The two are a teaching couple; the rocks are the Island of Little Diomede, an isolated American territory in the middle of the Bering Strait. Carlson and his wife roughed it there in Alaska's school system and found the island a great challenge to their teaching abilities as well as their endurance. All long before the Peace Corps was a speck in the eye of Washington. More than teaching was required; appliances had to be put in order; the Eskimos seduced from alcohol to arithmetic, hunting to spelling. And Carlson had to doctor wounded children and placate disconsolate adults. He becomes a kind of whimsical Schweitzer, carrying slop pails to the ice floes, hunting walrus to prove his worth, the object for myths and jokes during the long Arctic night.