stefansson-wrangel-09-25-006-059

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- 60 -

There is not a whimper in the whole diary nor a suggestion that he himself
or anyone else was to blame. There are no heroics, no vain regrets. He was
confined to the house by the gradually increasing illness and wrote longer
entries because there was more leisure. In a book sometime we shall be able
to quote them in full. It is a thrilling story only if one reads the
heroism between the lines. His was that type of courage which never feels
the need of becoming modesty. It was not the attitude of the martyr before
a sacrifice or the hero giving his life for a glorious cause. It was
rather the light-hearted seriousness of the doughboy going into battle.

Knight died on June 22nd, a little before the best
possible ship could have sailed for Wrangell Island in even the most favor-
able season.

When it came to the test the courage of Ada Blackjack
seems to have been of about the same type as Knight's own. She had been
brought up in a city and, although of Eskimo blood, she knew little more
about the life of a hunter than might be the case with a French woman. But
she had always worked with her hands and it was resourceful and full of
initiative. When Knight could not tend the traps she taught herself how to
do that, learning through failure hot to do better another time. First she
caught foxes and later she shot birds.

Unfortunately but inevitably, she had the superstitions
of her people. She was afraid of the evil spirits which she supposed were
causing Knight's illness and which might do her harm. This makes her trial
more severe and her credit greater for having stuck it out. But a more
serious superstition was the Eskimo fear of polar bears, which has come down
since the days before firearms when a bear had to be killed at close quarters
sometimes with bow and arrows but more frequently with a spear. Under those
conditions polar bears when cornered by dogs are dangerous animals. But for

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