This is Sergius and his wife Kirima,
said Melissa, or that is what I think they call
themselves. I wasnt able
to understand much from them except through sign
language. Anyway, they saved
Larra returned the shy smiles of the beaming Inuit couple. Like Melissa she understood no Inuit, except for the fact that they did not like being called Eskimos, which was a Cree word meaning Eaters of raw meat.
She was amazed at how comfortable she was in the crude shelter the Inuit family called home. She had taken off her heavy parka and was sitting on a musk oxen robe. She guessed the temperature must be slightly above freezing and she was quite comfortable. Amazingly, the only source of heat was a small animal fat lamp and the body heat of the people in the shelter. There were eight altogether. Herself and Melissa, and the two Inuit adults and their four children. Right in front of her a naked baby crawled about on a caribou skin.
She had been in the shelter now for about a day. When she had arrived, Melissa had been sleeping soundly. The surprised Inuit family had welcomed her into their winter home, somewhat amazed to have two white visitors in just a few hours, and women at that. During all of that time, Melissa had been out like a light, obviously exhausted from her ordeal. When she had wakened, she had been most surprised to see Larra.
I thought you dead, the girl had blurted out, and then had burst into tears.
And I feared you might be, replied Larra. They had both had a good cry after that, much to the further confusion of the Inuit family. But now things had settled down. Melissa had made the introductions, and now they were sharing rations.
With only the small flame to cook on, much of what was offered to Melissa and Larra was raw or half-cooked. Melissa, turned out to be more enthusiastic about eating it than Larra, but then, she had eaten ravenously when she had stumbled upon the Inuit encampment the day before.
Larra rummaged in her pack and found a package of hard chocolate. It was far from the best quality, but the Inuit family accepted it with enthusiasm. Larra suspected that they had never eaten chocolate before.
Half-cooked or not, Larra ate whatever was given to her. She had eaten far worse during her 31 years, and her labours in the snow while trailing Melissa had given her quite an appetite.
While she ate, she and Melissa exchanged information. Larra admired the girls courage. Taking off into the middle of the barrens in the middle of winter was a gutsy move, if somewhat poorly thought out. She wondered what she would have done in the same situation and decided that she probably would have done the same thing.
On her part, Melissa found herself wondering at Larras heroic escape. Maybe one day she would be able to handle herself that well.
The cold of night settled over the barrens, and the Inuit family snuggled down for the night. Larra suddenly realized how tired she was. She had not yet fully recovered from her ordeal at the hands of Featherstone. Settling down in the soft robes provided by the Inuit family, she was asleep in seconds.
Lemaire frowned at Sawatis. Larra said we were to wait until she gets back.
She also said that she might crash the plane. We could be here next spring and still be waiting. You do what you want. Ive bought the dogs and Im ready to go.
Lemaire frowned. He didnt like the idea of not being here when his gorgeous employer returned. But he knew that Sawatis was right. She had been gone two days. God knows what might have happened to her. She was a real greenhorn when it came to knowledge of the north. A single mistake and the brutal climate would kill a novice quickly. Alright, he said with a smile. Ill go with you, if for no other reason than to keep you out of trouble.
The usually undemonstrative Mohawk slapped Lemaire on the back. Lets go, he said simply.