John Muir


image preview


to the delight of her mother. No happier baby could be found in a warm parlor with all that the looms of the world can afford in the way of soft fabrics and nurses to anticipate every want, looking gaily at the strange sights from her bit of a fur bag covered with seal intestine, waterproof, light as oiled silk. When it fell asleep about noon it was laid on three oars that were laid across the canoe side by side, the snow falling on its face, yet it slept soundly a long time and never cried for hours while I watched it. All the youngsters had to get a little bread which both fathers and mothers begged for them. “He’s a little fellow,” or “She’s a little fellow; give bread. Pickaninny, pickanniny, bread.” Four walrus heads were brought aboard and the ivory sold, while the natives, men and women, sat down to dine on them, with butcher knives. They cut off the flesh and ate it raw, with good relish apparently. As usual, each mouthful was cut off while held between the teeth, to our surprise they never cut themselves. They seemed to enjoy selection tidbits from different parts of the head, turning it over frequently and examining places here and there, like a family leisurely finishing the wrecked hull of last day’s turkey. These people interest me greatly, and it is worth coming far to know them. The smile, or rather broad grin of the Eskimo baby with its first two teeth threw itself full against my heart and into it, and I will remember it as long as I live. When its features had subsided into repose, the laugh gone from its dark eyes, and its lips closed on its two lower teeth, I could make it smile again as sweetly and innocently and heartily as ever over and over again by nodding and chirruping to it. Heaven bless it! Some of the boys too, lads from 6 to 12 years old, are very well behaved, bashful, and usually laugh and turn away their faces when looked at, and with a response in their eyes that tell and make you feel that they are your very brothers.

Date Original



Original journal dimensions: 11.5 x 21 cm.

Resource Identifier



Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

Rights Management

To view additional information on copyright and related rights of this item, such as to purchase copies of images and/or obtain permission to publish them, click here to view the Holt-Atherton Special Collections policies.


John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist