their idle curiosity
Walton's highly refined sense of good manners here keeps him from inquiring about what had brought Victor to this desolate northern wilderness. His crew is much more natural in its reaction. One may sense a certain class snobbery in Walton's tone here, as there was in his earlier description of the sailors with whom he had to consort (I:L2:3, I:L2:4). Of course, it might be argued that the class system that so rigidly divided a ship's officers and its crew resulted in just such a dichotomy: it is not to the crew that Victor will retail his painful autobiography, but rather to a person of social breeding and intellectual ambition, if not education, comparable to his own. On the other hand, it could be maintained that the tone here is wholly unintentional, an unwitting reflection of the residual bourgeois tonality that Mary Shelley occasionally betrays in her contemporary publication, A History of a Six Weeks' Tour, when confronted with what she considers vulgar behavior.