Elliot and Ulysse had forgotten one small detail: at this time of year, the sun never sets in the evening. At the North Pole, it rises as usual on 21 March but never fully sets again before 21 September. But for two lost boys, the permanent daylight was definitely an advantage
I already told you why, said Ulysse. Its because the Earth doesnt sit quite vertical in relation to the Sun.
Everythings extreme up here, isnt it? he went on excitedly. In summer its daylight all the time and in winter you get 24 hours of darkness. To say nothing of the blizzards and the aurora borealis.
But its also these extremes that mean therell always be ice around the North Pole in winter, replied Elliot.
I heard that the ice pack was going to melt because of climate change, objected Ulysse.
Yeah, but thatll only be in summer, replied Elliot, visibly annoyed. In summer
Lets see if this is the way back, suggested Ulysse brightly, to change the subject.
But cant you see theres no trace of our tracks that way? answered Elliot. If we want to find our way back to the camp, we have to find the tracks we made getting here.
His brother cut him off: Look over there. I think weve got a problem.
Thats all the we needed, agreed Elliot, now quite worried. Where theres a baby polar bear theres a big mother polar bear not far behind!
Not far away from the boys, two young bears were gambolling around and sliding down snow drifts, hardly paying any heed to Ulysse and Elliot.
Arent they cute? whispered Ulysse. Even nicer than in the photos in Dads office. Look at their fluffy little paws with those baby claws
Wed better not stick around, said Elliot. Polar bears have real good sense of smell. I bet Mother Bear knows were here somewhere
Its lucky the winds blowing towards us. Lets move on while we can.
Id just like to touch one of them. Its not every day you meet a
Elliot cut him short, whispering urgently: Ulysse, lie down quick!.
A large polar bear, presumably the mother, has appeared from behind a block of ice. Her muzzle was covered in blood, undoubtedly all that was left of the seal she had been having for dinner.
She doesnt seem too worried about us, whispered Elliot. Lets go round to the left. But it seems strange that there are polar bears this far north.
What did you say? said Ulysse, a bit too loudly.
Mother Bear obviously heard something. She lifted her head and sniffed in the boys direction. However, she seemed disinclined to chase them and lay down on her side. Her two cubs needed no urging to start suckling
The mother then began to give a licking bath to one of her babies.
Come on, follow me, and try to be quiet for a change, grumbled Elliot.
Why did you say it was strange to find polar bears up here?, asked Ulysse. The North Poles supposed to be where they live, isnt it?
Poor Ulysse! You read too many fairy stories! Sure, polar bears live in the Arctic. Arktos even means bear in Greek. But they dont live here just to keep cool. They usually go where they can find food.
Well, the cubs Mum certainly found some food, didnt she? laughed Ulysse, pointing to a scrap of bloody flesh still hanging from the bears fur.
Dont be such a smarty-pants. What I meant was that she had to come further north than normal to find good hunting. Thats because of global warming. Its a problem.
Just then, they heard the sound of an engine, still quite far off. This time it wasnt a helicopter, but maybe a snow-scooter. If so, the driver would have difficulty getting through all the jumbled blocks of ice to reach them.
The bear realised that the noise meant danger and she gathered up one of her cubs in her jaws and took off, followed by the other, as fast as she could. And that was really fast!
OK, Ulysse, Im cold and hungry. Maybe this time we should
Ulysse obviously agreed.
Were over here!, he shouted, standing up.
Elliot was on his feet too. Now that they knew which was home, they started clambering over the jumble of ice blocks as fast as they could.