Under the Ice (2)
At last, Aroha had managed to make a hole which she deemed to be of sufficient width. She ran awkwardly to where she had made her discovery, slipping and stumbling on the ice. Of course the bodies had gone and nothing but the inky blackness of deep water remained.
She gathered her composure and made her way back to the hole with her more customary stealth, as it would be beyond foolishness to jeopardise her own safety. She scraped the surface of the ice some two seals around the hole and waited.
Her calculations had been accurate, as she soon saw the beautiful face of the male slowly moving under the ice and towards the hole. She would have to act quickly and prepared herself for the struggle ahead. She considered retrieving the spear which stood upright, its point deep in the ice a seal or so away, so that she could widen the hole further, but the head of the first body had appeared in the opening in the ice.
The moment had arrived. She discarded her gloves and grabbed at the young man’s head, she held it steadily and was surprised at how biddable the body appeared to be. She felt the shock of the burn of ice as the cold stabbed at her hands. She needed to pull this body out of the hole, and although she was strong this feat was hampered by a number of difficulties, not least the second body attached to this one; the one that she wanted.
Aroha held the head with one hand and pushed her other back into a sealskin glove. With this hand she roughly manoeuvred the heavy weight of the body’s unbound arm out of the water and onto the ice. She knew that this could be the point at which she might lose him, so she quickly slipped the noose of rope she had fashioned during her wait, under the exposed arm and over the body’s head. She pulled it hard and the noose tightened. She wound the rope around the sturdy pole of her spear, hoping it would take the weight. She pulled on the rope and the body’s head and some of its torso bobbed out of the hole. Aroha secured the rope and moved back to the hole with a knife.
The second face was now visible. It floated closely to the body of the first, as though this child-woman was resting her head on the arm of her lover. Aroha noted the expression of contentment on her face. A decision had to be made, the girl would have to take her next set of chances alone. The girl was naked but for a pendant of carved stone at her breast, presumably the figure of some god or talisman. The fact that it still remained spoke of some watchful eye, and this thought dispelled the small doubt in Aroha’s mind.
She pulled at the arm bound to the girl until the plait of hair tying them together could be reached. She slashed again and again at the rope of hair, which was surprisingly strong. Aroha knew that she was in danger of losing her precious bone knife, but this had to be done. At last she had sliced the bond. She watched impassively as the girl’s body drifted away under the ice. Perhaps it would reach the shore; perhaps it would be carried away on another current. Aroha shook the girl from her mind and worked to retrieve the young man’s body from the ice.