A summer pleasure expedition by a few American young men that ended in the shipwreck of the Miranda off the Greenland coast. Reads like a young adult adventure, introducing young readers to the realities of Arctic exploration.
p. 137, on the “theft” by an Eskimo woman of a looking glass: On the whole, he did not regret this experience, for it gave him a sidelight on the Eskimo character. He had read that these natives were strictly honest if intrusted outright with any kind of property, but that they would sometimes steal if they could do it slyly under the eye of the owner. So, in the present instance, they knew he might have distributed fewer glasses and kept better account of them, and it was in the nature of a practical joke that one turned up missing.
p. 175: Malcolm could not conceal his admiration for the seamanship of these natives, and more than once he broke out in exclamations of praise. “They ‘re simply perfect!” he declared. “They can read the water like a book.”
p. 178: “I wonder if we can’t talk with the natives,” said Henry, after a time. “ On board the Viola I jotted down some of their words out of an old book of Arctic travels, and I believe it would be a good chance to use them.”
“I should be interested to see the experiment tried,” remarked the Professor.
Henry accordingly shouted “kikertak,” which is supposed to mean
“island.” The Eskimos in the bow looked at him questioningly and did not seem to understand.
“Perhaps that word is obsolete,” said the Professor, “or maybe you didn’t pronounce it right. Try another.”
There was just sufficient light for Henry to read his list. After consulting it a moment, and seeing that there was an unmistakable reef over against the nearest shore, he shouted “ikarlok.” This word they recognized, and there was an instant chorus of “Ap, ap,” as they pointed to the foaming shoal. Then he tried other words, and was usually comprehended, the Huskies doubtless making up their minds that he was a very learned linguist.
The Professor had some knowledge of Danish, and presently opened communication on a limited scale with Jacob. He also knew many of the Eskimo words, and altogether it was evident that they could talk with the crew when occasion demanded. When words failed, signs would probably suffice.
p. 227-29, on meeting the crew of an abandoned steamer from Gloucester, the Rigel: The relief party received a hearty welcome on board, the more so since, as Captain Dixon averred, his crew had grown tired of looking at one another so long. There is a monotony about protracted voyages very little appreciated by those who have never been to sea. Especially is this true of fishing voyages with few opportunities of going ashore. On the Iceland banks each American vessel has a particular crony in some one of the English fishing steamers, and the interchange of social visits is much enjoyed on both sides, but it was now two or three months since the men of the Rigel had left the Iceland fleet. They had read everything on board that was readable again and again; they had heard one another’s yarns as often as they would bear repeating; and at last they had come to that stage wherein they said only what had to be said, falling into a kind of mechanical, humdrum existence. Then it was that the advent of the little party, with new ideas, new stories, new ways of life, became a godsend. Nevertheless it behooved the new comers to recognize the fact that a great deal of generosity was also involved in their welcome. Every one of these big-hearted sailors had voted to stop in the midst of good fishing to come to their rescue. For this the men would take no credit, simply saying it was worth the uncaught half of the cargo just to see faces other than their own, and never so much as hinting at the nobler motive of humanity that had prompted their action.