us than for others."
So because Kesshoo was a brave fisherman and strong hunter, and because Koolee was clever in making clothing and shoes out of the skins of the animals which he brought home, the twins had the very best time that little Eskimo children can have.
And that is quite a good time, as you will see if you read all about it in this book.