These Indians tie their children on their backs, when they have to walk a great way. They licked the oil on the outside of our lamps, just as a dog or a cat would have done. Oh, what dirty people! They eat their meat raw. We killed a seal one day, and our captain gave it to one of the young women. She took it, and bit it into pieces with her teeth. Then she passed it round to the rest of the Indians, and they all helped eat it.
There are a great many white bears in that country. Sometimes you can see two or three of them sitting on one of these ice-hills. How they ever got there, I am sure I cannot tell. I guess they went out on the ice only a little way from the shore, to get something which they saw was good to eat; and while they were on the ice, it started off, and they could not get to the shore again.
One of the men who sailed in the same ship with me, told me a story about a white bear, which made me laugh for an hour after I heard it. He said he was in a small boat with another sailor once, about a mile away from the ship. I forget what they went out in the boat for, but I suppose the captain of the ship sent them out for something. They were rowing along in the boat, and they came close to an iceberg. They saw something alive on the iceberg, but they could not make out what it was: they did not know but it was a man. But they came a little nearer to the great ice-hill, and they soon found out what sort of a thing there was on it. Splash something went into the water; and in a minute a great white bear jumped into the boat, as wet as a drowned rat.
Well, the sailors thought they had got to die, sure enough. What could they do? The first thing that they thought of, was to try to kill the bear with their oars. But they soon gave that up. They saw that the bear was too large and strong to be killed in that way. The next thing they thought of doing, was to jump into the water. But they knew they would die if they did that. What should they do? “I wonder which of us the old fellow will take first,” one of the men said to the other. Each of them had his oar ready, so that when the bear made a spring at them, he would get his ears boxed pretty sharply. That was all they could do.
Well, the bear did not seem to be at all in a hurry. The first thing he did, after he got into the boat, was to shake himself as hard as he could, to get the water out of his coat. After that, he walked slowly to one end of the boat, just as if he was quite at home there, and lay down upon a coat which one of the men had brought along, and went to sleep.
The sailors saw then that all they had to do was to row the bear to the shore. So they went to work. When they got to the ship, the captain and all the sailors laughed a good deal, you may be sure. The shore was not far off. The sailors rowed until the boat touched the shore, and the bear got out, and walked slowly away. He did not so much as thank the men for the ride he had been taking. But the men were glad to get rid of him, thanks or no thanks.