Gateway to the Classics: The Seven Sisters by Jane Andrews
The Seven Sisters by  Jane Andrews

How Agoonack Lives through the Long Summer

IT is almost noon one day when Agoonack's mother wraps the little girl in her shaggy clothes and climbs with her a high hill, promising a pleasant sight when they shall have reached the top.

It is the sun, the beautiful, bright, round sun, which shines and smiles at them for a minute, and then slips away again below the far, frozen water.

They haven't seen him for many months, and now they rejoice,—for the next day he comes again and stays longer, and the next, and the next, and every day longer and longer, until at last he moves above them in one great, bright circle, and does not even go away at all at night. His warm rays melt the snow and awaken the few little hardy flowers that can grow in this short summer. The icy coat breaks away from the clear running water, and great flocks of birds with soft white plumage come, like a snowstorm of great feathery flakes, and settle among the black rocks along the seashore. Here they lay their eggs in the many safe little corners and shelves of the rock; and here they circle about in the sunshine, while the Esquimau boys make ready their long-handled nets, and creep and climb out upon the ledges of rock, and, holding up the net as the birds fly by, catch a netful to carry home for supper.

The sun shines all day long, and all night long, too; and yet he can't melt all the highest snowdrifts, where the boys are playing bat-and-ball,—long bones for sticks, and an odd little round one for a ball.

It is a merry life they all live while the sunshine stays; for they know the long, dark winter is coming, when they can no longer climb among the birds, nor play ball among the drifts.

The seals swim by in the clear water, and the walrus and her young one are at play; and, best of all, the good reindeer has come, for the sun has uncovered the crisp moss upon which he feeds, and he is roaming through the valleys where it grows among the rocks.

The old men sit on the rocks in the sunshine, and laugh and sing, and tell long stories of the whale and the seal, and the great white whale, that many years ago, when Agoonack's father was a child, came swimming down from the far north, where they look for the northern lights, swimming and diving through the broken ice; and they watched her in wonder, and no one would throw a harpoon at this white lady of the Greenland seas, for her visit was a good omen, promising a mild winter.

Little Agoonack comes from her play to crouch among the rocky ledges and listen to the stories. She has no books; and, if she had, she couldn't read them. Neither could her father or mother read to her: their stories are told and sung, but never written. But she is a cheerful and contented little girl, and tries to help her dear friends; and sometimes she wonders a great while by herself about what the pale stranger told them.

And now, day by day, the sun is slipping away from them; gone for a few minutes to-day, to-morrow it will stay away a few more, until at last there are many hours of rosy twilight, and few, very few, of clear sunshine.

But the children are happy: they do not dread the winter, but they hope the tired travellers have reached their homes; and Agoonack wants, oh, so much! to see them and help them once more. The father will hunt again, and the mother will tend the lamp and keep the house warm; and, although they will have no sun, the moon and stars are bright, and they will see again the streamers of the great northern light.

Would you like to live in the cold countries, with their long darkness and long sunshine?

It is very cold, to be sure; but there are happy children there, and kind fathers and mothers, and the merriest sliding on the very best of ice and snow.

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