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such improvement in her marksmanship that one day she shot an
eiderduck through the head. When she told this, someone re-
marked that it was a real test of skill—“But I didn’t aim for eider-
duck’s head,” was her answer, which shows something of her keen
sense of humor. Another example of the quality of her humor was
in her answer to Stefansson, when he asked her why she couldn’t
kill a polar bear, when she could hit an eiderduck in the head—
“When I shoot at eiderduck, my gun stays steady; but when I
shoot at polar bear, my gun shakes in big circles.”

Her fear of polar bears has an interesting aspect. When she is
induced to talk of her experiences (which is not often) she never
speaks of any other fear than that she would be devoured by a
bear. She never complains of cold—the loneliness—of death—but
she seems to have been in constant terror of bears. Back of this
is something psychological. The Eskimo has a deep seated fear of
the polar bear based on some old racial superstition. Many of
their folk tales deal with polar bears that can become human beings
at will.

These stories she has been told by her mother who in turn has
heard them from her mother, and so on through many generations.

The Eskimos have no written language. The storytellers keep
alive the traditions and legends of their race.

Ada, in her childhood, heard these tales. In the long winter
nights the storytellers would gather a group of people about them,
and by the light of the seal oil lamps, tell of the heroic deeds of men
of ages past. The Greek storytellers centuries ago did the same
thing, and today we have the Odyssey. So the literature of the
Eskimos is kept alive by the spoken word.

“Being eaten by a polar bear and in its belly” became an obses-
sion to Ada—but even this very active fear did not keep her from

To wake up in the morning and find two bears, a mother and an
almost full grown cub, standing outside the door of her tent, sent
her crouching behind her bed in an agony of fear. “I said to
myself, what shall I do—what shall I do? If I shoot the mother
bear and only wound her, she will get me— If I shoot her cub, she
will be angry and eat me up— What shall I do? So I shot in the
air and frightened them away.”

In order to have a place of retreat from the bears, she built a

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