"Two people came to stay with the Inuit, right?" he goes
on. "They lived there many years."
The figure out on the ice calls to the dogs. They veer
around a patch of greasy-looking ice.
"The woman was very pale and somewhat frail. They affectionately
called her Aniar, short for aniarayuktok, 'she is often ill.' She
had a very gentle and loving manner."
In a singsong voice the driver urges her dogs onward.
They're bounding happily over the ice.
"Their first child was stillborn. But their second was
a healthy boy. He grew up, married, and had a daughter of his own. And
so on and so on."
With a hiss of runners on ice the sled careens up to where
the three of you stand. At a word from the driver the dogs all curl up
on the ice.
The Inuit woman throws off her hood and
walks up to you. "Hello," she nods to William. "Hello,"
she nods to you. "Hello," she nods to Claudia. "I have
something for you."
She draws out a leather pouch and hands it over.
"It has been in my side of the family for a long time."
Claudia tips the pouch. Tears well in her eyes.
"Thank you, sister." In her hand is an ivory comb, yellow with
age, and exquisitely carved with the rolling hills of England.
* * * *
How does our story compare
with real-life experience?
Read the commentary by
anthropologist Owen Beattie
AE Mystery Spot
Excellence Science Mystery sponsored by Genentech,
Copyright © 1997 Genentech, Inc.; all rights reserved.