The Land of the Long Night
by Paul du Chaillu
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Soon I fell asleep, and dreamed that I was attacked by a big pack of wolves—I jumped up and looked round, but there were no wolves. I had had the nightmare from sleeping on my back. Mikel was still snoring, and I looked at him and thought I would let him snore a little more.

Towards four o'clock in the afternoon, as it was beginning to freeze again and the snow was fit for travelling, I awoke him. Soon after we started, and we had not driven an hour when we saw a tent in the distance and made for it. The Lapp family who owned it received us with great hospitality. Coffee was made and we were invited to spend the night. I looked forward with great pleasure to the prospect of a good warm meal of reindeer meat and good reindeer broth.

These people were great friends of Mikel, and they agreed to give us some of their reindeer that were not as fagged out as ours. I was delighted.

How I enjoyed the warm reindeer meat and the reindeer broth! It was fine! I was so hungry. After this meal we were presented with a lot of cooked reindeer meat for our journey, and one of the Lapps was to go with us, for he wanted to see some of his friends further south.

Towards three o'clock in the morning we started. We saw many herds of reindeer—they were moving westward towards the mountains that stretched to the Arctic Sea. It was a grand sight. I saw more than thirty thousand reindeer that day, in herds from one thousand to two or three thousand. The Lapps on their skees, with their dogs, urged the animals onward, and the dogs brought those which were trying to go astray, or lagged behind, into the ranks.

Many of the reindeer had already dropped their horns, and the calving season had begun. How pretty were the tiny baby reindeer; they were put on special sleighs and driven in them, their mothers following, uttering a queer kind of grunt.

The baggage of the family and tents went with them, led by women who carried their young children in their cradles slung on their backs.

Late that day I saw a splendid sight, two herds were approaching each other in opposite directions. The bulls of each herd advanced to charge the others with great fury and began a terrible fight, advancing and retreating, then charging again, butting furiously. The horns of two combatants sometimes became entangled, and it took a long time for them to disengage themselves. Mikel said: "Sometimes they cannot be separated and have to be killed." In the mean time, the Lapps and dogs went after them, and with great trouble they were parted and made to go to their respective herds. I noticed, as I went further south, that the twilight was not so bright as it was in the North—for in that northern land, the daylight comes from the direction of the pole.

The darkest part of the day or night was somewhat after eleven o'clock P.M., but even then I could read, and as we travelled only Jupiter and Venus looked at us—no other stars were visible, and towards half-past one these two disappeared, for daylight was so strong; and when the weather was clear after that time only the pale blue sky of the North and its fleecy white clouds were to be seen above our heads. How beautiful it was!



Onward we went, sleeping one day in the tent of a nomadic Lapp, another day in our bags, at other times in the gamme of a river Lapp. The weather was very changeable; one day it was clear, the next day the sky was gray. Snowy days were not uncommon.

Midway between Nordkyn and Haparanda the snow was of great depth. Only the tops of the birch trees could be seen, and strange to say the branches were in bloom, for the trees felt the heat of the sun, and the snow had prevented the freezing of the ground to a great depth. The snow must have been eight or ten feet deep in some regions.

When we reached the summit of the plateau, the watershed that divided the rivers falling into the Arctic Sea and the Baltic, the weather was very stormy. Though it was the 13th of May, we met a furious snowstorm. This was dangerous for us, and Mikel attached my sleigh to his by a long rope, so that we might not become separated. The snowstorm seemed, however, to give new strength to the reindeer, and they went faster than usual, and besides the cold weather we had had the two previous days—the thermometer marking 15 to 18 degrees of frost—had evidently invigorated them. For a while there was a lull in the storm, and we were glad when we came to a house of refuge.

The house was small and uninhabited, but clean inside. Some food was hanging from the ceiling, belonging to some Lapp or some wanderer like ourselves, who had left it to have it on his return journey. The food was sacred and safe. No one would have dared to touch it, no matter how hungry he was, for it did not belong to him, and the one who had left it perhaps depended upon it to sustain his life on his return. We peeped into the parcel—there was some hard bread, reindeer cheese, and a smoked reindeer tongue, a coffee kettle and some coffee, and a few small pieces of wood tied together, to make a fire to cook the coffee with. This was one of those houses of refuge used only for shelter, without people to keep them, built especially by the government for that purpose, in case of sudden storm.

After a while I went out for a walk on my skees, to stretch my legs, for I had been more than ten hours seated in my sleigh. I took my gun with me. Soon I spied some hares, and succeeded in killing two. These were also changing their fur coats; much of their fur was gray, and mixed with white; the hares were to be gray during the summer months. As white was their protection in winter against big white owls, foxes, and other animals, so their gray color would protect them against their enemies in summer.

"Strange indeed is nature," I said to myself. "In some cases the animals change their fur so that they can approach their prey without being seen; in other cases nature changes their fur to protect them against their enemies."

When I returned I saw that Mikel had prepared our supper. He had fetched some firewood he had in his sleigh, and a bright fire was burning under our coffee kettle. Reindeer meat, tongue, and reindeer cheese had been put on a wooden dish, and two tin cups were ready for the coffee to be poured into them. We seated ourselves cross-legged on the floor, and began our meal. What a nice cup of coffee we had! How deliciously it tasted! How good was our coarse hard black bread and our reindeer cheese, and smoked reindeer tongue!

After we had drunk our coffee and eaten our supper I noticed that Mikel was very silent and thoughtful. I wondered if he was thinking of dangers ahead—of the sudden stopping of our journey,—and just as I was on the point of asking him why he was so thoughtful he broke the silence himself and said: "Paulus, I know where there is a big brown bear—a real big fellow. The Bear's Night is not over with him yet, and he must be still sleeping under the snow at the place where I saw him last autumn getting ready to go into his winter quarters."

"You don't say so, Mikel!" I exclaimed. "Is the bear sleeping near where we are?"

"Not so very near," he replied with a twinkle in his eye. "A few hours will bring us to his place."

He saw by my looks that I was ready to go after the bear. It was just what he wished. So he continued: "Paulus, shall we go and kill the bear, before he awakes and goes into the mountains and forests to commit his depredations,—for after his long fast he will be very hungry—and are you willing to lose two or three days and run the risk of having our journey come to an end?"

When I heard this, I forgot all about the ice cracking over the streams and lakes, about the snow melting and preventing people from travelling. "Yes, Mikel," I replied, "let us go after the bear. Afterwards we will travel as fast as we can and take very little sleep; perhaps we shall have luck and the weather may be colder than usual for a while."

"All right," replied Mikel; "we will go after the bear."

"Mikel," said I "before we stretch ourselves on the floor and go to sleep, tell me how you know that the bear is at the spot you suppose and that he is spending his winter night there."

Mikel took a big pinch of snuff and replied: "Paulus, I think I am the only one, that knows where this bear is sleeping, for I have kept it a secret. I hope no other person knows where he is, for I want his skin. Besides I shall get a premium in money if we kill him."

Then he added: "One day last fall as I was hunting for ptarmigans I saw in the distance a huge brown bear walking about and getting ready for his winter quarters. I knew that he was seeking his winter lodgings, because he was going round and round a big cluster of pines before entering it. I watched! After a a while he disappeared among the pines and I saw no more of him. I knew that if he were not disturbed or frightened away he would stay there. The bear assuredly had seen the place during the summer and thought it was a good one for his long sleep. This bear knew that a big snowstorm was coming, and he was not mistaken, for that night snow fell very heavily and the storm lasted two days.

"The Bear's Night will soon be over in this region," Mikel continued, "and at any moment this bear may awaken, break through the snow that is over him, and go away. Perhaps he is already gone. At this time of the year the slightest noise will arouse a bear, for by this time he has ceased to sleep soundly."

Then he added: "We have had very little sleep since we left the coast, Paulus; we need a good rest before we go after the bear."

"Yes," said I, "my eyes ache for want of a good long sleep."

We stretched ourselves on the earth floor, and soon after I heard the snoring of Mikel. He was an inveterate snorer,—I thought the champion snorer of all those I ever had met.

I could not go to sleep, though I was so tired. I turned first on one side, then on the other, then lay on my back. I was much excited, for I thought of the big brown bear and of the hunt that was before us. At last I fell asleep. Suddenly I was awakened by a shaking of Mikel, and as I opened my eyes he said, "Paulus, what is the matter? You have been shouting."

I was in a profuse perspiration. I had again had nightmare from lying on my back. I was fighting with a big bear which had seized me, and we were wrestling and I was getting the worst of it, and when ready to fall down in his grasp I had given a big scream.

After our breakfast that morning, Mikel said: "We must go and tell some of the folks who live in a little hamlet not far from here to come with us."

"What do you call not far from here?" I asked.

I had begun to know what "not far" meant with the Lapps. "Two hours' travel, or about fifteen miles," he replied. "I have friends there."

Before leaving the little house of refuge Mikel swept the floor, and made it as clean as we had found it—for it is the custom of the people to do this before they leave.

We then started eastward, and after two hours' travelling we came to a few farms and entered a house. Mikel told the people about the bear. The news soon spread and there was much excitement. During the day preparations were made for the hunt.

The next morning men gathered, taking their guns and big long sticks, with pikes at the ends to prod the bear with; and all the dogs of the place followed us. Many men started on their skees, others in their sleighs. According to Mikel the bear was about thirty miles away.

I was full of enthusiasm, and longed to come face to face with the big brown bear of northern Europe.

About three hours after, we stopped. All the people took counsel together and spoke in low voices. Then Mikel, pointing out to me a big cluster of trees, said, "Paulus, the bear is there."

Slowly we made for the spot, and then entered the grove, and went in different directions seeking for the bear's winter quarters. Soon after we saw a heap of snow, or little hillock, that covered evidently some boulders piled on the top of each other or a cluster of fallen broken pine trees.

We looked at each other and pointed towards the spot—we knew that the bear was under the snow there. Mikel whispered to me, "The bear sleeps under that hillock of snow."

We surrounded the place, then on a sudden we shouted and made a terrific noise. Two or three of the men fired their guns, the dogs barked furiously.

Then we saw the centre of the heap or hillock of snow tremble, as if some live creature were moving slowly under it. Then the snow moved a little quicker. There was no mistake, the bear was awakened, had moved, and was on the point of rising; he was listening, and getting ready to come out. The noise had frightened him. The snow trembled more and more and rose higher and higher. Suddenly there was a great upheaval, and great cracks appeared in the crusted snow. Then we saw peeping out the head and back of a huge brown bear, then two legs, and finally the whole animal.

He looked round him with amazement. He seemed to be dazed at the strange and sudden sight before him. He sat on his haunches and looked at us, uttering a tremendous growl. We could not tell whether he meant to fight or to run. The dogs barked angrily around the huge beast, but did not dare to approach near enough to attack him. In the meantime we had all drawn together so that we could fire without danger of hitting any of our party. The bear was getting ugly, gave a series of fierce growls, and rose on his hind legs. At this moment Mikel and I fired. A grunt of pain showed that the animal was hit. He ran a few steps towards us and as we got ready to fire again the big beast fell, his blood reddening the snow.

We gathered round and looked at him. He was a huge beast, but very thin from his long fast, for he had been six months or more without food.

After the killing of the bear there was no time to be lost, for we had deviated from our course and had gone eastward into Finland. So now we had to go westward, and after two days' travelling we came to the river Muonio, to a Finnish hamlet called Kuttainen, not far from Karesuando.

Now travelling became really dangerous. The frozen river was full of treacherous cracks, and others were appearing all the time. Once in a while we came to small open spaces, where we could see the swift water of the stream rushing with great rapidity; this made me shudder. In some places there were large pools of water.

It was getting really warm. Some days my "pesh" was comfortable, at other times it was much too warm, the thermometer reaching 48 to 50 degrees in the shade and 86 to 88 degrees in the sun. The dripping from the melted snow came into the river from the hills, and had succeeded in many places in melting the ice on the banks. This travelling was no joke. I followed Mikel, and watched him constantly, fearing that his reindeer and sleigh would disappear under the ice. Travelling appeared to become more and more perilous as we followed the Muonio southward. At times I could hear the angry water under the ice striking against boulders, and this became quite common.

At last I shouted to Mikel, "Let us travel on the land, for surely if we do not we shall fall through the ice and be engulfed."

"We cannot," he shouted back, "the snow is too soft. Our reindeer could not pull our sleighs. We can get along much better on the river, though the ice is very bad. Trust in me, Paulus. I have made this journey over the Muonio River many times before, but you must follow me very closely, for sometimes I shall have to pass near rotten ice or open spots."

"I will follow you carefully, dear Mikel. Go on! Go on!" I said.

So I followed Mikel closely, as he had bade me, but what thumps our sleighs would sometimes get on the now uneven ice of the river! Fortunately they were very strongly built.

We slept at a place called Songamuodka. In the morning it snowed, but the flakes were big and soft and melted as they fell on the old snow. I met no more herds of reindeer, but since I had left on my journey southward I had seen between sixty-five and seventy thousand of them.

Two days after I saw the church spire of Pajala, rested there, and on the 24th of May, as I was travelling on the Torne River, I passed once more the Arctic Circle. It was raining. I was told that it was the first rain that had fallen for over seven months.

Here I said good-bye to the good Mikel and thanked him cordially for the care he had taken of me.

I had now left the kingdom of the "Long Night," and the "Long Day" was to rule over the land through which we have travelled together.

Now, my dear Young Folks, Friend Paul has come back, as you bade him, and I hope you have enjoyed our travelling together in "The Land of the Long Night." Good-bye. Do not forget your Friend Paul, who loves you dearly, for once he was one of the Young Folks himself.

Paul Du Chaillu's Great Work



WITH 1400 ILLUSTRATIONS AND MAP 2 vols., 8vo, $7.50


* * * * *

New York Tribune.

"These luxuriously printed and profusely illustrated volumes embody the fullest account of our Norse ancestors extant. Mr. Du Chaillu has gone very fully and very carefully over the whole of his ground. This extensive and important work must be of high interest to all English-speaking people."

Newark Advertiser.

"Their weapons, ornaments, ships, domestic manners and customs, art and industries, are all reconstructed with a minuteness that is remarkable, if we consider (as we must) that all this comes to us after centuries of neglect."

London Athenaeum.

"What is really valuable in these volumes is the exhaustive digest which they contain of the extant information respecting the manners and character of the ancient people of Scandinavia. The work deals with the entire field of Scandinavian archaeology. In the main, we believe the picture he has drawn of the manner of life of the Vikings and their countrymen to be as accurate as it is undoubtedly full of interest."

Edinburgh Review.

"The subject of M. Du Chaillu's work is vast in extent and full of perplexing difficulties. We have shown that its author has collected a store of valuable information, a great part of which has hitherto been inaccessible to English readers. His enthusiasm will have a very useful effect if it leads the people of this country to study and admire the ancient civilization and the splendid literature of our Scandinavian kinsmen."

Springfield Republican.

"Mr. Du Chaillu is every whit as agreeable and entertaining as a student of history as he has long proved to be in the character of a traveller."

Chicago Inter-Ocean.

"Mr. Du Chaillu has certainly given to the literary world a work full of interest."

The Nation.

"While in Germany and in Scandinavia itself books have been written upon the life of the ancient inhabitants of the North, no such comprehensive, popular work as this, with citations from the old literature and illustrations of all sorts of objects preserved from the ancient days, has yet appeared. It is, accordingly, an unused opportunity that the author of the work, with characteristic energy, has recognized and seized. The two volumes are filled to overflowing with curious and interesting facts concerning the people of the Scandinavian North, whose manners, social customs, and national life the more than thirteen hundred illustrations serve to bring up almost visibly before us. The book as a whole is a record of persistent and ingenious research, and of extraordinary literary zeal."

Philadelphia Record.

"M. Du Chaillu's book is full of valuable information respecting the manners and character of the ancient Norse people. It is, in fact, a perfect museum of Northern antiquities, covering the entire field of Scandinavian archaeology. The extracts from the Sagas which are furnished must whet the appetite of students of Norse literature."

Boston Transcript.

"Mr. Du Chaillu's monumental work, 'The Viking Age,' upon which the careful labor of over eight years has been expended, is one for which scholars will be profoundly grateful. It brings together from innumerable sources a vast amount of information, relative to the period covered, never before put in systematic form. The chapters on the mythology and cosmogony of the Norsemen, on the superstitions, slavery, graves, finds, weapons, occupations, feasts, warfare, etc., are intensely interesting. The text is accompanied by nearly fourteen hundred illustrations."

* * * * *

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS, Publishers 153-157 Fifth Avenue, New York



12mo, $1.50


* * * * *

The Nation.

"'Ivar the Viking' is to be thoroughly recommended. The story is characteristically spirited, and the romantic part leaves nothing to be desired."

Chicago Tribune.

"It is full of vigor, and seems to bear internal evidence of truthfulness as regards its historic side. Ivar was a Viking whose adventures the juvenile reader, and particularly the boy juvenile, will follow with eager interest."

Philadelphia Press.

"Of the subsequent adventures of Ivar and his foster-brothers the interested reader must gain knowledge in the pages of the delightful narrative itself. Suffice it to say that there is no lack of romantic incident at any stage of the story. The prowess of the four Vikings is always potent; they fall in love; Ivar fights a duel, and then wins the loveliest of brides. There is throughout the volume the stimulating air which blows through the Sagas, the nipping salt air of the sea."

Richard Henry Stoddard.

"There is that in Mr. Paul Du Chaillu's 'Ivar the Viking' which not only satisfies the lover of romantic adventure, but carries the scholar back into the remotest period of Scandinavian history. Beyond all living writers this traveller in and explorer of many countries has collected the documents and discovered the secrets of the Norselands."

New York Times.

"The reader who has begun with a blank mind closes the volume with a tolerably clear impression of a very energetic, powerful, and wealthy young Viking, capable of strong affections and disaffections, foremost in games and fights requiring physical force, and with a vast number of habits and customs. It is a history that interests through its simplicity."

Boston Transcript.

"For the splendor of the materials and the range and variety of the information imparted concerning the misty dawn of our Northern civilization, its religious ideas, its moral conceptions, and its social conditions, 'Ivar' will have high esteem among the growing number of students turning to the Northern folk-lore and chronicles for the true classic period of our modern races."

Philadelphia Public Ledger.

"He has rendered a double service, for not only does he instruct the reader in a most graphic and vivid manner, but he also develops a story of adventure and daring which will be followed with breathless interest."

* * * * *

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS, Publishers 153-157 Fifth Avenue, New York

Transcriber's Note

Minor spelling and typographical errors have been corrected without note.


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