Freuchen emphasizes in his book, centeringnit for us as the core of thenradically simple and emotive systems ofnthe natives. He himself ceases to strugglenagainst the pristine functionalism ofntheir ways, which he accepts at last asnnatural and healthy.nHe goes so far as to eventually marryna native woman, Navarana. Therenseems to be real love between them,nand in both of them emotion andnreserve are often wonderfully combined.nAfter one of his long and perilousntrips — with Knud Rasmussen,ncrossing the north Greenland ice caps, anhistoric “first” — Freuchen returnsnhome, staggering in more dead thannalive.nWhen I went into my house Insaw everyone but Navarana.n”Where is Navarana?” I asked.n”She is upstairs working,”nArnanguaq answered.nI yelled: “Navarana! Navarana!nI am home!”n”What of it?” I heard hernvoice saying from above.n”Somebody is cleaning a fewnskins!”nAfter a few minutes shencame down, hurried across thenroom and out of the door. Notnuntil everybody had gone wouldnshe consent to come back andngreet me. Then she explainednthat she had been afraid shenmight embarrass me, and alsonshe had no way of showing hownhappy she really was.nThere is high charge here, thoughncontained—and all the higher becausenit is contained. For all such momentsnthe reader learns to reckon with thenideal of public restraint and the principlenof privacy — perhaps the most exoticnor alien concept, especially fornAmericans, in the whole book.nAlong with everything else, there isncomedy — inherent comedy and satiricallynpointed humor. In general, andnpredictably enough, Freuchen providesnthe humor of incongruity, but theneffects are piquant. Navarana is sometimesnthe subject of cross-cultural humor,nusually when out of her element,nas when she accompanies her husbandnon distant trips.nThe night before arriving innTassiussak we stopped withnAbel, the great hunter. Asnusual, his house was spotless, hisndaughters in white underwear,nand Navarana was muchnimpressed. She told me that shenthought the household sonpretentious that she ought tonmention it to the women inncriticism. When I asked her tonexplain, she said anyone oughtnto know that men bought finenwhite linen only to make sailsnfor seal hunting. Perhaps thenwhite men would be disgustednand cease manufacturing thenlinen if they learned thatnignorant women used the fabricnto make themselves beautifulnbeneath their outside garments.nI assured her that the whitenmen would be only toondelighted to weave more, andnthat she herself would bendressed in similar luxury as soonnas we reached Tassiussak. Shensmiled, as people do when theyndoubt and hope simultaneously.nThat last effect is pure Freuchen, thenshrewd and generous punctuations henshows at frequent intervals.nCultural contrast continues to be anrich vein of humor for Freuchen tonmine. In one instance, it may be thenmisinterpretation of handshaking innGreenland:nMore men and women andnchildren rushed out to meet usnand we stopped to greet them.nMitseq and Itukusunguaq werenembarrassed by the practice ofntaking off the mitten andnextending the right hand to benshaken. They had alreadynmentioned it to me, and thenmuch-traveled Mitseq hadnexplained that it was to indicatenthat if the right hand was tirednthe strangers would help tonsupport it.nIn another, when the Freuchens visitnDenmark, it concerns the king himself,nwho cuts a formal and, to Navarana,nfoolish figure in a moment barely redeemednby her husband:nNavarana turned to me: “Is thatnman really the King we havenheard so much about? How cannhe think for everybody innnnDenmark if he is stupid enoughnto suppose I have any opinionsnabout this magnificent land afternonly one day’s stay?”n”What does she say?” askednthe mighty man.nI translated freely: “YournMajesty, she thinks it is wonderfulnand grand!”n”I thought so!” said the King,nand was content.nAgain it is a passing phrase, “translatednfreely,” that certifies Freuchen’s quicknsophistication (even if the scene is redacted,nas I suspect).nFreuchen also has a penchant forncomic understatement. In a particularlyngrueling episode toward the end of hisnArctic sojourn, he finds himself trappednduring a gale in a sort of groove he hasnfashioned for protection directly undernhis sled. The groove threatens to becomena grave when he discovers that henis frozen solid inside, and Freuchenndecides “to sacrifice one of my hands,nlet it freeze and use it as a spade to dignmy way out.” He says then, “I pitiednmyself, as I had plenty of uses for bothnhands.” He does not succeed with usingnhis hand as a shovel or with using frozennexcrement as a chisel, but manages tonpunch through a hole with an iciclednpick of bearskin. His head gets stuck innthe passageway, however, with only halfnof his face out.nUnfortunately my whiskers werendirectly beneath the broadnfrozen mud runner and, asnthere is always moisture aboutnthe mouth, they froze fast tonthe runner and I could notnmove either forward ornbackward. I was so doubled upnin my grave that I had nonstrength to do a thing . . . Hownlong I lay in that crampednposition I do not know. PerhapsnI fainted. The snow hadncovered the upper part of mynface, filled my eyes and nose sonthat I could scarcely breathe.nThe air was a vicious mixture ofnflying snow and, as I inhaled it,nI knew that I could not last fornlong.nThere follows another brief seriocomicndivagation —nMy thoughts turned to mynJULY 1989/45n