This story was written at Tisbury in Wiltshireon in 1894, while Kipling was spending a holiday with his parents. It was first published in the Pall Mall Gazette on October 24 and 25 1895, with two four-line verses “The People of the Eastern Ice” as a heading; also in McClure’s Magazine, with the verse “Angutivaun Taina” as a heading, in November 1895. It was collected in The Second Jungle Book in the same year.
An Inuit tribe, living on the far northern ice, are in danger of starvation during a hard winter. The people believe they are doomed. Kotuko, the son of the Headman, has a dog named after him that becomes the lead dog of his sleigh team. Kotuko the dog, followed by another, goes mad with cold and hunger, and runs away. Kotuko the boy believes that a spirit is speaking to him, promising to guide him to find the seal, and – with a girl companion – he sets off into the icy darkness. They see what they think is ‘Quiquern’, an eight-legged spirit, and follow it to solid ground when the ice begins to break. They find that the spirit is really the two dogs, bound together by their harness, but now well fed, since they have found the seal. They load their sled with carcasses and make haste back to the tribe, who are near death, but still surviving.
Everyone feeds and rejoices.
Roger Lancelyn Green reports:
This tale is supposed to be based on a yarn told to Kipling by an explorer who visited him at `Naulakha’; but the reference to Hans Olsen at the end of the story may tie up with the man who gave him the background plot of “The Rhyme of the Three Sealers”
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