Page:Life with the Esquimaux - 1864 - Volume 1.djvu/73

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52
LIFE WITH THE ESQUIMAUX.

offered the ladies two pin and needle cushions, which they had kindly accepted.

During a conversation with the governor this day he informed me that the whole of Greenland belongs to the King of Denmark as his royal prerogative, and is the only dependency that is controlled exclusively by him. Much fault is found with this by the people of Denmark—much written in the papers. Those who are for the king retaining this right contend that otherwise the poor Esquimaux would at once become debased, and lose all the great influences that are now at work for their benefit. Throwing open the ports of Greenland would be followed by vessels of every country visiting the natives, and purchasing their skins, oil, and bone for liquor! The Esquimaux of Greenland will dispose of their all to obtain spirituous drinks, and the governor said that not for anything would he sell them a glass of liquor.

After bidding the party a cordial good-night, we returned to the beach at half-past ten, and found one of our boats ready to take us off. It contained Sterry (red as a beet), Smith, Rogers, and five or six others of the crew, who had been at a dance given by the mother-in-law of the lieutenant governor. They had all enjoyed themselves amazingly.

The following day, Wednesday, July 11th, fogs prevailed. Hardly a musquito had been seen since Sunday; and to me it was a singular fact, that a warm sunny day will bring myriads around you within the arctic circle, when, if it be at all foggy, none are to be seen. The bites of these annoying little insects remained for days, and my whole body was covered with the merciless wounds inflicted by them.

In the afternoon an "oomiak," or woman's boat, came alongside, rowed by Esquimaux girls. There were in the boat two mothers, with their babies, and ten young women. They had been out gathering fuel,[1] and called upon us on their way back.

The accompanying illustration of an Esquimaux woman and child is a fac-simile of a wood-cut drawn and engraved

  1. A dwarf shrub—Andromeda tetragona.