stefansson-wrangel-09-25-007-018

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18.

But we feel sure that the kindness of the Russians on
the north coast of Siberia is equal to the kindness of the na-
tives. If, through some confused notion of the international
issues at stake, they had take the pa taken the party prisoners,
they would have made no secret of it and would have treated them
humanly. We also have direct testimony from others than Russians.
Captain Aarnaut Castel, a member of my 1913-18 arctic expedition
for five years, a comrade on it and friend of Knight and Maurer,
was wintering on the coast south of Wrangell. With him was
anothe r comrade of Knight’s on Storkerson’s great sea-ice journey
of our 1913-18 Expedition, August Masik, himself a Russian. Both
say there is no chance of any one landing on the coast without
everybody knowing about it.

Knight’s entry, "Blowing a howling gale", may there-
fore be the key to the tragedy which he never suspected but
which we know must have occurred in one of two ways. The gale
may have broken up the ice in such chaotic fashion that death re-
sulted immediately, either by the party being thrown into open
water or crushed between the massive trumbling floes; or else
death came, without warning or even premonition, through the
form of accident that has been responsible for more polar tragedies
than any other - breaking through thin ice and drowning. Even in
midwinter the ice on the Northern Sea is in constant slow motion,
the floes drifting before the wind and current, spinning around
sluggishly and leaving patches of open wate r between. The danger
comes when these patches freeze over and especially if the newly

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