#17 The Old Woman and the Cliff
     (Fridtjof Nansen, 1893)

The conceptions of good and evil in this world are exceedingly divergent. As an example, let me cite the case of the Eskimo girl who, when Niels Egede spoke to her of love of God and her neighbor, said to him: “I have given proof of love for my neighbor. Once an old woman who was ill, but could not die, offered to pay me if I would lead her to the top of the steep cliff from which our people have always thrown themselves when they are tired of living; but I, having ever loved my neighbors, led her thither without payment, and cast her over the cliff.” Egede told her that this was ill done, and that she had killed a fellow-creature. “She said no; but that she was filled with pity for her, and cried after she had fallen over.”Are we to call this a good or an evil deed?

[#17] Fridtjof Nansen, Eskimo Life, tr. William Archer (London: Longmans, Green, 1893): 170.

Additional Sources

Fridtjof Nansen, In Northern Mists. 2 v. New York: Frederick A. Stokes. 1911; Tryggvy J. Oleson, Early Voyages and Northern Approaches, 1000-1632. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart. 1963; Edward F. Foulks, The Arctic Hysterias of the North Alaskan Eskimo, Anthropological Studies No. 10, Washington, D.C.: American Anthropological Association, 1972; Wendell H. Oswalt, Eskimos and Explorers, Novato, California: Chandler & Sharp, 1979.

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