One can faintly glimpse at, but must utterly fail to grasp, what that little girlie suffered mentally. We picture her sleeping, sobbing, waiting in that snow-hut in the silences, surrounded by the still bodies of every one she loved on earth. The sequel of the story is as sad as its first chapter. The band of Eskimo to which the rescuer belonged went in their turn and ate of this stranded whale, with the result that A-von-tul and Ita-chi-uk, two youths of twenty or twenty-one, died, too, and with them a little four-year-old girl. The drift whale must have been poisoned either by ptomaine or by the remnants of the highly compressed tonite, the explosive used by the whale-hunters.
[Illustration: An Eskimo Exhibit
A—Eskimo woman’s head-dress of reindeer skin.
B—Skin of the baby seal, its shimmering whiteness used by the missionaries to typify the Lamb of God, the word “Lamb” having no meaning to an Eskimo.
C—Ornamental skin mat, the work of an Eskimo woman.
D—Quiver of arrows used by Eskimo boys.
E—Model of Eskimo paddle.
F—Skin model of the Oomiak or Eskimo woman’s boat.
G and H—Eskimo pipes of true Oriental type, the bowl holding only half a thimbleful of tobacco.]
As we visit in friendly wise the Eskimo and their children, a feeling of loving admiration and appreciation tightens round our hearts. We had never heard a harsh word bestowed upon a child, no impatient or angry admonition. If a boy gives way to bursts of temper, and this is rare, he is gently taken to task, reproved, and reasoned with after the fit of passion is over. Certainly, without churches or teachers or schools, with no educational journals, and no Conventions of Teachers, with their wise papers on the training of “the child,” the Eskimo children we saw were better behaved, more independent, gentler, and in the literal sense of the word, more truly “educated” than many of our children are. Instinctively you feel that here are boys and girls being trained admirably for the duties of life, a life that must be lived out in stern conditions.
Perchance, floating down on the Aurora, has come to the Eskimo a glint of the truth that has passed us by, the truth that God’s own plan is the family plan, that there are life lessons to learn which, by the very nature of things, the parents alone can impart. Teaching children in the mass has its advantages, but it is the family after all and not the fifty children in a school grade which forms the unit of national greatness.
FORT MACPHERSON FOLK
“I have drunk the Sea’s good wine,
Was ever step so light as mine,
Was ever heart so gay?
O, thanks to thee, great Mother, thanks to thee,
For this old joy renewed,
For tightened sinew and clear blood imbued
With sunlight and with sea.”