LESSON 23 Greenland(II)
The kayak, or man's boat, has a canoe-shaped frame work, from eighteen to twenty feet in length, tapering to a point at the head and stern, so that it is shaped like a weaver's shuttle. The breadth at the centre is from one foot and a half to two feet, and the depth about one foot. The interior of the vessel is hollowed just enough to allow a person to sit with his feet extended on the bottom; and as each man is his own boatbuilder, it is always constructed with a nice adaptation to his particular size and weight. When completed, the whole weight of the vessel is not more than sixty pounds, and it can be easily carried on the head without the assistance of the hands.
In front of the kayaker lies his line, rolled up on a little raised seat made for it; and behind him rests his seal-skin bladder—an air-tight sack, which is always kept inflated and fastened to the sealing-line. This is said to answer the double purpose of a buoy and a brake or drag to retard the motion of the prey after it has been struck. The doublebladed oar or paddle is about seven feet in length. It is made of solid red deal, if that can be procure, with inlaid bone at the sides. The kayak is covered with new seal-skin once a year, and is so expeditious and convenient that the Danish authorities of Greenland use this kind of boat as an express for communication between different posts.
The oomiak(1), or woman's boat, is usually about twenty feet long, five feet broad, and three feet deep. It is sometimes built so as to accommodate twenty persons. It is made of slender laths, fastened with whalebone, and covered with dressed sealskin. These boats are generally managed by three or four women together; and in fair weather they row them very rapidly. In any danger, a man with his kayak keeps them in sight, to aid them if required.
The next object of importance to the Esquimau is the sledge, which finds occupation during at least three-fourths of the year. A native who possesses both a kayak and a sledge is considered a person of property.
The best sledges have their runners made of the jaw-bones of the whale; the upper part consisting of bones, pieces of wood, or deer horns lashed across. Sledge-runners are sometimes made of frozen walrus skin. By an ingenious contrivance they are also formed out of seal-skin. Cases of this skin are filled with earth and moss, a little water is added, and the whole soon becomes frozen into a solid piece. The length of a bone sledge is from four to fourteen feet, and the breadth about twenty inches.
Scarcely any coasts in the world teem more abundantly with animal life than the sterile and ice-bound shores of the Arctic regions. From Greenland westward, along the northern coasts of America. thousands of bears, seals, walruses, foxes, dogs, and other Arctic mammals,(2) and millions of gulls, geese, auks, and other far-flying aquatic birds, are continually passing to and fro, some through the air, and others upon vast fields of ice, either fixed or moving.
The animals found in these frozen regions have a double interest to the voyager; for besides supplying him with nourishing food, they interrupt the intense solitude of that vast and silent land. Vegetable life grows more scant and stunted as he advances north; but animal life is larger and more abundant in development, although seen in less variety. The Arctic animals show less beauty of colouring than those of warmer climates; white and different shades of brown principally supplying the place of the more brilliant tints.
There is nothing more wonderful than the adaptation of the clothing of creatures to their natural condition. In warm latitudes the quadrupeds have thin and short hair, but those of the polar regions are supplied with the thickest furs. The aquatic birds, also, are protected by a coat of oily feathers, so that they can plunge securely into the icy waters.
Almost all Arctic animals are beasts and birds of prey; and they derive their sustenance mainly from the sea, the land furnishing very scanty means of supporting life. The ultimate source from which the food of all these animals comes—and which, from its abundance, is the cause of life being so extremely prolific in all those regions—is to be found in the vast number of medusoe or jelly-fishes with which the seas in those latitudes are filled.
Some of the species have a sort of fringe of hairs, like little snakes, which hang from the margin of the cup-shaped disc that is formed by their bodies, and float writhing and twisting in the water as the cup, by alternate expansions and contractions, forces its way along. It is from this circumstance that they have received their name of medusæ—Medusa(3) having been a fabled monster of ancient times whose head was adorned with snakes instead of hair.
Many of the medusæ are phosphorescent:(4) and these luminous species are sometimes so numerous that the whole surface of the ocean glows with them at night, as if the waves were undulations of liquid fire.
The different species vary extremely, both in form and in size. Some are so minute as not to be seen by the naked eye; in consequence of which it often happens that curious persons, seeing the whole surface of the sea glowing with the light which they produce, are surprised to find nothing visible in the water when they draw up a bucketful of it to the deck of the ship in order to ascertain the cause.
Others of the medusæ are of great size and strength. They sometimes seize and devour fishes of considerable magnitude; and yet their bodies contain so little substance, that when drawn up on the beach, they look like a mere mass of jelly. On being exposed for a short time to the sun and air, they almost entirely dry up and disappear, leaving nothing behind them but a thin filmy web.
Animals of this class swarm in countless millions in all the northern seas. So dense are the shoals sometimes, that the whole colour of the sea for hundreds of miles is changed by them! They furnish, of course, immense quantities of food for whales and other cetaceous(5) animals, and also for fishes of all kinds; which in their turn give sustenance to bears, seals, walruses, and multitudes of other animals.
What is the usual length of a kayak? And its weight? With what is it propelled? What is the length of the oomiak? Of what are the best sledges made? With what do the Arctic regions abound? What difference is noticed between Arctic animals and those of warmer regions? Mention instances of the adaptation of the clothing of animals to their condition. What is the chief source of food for animal life in the Arctic regions? What is the origin of the name? What is the cause of the luminous appearance which some of them give the sea?
爱斯基摩小艇通常的长度是多少？ 重量呢？它借助于什么来推进？爱斯基摩的女式小艇长度是多少？ 最好的雪橇是用什么做的？北极地区什么很丰富？北极地区与温带地区的动物有什么显著的区别？举出动物为适应自然条件的着装实例。生活在北极地区的动物的食物主要来源是什么？名字的来源是什么?它们当中的一些赋予了海洋波光粼粼的表面，其原因是什么？