The prosecution of our search had been largely dependent upon our imitation of the life of the Esquimaux, and I should omit an important chapter in "Arcticology" if I did not leave on record the story of our exploits as amateur Esquimaux in subsisting upon the resources of the country through which our little exploring party passed, going and coming, in pursuit of its chief object. The seal was our beef and the walrus our mutton in this long journey.

Seal-hunting varies with the time of the year and the nature of the ice, for the seals are seldom killed except upon or through the ice. In the warm, still days of spring they come up through their blow-holes in the ice and enjoy a roll in the snow or a quiet nap in the sun. Then they are killed with comparative case. The hunter gets as close as possible upon the smooth ice without alarming his prey, the distance varying from four hundred to one hundred yards. He then lies down, or, more correctly speaking, reclines upon a small piece of bear-skin, which, as he moves, is dragged along and kept under him as protection against the cold and wet. His weight rests chiefly on his left hip, the knee bent and the leg drawn up beneath him upon the bear-skin mat. As long as the seal is looking toward him the hunter keeps perfectly still, or raising his head soon drops it upon his shoulder, uttering a noise similar to that produced by a seal blowing.

When the seal is satisfied, from a careful inspection, that no danger threatens, its head drops down upon the ice and it indulges in a few winks, but suddenly rises and gazes around if it hears the least noise or sees the least motion anywhere. The hunter takes advantage of the nap to hitch himself along by means of his right foot and left hand, preserving his recumbent position all the time, and if detected by the seal either stops suddenly and blows, or flops around like a seal enjoying a sun bath, as his experience suggests. In this way he can usually approach near enough to shoot his prey with a rifle, or strike it with a seal spear or oo-nar. Often, however, just as he is about to shoot or spear his game, it slips suddenly into the sea through its hole, upon the very verge of which it rests, seldom venturing further than a foot or two from its safe retreat. If they could only rest contented with a fair shot, the Inuits would probably secure more game than they now do, for the most of those I have seen them lose in this way went down after the hunter had approached within easy range - say twelve or fifteen yards. They are so anxious, however, to make a sure thing of it that they often try to get too near. I have frequently timed an Inuit as he started for a seal on the ice, and found it takes about an hour from the time he starts in pursuit until the shot is fired. It is amusing to watch the countenance of the seal through a spy-glass. They have such an intelligent and human look that you can almost imagine what they are thinking. For instance, you will see one start up suddenly and look at the hunter, who by that time is perfectly still, with an intense scrutiny that seems to say, "I declare I was almost sure I saw that move that time, but I must have been mistaken." Then, with a drowsy look, almost a yawn, down goes his head, and the hunter begins to hitch himself along again very cautiously. Suddenly up goes the seal's head so quickly that the hunter hasn't time to subside as before, but begins to roll about, blow off steam, and lift its feet around like a seal flapping its tail, and at a little distance it is really difficult to tell which is the seal and which the man. Then you imagine a smile on the face of the seal, as though he was saying to himself, "I caught him that time. What a fool I was to be frightened, though. I thought it was a man, and it's only an ookjook."

When the hunter at last reaches the point at which he considers it safe to risk a shot, you hear the report of his gun and see him immediately spring to his feet and rush for his prey. If his bullet strikes the head or neck of the animal it rarely gets away, though sometimes even then it slips out of reach, so close do they keep to their holes. If it is hit anywhere else it almost invariably escapes the hunter, though it may not escape death. Often the hunter reaches the hole in time to seize his prey by the hind flipper just as it is passing down into the water. I remember standing and gazing mournfully down into a hole one day through which a seal that I had shot had just escaped, though his blood tinged the water and edges of the ice, and while I was lamenting my ill-luck I heard a splash behind me and turned in time to see the seal come up through another hole. He looked awfully sick, and didn't see me until I had him by the flipper, sprawling on his back, at a safe distance from the hole. This was quite good luck for me, for such an opportunity rarely occurs, though I have occasionally known Toolooah to recover a lost one in the same way.

When struck with a spear they seldom escape, for the line is fastened to the side of the spear-head, which detaches itself from the staff and holds in the flesh like a harpoon. Sometimes, however, the seal will slip away after the spear is thrown, and, instead of striking him, it strikes the ice where he had been lying. This is very aggravating after the cold and tedious labor of working up upon it has been accomplished; but the Esquimau bears his misfortune with equanimity. It is seldom that he says more than "ma-muk'-poo now" (no good), or "mar-me an'-ner" (which means "angry," or is an expression used when one is angry). He gathers up his weapons, sits down and lights his pipe, and after a recuperative smoke moves on in search of another opportunity to go through the same process.

Sometimes he is fortunate enough to find a seal absolutely asleep upon the ice, and then he can walk right up alongside of him and put the rifle barrel to his ear before firing. In some parts of the Arctic, as at Iwillik (Repulse Bay), there is a species called "wandering seal," which in the spring are known to come upon the ice in great numbers, usually through a huge crack, and move quite a distance from the open water. This affords the natives a grand opportunity, and the entire village - men, women and children - repair to the spot, and by getting between the seals and the water, cut off their escape, so that they fall an easy prey to the clubs with which they are slaughtered by the men. In this way they sometimes kill as many as seventy-five or a hundred in a single day. But the haunts of the "wandering seal" are not found everywhere; they are favored localities. It is generally pretty hard work to kill a seal.

During the winter months the seals do not come out upon the ice, and are then hunted usually with dogs that are trained for the purpose. The hunter, equipped with his spear-shaft in his hand, and his line, with the barbed spear-head attached, thrown over his shoulder, starts out, leading his dog, whose harness is on and the trace wound several times around his neck, so that but a yard or two is left to trail along the snow. When they reach the wide stretch of smooth ice that usually lines the shore in these regions, the dog is allowed to work to windward, and when his sensitive nostrils are saluted with the scent of a seal he indicates the fact by the excited manner in which he endeavors to reach the spot from which the odor emanates. The hunter restrains the dog's ardor, but follows his guidance until the spot is found at which the seal's blow-hole is situated. Often it is entirely covered with snow, but sometimes a small hole about an inch in diameter is seen. The blow-hole is a spot to which the seal resorts to get an occasional puff of fresh air, and here the hunter awaits him in order to secure him for the larder. When first found, the hunter merely marks the spot for a future visit by building around it a wall of snow blocks to cut off the wind, and making a seat of similar material upon which to rest while waiting for the blow. This is the tedious proceeding in the life of an Esquimau, or at least would be for a civilized person so situated. Sometimes the seal comes up within half an hour or an hour, but often the hunter stands or sits by the hole all night long, and sometimes for a day or two. I have heard of instances in which they sat for two days and a half waiting for the seal to put in an appearance. In fact, Papa told me that he once sat for three days at one seal hole, and then it did not come up. During all this time the hunter must keep perfectly still - that is, he must not walk around or move his feet off the ice. He can move his body to keep up a circulation of the blood, or move his feet inside his stockings if they are sufficiently loose to allow of such motion, but no noise must occur which would alarm the game if in the vicinity of the hunter.

Some funny incidents occur at these prolonged sittings. I remember one experienced old seal-hunter who told me that when he was a young man he was once out all night watching a blow-hole and got very sleepy - so sleepy, indeed, that he could not keep his eyes open. After vainly endeavoring to arouse himself, he finally succumbed, and, falling asleep, tumbled over backward and wandered in the land of dreams. Suddenly awakening he saw what he supposed to be a man with hostile intentions standing and looking down upon him through the dim starlight. Every time he moved in the least, in order to get up, the strange man moved in a threatening sort of way, and he had to lie still again. At last, after getting thoroughly awakened, he discovered what he had taken for an enemy, and had caused him such alarm, was only his own leg sticking up in the air and resting against the snow-block seat from which he had tumbled when he fell asleep. Another hunter was overcome by sleep at a seal hole, and awakened by the consciousness of danger, saw a great white bear watching the hole, which in his sleepiness he had neglected. The hunter had fallen behind his snow seat in such a way as to be concealed from the bear, which had been attracted by the scent of the seal and arrived just at the moment when the young man awoke. To jump to his feet and fly from the vicinity of danger was, with the frightened Esquimau, the work of a minute, and so startled the bear that it also made off in the opposite direction as fast as feet would carry it.

When the seal comes up to breathe it stays about ten minutes, which gives the hunter plenty of time to get his spear and line ready. He then must take accurate aim and make a vigorous thrust through the little hole, withdrawing the spear quickly and holding the line tightly, so as to exhaust the game as much as possible before the line is all run out. The end is wound tightly around his right arm, and he sits down, bracing himself to resist the struggles of the animal to free itself. It usually makes three desperate efforts to escape, and then the hunter begins to haul in on his line, and, breaking away the snow around the hole, to admit of the passage of the body, lands his prey on the ice.

The next operation at this stage of the proceedings is to make a slit in the stomach of the sometimes still breathing animal, and to cut off some of the warm liver (ting'-yer), with a slice or two of blubber (oks-zook), wherewith the hunter regales himself with a hearty luncheon. Then the entrails are drawn out and passed through the fingers of the left hand to remove the contents, and are afterward braided and returned to the cavity of the stomach, and the slit drawn together and pinned with a little ivory pin (too-bit-tow'-yer) made for the purpose. The dog is allowed to lick the blood from the snow, but gets no more for his share unless an opportunity occurs to help himself when his master's back is turned. The trace is then attached to the nose of the dead seal, which is thus dragged into camp by the faithful dog, the hunter walking alongside urging the dog by his voice, and occasionally assisting him over a drift or amid hummocky ice.

The seal in the early spring builds a habitation in the snow over and around the hole through which it breathes, and here its young are born and live until old enough to venture into the water. This house is called an oglow, and is constructed very much like an Esquimau igloo in shape, though it is more irregular and has ramifications that extend to neighboring holes. These oglows are found with the assistance of dogs, as previously described, or by prodding with a seal spear the hillocks of snow that look like seals' houses. When a hunter finds an oglow during the season that the young seals are living in them, he immediately breaks in the roof with his heel in search of the little one, which usually remains very quiet even when the hunter looks down and pokes his head through the broken roof. The young seal is then easily killed with the spear and dragged out on the ice, and the hunter waits for the mother, which is never absent a long time from its baby. The young seal is generally cut open as soon as killed, and its little stomach examined for milk, which is esteemed a great luxury by the Esquimaux. When young, the seal is covered with long, white hair, very much like coarse wool. This skin was at one time very much used in making clothing, but lately has not been much in vogue among the natives, though occasionally coats and trousers of this material may still be seen. The whalers esteem it highly as an adjunct to woollen clothing, as being sufficiently warm for those who are living on shipboard, yet not so warm as reindeer clothing, which becomes oppressive in high temperature.

The older seals have short, smooth hair, of a yellowish-gray color, with large black spots on the back, which become smaller and less frequent on the sides, and disappear entirely before reaching the belly. The finest quality of seal-skin in the eastern North American waters, which are devoid of fur seal, is that of the kos-se-gear, or fresh-water seal, which is found at or near the mouths of nearly all rivers emptying into the sea. This species of seal is marked very much like the common seal (net-chuk), except that the spots are of a more positive and a glossier black, while the body color is whiter, making a more decided contrast. The hair is also of a much finer texture, and is as soft as the finest quality of velvet. These are only killed in the early summer, and their skins are extensively used for summer clothing by those Esquimaux who have not come much in contact with the whalers. When they have been in communication with the ships, they are usually, during the summer months, clad in cast-off clothing of the sailors - that is, the men are. And funny enough they look, with the curious methods they have of wearing civilized costumes. They always choose a shirt for the exterior garment, and wear it with the tail outside. The women seldom are seen with any civilized clothing, the only exception being, probably, a few of the natives of Cumberland Sound and Akkolead, near North Bay. The finest quality of kossegear skins I have seen were killed in Hudson's Strait. They are much superior in texture and color to those of the tributaries to Hudson's Bay. The next skin in quality is that of the ki-od-del-lik, or "jumping" seal, or, as it is sometimes called, "spotted" seal. This is very similar in color and texture to the fresh-water seal, except that the black in the back and sides is in great splotches that are odd, but very pretty in effect. Kioddelliks are seen in great numbers in Hudson's Bay and Strait, but are not often killed, as they generally keep pretty well out from shore. They are often seen by the whalers, playing like a school of porpoises, whose actions they simulate somewhat, except that they make a clean breach from the water every time they jump.

The nets-che-wuk, "bladder-nosed" seal, has a skin which is a grade or two superior to the netchuk, and is much larger. It, however, lacks the fineness and gloss of the kossegear and kioddellik.

The largest of the seal species is the ookjook. Its skin is thick and coarse, with coarse, short hair. It is not used in the manufacture of clothing, except for the soles of rum-nigs (boots). It is, however, employed to make walrus and seal lines, lashings for their sleds, and traces for dog harness. It is as much used for this purpose as is the skin of the walrus, which it much resembles. In making lines from ookjook or walrus skin, a piece is cut from the neck or body by making cross sections - that is, without slitting it down the belly, the piece for the line being removed from the body in a broad band. The blubber is then cut from the fleshy side, and the skin is soaked for a short time in hot water, after which the hair is readily removed with an ood-loo, the semicircular knife that is the one constant and only tool of the Esquimau woman. A line is then made by cutting this piece of skin into one continuous strip, half an inch wide, by following around and around the band. The line is then about twenty-five yards long, and while still green is stretched between two large rocks, where it is submitted to the greatest tension that the limited mechanical appliances of these savages can supply. While so situated the line is carefully trimmed with a sharp knife to remove all fatty particles, and to partially round off the sharp edges.

It is then allowed to remain until thoroughly dry, when it is taken from the stretcher and coiled up in the owner's tent until he has leisure to finish it and render it pliable. This is accomplished by the slow and tedious process of chewing. Traces and lines for the seal spears are usually made of seal skin, and in the same way as walrus and ookjook lines. They also require chewing before being sufficiently pliable for use. Indeed, all skins require to be chewed before they are made into clothing. The men chew their lines, but all other skins are chewed by the women and young girls. It is one circumstance that is early remarked by the visitor in the Arctic regions, that the middle-aged and old people have teeth that are worn down to mere stubs by the constant chewing of skins. A pair of ookjook soles, before being submitted to the chewing process, are nearly as thick and much stiffer than the sole-leather of civilized commerce, and it requires the leisure hours of two days to reduce them to the necessary pliability for use. It is not only the action of the grinders that brings them to the proper state, but the warm breath and saliva play an effectual part in the process. This is usually their visiting work. When they go to each other's tupics or igloos to make calls, instead of taking their knitting, the belles of the polar circle take their chewing. It does not add much to the charms of female society to see them sitting before you gnawing and sucking a pair of ookjook soles, or twisting an entire seal-skin into a roll, one end of which is thrust into a capacious mouth to undergo the masticating and lubricating process. But it does increase your respect for them to see with what cheerfulness these women apply themselves to their exceedingly disagreeable labor.

Seal-skins for making coats and trousers are dressed with the hair on, the fleshy membranes, or "mum'-me," being cut off with an oodloo before they are washed, stretched, and dried. One good warm spring day is sufficient to dry a seal-skin, which for this purpose is stretched over the ground or snow by means of long wooden pins, which keep it elevated two or three inches, thus allowing the air to circulate underneath it. Sometimes in the early spring, before the sun attains sufficient power, a few skins for immediate use are dried over the lamps in the igloos. This, however, is regarded as a slow and troublesome process, and the open air is preferred when available. A few seal-skins and walrus skins, from which the hair has been neatly removed, are left to hang in the wind and sun for several days, until they acquire a creamy whiteness, and are then used for trimming. The Kinnepatoos, who are the dandies of the Esquimau nation, tan nearly all their skins white. Their walrus and seal lines, and indeed their sled lashings and dog harness, are sometimes white, as well as the trimmings of their boots and gloves. Nearly all the varieties of seal are sometimes killed during the summer and fall, while swimming in the open water; but though often seen when the weather is calm, the Esquimaux seldom fire at them, because until the latter part of September they will sink to the bottom, though killed instantly by a shot through the head or neck.

At a later period a funny incident occurred. We were at Marble Island. The weather was calm, so that seal heads were sprinkled plentifully upon the surface of the water. This inspired Lieutenant Schwatka to try his skill. So, fetching his rifle from the cabin and wiping his eye-glasses, he shot at a large head about a hundred yards from the vessel. The seal made a desperate effort to get down in a hurry, but was evidently badly hurt, and showed a good deal of blood before it accomplished its descent. Presently it came up again, and a boat was lowered to pick it up, but it managed to escape capture, though it was evident that it would soon die. After breakfast the next morning, when we went on deck, the water was still quite smooth, and presently we were surprised to see what appeared to be a dead seal floating in on the tide. There was no doubt that this was the seal that Lieutenant Schwatka had killed the previous night, and again the boat was lowered to secure it. No precautions were deemed necessary to avoid making a noise, and when the boat came alongside one of the men threw down his oar, rolled up his sleeves, and stooped down to lift the carcass on board. His surprise may be imagined when, after passing his arms around it and proceeding to lift it, he felt it suddenly begin to struggle and slip from his hold and dive below the surface, while a loud shout went up from the spectators. It was not Lieutenant Schwatka's seal, but an entirely well one that was sound asleep when it felt the rude embrace of the sailor.

The seal is an exceedingly useful animal to the Esquimau, for it not only supplies him with food and clothing, but its blubber furnishes the fuel for cooking its flesh, lighting the igloo, and drying its skin before making into clothing. The skin also is made into dog harness and traces, whip lashes, boots and shoes, gun-covers, water-pails, bags for the storing of oil and blubber, and his boats are covered with it. Seal-skin bags, inflated and fastened to walrus lines, are used in hunting walrus and whales, and finally, the summer dwelling of the Esquimau is a tent made of seal-skin. A single tent, or tupic, as it is called by them, is composed of from five to ten skins, which are split - that is, the mumme is split off and dried separately from the skin. The rear portion of the tent is made of the skins with the hairy side out, while the front is made of the transparent mumme, which admits the light almost as freely as if made of ground glass. The skin portion is impervious to water, but the mumme admits the rain about as readily as it does the sunlight. This is no objection, in the mind of the Esquimau, for it is something he is thoroughly accustomed to. In the summer his tent is wet with rain, and in the winter, whenever the air in the igloo is raised to an endurable temperature, the roof melts and is constantly dripping ice-water down his back or upon his blankets.