Ulysse had been running around like crazy, falling down between the hummocks of ice and skidding on the sheets of ice covered with a thin layer of powdery snow. Elliot has been having trouble keeping up with him, especially as each time he came to a pressure ridge he lost sight of his brother.
Elliot had caught a glimpse of his little brother just before Ulysse fell down towards a finger of water that had opened up between two plates of sea ice.
Whats got into you? shouted Elliot.
Did you hear that tremendous noise? The ice cracked. I heard it. The crack was about to open and swallow us both up!
What rubbish! Do you think Im stupid?
Ulysse was doubled up with laughter. Actually, he had been really scared, but even though he was the little brother there was no way he was going to show it.
They both ended up falling all over the place laughing, quite unaware of the very real danger they were in.
OK, thats enough. Lets get back to the camp, said Elliot.
But there were jumbled blocks of ice all around them and they had no idea which way to go.
I wonder which way it is, murmured Elliot.
Just look at your compass.
Im afraid it isnt as simple as that.
Why on earth not? objected Ulysse.
Because were very close to the North Pole. I mean the two North Poles.
What do you mean, two?
Didnt you know? There are two poles: the Geographic North Pole at the end of the Earths rotation axis, and the Magnetic North Pole that attracts the needle of a compass. Then we have to take into account the inclination angle between the two poles.
Gee, it gets a bit complicated, doesnt it?
Not only that but the Magnetic North Pole is moving all the time.
Here he goes again! said his little brother, who didnt always like it when Elliot (who was admittedly pretty smart) started to play the know-all.
That means its going to be hard to find the way back, concluded Elliot, pushing his bonnet back into place after the wind had blown it askew.
They looked at each other again, and Elliot just couldnt resist the urge to show off his knowledge again.
For a long time, the Magnetic North Pole stayed quite close to the Canadian Deep North. But a few years ago it started to drift quite fast towards the Russian Arctic.
OK, thats terrific. But how do we get back?.
I know, lets do what Tom Thumb did!
Ulysse looked at his big brother, bemused.
Yes, by walking backwards along the tracks we made in the snow
By the time they got near the top of the first pressure ridge they could hear the sound of a helicopter getting closer. Elliot thought that Sam and Ghislain must have sounded the alarm and sent the helicopter to find them, but just then Ulysse grabbed him and pushed them both face down into a snow drift, hiding them.
Whats got into you?
Lets find our own way home and impress Dad. Then hell realise were big enough to come on expeditions with him.
The wind was not so strong now, but that didnt cheer them up very much as the sound of the helicopter faded into the distance and they settled down to spend their first night on the sea ice, alone under the stars.