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Title: The Romance of Polar Exploration
       Interesting Descriptions of Arctic and Antarctic Adventure
       from the Earliest Time to the Voyage of the “Discovery”
Author: G. Firth Scott
* A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 1201641.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: March 2012
Date most recently updated: March 2012

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Title: The Romance of Polar Exploration
       Interesting Descriptions of Arctic and Antarctic Adventure
       from the Earliest Time to the Voyage of the “Discovery”
Author: G. Firth Scott


*


THE ROMANCE OF POLAR EXPLORATION

INTERESTING DESCRIPTIONS OF ARCTIC AND
ANTARCTIC ADVENTURE FROM THE EARLIEST
TIME TO THE VOYAGE OF THE "DISCOVERY"

BY

G. FIRTH SCOTT
AUTHOR OF "FROM FRANKLIN TO NANSEN," "THE ROMANCE
OF AUSTRALIAN EXPLORING," "COLONIAL BORN," _&c._

LONDON
SEELEY AND CO. LIMITED
38 GREAT RUSSELL STREET
1909

*



PREFACE


While stories of the Polar explorers and their efforts to reach the
Poles have been told again and again, the constant renewal of
expeditions adds, every year, fresh incidents to the record, until it
may almost be said that the fascination of the frozen regions is as
inexhaustible as the list of Polar heroes is illimitable. Nor is the
interest confined solely to the achievement of modern explorers. However
great the results of their exertions may be, the fact that, in spite of
all the advantages conferred by recent scientific discovery and modern
appliances, the explorers of to-day have failed to penetrate the
uttermost secrets of the worlds of ice, renders more impressively heroic
the struggles of the earlier travellers, whose equipment, viewed in
comparison with that of modern man, was apparently so inadequate and
often inappropriate.

No series of Polar adventure stories would be complete without a
prominent place being given to the earlier explorers, and especially to
that British hero, Franklin, whose name is so inseparably associated
with the history of Arctic exploration. The account of his daring
voyages and of his tragic end, at the moment of victory, has already
been given in many a form; but the tale is one which will stand
re-telling for generations yet to come. In the present instance it has
been of necessity briefly written, but in such a manner as will, it is
hoped, without loss of interest, render clear a comparison of the
conditions under which he and his brave companions worked and fought to
their death, with those that existed for later expeditions and
especially the expeditions of Nansen, Peary, and Abruzzi.

The Antarctic, equally with the Arctic, now commands the attention of
man. In the South, as in the North, the British race has again produced
explorers who have fought their way into the icy fastnesses. From the
time that Captain Cook sailed round the unknown southern ocean, more
than a century ago, the British flag has waved in the forefront of the
advance. The work which Sir James Ross began, over half a century since,
has now been carried farther than ever it was anticipated it could be.
By the voyage of the _Discovery_, the Antarctic continent has been
revealed to within five hundred miles of the Pole, and in the gallant
exploits of the commander, Captain Robert Scott, there are many who see
a repetition of all that made the name of Franklin so immortal.

The source of the information on which these stories are based (as is
frequently mentioned in the text) is the personal narrative of the
explorer concerned, where available; and if the interest aroused in any
of them requires more to satisfy it than the exigencies of space renders
possible in this volume, the attention which will thereby be drawn to
the more comprehensive records will stand as a slight acknowledgment of
the indebtedness of the writer of these re-told stories to the authors
of the original narratives.

G. FIRTH SCOTT.

LONDON, 1906.


*


PUBLISHERS' NOTE


Our thanks are due to Lieut. Shackleton, R.N.R., of the
_Discovery_, for the use of the original drawing facing page 344,
and also for permission to use the Illustrations facing pages 310,
340, 348. To Messrs. Alston Rivers, Limited, for permission to use
the Illustration facing page 320 from Dr. H. R. Mill's "Siege of
the South Pole." To Messrs. Hutchinson and Co., for the use of
Illustrations facing pages 28 and 272, and Frontispiece, from "The
Voyage of the Polar Star," by the Duke of the Abruzzi. To Messrs.
Geo. Newnes, Limited, for the Illustration facing page 305 from
"First on the Antarctic Continent," by C. E. Borchgrevinck. To
Messrs. Longmans, Green & Co., for permission to reproduce the
Illustration facing page 256 from "New Land," by Otto Sverdrup.


*


CONTENTS
========


CHAPTER I

THE ARCTIC REGION


The Mystery of the North Pole--The First Explorer--"The Great
Dark Wall at the End of the World"--"Frost-Smoke"--The
Lights and Sounds of the North--The Aurora Borealis--Mock
Moons--The Early Adventurers: Willoughby, Frobisher, Davis,
Hudson, Baffin, Ross, and Parry--The North-West Passage


CHAPTER II

SIR JOHN FRANKLIN

Young Franklin--His Dreams of Adventure--He becomes a Sailor--His
First Arctic Expedition--Fails to get through Behring
Straits--Explores Baffin's Bay--The 1845 Expedition--The
_Erebus_ and _Terror_--The "Good-bye" at Greenland--Wellington
Channel--They select Winter Quarters--Discovery of the
North-West Passage--Death of Franklin--Prisoned in the Ice--The
Crew Abandon the Ships--Defeat and Death


CHAPTER III

THE SEARCH FOR FRANKLIN

Captain Parker's Report--Government offers a Reward--Dr. Rae's
Expedition--Captain McClure's Voyage in the _Investigator_--Hardships
and Perils--The Meeting with the _Herald_--Lady Franklin still
Hopeful--Sir F. L. McClintock's Expedition in the _Fox_ with Lieutenant
Hobson--Their Sad and Fatal Discoveries--Lieutenant Schwatka recovers
the Body of Lieutenant Irving


CHAPTER IV

THE VOYAGE OF THE _POLARIS_

Death of Captain Hall--Crew determine to Return--Are Frozen in--A
Party take to the Ice and are Cast Away--They build themselves
Snow Huts--They find some Seals--An Adventure with Bears--The
Perils of the Spring--They sight the _Tigress_ and are
Saved--The Ship-party's Story and Rescue


CHAPTER V

THE _ALERT_ AND _DISCOVERY_

Sir George Nares appointed to the _Alert_ and _Discovery_--Overtaking
a Season--Red Snow--The Greenland Mosquito--Peculiarities
of Eskimo Dogs--And Dog Whips--Dangers of Kayaks--Advantages
of Steam for Polar Regions--An Unpleasant Experience--A Huge
Walrus--Arctic Scenery--A Big "Bag"--The Ships part
Company--The _Alert_ reaches the Polar Sea--Winter Quarters--The
North Pole attempted--Adventures and Sufferings of the
Party--Lieutenant Parr's Heroism--Deliverance--The Greenland
Attempt--Scurvy and Snow--Repulse Bay--In Pitiable
Plight--Lieutenant Rawson to the Rescue


CHAPTER VI

THE GREELY EXPEDITION

The Scheme of the Expedition--Fort Conger--Arctic Wolves--Atmospheric
Marvels--A Terrific Storm--Influence of the Sun--Lieutenant
Lockwood's Expedition--The Second Winter--Preparations
for Departure--They leave Fort Conger--A Remarkable Ice
Passage--They fail to make Cape Sabine--A New Camp--Rations running
Short--Fruitless Efforts to reach Food Depôts--Starvation and
Death--A Bitter Blow--The Arrival of the _Thetis_


CHAPTER VII

PEARY IN GREENLAND

The Greenland Question--Departure of the _Kite_--Peary breaks his
Leg--A Camp made--Habits of the Eskimo--A Brush with
Walrus--"Caching" Food--An Arctic Christmas Feast--Peary starts
for the Great Ice-Cap--A Snow Sahara--The Ice-Cap Crossed--A
Marvellous Discovery--Sails on Sledges--A Safe Return


CHAPTER VIII

NANSEN AND THE _FRAM_

Nansen's Theories of Arctic Currents and Shipbuilding--His Theories
adopted--The _Fram_ Built--A Start made--The Kara Sea
reached--Good Hunting--The Ice Current reached--Frozen
in--A Raid by a Bear--Will the _Fram_ stand the Pressure?--Preparing
for Calamity--A Conclusive Test--Causes of Ice
Movements--Life on the _Fram_--Nansen and Johansen leave
the _Fram_--They reach their "Farthest North"--Incidents of
their Return Journey--Some Narrow Escapes--The Meeting
with Jackson--Arrival of the _Fram_


CHAPTER IX

FRANZ JOSEF LAND AND SPITZBERGEN

The Jackson-Harmsworth Expedition--Object of the Expedition--An
Interesting Experiment--The Franz Josef Land Question settled--A Group
of Islands, not a Continent--Conway at Spitzbergen--Ancient
History--Bygone Splendours--Scenery in the Making--The Romance of
Andrée--Another Riddle


CHAPTER X

THE POLAR METEORITES

Eskimo Iron--A Mystery of 1818--Search and Failure--Peary and
his Huskies--The Secret revealed--An Eskimo Legend--At
the Iron Mountain--Removing the Trophies--A Massive Giant--Attack
and Defence--The Giant Objects--A Narrow Escape--Conquered


CHAPTER XI

THE SECOND VOYAGE OF THE _FRAM_

Norwegian Enterprise--Mapping the Islands--Nearly Frozen--A Novel
Warming-Pan--Eskimo Melody--Arctic Bull Fights--Death of the
Doctor--Fire on the _Fram_--New Lands--Prehistoric People


CHAPTER XII

ITALY CLAIMS THE RECORD

Norwegian Aid--A Northerly Station--Premature Enthusiasm--Cold
Comfort--An Arctic Greeting--A Hasty Landing--Disorganised
Plans--Homeless Dogs--Making Fresh Plans--The Leader
Frost-bitten--The Start for the Pole--Driven Back by Cold--A
Second Start--First Detachment Lost--Anxiety for the Second--A
Struggle for Life--Third Detachment Overdue--Fears of
Disaster--Safe at Last--Italy sets the Record


CHAPTER XIII

THE ANTARCTIC REGION

The Mystery of the South Pole--Ignored by Early Navigators--An
Accidental Dutch Discovery--Captain Cook Sets Sail--Discouraged
by the Ice--Turns back in Despair--A Second Accidental
Discovery--Weddell breaks the Barrier--Antarctic Land
revealed--British resume the Search


CHAPTER XIV

VOYAGES OF THE _EREBUS_ AND _TERROR_

A Fortunate Choice--Characteristic Southern Bergs--First Sight of
the Continent--More British Territory--A Mighty Volcanic
Display--Nearing the Magnetic Pole--The Antarctic Barrier--A
Myth dispelled--A Second Attempt--Held by the Ice--Third
and Last Voyage--A Double Discovery


CHAPTER XV

THE _SOUTHERN CROSS_ EXPEDITION

British continue the Work--Carrier Pigeons in the Ice--Withstanding
a Nip--A Sea-quake--Cape Adare Station--A Cosy Camp--Edible
Fish--Death visits the Camp--Penguin Peculiarities--A Derelict
Blue-bottle--The Welcome Postman--A Thrilling Episode


CHAPTER XVI

THE REVIVAL OF ANTARCTIC INTEREST

Modern Means and Methods--Private Enterprise leads--The
_Valdavia_--The _Belgica_ Expedition--International Action
adopted--The German Expedition--An Ice-bound Land--Fresh
Trade-Winds


CHAPTER XVII

THE SWEDISH EXPEDITION

Sails in the _Antarctica_--Argentine Co-operation--First Antarctic
Fossil--Building the Winter Station--A Breezy Corner--Electric
Snow--A Spare Diet--New Year Festivities--The Missing
Ship--Relief that never Came--A Devastating Nip--Castaway--The
Unexpected Happens--A Dramatic Meeting--Rescued


CHAPTER XVIII

BRITAIN HOLDS HER OWN

A Capable Crew--A Modern Franklin--Early Discoveries--Frozen
in--An Historic Journey--The Record of "Farthest South"--How
the Record was Won--Speedy Travelling--Receding Ice
Limits--A Dying Glacier--The Secret of the Barrier--A Fatal
Gale--Lost in the Snow--An Antarctic Chute--Prolonged
Slumber--Antarctic Coal--Home with Honour


* * *



CHAPTER I

THE ARCTIC REGION

     The Mystery of the North Pole--The First Explorer--"The Great Dark
     Wall at the End of the World"--"Frost-Smoke"--The Lights and Sounds
     of the North--The Aurora Borealis--Mock Moons--The Early
     Adventurers: Willoughby, Frobisher, Davis, Hudson, Baffin, Ross,
     and Parry--The North-West Passage.


In all the range of romantic adventure to be found in the history of
man, there is, perhaps, none which appeals so strongly to the
imagination as the search for the Poles. In all the tales of daring
courage and patient, persistent bravery, two qualities which stand
foremost in the admiration of every English-speaking boy, the tales of
the fearless explorers who have faced the terrors and the mystery of the
frozen regions are without a rival.

Just as it was the record of his struggles to penetrate into the unknown
region of the ice-bound North-West Passage which made the name of Sir
John Franklin famous fifty years ago, so is it to-day that the names of
Nansen, Peary, and Andrée are household words by reason of the hardihood
and indomitable courage shown in their efforts to reach the great
unknown Pole. Who is there who has not lingered over the adventures of
the _Fram_, that sturdy Norseman's vessel, which combined in herself all
the best qualities of previous Arctic ships, and comported herself,
whether in the ice or out of it, with a dignity that told of her proud
descent and prouder destiny? Who has not marvelled at the sublime
audacity of the gallant little band of three who challenged undying fame
by seeking the Pole in a balloon, abandoning all the old-fashioned
notions about ice-ships and dog-sledges, and trusting themselves and
their enterprise to the four winds of heaven and the latest scientific
scheme? Who has not been thrilled with the daring shown by Nansen and
his trusty lieutenant when, leaving ship and comrades, with their lives
literally in their hands, they made their historic dash and emerged with
what was then the record of "Farthest North," and which has since been
beaten by only twenty miles?

Full of pluck and daring are all the records of Polar exploration, and,
in addition to that attraction, there is something else about the
subject which fascinates and holds the imagination. There is a mystery
about the cold, white, silent region; the mystery of, as yet, an
unsolved problem; the mystery of being one of the few spots on the
world's surface where the foot of adventurous man has never trodden.
Everywhere else man has gone; everywhere else men of our own race have
subdued Nature and wrested her close-kept secrets from her; everywhere
else save the Poles, and there not even the grandeur of modern inventive
genius has enabled man to become the master. We may be nearer now than
ever before; we may have made many places familiar which, less than
fifty years ago, were unknown; and we may, in recent years, have
disproved the theories of many an ancient explorer; but the Poles still
elude us as they eluded those who were searchers a thousand years ago.

It is no modern idea, this search for the North Pole. King Alfred the
Great is credited with having sent expeditions towards it, and long
before his day men had sailed as far as they could to the North, far
enough for them to return with marvellous tales of wonder and mystery.
The earliest of whom there is any record is an ancient Greek mariner,
Pytheas, who sailed North until he came to an island which he named the
Land of Thule. This may have been the Shetlands; it may have been
Iceland; but whatever it was, this ancient mariner was by no means
pleased with it, in spite of the fact that the sun never set all the
time he was there. This prolonged daylight caused him considerable
uneasiness, and he hastened away from it farther to the North, and the
farther he went the more curious he found the region to be. The sun,
which at first refused to set, now refused to rise, and he found himself
in perpetual darkness instead of perpetual day. More than that, he tells
how he came to a great dark wall rising up out of the sea, beyond which
he could discern nothing, while at the same time something seized and
held his ship motionless on the water, so that the winds could not move
it and the anchor would not sink. He was quite convinced in his own mind
where he had come; the wall in front of him was the parapet which ran
round the edge of the world to prevent people from falling over, and,
like a wise man, he hastened home and told his friends that he had
penetrated to the limits of the earth.

What the Arctic regions were then, they are to-day; but we, with a
greater knowledge, are able to understand what was incomprehensible to
the ancient Greek navigator. At the North Pole itself it is known the
sun rises and sets only once in twelve months. From March 21 to
September 23 daylight continues; from September 23 to March 21 the sun
is never visible. The heat at midsummer is probably never above freezing
point; at midwinter the cold is so intense that one's eyes would freeze
in their sockets if exposed to it.

At the limit of the ice two phenomena are met with which explain the
fanciful legend of Pytheas. As summer gives place to the cold of autumn,
and as winter gives way to the mild temperature of spring, there comes
down upon the water a dense mass of fog, to which the name "frost-smoke"
is given. It would appear, as it rolled along the surface of the ocean,
a veritable wall to one accustomed to the clear atmosphere of the
Mediterranean, and a thin sheet of ice might give the meaning to the
"something" which held the ship stationary. Modern explorers have known
the sea to freeze an inch thick in a single night, and ice an inch thick
would probably be enough to check the progress of such a vessel as
Pytheas would command.

Later navigators, curious to learn whether his story were true or not,
followed his course. Some of them went on until they were caught in the
rigours of the Arctic winter and perished in the crashing ice-floes.
Occasionally some came home again, after having reached far enough to
see the great icebergs, floating with all their stately majesty in the
blue waters and towering as high as mountains, their summits a mass of
glittering pinnacles and their sides scored and grooved with cavities
and caverns. Some of them saw the animals which live in that cold,
barren region; the great white bear, with its coat of thick shaggy fur,
its long ungainly figure and heavy swaying neck; the walrus, with its
gleaming tusks hanging down from its upper jaws; the seals, with their
great round eyes staring at the unknown intruders; above all, the huge
whales, spouting and floundering in the sea, coming to the surface with
a snort which sent the spray flying high in the air, and disappearing
again with a splash that was like a crashing billow. Little wonder that
those who returned from seeing such sights and hearing such strange
sounds should tell wonderful stories about the weird creatures
inhabiting the place.

The sounds must have been as terrifying and mystifying as the sights,
for in the clear, intense atmosphere of the winter months, noise travels
over almost incredible distances. When Parry was on Melville's Island,
he records having heard the voices of men who were talking not less than
a mile away. In the depth of winter, when the great cold has its icy
grip on everything, the silence is unbroken along the shores of the
Polar Sea; but when the frost sets in, and again when the winter gives
way to spring, there is abundance of noise. As the frost comes down
along the coast, rocks are split asunder with a noise of big guns, and
the sound goes booming away across the frozen tracts, startling the
slouching bear in his lonely haunts, and causing him to give vent to his
hoarse, barking roar in answer. The ice, just forming into sheets,
creaks and cracks as the rising or falling tide strains it along the
shore; fragments, falling loose upon it, skid across the surface with
the ringing sound which travels so far. In the spring the melting
ice-floes groan as they break asunder; with a mighty crash the
unbalanced bergs fall over, churning the water into foam with their
plunge, and bears and foxes and all the other Arctic animals call and
bark to one another as they awaken from their winter sleep. Just as
these incidents occur to-day, so did they occur a thousand years ago;
and if to modern ears they sound weird and awe-inspiring, what must they
have been to the men who succeeded Pytheas?

Nor does this exhaust the marvel of this bleak and fascinating region.
In the long winter nights the aurora borealis glares and blazes in the
sky, "roaring and flashing about a ship enough to frighten a fellow," as
an old quartermaster, who was with Sir F. L. McClintock in his search
for Sir John Franklin, used to tell the midshipmen. In the prolonged
sunset and sunrise the sky is ablaze with colour, and, when the sun has
gone, the rarefied atmosphere produces many curious astronomical
figures. As explorers penetrated farther into the great ice-bound region
they encountered fresh peculiarities. The moon, which shone continuously
during the three weeks of its course, frequently appeared surrounded by
belts and bands of light, in which mock moons were visible. Long after
the sun had disappeared a mock sun would shine in the sky, and in the
twilight, when shadows were no longer cast, men and dogs were liable to
walk over cliffs and fall down crevices in the ice through being unable
to distinguish them. Penetrating farther into the ice world, they
learned that throughout the winter the ice heaved and crashed upon
itself, making an incessant uproar as it groaned and creaked. The
experience of Nansen and the _Fram_ emphasised this, but in the earlier
days of Polar research silence was presumed to reign in the vicinity of
the Arctic basin.

In those early days the expeditions usually kept close to the northern
coasts of either Europe, Asia, or America. Sir Hugh Willoughby, who
sailed from England in 1553, confined himself to seeking the north-east
passage from Behring Sea to Greenland along the north coast of Canada.
In 1576 Frobisher explored part of the region, the work being continued
by Davis, who in 1585-8 discovered and explored the strait which still
bears his name, to the west of Greenland. In 1610 Hudson, an intrepid
trader and explorer, sailed into Hudson's Bay, and five years later
Baffin sailed into and through Baffin's Bay. The result of these two
discoveries was to open up a very valuable fur trade, and for the next
two hundred years, fur traders and whalers were practically the only men
who went into the frozen North. In 1818 the British Navy again entered
the field for the purpose of mapping out the northern coasts of America.
Captains Ross and Parry were sent out in two vessels, with the result
that knowledge of the locality was extended by the discovery of
Lancaster Sound, Prince Regent Inlet, Barrow Strait, and Melville
Island. The location of these islands and straits aroused still keener
curiosity as to whether there was or was not a passage for ships leading
from the Pacific to the Atlantic Oceans along the north coast of
America. The search for the North-West Passage was the dream of every
Arctic explorer at this period. It fell to the lot of one man to prove
the existence of the passage, at a price, however, of his own life, and
the lives of all his companions, as well as the loss of his two ships.
This was Sir John Franklin, whose Polar exploits form the subject of the
succeeding chapter.




CHAPTER II

SIR JOHN FRANKLIN

     Young Franklin--His Dreams of Adventure--He becomes a Sailor--His
     First Arctic Expedition--Fails to get through Behring
     Straits--Explores Baffin's Bay--The 1845 Expedition--The _Erebus_
     and _Terror_--The "Good-Bye" at Greenland--Wellington Channel--They
     select Winter Quarters--Discovery of the North-West Passage--Death
     of Franklin--Prisoned in the Ice--The Crew Abandon the
     Ships--Defeat and Death.


Sir John Franklin was born at Spilsby, in Lincolnshire, on April 16,
1786, and was one of a family of ten. It is said that his father
originally intended him for the clergy, but the boy had too restless and
roving a nature to look with contentment upon a quiet, uneventful life.
Nelson was the idol of his heart, and although a hundred years ago boys
were not quite so well provided with books and stories of their heroes
as they are to-day, young Franklin managed to acquire enough knowledge
of the doings of Nelson, and the other great British Admirals, to make
his heart thrill with enthusiasm for them, and for the element upon
which their greatness had been achieved.

His home was not so many miles away from the coast but that he had a
personal acquaintance, from early boyhood, with the scent of salt water
and the sight of the open sea. That, combined with what he learned of
Nelson, and the romantic yarns spun to him by any old sailor he chanced
upon, exerted over him the spell which, in all ages, has so powerfully
influenced British boys. The long stretch of moving water, which rolled
between him and the skyline, was the home of all that was wonderful and
glorious; the ships which sailed over it were, to his enthusiastic mind,
palaces of delight, journeying into realms of mystery, adventure, and
beauty. Over that sea lay the lands where the coco-palms grew, where
Indians hunted and fought, and where mighty beasts of strange and
fantastic shapes roamed through the palm groves. Over that sea, also,
lay the realms of ice and snow, of which more marvellous tales were told
than of the golden islands of the Southern Seas. And to sail over that
sea a great yearning came upon him. The life on shore, in peaceful,
steady-going Lincolnshire, was too dreary and hopeless for him; nowhere
could he be happy save on that boundless ocean, with room to breathe,
and surrounded by all the glamour of romance.

Fortunately for the glory of British naval history, the elder Franklin
did not shut his eyes to the attractions the sea had for his son, but,
as a wise parent, he regarded the wish to follow the sea as merely a
boyish whim. It would be better to let the boy have a taste of the
realities of the life at once, and so cure the fancy which threatened to
interfere with the paternal desires as regards the clergy. Every one
knew how attractive a sailor's life looked from the shore, and most
people knew how much more attractive life on shore looked from the sea.
If John wanted to see what a sailor's life was like, he should have his
opportunity, and the father, in arranging for his son to sail in a
trading vessel to Lisbon and back, probably felt satisfied that the
rough fare and hard work he would experience would effectually cure him
of any desire for more. But the future Arctic hero was made of sterner
stuff than to be turned away from his ambition by such trivial
circumstances. He returned from the Lisbon trip more enthusiastic than
ever for a sailor's life. His father gave way before so much
determination, and young Franklin shortly afterwards entered the Navy.
His first ship was H.M.S. _Polyphemus_, and he was present on board at
the battle of Copenhagen, under the supreme command of his idol Nelson.

His first Arctic experience did not come until 1818, when he had reached
the rank of lieutenant and was second in command of an expedition sent
out to find a way through Behring's Straits. Two vessels formed the
expedition--the _Dorothea_, 370 tons, under Captain Buchan, and the
_Trent_, 250 tons, under Lieutenant Franklin, the latter carrying a crew
of ten officers and twenty-eight men. Their instructions were to sail
due North, from a point between Greenland and Spitzbergen, making their
way, if possible, through Behring's Straits. The ships, which would
to-day only rank as small coasting craft, were soon imprisoned in the
ice and so severely crushed that as soon as the winter passed and escape
was possible, they were turned towards home. The practical results of
the expedition were valueless, and only one circumstance in connection
with it saved it from being a failure. This was the introduction of
Franklin to that sphere of work which, during the remainder of his life,
he was fated so brilliantly to adorn.

The following year, 1819, saw him again facing the North, this time in
company with Captain Parry, and with a well-arranged plan of operations.
Parry was to remain in the ships and explore at sea, while Franklin was
to push along the shores of Baffin's Bay, making as complete a survey as
possible. For three years the work was continued, until, by 1822, the
party had travelled over 5550 miles of previously unexplored country
along the North American coast. Returning to England, Franklin enjoyed a
well-earned rest, until, in 1825, he was placed in charge of an
expedition to complete the surveys of the coast along which the
North-West Passage was supposed to run. With the experience of his
former expedition, he was able to work more rapidly on this occasion,
and by 1827 he was back again in England with his task completed. Not
alone had all the surveys been carried out, but he had demonstrated his
qualities as a leader of Polar expeditions by returning with the loss of
only two men.

[Illustration: W. E. PARRY'S ATTEMPT TO REACH THE POLE, 1827.]

In spite of this, however, nearly twenty years were to elapse before he
was again entrusted with a command in the Arctic regions. He was sent,
meanwhile, to be governor of the colony of Tasmania, or, as it was then
called, Van Diemen's Land, a large island to the south of Australia.
Here in the metropolis, Hobart, a statue of Franklin stands in Franklin
Square, and it is curious to think that the man whose work in the
Northern Hemisphere is an immortal monument of his name in the region of
the North Pole should have his memory perpetuated by a statue nearer the
South Pole than any in the Southern Hemisphere. Verily, a world-wide
reputation.

In 1845 the expedition started which, more than anything else, tended to
make Franklin the popular hero he has become. The _Erebus_ and _Terror_,
which formed the fleet, had already proved their capacity for
withstanding the strain and pressure of the ice-floes. They each carried
a crew numbering sixty-seven officers and men, and while Franklin took
charge of the _Erebus_ with Captain Fitz-James, the _Terror_ was
commanded by Captain Crozier. The ships were provisioned for three
years, and the task set them was to discover and sail through the
passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans. The intention of the
Government was to ascertain whether or not this passage existed, and
Franklin was instructed to go by Lancaster Sound to Cape Walker (lat.
74° N.; long. 98° W.) and thence south and west to push through
Behring's Straits to the other ocean.

Franklin was full of enthusiasm as to the outcome of the expedition.
That it would prove the existence of the passage he had no doubt, and
subsequent events justified him. But he had bigger notions than merely
proving the passage. "I believe it is possible to reach the Pole over
the ice by wintering at Spitzbergen and going in the spring before the
ice breaks up," he said before starting, and no one would have been
surprised had he returned in the three years with a record of the
journey. Public interest was thoroughly aroused in the enterprise, and
when the two vessels set sail from Greenhithe on May 19, 1845, they had
a brilliant send-off. On June 1 they arrived at Stromness in the Orkney
Islands, and on July 4 at Whale Fish Island, off the coast of Greenland,
where the despatch-boat _Barreto Junior_ parted company with them to
bring home Franklin's despatches to the Admiralty, reporting "All Well."
Later on came the news that Captain Dannett, of the whaler _Prince of
Wales_, had spoken to them in Melville Bay.

Then the months passed and grew into years, and still no sign or token
was received from them. Public opinion, stimulated by the interest taken
in the departure of the expedition, began to grow anxious at the
prolonged silence; but the last despatches had been received and the
last tidings direct from the ships had come to hand. Over their
subsequent actions and adventures the heavy veil of the Frozen North
hung until intrepid searchers raised it and learned the sad but gallant
story of how the North-West Passage was discovered and the route to the
Pole marked clearer.

When the _Erebus_ and _Terror_ parted company with the despatch-boat on
July 4, they shaped their course through Baffin's Bay towards Lancaster
Sound. Continuing their way, they passed Cape Warrender and ultimately
reached Beechy Island at the entrance of the then unexplored waters of
Wellington Channel. They passed through the channel, taking such
observations as were necessary as they went, until they had sailed 150
miles. Further progress being stopped by the ice, they passed into
another unexplored channel between Cornwallis Island and Bathurst Island
which led them into Barrow's Straits, nearly 100 miles west of the
entrance to Wellington Channel.

The ice was now forming thickly around them, and attention was directed
to discovering a comfortable haven where they could come to rest and
remain while the ice closed in around them during the long winter
months. A suitable harbour was found on the northeasterly side of Beechy
Island and the ships were made snug. All the spars that could be sent
down were lowered on to the decks, and the rigging and sails stowed away
below before the ice surrounded them, so that when the floes began to
pack and lifted the hulls of the vessels, there should be no
"top-hamper" to list them over. On the frozen shore huts were built for
the accommodation of shore parties, and, as the ice spread around and
the snow fell, the men found exercise and amusement in heaping it up
against the sides of the vessels as an extra protection against the
cold, the thick mass of frozen snow preventing the escape of the warmth
from the inside of the ships. But where there were fires always going to
maintain the temperature of the cabins, the danger of an outbreak of
fire had to be zealously guarded against. With all the ship's pumps
rendered useless by the frost, and the water frozen solid all around, a
conflagration on board a vessel in the Arctic seas is one of the
grimmest of terrors. The safeguard is the maintenance, in the ice near
the vessel's side, of a "fire hole," that is, a small space kept open by
constant attention down to the level of unfrozen water.

During the long winter months there was plenty of time to estimate the
progress they had made, and there must have been considerable
satisfaction on all sides at what they had accomplished. They had
circumnavigated Cornwallis Island and had reached to within 250 miles of
the western end of the passage.

The first Christmas festival of the voyage was kept up with high revel.
If fresh beef was not available, venison was, and there was plenty of
material for the manufacture of the time-honoured "duff." The officers
and men, clad in their thick, heavy fur garments, clustered together as
the simple religious service was read, and over the silent white
covering of sea and land the sound of their voices rolled as they sang
the hymns and carols which were being sung in their native land. Then
came the merrymaking and the feasting in cabins decked with bunting, for
no green stuff was available for decorating.

The first New Year's Day was saddened by the death of one of their
comrades, and the silent ice-fields witnessed another impressive sight
when the crews of both vessels slowly marched ashore to the grave dug in
the frozen soil of Beechy Island. The body, wrapped in a Union Jack, was
borne by the deceased man's messmates, the members of his watch headed
by their officers following, and after them the remainder of the
officers and crew. The bells of each ship tolled as the _cortège_ passed
over the ice, the crunching of the crisp snow under foot being the only
other sound till the grave was reached. There the solemn and impressive
service of a sailor's funeral was said, the mingled voices as they
repeated the responses passing as a great hum through the still, cold
air. A momentary silence followed as the flag-swathed figure was lowered
into the grave, and then a quick rattle of firearms as the last salute
was paid echoed far and wide among the icebergs.

Twice more was that scene repeated before the ships cleared from the
ice, and one of the first signs discovered by the searchers after
Franklin were the three headstones raised on that lonely isle to the
memory of W. Braine, John Hartwell, and John Torrington, who died while
the ships were wintering in the cold season of 1845-6.

By July the ice had broken up and the voyage was resumed and passed
without any exceptional incident, up to the middle of September 1846,
when they were again caught by the ice, but 150 miles nearer their
destination than the year before. Only 100 miles more to be sailed over
and they would be the conquerors--but that 100 miles was too firmly
blocked with ice-floes for them ever to sail over.

The winter of 1846-7 was passed just off the most extreme northerly
point of King William's Land. The ice was particularly heavy, and hemmed
the vessels in completely, the surface being too rugged and uneven to
permit of travelling in the immediate vicinity even of hunting parties.
This was the more unfortunate because the provisions were growing scant,
and supplies brought in by hunters would have been of great assistance.
At the time of starting, the vessels had only been provisioned for three
years. Two had now passed, so that only a twelvemonth's stock of food
remained in the holds. It might occupy them all the next summer in
working through the remaining 100 miles of the passage, and that would
leave them with another winter to face, unless they were sufficiently
fortunate in finding open water when they reached the end. But, on the
other hand, they might not be able to get through in the time, or the
passage might not be navigable. Either possibility was full of very
grave anxiety for those in command, for it was a terrible prospect of
being left, with 130 men to feed, in the midst of the frozen sea, "a
hundred miles from everywhere."

The anxiety felt was shown by the despatch, as early as May, or two
months before the first flush of summer was due, of a specially selected
party of quick travellers to push forward over the ice and spy out the
prospects ahead. Lieutenant Graham Gore, of the _Erebus_, commanded the
party, which consisted of Charles des Voeux, ship's mate, and six
seamen. They carried only enough stores to last them on their journey,
and each one had to contribute his share to the labour of hauling the
hand-sledges over the jagged ridges of broken ice. Skirting along the
coast of King William's Land, they arrived at a point from the top of
which they were able to discern the mainland coast trending away to the
horizon, with a sea of ice in front. It was the long-dreamed-of end of
the North-West Passage.

To commemorate the fact the little party built a cairn upon the summit
of the point, which they named Point Victory, and enclosed in a tin
canister they deposited, under the cairn, a record of their trip and its
result. Twelve years later this record was found, and by it the honour
due to Franklin for the discovery of the passage was confirmed. But the
manner of its finding must be told later on.

Elated with the success of their efforts, Lieutenant Gore and his
companions retraced their way back to the ships, for with the end of
their journey so near at hand, all fears of the provisions running short
were at an end. As soon as the ice broke up they would be away into the
sea they had seen from Point Victory, and sailing home with their
mission accomplished, their task completed, and nothing but honour and
glory waiting them at home. As soon as they came within sight of the two
ships, perched up among the ice ridges, they shouted out to their
comrades to let them know of the success achieved. Round about the ships
they saw men standing in groups, but instead of answering cheers, the
men only looked in their direction. Unable to understand why so much
indifference was displayed, Lieutenant Gore and his companions hurried
forward, and, as they came nearer, some of the men separated themselves
from the groups and came to meet them with slow steps.

Soon the cause of their depression was made known to the returned
explorers. The leader of the expedition lay dying in his cabin on board
the _Erebus_.

Lieutenant Gore, his enthusiasm at his success sadly damped, went on
board the flagship at once, hoping that the news of victory might still
be given to Sir John before he died. He was led into the cabin and
briefly told the story of his journey, and how, from Point Victory, he
had looked out over to the coast of the mainland. The news, the last
which Sir John Franklin was to hear on earth, was perhaps the sweetest
he had ever known, for it meant that he had triumphed and had won a
lasting name and memory for his services to Sovereign and State. On June
11, 1847, his life ended at the moment of his brightest achievement.

Captain Crozier, of the _Terror_, assumed command of the expedition,
and as summer was at hand, everything was made ready against the time
when the ice would break up. Ice-saws were fixed ready to cut passages
through the floes when they began to separate, and ice-anchors were run
out so that the vessels could be warped along whenever an opening
occurred. Daily the crews mustered on board and looked over the ice for
some sign of the breaking of their imprisonment, for some loosening of
the iron grip of the ice round their vessel's sides, but all in vain.
The two ships were wedged in a vast mass of ice, through which it was
impossible to cut their way. Instead of breaking up in lesser fields and
floes of ice, the mass remained packed, creaking, crashing, and
straining by night and day as it slowly made its way nearer the coast of
the mainland, carrying the ships with it until they were within 15 miles
of Point Victory, and 60 miles of the mainland coast.

Soon the short summer months had passed and the dark period of winter
was upon them again, with the provisions daily growing scarcer, and the
hope of getting their ships out of the ice fainter. Another evil came
upon them when among the members of the crew scurvy, the dreaded enemy
of the early Polar explorers, broke out. By the following April twenty
of their number had succumbed to it, nine being officers, one of whom
was Lieutenant Gore.

On April 22, 1848, the remaining 105 officers and men gathered on the
ice around the two ships. They had with them sledges laden with what
provisions were left, and two whale-boats. Slowly and sorrowfully they
bade farewell to the vessels which had been their homes for nearly three
years, and set out to march over the ice to the mainland. Their plan was
to push on until they reached the Great Fish River, where they might
obtain succour either from travelling bands of Indians or at some
outlying station of the Hudson Bay Company. Travelling at the rate of
five miles a day, so rough and difficult was the route, they arrived on
April 25 at the cairn where Lieutenant Gore had left the record of his
journey over a year before. The canister in which it was enclosed was
opened, and round the margin was written this brief, pathetic story:--

"April 25, 1848. H.M.S. _Terror_ and _Erebus_ were deserted on April 22,
five leagues N.N.W. of this point, having been beset since September 12,
1846. The officers and men, consisting of 105 souls, under the command
of Captain F. R. M. Crozier, landed here in lat. 69° 37' 42" N., long.
98° 41' W. The paper was found by Lieutenant Irving in a cairn supposed
to have been built by Sir James Ross in 1831, four miles to the north,
where it had been deposited by the late Commander Gore in June 1847. Sir
James Ross's pillar has not, however, been found, and the paper has been
transferred to this position, which, it is thought, is where Sir James
Ross's pillar was erected. Sir John Franklin died on June 11, 1847, and
the total loss of life by death in the expedition has been to this date
nine officers and fifteen men. Start to-morrow, April 26, for Back's
Fish River."

The record, left as a sign, should it ever be found, of the direction
they had taken, the party resumed their dreary march over the frozen
shores of King William's Land. The men formed themselves into teams for
the purpose of dragging the sledges and whale-boats, and the officers
marched beside them, helping them and encouraging them. Even the snail's
pace of five miles a day became too severe a strain for many of the men,
weakened as they were by attacks of scurvy and reduced rations. Soon it
became evident that if a place were to be reached where help and food
could be obtained before the provisions were absolutely exhausted, it
would be necessary for the stronger to push forward at a more rapid
rate.

A council was held, and it was decided that the strongest should take
enough supplies to last them for a time and push forward as rapidly as
possible, while the remainder should follow at a slower rate and by
shorter stages. The majority were in the latter division, and only a few
days elapsed after the smaller band, numbering about thirty, had left,
before the ravages of scurvy and semi-starvation made it impossible for
even less than five miles a day to be covered. So debilitated were all
the members that further advance was abandoned until they had, by
another long rest, tried to recuperate their energies. But the terrible
bleakness of the place where they were wrought havoc among them, and
every day men fell down never to rise again, until the only hope for the
survivors lay in returning to the ships, where, at least, they would
have shelter. Wearily they staggered over the rugged ice ridges, each
man expending his remaining energies in striving to carry the
provisions, without which only death awaited them. Men fell as they
walked, unnoticed by their companions, whose only aim was to get back to
the ships, and whose faculties were too dimmed to understand anything
else. Blindly, but doggedly, they stumbled onward, silent in their
agony, brave to the last when worn-out nature gave way and they sank
down, one after the other, till none was left alive, and only the still
figures, lying face downwards on the frozen snow, bore mute witness of
how they had neither faltered nor wavered in their duty, but had died,
as Britons always should die, true to the end.

Their comrades who had left them to push forward for help were equally
stolid in their struggle against overwhelming odds. As they were
crossing the ice between King William's Land and the mainland, a great
cracking of the floes startled them with the fear that the ice was
breaking up. Hastily placing their stores in the whale-boat, which they
had been dragging in addition to the hand-sledges, they abandoned
everything else, fearful lest the sudden opening of the floes might cut
them off from a further advance. Harnessing themselves to ropes, they
toiled and struggled onward with the boat. They reached the mainland,
but at a terrible sacrifice, for in their haste they had left much of
their scanty supplies behind. Their food ran out and hope was almost
dead, when they espied a small camp of Eskimo.

Fresh life came to them as they learned that they were nearly up to the
Great Fish River, and they bartered away some spoons and forks, Sir John
Franklin's star, part of a watch and some other metal articles to the
Eskimo for a recently killed seal. Had they waited longer with the
natives, they might have obtained more food and have recovered somewhat
from their fatigue, but in the mind of each was the memory of their
stricken comrades toiling on behind, and hoping from day to day for the
arrival of relief. Personal feelings were forgotten before that memory,
and the gallant little party resumed its way, fighting with all the
dauntless bravery of heroes to win help for their weaker
friends--fighting till their limbs refused to move, till their starving
bodies were numbed and frozen. Then, falling in their own footsteps,
they passed away, one by one, silent and uncomplaining, to the list of
Britain's honoured dead.




CHAPTER III

THE SEARCH FOR FRANKLIN

     Captain Parker's Report--Government offers a Reward--Dr. Rae's
     Expedition--Captain McClure's Voyage in the
     _Investigator_--Hardships and Perils--The Meeting with the
     _Herald_--Lady Franklin still Hopeful--Sir F. L. McClintock's
     Expedition in the _Fox_ with Lieutenant Hobson--Their Sad and Fatal
     Discoveries--Lieutenant Schwatka recovers the Body of Lieutenant
     Irving.


The enthusiasm which was aroused over the departure of Sir John
Franklin's expedition gave place to a deep national anxiety as the years
passed without any word being received of its whereabouts. On October 4,
1849, the _Truelove_ arrived at Hull from Davis Straits, and her
commander, Captain Parker, reported that he had heard from some Eskimo
that the _Erebus_ and the _Terror_ had been seen in the previous March
fixed in the ice, and apparently abandoned in Prince Regent's Inlet. No
confirmation was ever obtained for this report, but it served to excite
public anxiety still more, and expeditions began to be organised for the
relief of the missing explorers. In all, twenty-one expeditions were
sent, of which eighteen were British and three American, to search the
neighbourhood where it was anticipated Sir John and his gallant band
would be. Coals, provisions, clothing, and other necessaries were
deposited at different spots in the hopes that they would be found by,
and be of use to, the castaways. But, as has already been stated, none
were able to give succour to the men for whose use they were intended.

A great deal of valuable and highly interesting work, however, was done,
and in addition to at length discovering enough relics of the party to
show that all the members had perished while carrying out their duty, an
amount of knowledge was acquired which made the North-West Passage
familiar, located the Magnetic Pole, and opened the way for more recent
and equally brilliant journeys towards the Pole itself. The general
public, as well as the Government, were responsible for search
expeditions; but to stimulate the enterprise, the British Government
offered a sum of £20,000 to any party of any country that should render
efficient service to the crews of the missing _Erebus_ and _Terror_.
Half that reward was paid to Dr. Rae, who discovered the relics of the
party, now at the Greenwich Museum, consisting of Sir John Franklin's
star, some spoons and forks, the remains of a watch, and some other
metallic odds and ends.

The story of this discovery was briefly told by Dr. Rae in a letter to
the Admiralty. He was, in 1854, surveying the coast of the mainland
immediately south of King William's Land, when he encountered a small
party of Eskimo hunters. He asked them whether they had ever met other
white men, and they told him that four summers before (1850) a number of
white men had been encountered by some Eskimo who were catching seals
off the south coast of King William's Land. The white men came from over
the ice, and were dragging a boat behind them. By signs they made the
hunters understand that they were hungry, and a seal was exchanged for
the articles Dr. Rae was shown. Then the white men went on walking over
the ice, dragging the boat behind them, one walking in front alone, and
all the rest pulling the ropes attached to the boat. A few weeks later
they were seen again, this time on the mainland, but all were dead. The
place where they were found was about one day's journey from the Great
Fish River, and all had evidently died of cold and starvation. They had
erected tents and had turned the boat over for a shelter, and some of
the men lay under the boat, while others were in and around the tents.
One man was some distance away with a telescope slung over his
shoulders, and underneath his body was a double-barrelled gun. This man,
they said, was the chief of the party.

About the encampment there were plenty of guns and ammunition, but no
food. More than likely the unfortunate castaways were too weak from want
to be able to hunt, for Dr. Rae, in his reports, stated: "I may add that
with our guns and nets we obtained an ample supply of provisions last
autumn, and my small party passed the winter in snow houses in
comparative comfort, the skins of the deer shot affording abundant warm
clothing and bedding."

Next to the story of Dr. Rae's discovery comes the account of the
finding by Lieutenant Hobson, on May 6, 1859, of the record left on
Point Victory, and after that again, the recovery, in 1879, by
Lieutenant Schwatka, of the United States Navy, of the bodies of several
of the _Erebus_ and _Terror_ crews. But meanwhile a glance may be taken
at some of the thrilling adventures which befell the different relief
expeditions. The account of Captain McClure's voyage in the
_Investigator_, graphically told by himself in his reports to the
Admiralty, is full of typical Arctic adventure.

The _Investigator_ was one of several ships forming one of the
expeditions. After sailing in company for some time they separated to
work over set areas. The _Investigator_ entered the Polar Sea and sailed
along the North-East Passage. She was soon amongst the ice, and sailed
on in a depth of 150 feet of water until the pack showed a solid
unbroken line in front from east to west. Then she sailed along it, in
the hopes of finding an opening; but all that could be seen, beyond the
ice, was a vast number of walrus, lying upon it huddled together like
sheep. Between the ice and the land, however, there was open water, and
here the _Investigator_ shaped her course, keeping well in towards the
shore on the look-out for natives. There was an interpreter on board,
Miertsching by name, so that whenever any natives were encountered
inquiries could be made for tidings of the missing explorers. At Cape
Bathurst, near the Mackenzie River, a part Franklin had explored many
years before, a large tribe was observed, and at once a boat party put
off from the ship.

As they approached the shore, thirty tents and nine winter-houses were
seen. Immediately the boats were run ashore a tremendous stir was caused
in the village, the men running to and fro and then charging down a
steep slope to where the boats were aground on the beach. As they drew
near it was seen that each man carried a drawn knife in his hand, as
well as bows and arrows, and their warlike intentions were still more
clearly shown when they fitted arrows to the bows and began to aim at
the white men. The interpreter Miertsching, clad in native costume,
advanced from the explorers towards the angry Eskimo, holding his hands
above his head in the position which expresses peace amongst these
primitive people.

They paused as they saw him, and waited until he came up; but although
they put back their bows and arrows when he told them no one wished to
harm them, they would not relinquish their knives. As they crowded down
to the boats, the captain told him to explain to them that they must put
their knives away; but the chief of the tribe immediately retorted, "So
we will, when you put down your rifles." To prove their peaceful
intentions, one of the rifles was given to the chief to carry while the
explorers remained with them, and this action so effectually satisfied
them that no harm would be done to them that they offered to let their
visitors take charge of their knives.

The village contained over three hundred men, women, and children, and
was formed for hunting purposes. The mass of ice showing across the open
passage, they said, was the land of the white bear, an animal which,
they explained, was very plentiful and of which they were greatly in
fear. Several tales were told of the savagery of these creatures, a
woman pitifully bewailing the loss of her little child, who was carried
off by one of them when playing at the water's edge within her sight. A
less mournful story was that of a seal hunter who, having speared one
seal, was sitting by the side of his victim waiting for the mate to
appear above the water, when he felt a tap on the back. Suspecting a
trick by a fellow-huntsman, he did not turn round, whereupon he received
a heavy blow on the side of the head which sent him sprawling. As he
scrambled to his feet, angry at his comrade's roughness, he saw a big
bear walking off with his seal.

Upon the interpreter explaining how the white men's rifles could kill
the bears, the chief at once invited him to come and live with them,
offering as inducements his own daughter, a pleasant-looking girl of
about fifteen, a fully furnished tent, and all the other necessary
possessions of a well-to-do Eskimo. Failing in that, they invited the
explorers to a feast of roast whale and venison, salmon, blubber, and
other delicacies; but instead of taking from them, the explorers
presented them with a number of gifts, and left them on the best of
terms.

A few days later and farther along the coast another small band was
encountered, one of whom was wearing a brass button in his ear. The
button was off a sailor's jacket, and upon being asked how he obtained
it, the man replied it had been taken from a white man who had been
killed by the tribe. He was asked for further particulars, in case the
unfortunate might turn out to be one of Franklin's men. The Eskimo
replied that it might have been done a year ago or when he was a child,
but the huts the white men had built were still standing. The explorers
at once persuaded him to take them to the spot, but on arrival they
found the huts so weather-worn and overgrown with moss that more than a
generation must have passed since they were built.

[Illustration: AN IMMENSE ICEBERG.

This berg was photographed off the coast of Newfoundland. It had
probably made its way there from the glaciers of Greenland.

_Photo by Parsons._]

This was not the only occasion when hopes were raised that some of the
missing expedition were about to be discovered. As the _Investigator_
continued her voyage along the coast, heavy volumes of smoke were seen
rising from a bluff, and the man on the look-out in the crow's-nest at
the top of the foremast cried out that he could see white tents and men
with white shirts on near them. At once everybody was on the alert.
Boats were lowered and rowed quickly to the shore, but on close
inspection the white tents were found to be conical mounds of volcanic
formation, and the smoke, which was also volcanic, was rising from
fissures in the ground.

Winter was now setting in, and as there was no suitable harbour at hand,
Captain McClure determined to pass the season amongst the ice-floes. His
decision was largely due to the fact that as the ice was forming around
them, a great mass of old ice, over six miles in length and drifting at
the rate of two miles an hour, came upon them. Its enormous weight
crushed everything out of its way, and the ship could only manoeuvre
sufficiently to graze it with her starboard bow. Fortunately on the
other side of her there was only freshly formed and comparatively thin
ice, otherwise she would have been hopelessly crushed at once. As it
was, the gradual drifting past of the mass was disconcerting, and it was
decided to make fast to it. A great mass which they ascertained extended
downwards for forty-eight feet below the surface of the sea was
selected, and with heavy cables the _Investigator_ was made secure to
it. Throughout the winter she remained moored to it, though not without
more than one experience of danger.

Soon after making fast to the ice, the first bear of the season was
shot. He was a magnificent specimen, measuring over seven feet, but upon
being cut up considerable speculation was roused as to the contents of
his stomach. In it was found raisins, tobacco, pork, and some adhesive
plasters. For some time the combined intellect of the ship's company
was exercised to explain where the bear could have obtained such a
varied diet and many suggestions were advanced in explanation.
Franklin's ships might be near, some said, or the crews might be
encamped on the neighbouring land, and Bruin might have looted their
stores. No one struck the correct solution of the mystery until some
days later a hunting party came upon a preserved meat tin partly filled
with the same sort of articles as were found in the bear's stomach. He
had evidently found the tin and sampled its contents, not entirely to
his enjoyment, as he had left the larger portion behind. But whence the
tin had come they never learned.

The winter having passed without mishap they began to watch for the
breaking of the ice. When it began, they had a very narrow escape from
destruction. A light breeze springing up the day after open water
appeared among the floes, the pack to which the _Investigator_ was
attached began to drift. It was carried towards a shoal upon which a
huge mass of ice was stranded. A corner of the pack came in contact with
the great stationary mass with a grinding shock that sent pieces of
twelve and fourteen feet square flying completely out of the water, and,
as the immense weight of the moving pack pressed forward, there was a
sound as of distant thunder as it crushed onwards. The weight at the
back caused an enormous mass to upheave in the middle of the pack, as
though under the influence of a volcanic eruption. The great field was
rent asunder, the block to which the _Investigator_ was attached taking
the ground and remaining fixed, while the lighter portion swung round
and, with accelerated speed, came directly towards the vessel's stern.

To let go every cable and hawser which held her to the block was the
work of a moment, for every one was on deck keenly on the look-out. The
moving mass caught her stem and forced her ahead and from between the
moving floe and the stationary mass. The two came into grinding
collision and the men on the deck of the vessel saw the great bulk to
which the ship had been attached slowly rise. It went up and up until it
had risen thirty feet above the surface and hung perpendicularly above
the ship. It towered higher than the foreyard, presenting a spectacle
that was at once grandly impressive but terribly dangerous, for if it
fell over upon the _Investigator_ she would be crushed to atoms. For a
few moments the suspense was awful, till the weight of the floe broke
away a mass from the great bulk, which rolled back with a tremendous
roar and rending, and, with some fearful heaves, resumed its former
position. But no longer could it withstand the pressure, and it was
hurried forward with the rest of the floe, grinding along the surface of
the shoal.

The pack having set in towards the shore, the only hopes of safety lay
in keeping with the ice, for, if the _Investigator_ were pushed ashore
by it, there would be little chance of her ever floating again. She was
consequently made fast again and carried along, though with a
tremendous strain on her stern and rudder. It was discovered that the
latter was damaged, but there was no possibility of unshipping it for
repairs while the ice was moving. Towards the afternoon the wind
dropped, the drift became less, and for five hours the rudder received
attention.

Scarcely had it been replaced when once more the ice began to move, and
the crew saw that they were being forced directly upon a large piece of
the broken floe which had grounded. Feeling certain that if the ship
were caught between the grounded mass and the moving floe nothing could
save her from being crushed to pieces, a desperate effort was made to
remove the great mass. The chief gunner, provided with a big canister of
powder, went on to the ice and struggled over the rugged surface until
he reached the stationary mass. He intended to lower the canister under
the mass before exploding it, but the ice was too closely packed around
it to permit of this being done. There was no time to consider any other
plan, so he fixed the blast in a cavity and, firing the fuse, scrambled
back to the ship.

The charge exploded just as the pressure of the floe was beginning to
tell, but the result was apparently valueless. The _Investigator_ by
this time was within a few yards of the great mass, and there seemed to
be no hope of escaping from the crush. Every one on deck was in a state
of anxious suspense, waiting for what was evidently the crisis of their
fate.

Most fortunately the ship went stem-on, as sailors term it, and the
pressure was directed along her whole length instead of along her sides.
Every plank seemed to feel the shock, and the beams groaned as the
pressure increased. The masts trembled, and crackling sounds came from
the bulwarks as she strained under the tension. Momentarily the men
expected that she would collapse under them, when the result of the
gunner's blast was made manifest. It had cracked the mass in three
places, and the pressure of the ship's stern forced the cracks open. The
liberation from the obstacle was at once evident as the mass slowly
divided and, falling over, floated off the shoal. The cable holding the
vessel to the floe parted as she surged forward and the ice-anchors drew
out, while the blocks of ice, as they turned over, lifted her bows out
of the water and heeled her over; but the cheer which broke from the
assembled crew drowned all other noise, for it was as though they had
been snatched from the very jaws of death.

Subsequent examination of the vessel showed that she had escaped
practically without serious injury. Several sheets of her copper were
stripped off and rolled up like scraps of paper; but as no leaks were
discovered, the loss of the copper was not greatly deplored.

After escaping from these dangers it was hoped that open water would be
found, so that the voyage might be continued to other areas which had
to be searched, and, as the _Investigator_ drifted along amongst the
partly broken up floes, she encountered some rolling swells, which
increased the hopes that open water was not far ahead. But in this the
crew were disappointed, for although the water near the land was
sufficiently free from ice to enable sail to be made, out toward the
Polar Sea the pack was heavy and close.

They rounded Cape Lambton on Banks' Land, a promontory which they found
rose a thousand feet precipitously. The land beyond gradually lost the
bold character of the rugged cape, the island presenting a view of hills
in the interior which gradually sloped to the shore, having fine valleys
and extensive plains, over and through which several small and one
considerable sized stream flowed. A great deal of drift-wood lay along
the beach, and the land was covered with verdure upon which large flocks
of geese were feeding, while ducks were flying in great numbers. Two
small islands were passed off the coast, one of which afforded an
example of the force exerted by a drifting Polar Sea ice-floe. The
island rose about forty feet above the surface of the sea, and broken
masses of ice, which had formed a floe, had been driven entirely over
it.

The pack still presented an impassable barrier to their course away from
the land, and as the season was getting late they decided that they
would make winter quarters. A suitable bay was found on the north of the
island, and there they spent, not one, but two winters, for the ice
remained so thick during the ensuing short summer that it was impossible
to move. In the summer, however, if they could not get to sea, they
could travel on to the land, and as game was plentiful they were able to
keep themselves well supplied with fresh meat. But when winter again
came upon them with its cold darkness, the game was scarcer, and, what
was worse, the ship's stores were decreasing.

As perhaps another twelve months would have to be faced, every one went
on reduced rations, so that the stores should be made to last as long as
possible. The approach of the milder weather Captain McClure determined
should be made the occasion of a daring expedition. A few of the men
were beginning to show signs of sickness, and the captain decided that
they should set out in April for the mainland with enough provisions to
carry them through. The ship was so slightly affected by the buffeting
she had received that the leader could not bring himself to think of
abandoning her while he had any stores left and men who were ready to
remain with him. Only the least robust of the crew were to go as the
overlanding party, and they were to travel to the nearest station of the
Hudson Bay Company, and from thence press on to England with despatches
for the Admiralty requesting help and provisions for those who remained
by the ship. Everything was arranged, even to the date of departure,
which was settled as April 15. But before that day arrived another
incident was to transpire.

On April 10, Captain McClure and his first lieutenant were walking over
the ice near the ship, discussing the serious turn events had taken, for
one of the men had just died from scurvy, and some of the others were in
a bad state of health. This was the first death which had occurred, and
it naturally cast a gloom over every one. As the two walked, they espied
a man coming rapidly towards them from over the ice. He was hastening so
much that they thought he must be flying from a bear, and they went
forward to meet him. But as they approached him, they saw that he was
not one of their own ship's company, for he was of a different build to
any of their men, in addition to which his face showed black from
between his furs, and he was waving his arms wildly. They stopped,
doubtful what to make of him, and he rushed up, still gesticulating and
articulating wildly.

"Who are you, and where do you come from?" McClure exclaimed sternly.

"Lieutenant Pim, of the _Herald_, Captain Kellett," the strange figure
managed to reply, as he seized McClure's hands and shook them
frantically.

Rapidly he told the astounded couple his story, for Captain Kellett, of
the _Herald_, had bid McClure God-speed as he was entering the Polar Sea
three years before, and the commander of the _Investigator_ could not
understand how he could have reached Banks' Land.

The _Herald_ was one ship of another expedition which had come in search
of the gallant Franklin. She had wintered at Melville's Island, and
Lieutenant Pim had set out across the straits with a sledge party on
March 10. For a month they had been wandering, and he had happened to be
on ahead of his men when he caught sight of the _Investigator_ in the
distance. He had pushed on to ascertain who she was, when he saw and
recognised Captain McClure. His astonishment and excitement overmastered
him and he could only halloo and shout and jump about in his glee.

The noise of his shouts reached the vessel where the crew, hearing a
strange voice, came tumbling up from below to see who it was that had
arrived. The sight of the _Herald_ sledge party soon afterwards
completed their surprise and gratification, for it meant that close at
hand was all the help they needed to successfully insure their
liberation.

The whole ship's company journeyed across to where the _Herald_ lay,
and, in the interchange of yarns and the assurance of abundance of food
and rest till the ice broke up, they found just the requisite stimulus
to overcome all the evil effects of their past trials and privations.
With a few men from the _Herald_ to relieve the members of his crew who
were on the sick-list, Captain McClure returned to the _Investigator_
after a few days, and when the summer arrived he worked his vessel out
into open water. Then he joined company with the _Herald_ and sailed for
England, whither his despatches and reports had already preceded him and
earned him fame.

The return of Captain McClure and the result of his discoveries,
together with those of other expeditions, and Dr. Rae's find of Franklin
relics, satisfied the British Government that further search was
unavailing. As the account of Sir John Franklin's voyage had not yet
been found, the honour of proving the existence of the North-West
Passage was, for the time being, accorded to McClure, and the Admiralty,
satisfied that all the members of the Franklin expedition had perished,
and the ships either been abandoned or destroyed, ceased despatching
further search parties.

There were, however, a large number of people who were by no means
satisfied that everything possible had been learned as to the fate of
the _Erebus_ and _Terror_. Lady Franklin, Sir John's second wife, was
one who refused to give up hopes, and, largely through her efforts, yet
another vessel was sent out. This was the _Fox_, under the command of
Sir L. F. McClintock, and the voyage was more profuse in the obtaining
of evidence as to the fate of the Franklin party than all the rest put
together.

McClintock made his way directly to King William's Land, with a definite
programme in view. He and his first lieutenant, Hobson, were each to
journey with sledge parties along the coast of that island and examine
everything which suggested a chance of learning the fate of the vanished
explorers. Especially were they to seek for any natives and glean from
them, by means of presents and barter, any knowledge they might have, or
any _relics_ which might remain amongst them, of the two ill-fated
ships.

The _Fox_ was a screw steamer, a fact which very largely contributed to
the success of the expedition, as she was able to make steady progress,
whereas a sailing vessel would have had to wait for favourable winds and
so probably lose a great deal of very valuable time. She sailed from
Aberdeen on July 1, 1857, and returned on September 22, 1859,
accomplishing, in her two years' absence, an amount of discovery which
placed all question of the fate of the _Erebus_ and _Terror_ and their
crews beyond a doubt.

As soon as the _Fox_ was made snug in winter quarters, McClintock and
Hobson set out over the ice in search of some Eskimo. They were
fortunate in discovering a couple of seal hunters, who told them that
some distance away there was a larger party, amongst whom was a man with
knowledge of the missing explorers. They set out with their two friends,
but as night was coming on while yet they had not reached the camp, they
decided to stay where they were till the morning. The two Eskimo, for
one needle apiece, built a snow hut for them in an hour. All of them
went inside the shelter, which they found very acceptable, and prepared
their supper. The food they carried consisted of salt pork and biscuits,
but the two Eskimo would not look at it. Their supper consisted of a
piece of bear's blubber. When they had consumed it they squatted on
their haunches and, with their heads drooped forward on their knees,
went off to sleep for the night.

The following day the main camp was reached, and the white men at once
realised, by the number of articles of European manufacture in the
possession of the Eskimo, that they must have found and looted the
abandoned ships. One of the men told them, through the interpreter, that
several years before there was a ship in the ice off the coast, but that
when the ice melted it had sunk in deep water. He pointed out the
direction where the ship had been, and where there had been a lot of
drift-wood thrown up on the beach--wood out of which, he explained, they
had made their spear handles and tent poles. Other relics were gradually
forthcoming, upon the production by the white men of the barter they had
with them, and a brisk trade was carried on, knives and needles being
exchanged for spoons, forks, and other objects unmistakably from the
wrecked ships. In addition to the relics, some dogs were also secured.

The latter purchase afforded them considerable amusement and often
excitement before they were entirely masters in the art of dog-team
driving. Like everything else worth doing, it has to be learned, and in
his account of his journeyings McClintock quotes one or two instances
where experience was his only teacher. He found, for instance, that when
a dog team is harnessed up to a sledge, every dog does not pull his
hardest, and a suggestion from the whip is advisable. The dog, however,
is inclined to resent it, and at once bites his neighbour by way of
protest. The neighbour in turn bites his neighbour, who does the same,
until the whole team has received the sting arising from the first lash,
and every dog is howling and snapping and jumping over each other. The
application of the whip handle instead of the whip lash is then
necessary, and when at length quiet is restored, the driver has to set
to work to unplait the harness, which has been twisted and tied into a
terrible tangle by the antics of the team. When, at the expense of a
great deal of patience and time, everything is ready for a fresh start,
the inexperienced driver is able to estimate the value of cracking the
whip over, instead of on, the back of a lazy dog.

Even then, however, it is not all plain sailing. The dogs possess a
wisdom of their own, and they never act so well together as when they
reach a piece of particularly rough ice over which the sledge does not
move easily. Directly they find that they have to lean heavily against
the collar to pull the load forward, they, with one accord, turn round,
sit down, and look at the driver. If he is inexperienced, he lays about
him with his whip and the dogs fight and tangle the harness; if he knows
his animals, he puts his shoulder to the sledge, pushes it forward on to
the toes of the team, whereupon each one gets up, hurries out of the way
of the threatening sledge-runners, and, together, pull it easily over
the rough place.

Another peculiarity of the dogs is their extraordinary appetite for
leather. Shark skin the Eskimo consider to be bad for them because of
its excessive roughness, but birds' skins, with the feathers on, are
greatly relished by the insatiable feeders, and, as has been said,
leather is an especial luxury. The dogs are incorrigible thieves and
frequently sneak into the tents, or, if on board ship, into the cabins,
in search of plunder. They are generally greeted with a kick, but should
it be sufficiently energetic to dislodge the kicker's shoe, the dog at
once seizes the delicacy and makes for a quiet spot on the ice where he
can devour it at his leisure.

The dogs, however, which McClintock was able to obtain from the Eskimo
were genuinely useful to him when he and Lieutenant Hobson began their
prolonged search, and his only regret was that he could not get more.
Later explorers have profited by his experience, for now an expedition
is never considered complete that does not carry at least one team.

After leaving the Eskimo encampment, search was continued along the
southern coast of King William's Land, but without very much success.
Returning, they again met the same tribe of Eskimo, and discovered that
when one of the race speaks he does not necessarily tell all that he
knows. During a conversation between the interpreter and one of the
young men, the latter made a reference to the ship that came ashore. As
the man who had previously mentioned the ship said that it sank in deep
water, the young man was asked how it could have come ashore under those
circumstances. The other one sank, he said; the one he meant came
ashore, where he had seen it.

Further inquiries showed that both the ships had been seen and visited
by the Eskimo while they were yet in the ice. One of them they could not
find how to enter, so they made a hole in her side, with the result that
when the ice melted she filled and sank. In one of the bunks they found
a man lying dead, but no other bodies were right near the ship.

Now that they had been discovered in their attempt to evade the truth,
the Eskimo spoke readily enough, giving the exact locality where the
ship had come ashore. Thither McClintock and his companions at once
proceeded. They found enough evidence in the drift-wood on the beach to
show them where the vessel had gone to pieces; but whether it was the
_Erebus_ or the _Terror_, there was nothing to show. They had now,
however, a definite point from whence to commence their search, and
they laid out the probable routes by which the escaping crews would have
travelled. Separating into two parties, so as to cover as much ground as
possible, they started, Lieutenant Hobson leading.

On May 25, 1859, McClintock, while walking along a sandy ridge from
whence the snow had disappeared, noticed something white shining through
the sand. He stooped to examine it, thinking it to be a round white
stone, but closer inspection showed it to be the back of a skull. Upon
the sand being removed, the entire skeleton was found, lying face
downwards, with fragments of blue cloth still adhering to its bleached
bones. The man had evidently been young, lightly built, and of the
average height. Near by were found a small pocket brush and comb, and a
pocket-book containing two coins and some scraps of writing. He had
evidently fallen forward as he was walking, and never risen. As an old
Eskimo woman told Dr. Rae, "they fell down and died as they walked
along," overcome with cold, hunger, and sickness.

The explorers were now in the region where all their finds were to be
made. Five days later McClintock came upon a boat which he found, from a
note attached to it, that Hobson had already examined. It had evidently
escaped the notice of the Eskimo, and, until the white men found it, had
probably not been touched by human hands from the moment its occupants
had died. It was mounted on a sledge, as though it had been hauled over
the ice; but from the fact that its bows pointed towards the spot where
the ships had been, it was surmised that the men were dragging it back
to the vessels when they were overcome. Inside were two bodies, one
lying on its side, under a pile of clothing, towards the stern, and the
other in the bows, in such a position as to suggest that the man had
crawled forward, had laboriously pulled himself up to look over the
gunwale, and had then slipped down and died where he fell. Beside him
were two guns, loaded and ready cocked, as though the man had been
apprehensive of attack. There were also as many as five watches, several
books (mostly with the name of Graham Gore or initials G. G. in them),
abundance of clothes and other articles such as knives, pieces of
sheet-lead, files, sounding leads and lines, spoons and forks, oars, a
sail, and two chronometers, but of food only some tea and chocolate.

The story mutely told by these relics was only too plain. Weary with
hauling it, the majority of the men had left the boat in order to get
back to the ships and obtain a fresh supply of provisions, leaving two,
who were too weak to struggle on, in the boat, as comfortable as they
could be made until some of the others could get back to help them. Then
the days had passed until the store of provisions had been consumed and
the two sufferers had grown weary with waiting, so weary that one had
slept and died under his wraps, and the other, with his remaining
vestige of strength, had crawled forward to peep out once more for the
help that was so long in coming. But only ice had met his gaze, and,
sinking down, he had also passed into that overwhelming sleep, and had
lain undisturbed for twelve years under the covering of the Arctic
snows.

Close search was made in the vicinity of the boat for the remains of any
other of the lost explorers, but nothing was discovered except
drift-wood. The spot where the boat was found was about fifty miles from
Point Victory, sixty-five from the place where the ship had gone ashore,
and seventy from the skeleton that McClintock had discovered on the
ridge.

A few days' march farther on, a cairn was noticed upon the brow of a
point near Cape Victoria. On ascending to it, McClintock found another
note from Hobson, stating that he had already examined it and recovered
from it the record which the crews had deposited there upon the
desertion of the ships, and which is given in the account of the
Franklin voyages. This was the final triumph of the search, for it
conclusively proved that Sir John had been dead before the ships were
abandoned, that he, and not McClure, was the real discoverer of the
North-West Passage, and that the expedition had ended in a disaster as
pitiful as the commencement had been brilliant. Round the cairn were
strewn innumerable relics, showing that the three days which had elapsed
from the time of their leaving the ships had been sufficient to further
decrease the strength and vitality of the scurvy-stricken unfortunates.

No other discovery of moment was made after the unearthing of the vital
record, but Lieutenant Hobson had some experience of what the Franklin
explorers must have suffered. He had abundance of food with him, and
that the best and most nutritious, but he developed scurvy on his
journey, and when he reached the _Fox_ he could not walk without
assistance. No wonder, then, that Franklin's men, starving as well as
sick, should have died by the way.

The return of the _Fox_ in September 1859 effectually set at rest all
doubts as to the fate of the _Erebus_ and _Terror_, and no more search
expeditions were sent out. But in 1879 Lieutenant Schwatka, of the
United States Navy, made an overland journey to that part of King
William's Land where the crews had perished. He found many more
skeletons, doubtless of members of the ill-fated expedition, and
wherever he found one lying above ground he buried it with proper
ceremony, except in a single instance.

This was in the case of an open grave of stones in which the remains of
a skeleton, with some blue cloth adhering to it and some coarse canvas
around it, was lying. Near the remains he found a silver medal bearing
the words, "Awarded to John Irving, Midsummer, 1830, Second Mathematical
Prize."

The presence of the medal identified the remains as being those of
Lieutenant Irving of the _Terror_. As this was the only instance where
identification was possible, Lieutenant Schwatka carefully and
reverently gathered them together and carried them to New York, from
whence they were forwarded to Edinburgh, Irving's native town. There
they were accorded a public funeral on January 7, 1881.




CHAPTER IV

THE VOYAGE OF THE _POLARIS_

     Death of Captain Hall--Crew determine to Return--Are Frozen in--A
     Party take to the Ice and are Cast Away--They build themselves Snow
     Huts--They find some Seals--An Adventure with Bears--The Perils of
     the Spring--They sight the _Tigress_ and are Saved--The
     Ship-Party's Story and Rescue.


The Government of the United States, in June 1871, despatched the
_Polaris_ to explore and survey the passage between Grinnel Land and
Greenland, and also, if possible, to push on to the Pole.

The _Polaris_, under the command of Captain Hall, sailed from New York
on June 29, 1871, with a crew of thirty-three, and provisioned for some
years. She succeeded in passing through Smith's Sound and Robeson
Channel, and on August 31 she had reached as high a latitude as 82° 11'
N. Returning to the southward, she went into winter quarters; but on
November 8 her captain was struck down with apoplexy. Upon his death all
idea of going further to the North was abandoned, and, as soon as the
spring of 1872 commenced, preparations were made to return to New York.

The ice was particularly heavy, however, and very slow progress was made
when, by August, the _Polaris_ became entangled with some big floes
which checked her in every direction. On August 14, when off the
entrance of Kennedy Channel, in latitude 80°, the ice closed round her
and fixed her so firmly that every effort made by the crew to release
her was without avail. A series of floes had closed one upon the other,
and had so compressed themselves together, that all hope of extricating
the _Polaris_ until the ice itself broke up was reluctantly abandoned.
The pack in which she was involved continued to slowly drift to the
South until, two months after her capture, the ship had drifted in the
ice to 78° 28' N. At this point a violent gale occurred, which resulted
in the series of adventures for her crew that has made the voyage of the
_Polaris_ so notable.

As the gale increased in intensity, the huge field of heavy ice in which
the vessel was imprisoned began to heave and grind in an alarming
manner. The masses joined together by the force of earlier collisions
broke asunder under the strain of the wind, but only to close in again
with terrific force and crashing. Every time that separated portions of
the pack came together with a crash, the ice around the vessel creaked
and moved, and the _Polaris_ herself strained in every timber under the
trial.

A sudden parting asunder of the pack where she was encased liberated her
for the moment. Freed from the grip of the ice, the force of the wind
was more evident, and she heeled over to the gale as it caught her in
the temporarily open water. Before she could right herself, the ice
closed in again upon her sides. The rending and crashing which followed
the "nip" convinced all on board that the vessel was too crushed ever to
float again, and, while the floe held together and she was kept from
foundering, the crew set about putting stores, tents, clothing, arms,
and anything else they could lay hands on, over the side on to the ice.
They feared that with the next split the vessel would be in the water
again, and there was no doubt in any one's mind but that she would then
sink like a stone. No one knew how long it might be before that split
came, and in the meantime every one worked at the only means of saving
their lives. Nineteen of the ship's company scrambled out on to the
pack, and, as their comrades passed out the various stores and articles
they were able to seize, those on the ice stacked them, as well as they
could, on a massive hummock.

Through the wind and the cold they worked, neither pausing for rest nor
refreshment. All around them the ice was heaving and grinding, and over
them the cold northerly gale was blowing and driving great clouds of
snow; but they worked on, knowing only too well that in every barrel of
food they rolled into security was contained a week of life for them.
The driving snow made it more and more difficult to see, until the air
was almost dark. With fearful force the wind howled across the icy
expanse, and those on the pack crouched for some shelter behind the
stores they had piled up by the hummock, waiting till the gale should
have exhausted its fury.

The faint sound of a cry came to them from the direction of the ship and
they peered out through the gloom. Then a cry of despair broke from
their lips--they forgot the force of the wind and the cold of the
driving snow as they sprang from behind their shelter. The ice had
parted again, and, down the long lane of open water which had been
formed, the hull of the ship loomed as it swung away into the darkness.

Anxiously the castaways watched for the coming together again of the
divided packs, in the hope that the _Polaris_ would again be caught and
held. Those who remained on board were equally anxious, for they knew
the vessel must be leaking terribly, and to be left much longer in the
open water meant that she would founder and they be drowned. A man ran
to the rudder and tried to bring her round to the ice which glimmered
through the snow-storm, but the rudder was damaged too much for steering
and the ship drifted on. Soon it was obscured from those on the pack,
and the truth of their position dawned on them. Whether the ship had
foundered or not they did not know, but this was clear: they were adrift
on an ice-pack which might at any moment split asunder and precipitate
them into the freezing water, or, if it held together, carry them till
they died of cold and starvation.

Either alternative was sufficiently gloomy to depress the spirits of
the bravest; as the nineteen cowered behind their stack of provisions
for shelter from the keen snow-filled wind, into the mind of each there
came a grim determination to fight while there was an ounce of food in
the casks or a vestige of ice to float them. In the morning, when the
storm had abated and the air was clear, they emerged from their shelter
and looked about for a sign of the vessel. Some of them clambered up on
to the top of the highest hummocks so as to command a wider field of
vision, but they saw no more than those who remained below. All around
them was ice, piled in heaps, or stretching out in flat expanses; but
always ice, as far as the eye could reach, and nowhere a vestige or a
sign of the _Polaris_.

They gathered together round the heap of stores and looked at one
another in silence, each one reading the other's thoughts and always
finding them the same as his own. The ship had probably gone to the
bottom, with all on board, as soon as she broke away from the ice. The
packs had closed again over the spot where she had disappeared, so that
there was no chance of any spars or timber floating to the surface and
confirming their suspicions. Everything was under the ice, everything
except the scanty supply of provisions that had been put overboard.

At length one man spoke. It was no use mincing matters, he told his
comrades. They would do well to realise the position they were in, and,
looking at it from the worst side, make the best of it and fight to the
end. The vessel had gone, and all they had to keep them from starvation
and death was the heap of stores and their own energy. There was no
timber to build a raft, so that they could float if the ice broke up;
there was no wood to waste on a fire. But as they had to keep afloat and
warm if they were going to escape, he considered that first of all they
should remove their stores to the thickest, heaviest ice they could
find, and then set to work to build snow huts for shelter. Winter was
coming on with its long spell of darkness, and there was no time to
waste. It was every one's business to help one another and to do the
best they could, working together and sharing whatever came, whether it
was short rations or plenty.

The sentiments appealed to all the men, and they formed themselves into
parties to carry out the scheme. Fortunately they had just passed one
winter in the Arctic regions and knew, therefore, what was in front of
them, and also how to carry out the building of snow huts and the other
necessary makeshifts. A massive hummock, which apparently was too strong
to be crushed, and solid enough to last through several summers without
melting, was selected as the site of the encampment. The snow which had
fallen during the gale was not quite hard enough for building huts at
the moment, so while some of the party were overhauling the stores and
arranging to move them to the hummock, the others were clearing away
the snow from the site of the camp and banking it up all round as a
break-wind.

By the time the stores were placed in the enclosure, canvas shelters
were erected for a temporary covering, pending the time when the snow
became hard enough to cut for building blocks. It is only when the snow
has become compressed by its own weight and frozen nearly solid by the
cold that it can be cut into slabs or blocks for a hut. When it has
become hard enough, the blocks are cut and the building commences. First
a circle is laid, with a small space vacant where the doorway is to be.
On either side of this opening the blocks are laid so as to form the
plan of a porch, one side of which, in the present instance, was
continued at right angles so as turn the entrance passage towards the
stack of provisions and thus shelter the doorway from the wind. As soon
as the ground plan of the hut was laid, the surface of the blocks was
moistened and other blocks laid upon them, and so on until the walls
rose some five feet, the moisture making the blocks freeze hard to one
another. The layers were now gradually lapped over the interior until a
dome roof was formed. Both inside and outside were then moistened and
smoothed, and the cold air, freezing the moisture, glazed the entire
structure with a covering of ice.

All the clothing, bedding, and weapons were taken inside. A lamp was
constructed out of an empty preserved meat tin; it was filled with fat,
and, with a piece of twisted tow for a wick, it lit up the interior of
the hut and afforded some warmth as well. Heavy canvas curtains were
suspended across the opening out of the hut at the inner wall, at the
bend in the passage, and at the outer opening. Such of the packages of
stores as were suitable were also brought into the hut, and upon them
the blankets and furs were laid so as to make the sleeping places as
comfortable as possible. The quarters were thus as good as the men could
make them, but one anxiety still remained. The lamp would have to be
kept going all the twenty-four hours, and especially during the long
Arctic night; but the supply of fat was limited.

A hunting party was organised to search the pack for seals or walrus or
any animal from which blubber could be obtained. Here again the
experience of the previous winter and its hunting exploits served them.
A small opening in the pack was discovered a mile or so from the camp,
and on the ice around the water three seals were resting, having
evidently been caught in the ice when it closed. With great care the
hunters crept over the ice towards the animals, whose sacrifice meant so
much to the castaways. Only two had rifles, the others carrying harpoons
they had made from the tent-poles, and which were anything but reliable
weapons. Steady aim was taken by the two men who had the rifles at the
two larger of the seals. Firing together, one seal fell dead; the one
which was not aimed at plunged into the water, and the other, badly
wounded, hobbled to the edge of the ice. In another moment he would
have been over and probably have sunk to the bottom, had not one of the
men flung away his harpoon, and, springing forward, managed to seize the
hind flippers of the wounded creature. His comrades rushed to his
assistance and dragged both him and the seal back from the opening on to
the ice, where the latter was quickly despatched.

They were harnessing themselves to their victims in order to drag them
over to the camp, when a loud snort from the opening caused them to
start round just in time to see the third seal disappearing under the
water. At once they understood the situation. The opening was the only
one for miles, and the seal was compelled to come to the surface there
to breathe, as he could not reach the top anywhere else for the ice. It
was at once decided to wait for him, but as, if he were shot while in
the water, he would inevitably sink to the bottom and be lost to them,
they determined to lay a trap for him. The seals already killed were
placed in natural attitudes near the water, and the men hastily retired
to sheltering hummocks, to wait the return. The men with the rifles were
both to fire upon the seal as soon as he emerged on to the ice, for he
was too valuable to be lost. They had not waited very long before he
reappeared and, raising his head high out of the water, looked around.
Seeing nothing but the two seals on the ice, he swam leisurely round and
round the opening before scrambling up on to the ice. As he reached it
and moved towards his two companions, the men, who had been carefully
aiming at him, fired and killed him.

With the three seals, the party returned to the camp in high spirits,
their arrival being the signal for general rejoicing, for not only would
the blubber of the seals keep the lamp supplied with oil, but their
skins were very welcome additions to the stock of warm coverings, and
the meat was an invaluable addition to the larder.

Really it was more, but of that they were not aware until two days
later, when one of the men was awakened by the short barking roar of a
bear. He quickly roused his companions and they made their way out of
the hut with what weapons they possessed.

The flesh of the seals had been suspended on a line between two poles
near the other provisions so as to protect it from any chance visit by
wolves or bears. As the first man peered out from the hut opening, he
saw, in the dim twilight, two bears standing underneath the line of
meat, sniffing up at it and growling. They had, it was afterwards
learned, picked up the trail where the dead seals had been dragged from
the opening in the ice, and had followed it to the camp.

[Illustration: AN ADDITION TO THE EXPLORERS' SUPPLY OF PROVISIONS.]

The man whispered back to his companions what he saw, and another man,
armed with a rifle, crept to his side. Aiming together behind the
shoulder of the larger of the bears, they fired simultaneously and
brought their quarry down. Immediately the other bear turned towards the
opening and, with snarling teeth, advanced. A third rifle was fired
point-blank at its head, but the bullet failed to penetrate the massive
skull, though it made the beast change its direction. As it turned away
the men realised what its escape would mean to them. There was a rush
after it, the men loading and firing as quickly as they could load, so
as to secure it before it disappeared in the dim grey twilight. It fell
wounded, and was despatched by means of the impromptu spears.

This adventure not only made a notable break in the monotony of the life
on the pack, but gave the men a subject for conversation during the long
weary period of darkness, as well as increasing their store of fat,
fresh meat, and warm covering. No further animals were seen or heard,
although every one was constantly on the alert, and the opening where
the seals were killed was visited daily until it froze over. Then the
last vestige of twilight vanished and darkness settled down upon the
ice.

For eighty-three days the sun was absent, and during that time the cold
was intense. The lamp was the only means of artificial heat they
possessed, and even of that they had to be careful, for the supply of
fat was not inexhaustible, and no one knew when it could be replenished.
In the coldest weather the men huddled together under their blankets and
furs, anxious and weary. They had no means of finding out in what
direction they were moving, for the constant creaking of the floe led
them to believe that they were drifting somewhere. Whether it was to the
North or to the South they could not tell, and yet upon the direction in
which they were moving their salvation depended.

Never, perhaps, was the return of the sun more welcomed than by the
desolate castaways on the floe. But its appearance and the commencement
of spring was not entirely an unmixed blessing. The rising temperature
naturally caused the ice to break up, and as the floe upon which they
were marooned gradually decreased in size, fresh anxiety was caused to
them by the possible danger of their haven being broken up. As the days
passed, they saw their food supply growing smaller and smaller, until
starvation stared them in the face, and hope was almost dead. April
came, and with it all the privation and suffering consequent upon
insufficient food and wearying, helpless, and almost hopeless,
inactivity. The last day of the month arrived and found them with the
last morsel of food consumed. A man clambered to the summit of the
hummock in the hopes of seeing a seal somewhere on the ice. His comrades
thought that he had lost his senses when he shouted wildly and,
clambering down, ran towards them, dancing and shouting.

Over the top of the hummock he had caught sight of a ship, and the
excitement caused by his news was soon eclipsed as the castaways saw the
signals they made answered from the vessel. Boats put off for them and
took them on board the ship, which was the _Tigress_, a sealer from
Labrador.

They found that in the 196 days they had spent on the floe they had
drifted over 1500 miles from the latitude in which the _Polaris_ was
beset on October 12. For the time they believed they were the only
survivors of the expedition, but in this they were wrong. The remainder
of the party also escaped, though without undergoing quite the same
hardships as themselves.

When the _Polaris_ broke away from the ice, she did not sink, but
drifted rapidly before the gale through the open channel. Captain
Budington, who had assumed command when Captain Hall died, and the
twelve men who remained on board, managed to keep the disabled vessel
afloat, but they could do no more until she again became involved in the
ice. By that time all hopes of returning to the place where the other
men were on the ice was abandoned, and, as the water was fairly open,
the efforts of the crew were mainly directed to warping the ship towards
the coast. By good fortune she managed to escape from the crushing
packs, and, with tireless effort and great care, she was at length
brought within sight of land. Then she was caught in the ice along the
shore and so severely nipped that her ruin was complete. She, however,
did not sink, and her crew were able to reach the land.

Selecting a site for an encampment, they removed thither enough timber
from the broken-up vessel to construct a house, to which they also
removed enough stores to last them. When these necessaries were secured,
they brought more timber ashore, and, during the long winter night, they
employed themselves in constructing a couple of boats. It was a
laborious task, and but slow progress was made until daylight returned.
Then they were able to carry on the work faster; but it was the middle
of May before they had them finished and seaworthy.

As soon as the ice began to break up, they launched the boats, which
were fully provisioned from the wreck, and on June 3 they sailed away to
the South. Three weeks later they sighted a whaler, the _Ravenscraig_,
who took them aboard, and within a few months of their comrades, whom
they thought had all perished, landing in America from the _Tigress_,
the boat party also landed, having saved, in addition to themselves, all
the records of the surveys and observations made by the expedition.
These were of great geographical value, making known much of the
neighbourhood of the straits between Greenland and Grant's Land. The
expedition, although attaining to a high latitude, did not succeed in
reaching the Pole, but their adventures made a fascinating chapter in
the history of Polar research.




CHAPTER V

THE _ALERT_ AND _DISCOVERY_

     Sir George Nares appointed to the _Alert_ and
     _Discovery_--Overtaking a Season--Red Snow--The Greenland
     Mosquito--Peculiarities of Eskimo Dogs--And Dog Whips--Dangers of
     Kayaks--Advantages of Steam for Polar Regions--An Unpleasant
     Experience--A Huge Walrus--Arctic Scenery--A Big "Bag"--The Ships
     part Company--The _Alert_ reaches the Polar Sea--Winter
     Quarters--The North Pole attempted--Adventures and Sufferings of
     the Party--Lieutenant Parr's Heroism--Deliverance--The Greenland
     Attempt--Scurvy and Snow--Repulse Bay--In Pitiable
     Plight--Lieutenant Rawson to the Rescue.


"Her Majesty's Government, having determined that an expedition of
Arctic exploration and discovery should be undertaken, My Lords
Commissioners of the Admiralty have been pleased to select you for the
command of the said expedition, the scope and primary object of which
should be to attain the highest northern latitude and, if possible, to
reach the North Pole."

Such was the opening sentence of the official instructions sent to Sir
George Nares to take command of the _Alert_ and _Discovery_, two steam
vessels, which constituted the first expedition the British Government
had sent to the Arctic regions since the search parties for Sir John
Franklin. It was confidently expected that the introduction of the
screw steamer into Arctic navigation would result in startling
achievements, and those expectations were fully justified.

The two ships, with H.M.S. _Valorous_ in consort with provisions, &c.,
on board, left Portsmouth on May 29, 1875. They were home again by
November 2, 1876, and during the intervening eighteen months they had
reached the most northerly point attained by man up to that period, and
only since exceeded, on the sea, by the _Fram_.

No greater contrast can be given of the enormous strides which had been
made in navigation during the thirty years which had elapsed since
Franklin sailed away on his last and fatal voyage, than the fact that
whereas after six weeks' journeying Franklin had barely reached the
region of drift ice, in six weeks from the date of leaving Portsmouth
the _Alert_ and _Discovery_ were almost in the region of perpetual ice.
And all owing to the application of steam to ocean travelling.

The route laid down for the expedition was along the western coast of
Greenland and as far through Robeson Channel, which divides Grinnel Land
from Greenland, as it was possible to get. Disko Bay, half-way up the
Greenland coast, was the spot where the _Alert_ and _Discovery_ were to
part company with the _Valorous_. They entered the Bay on July 4, having
had, on the voyage to the North, the peculiar experience of chasing and
overtaking a season. When they left Portsmouth at the end of May,
summer was well in; but when they arrived at Disko Bay they found that
the mild weather which forms the spring had not yet set in sufficiently
to melt all the winter's snows. So that they had travelled quicker than
the summer, having started after it had begun in England, and arrived in
Greenland before it was due.

The early spring flowers were just commencing to bloom on the slopes
around Disko, wherever the snow had melted, while higher up on the
hills, where the winter's snow still lay, the explorers had an
opportunity of looking upon that curious phenomenon, red snow. A minute
animalcule (_Protococcus nivalis_) generates in the frozen covering of
the earth, and increases so rapidly and in such vast numbers that it
gives to its cold white habitat the hue of its own microscopic body.
Another minute creature also breeds in enormous numbers in these bleak
regions, the mosquito, which one usually associates with dense tropical
jungles and fever-breeding swamps. All along the Greenland coast,
wherever there is a pool of fresh water which thaws from the ice-grip,
the larvæ of the mosquito appear in swarms in the spring, and, very
shortly after, the full-fledged insect emerges in the utmost vigour of
irritating stinging life. As the time is short between the period when
the ice melts and when the water freezes again, the Greenland mosquito
has to be active to work out his life mission before he is frozen off,
and the skin of all visitors to his locality gives ample evidence how
well he utilises his opportunities.

In addition to taking on board the surplus stores from the _Valorous_,
the two Arctic ships also took on board teams of dogs for sledging
purposes. Fifty-five in all were shipped, their quarters being situated
on the main deck, where they were necessarily cramped for room, and,
what was worse from their point of view, were unable to get at one
another's throats owing to their being chained to bolts. Consequently
they kept up a constant chorus of snarls and yaps, varied now and again
with a howl as one or another received a remonstrating kick from a
sailor.

This interminable uproar was explained by the Eskimo dog driver, who was
also taken on board, as being due to the fact that most of the dogs were
strangers to one another, and no one was as yet the properly constituted
king.

When Captain McClintock purchased a team of dogs from the Eskimo of King
William's Land, he had a good deal to learn about their peculiarities;
but the people on the _Alert_ and the _Discovery_, having a great many
more dogs than he was able to obtain, had also a great deal more to
learn about them. Sir George Nares, in his account of the expedition,
gives some particulars which were furnished by his Eskimo dog driver,
and these show that the sledge dog is quite as wise as one might expect
from Captain McClintock's experiences.

In every team of dogs, one is the king. He holds that position by
prowess only, and has to fight and thrash every other dog in the team
before he can assume the leadership. When he has once assumed it, he has
to keep it by the same means; for revolutions may at any moment occur,
through some younger dog aspiring to the ruling position. But while a
dog has the position of authority, he exercises his rights with
decision, and the remainder of the team cluster round him and support
him in emergencies, or lie at his feet in times of leisure. The only one
who is allowed to snarl at him without at once being bitten is the
queen. She is among her sex what the king is among his; for though she
depends more upon him for her prominent position than to her own
fighting qualities, she maintains it, when once obtained, by a free use
of her jaws upon encroachers.

Consequently, when a number of teams were brought together on the decks
of the vessels, all strangers to one another, there was a tremendous
amount of fighting in prospect before peace could be granted. Firstly,
the kings of the various teams were anxious to tussle for the supremacy;
and with the prospect of some of them getting badly mauled, there were
several inferiors in each team ready to do battle with their injured
monarch, and, when he was disposed of, with one another, for the
leadership. But their new masters, instead of letting them all loose to
settle their various degrees of authority in their own hereditary
fashion, tied them up where they could see and hear one another without
exchanging a bite. The kings, naturally warlike and ferocious, could
only snap at their inferiors as they bayed in their rage, and the
inferiors could only bay in their pain, and so between them the ship's
company were kept awake by night and annoyed by day.

When at length opportunity occurred for liberating the dogs and giving
them some exercise over the ice, great care had to be taken so as to
prevent a wholesale mêlée. Each team, as they were freed from their deck
chains, were led on to the ice and made fast to a sledge, two men being
in charge of each sledge for the purpose of learning how to drive. And a
highly exciting time they had of it, for not only did every dog want to
start in its own direction as soon as they were harnessed, but every
team wanted to attack every other team directly they appeared.

Nor were the troubles of the drivers limited to the dogs. The whip which
is used for sledge teams consists of a very short handle and a very long
lash. In the hands of an expert it is a most effective weapon, being
capable of producing a resounding crack or a stinging blow wherever the
wielder desires. But in the hands of a novice it is, like the Australian
stock-whip, prone to do everything that the wielder does not wish. The
amateur driver of a team, growing impatient as his dogs set off at full
speed in various directions, and, besides tangling the harness, upset
the sledge and themselves and very nearly himself as well, lashed out
viciously at the worst offender; but the lash, instead of bringing the
creature to his senses, curled back and hit the striker across the face,
or twined round the legs of his companion, with disastrous results.
Meanwhile the Eskimo driver was going from one group to another, trying
to explain the mysteries of the art, much to the amusement of the
onlookers and the indignation of the inexperienced amateurs.

During the wait at Disko, another form of Arctic travelling was
practised by the officers of the expedition. This was the use of the
Eskimo kayak.

The kayak is a long narrow canoe, entirely covered in with a waterproof
covering. The voyager sits in the middle in a small round hole, the
covering lapping over the edges and being fastened round the waist. The
kayak is thus made as buoyant as a life-belt, whether floating on an
even keel or upside down. By reason of their build, they are peculiarly
"cranky" craft, turning over at the least provocation, and so require
extremely careful handling, unless one is an adept at swimming and
diving. The experience of one of the officers made this clear. He had
securely strapped himself in, when, by a false stroke of the paddle, he
overturned the kayak. He could not get it back again and was unable to
loosen the cover; there was only one way of escape, and that possible
alone to a man familiar with being under water. Loosening his clothes,
he wriggled out of them and came to the surface just in time to avoid
drowning.

Having taken on board all the stores that the _Valorous_ carried, as
well as a full supply of coal, the _Alert_ and the _Discovery_ started
in company for the North. The advantages of steam navigation were made
even more apparent as they proceeded, for the ships were able to steam
through ice-encumbered water which would have been quite impassable for
sailing vessels. Depending so much upon the wind, a sailing vessel is
only able to make headway amongst heavy drifting floes by means of long
hawsers, run out and made fast to a mass of ice and then slowly hauled
in at the capstan. Steamers, on the other hand, experience no difficulty
in forcing their way past and between the lesser floes, and Sir George
Nares, who had had a great deal of experience of sailing vessels in the
ice regions, was frequently astounded at the ease with which the two
steamers rammed their way, clearing from out of their course lumps of
ice which would have been difficult obstacles to a sailing ship.

Those on board, however, were not to escape without some experience of
the peculiarities of ice movements. The vessels were going to make fast
for the night, and a boat's crew was sent from the _Alert_ to carry an
anchor to a large, heavy mass not far distant. On near approach it was
seen that the lump was very rotten, and, as no hold for the anchor
could be found near the water-line, one of the men volunteered to
clamber up to the top and, with an ice chisel, make a hold for it. He
clambered on to the slippery, treacherous mass, and, after a great deal
of very careful exertion, succeeded in reaching a point high enough for
his purpose. He began lustily to drive in the chisel, but so rotten was
the ice, that instead of merely chipping out a crevice, he cracked the
top of the lump. Another blow, and, to his intense amazement, a huge
mass in front of him slid away. Gliding down the side, fortunately away
from the boat, it splashed into the sea. But the removal of so much from
the top of the berg upset its balance, with the result that it swayed
from one side to the other as it recovered its equilibrium. The
unfortunate sailor, with nothing to cling to, had to scramble up and
over the summit as the berg dipped down; but no sooner was he over the
top than the berg swung the other way, and he had to scramble back
again. There was no means of escape until the berg settled down once
more, and in the meantime his companions in the boat and on the steamer
were shouting with laughter at the antics of what they called their
squirrel on the iceberg.

While he was in his lofty if unsteady position, however, he noticed on a
floe not far distant three walrus, and as soon as he returned to the
ship and reported his discovery, a boat with a harpoon and two rifles
was despatched. The three animals lay contentedly enough on the ice,
paying scarcely any heed to the advancing boat, with the result that all
were hit. The two that were shot slid off into the water and sank, but
the one that was harpooned could not escape. He was an immense creature,
measuring over twelve feet in length and eleven feet round the thickest
part; his tusks were over eighteen inches long, and, when cut up, he
yielded five casks of meat, weighing 1250 lbs.

As the two vessels advanced farther to the North they found that the
character of the ice was very different from that met with in the
neighbourhood of Baffin's Bay and Lancaster Sound. It was more massive
and heavy, a berg they passed towering nearly 300 feet above the
water-line, and floes frequently occurring some miles in length and
standing 50 feet out of the water. The possibility of being caught
between such masses and "nipped" was a constant danger, for no vessel
could possibly withstand the tremendous pressure exerted by two floes of
that size colliding. A constant look-out had to be maintained from the
crow's-nest for any sign ahead of the floes closing in, and by careful
navigation anything like a severe "nip" was avoided.

By August 24 they had made such excellent progress as to be nearly at
the end of the hitherto explored channel. A southerly wind was helping
them along, but about four in the afternoon it began to die away. They
were then in Bessel Bay, and in order to see how the ice was ahead, Sir
George Nares decided to land and climb to the top of Cape Morton, which
is some 2000 feet in height. From the summit a magnificent view was
obtained, of which the following description is given by Sir George
Nares in his account of the expedition:--

"It was a beautiful morning, with scarcely a cloud in the sky. The cold,
sharp wind which had benumbed us at the sea-level was local, for, on the
summit of the cape, it was perfectly calm. Sixty miles distant in the
south-west were the Victoria and Albert mountains of Grinnel Land,
fronted by Hans Island showing clear of Cape Bryan, which had Hannah
Island nestling at its base. Farther north was an elevated spur from the
main range which, rising between Archer Fjord and Kennedy Channel,
formed Daly Promontory. Fronting these mountains, and directly separated
from them by an extensive valley extending to the northward from Carl
Ritter Bay, was the black buttress-shaped cliff forming Cape Back, the
southern extremity of the nearly straight running line of flat-topped
coast hills extending twenty miles to Cape Defosse. From that point the
coast line became more hilly, and, joining the Daly mountains, extended
to Cape Lieber, a bluff headland, with Cape Baird, a low, flat point,
jutting out beyond it. Still farther north were the lofty mountains of
Grant's Land with steep cliffs about Cape Union, though seventy miles
distant distinctly visible, forming the western extremity of Robeson
Channel. Nearly due north a slight break in the continuity of the land
showed where Robeson Channel opened into the Polar Sea. On the eastern
side of the strait, at a distance of forty miles, was Cape Lupton, the
notable landmark denominated Polaris Promontory; then came Polaris Bay
with the low plains leading to Newman Bay. At my feet lay Cape Tyson and
Cape Mary Cleverly on the north shore of Petermann Fjord, rising to an
elevation of 1500 feet."

In this district, picturesque and beautiful as portrayed by the
explorer's description, the _Discovery_ wintered, while the _Alert_ went
on farther North. The spot where the _Discovery_ was left, and which was
named Discovery Bay, was a large, well-protected inlet inside an island,
the outer point of which formed Cape Bellot. In the summer it was
sparsely covered with loose ice, but in the winter, sea, hills, cape,
and plains were all covered in the one white garb. As the two vessels
entered the bay early on the morning of August 25, what at first were
taken to be nine boulders were observed on the shore; but as the vessels
swung to their anchors, the boulders were observed to move away. At once
the cry of "musk oxen" was raised, and boats were hastily lowered,
filled with sportsmen keen for the chase. The oxen, disturbed by the
noise, made for the higher ground, where they were followed by the
enthusiastic shooting party until every one of the nine was brought to
the ground.

The following day, August 26, the ships parted company, the _Alert_
taking with her an officer and a sledge team of men from the
_Discovery_, with the idea of sending them back overland when winter
quarters were selected, an idea which had to be abandoned by reason of
the impassable nature of the country. On the last day of the month the
_Alert_ met a particularly heavy floe, the ice forming it being of the
massive character which denoted that its origin was the Polar Sea. Once
the grinding mass of hummocks, rising higher than the vessel's decks,
threatened to catch her. There would have been no hope of escape if they
had, and only by persistently ramming her way through some of the looser
ice did she escape in towards the shore. Next day a strong gale sprang
up from the south-west, and the _Alert_ went along at ten miles an hour
in an open channel between the land and the heavy pack which was
drifting about three miles out. By midday they reached latitude 82° 24'
N., and the flags were run up to the mastheads amid general rejoicing,
for it was the farthest point North to which a ship had yet sailed.

With the channel showing clear ahead of them and the spanking breeze
astern, expectation was high on board that they would be able to sail
right up to latitude 84°, but within an hour their hopes were suddenly
and thoroughly checked. On hauling to the westward they rounded a
promontory and found that the land trended away to the west. The wind
veered round to the north-west and drove the ice in upon the channel,
which gradually became narrower until, when off Cape Sheridan, the main
pack was observed to be touching the grounded ice and effectually
barring all further progress. The _Alert_ was run close up to the end of
the channel, and then, when it was certain that there was no chance of
getting through the barrier, she was anchored to a floe which rested
aground off the cape. The next day, as the heavy ice of the pack was
grinding against the stranded floe, and an opening just large enough for
the vessel to get in was observed in the floe, she was warped into the
basin.

She was barely inside when a solid hummock crushed against the opening,
forming a great barrier between the vessel and the outer moving pack.
Had it struck there a few minutes earlier the vessel would have been
severely injured by the "nip," but as it was the hummock formed an
admirable shelter from the pressure of the pack. This was often so
severe that masses over 30,000 tons in weight were broken off and forced
up the inclined shore, rising twelve and fourteen feet higher out of the
water as they crunched along the ground.

On September 4 new ice formed on the water in which the ship was
floating, and from observations taken from high land inshore all doubt
was removed as to where they were. They had navigated to the end of
Robeson Channel and were now in the Polar Sea. No land could be seen to
the north; nothing but a vast wilderness of huge masses of Polar ice,
most of which had evidently been frozen for years. At midnight on the
same day they saw the last of the sun as it sank below the northern
horizon.

Winter was now upon them, and they set to work to make their quarters as
comfortable as possible. Snow came down heavily for some days, but not
for a week or so was it hard enough to cut into the blocks suitable for
building snow houses. When these were built, stores were removed to them
and observatories fitted up for recording the various conditions of the
atmosphere. On September 14 a severe gale sprang up, which caused the
ice to move so much that the thin new ice in the basin was broken up and
a boat's crew were drifted away on to a floe-berg 200 yards from the
ship, from whence they were only rescued after great difficulty and in a
half-frozen condition.

Some days subsequently, while a sledge party was on shore, one man was
badly frost-bitten. He did not know it until some time after, but he had
tried to thaw his frozen foot-wraps in his sleeping-bag instead of first
removing them. The loss of feeling and then of use in his legs crippled
him, and when he was brought on board it was seen what was wrong. This
is one of the several evils men have to carefully guard against in the
excessive cold. So long as they experience the stinging sensation of
cold, they are free from a frost-bite; but a man may have his face
bitten and not realise it until he is told that he has turned dead
white. Circulation has then been arrested, and immediate steps have to
be taken to bring it back, or the flesh becomes dead.

The dogs also began to suffer from a disease which sent them into fits,
and which puzzled the Eskimo driver and the doctors. Some of them
wandered away over the ice and others died, until only fifteen remained
out of thirty, and many of those were thin and weakly. Then, as the cold
increased, ice formed in the chimneys, and damp settled on the beams and
walls between decks every time the cold air was admitted, so that it had
to be constantly sponged up, while the officers had to spread waterproof
coverings over their beds to protect themselves from it when they slept.

On November 8 it was so dark at midday that a newspaper could not be
read, nor could a man be distinguished a dozen yards away. For
eighty-seven days more the sun would be absent, but the moon visited the
dark, cold skies, appearing for ten days without setting, and then going
out of sight for thirteen. On November 13 the cold was so intense that
the mercury froze in the thermometer.

But if it was dark and cold outside, the ship's company made themselves
comfortable. A school was started, a theatre was opened--the Royal
Arctic--and every Thursday they had popular concerts. Exercise was daily
taken and the general health was excellent, only one man being on the
sick-list, and he from a constitutional cause. The men were warmly clad
when "between decks," as the temperature there was never what one might
term hot; but before going outside they had to wrap themselves up in a
variety of thick heavy fur garments, for there was often a difference of
nearly one hundred degrees to be experienced.

The long stretch of winter's darkness was varied by the appearance, from
time to time, of the aurora. This was the phenomenon which so greatly
puzzled, and not infrequently terrified, the early explorers. Assuming a
variety of forms, sometimes like the fringe of a vast curtain hanging in
the sky, at others appearing as bands and streaks of light, waving and
flickering over the heavens, but always with this peculiarity, that
however bright they appeared, no light was given to the surrounding
atmosphere, they were a source of constant interest to the men.

And so the winter passed, not entirely without its pleasures, in spite
of the prolonged darkness. With the beginning of spring active
preparations were made for the sledging trips, which were to carry out
the work of surveying the surrounding land and penetrating farther to
the North than it was possible for the vessels to go. The great majority
of the officers and men on the _Alert_ were told off for these
expeditions, six officers and six men remaining on board, while
fifty-three were split up into two parties, one to survey the coast of
Grant's Land, and the other, under Commander Markham and Lieutenant
Parr, to go North--to the Pole if possible.

The day the start was made the two parties were drawn up in line
alongside the ship, and the chaplain read prayers, after which, with
cheers for one another and the men left behind, they started.

Both did good service, the survey party carrying the survey round the
coast well on to the western side. The North Pole party pressed on in
the face of terrible difficulties until they reached the farthest point
North that had yet been recorded.

In addition to the sledges laden with stores, they dragged with them two
whale-boats in case they should meet with open water. But there was no
sign of it as far as they went. On the contrary, their route lay over
such excessively rough ice that although they travelled as a rule about
ten miles a day, so much of it was spent in getting round inaccessible
hummocks, that the actual progress towards the North rarely exceeded one
mile a day.

When on April 11 they bade their comrades farewell, they had provisions
for seventy days, and all were in good health and spirits. The work of
dragging the boats and sledges up and down the great masses of rugged
ice which covered the Polar Sea was terribly trying, however, and by the
time the ten miles were covered every one was ready to creep into the
sleeping-bags and rest. As the sun began to rise above the horizon it
made the snow and ice sparkle and glitter so much that their eyes,
accustomed for so long to darkness, could not stand it. Goggles had to
be worn to protect the sight, but before they were adopted by all the
members several were affected, and Lieutenant Parr for some days
suffered from snow-blindness, an affliction which fortunately passed
away in time.

As the days went by, the toil of dragging the sledges over the
interminable and monotonous ice became more and more wearying. There was
no variety in the work, no change in the surroundings; and although the
men stuck at their task with true British obstinacy, it began to tell
upon them. One man fell sick, growing weaker and weaker until he was no
longer able to pull, and then was unable to walk. One of the boats was
abandoned, and the sick man laid on a sledge. His condition was more
than disquieting to the leaders, for it was evident he was suffering
from scurvy, and no one could say who would be the next to develop it.

On April 23 they only added a mile and a quarter to their distance, for
they had come upon clumps of ice hummocks which made their progress so
difficult that they had to combine forces to haul first one sledge and
then another over the obstacles. On April 28, when they were seventeen
miles from the shore, they found the track of a hare in the snow, going
towards the land, but with the footprints so close together that the
animal was evidently very weak. Where it had come from, or how it had
got so far from the shore, were riddles they could not solve.

As May came in signs of scurvy made themselves only too evident among
the members of the crew, and on May 11 the leaders decided that the next
day they would have to turn to the south once more. They started with a
light sledge in the morning and pushed on till noon, when they took
their bearings. They had reached latitude 83° 20' 26" N., and were then
only 399½ miles from the Pole itself, having beaten all other records of
Arctic explorations.

The little band, weary and sickening, forgot their woes in the presence
of their achievement. A jorum of whisky had been presented to the
expedition by the Dean of Dundee on condition that it was opened in the
highest latitude reached. It was now produced, and the success of their
efforts was toasted, the while each man smoked a cigar, also sent for
consumption in the "farthest North."

A hole was cut in the ice and soundings were taken, the sea being
seventy-two fathoms (432 feet) deep below them, with a clay bottom, the
surface temperature being 28.5° and the temperature at the bottom 28.8°.
Then they turned their backs upon the cold, bleak, ice-bound North, and
began the journey home again, a journey which was to prove more trying
than that which they had already accomplished.

The man who had first sickened, and whose name was Porter, had become so
weak that he could not move from the sledge on which he lay wrapped in
a sleeping-bag. Gradually one man after another began to lose his
strength, until three or four were only able to support themselves, and
could give no assistance in hauling the sledges, with the result that
the labour pressed all the more heavily on the remainder of the party,
all of whom were more or less affected by scurvy. The first fortnight of
the return journey was a terribly wearying time to the leaders, for they
saw their men becoming weaker every day, so that the progress was slower
and more difficult, while at the same time the only hope of escape was
to reach land. On the coast it would be possible for relief to meet
them, but out amongst the rugged hummocks of the Polar Sea the whole
ship's company would not be able to find them. The extra work thrown
upon those who were not entirely incapacitated told severely upon their
already enfeebled systems. The toil no longer encouraged their
appetites; instead, the sight of food became nauseous to them, until
towards the end of the month half a pannikin of pemmican was more than
each man could manage to eat. But the toil was still as weary, and the
cold as intense, and without sufficient food to keep up their strength,
the outlook was almost hopeless.

Still, however, the little band of seventeen struggled on, setting an
example of courage, determination, and absolute devotion to discipline
and duty which has won for them as deep an admiration as their
achievement of the "farthest North" record. On June 2 only six men and
the two officers were able to do anything in the way of labour. Five men
lay sick and helpless on the already laden sledges, and four more were
just able to stagger along from point to point after the dreary
procession of sledges. The progress was very slow now, as it required
all the strength which was left in the eight, who alone were able to do
anything, to move one sledge at a time. The second boat had been
abandoned, as it could not be dragged farther, and the strain of moving
the three sledges that remained was so great that when, on June 5, land
was reached after an absence of two months, the entire party was in a
state of collapse.

The next day they rested and debated what was the best course to adopt
to obtain help, for it was outside of their power to drag the sledges
any farther. Porter was almost at death's door, and unless help came
very soon several more would be in a similar condition. Lieutenant Parr
was the strongest, but even he was in a very low condition. That,
however, did not rob him of his courage, nor of his readiness to give
the rest of his life, if necessary, for the rescue of his comrades.

He volunteered to set out alone for the ship, to carry word of the
terrible plight of the party and the need for instant relief. It was
almost a hopeless task, and the heavy hearts of the stricken men,
beating more hopefully at the token of such manly bravery, drooped again
as they remembered the dreary miles of snow and ice which would have to
be covered, and saw the weakened state of their would-be rescuer's
strength. But he was not to be gainsaid; weak as he was, he was yet the
strongest of the party, and he would make the attempt.

On June 7 he started, the little band watching him as he trudged bravely
away, giving him as hearty a cheer as they could. Slowly he made his way
over the frozen shore, and, when he had passed out of sight, the men
looked at one another and wondered. How far would he get before death
overtook him? How long before they all yielded to the same conqueror?

By the next morning one had already gone, Porter passing away after
nearly two months' fighting against the scourge. Commander Markham, and
the four who were alone able to help him, paid the last honours to their
deceased comrade. The British ensign was lowered to half-mast on the
pole of the big sledge and a Union Jack was carefully wrapped round the
body. With great exertion, in their emaciated condition, a place was
hollowed out in the frozen soil, and there they placed him, the funeral
service being read by Commander Markham, who, in his diary, thus wrote
of the ceremony: "Of all the melancholy and mournful duties I have ever
been called upon to perform, this has been the saddest. A death in a
small party like ours, and under the present circumstances, is a most
depressing event, and is keenly felt by all. During the service all
were more or less affected, and many to tears."

A rude cross was fashioned out of a boat's oar and a spare sledge
batten, and it was placed at the head of the grave with the following
inscription: "Beneath this cross lie buried the remains of GEORGE
PORTER, R.M.A., who died June 8, 1876. 'Thy will be done!'"

Anxiously they waited during the rest of the day, wondering as to the
fate of Lieutenant Parr, and half expecting to see him stagger back to
the camp, his splendid courage overcome by the difficulties of his
journey. But he did not return, and the men crept into their
sleeping-bags under the tents scarcely daring to think what the morrow
would bring forth. One or two of the sick men were visibly worse since
the death of Porter, and the next day might mean the end of their lives.
If their gallant rescuer managed to make his way at all, he could not
reach the ship in time for relief to come for another day or two, and no
man dared to speak of what might occur in that interval.

The shouts of men's voices while they were yet within their
sleeping-bags on the morning of June 9 were so unexpected, that, at
first, those who heard them blamed their ears for playing them false.
But it was no deception. Lieutenant Parr, with a magnificent heroism
that deserves honour even among the many brave deeds which British
sailors have performed, struggled on after leaving the camp without a
stop until he came in sight of the _Alert_. Directly he was discovered
he told of his comrades waiting helpless and sick. Relief parties were
formed on the moment, and two officers, Lieutenants May and Moss, with a
dog-team sledge laden with lime-juice and restoratives, started away
while the other sledges were loading.

They pressed on without a halt until they saw the tents of the camp,
when they shouted, as no one was to be seen about the place. They were
up to the tents before any one came out, and when they did it was as
though new life had been given to each man. The lime-juice, of which
they were in such dire want--for by an oversight it had been omitted
from the stores--was at once served round, giving fresh energy to those
who were still able to move about, and greatly relieving those who were
incapacitated.

On the arrival of the remainder of the relief party, the invalids were
all removed to the ship and attended to, every man recovering, under
medical treatment, before the _Alert_ weighed anchor for the South. This
was done in August, when she rejoined the _Discovery_, the officers of
which had also done splendid service in surveying the interior of
Grinnel Land, behind Discovery Bay, and also along the northern coast of
Greenland.

While the _Discovery_ was lying in her winter quarters a successful
attempt was made by Lieutenant Beaumont, accompanied by Dr. Coppinger
and sixteen men, dragging two sledges, to communicate with the _Alert_.
They started away on April 6, while the cold was still nearly 70° below
zero, a temperature which made sleeping almost impossible, as they had
constantly to exercise to maintain their bodily heat. In spite of these
drawbacks, however, the _Alert_ was reached.

The intention was to continue the journey across Robeson Channel over to
Greenland, and to explore as much of the northern coast as was possible.
Reinforced by Lieutenant Rawson and five men, the party started on April
20, from the _Alert_, with four sledges and provisions for fifty-six
days. As they approached the Greenland coast the ice was very rough and
tumbled about in irregular blocks, with heavy snow lying ankle deep.
Arriving at Polaris Bay, a depôt of stores was made and a detachment
left in charge, the journey then being resumed; but the ice became more
and more difficult, and the snow deeper. The strength of the whole party
was taxed to the utmost to make any progress, and at the end of each
day's work every one was wearied out with fatigue. Falls were frequent,
owing to the unevenness of the ice, and one man, Hand, was particularly
unfortunate in this respect. By the time that Cape Stanton was reached
he was suffering considerably from stiffness, which was at first
attributed to his tumbles; but when pain began to be manifest in his
legs and gums, the truth of the matter became evident. He was affected
with scurvy.

This discovery was made on May 10, and the leader at once decided to
send him back to Polaris Bay with Lieutenant Rawson and six men. The
remainder of the men were asked to say whether they fancied they were
affected; but all maintained the contrary, and asked to be allowed to
continue the journey.

With six men Lieutenant Beaumont continued the route to the North, while
Lieutenant Rawson returned to the depôt at Polaris Bay. On his way other
members of his party developed scurvy, and their plight was so
distressful that for some days before they reached the depôt, which they
did on June 3, Lieutenant Rawson and one man alone were able to drag the
sledge, the former being so severely afflicted with snow-blindness that
he had to walk for days with his eyes covered by a bandage. Hand, the
first man affected, died as the sledge came within sight of the camp.

In the meantime Lieutenant Beaumont's party pushed on, difficulties
increasing with every mile. The snow became deeper as they advanced,
until they sank at every step over their knees. Describing it, the
leader said: "The hard crust on the top would only just _not_ bear you,
while the depth prevented you from pushing forward through it, each leg
sinking to about three inches above the knee, and the effort of lifting
them so high as to extricate them from the deep footholes soon began to
tell upon the men." The sun shining on the snow seemed to be unusually
warm, while the exertion made them intensely thirsty, besides so
exhausting them that they had to stop every fifty yards to rest and
recover their breath. They were crossing a wide bay at the time,
striving to reach the other shore, which did not seem to be more than a
mile away. But the clearness of the atmosphere was very deceiving as to
distance, for they struggled on for two days and still the coast only
seemed to be a mile distant.

In order to make the way easier the men were marched four abreast, the
sledge being left until a road was forced through the snow. For five
miles the march was continued, and at the end of that distance the coast
did not appear a yard nearer.

Sending the men back to the sledge with orders to rest till he rejoined
them, Lieutenant Beaumont and one man went forward. But after some hours
of trying effort they did not reach the coast, and were compelled to
turn back, having been able to observe that the shore was composed of
great towering cliffs with the snow piled up at the base. When they
returned to the spot where the sledge had been left, they were
thoroughly worn out by their exertions. As comfortable an encampment as
could be arranged was made, and for two days the party remained resting.

Symptoms of scurvy were making themselves apparent among the men under
the fatigue brought on by their excessive toil; but no word of
complaint was spoken, every man being ready and willing to do his duty.
In the retreat of Commander Markham and his men from the "farthest
North," a splendid example of British heroism and discipline was given.
The story of Lieutenant Beaumont's party furnishes another.

The growing sickness of some of the men and the decreasing store of
provisions brought home to the leader the necessity of a return being
made. At the end of the two days' rest the sledge was turned in the
direction of Polaris Bay and the men retraced their steps, finding the
travelling somewhat easier now that they could use the road they had
made by their previous passage through the snow. But the leader wanted
to be able to form some idea of the coast line beyond where they had
been turned back, and, time after time, he made ineffectual efforts to
reach the shore and scale some high hill. At last he was successful,
after tremendous exertion, in reaching the summit of Dragon Point, an
altitude of 3700 feet. From here he was able to command an extensive
view, the land extending away as far as he could see into a cape which
he named Britannia Cape.

On June 13 they arrived at Repulse Bay depôt, and the state of the
health of the men is best shown by the record Lieutenant Beaumont left,
and which was recovered by members of the Greely expedition six years
later. The record, dated June 13, 1876, reads:--

     "Three of us have returned from the camp half a mile south to
     fetch the remainder of the provisions. Dobing has failed altogether
     this morning; Jones is much worse, and cannot last more than two or
     three days; Craig is nearly helpless; therefore we cannot hope to
     reach Polaris Bay without assistance. Two men cannot do it, so we
     will go as far as we can, and live as long as we can. God help us.
     L. A. BEAUMONT."

The discovery of this record, and the simple, manly faith and courage it
betokened, was destined to be of great service to another band of
English-speaking explorers in later years, and their opinion of it, and
the admiration they felt for the man who wrote it, will be told in the
account of the Greely expedition.

Meanwhile that Lieutenant Beaumont was making his heroic efforts to save
the men of his party, Lieutenant Rawson was growing anxious as to their
position. As they did not appear, he, on June 22, in company with one of
the Eskimo and a dog-team sledge, started along the coast in search of
them. Three days later they were met--on the last march they could have
made, for they were at the end of their strength. Lieutenant Beaumont,
in his account, says: "On the evening of the 24th we started for our
last journey with the sledge; for, finding that Jones and Gray were
scarcely able to pull, I had determined on reaching the shore to pitch
the tent for the sick men and walk over to Polaris Bay by myself, and
see if there was any one there to help us. If not, to come back and send
Jones and Gray, who could still walk, to the depôt, while I remained
with the sick and got them on as best I could."

When Lieutenant Rawson met them, he found the intrepid Beaumont
straining at the sledge, with the two sick men helping him as much as
they could, while on the sledge lay the four helpless invalids, made as
comfortable as circumstances would permit. No time was lost in removing
them to Polaris Bay, where, under medical treatment, all recovered save
one. After a brief rest at Polaris Bay the journey back to the
_Discovery_ was successfully carried out, and Lieutenant Beaumont had
the pleasure of learning that his expedition had added considerably to
the geographical knowledge of Northern Greenland.

Shortly after the return of the sledge parties the _Alert_ rejoined the
_Discovery_, and, towards the end of August, both vessels weighed anchor
and started for England, where they arrived on November 2, 1876, having
been absent for seventeen months, during which time they had carried the
British flag to the "farthest North," and had brought within the
knowledge of man localities previously unknown. They had not reached the
Pole, and had come to the conclusion, after their experiences, that to
do so was beyond the range of human possibility.




CHAPTER VI

THE GREELY EXPEDITION

     The Scheme of the Expedition--Fort Conger--Arctic
     Wolves--Atmospheric Marvels--A Terrific Storm--Influence of the
     Sun--Lieutenant Lockwood's Expedition--The Second
     Winter--Preparations for Departure--They leave Fort Conger--A
     Remarkable Ice Passage--They fail to make Cape Sabine--A New
     Camp--Rations running Short--Fruitless Efforts to reach Food
     Depôts--Starvation and Death--A Bitter Blow--The Arrival of the
     _Thetis_.


In 1881 the Government of the United States determined to send out
another expedition towards the North Pole, and a vote of $25,000 having
been passed by Congress for the purpose, Lieutenant Adolphus Washington
Greely was appointed to the command. Lieutenant Greely, who was an
officer in the 5th Cavalry regiment, had, as his companions, three
officers and twenty-one men selected from the United States army.

The scheme of the expedition was to proceed by steamer as far north as
Lady Franklin Bay, where they were to form a depôt on Grinnel Land, and,
using it as a base, push forward, by means of dog-sledges over the ice,
and by steam launch over the open water, as far north as it was possible
to get.

The steamer _Proteus_, a vessel 467 tons and 110 horse-power, was
chartered by the explorers to convey them from New York to Lady
Franklin Bay. They sailed in June and proceeded to Upernavik, in
Greenland, where they took on board their sledge dogs and two Eskimo,
Jens and Frederick, to look after them. On July 1 they resumed their
journey in fairly open water. The season was especially mild, and they
were able to make excellent travelling through the unimpeded water. On
the way they stopped at Cary Islands and examined the records left there
by Sir George Nares in 1875, and which had been examined once before by
Sir Allen Young, in 1876. The sea was full of white whales, narwhals,
and grampus. The latter has the reputation of being a voracious feeder,
one authority stating that a dead grampus was found, choked by a seal he
had attempted to swallow, although, when he was opened, his stomach was
found to contain no fewer than thirteen porpoises and fourteen seals.

On August 4 the _Proteus_, for the first time during the voyage, was
stopped by the ice. Being built specially for navigating the ice-covered
seas, she was very powerful in the bows, which were further embellished
by a strong iron prow. Thus she was able to force her way through ice
which would have been impassable to a lighter craft. Her method, when
she was faced by moderately thin ice which was yet thick enough to stop
her ordinary progress, was to steam astern for a couple of hundred yards
and then rush full speed at the ice. The strength of the iron prow and
the force of her powerful engines drove her into the floe, but the
operation was one that required great care. As she approached the floe,
the crew, running from one side of the deck to the other, caused her to
roll as she struck, the engines being reversed directly her prow
penetrated the ice, so as to prevent her wedging herself in. This
exciting operation was repeated several times when she met the floe in
Lady Franklin Bay, and only by its means was she able to ram her way
through and reach the destination of the expedition.

A site for landing was selected on the north of Discovery Bay (where the
_Discovery_ wintered in 1876), and on August 11, 1881, Greely landed,
and proceeded to the cairn which had been erected by the Nares
expedition. Here he found two copper cases labelled "Reports and General
Information." The date upon them, which showed when they were deposited,
was August 11, 1876, exactly five years before to a day.

Proceeding a little distance from the spot where the _Discovery_ winter
quarters had been erected, a suitable situation was marked out for "Fort
Conger," which was to form the base of the operations pending the time
when the relief ship was due to take the expedition home again.

[Illustration: SHOOTING MUSK OX IN THE ARCTIC REGIONS.

These animals form a welcome addition to the larder of the Arctic
explorer.]

During the following week every one was hard at work erecting the frame
house which was to form their home during the next two years, unloading
stores and other articles belonging to the expedition, arranging the
heavy casks and cases of imperishable provisions near the house, and
exploring and hunting over the surrounding country. The hunting was a
necessary part of the business, for winter would soon be in and no fresh
meat would then be obtainable. So a few of the best shots spent their
time in the valleys round the bay, where a large number of musk oxen and
other game frequented.

On August 18, all the stores, &c., belonging to the party were landed
from the _Proteus_, and that vessel, being discharged, got up steam and
bade farewell. She was, however, prevented from getting out of sight
until August 26, the ice setting in rapidly and strongly. The men of the
party worked with such a will that they had their house built, the
recording instruments erected in proper localities, the provisions
stacked, and everything in order sufficiently early to permit them to
carry out some surveys while the weather was yet mild enough for sledge
travelling. Attention was also given to obtaining as much game as
possible, and by the time that the temperature was cold enough to
warrant their going into winter quarters and giving up outside work at
any distance from Fort Conger, they had obtained for their larder
twenty-six musk oxen and ten ducks, besides hare, seal, and ptarmigan,
in all 6000 lbs. of fresh meat for their own food, and an equal amount
for the dogs.

In the middle of September they were visited by a large pack of wolves.
These were first discovered prowling over the ice on the harbour in
front of the encampment, and, fearing the loss of some of the dogs, as
well as provisions, a hunting party went out to shoot them. But the
wolves were too cunning, keeping out of range until the men were tired
out. They were frequently fired at, but none fell, although, as
subsequent events proved, this might not have been due to bad
marksmanship. The Arctic wolves, as was discovered later, are perhaps
the most tenacious of life of any of the Northern animals.

One was seen, a day or so later, within a hundred yards of the house. It
was immediately fired at, and rolled over with a bullet through the
body; but before the marksman could get over to where it lay, the
apparently dead creature scrambled to its feet and made off, bleeding
profusely. The trail left by the blood was distinctly visible on the
snow, although the wolf itself, being covered with pure white fur, was
quite invisible. For over an hour the trail was followed, and when at
last the dead body was found, it lay practically bloodless, having
struggled on while there was a drop of blood in its veins. In view of
the difficulty of shooting them, the men resolved to poison them. But
here, again, the wolves were not to be caught.

The first time that poisoned meat was put out it was left untouched.
Some good meat was added, and at once disappeared, though the pieces
containing poison were still left alone. The poisoned baits were then
taken up, and only good meat put down, the wolves always taking it
until, their confidence being aroused, a few poisoned baits were mixed
with the other. The experiment succeeded so well that when the baits
were next visited four wolves and one fox were found dead. The others,
evidently alarmed, made off and did not again return.

As October passed the phenomena of the solar halo and aurora began to
make their appearance. The observation of atmospheric conditions being
one of the objects of the expedition, great attention was paid to these
displays, and some excellent descriptions were given of them. One which
occurred on October 21 and lasted five hours is thus described by the
leader of the expedition:--

"It consisted of two concentric rings, distant 23° and 46° respectively
from the sun, which were marked by five mock suns where the rainbow
tints were most clearly displayed. This was followed at evening by the
first aurora display, in the form of a delicate convoluted ribbon of
colourless light. On the 24th there was another halo. This was a double
one, there being two perfect concentric half-circles, distant 23° and
46° from the sun, each half-circle having a contact arch of magnificent
clearness. No fewer than six mock suns appeared, two on either hand and
two above the real sun, with prismatic colours in each case as vivid,
and clear as in any rainbow, the heavens being filled with a great glow
and wealth of colour."

After the sun had gone and the twilight of the long winter night had
set in, the sky was vivid, at one time, with a wide sweep of red,
yellow, and blue, marked by bars of white light running up and down.
Later, when the moon had risen, further atmospheric marvels were
recorded.

On one occasion the moon was surrounded by two circles, 22° and 46°
above the horizon. Both were topped by contact arches, and within them
six mock moons were present, two on each side of the true moon, and two
directly above it, all of which were brilliant with the colours of the
rainbow. Spires of light proceeded from the moon vertically, reaching
downwards to the horizon, and upwards to the outer circle. In addition
to these, a brilliant streak of white clear light extended from the
moon, horizontally, on both sides, completely round the horizon, and now
and again a faint mock moon of rainbow colours appeared high over the
whole, and another very low under it, making eight mock moons all
visible at the same moment round the real one. The moon was also seen
surrounded by a corona of four distinct bands of coloured light, the
first white, the second yellow, the third blue, and the outer one red.

But all the experiences of the winter were not so gratifying as these
aerial displays. As soon as the snow lay thick on the ground the men
banked it up against the sides of the house until they were completely
covered in up to the eaves. It then froze on the outside, and the house
was practically covered in with ice. This was of very great value in
preventing the loss of heat from the interior, and, later on, in saving
the house from being blown away in a terrific hurricane which occurred.
But even with the protection of the frozen snow outside, and the
constant burning of fires and lamps inside, the temperature of the house
was, in midwinter, so cold that any water accidentally spilled on the
floor turned to ice, and unless the ink-bottle was kept near a burning
lamp, the ink froze at once. Outside everything except alcohol was
frozen solid, the mercury being hard in the thermometers, and even the
rum getting thick as syrup. The lime-juice, of which a daily ration was
taken, was frozen into tablets, and so quickly did any liquid turn to
ice that some of the sledge-dog puppies were frozen to the ground
through running on to the place where the warm contents of the
slush-bucket were thrown.

Early in January the barometer, falling very rapidly, warned them that a
severe storm was approaching. Suddenly a fierce gust of wind swept over
the house, followed by a steady blow, the apparatus for registering the
velocity of the wind showing it to be at the rate of eighteen miles an
hour. The barometer continuing to fall, a man was sent out to take an
observation from an outside station, but the force of the wind had
increased so much that he could not face it alone, and two men had to
go. The air was soon filled with driving snow, and the rate of the wind
reached fifty miles an hour. It was now only possible for six men,
supporting one another, to stand against the dense volumes of snow which
the wind carried. When the velocity attained to sixty-five miles an
hour, fears were entertained as to the safety of the house. But still
the wind increased until, in a series of terrific gusts and squalls, the
house rocked and trembled as the register marked ninety miles an hour.
It was a moment of intense anxiety for the members of the party, for the
destruction of the house at that period of the year would almost
inevitably have meant their own destruction. Fortunately it was securely
built and so well protected by the banked-up snow, that it withstood the
fury of the hurricane.

This furious outburst was the final effort of the winter, for within a
few days of its occurrence the sky began to show signs of the
approaching sunrise; with the advent of light the spirits of the party,
necessarily depressed by the prolonged darkness, rapidly resumed their
normal contentment. When at last enough natural light existed for the
men to see one another, they were amused at the appearance of their
faces. The prolonged absence of sunlight had entirely robbed their
cheeks of any semblance of ruddiness, their complexions having changed
to a ghastly yellowy green tint, as though each one was suffering from a
severe attack of sea-sickness. The murky light of the lamps had not
revealed the change, and the more vainglorious were considerably
disturbed at their bleached cheeks, fearful lest the pallor should
always remain, like the whiteness of the bear's fur. But it passed off
under the influence of the sunshine.

Nor was this the only change produced by the sun. The effect of it upon
the land was so pronounced as almost to seem marvellous. Directly spring
set in sledge parties were despatched in all directions to survey and
spy out the country. One was led by Greely himself, its course being
along the route marked out, for a certain distance, by one of the
_Discovery_ parties in 1876.

Passing beyond the limits of the previous exploration, a large river,
entirely frozen over, was discovered, and along its course the party
made their way. The ice was wonderfully smooth in comparison with that
on the salt water, and excellent travelling was made, the men and
sledges frequently being able to slide for a hundred yards at a time. At
the head of the river they found an enormous glacier completely blocking
up the valley, extending five miles from side to side, and 175 feet
high. This was late in April, and everywhere the ground was covered with
ice and snow, desolate and motionless, with no sign of life, and no
sound, save the faint gurgle of running water which was occasionally
noticed under the ice on the river.

Early in July, little more than two months later, this valley was again
visited, but so great was the change in its appearance that the men
might have doubted its identity with the cold, desolate place they had
previously seen, but for the existence of the sparkling glacier. The
river now flowed along, glittering in the bright sunlight, between banks
covered with flowering plants. Bright yellow poppies gleamed all over
the verdure-clad slopes, with sturdy heath blooms, daisies, and other
blossoms mingling, and over them were flitting innumerable white and
yellow butterflies. Humble bees droned, and flies, including the
familiar daddy-long-legs, were everywhere present, as well as their
arch-enemies, the spiders. Ptarmigan, their white plumage somewhat
speckled with dark feathers, plovers, and birds of smaller size, were
seen on the wing; while over the verdant sides of the valley and along
the banks of the river, large herds of musk oxen were browsing, with
calves following the cows. The sky was brilliantly blue and almost free
from clouds. In the face of so much that was beautiful and full of life,
it was difficult to realise that a few weeks later the valley would
again be desolate and deserted, owning once more the supremacy of the
icy grip of the frost and snow.

Exploring the valley carefully, some very interesting discoveries were
made of ancient Eskimo dwellings. A number of relics were obtained, some
of them being implements which were quite unintelligible to the
Greenland Eskimos who were with the party. The remains of the houses
showed that they had originally been substantial structures, built of
slate, and must have been permanent residences rather than mere summer
quarters.

While the interior of the country was being explored, other sledge
parties set out over the frozen sea. One of these journeyed North, and
reached the spot where the _Alert_ had passed the winter in 1875. It was
intended to continue the journey over the ice towards the Pole similarly
to the sledge party Commander Markham and Lieutenant Parr had led, but
the ice was too rough for them. They passed beyond Cape Sheridan and set
out towards the North, but turned back, finding "nothing but an
inextricable mass of huge bergs, and enormous hummocks piled up in a
similar manner as when journeyed over by Commander Markham." The
scientific instruments they had with them had to be abandoned at one
place, owing to a sudden opening of the ice, but they approximated their
highest latitude as being 82° 56' N. From the summit of a high berg,
they fancied they saw open water to the North, and then they returned to
the land, finding cliffs which rose 2000 feet straight out of the water,
and along the base of which the ice lay piled in tremendous heaps.

Another party, under Lieutenant Lockwood, the second in command of the
expedition, set out in the early spring across the frozen straits to
Greenland. This was over a similar route to that taken by Lieutenant
Beaumont of the _Discovery_; but the later expedition, not having to
struggle against the affliction of scurvy which had proved so disastrous
to the _Discovery_ party, was able to reach a far higher latitude.

The party consisted of Lieutenant Lockwood, Sergeant Brainard, and the
Eskimo Frederick, and they succeeded in reaching the most northerly
point that had yet been discovered, not only on the coast of Greenland,
but also in the Arctic regions. The latitude recorded was 83° 23' 8" N.,
and thus the honour, which for three hundred years had been the boast of
the British, the honour of having attained the nearest point to the
North Pole reached by man, was wrested from the British Lion by its
cousin, the American Eagle.

Although only three men were in the party which reached this high
latitude, the party which set out from Fort Conger comprised thirteen
men and five sledges. The experience gained by the members of the Nares
expedition was of the utmost value to subsequent explorers, and the
members of the Greely expedition always made acknowledgment of this
fact, coupled with very complimentary references to the skill, the
courage, and the devotion of those whom they termed "our kin from over
the sea." Thus it was that in laying the plans for this northerly trip
they provided for a series of food depôts and relief parties all along
the route. Several of the former had been placed in position during the
early spring, and there is no doubt that this arrangement contributed
very materially to the success of the enterprise. The last depôt was
formed when nearly in sight of Cape Britannia, and from thence the small
party of three pushed forward. The dog team saved them an enormous
amount of labour by dragging the sledge for them, but even then they
found the travelling exceedingly difficult. Their sleeping-bags were
damp, and consequently they were always compelled to rest in great
discomfort. As they approached Cape Britannia the route became more
difficult, and their best march was sixteen miles in ten hours. Beyond
the cape an island was reached, to which the name of the leader,
Lieutenant Lockwood, was given, and the extreme point of which furnished
their "farthest North." The coast line still showed beyond, and to the
most distant point the name of Cape Washington was given. Then the small
band turned back, having succeeded in reaching a few miles nearer the
Pole than Commander Markham, whose journey, however, was over the frozen
sea, whereas the other was along the Greenland coast.

The following spring, to anticipate the course of the narrative, another
effort was made to reach Cape Washington, but so rapid a thaw set in
that the party had to turn back before reaching as far as Lockwood
Island. They, however, secured all the relics of Lieutenant Beaumont's
party, including a British ensign, which were faithfully preserved
throughout the terrible privations the expedition was fated to undergo.
These relics were subsequently forwarded by the United States Government
to the British and are now in the Greenwich Museum with the Franklin
mementoes, treasured not only as emblems of British courage but also of
American good-will. Of the memorable record left by Lieutenant Beaumont
at Repulse Bay, its perusal by the members of the Greely expedition is
thus described by the leader:--

"This brilliant record of British courage, discipline, devotion to duty
and endurance, must ever affect deeply all who may read its full
details. To the men of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, who justly
appreciated the terrible contingencies of the situation, and who bore
similar dangers, this story, as told by the gallant Beaumont, was full
of deep and assuring interest."

The American festival of "Decoration Day" occurred while the party were
at Polaris Bay, the place where the two _Discovery_ men who died were
buried. The festival is one for the commemoration of American heroes,
and on that day throughout the United States all the graves of their
heroes are decorated. Here on the bleak, barren Greenland coast they
remembered the festival, and kept it by taking the Stars and Stripes
from the sledge poles and draping them over the rough monuments erected
above the remains of the two British sailors.

The second winter that was passed at Fort Conger was monotonous and
gloomy. The experience of the previous period of darkness was of great
service, inasmuch as the comfort of the expedition was improved in many
ways. The piled-up snow which had formed so useful a protection the year
before was carried right over the roof, considerably increasing the
warmth and snugness of the interior. But there was one fact which
weighed somewhat heavily on the minds of every one. A relief steamer was
expected before the winter set in, and it had not arrived. There was
still an abundant supply of food, and no alarm was felt on that score;
but the novelty of the surroundings having worn off, the prospect of the
long, weary stretch of darkness had a depressing influence. It, however,
passed without any untoward incident, and with the return of the sun
field work was resumed. The most notable journey was that of Lieutenant
Lockwood and his companion on the "farthest North" trip, Sergeant
Brainard, who, in one month, covered 437 miles of the hitherto
unexplored interior parts of Grinnel Land, discovering numerous lakes
and glaciers. One of the latter was of particular interest by reason of
the vari-coloured face it presented. The top layer, which overhung
slightly, was of dull opaque white, that immediately beneath it ranging
in colour from pale green to a clear blue, while the next and thickest
layer was of a rich chocolate colour, due to the soil which had been
frozen in with the water. The lowest streak was similar to the topmost,
dull opaque white.

In their absence the remainder of the explorers were busily engaged in
establishing food depôts to the south, along the route they would be
compelled to take in the event of a retreat being necessary. The
non-arrival of the relief steamer prior to the winter gave rise to some
speculation whether it would arrive in the spring, and a plan was
arranged for a retreat to the south being carried out, if no relief ship
came, in the boats the expedition possessed. These consisted of a steam
launch 27 feet long, an iceboat which had been abandoned by Lieutenant
Beaumont in 1876, and two whale-boats. A depôt of forty days' full
rations was placed at Cape Baird and another of twenty days' rations at
Cape Collinson, as soon as the ice was open enough to allow the launch
to proceed. Then when it had returned and all the survey parties were
in, a decision was come to that if no steamer arrived by July 31 the
retreat would be commenced.

July passed and August arrived, but there were no signs of the approach
of any relief steamer, and, on August 9, with the boats loaded with the
records of the work done and as much food as could be stored in them,
the party bade farewell to Fort Conger and started on their memorable
journey. The lateness of the season made navigation extremely difficult
for such small craft, and they were frequently impeded by ice which
would have offered no obstacle to a big steamer. They had scarcely got
out of sight of the house where they had passed the two long dark
winters before they were so beset with loose ice that progress was
almost impossible. Then new ice formed round them, and they were hard
and fast. The fact that they only carried a limited supply of fuel made
their position more serious, and when, on August 18, a temporary
breaking in the floes enabled them to move forward, there was a general
rejoicing. But it was soon checked on discovering that they were forced
inside of a huge mass of ice over fifty feet high and extending right up
to the solid floe. It was impossible to turn back and fight through the
drifting ice behind them, and the only hope of escape seemed to be to
steam on in case there might be a channel through the floe ahead.

As they passed along the great wall of ice they were amazed at seeing a
crevice run into it. Arriving opposite to it, they found that it was a
cleavage which went right through the mass, and they turned into it. The
enormous berg had grounded and had split asunder, leaving a passage a
hundred yards long and barely twelve feet wide, the sides of which were
sheer fifty feet high on either hand. Such a formation was unique, even
in the Arctic regions, and the steaming through it was an adventure
without a parallel.

It led them into fairly open water, and they were able to push on into
Rawlings Bay before they were again beset. This time it was not the new
ice but the closing in of the floes that caught them. So quickly did
the masses close in that the boats were caught and "nipped" before
anything could be done to save them. The men at once scrambled out on to
the ice, striving to lift the lighter boats on to the floe and unloading
the provisions from the others as fast as they could, lest the crack
should open again and everything be lost. The nip, however, had not been
so severe as to endanger the floating capacity of the boats, but the ice
had closed too firmly to allow of any hopes of their being able to force
their way through. A strong wind from the north, in spite of the snow
and cold it would have brought, would have been welcome; but the days
were provokingly calm, and the ice only moved south at its ordinary slow
rate. By August 26 they had travelled 300 miles from Fort Conger and
were within fifty miles of Cape Sabine, a headland where there was a
large supply of stores left by Sir George Nares in 1876. If they were
able to reach there before the winter night set in, there was some
chance of their existing through the dreary period which, it was now
evident, they were doomed to pass in that locality. And yet the spirits
of the party were as bright as though a steamer were within sight of
them. One of them, in his diary, wrote: "Adversity in any form would
fail, I think, to dampen the spirits of the men. Our situation is
desperate. Any moment the ice may crumble beneath our feet and the sea
swallow up the entire party. Still, while exercising on the ice this
evening, the men danced and sang as merrily as they would have done in
their own homes. They are irrepressible in the face of all this
uncertainty and perhaps starvation."

The end of the month found them still beset, and with barely fifty days'
rations. The opinion was now divided as to the best course to adopt,
whether to remain in the boats and wait on the off-chance of their
drifting near Cape Sabine, or to take to the sledges and push on over
the rough ice to the shore. They had been drifting for thirty miles, and
only twenty now lay between them and the cape with its store of
provisions. The leader was averse to leaving the boats at once, and the
days dragged on until, on September 10, it was evident that the sledge
journey would have to be undertaken if the shore was to be reached and a
camp formed before the darkness set in.

Unfortunately when they did abandon the boats the weather changed, and a
cold wind with driving snow came to make their struggle still more
difficult. They tried at first to drag two of the boats with them, but
one soon had to be abandoned and the party struggled on. Their
sleeping-bags froze and filled with drifting snow so that they were able
to obtain but little rest when they halted, and when they were moving
they were always cold and miserable. Until September 28 they were
struggling over the rough, difficult ice, and then their trials were
further increased. They were nearing the shore, and the force of the
tide, backed up by the pressure of the ice grinding along before the
wind, caused the floe to crack and break up. Only by the most persistent
energy and exertion were they able to get their stores and themselves on
shore, though still some distance from Cape Sabine.

They had now travelled 500 miles since they left Fort Conger, and not
only were the men considerably exhausted by their recent struggle, but
winter was setting in very rapidly with constant and heavy storms. It
was therefore decided to form a camp where they were, while the snow had
not frozen too hard for them to get some stones for a shelter. They had
been compelled, on their journey over the ice, to abandon everything in
the way of covering save their sleeping-bags, and unless they built a
hut of some description the rigour of the winter would inevitably be
fatal to all.

Such stones as could be found were collected and built into a low wall
forming a square of about sixteen feet. The stones were difficult to
obtain, and the wall could only be made three feet high. An opening was
left in one of the sides of the square and a passage way constructed, so
that the entrance to the interior did not open directly on to the frozen
exterior. Across the top of the walls the boat they had dragged with
them over the ice was laid keel uppermost, the oars being laid under it
so as to maintain it in position, the open spaces between the sides of
the boat and the walls being covered with such canvas as they had.
Around the stone walls and over the top, snow was piled, and their
living house was complete. It sheltered them from the wind and from the
extreme bitterness of the cold, but beyond that nothing could be claimed
for it. Every one had to enter it on hands and knees, and, once inside,
no one could stand up, while the taller men of the party were only able
to sit up in the middle of the hut where the boat made the roof slightly
higher.

The men arranged their sleeping-bags against the walls with the feet
towards the middle of the floor, and when they had crept in through the
narrow entrance, they groped their way into the bags. Then, half lying
and half sitting, with their shoulders against the stones behind them,
they made themselves as comfortable as they could during the long period
of darkness. They divided themselves into messes for the purpose of
feeding, and two cooks prepared the food, an operation that was always
difficult and unpleasant. It had, of necessity, to be carried on inside
the hut, and when the two men were kneeling in a cramped-up position
over the make-shift for a stove in the middle of the floor, there was no
room for any one else to stretch his legs. Every one had to huddle up as
closely as possible, and as all the smoke from the stove had to find its
way out of the hut the best way it could, the atmosphere during cooking
time was far from refreshing. The heat from the stove also thawed the
ground immediately under it, and the snow on the canvas over it, with
the result that the cooking of every meal meant a thorough wetting as
well as a choking for the cooks.

As soon as the hut was finished, a small party pushed on towards Cape
Sabine in order to locate the provisions stored there. On October 9 they
returned with the news that despatches had been found, stating the
_Proteus_ had foundered in the ice on July 24 just off the cape, and
that the crew and relief party had started to the south so as to meet
the second relief steamer _Yantic_, or a Swedish steamer which was known
to be in the locality, and send on help to the Greely expedition.

The little party also discovered some provisions and the whale-boat,
previously abandoned on the ice, which had drifted ashore near the cape.
This was subsequently used as firewood when all other fuel was
exhausted.

The news of the disaster to the _Proteus_ was a serious blow to the
expedition, as it meant that no help would be able to reach them until
the following spring at the earliest, and, in the meantime, they would
be compelled to exist as best they could upon their meagre stock of
provisions. The relief party who had visited the cape on their way from
the wreck of the _Proteus_ had very considerably reduced the stores
which the Greely party counted on finding, and when they obtained the
remnants which were left, part of the bread was found to be a mass of
green slimy mildew. The men had now been on reduced rations for many
days, and so hungry were the members of the band sent to convey the
stores from Cape Sabine to the hut that when the green mouldy stuff was
thrown out by the officer in charge, the men flung themselves on to it
and devoured it despite all he could do to persuade them from such a
course.

The question of the strictest economy in the management of the food
supplies was now a matter of life or death, and very seriously the
leaders debated it. On October 26 the sun sank beneath the horizon, and
in the ensuing darkness, which lasted for 110 days, there would be no
chance of obtaining any game. A few blue foxes had been killed since the
camp was formed, and half the number were set aside for subsequent
consumption, those consumed at once being devoured to the bones, every
part being put into the stew.

Meagre as the rations were, it was necessary to reduce them still
further if the food was to last until the spring. By a further reduction
it was calculated that the party could exist until March 1, when the
available supplies would amount to ten days' rations. But no relief
could possibly reach them until a couple of months later than that, and
how were they to live after March 10, when the last crumb of their
supplies had been consumed?

There was only one course open for them, and that was explained by the
leader. On November 1, the allowance for each man would be fourteen
ounces, given out every twenty-four hours, and on March 1, as soon as
there was light, they would take their remaining ten days' supply and
set out across the frozen straits in the forlorn hope of reaching an
outlying camp of Etah Eskimo on the Greenland coast.

The terrible prospect of such a scheme to men situated as they were can
scarcely be imagined. For over a month they had already been slowly
starving on an amount of food for daily consumption which an ordinary
man could comfortably eat at one meal, and now that amount was to be
decreased to less than a pound of food a day and in a climate where the
cold was so intense that water could not be kept from freezing inside
the hut excepting it was over the stove. For four months they would have
to face that rigid diet, suffering the pangs of starvation constantly,
almost entirely in the dark, and always huddled up in the sleeping-bags
against the walls of their low-roofed hut. Yet they accepted the scheme
without a murmur.

Seldom have men shown themselves so absolutely courageous, for at the
best it was merely slow starvation so as to be able to make an almost
hopeless dash for freedom and food in four months' time. The suffering
during those four months was terrible. Men, as soon as they got hold of
their day's rations, were tempted to devour them at once, and so still
for a time the ceaseless gnawing of their hunger; but to do so meant
that in an hour's time the pain would be back again with no means of
staying it until twenty-three hours had passed. Calmly and bravely they
faced the ordeal, dividing their scanty store into regular meals, and
when, by an accident one of them upset his can, spilling his few
mouthfuls of tea on the ground, the others contributed from their share
so that he should not go entirely without. Nothing could exceed the
touching fidelity which characterised their bearings, one to the other,
during this period of unexampled suffering.

At Cape Isabella, a stock of 140 lbs. of meat was known to have been
left by Sir George Nares, and a party of four set out in the hopes of
securing it. For a week before they started they were allowed an extra
ration in order to strengthen them for the trial of a journey in the
dark over rough ice and with the temperature at 34° below zero. The
extra ration consisted of two ounces a day.

For five days they battled their way through the darkness against a
heavy wind laden with snow, and at last found the place where the food
was. Piling it on their sledge, they turned back home again, and for
fourteen hours laboured with it, only consuming a little warm tea during
that time, for they had no means of heating more. One of the four was
badly bitten by the frost, and was soon so stricken that he could not
even stagger along. A piercing wind was blowing, and to save their
comrade's life, the others abandoned the sledge and tried to support
him. Soon two of them became exhausted, and the remaining one, Sergeant
Rice, pushed on alone to the camp in order to bring help. For sixteen
hours he was fighting his way over the twenty-five miles that lay
between him and the hut. When he arrived there his lips were too frozen
for him to be able to speak at once.

Weary and weak as the whole party was, eight of the strongest at once
started off in rescue. When they picked the other three up, they found
them lying under the sleeping-bag with the sick man between them, and
the bag frozen so hard over them that it had to be cut open before they
could be got out. Then they resumed their way to the camp, which they
reached after forty-four hours' absence, in which time they had covered
forty miles.

The frost-bitten man, Elison, was almost dead, his face, feet, and hands
being absolutely frozen, but so determined were they all to survive as
long as possible that he was tended with all the care they could
command. He was kept alive in spite of his sufferings, which, during the
first week after his rescue, were so severe that he daily called on his
comrades to end his misery.

Meanwhile the memory of the abandoned sledge laden with meat was
constantly in the minds of the starving men, whose hunger was now so
great that in the darkness after the lamp was put out--economy compelled
them to use it only for cooking--men crept to the stove and devoured any
rancid fat left in the lamp. But still discipline held them together,
and they made no mention of their sufferings to one another. The success
of the journey across the ice on March 1 was what they looked forward
to, and with the arrival of that date they believed their sufferings
would be over.

On January 18 the first one of the party to die passed away, really of
starvation, although the men, to keep the ugly word away from their
minds, accepted the doctor's statement that it was of an effusion of
water at the heart that the man had died. His end made a deep impression
on the gallant little band, all the same, and by the beginning of
February several more men were in a critical condition, including
Lieutenant Lockwood, who refused to accept an extra ration of two ounces
a day from the diminished stores.

Sergeant Rice, accompanied by the Eskimo Jens, made a plucky effort to
reach Littleton Island, where an outlying camp of Eskimo might be found;
but Jens could not stand the journey, and, five days after starting,
they returned. Every one was now impressed with the necessity of
husbanding their energies for the great effort to be made on the first
day of March, and as February slowly passed away, the emaciated
creatures grew enthusiastic as they sought to cheer one another up by
detailing the tremendous feasts they would have when they returned to
civilisation. At length the first of March dawned, and the brave hearts,
which had kept up so long against starvation and despair, shrank before
the terrible blow they received. The ice had broken, and open water
rolled where they had planned to cross on the ice. Nothing was said, for
the courage of the men was only equalled by their consideration for one
another, but the effect of the great disappointment sank deep into the
minds of many.

The food remaining was eked out through the month with the aid of some
blue foxes and a ptarmigan, which were eaten to the bones, and April
found them with only a few days even of the starvation rations
remaining. Several of the men were so weak that they could barely turn
over in their sleeping-bags. The Eskimo Frederick was found dead in his
bag, and another of the little party followed the next day. Then
Sergeants Rice and Fredericks insisted on making an effort to reach the
meat abandoned when Elison was frost-bitten. It is difficult to
understand why the effort had not been made before; but many errors of
judgment are conspicuous after a campaign which are not so apparent in
the moment of struggle.

Now that it was made it failed, through the cold freezing wind
penetrating the starved bodies of the two men. Rice, who throughout the
terrible ordeal of their captivity had never spared himself, was the
first to feel it. A strong wind was blowing, bringing down heavy snow
squalls. Suddenly Rice began to talk wildly and then staggered.
Fredericks grasped him by the arm and tried to keep him up, but the cold
and starvation had too tight a hold upon their victim. He vainly
endeavoured to pull himself together, but only for a moment; then he
sank down on the snow, babbling about the feast he was going to enjoy.

His comrade tried to restore him by giving him some of the stimulants
they had with them, and did not hesitate to strip off his own fur coat
to lay upon the other, sitting the while, holding his hands, and exposed
to all the biting fury of the Arctic wind, in his shirt sleeves. But
everything was useless; Rice was too worn out and too weak to fight
further, and died as he faintly talked of the food he fancied he was
eating.

The shock to Fredericks was almost overwhelming, for he was miles away
from the camp, chilled to the bone, and with only a little coffee and
spirits of ammonia to revive his own drooping vitality. Yet he would not
leave his dead comrade until he had reverently laid him in a shallow
resting-place in the snow, though it almost cost him his life to pay
this last tribute.

When he at last managed to reach the camp with his sad tidings he was
almost gone, and the news he brought plunged every one into the lowest
depths of sorrow, for Rice had always been one of the bravest and best
of the party. Those who were able to do so, attended to Fredericks and
revived him.

To those who were weakest the end of Rice was a fatal blow, and the next
day or so saw three or four pass away, one of whom was the intrepid
Lockwood. A very few more days and all would have gone but for a gleam
of good fortune. A young bear was killed, and the 400 pounds of meat
obtained from it was the salvation of the survivors.

Several seals were seen in the straits and a few walrus, and all who
could still handle a gun were daily striving to obtain fresh supplies
for the larder. Eskimo Jens, who hunted assiduously, succeeded in
killing a small seal; but in a chase after another his kayak was injured
in the ice and he was drowned.

After his death only misfortune attended the hunting, and, failing to
replenish their stock of game, they were reduced to such a terrible
plight that they had only the thick skin of the seal on which to
subsist. Even this fare was carefully divided and measured out, so that
life might be maintained as long as possible in case a relief vessel
came. One day it was found that somebody was stealing. All the party was
assembled, but no one would admit the theft. It was decided that the
thief should be shot if discovered. One man, being suspected, was
watched. He was caught and executed.

A fortnight later, the last few square inches of the seal's skin was
gone, and the men, now little more than living skeletons, lay in their
sleeping-bags looking at one another with hollow eyes, wondering,
perhaps, who would be the last to go, when a steamer's whistle sounded
over the straits.

At first they dared not trust their ears. It must have been a gull
crying, or a bear, they said, and the only man with strength enough to
crawl crept out to see. The others lay where they were, straining their
ears to catch again the sound which had so moved them, but the minutes
passed on in silence. The man who had gone out did not come back, and
their hopes fell. No one spoke, for it was too plain they had been
deceived, and a profound silence reigned. Then they heard a great
shouting, and before their minds could understand how it was done, they
were surrounded by men of their own race, who were administering
restoratives as quickly as they dared.

The _Thetis_, commanded by Captain Schley, of the United States Navy,
had reached them, and so, on June 23, 1884, the survivors of the Greely
expedition were saved.




CHAPTER VII

PEARY IN GREENLAND

     The Greenland Question--Departure of the _Kite_--Peary breaks his
     Leg--A Camp made--Habits of the Eskimo--A Brush with
     Walrus--"Caching" Food--An Arctic Christmas Feast--Peary starts for
     the Great Ice-Cap--A Snow Sahara--The Ice-Cap Crossed--A Marvellous
     Discovery--Sails on Sledges--A Safe Return.


The disaster and suffering which characterised the termination of the
Greely and _Polaris_ expeditions did not tend to recommend Arctic
exploration as a national enterprise to the Government of the United
States. A vast amount of highly valuable information had been obtained,
not only by these expeditions, but also by the expedition sent out by
the British Government under the command of Sir George Nares. And, in
addition to the information, a further knowledge had been gained, the
knowledge that the same spirit of indomitable pluck, the same tireless
energy, and the same loyalty and devotion to duty dominated both
branches of the great English-speaking race. The magnificent heroism
displayed by the explorers from the _Alert_ and _Discovery_ found a
parallel in the later experiences and exploits of the American
expeditions, and both British and American Governments felt that, for a
time at least, they were justified in resting on the laurels their
gallant sons had won.

But if the Governments were satisfied, the restless spirit of the race
could not remain quiet while secrets still remained in the keeping of
the frozen North. The Pole was still untouched, and, more than that,
there were secrets to be wrested from localities not quite so remote.

The discoveries along the north coast of Greenland opened up the very
interesting question whether the land did not extend right up to the
Pole itself. As far as any one had penetrated to the north of the coast,
land was still to be seen farther on; it was an open question whether
this great ice-covered country was an island, with its northern shores
swept by the Polar ice-floes, or whether it extended almost to the
dimensions of a continent in the Polar region.

The problem appealed strongly to two explorers whose names, by reason of
their exploits during recent years, have become familiar. They are
Nansen and Peary. The former, by his dash for the Pole, during which he
surpassed all previous records of the "farthest North," has dwarfed his
Greenland performances; the latter, by his journey of 1300 miles over
the ice-crowned interior of Greenland, decided the insular character of
the country. It is that journey which forms the subject of this chapter.

Lieutenant Robert E. Peary, an officer in the engineering department of
the United States Navy, failing to obtain Government support for his
scheme of an overland journey to the northern coast of Greenland, was
supported by the Philadelphia Academy of National Science. The
expedition was necessarily small, but that did not affect its utility.
It was, moreover, unique, by the inclusion of Lieutenant Peary's wife as
one of its members; the account which she has given of her sojourn in
high latitudes is one of the most interesting of books on the Arctic
regions.

The party left New York on June 6, 1891, on board the steamer _Kite_,
for Whale Sound, on the north-west coast of Greenland. The voyage was
satisfactory in every way until June 24, when an unfortunate accident
befell the leader.

The _Kite_ had encountered some ice which was heavy enough to check her
progress, and, to get through it, the captain had to ram his ship. This
necessitated a constant change from going ahead to going astern, and, as
there was a good deal of loose ice floating about, the rudder frequently
came into collision with it when the vessel was backing. Lieutenant
Peary, who was on deck during one of these manoeuvres, went over to the
wheelhouse to see how the rudder was bearing the strain. As he stood
behind the wheelhouse, the rudder struck a heavy piece of ice and was
forcibly jerked over, the tiller, as it swung, catching Lieutenant Peary
by the leg and pinning him against the wall of the house. There was no
escape from the position, and the pressure of the tiller gradually
increased until the bone of the leg snapped.

The doctor, who formed one of the party, immediately set the limb; but
the sufferer refused to return home, and when, a few days later, the
_Kite_ reached McCormick Bay, he was carried ashore strapped to a plank.

The material for a comfortably-sized house was part of the outfit of the
expedition, and this was in course of erection the day that Lieutenant
Peary was landed. For the accommodation of himself and wife, a tent was
put up behind the half-completed house, and, as a high wind arose, the
remainder of the party returned on board the _Kite_.

As the hours passed away the wind became stronger. The tent swayed to
and fro, and Mrs. Peary, as she sat beside her invalid and sleeping
husband, realised what it was to be lonely and helpless. She and her
husband were the only people on shore for miles; her husband was unable
to move, and she was without even a revolver with which to defend
herself. What, she asked herself, would be the result if a bear came
into the tent? She could not make the people on board the _Kite_ hear,
and she was without a weapon. Throughout the stay in the North, Mrs.
Peary proved herself not only to be a woman of strong nerve and
self-reliance, but also an excellent shot with either gun, rifle, or
revolver. It was, however, as much as she could stand when her anxious
ears caught the sound of heavy breathing outside the tent.

For a time she sat still, fearing to disturb her husband, until the
continuance of the sound compelled her to look out. A school of white
whales were playing close inshore, and it was the noise of their
blowing, softened by the wind, which had so disturbed her. But so
self-possessed was she over it that her husband did not know till long
afterwards the anxiety she had experienced during the first night she
spent on the Greenland shore.

The following day rapid progress was made with the house, and some of
the party stayed on shore for the night, so that there was always some
one within call of the invalid's tent until the house was completed and
he was removed into it. By that time the _Kite_ had started home again,
and the little party of seven were left to make all their arrangements
for the winter.

They had determined to rely entirely upon their own exertions for the
supply of meat for the winter and also to obtain their fur clothing on
the spot, killing the animals necessary for the material and engaging
some of the local Eskimo to make up the suits. Deer would give both meat
and fur, and as there was every prospect of the neighbourhood affording
them in plenty, as soon as the house was up and the stores packed, the
majority started away in search of game.

The spot where they were landed, and where they had erected their camp,
was on a verdure-covered slope lying between the sea and the high range
of bluff hills which towered about 1000 feet over them. In the spring
the ground was covered with grass and flowers; the bay in front was full
of seal, walrus, whales, and other marine inhabitants, and along the
hills behind experience showed that game was present in abundance. The
Etah Eskimo, the most northerly people in existence, lived their quaint,
out-of-the-world lives along the shores of the bay and neighbouring
inlets, and, as soon as the camp was settled, they were kept busily
employed in the making of fur garments, proving themselves docile and
peaceful. It was often difficult for the members of the expedition to
realise that the site of their camp, with the abundance of food to be
had, was only from fifty to eighty miles from the spots where the
castaways of the _Polaris_ suffered so acutely and the members of the
Greely expedition slowly starved, many of them to death. For more than a
year the little party of seven lived in good health, without a
suggestion of scurvy making its appearance and with only one fatality,
which, moreover, was accidental.

The first hunting expedition was in search of deer, and everybody took
part in it except the leader, who was still crippled by his injured leg
and confined to his room, and his wife. For two or three days the
hunters were away, for they were fortunate in discovering a herd of deer
which they followed until all were bagged. Then, with as many as they
could convey, leaving the others to be fetched later, they set out for
the camp. Their approach was duly signalled, and upon hearing that they
were returning laden, Lieutenant Peary, for the first time, hobbled out
of the house on crutches. As they came up he rested on one leg and his
crutches, while he photographed them and their trophies, after which the
double occasion was celebrated by a banquet in which venison played an
important part.

The deer skins were very important additions to the stock of material
from which the winter clothing was to be made, but other varieties were
needed, especially of the marine animals, as well as some native tailors
to fashion them into coats, hoods, mittens, and all the other articles
of Arctic wear. A boat party was therefore despatched along the shores
of Inglefield Gulf, to spy out the localities where walrus was to be
found, and to induce some of the natives of a village, seen from the
_Kite_, to come over to the camp and sew the new garments.

[Illustration: GROUP OF SMITH SOUND ESKIMO.

The most northerly inhabitants of the world. Lieut. Peary records that
the tribe numbered 253 on September 1st, 1895. Between that date and
August 1, 1896, an epidemic of influenza had reduced them to 229. In
August 1897, they numbered 234.]

The party was successful in both instances, for a number of walrus were
seen and an Eskimo family came back by the boat. The "huskies" consisted
of a man, his wife, and two little children, and they moved with all
their belongings. They were little people, under five feet in height and
almost as broad as they were long, clad in fur jumpers and short
breeches with sealskin boots reaching over their knees. The costume of
both adults was very similar, the only practical difference being in the
tunic or jumper, that of the woman having the hood longer and deeper for
the accommodation of her infant. They had broad, good-natured faces, not
especially handsome nor intelligent in appearance, but distinctly dirty.
In fact, the use of water, other than for drinking, did not appear to be
known to the primitive people, and it was very much a question whether
they had ever tried the experiment of a wash. Once Mrs. Peary was
tempted to give one of the little ones a bath, and she records how
intensely amazed it was at being put into the water, although it was
more than two years old. Surviving the shock, however, it manifested its
pleasure by lustily kicking and splashing. Perhaps later it enjoyed a
well-merited honour amongst its own people as the only one of the tribe
who ever passed through the extraordinary ordeal of soap and water.

In consequence of their innocence of water as a cleansing medium, the
"huskies," as the Peary party affectionately termed them, had two very
distinguishing characteristics not entirely pleasing to more civilised
people. They carried around with them a distinctly impressive aroma, and
also thriving colonies of what are politely termed parasites.

In the matter of clothes they carry their wardrobes on their backs. Fur
garments do not wear out very rapidly, and, when a "husky" is full
grown, the suit of clothes, made in honour of the event, remains in
constant wear until one of two things happens. If the man kills a bear,
he has a costume made of the skin and discards the ordinary sealskin
suit for it. If he does not kill a bear, he wears the sealskin suit
until it no longer keeps him warm, when he gets another. In their snow
houses during the winter and storms, if the temperature is too warm for
them in their thick clothing, they take the clothing off; being a
primitive people, their manners are as simple as their minds.

The first arrivals at the Peary camp were, however, very useful people.
There being no trees in this far northern region, and wood,
consequently, being one of their most valued treasures, they were for
some time unable to comprehend how so much timber had been acquired to
build the house. When they saw a fire made in the stove of refuse bits
of wood they were still more amazed. Never before had they seen so much
fire all at once, and the man, growing curious, kept on feeling the
stove to see what the effect would be. When it was hot enough to burn
his hand he developed a wholesome respect for it, and preferred to
regard the, to him, uncanny object from a distance.

The problem of how the sewing was to be done was rather a difficult one
to the white people for a time. To allow the furs to be taken into the
Eskimo tent was to invite the introduction of an insect population of
which it would be impossible to get rid later. On the other hand, to
allow the huskies to enter the house too frequently was equally
dangerous from the sanitary point of view. A compromise was effected, by
the Eskimo woman doing the sewing near the door of the house with some
one always keeping an eye on her. Later on, when it was found that
little danger existed from the spread of insects if reasonable care were
taken, the workers sat inside the house. They were fairly deft in
handling the needle, and the suits they made for the party were all
excellent and serviceable. These were made on the native pattern, and
the experience of Lieutenant Peary and his comrade Astrup in their
journey over the great ice-cap proved that the native pattern was the
best.

When the woman was set to work, a boat expedition in search of walrus
was organised, with the Eskimo as guide, Lieutenant Peary and his wife
also going. They had not proceeded very many miles up Inglefield Gulf
before a light breeze when they saw, on a floating piece of ice, a dozen
or so of the animals huddled together apparently asleep. Sailing gently
towards them, every one with a rifle ready, a sudden puff of wind sent
the boat ahead quicker and farther than was intended, and it struck the
ice. The walrus, never having seen a sailing boat before, looked round
at it without paying any more attention than if it had been another
piece of ice. But the sight of so many valuable creatures within reach
of his harpoon was too much for the little Eskimo, and he buried the
weapon into the nearest.

At once the attitude of the walrus changed. The wounded member of the
tribe tried to escape, bellowing in its pain, and the rest slid off the
ice into the water and surrounded the boat. Others from neighbouring ice
patches charged rapidly on to the scene, and the situation of the boat
and its occupants was dangerous in the extreme. The poor Eskimo, his
face showing the terror he felt, crouched down in the boat, evidently
expecting to be annihilated by the furious animals that surged round. As
they came up to the boat, they tried to get their great powerful tusks
over the gunwales, and, had one succeeded in doing so, there would have
been slight hopes of any one escaping. Had the boat been capsized, no
one could possibly have survived, and to keep the angry crowd off was no
easy matter.

All around they swarmed, and not less than 250 were estimated to be
engaged in the attack. Lieutenant Peary, with his injured leg, sat in
the stern of the boat, firing at them, and the other white men also kept
up a fusillade, Mrs. Peary, again giving evidence of her strong nerve
and courage, sitting beside her husband and loading the weapons as soon
as they were emptied. The walrus came on in bunches to the attack, and,
immediately they were fired at, all those nearest to the boat leaped out
of the water, and then plunged out of sight. There was always the danger
of one of the huge creatures rising under the boat, and so capsizing it;
but the occupants had no time to think of this. Directly one batch
jumped and disappeared, another batch hastened forward to greet the
volley of bullets in the same way as the others, and be in turn
succeeded by another batch!

The boat was meanwhile gradually approaching the shore, and as the water
became more shallow the walrus exhibited less desire to come to close
quarters, until, at last, the adventurers found that they had beaten off
the last of the swarm. The main body had retreated far up the gulf, only
a few remaining near. Several of those which had been shot, however,
were floating on the surface of the water, and it was decided to go back
and secure them, even at the risk of another attack. Already some of
them were sinking, and many must have gone down while the fight was in
progress. There was a necessity for haste if any of the slain were to be
secured, and with rifles loaded and ready for a fresh attack, the boat
was headed towards the floating carcases.

The operation of securing them was performed without any interruption
from the survivors, and a run was then made for the shore, where the
Eskimo said a lot of seal-skins were "cached." This is the term used in
the Arctic regions to denote the local method of storing food or
possessions. A space is hollowed out in the ground, which, even in the
summer time, is frozen hard a few feet below the surface. The articles
to be stored having been placed in the space, it is covered over with
stones, and the "cache" is completed. Throughout the winter the contents
become frozen into a solid mass, which, protected by the stones or other
covering, does not thaw out during the short summer, and so remains in a
good state of preservation for an almost indefinite period.

Occasionally the "cache" fails to preserve the articles of food entirely
in that state which by the European is termed "fresh"; but as they
rarely have recourse to "cached" provisions, it does not matter very
much. The Eskimo, who constantly preserves his winter supplies in this
manner, has, happily for himself, easier notions about the state and
quality of his food. This was brought home to the party very forcibly.
They had visited several "caches," and obtained enough seal-skin for
their purpose, and, having enjoyed some refreshment, were considering
their return. The Eskimo, Ikwa, then told them that, as all the flesh at
the camp was recently killed, he and his family did not like it. There
was, he said, a fine seal cached in the neighbourhood, which would form
a delicious store for him and his family, and if the leader allowed him
to move it to the boat, and convey it to the encampment, he would be
prepared to yield some of it to the members of the party for their own
special enjoyment. The seal was a beauty, he said, and just in the very
pink of condition. The necessary permission having been given, Ikwa
hurried away for his treasure.

Shortly after, the members of the party noticed a strange penetrating
odour in the air which they at first attributed to the flayed walrus. It
steadily increased, until they were unable to tolerate it, and started
out to seek the cause. As they emerged from under the shelter of the
jutting rock where they had been resting, they descried the little
Eskimo staggering towards them under the burden of a seal almost as
large as himself. The creature had been "cached" about two years, and
was in such a state that gentles fell from it at every step the man
took, and, as Mrs. Peary recorded in her diary, both the sight and the
scent of it overpowered the white people. But to Ikwa it was just in
good condition for eating, and he was especially indignant when he was
made to relinquish it. His clothes, however, would not part with the
odour, and for many days the members of the expedition had reason to
remember that Eskimo like their game high.

As the time passed, and winter approached, every one was kept busy
preparing for the long dark night, and for the journey over the ice-cap
which was to be undertaken directly spring began. Several families of
Eskimo were now residing near the encampment, the women mostly engaged
in making winter fur garments for the members of the expedition, and the
men in hunting. As dogs were required for the sledging expedition,
constant bartering went on between the Eskimo and the white men, and the
latter undertook occasional journeys to localities where other members
of the tribe were encamped.

A great deal of very interesting information was thus derived about the
natives, who are, as has been said, the most northerly living people in
the world. Mrs. Peary, as the first white woman they had ever seen, was
a particular object of attention. As their custom is for men and women
to dress very much alike, they could not quite understand Mrs. Peary's
costume, and when the first arrivals saw her and Lieutenant Peary
together, they looked from one to the other, and ultimately had to ask
which of the two was the white woman.

[Illustration: TWO NORTH GREENLAND HUNTERS.]

The tribe did not number 300 in all; they held no communication with the
Eskimo farther south, and, except for the occasional visit of a sealer
or a whaler, knew nothing of the outer world. None had ever seen a tree
growing, nor had they ever penetrated over the ridge of land which lay
back from the coast, and over which glimpses were caught of the great
ice-cap. The latter, they said, was where the Eskimo went when they
died, and if any man attempted to go so far the spirits would get hold
of him and keep him there. They consequently warned Lieutenant Peary
against venturing. There was no seal up there; no bear; no deer; only
ice and snow and spirits, so what reason had a man for going?

Their belongings were extremely simple. A kayak, a sledge, one or two
dogs, a tent made of walrus-hide or seal-skin, some weapons, and a stone
lamp, comprised, with the clothes they wore, their property. Wood was
the most valuable article they knew, because they could use it for so
many purposes, and had so little of it. The possession of knives and
needles was greatly desired; but scissors did not appeal to them, since
what they could not cut with a knife they could bite with their close
even teeth. Money had neither a suggestion nor a use with them; trade,
if carried on at all, was merely the bartering of one article for
another.

The animals they liked best were dogs and seals; the former being their
beast of burden and constant companion, the latter the provider of food,
raiment, covering, and light. Every seal killed belonged to the man who
killed it, but the rules of the tribe required that all larger animals
should be shared among the members in the neighbourhood; the skin of a
bear, however, remaining in the possession of the man who secured it.
But so unsophisticated and easy-going are the contented little people
that individual property scarcely exists with them; every one is ready
and willing to share what he has with another if need be. The articles
borrowed, however, are always returned, or made good if broken or lost.
No one can either read or write; the boys are taught how to hunt, how to
manage the kayak and sledge, and how to make and use the weapons of the
chase, while the girls are taught how to sew the fur garments, and keep
the stone lamp burning with blubber and moss, so as to prepare the
drinking water and the frizzled seal flesh they eat. For the rest, their
chief desire is to live as happily as they can, and this, according to
those who have been amongst them, they manage to do merrily and well.

During the visits paid to the different encampments by Lieutenant Peary
and his wife, about a score of dogs were obtained, a number which would
be sufficient to carry out the work of the ensuing spring. They were
usually obtained in exchange for needles and knives, but the purpose for
which they were needed always formed a subject of wonder to the
unambitious "huskies."

By the time that a return was made to the house--Redcliff, as the
explorers named it--the season was well advanced towards winter. The
roof and sides were all covered with walrus hide, and moss, gathered in
the early autumn, was stuffed into any crevice through which the cold
wind might find a way. The drifting snow soon piled up round the walls
and over the roof, and the extra covering added to the warmth and
comfort of those within. Fur clothing was now worn generally, and the
little party, keeping in good health and spirits, managed to pass the
gloomy period of winter without anything to mar their contentment.

Christmas they celebrated in proper form by having a sumptuous dinner,
the menu of which, preserved by Mrs. Peary, is worthy of being quoted,
as showing what can be done in a place where shops are unknown and
darkness reigns at midday. The feast consisted of salmon, rabbit pie and
green peas, venison with cranberry sauce, corn and tomatoes,
plum-pudding and brandy sauce, apricot pie, pears, sweets, nuts,
raisins, and coffee: a very creditable repast to be put on the table of
an Arctic residence.

When every one had satisfied the demands of appetite, the table was
cleared, and then re-spread for the benefit of the "huskies," who were
bidden to partake of Christmas fare. A somewhat different assortment was
prepared for the visitors, the dishes consisting of milk punch, venison
stew, cranberry tart, biscuits, sweets, raisins, and coffee. This was
certainly a variation to their ordinary food of seal or walrus flesh and
water, and they showed their appreciation of it by leaving no crumbs and
sticking to their seats until, at half-past ten, they were gently told
that it was time they went home. Then they left, but the next day they
came again, and were perhaps not the first who, having enjoyed a hearty
Christmas dinner, felt disposed to complain that Christmas can only come
once a year.

At the first approach of spring the dogs were given plenty of exercise
in the sledges, and by the middle of April all was ready for the great
journey over the ice-cap. Lieutenant Peary had quite recovered from the
injury to his leg, and was impatient to be off. The plan of operations
was for himself and a young Norwegian, named Astrup, to push on with one
sledge over the unknown interior, but for the first part of the journey
a supporting party and sledge accompanied them.

April 30 saw them start from the house towards the bluff range which ran
along the coast. The two sledges, each with a team of ten dogs, were
laden with supplies and scientific instruments. Mrs. Peary, who was
staying behind at the house, watched them slowly go out of sight, the
Eskimo women consoling her with the opinion that none of the party would
ever come back. The return of the supporting sledge a few weeks later
was rather a blow to the prophecy, but they tried to make up for the
first mistake by asserting their confidence that the other sledge was
doomed.

The two parties kept together until the coastal range was surmounted,
and the beginning of the ice-cap was reached. Here the sledge which was
to do the great journey was laden with a full load, and the two
explorers started forward, Lieutenant Peary leading the way with a staff
to which was attached a silk banner--the Stars and Stripes--worked by
Mrs. Peary.

The first of the ice-cap was a stretch of some fifteen miles of ice,
formed into enormous dome-shaped masses. They toiled up one side but
travelled easily down the other, and so on, up and down, until they had
attained an altitude of nearly 9000 feet above the sea-level, when they
found that they were on a vast expanse of snow. The white unbroken
surface stretched away as far as the eye could reach, unbroken by a
ridge or rise, everywhere flat, white and immense. This was the great
ice-cap, the frozen covering of the interior of Greenland, the unknown
region where no man had yet set foot.

But it was a mistake to term it an ice-cap. They found it to be rather a
desert, a Sahara with dry drifting snow instead of the dry burning sand.
And, like Sahara, it had its days of storm, when the snow whirled in
clouds just as the sand rises before the scorching blast of the simoom.
Very wonderful was the first experience of this Greenland dust-storm.
The sky overhead was filled with dull grey clouds, heavy and opaque, and
the gloom spread all around, so that whichever way one looked there was
the same impenetrable veil of grey gloomy haze. The snow lost its
dazzling whiteness and took instead the tint of the gloom of the
surrounding atmosphere. Then the wind came, at first in fitful gusts but
later growing into a steady blow, the opening squalls lifting the dry
surface snow and whirling it up in the air. The steady breeze caught it
and carried it along in a constantly moving stream some two feet deep,
and it was then that the effect of the storm was most pronounced. The
drifting particles of snow made a curious rustling noise as they moved,
and as they whirled round the travellers' legs the feet were hidden
beneath the dense moving veil. As a result, it was as though one were
walking on nothing and going nowhere, for the grey gloom all around made
one unconscious of either direction or space, and the moving snow
prevented one seeing the feet or realising that there was anything solid
under them.

The steady hum of the drifting snow, together with its movement, made
the brain dizzy, and the two explorers generally found it necessary to
form a camp when such a storm came on, the snow soon piling up against
their shelter tent and effectually protecting them from the wind. Then,
when the breeze had died away and the snow ceased moving, they were able
to dig out their sledge and proceed.

A distinct contrast to these stormy days was given by the period of
clear sunshine. Then the sky, innocent of a cloud, was a wonderful blue
vault overhead, while the snow-covered plateau stretched away on all
sides until it was lost in the distance of the horizon. The wonderfully
clear air enabled the explorers to see a great distance ahead. At the
end of the second day's march after reaching this great snow desert,
they found that the surface was gradually sloping north and south. They
were on the dividing ridge and, as they passed over on to the downward
slope, their progress was naturally at a more rapid rate. A storm, such
as has been described, accompanied by falling snow, overtook them, and
for three days they had to stay in their shelter. When at length the
weather moderated and they were able to get out again they discovered,
before resuming the journey, that the dogs meanwhile had eaten six
pounds of cranberry jam and the foot off one of the sleeping-bags--a
fairly good example of a dog's appetite during a snowstorm.

On May 31 in magnificently clear weather they looked out upon a scene on
which no white man had ever yet gazed. In his description of the journey
the leader wrote: "We looked down into the basin of the Petermann
Glacier, the greatest amphitheatre of snow and rugged ice that human eye
has ever seen." Away beyond it, a range of black mountains towered in
dome-shaped hills, and they made their camp with the expectation of
being able to see more of the distant range at the end of another march.
But by the time they were able to resume their march a thick fog had
come into the air, and for three days they could only see the snow at
their feet. They directed their course entirely by compass, but as they
were unable to see long distances ahead, they were unprepared for a
change in the surface. Before they could avoid it, they found themselves
amongst rough ice and open crevices. They were getting on to the Sherard
Osborne Glacier, and, in the misty weather they were experiencing, it
was difficult to get back on to the smooth ice again. Over a fortnight
was spent in getting beyond this rough ground, and at length, on the
weather clearing, they found that straight ahead of them a range of
hills showed along the horizon above the ice-cap. The appearance of the
hills directly in their path decided them to turn their course from due
east to south-east, and they were soon able to make out the line of a
deep channel running from the north-east to the south-west.

On July 1, after fifty-seven days of travel, they came to the limits of
the ice-cap and stood, silent and amazed, looking down from the summit
of the snow desert across a wide open plain covered with vegetation,
with here and there a snow drift showing white, and with herds of musk
oxen contentedly grazing over it. Such a discovery was absolutely so
unexpected that at first they could scarcely believe their eyes. There
was no sign of any human habitation on the land, and for all that could
be learned to the contrary, they were the first human beings who had
ever trodden upon that plain, on which the yellow Arctic poppies were
waving in bloom and over which the drone of the humble bee sounded,
though for hundreds of miles around it the accumulated snow of centuries
lay frozen into the great mysterious snow-cap and its glaciers.

Having proved that they really were not dreaming, they shot a musk ox,
which they used for their own and their dogs' refreshment. Then they
stacked their stores and set out with reduced loads across the plain.
They walked for four days, exploring, surveying, and examining; and on
the fourth of July, the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence
by the United States, they stood on the summit of a magnificent range of
cliffs, 3500 feet high, overlooking a large bay, which, in honour of the
date, they named Independence Bay.

The latitude was nearly 82° N., and Lieutenant Peary, writing of the
discovery, says: "It was almost impossible for us to believe that we
were standing on the northern shore of Greenland as we gazed from the
summit of this precipitous cliff with the most brilliant sunshine all
about us, with yellow poppies growing between the rocks around our feet
and a herd of musk oxen in the valley behind us. In that valley we had
also found the dandelion in bloom and had heard the heavy drone and seen
the bullet-like flight of the humble bee."

For a week the two remained in this northern valley, surveying and
making observations and finding it difficult to believe that a distance
of 600 miles of frozen snow separated them from the nearest living
people. Not a vestige of a human habitation was found, and nothing to
show that man had ever been there before. At the end of the week, with a
good supply of fresh meat from the musk oxen and a collection of
specimens of plants and insects packed on the sledges, the return
journey was commenced. Both dogs and men were invigorated by the rest
they had had, and they were able to travel homewards at the rate of
thirty miles a day over the smooth surface of the ice-cap.

They carefully adhered to a recognised routine of work. When they had
travelled the regulation number of hours they halted for their rest. The
one whose turn it was to prepare the supper set to work to arrange what
they termed their kitchen, while the other attended to the dogs, feeding
them and removing them from their harness. The "kitchen" was constructed
by removing snow in blocks from a space eight feet long by three feet
wide by eighteen inches deep. The snow-blocks were built up along one
side and half another, so as to form an angle presented towards that
quarter from whence the wind was blowing. Over the top of this a canvas
was stretched, forming a well-sheltered nook, in which the spirit stove
was lighted and the meal prepared. For supper they had usually, half a
pound of pemmican (a preparation of finely chopped lean meat with
raisins and wheaten flour), one cup of preserved milk, tea, and
biscuits. The morning meal, or breakfast, consisted of pemmican,
biscuits, two ounces of butter, and two cups of tea, and after
travelling from four to six hours, they stopped for lunch, which
consisted of more pemmican and tea.

As soon as supper was ready the two enjoyed it together, and very soon
afterwards they crept into their sleeping-bags, the one who was acting
as cook having also to keep an eye on the dogs, in order to prevent them
making attacks on the stores. To obviate this, after the first few days,
the dogs were usually tethered for the night.

Occasionally, when the wind was favourable, sails were erected on the
sledges and the progress was then very easy and rapid; but when the wind
was from the opposite direction both dogs and men had an arduous task.
The return journey was accomplished with greater facility than the
outward trip, and on August 8, as they reached the top of one of the
dome-like formations near the coastal range, they saw, on the slope of
the next dome, a party of men approaching. The Kite had meantime
returned to Inglefield Gulf to take the expedition back to the United
States, and several of those who had come up in her set out to meet the
two explorers. By the time that the combined parties reached the shore,
every one was on board the _Kite_ waiting to welcome the two wanderers,
whose enterprise had terminated so successfully, not the least delighted
being Mrs. Peary, whose patience had been somewhat tried by the
persistent way in which the "huskies" had foretold disaster to her
husband. But all is well that ends well, and in his return, victorious,
the long lonely hours were forgotten.




CHAPTER VIII

NANSEN AND THE _FRAM_

     Nansen's Theories of Arctic Currents and Shipbuilding--His Theories
     adopted--The _Fram_ built--A Start made--The Kara Sea reached--Good
     Hunting--The Ice Current reached--Frozen in--A Raid by a Bear--Will
     the _Fram_ stand the Pressure?--Preparing for Calamity--A
     Conclusive Test--Causes of Ice Movements--Life on the
     _Fram_--Nansen and Johansen leave the _Fram_--They reach their
     "Farthest North"--Incidents of their Return Journey--Some Narrow
     Escapes--The Meeting with Jackson--Arrival of the _Fram_.


In 1879 the _Jeannette_, an American yacht commanded by Lieutenant de
Long, of the United States Navy, was beset in the ice in latitude 71°
35' N. and longitude 175° 6' E. So firmly was she frozen that it was
found impossible to liberate her, and on June 12, 1881, she was so badly
crushed in a break up of the pack that she foundered. In the meantime
she had drifted with the ice to 77° 15' N. latitude and 154° 59' E.
longitude, a point to the north of the New Siberian Islands. In 1884
articles undoubtedly belonging to members of her crew were found in
floating ice off the coast of Greenland.

[Illustration: MAP OF THE ARCTIC REGIONS SHOWING ROUTE OF NANSEN AND THE
_FRAM_.]

These facts caused a very great deal of discussion among Arctic
explorers, and the general opinion expressed was that a strong and
steady current evidently flowed along the course taken first by the
_Jeannette_, and secondly by the relics. To arrive at that conclusion
was not very difficult; to utilise the knowledge thus gained, and profit
by it, was the point, and only one man in the world was possessed of the
necessary amount of insight, backed up by intellect and courage, to
enable him to do so. This man was Fridtjof Nansen.

As a student of Arctic phenomena, and as one who had crossed Greenland
from east to west, the existence of this current was full of suggestive
possibilities. It seemed to him that if a vessel were built of
sufficient strength to withstand the pressure of the winter ice, and
provisioned for a sufficiently long period, there was every chance of it
drifting along the entire course of the current, perhaps to within a
measurable distance of the Pole, and certainly well within that region
which had hitherto been unexplored. The area affected by the current
would have to be entered as near the outside edge as possible, so as to
participate in the full sweep of its curve, and, in order to avoid the
terrible crushing pressure of the winter ice, the vessel would have to
be so built as to enable it to slip upwards from the ice, when the
pressure became too severe, and rest always on the top.

On the publication of these views, they were not supported by the Arctic
veterans. Some went so far as to characterise the whole scheme as being
unworthy of serious consideration, while others, less overbearingly
prejudiced, were aghast at the daring and audacity of the scheme. The
possibility of the drift passing over the route suggested by Nansen was
not gainsaid by those whose close knowledge of Arctic problems, and
desire for general information, made them more tolerant than the keen
opponents of the scheme--the latter, strangely enough, being men whose
own exploits had not been the most successful in Polar exploration. The
hero of the _Alert_ sledge journey admitted the feasibility of the drift
theory, but shook his head at the idea of any ship withstanding the
winter pressure of the great ice packs in the far North. A ship once
caught and frozen in became part of the ice itself, and when the
pressure crushed masses a hundred feet thick into minute fragments and
powder, what chance would a vessel, held in such a mass, have of
escaping?

But Nansen was not to be discouraged. He had the true insight of genius,
that insight which gave him the confidence in his own idea and which
needed something more than verbal reasons to overthrow it. His idea also
recommended itself to a Norwegian shipbuilder, Mr. Colin Archer, who
expressed his readiness to construct such a vessel as Nansen had
described. The Norwegian Government also were impressed by the scheme
and voted over £11,000 towards the cost of carrying it out, and other
support being forthcoming, the intrepid explorer was at length able to
take definite steps to prove or disprove his contention.

The building of the _Fram_ was at once commenced. She was built of wood
and of tremendous strength, her beams and sides being of the utmost
thickness, while on the outside of the hull not a single angle was
allowed to remain. Every projection was carefully rounded off and
smoothed, so that there should not be as much as half an inch protruding
and capable of affording the ice a holding place. Even the keel was
sacrificed to the general idea of avoiding possible holding places for
the ice. The lines of the ship were necessarily different from those of
the ordinary vessel. Her sides bulged outwards and the stern and stem
sloped away, so that whichever way the ice exerted the pressure, the
_Fram_ would present a smooth surface to the ice, inclined in such a way
that the tendency of the ice would be to get under it and so lift the
vessel up. This did not improve her qualities as a sea boat, and the way
in which she pitched, plunged, and rolled, whenever she came into a
moving sea, tried the seafaring capacities of every one on board.

She was fitted with engines and a screw, and was rigged as a
three-masted fore-and-aft schooner. Electric light was laid on all over
her, the power being generated by a windmill when the engine was not
working. Every available crevice was utilised for the storing of coals
and provisions.

By the middle of June 1893 the thirteen men who formed the expedition
had succeeded in finding a place for everything, though not without
some difficulty, for the quantity of the stores which had to be packed
was enormous. By a delay in delivery, just as they were congratulating
themselves that everything was stowed away, a shipment of dog biscuits
arrived. The ship was full already, but the biscuits had to be stored
somewhere, so one of the men wriggled right up into the bows, and
between the beams and the ribs he packed away the troublesome late
arrivals. Everything was at last on board and stored, and on June 24,
1893, the _Fram_ started on her memorable journey.

Leaving North Cape, she headed for Kharbarova, on the Northern Siberian
coast, and the point where the team of Siberian sledge dogs were to be
taken on board. On July 29 she dropped anchor off the quaint little
settlement and found the dogs duly waiting. A ship with coal ought also
to have been there, but it did not arrive up to the time that the
_Fram_, having shipped the dogs, was compelled to leave. She would soon
be in the Kara Sea, where a year would have to be spent if she were
caught in the ice. The season was passing rapidly, and no time could be
lost if the Kara Sea were to be passed before winter set in, so the
anchor was weighed and the _Fram_ steamed away without her extra supply
of coal.

On August 4 the Kara Sea was reached. The ice, although not heavy enough
to prevent further progress, with the adverse currents caused
considerable delays, and the crew utilised their enforced leisure by
visiting the neighbouring land and laying in a store of fresh meat. They
were successful in obtaining reindeer venison and ducks, and it was here
also that the first bear was killed.

It happened on the Kjellman Islands. The _Fram_ had come to anchor under
their shelter, when some one raised the cry that there were reindeer on
the shore. Immediately a hunting party was formed, and eight of the
members rowed ashore. They separated into couples and spread out in
search of the deer, which, however, were extremely shy. Two of the
hunters, failing to get near the herd, decided to sit down and wait
until the other members succeeded in stalking round the deer and turning
them back. Suddenly one of the two, looking round towards the shore,
espied a bear coming towards them. They waited for him to come within
easy range, when they fired together, striking him in the right foreleg.
He turned back at once towards the shore, and another bullet in one of
his hind-legs did not stop him. Fearing that he might escape, one of the
two ran after him and managed to put a bullet in his shoulder, which
brought him to the ground. The bear staggered to his feet again, and in
turning towards his assailants presented his unwounded side to them,
with the result that another bullet was discharged into it, and he fell
to the ground unable to move; but to make certain that he was not
"foxing," yet another bullet was put into his head.

The result of the day's shooting was excellent, the bag consisting of
bear, deer, seal, and duck, providing plenty of fresh meat for the
members of the expedition, as well as a good supply of food for the
dogs. Within a few days they were able to add to the larder by killing
some walrus, a feat which was not achieved without some danger and loss.

The _Fram_ had come to anchor in consequence of the ice lying rather
thickly ahead, when a group of walrus was seen on a floating mass of
ice. A boat was immediately lowered, and with one man armed with a
harpoon in the bows, and Nansen armed with a rifle in the stern, it was
cautiously rowed towards the listless walrus. They did not show any sign
of life until the boat was close upon them, when the sentinel raised his
head and looked towards the boat. When a number are basking, one is
always on duty as a sentinel to give the alarm and warn the others of
approaching danger. Directly those in the boat saw which was the
sentinel, they kept a close watch upon him, remaining as still as
possible when he raised his head and only urging the boat forward gently
when he resumed his former lazy attitude. By very careful manoeuvring
they were able to creep close up to the ice. The sentinel again raised
his head and looked at them, but as no one moved he seemed to be
satisfied and lowered his head once more.

A sharp stroke of the oars drove the boat right on to the ice, and the
man with the harpoon let drive at the group. Due, perhaps, to the
movement of the boat, his aim was too high, and instead of plunging into
the great body of the nearest monster, the harpoon glanced off his back
and over the backs of the others. They were roused at once and turned
upon the boat, bellowing loudly. Nansen fired upon the leader, a bull
with tremendous tusks, and he fell over, but the others did not stop.
The boat was pushed off, and at the same moment Nansen shot a second
bull. The remainder of the herd plunged into the water from off the ice
and swam after the boat, rising up alongside it and attempting to drag
it down with their huge tusks. For a time the fight was furious, but the
three men were too strong, and those of the walrus that were not killed
made off under water. The two shot on the ice were secured, but those
shot in the water sank before they could be reached.

As the men were getting the two from the ice into the boat, an
unfortunate lurch jerked the rifle Nansen had been using overboard. It
was a favourite weapon which he was very loth to lose, and for hours
efforts were made to drag it up, but without success. It was hopelessly
lost, and the first brush with the walrus thus became memorable. A year
or two later there was another adventure with them which was even more
memorable, but many were to be slain by the explorers in the meantime,
and many miles were to be covered before that adventure came to pass.

On September 10 the _Fram_ had made her way through the ice-encumbered
sea as far as Cape Chelyuskin, the most northerly point of Europe. There
was great rejoicing on board, for the fact that such a point had been
reached meant that they would be in the region of the current before
winter set in, and that, when the _Fram_ became frozen in, it would be
in the ice affected by the drift. A week later, the course was altered,
and the _Fram_ was headed for the North. The ice became heavier and
closer as she advanced towards the limit of the ice-floes, and as the
sun was sinking nearer and nearer the horizon, the cold became more
intense at every mile. As long as there was open water ahead the
energetic crew kept working their vessel so as to get her as high up as
possible into the area affected by the current; but when they had passed
the line which marks the limit of the floes, they soon found that
further navigation was impossible. The _Fram_ was soon fast in the ice
and, with winter upon them, the crew made themselves and the ship as
comfortable as they could.

The builder of the _Fram_ had given attention not alone to the exterior
of the vessel; he had also made the internal arrangements as complete as
possible for the comfort of the explorers during the prolonged period
they were to remain in the ice. Now that they were in the pack, they
realised how well their comfort had been considered. For the matter of
that, they had always found their quarters cosy, even when the _Fram_
displayed her capabilities of rolling and tossing. The main cabin, in
which they lived, was always warm, and the passage-ways leading from it
to the outside were so skilfully arranged that those on board did not
experience the distressing moisture which was so troublesome on the
_Alert_ and _Discovery_. The electric light as a substitute for lamps
was also an admirable innovation, for the interior of the cabin was
always brightly lit without the air becoming heavy, as would have been
the case with exposed lamps. A great deal of thought had also been given
to ventilation, with the result that the cabins were never close.

Over the deck a large screen was erected, tent shape, and above it there
was reared the windmill which drove the electric motor and generated the
electricity for the lights. As the ship was to remain in the ice until
it drifted out again, everything was made snug for a long stay. On the
ice alongside various observatories were erected and scientific
instruments placed to make complete records, and later, a row of
comfortable kennels was made for the accommodation of the dogs.

These animals at first had been somewhat troublesome. They were so
savage that it was necessary to keep them all tied up on deck, and
during the voyage along the coast they were frequently wet and
miserable, and incessantly howling. Once, rope muzzles were made, and
when each dog was fitted they were allowed loose; but an Arctic dog
requires something stronger than a rope to keep its jaws closed when let
loose among a lot of other Arctic dogs. The result of the experiment was
not a success, except from a dog-fight point of view; when at length the
struggling, snarling, snapping pack were separated, they were tied up
again to the deck until the ship was fast in the ice.

By that time they were somewhat reconciled to one another; when they had
been allowed to have a scamper or two, with plenty of opportunity to
find out who were the kings and who were not, they settled down into a
big happy family, even making common cause when a stray bear came on
board later in the winter.

This happened at a time when every one was below in the cabin. Each man
took it in turn to look round the deck every now and again. The man
whose watch it was had not long returned to the cabin when a tremendous
hubbub started among the dogs. The watch returned on deck with a lamp,
but failed to see any cause for the disturbance, and attributed it to a
new election of a king or some other canine ceremony. Later it broke out
once more, and a further inspection was made, when it was discovered
that two dogs were missing.

The man on watch, carrying his lantern, and accompanied by another
member of the crew, set out over the ice, following what appeared to be
a track in the snow. They had not proceeded far when they found
themselves face to face with a bear. It was difficult to say which was
the more surprised, the bear or the men; but as the latter had no weapon
with them they decided that a return to the ship was the best course to
pursue. They turned and started at a run, the man with the lantern,
having heavier boots on, being the slower of the two. More than that, he
was not so agile as his companion, and stumbled frequently. Once he went
down full length, and when he regained his feet he was astounded to see
in the dim twilight, and between himself and the ship, the form of the
bear.

For a moment they stood looking at one another, the dogs at a
respectable distance baying and howling. Then the bear advanced and made
a snap at the man, nipping him in the thigh. The lantern was not a very
heavy one, but it was all the man had with which to defend himself, and,
swinging it round with all his strength, he brought it down on the
bear's head. It made him let go his hold, and a few of the dogs rushing
nearer to him caused him to turn towards them, thus giving the man a
chance to resume his flight, which he immediately did.

By the time he was able to scramble up on to the vessel he found half of
the crew tumbling out of the cabin with rifles. They ranged themselves
along the side of the ship, and taking a steady aim at the bear, which
could be dimly seen in the twilight, all pulled their triggers. They had
forgotten, in the hurry of the moment, how well the firearms had been
greased to prevent them rusting, and so the volley failed to fire a
single shot. Meanwhile the dogs surrounded the bear, snarling and
barking, but not going near enough to bite or get bitten. He looked
wisely round the ring and then started off at a slouching walk, just as
Nansen reached the deck with his rifle. His weapon did not misfire, and
a bullet checked the bear's flight, and, some of the other guns now
being effective, several more were put into him and laid him low.
Subsequent search revealed the remains of the two dogs a little distance
away from the _Fram_, whither they had been dragged by the bear.

[Illustration: THE _FRAM_ IN THE ICE.

"The _Fram_ was in 78° 50' N. latitude when she was first frozen in" for
the beginning of the great drift.]

The _Fram_ was in 78° 50' N. latitude when she was first frozen in, and
the observations for the next few days were watched with a good deal of
interest, as every one was anxious to know whether they were in the
drift, and at what rate they were travelling. A very great surprise was
therefore experienced when it became known that instead of travelling,
as they expected they would, in a north-westerly direction, they were
going south-east. For several days they speculated whether they had
misjudged the place where they would meet the north drift, and had,
instead, become fast in ice which would carry them away, rather than
towards their goal. It was a very unpleasant uncertainty, and when the
discovery was made that the direction had changed and the vessel was
slowly but surely drifting northward, there was general rejoicing on
board. The ice around the _Fram_ was now over thirty feet in thickness,
and, as it was constantly moving in the drift, so was it also subject to
the pressure which made it heave and pile itself in great rugged broken
masses. There was a constant creaking and groaning in the vast pack
which made it evident that the pressure had begun. Throughout the winter
it would continue, getting more and more severe as the cold became more
intense. Would the _Fram_ justify her designer and builder under the
trial?

It was a very anxious question for those on board. One authority had
said she would become so securely frozen in as to be, to all intents and
purposes, a part of the ice body, and that then, if the ice immediately
in her vicinity began to move and work, nothing could save her from
being crushed into matchwood by the enormous pressure. Well, she was now
frozen into such a mass, and frozen so firmly that she did not budge an
inch when the groaning and creaking told of the straining that was going
on. The surface of the ice, as far as the explorers could see, was
constantly undergoing a change, as the force of the movement pressed
great blocks up in one place, and ground them away in another. Jagged,
rugged masses reared themselves up before the irresistible power, until
they stood forty and fifty feet high. Sometimes they were forced up so
high that they overbalanced and crashed down upon the lower masses with
the roar and rattle of thunder. And yet the _Fram_ never moved.

Was the expert opinion going to be verified? Would the ship, held by the
grip of the pack, be slowly crushed into fragments directly she was
caught in the line of movement? It was evidently not impossible, and
precautions were taken so as to insure escape if she were to be caught
and crushed. All the boats were taken out on to the ice and filled with
provisions; the dogs were put in kennels also on the ice where they
would be free to escape, and every one was constantly on the alert for
the first sign of the "nip."

At last it came. They were all at meals when the increased uproar of the
moving ice told them that the movement was nearing the vessel. Then, for
the first time, they heard the ominous sounds of creaking timber. The
_Fram_ was being "nipped."

Every one hurried out of the cabin to see to the boats and the dogs and
the stores. When they reached the open they found that, close upon her
port side, the ice was heaving and piling up into a great massive wall,
while all around the noise of the fracturing and cracking of huge blocks
was deafening. Slowly the wall rose in the air higher than the vessel's
deck, higher than the bulwarks, and then it began steadily to glide
towards her. For the moment it seemed that nothing could save her, and
that the stupendous weight of the gliding wall would soon grind her
solid timbers into splinters, while part of it crashed over her decks
and swept spars and everything away.

Silent the members of the crew stood on the ice on the starboard side
watching and expecting every second to see the moving mass creep up to
her and pulverise the bold little _Fram_, rendering them homeless and
shipless. Some of the crushed ice, pushed forward in a huge roll like a
frozen billow, was actually against her side and rising over the tent
covering on the deck. The line of pressure had now reached exactly where
she lay in the ice, and if she did not yield to it and slip from the
grip that held her, she was doomed.

There was a sound of rending; a groaning crash; the _Fram_ shivered till
the breathless watchers thought they saw her spars tremble. Then, with a
mighty wrench, she broke from the bonds that held her, and slowly rose
from her nest in the ice, slipping upwards and away from the crushing
force. A cheer burst from the lips of every one as she moved, for it
meant not only the realisation of the hopes and ideals of those
concerned in her construction and the complete vindication of their
faith in her, but also the guarantee that the explorers were safely and
securely housed, whatever might transpire.

When the movement in the ice had subsided, it was found that the _Fram_
had slipped out of harm's way in a marvellous manner. So firmly had she
been frozen in that the spot from whence she had been driven contained a
complete mould of her shape, every seam and mark being reproduced in the
ice. This proved that the test had not only been a severe one, but
conclusive as well, since the vessel had really been frozen so solid
into a mass of ice as to be a part of the mass. Her escape was an
overwhelming disproof of the adverse theories expressed against her, and
an entire victory for Nansen. There was now no question in any one's
mind as to the result of the expedition; the _Fram_, having stood one
test, would stand any, and nothing could stop her emerging in due course
out on to the open sea again, having drifted very near to the Pole, if
not quite up to it.

With a feeling of absolute security against further pressures and
movements, the crew returned on board, and once more the cabin echoed to
the light-hearted laughter which had been interrupted by the "nip." The
hardy Norsemen who formed the party were as happy as they were brave,
and throughout the years they were together there was nothing but
good-humour and merriment among them. After the preliminary experience
of how the _Fram_ conducted herself during a "nip," little attention was
paid to the ceaseless noise and roaring set up by the moving ice. Often
she was forced up out of the line of movement, but the men in her cabin
sat quiet; she was able to "sail herself" without any help on that
ice-locked sea.

The existence of this constant movement of the ice formed a very
important discovery in Arctic knowledge. A brief explanation of the
causes and the effects may make this clear, and, at the same time, show
how it is that such huge mountains of ice are formed in the depth of
winter when the Polar Sea was currently supposed to be frozen into one
great silent moveless ice-field.

As winter sets in within the Arctic Circle, the sea which flows between
the northern coasts of Europe, Asia, and America becomes covered with
ice to the shores, thus forming an enormous field of ice some two
thousand miles across. This, lying on the surface of the water, often
having a thickness of from thirty to fifty feet, checks, but cannot
control the tides. The ebb, on one hand, leaves vast tracks of ice,
previously afloat, straining on the ground, cracking so as to form
enormous fissures and weakening the surface resistance. On the other
hand, the flood tide is welling and pressing against the overlying
barrier of ice and lifting it up until it cracks and opens, the pressure
underneath lifting the separated masses on to their neighbours, which in
turn resist with all their weight and grind back upon the masses beyond,
until with the turn of the tide the forced-up masses gravitate down
again, tumbling, crashing, bounding and rebounding one upon the other.
Meanwhile the ice lowered by the ebb tide has formed a restricted crust
against which the flood tide, backed up by the weight of the disturbed
masses, uses its energy as a man uses his shoulder to lift a load. It is
a battle between the resistance and the energy of nature, and usually
energy wins along the line of the least resistance. Here, when once a
point gives way, the accumulated energy concentrates. The "point" may be
an area of ice a hundred miles square and fifty feet thick, and this
tremendous mass, moved by the immeasurable force of the water pressure
beneath it, grinds upon its surroundings and upon itself. Huge masses
are pushed up on to the surface of the pack, crushing, grinding, and
splintering as they go, their weight causing the under ice to bend and
crack, and so add to the confusion of the struggle. Mass meets mass in a
test of strength, and, failing to climb over one another, crush
together, closer and higher, until there is a diminution of the pressure
from below and they surge back, shattering themselves in the commotion
and yet binding themselves into a single unit strong enough to resist
the next onslaught of the tidal energy.

Along the shores, where the solid compactness of beetling cliffs holds
back the sweep of the tide, the ice piles itself in mountainous ridges
and chains. Those of greater bulk, taking the ground, offer a resistance
against which the lesser masses can only strain and grind; but away out
in the unfathomable depths of the Polar Sea there is no chance of the
ice ever grounding. It is always floating, and so always susceptible to
the force of wind, tide, and current. Consequently it is always moving
and feeling the pressure of the water below, of the grinding strain of
the drift, and of the surface disturbances brought about by the constant
displacement.

Any one who has seen a pond in winter, when the ice round the edge is
rotten and when a breeze blows across it, is aware how the loose sheet
which covers the centre creaks and groans as it is driven against the
bank. The edge is shivered into small flakes before the resistance can
stop the forward movement, and then the sheet moves back against the
breeze until once more the power of the wind controls it, and there is a
renewed straining along the bank, the previously broken flakes either
being forced up on to the bank, or else under, or over, the edge of the
sheet. Pieces a yard square slowly rise up on end before the pressure
and, falling back, shiver into fragments which scurry across the smooth
surface of the sheet until they are arrested and become frozen to the
main surface. Everywhere when the forward movement is on there is noise
of creaking, groaning, and cracking, and everywhere on the ice sheet
there is evidence of the force exerted.

The Arctic Ocean may be likened to such a pond, only two thousand miles
across and with ice upon its surface which never melts and is always
being forced one way or the other by tide, wind, or current. The rugged,
piled-up fragments of one winter's fight are smoothed over somewhat
later on by the heavy snows of spring and summer, or, more correctly
speaking, of the period of daylight, for in this region the year is
divided between the time when the sun is seen and when the sun is not
seen. Along the shores of the continents which surround it, open water
forms in the time of sunshine, and so there is room for the energy of
the tides to escape. The currents can also, from time to time, break off
great areas into floes and packs which drift away to the warmer South
until they melt, leaving more room for the enormous stretch of tumbled
ruggedness behind them to swing and drift in obedience to the driving
currents. It will be remembered that it was at this period of the year
when the _Alert_ party travelled over the ice and found it so broken and
rugged that barely a mile a day was covered. It was while this sort of
ice was being formed that the _Fram_ and her crew rested in the North,
the vessel braving every nip by slipping upwards from the pressure; the
crew, confident in her capabilities, living in merry good-humour in her
cabin. What the confusion of the ice was like may be gathered from the
opinion of those who saw it when the return of the sun enabled them to
do so, and also relieved the pressure. "Imagine a stormy sea, all broken
waves and flying billows, suddenly frozen solid into ice, and you have
some idea, on a small scale, of the piled-up hummocks on the pack."

And so the first winter passed, the members of the expedition keeping
not alone in good temper and spirits, but in good health also. There was
always something doing; observations of temperature and ice movements to
be taken, and records to be kept of the atmospheric and astronomical
phenomena, on the scientific side; and on the every-day side of life,
there were meals to get ready, stores to be overhauled and distributed,
dogs to be fed, and a dozen other items to attend to. One of the
happiest features of this expedition was the sincere and thorough
good-fellowship which existed between all the members. Some of them took
turn about in the cook's galley, each one trying to produce some dish
which would come as a surprise to the mess and a variety to the usual
bill of fare. Then they were excellently supplied with books to read and
indoor games to fill in the odd hours of leisure. A newspaper was
started, and although it was somewhat deficient in foreign news, there
was plenty of local intelligence to keep it going until the return of
the sun. Inside the cabin there was constantly heard the hearty laugh as
some jest passed round, and under the illumination of the electric light
and the spell of good-fellowship, but little heed was paid to the
constant noise made outside in the darkness of the Arctic night by the
ever-moving ice.

When the sun's approach was heralded by a gradually increasing twilight,
every one was full of curiosity to learn how far they had drifted in
the ice during the winter, and whether the current had maintained its
northerly direction. There was no chance of proving that during the long
hours of darkness, and when, with the appearance of the sun above the
horizon, observations were taken to verify calculations already made,
with the result that a great advance to the North was shown, there was
general rejoicing. If the direction were maintained during the coming
summer and the following winter, it was not impossible that in a year's
time the _Fram_ might be drifting over the very Pole itself. The flag of
Norway was run up to the masthead in honour of the occasion, and at the
supper-table speeches were made foreshadowing the glory which would be
won if the direction of the current were maintained.

With the return of sunlight a great deal had to be done in the
verification of the observations taken during the winter. As the weather
became warmer it was possible to penetrate through the ice so as to
enable them to take soundings as to the depth of the sea. Photographs of
the ice-field were taken, so as to form companion pictures of what it
was before and after the winter pressure had been exerted, and short
expeditions by dog-sledge and snow-shoes (_ski_, as the Norwegian form
is termed) were taken. A bear track was seen one day, but as Bruin did
not seem desirous of approaching the ship, Captain Sverdrup, who
commanded the vessel, set to work and devised a highly ingenious trap
for him. The trap was fixed up on a hummock in the vicinity, where it
could be watched from the _Fram_, but where it would be quiet enough to
tempt the bear. A strong-smelling bait was fastened to it, so that when
the bear seized the bait he would spring the jaws of the trap and get
caught round the neck. Then, when all was ready, a constant watch was
kept for Bruin to appear. He came when every one was about the ship, and
as he was seen slouching over the hummocks, all eyes were turned upon
him. Scenting the bait, he quickened his steps and went up to the trap,
holding his head high up and sniffing for the bait. Having caught sight
of it, he walked slowly round the trap until he came opposite the bait
again, when he slowly rose on to his hind-legs and reached out for the
morsel. Every one on board held their breath in anticipation of seeing
him caught, but there was something about the concern which aroused his
suspicions. Probably he had never seen such an animal before and doubted
its quality, for he drew his head back, lowered himself on to all-fours,
and slowly trotted away. The bear-trap was no success for killing bears,
but it afforded excellent entertainment during this occasion, and formed
a never-failing source of good-natured chaff afterwards.

As the short summer passed, the drift turned persistently to the west,
and in view of its continuing in that direction, preparations were made
for a dash by sledge to the North in the following period of sunlight.
The framework of two kayaks were on board, and these were brought out
and put together on the ice alongside the vessel. When they were covered
with skins, they were packed on two light sledges, and experiments were
made as to the amount of provisions that could be stored on the sledges
in addition. With a third sledge for stores, it was found that
twenty-eight dogs would be able to drag enough food to last two men for
one hundred days and the dogs thirty days, besides the kayaks, guns,
ammunition, and other necessaries.

It was a critical venture to undertake, for once the sledge party left
the ship and journeyed to the North, it was almost an absolute
impossibility that they would be able to find the ship again. All they
would be able to do was to go as far as they could and then turn back
again, shaping their course to the Spitzbergen Islands, where it was
anticipated the _Fram_ would eventually drift. Whether they would be
able to traverse the distance before their food gave out, and whether
they would be able to replenish their provisions by shooting game, were
two very important problems, and, in addition, there was also the
question how they would be able to withstand the intense cold of the
winter if compelled to spend it on the ice.

As the darkness set in again, the discussion frequently turned to the
prospects of the dash being successful. Nansen decided that he should
be one of the two, selecting Lieutenant Hjalmar Johansen, of the
Norwegian Navy, as his companion. Lieutenant Johansen had joined the
expedition as stoker, subsequently acting as the meteorological
assistant, and his choice by the leader was amply justified by results.
The winter having passed without mishap, the reappearance of the sun
verified the fears as to the direction of the drift. All through the
winter they had travelled more to the West than the North. The dash by
sledge was imperative.

On March 14, 1895, the two adventurers, with their three sledges, two
kayaks, and twenty-eight dogs, bade adieu to their comrades, who had
come out a part of the way with them from the _Fram_, and started due
north along the 100th parallel of East longitude. The _Fram_ had already
drifted to the 84th parallel of latitude, farther North than had yet
been attained.

[Illustration: NANSEN AND JOHANSEN START ON THEIR DASH FOR THE POLE.

On March 14, 1895, they left the _Fram_, and returned to Norway in the
_Windward_ on August 13, 1895, having reached 86° 14' N. lat., the
highest point, up to that time, attained by man.]

For the first few days travelling was slow, heavy, and laborious, the
ice being excessively rough and rugged. Time after time the two men had
to haul the sledges, one after another, over the broken hummocks; but
always at the end of each period of travel when they formed their camp,
the Pole was nearer. On March 22 they reached 85° 10' N. lat. The ice
they were journeying over now was not only rough but was constantly
moving, the noise being incessant as the masses ground and strained
against one another. But still they pushed on, taking such rest as they
could and working hard, when not in camp, from the moment they started
until the moment the camp was made. On April 7 they had reached 86° 14'
N. lat., the highest point ever, up to that time, attained by man, and
only some two hundred miles from the Pole.

The ice was indescribably rugged and broken, necessitating the lifting
of the sledges at almost every yard; the temperature averaged 40° below
zero; their clothes were frozen into hard suits of mail, and their
sleeping-bags were also frozen stiff. They had to sleep in the frozen
bags out in the open, the temperature once being as low as 49° below
zero. They had reached the "farthest North," and had learned enough to
satisfy them that up to the Pole there was nothing but a continuation of
the broken, rugged ice, straining and breaking under the pressure of the
drift, and they decided to turn back, making towards the nearest land
for winter quarters.

This was Franz Josef Land, lying to the south-west of where they were,
and if they reached it in time to pass the winter on shore, they would
be able, they believed, to resume their journey to Spitzbergen in the
following summer. Arrived there, they did not anticipate any difficulty
in getting home on board a Norwegian whaler, if the _Fram_ had not
meantime arrived.

They were now travelling in continual daylight, with a task before them
every hour of surmounting the steep sides of hummocks. For hours they
toiled on, making as much progress as they could between the camps. The
work they were performing was scarcely, one would think, likely to make
them forget when it was time to sleep. And yet there was an occasion
when for thirty-six hours they struggled on without a sleep. The food
for the dogs was daily growing scarcer, and they were anxious to get on
as far as possible before it was finished. When, therefore, they came
upon a stretch of fairly smooth ice, they made the most of it, and only
when they and their dogs were dead tired did they stop. It was their
custom to always wind up their watches when they crept into their
sleeping-bag; on this occasion when they took them from under their
heavy clothing they discovered that both had stopped. In their anxiety
to push forward they had forgotten to wind them up, and the springs had
run down during the thirty-six hours. There was nothing to do but guess
at what the time ought to be, and so they overcame this difficulty as
they overcame all others, by making the best of it.

Their next trouble was the failure of the dog food. When the first dog
died they kept him, for unless they fell in with a bear and killed it,
the bodies of the weaker dogs was all that they could give the stronger
ones to keep them alive. At first the dogs turned away from the remains
of their comrade, but soon their hunger overcame their scruples, and the
ravenous creatures fought over the carcase as soon as it was offered to
them. Then came the necessity of killing one of them every now and again
to feed the others; much as it went against their natures to do it, the
explorers had to choose between it and death to themselves.

By the end of April they expected to reach land, but April passed and
May passed, and still only the rugged ice was in view. One by one the
dogs had to be sacrificed until only two remained. The weight of the
sledges was also very considerably reduced by this time. The third
sledge had been abandoned, and now each man, assisted by one dog,
dragged a sledge on which rested his kayak, his _ski_, firearms, and
other necessaries, as well as a moiety of the remaining stores. June
came in and still no land was in sight, but the character of the ice was
changing, though not very much for the better. It was not so rugged and
hummocky, but it was frequently intersected by channels mostly full of
floating pieces. It was useless taking to the kayaks to cross them, and
often impossible to go round, so they adopted the method of jumping from
piece to piece, and drawing their sledges after them. On June 22 they
came upon a seal, which they succeeded in shooting and securing, a fact
which was so memorable that they rested for a day, giving the dogs an
ample supply of the meat. But the rest was scarcely idleness, for they
were visited by three bears, all of which also fell under bullets. They
now had abundance of food, both for themselves and the dogs, to last a
few weeks if they did not come in sight of the land. Two days later,
however, they saw it, lying ahead of them, and they pushed on till a
wide, open channel stopped them.

It was evident that the kayaks would have to be used in getting across,
and they were taken from the sledges and examined. The result of the
rough handling they had undergone in the journey over the ice was
manifest in many a crack and hole in the skin-covering, but how to
repair them was a question which taxed even the ingenuity and enterprise
of the two intrepid Norsemen. They had enough skins to make patches, and
twine with which to stitch them on. It was the making of some waterproof
coating for the stitch-holes that puzzled them. They possessed a little
train-oil, and by fixing up an arrangement over their spirit cooking
stove, they obtained a little soot, which was mixed with the oil and
used as paint. It was not a very artistic compound, but it was the best
they could make, and it kept the water out. Then the kayaks were
carefully fastened together by the _ski_, and upon them was laid the
sledges and the stores.

When everything had been made fast, the explorers prepared to launch
them. Johansen was behind Nansen, and stooping down, when he heard
something moving at his back. Thinking it was only one of the dogs, he
did not look round, and the next thing he knew was that something hit
him beside the head, so that, in his own words, "he saw fireworks." He
fell forward, and immediately felt a heavy body upon him. He managed to
turn partly round, and saw just above his face the head of a huge bear.

Nansen, ignorant of what had occurred, was bending over his end of the
kayak, when he heard Johansen exclaim, "Get a gun." Glancing round, he
saw his comrade lying under the bear, gripping its throat with both
hands.

With everything securely tied to the kayaks, it was no easy matter to
extricate the weapon, and Nansen was pulling and tugging at the cords to
get them loose, so as to drag the rifle from its place, when he heard
Johansen say, "You will have to hurry if you don't want to be too late."

The two dogs, all that were left of the twenty-eight, were standing
snarling at the bear, and as Johansen spoke the one which always
travelled with him approached nearer. The bear, having his attention for
the moment distracted, stepped off Johansen, who immediately wriggled
away and scrambled to his feet. Just as the bear turned on to the dog,
Nansen wrenched a gun from the piled-up stores. Swinging round, he found
the bear close beside him, and he pulled the first trigger he touched.
It fired the barrel loaded with shot, but so near was the bear that the
charge entered behind the ear without having time to scatter, and
brought him down dead between Nansen and Johansen.

The former was terribly afraid that his companion had been seriously
injured, but the only mark the bear had left was a streak across the
face where the dirt had been scraped away. As they had not washed their
faces since they left the _Fram_, there was a thick covering of dirt on
them, and the bear's claw, as it passed over Johansen's face, had
scraped this away, leaving the white skin to show through. The bear was
a mother, and had two cubs following it. The explorers took away the
skin and some of the meat, the cubs meanwhile standing some distance
away whining and growling. A shot was fired which wounded one, whereupon
they made off, though only to return and follow the travellers in the
distance, until a wide, long channel turned them back.

When the stores had been repacked, the two men, with the two dogs,
entered the kayaks and paddled away down the channel, landing some hours
later on the other side. The land they had first seen appeared to be the
outlying point of an island, but growing mists obscured it for a day or
so, and in the meantime they were somewhat puzzled to locate it. The
fact that their watches had stopped earlier on the journey made them
uncertain as to the exact locality they were in. The direction in which
they had noticed the land, and its appearance, also puzzled them, for
there was no land marked on their map at the place where they believed
they were. Possibly they might be near a hitherto undiscovered island,
and with that thought uppermost in their minds they hastened forward as
quickly as the broken character of the ice would allow. For the
remainder of June, and the whole of July, they were battling against
broken ice and irregular channels, and the distance covered was as
nothing compared with the amount of toil experienced. The land, whenever
it appeared, was still unlike anything previously recorded, for it now
seemed to be of considerable extent.

On August 6 they came upon a stretch of open water, on the other side of
which they saw four islands, the heights of which were covered with
glacier. They determined that they would winter on the shore of one of
the four, and the kayaks were launched and laden with everything for the
journey across the open water. It was more perilous than merely crossing
channels in the ice, and when they had stored all their provisions,
weapons, and other necessaries on the two frail little craft, they found
that it would not be safe to carry the dogs as well. But they could not
bring themselves to leave the faithful creatures on the ice; they
elected rather to shoot them, scanty as their supply of ammunition was,
and upon this decision they acted, each one shooting the dog which had
been the other's comrade. It was the saddest task that their
difficulties had imposed upon them, and only the absolute necessity for
their safety and the completion of their journey induced them to do it.

Sailing down the open water, they skirted along the coast of the strange
land, on the lookout for a favourable spot to pitch their camp. As soon
as they came to a place which recommended itself to them, they ran
ashore and landed their kayaks and stores. The place was merely a
barren, rocky coast, sheltered somewhat by the high ground behind, but
without a trace of vegetation. On the beach one piece of drift-wood was
found. In addition, there were plenty of small boulders, but such
material was scarcely sufficient for the building of a hut in which to
pass the dreary, cold, dark winter.

They overhauled their stores, and found they possessed two guns, some
cartridges, a small hatchet, and two knives. With the hatchet, after
considerable labour, they cut through the piece of drift-wood, and
rejoiced in the possession of a suitable ridge-pole for the centre of
the roof. Stones were collected and built into a low wall, within which
all their property, except the guns, kayaks, and knives, was placed.
Then, with the unstored articles, they set out along the coast and the
floating ice to seek the wherewithal to complete the house.

Walrus was the first essential, for the hide would afford a covering
for the roof, the blubber would furnish fuel for the stove, and the meat
would be useful as food. They spied two lying at the edge of a piece of
ice, and approaching with the utmost caution, succeeded in shooting
both. Their weight, however, as they fell over, caused them to slide
from the ice, and they were in the water before the men could reach
them. They secured the carcases, so as to prevent them from either
sinking or drifting away, and essayed to haul them up on to the ice
again so as to remove the hides and blubber. But the combined strength
of the two men was insufficient to pull one of the huge carcases up on
to the ice again, and they were compelled to strip the skin and blubber
off as the walrus lay in the water. This necessitated their lying upon
the floating carcases, and by the time the operation was completed,
their already travel-stained clothing was rendered still more
uncomfortable by being saturated with blood and fat.

Returning to the camp with their walrus hides and blubber, they explored
the ridge lying behind the spot, and were fortunate in finding some
moss, which they carefully gathered and carried away to assist in the
building of the hut. The walls they had made of the stones allowed for
an internal space of about ten feet long by not quite six feet wide. The
crevices between the stones they filled in with moss and gravel, and
then stretching the walrus hides over the ridge-pole, they weighted
them down with more stones. Over all of it they heaped snow and ice, and
in order to avoid suffocation by the smoke of their blubber cooking
stove, they constructed an ice-chimney, which, however, did not always
carry off the smoke, while it frequently thawed at the base, and made
the interior very draughty. Their guns, _ski_, and other articles and
stores, they placed inside the hut, leaving the kayaks outside; and when
everything was stored conveniently, they built a wall as a screen to
keep the wind from out of the door, and hung a curtain of skins across
the doorway. The floor of the hut was composed of stones which no
ingenuity of theirs could render smooth or even, and upon it their
sleeping-bag, the fur of which was almost worn entirely away, was
stretched.

As soon as the hut was finished the two set out on foot in search of
bears for winter provisions, and were happy in finding sufficient to
enable them to fill their larder with enough meat to last them well into
the following summer. This they stored on the top of the hut, and during
the long winter night they often heard foxes over their heads gnawing at
the frozen mass. They had not enough cartridges to waste on shooting
them, and as there was more meat than they would want, they let the
foxes feed in peace. Bear's meat, fried at night and boiled in the
morning, was the only food they had; when the long dark night set in,
with the temperature inside the hut barely above freezing point, they
lay in their sleeping-bag side by side, generally for twenty-two hours
out of the twenty-four. The inside of the walrus-hide roof became
covered with frost and ice, upon which the black from the blubber-fed
stove settled; the stone floor was so uneven that they gave up trying to
make it smooth, and lay as comfortably as they could under the
circumstances, with their feet nearly touching one side of the hut and
their heads the other. From November until the following March they were
undisturbed, except by the sounds of the foxes on the roof and the
howling of the wind, and a picturesque glimpse is given by Nansen of
their life in his diary entry made on December 24, 1895, when the
temperature inside the hut was 11° below zero.

"And this is Christmas Eve; cold and blowy out of doors, and cold and
draughty indoors. How desolate it is here! We have never had such a
Christmas before. The bells are now ringing in the Christmas festival at
home; I can hear the sound of them swinging out through the air from the
church towers. How beautiful it sounds! Now the candles are being lit on
the Christmas trees, and flocks of children are let in and dance round
in exuberant glee. Must have a Christmas party for children when I get
home. We, too, are keeping the festival in our little way. Johansen has
turned his shirt, and has put the outer one inside. I have done the
same, and have changed my drawers as well, and put on the others which I
had wrung out in warm water. And then I have washed myself in a quarter
of a cup of warm water, using the discarded drawers as sponge and towel.
I feel like a new being; my clothes do not stick to my body as much as
they did. Then for supper we had fish 'gratin,' made of potted fish and
Indian meal, with train-oil for butter--fried or boiled both equally
dry--and as sweets we had bread fried in train-oil. To-morrow morning we
are going to have chocolate and bread."

Where a turned shirt and a bath in a tea-cup formed the physical
luxuries, and bread fried in train-oil and chocolate comprised the
feast, in celebration of Christmas Day, it is not difficult to picture
the amount of enjoyment available for every-day use, nor is it difficult
to understand that they sighed even for a railway time-table to peruse.
But yet they kept their health, their spirits, and their tempers. The
rough stones under their sleeping-bag seem to have been the only thing
they could not turn into a jest. When one snored too loudly to allow the
other to sleep, it was only necessary for the victim to move; they lay
so close together for warmth that a movement was equal to a dig in the
back, and that meant waking the snorer by changing his position on the
knobbly boulders from ease to discomfort.

At length the approach of the sun became manifest by the gradually
brightening twilight, and the arrival of a flock of little auks reminded
them that spring was at hand. They celebrated the occasion by boiling
their clothes, one article at a time, in the only pot they possessed,
and then scraping the grease and dirt from them by the aid of a knife,
so as to render them soft enough for travelling, as it was beyond the
question to get them clean. The sooty smoke from the winter's cooking
had thoroughly begrimed their faces, and all they could do to get clean
was first to try and scrape the dirt off with the knife, and then rub
themselves all over with bear's grease and wipe it off with moss.

By the middle of May the water along the shore was sufficiently open to
permit of their starting in the kayaks on the journey which they
expected would end at Spitzbergen. On May 19, 1896, they bade adieu to
their winter camp, having packed everything on the kayaks, which they
fastened together for convenience and stability. Sometimes they had to
get out on to the ice which blocked the channel and drag the kayaks over
to the open water on the other side; sometimes they sailed and sometimes
they paddled. They passed numbers of walrus lying on the ice, the great
monsters paying no heed to them whatever. Once they landed on a mass of
ice which rose high out of the water, in order to climb to the top of it
and examine the coast line, for they were still in very great doubt
whether they were off the shore of a hitherto undiscovered island or
not.

They made the kayaks fast to a projecting piece of ice, and together
climbed up to the top of the hummocks. As they reached the summit they
looked back to the spot where they had left the kayaks, and were
horrified to see them adrift. Already they were some distance away from
the ice, and, being tied together, they were going rapidly down the
channel. For a moment the sight held the two men motionless, for the
kayaks represented their only means of escape. Everything beyond the
clothes in which they stood was stored on board, and to be left on the
ice without food, arms, or shelter, was almost certain death.

There was only one desperate means of salvation, and that Nansen took.
Dashing down the hummock, he plunged into the ice-cold water and struck
out after the retreating kayaks.

Weighted by his stiff, heavy, grease-sodden clothes, he had the utmost
difficulty in swimming at all; but there was a greater handicap even
than his clothes in the low temperature of the water. It struck through
him with a chill which reached to his bones, numbing his muscles, and
making his joints lose their suppleness. The breeze which was blowing
helped the kayaks along, but only increased his discomfort. Soon he felt
that the fight was only a matter of minutes for as the coldness numbed
him more and more, he realised that unless he overtook the kayaks
quickly he would go to the bottom like a stone. The cold penetrated to
his lungs, so that he gasped for breath; his hands and feet lost all
feeling, and his eyes were growing blurred as he nerved himself for a
final desperate struggle. Swimming as hard as his strength of will and
muscle could command, he succeeded in coming within touch of the light
drifting craft. The fact that the two were fastened together was of the
utmost importance under the circumstances, for had they been separate he
could never have clambered into one in his benumbed and exhausted
condition. As it was, he managed to get one arm over the _ski_ which
formed the coupling between the kayaks. His hands were too cold to grip
and he hung for a few seconds resting, till the growing chill in his
limbs warned him of the danger he was in of becoming frozen. With a
superb effort of determination, he raised himself until he was able to
lift a leg over the side of one of the kayaks, and then struggled on
board, where he lay for a minute or so trying to recover his breath.

Still fearing the cold, he grasped a paddle and set to work vigorously
to force the kayaks back to the ice on which Johansen was standing. The
exertion caused his blood to circulate once more, and, by the time he
had reached the ice, the deadly chill was out of his frame. There were
no dry clothes to put on in place of his wet ones, and all that could be
done was to wring them out, and then, working hard to keep up his
circulation, wait till they dried on his back.

In order to prevent another such occurrence, the kayaks were freed from
each other, Nansen occupying one with half the provisions and stores,
and Johansen the other. Two days after the break away they had reason to
be thankful they had made this arrangement. They were skirting along the
ice at the time, and suddenly came upon a herd of walrus. Instead of
quietly watching them go past, as was usually the case, a huge bull slid
off the ice with a roar, and swam rapidly towards Nansen's kayak.

Diving as he came near to it, Nansen anticipated that he intended rising
immediately underneath it, and so capsizing it. He therefore paddled as
hard as he could, when the walrus rose by his side. It reared high out
of the water, towering over the kayak and its occupant, and only by the
quickest of manoeuvres was Nansen able to avoid having it fall upon him.
Baulked in that attempt, the walrus swam alongside and, plunging its
tusks through the frail covering of the kayak, strove to upset it with
its flipper.

Nansen swung his paddle in the air, and bringing it down with all his
strength on the monster's head, caused it again to rear in the water.
Paddling furiously directly the brute's tusks were withdrawn, he
managed to elude it till it sank, when he made for the ice, reaching it
just in time, the water having almost swamped the kayak through the
holes the walrus had made with his tusks.

When the damaged kayak was taken out of the water, the injury was found
to be more extensive than at first supposed. The two explorers
determined to stay where they were for a few days, so as to thoroughly
overhaul and repair their kayaks, and have a good rest before commencing
the difficult journey which was to be negotiated before they could
arrive at Spitzbergen. They made as comfortable a camp as they could on
the ice, and, after supper, got into the sleeping-bag and rested
peacefully. Nansen was first awake, and, having crept out of the bag,
set to work preparing breakfast. It was ready before Johansen was, and
not wishing to disturb his comrade, Nansen put on his _ski_ and set out
for a "constitutional" over the ice. He had not proceeded far when he
heard a sound which made his heart jump. It was the bark of a dog.

Hurrying back, he told Johansen, and then set out in the direction
whence the sound had come, in search of, as he believed, a whaling ship.
He had not gone very far when he saw in the distance two moving specks.
There was evidently a whaler in the neighbourhood, he told himself, and
redoubled his efforts. As he approached the two specks they became
clearer, until he saw distinctly that one was a man and the other a
dog.

The man noticed him and waved his hat, to which Nansen replied by waving
his; as they came nearer, he heard the man speak to his dog in English.

"How do you do?" he said to Nansen when they met.

"How do you do?" Nansen answered, as they shook hands. "Are you
wintering near here?"

"Yes; our camp is over there. Won't you come across?" the other replied.
"I think we can find room for you, if you will."

Nansen, never dreaming but that he was recognised, assented, although he
wondered why the man did not ask him about the _Fram_. Presently his
companion looked at him closely and said: "Are you Nansen?"

"Of course I am," the explorer answered, and at once both his hands were
clasped in a hearty grasp as his companion quickly expressed his
congratulations.

"I was not certain," he explained. "When I saw you in London you were a
fair man with light hair, but now your face and hair are black, and for
the moment I did not know you. My name is Jackson."

[Illustration: THE MEETING OF JACKSON AND NANSEN.

Nansen and Jackson returned to Norway in the _Windward_, the ship of the
Jackson-Harmsworth Expedition, on August 13, 1896.]

Nansen had forgotten that his face and hair were still begrimed with the
dirt and grease of months of travel, and that his own family might have
been forgiven for not recognising in the unkempt, travel-stained,
long-haired man, the smart, well-set-up Norwegian doctor. Now, however,
that he was known, he listened with great interest to the information
that his companion, Mr. F. G. Jackson, leader of the Jackson-Harmsworth
expedition, was able to give him. When they reached the encampment of
the party on Cape Flora, every one turned out in answer to the leader's
call and gave the intrepid explorer a characteristic British greeting.
Then they photographed him, as he stood, before they took him into the
house and supplied him with the luxury he had not known for more than a
year--of a cake of soap and a change of clothes.

While he was enjoying his bath, his hosts exchanged opinions. The fact
that he had arrived on foot and alone suggested to them the idea that he
was the only survivor of the thirteen who had set out in the _Fram_, and
they decided to make no reference to what might be a very unhappy
memory. Consequently, when Nansen reappeared, clean and comfortably
clad, they had a meal ready for him, and urged him to set to at once. He
looked at them and asked where his comrade Johansen was. Had they not
brought him in? Of course they knew nothing about Johansen; they
believed Nansen was the only survivor, and he had been so long out of
the world that it had never occurred to him it was necessary to tell
them Johansen was waiting for him to return to breakfast. When two men
see no one else but themselves for more than a year, it is not to be
wondered at that they forget the rest of the world is not in touch with
them.

As soon as he mentioned the fact that Johansen was in the neighbourhood,
a party at once started off to fetch him, and the worthy lieutenant was
as much surprised as they had been when they came upon him. They at once
took charge of him and his belongings, and a few hours later he and
Nansen, well washed, well clad, and well fed, were smoking cigars in
comfortable chairs in the dining-room of the hospitable Jackson's
quarters, the heroes of the occasion.

Three weeks later they were sailing south to Norway in the _Windward_,
and arrived at Vardo on August 13, 1896. A week later the _Fram_ entered
the same port, with all her crew in good health, and with nearly three
years' supplies still on board.

The record of her voyage, after the departure of Nansen and Johansen on
March 14, 1895, was very satisfactory. She drifted steadily in the ice
towards the north-west until she touched as high as 85° 57' N. At the
end of February 1896 she became stationary, and remained so until the
middle of July, when the crew forced a passage through the ice into open
water, and from thence the _Fram_ sailed to Norway. The first news the
crew received on arrival at Vardo was that Nansen and Johansen had
reached there just a week before. They had had some misgivings as to
the safety of their two adventurous comrades, and the news of their
return cleared away the only sign of uneasiness from the otherwise happy
minds of the men who formed one of the most successful expeditions that
has ever set out in search of the North Pole.




CHAPTER IX

FRANZ JOSEF LAND AND SPITZBERGEN

     The Jackson-Harmsworth Expedition--Object of the Expedition--An
     Interesting Experiment--The Franz Josef Land Question settled--A
     Group of Islands, not a Continent--Conway at Spitzbergen--Ancient
     History--Bygone Splendours--Scenery in the Making--The Romance of
     Andrée--Another Riddle.


The interest and admiration aroused by the brilliant achievements of the
Nansen expedition eclipsed in the public mind, for the time being, the
work of other and contemporary expeditions, the members of which,
nevertheless, were doing admirable service to the cause of science in
and about the Arctic Circle. Prominent among these may be mentioned the
Jackson-Harmsworth expedition to Franz Josef Land (whose presence there
was of such signal service to Nansen and Johansen when, as is related in
the preceding chapter, they emerged from their historic dash for the
Pole), the Conway exploration of Spitzbergen, and the aeronautical
attempt to reach the Pole made by Herr Andrée.

The Jackson-Harmsworth expedition left London on July 11, 1894, in the
steam yacht _Windward_, Captain Browne, for Franz Josef Land, and
comprised the leader, Mr. Frederick G. Jackson; Lieutenant Armitage,
R.N.R., astronomer; Dr. Kottlitz, medical officer; Mr. W. S. Bruce,
zoologist; and Messrs. Wilton and Heywood. A complete outfit, with
stores and provisions for three years was taken. It is an interesting
fact that this undertaking was the first instance of an individual
London newspaper proprietor displaying the generous enterprise which
owners of great American journals had already shown. Lord Northcliffe
(then Mr. Alfred Harmsworth) contributed to the expedition the most
necessary factor for a prolonged stay in the Arctic regions, the sinews
of war.

On arrival at Franz Josef Land, a site for the camp was selected near
Cape Flora, and the camp, to which the name Elmwood was given, was laid
out. It consisted of a Russian log-house and several canvas houses, as
the first intention was to lodge the members in the canvas structures.
But very little experience showed that canvas was not the most
comfortable material for residential purposes in Arctic regions, so the
whole party moved into the log-house, using the canvas structures for
warehousing stores. Here they lived during the three years that the
expedition was away, and so well off were they that during the whole
period not one member had a day's illness. As the leader said on his
return to England in 1897, "a jollier, healthier, and busier little
community never existed." They were always busy, and every moment of the
day was occupied. Even in the dark winter period they found constant
employment for their hands and minds.

In the high latitude where they were the sun set for the last time about
the middle of October, and was not again visible until the latter end of
February. From the day the sun went below the horizon until the middle
of November there was about a couple of hours faint twilight at "noon,"
but, after that, midday and midnight were not to be distinguished by any
change in the light of the sky. It was always dark.

During this period, when the members were in winter quarters, they kept
very regular hours. At 8.30 A.M. they had breakfast, and when the meal
was over each one took up some part of the household duties--washing the
dishes, making the beds, sweeping the rooms, feeding the dogs, and such
like. Unless the weather was very stormy, a couple of hours was spent in
exercise over the snow on _ski_, or if the weather was too inclement to
allow them to go far away, they spent the two hours in exercising round
the house. At 2 P.M. they gathered again round the dining-table and
partook of tea, bread and butter, and cheese, spending the afternoon in
making tents and harness for the sledge dogs, or anything else that was
wanted. At 7.30 P.M. they had dinner, passing the remainder of the
evening in reading, smoking, games, &c., until 11.30 P.M., when they
retired to their bunks.

Of food they always had plenty, living very largely on the game killed.
During the last winter they were at Elmwood a chief article of diet was
an Arctic bird, the loon. Great numbers of these visited the islands in
the mild seasons, and in the autumn before the expedition returned 1400
were shot and frozen for winter food. As the loons only arrive during
the mild season and disappear as soon as winter sets in, Mr. Jackson, in
the last autumn he was at Elmwood, caught a number both of loons and
kittiwakes, and having attached a copper label to each, with the letter
J. engraved upon it, liberated the lot. By this means it is hoped to
learn where the birds go to in the winter, for should any bird bearing a
copper label be shot in Scotland, Norway, or elsewhere, it will show
where their refuge is situated.

The primary object of the expedition was to make a complete exploration
of Franz Josef Land, which was formerly considered to be merely the
southern extremity of a vast tract of land, possibly a second Greenland,
and extending up towards the Pole. The result of the three years' work
was to effectually disprove this opinion by showing that in place of a
continent there was only a group of small scattered islands. Various
voyagers had returned from time to time and reported observations of
land in the locality, with high mountain ranges. Gillies Land, Petermann
Land, and King Oscar Land all had existence on the maps; but the
Jackson-Harmsworth party could only find scattered islands where the
coast of Franz Josef Land was charted, and hummocks of piled-up ice
where mountain ridges had been seen. Of Gillies Land, Petermann Land,
and King Oscar Land no trace could be found. When the expedition went on
board the _Windward_ to return to England, the vessel steamed north-west
for fifty miles without seeing any indication of land, the water being
open and with less ice than would have been probable had land been near.
And yet they were in the locality where Gillies Land was marked on the
chart. A journey was also made to within ten miles of the spot where
Eastern Johannessen Land was placed on the chart, but no signs of land
were visible, although the weather was clear at the time.

During the three years spent at Elmwood, exploring and surveying
journeys were frequent in the mild seasons, and the arduous nature of
the work done is well shown in the account of the last two journeys
undertaken prior to returning to England. On March 16, 1897, a party
consisting of Jackson and Armitage, with sledges, thirteen dogs, a pony,
and a canoe, set out from the log-house with the intention of going
round the western side of Franz Josef Land in order to define its
limits. From the start they had to face stormy weather, while the snow
was both deep and soft, and the ice rough and treacherous. After a
fortnight's travelling, during which they came upon a hitherto
undiscovered headland and fjord, they rounded the north-eastern
extremity of the western land. Continuing their journey westward, they
had to battle against the severity of the weather, the temperature going
as low as 40° below zero, and proving disastrous to the animals. By
April 7 nearly all the dogs were dead, and progress was very slow and
difficult. Three days later the nature of the ice along the shores
compelled them to turn inland, and they had to make the best of their
way over glaciated land 1500 feet high. Out to sea there was open water,
and as they progressed they found that the water was free from ice right
up to the glacier face. Then the pony died, and with only their
diminished team of dogs to haul, they were obliged to abandon everything
that was not absolutely necessary to maintain them during the remainder
of their journey. The weather grew worse and worse, and for days they
were surrounded by thick heavy mists, with strong gales and drifting
snow. They tried to find a way along the shore, leaving the high glacier
summit, but what ice there was on the coast was breaking up so rapidly
that they were compelled once more to climb to the high level,
abandoning the canoe, as there was no chance of their being able to use
it.

While regaining the higher level, they came upon the only bear met with
during the whole journey, and they were careful not to allow him to
escape, his flesh and fat being welcome additions to their stock of
food and fuel. The gales now became more severe, until they found it
impossible to travel when one was blowing. Consequently they had to
press forward as fast and as far as they could in between the blows, and
on one occasion were marching for twenty-four hours at a stretch. The
ice was also terribly trying, and so rough was it in places that they
frequently had to go three times over the same track before they could
find a way over or round some awkward obstacle. At one time they were
pushing across the ice of a bay, when they were suddenly stopped by the
ice opening on to free water, and, after retracing their steps, they had
to climb and haul their stores up the steep sides of the glacier to the
summit, forty-five feet above the sea-level.

When they set out, it was arranged that a relief party should meet them
at Bell Island the third week in April, but so many delays had been
caused that they were not able to reach the rendezvous until a fortnight
after the time fixed. The relief party had been waiting for them,
considerably anxious at their non-appearance. In the two months they had
been travelling, they had had only thirteen and a half fine days.

After returning to Elmwood and resting for ten days, the two again set
out to the eastward. They were travelling over the ice, on the second
day out, when it gave way under the sledge. They lost all their stores
and equipment, and saturated their cartridges. They had at once to turn
back, but the ice was growing so thin that they had great difficulty in
reaching the shore. For nearly twenty-six hours they had to keep
marching before they covered the forty-two miles which lay between the
scene of their disaster and Elmwood. This was the last journey
undertaken prior to their departure in the _Windward_ for England a
month or so later.

The account of the achievements of this expedition would be incomplete
were no mention made of two open-water discoveries. One was that of the
British Channel, an open-water tract extending from the islands into an
open sea, which formed the second discovery, and was named Queen
Victoria Sea in honour of the then reigning sovereign. This sea was
observed to be free from ice all the time the expedition was on the
islands, and the information thus obtained was of considerable service
to the Italian explorers who, a few years later, made an ineffectual
dash to reach the Pole over the ice-fields.

Further valuable information was obtained by geological observations of
the islands. These demonstrated that the islands were an archipelago,
formed from the remains of a fairly extensive tableland, the surface of
which was composed of basalt so similar in character as to be almost
identical with the basalts of the north of Scotland. To the scientific
mind this suggests that at one time these far-outlying islands were
connected with lands from which they are now separated by enormous
stretches of sea, and were subject, in that distant period, to the same
volcanic outbursts and covered by the same basaltic flows that resulted.
It must have been a period of enormous volcanic activity, for the beds
of basalt overlying the fossil-bearing strata averaged six hundred feet
in thickness, while evidence of successive flows is found in the
existence of sedimentary fossil-bearing rocks sandwiched between layers
of basalt.

Raised beaches were frequently noticed. In one case, on a beach fifty
feet above the present sea-level, a pine tree, evidently of considerable
age and about twenty feet in length, was found where it had obviously
been thrown up by the tide in the bygone years when the beach formed the
shore of the sea. Under this beach there was a bed of sandstone showing
fossils of plant remains, while above it towered basalt cliffs five
hundred feet high. Lignite and bituminous shale were met with in the
sandstone under the basalt, and, in muddy stretches of country, horns
and other remains of reindeer were found, though there are no living
representatives of these animals now on the islands. Among the fossils
brought away was one of a plant long since extinct in all parts of the
world save Japan, where the tree is still a flourishing variety.

While Franz Josef Land was being explored and mapped, a private
expedition formed by Sir Martin Conway visited Spitzbergen. It was this
island which Sir John Franklin advocated should be the base of
operations for an expedition to the Pole. The reason for this opinion
was the belief that Spitzbergen was merely the most southerly point of a
chain of islands, if not of an island continent, stretching away to the
north. A similar idea, held in regard to Franz Josef Land, was dispelled
by the Jackson-Harmsworth expedition; the information which was made
available on the return of the Conway party also dispelled the Franklin
view.

Curiously enough the objective of the expedition is one of the most
anciently discovered lands in the Arctic regions, and one that has a
history full of incident; yet the interior was unknown to man from the
time of its discovery in the sixteenth century to the time when Sir
Martin Conway and his companions pushed their way in from the coast.
Owing to the tail-end of the Gulf Stream reaching as far as its shores,
the seas round Spitzbergen are freer from ice than any other seas in
equally high latitudes. Situated in from 80° to 82° N., the group of
islands, to which the single name is given, was first discovered by two
Dutch navigators, Barendszoon and Heemskirk, who, in the year 1596, were
trying to find a way of reaching China through the Arctic Sea. Eleven
years later, Hudson sailed among the islands while trying for a northern
route to the Indies. Failing in his attempt to get round by the north,
he returned to Spitzbergen and saw how the waters were literally teeming
with whales, walrus, seals, and other oil-giving animals. A flourishing
fishery was started, and for years proved a bone of contention among the
various maritime nations. No one country caring to annex the islands,
they were practically a no-man's land, where each little colony of
fishers were as a law unto themselves, though not necessarily to any one
else. Consequently fights were frequent and much ill-will engendered,
until the Dutch and the British Governments stepped in and came to a
mutual understanding on the matter. About this time the fishery trade
was so important that one colony numbered over 20,000 inhabitants during
the season; but it was not a settled population, and a few years after
the understanding had been arrived at, the colony was deserted owing to
the ruthless slaughter of all marine animals having practically
exterminated them in the vicinity. From that time the islands have been
neglected, save for the occasional visits of a few trappers, until Sir
Martin Conway and his companions penetrated to the interior, and came
back with so many delightful experiences that an enterprising company
was formed to make this snow-laden district a place for summer resort.

[Illustration: THE FRONT EDGE OF KING'S GLACIER, WESTERN SPITZBERGEN.

The thickness of the ice showing above the sea-level is about 100 feet.

_Photo by E. J. Garwood._]

From a geological point of view the main island is full of interest,
for the interior, which is characterised by mountain chains and rugged
peaks, is covered with ice, and is sending down glaciers to the coast,
where they come under the influence of the warmth generated by the Gulf
Stream and rapidly melt. The result is that the constant rush of
torrents from the melting glaciers and snowfields is carving out valleys
and river-ways, and stripping away mountain sides to make coastal plains
so rapidly as to form an admirable object-lesson of physical geography
in the making.

During the season Sir Martin Conway and his companions spent on the
island they set a record for energy and achievement. They spent
thirty-six days in the interior, sleeping either in small tents or in
the open, the one being little different to the other, for the tents
never kept the rain out and rarely the snow. Then they voyaged in a
twelve-ton steamer up and down the coast for a distance of something
like a thousand miles, though the steamer cabin was so small a place
that when all the five members of the party were down below together,
only one of them could stand up at a time. By the date their trip had
ended they had crossed the island four times, had made thirteen mountain
ascents, had made a rough survey of six hundred square miles of country,
had steamed a thousand miles among heavy ice along coasts, through
straits, and up bays, for the most part never before visited, and had
located innumerable streams, hills, and glaciers.

More romantic and mysterious, but less replete with scientific value,
ranks the expedition of Herr Andrée, perhaps the most novel of all
Arctic expeditions, inasmuch as it was undertaken by balloon. The idea
which actuated Herr Andrée in his enterprise was to utilise the current
of air which, in July, almost invariably blows over Dane's Island to the
North. Being an experienced balloonist, he realised that, could he once
rise into that current in a balloon, he would be carried right across
the Polar region in a few days. From the balloon car he would be able to
observe the character of the region below him, and set at rest the
question whether perpetual ice, open water, or land, occupied the
extreme northerly spot of the world's surface.

With two companions, Dr. Strindberg and Herr Fraenkel, and a specially
prepared balloon, an attempt was made to get away in July 1896, but was
unsuccessful, and the start was postponed for a year. In July 1897 the
members of the expedition were again ready, and on July 11 they were cut
loose and floated away out of sight to the North. Since then no
authentic news has been heard of them.

They went away prepared to face a long detention in the frozen world. In
the car of the balloon they carried weapons, ammunition, and material
wherewith to build a shelter, should the balloon collapse and leave
them on the ice. An aluminium boat was also carried, so that the party
could escape by sea if necessary. Several carrier pigeons were taken,
and were to be liberated at intervals on the passage; but although one
pigeon is said to have been shot in the Far North, it is doubtful
whether it was one of the Andrée birds.

The balloon, when it went out of sight, was travelling at a speed which
would have carried it over the Pole in a few days, and probably have
enabled it to descend in Siberia in about a week. For the first
fortnight after it had started, therefore, interest all over the world
was keenly excited for further news. But the fortnight passed without
any reliable intelligence being received, and a month followed, and so
on until a year had gone by. Then relief and search parties were talked
about, and the Swedish Geographical Society sent one out to look for the
missing balloonists in Siberia. It did not meet with Andrée, nor did it
obtain any reliable information respecting him. News was certainly
published in every civilised country to the effect that some outlying
hunting tribes had come upon a huge bag, having a mass of cordage
attached to it, together with the remains of some human bodies. The
Russian, Swedish, and Norwegian Governments immediately sent forward
auxiliary search parties, but their only success was to trace the origin
of the report, and find that a Siberian trader had, in a moment of
mischievous humour, hoaxed a too confiding telegraph agent.

Later, on September 12th, 1899, a Swedish sloop, the _Martha_, reached
Hammerfest with the information that a buoy, branded with the name of
the Andrée expedition, had been found to the north-east of King Charles
Islands. The buoy had lost the screw plug from the top, and had been so
damaged by coming in contact with some hard substance that the interior
cylinder was too dented to permit of an examination being made of the
inside.

Andrée was well supplied with these buoys, and at any time one may be
discovered containing a record of his doings from the moment he
disappeared with his balloon sailing towards the north. It is not
likely; it is scarcely probable that any sign will ever be discovered of
the balloon or its occupants. For years the frozen North held all traces
of the Franklin expedition from the eyes of the searchers who were able
to conduct their operations along the route they knew Franklin had
followed. No search party can knowingly follow the route Andrée and his
comrades took. Their fate will probably be for ever a mystery, for so
many things might have happened that no one theory can claim for itself
more probability than another. All that is certain is that the party
went out of sight drifting towards the north. They carried their lives
in their hands, and knew that they did so. Had they succeeded, they
would have achieved a mighty triumph; they failed, and in doing so set
their names as indelibly on the scroll of Fame as any hero who has laid
down his life in the contest with the measureless mystery of the Pole.




CHAPTER X

THE POLAR METEORITES

     Eskimo Iron--A Mystery of 1818--Search and Failure--Peary and his
     Huskies--The Secret revealed--An Eskimo Legend--At the Iron
     Mountain--Removing the Trophies--A Massive Giant--Attack and
     Defence--The Giant Objects--A Narrow Escape--Conquered.


When Captain Ross was in the Arctic regions in the year 1818, he
encountered, in Melville Bay, a tribe of Eskimos who lived near Cape
York, entirely cut off from communication with all other tribes, and who
had not, so far as he could learn, ever met white men before. He was,
therefore, astounded to find them in possession of iron implements.
These consisted of rudely made knives, the cutting edges of which were
fashioned out of very hard iron; harpoons and spears, tipped with iron
points. Questioning the natives as to how they had become possessed of
the iron, they explained that it had been obtained from what they termed
the "iron mountain" on the coast near the bay. Ross sought for the
mountain, and tried to induce the Eskimo to tell him exactly where it
was situated, but failed in each case. He secured some of the iron
knives and spear heads, and, on his return to Great Britain, the
articles were submitted to analysis, when the metal was found to contain
a percentage of nickel mixed with the iron.

Considerable curiosity was excited over the matter, and every succeeding
British exploration party proceeding to the Arctic kept a sharp lookout
for any trace of iron in the possession of Eskimo which could not have
been obtained from whalers or visiting ships, as well as making every
inquiry in order to ascertain where the mysterious iron mountain was
situated. In no instance were they successful, and the question where
the Cape York Eskimo had obtained their supply of iron became one of the
riddles of the North.

When Peary went to the neighbourhood of Cape York to establish the
station from whence he started on his brilliant march across the
ice-cap, he came closely in contact with the tribe of Eskimo living
there. The members of this tribe, isolated from the world and out of
communication with all their kindred tribes, were, he felt assured, the
descendants of those with whom Ross was associated earlier in the
century. In his successive visits to the place Peary became on very
friendly terms with the people, and gained their confidence in a way
that no other explorer had yet done. This is hardly to be wondered at,
when it is remembered that his presence among them, from time to time,
raised them from the stress of hardship and poverty, often starvation
itself, into a happy, well-to-do, and, for an Eskimo tribe, prosperous
community. When he first went among them, the man who owned a wooden
shaft for his harpoon was regarded as a rich man, while the woman who
had a steel sail-needle was an heiress for whose hand the bravest and
best strove in fierce rivalry. The possession of a gun was beyond the
wildest dreams of the most imaginative, just as the possession of a
steel knife was the highest glory to which ambition aspired. When Peary
left his encampment, at the end of his first visit, the timber of the
house and fittings left behind alone made the tribe wealthy, for they
believed the world must have been ransacked to bring so much wood
together; while the distribution of needles, knives, scissors, and such
like trifles, changed the whole status of the people and made them rich
beyond their fondest hopes.

On the next visit, Peary took some guns and ammunition for the leading
men of the tribe, and there was then nothing they were not prepared to
do for their benefactor. They worked, hunted, acted as guides,
porters--anything, in fact, the white men wanted them to do. It was at
this time Peary sought for information about the mysterious iron
mountain, and, as may be expected, got it.

First he was told the story of the origin of the iron, a story they had
had from their fathers, as those fathers, in their turn, had had it from
theirs. The iron lay across the bay where a high peak stood out against
the sky, pointing the way to the Saviksoahs. These--the "Iron
Ones"--rested on the mountain where they had fallen, ages and ages ago,
when they were thrown out of their village in the sky by Tornarsuk, the
enemy. There were three of them, a man, a woman, and a dog. The man was
deep in the ground, the woman partly so, and the dog lay on the surface.
As the woman fell, she sat up, and her head had first been seen. A
strange tribe came over the ice one year and, in greed, broke off the
head and sought to carry it away with them in their kayaks, so that they
should have a store of the iron always with them. But Tornarsuk would
not allow this to be, and as soon as the kayaks, lashed together to make
them strong enough to carry the head, were out in deep water, the head
plunged through them, sinking out of sight and smashing the kayaks so
that the men who were in them barely escaped with their lives. After
that no one tried to take away a larger supply of iron than they
actually wanted for knives and harpoon tips. Later, when whaler and
other ships came to the seas in the summer time, there was no need to go
to the Saviksoahs for iron, though all the tribes knew where they were.

In the spring of 1894 Peary induced one of the tribe to lead him to the
place where the Saviksoahs were. The journey led them to a hill, on the
summit of which there was an overhanging mass of rock which justified
the Eskimo description of it. Describing the discovery, Peary wrote:
"After passing some five hundred yards up a narrow valley, Tallakotteah
began looking about until a bit of blue trap-rock, projecting above the
snow, caught his eyes. Kicking aside the snow, he exposed more pieces,
saying this was a pile of the stones used in pounding fragments from the
iron mountain. He then indicated a spot four or five feet distant, as
the location of the long-sought object. Returning to the sledge for the
saw-knife, he began excavating the snow, and at last, after digging a
pit, some three feet deep and five feet in diameter, just at 5.30 Sunday
morning, May 27, 1894, the brown mass, rudely awakened from its winter
sleep, found, for the first time in its cycles of existence, the eyes of
a white man gazing upon it."

[Illustration: ESKIMO ARMS AND TOOLS.

(a) Bow with Strings and Arrows. (b) Knives with Walrus Handles. (c)
Lance for Walrus and Bear. (d) Harpoon for Sealing. (e) Stone Axe with
Bone Handle. (f) Snow Knife with Walrus Teeth.]

This was "the woman," a mass of meteoric iron weighing, as was
subsequently proved, three tons. Originally it was said to have been
twice that size, the removal of the "head" having considerably reduced
it, while in addition there had been generations of Eskimo chipping it
for knives and spear tips. The amount of iron which had been broken from
it in this way was shown by the pile of stones lying around it. The
Eskimo maintained that these stones had all been brought there by the
men who came for iron; but if that were true, the Saviksoah must have
been chipped for ages, judging by the accumulation of stones.

About thirty yards away from the "woman" there lay the "dog," a smaller
mass weighing only half a ton. The "man" was some miles away, as became
his dignity and size, for he was found to be a mighty mass, one hundred
tons in weight, rugged in form, and so intractable when attempts were
made to move him, that his removal forms a tale so full of romance as
almost to suggest fiction.

As it was late in the season when Peary's ship, the _Kite_, arrived,
there was only time to remove the "woman" and the "dog," the "man" being
located but untouched pending the return of another season. The removal
of the "dog" did not offer any great difficulty, and the "woman" was
levered out of the ground and conveyed to the ship on rollers without
giving more than the ordinary amount of trouble experienced in handling
heavy masses of inert material. Not so the "man."

With the two smaller meteorites safely conveyed to New York, a return of
the _Kite_ to Melville Island to effect the removal of the "man" was
arranged. Accompanied by a party of scientists and an engineer, Peary
sailed north the following year and immediately attacked the problem of
excavating and placing on the _Kite_ the largest of the three masses.
The exact size was not at the time known, but as soon as the work of
excavation commenced it was obvious that the task in hand was much
greater than was anticipated. The portion first revealed was found to be
four feet in length, two feet high, and one and a half feet broad. This,
however, was merely a fin-like excrescence on the main mass, which, as
the excavation proceeded, was shown to measure twelve feet long by eight
feet in width, on the upper face, while a trench three feet round it did
not reach to the base. It was then realised that the task of
transferring such a huge mass from the place where it lay in the ground
to the ship was one requiring great engineering skill and the use of
appliances of much greater strength than the _Kite_ had brought with
her. The mass was about three hundred yards from high-water mark and
eighty feet above it. A shelf of rock ran out into the sea immediately
below the spot where the meteorite reposed, and the water was
sufficiently deep alongside the shelf to make it a natural pier or wharf
where the ship could make fast for the mass to be loaded on board, when
it had been moved from its resting-place and conveyed to the edge of the
sea. While the rocky pier was all that could be desired from the point
of view of loading, it was entirely unprotected from the ice which, in
the early approach of winter, rapidly accumulated in the bay. It was
clear, therefore, that the removal and shipment of the mass must be
carried out with rapidity if all risk of disaster were to be avoided.

By the time the mass had been excavated and its full dimensions were
revealed, the season was too far advanced for any serious attempt being
made to get it on board the ship. It was estimated to weigh not less
than one hundred tons, while the rugged and angular form it presented
made it an extremely difficult object to handle. All the time available
was devoted to making the preliminary arrangements for the definite work
of removal in the following season, and, as soon as the ice began to
gather in the bay, the _Kite_ sailed back to the south. The meteorite
being so much larger than was anticipated, a larger vessel than the
_Kite_ was required to convey it to New York; it was also necessary to
have still heavier appliances wherewith to handle it.

The following year, on board the _Hope_, Peary returned to the attack
and set to work to carry off his treasure. With the aid of the male
members of the Eskimo tribe, in addition to the men he had with him and
the crew of the steamer, the plan of operations was commenced. As Peary
wrote, in describing the experience: "The first thing to be done was to
tear the heavenly visitor from its frozen bed of centuries, and, as it
rose inch by inch under the resistless lift of the hydraulic jacks,
gradually displaying its ponderous sides, it grew upon us as Niagara
grows upon the observer, and there was not one of us unimpressed by the
enormousness of this lump of metal. The expressions of the Eskimo about
the Saviksoah (Great Iron) were low but earnest, and it, and the other
wonderful 'Great Irons' (the jacks) which could tear it from its bed,
awed them to the utmost."

When it was out of the nest where it had rested so long, the method
adopted was to tilt it up from one side, by means of the jacks and steel
cables, until it stood on end, and then to force it over until its own
weight made it fall forward. The spectacle, as it fell, brought home to
the onlookers the enormous power it represented. As it slowly moved, the
stones lying immediately under it were ground into powder, and, as it
lurched forward, the hard masses of rock were rent and split, while a
shower of sparks burst from the meteorite itself wherever it came in
contact with a more than usually hard piece of rock. The irregularities
in its form added to the difficulties, for it was almost impossible to
secure firm holds for the jacks, and anything approaching a slip on the
part of the mass was tantamount to death or destruction to any one
within reach of it. Day and night the struggle went on, the mass seeming
to resist every inch of the way, settling itself into awkward corners
and crevices; cutting its way, as it fell, through the baulks of timber
set to form a bed for it; bending and notching steel rails, when they
were substituted for the wood; and generally giving as much trouble as
it was possible to give, almost to the extent of suggesting conscious
design. Hard as every one worked to win, the meteorite proved too much
for them, and it was only conveyed as far as the rocky pier where the
ship lay ready to take it on board when the ice came drifting into the
bay, and for another winter the meteorite had to be left in its frozen
habitat.

"It was the last night of our stay at the island," Peary wrote, "a night
of such savage wildness as is possible only in the Arctic regions....
The wild gale was howling out of the depths of Melville Bay through the
_Hope's_ rigging and the snow was driving in horizontal lines. The white
slopes of the hill down which the meteorite had been brought showed a
ghastly grey through the darkness; the fire, round which the fur-clad
forms of the Eskimo were grouped, spread its bright red glare for a
short distance; a little to one side was a faint glow of light through
the skin wall of a solitary tupik. Working about the meteorite was my
own little party, and, in the foreground, the central figure, the
_raison d'être_ of it all, the 'Saviksoah,' the 'Iron Mountain,'
towering above the human figures about it and standing out, black and
uncompromising. While everything else was buried in snow, the Saviksoah
was unaffected. The great flakes vanished as they touched it, and the
effect was very impressive. It was as if the giant were saying, 'I am
apart from all things; I am heaven-born, and still carry in my heart
some of the warmth of those long-gone days before I was hurled upon
this frozen desert.' To strengthen this fancy that the meteorite still
held some of its celestial fire and feeling, if a sledge, ill aimed in
the darkness at wedge or block, chanced to strike it, a spouting jet of
scintillating sparks lit the gloom, and a deep note, sonorous as a bell,
a Polar tocsin, or the half-pained, half-enraged bellow of a lost soul,
answered the blow."

Yet another year--1897--saw Peary again at work, this time with the
meteorite ready alongside the natural wharf. It was the month of August
that the _Hope_ made fast opposite the meteorite, but already the ice
had begun to drift into the bay, as though even that were going to
dispute the right of man to carry off the mighty trophy. Without loss of
a day, work was commenced and a bridge of huge timbers was constructed
along which to warp the mass from the shore on to the ship. The bridge
completed, forty-eight hours were consumed in getting the mass on to it.
The pressure of its enormous weight put so great a strain on the
woodwork that it visibly gave as the mass came on to it, and more than
once a collapse seemed imminent. Once a slip of less than an inch upset
the equilibrium of everything to such an extent that the stays and
supports were apparently within an ace of giving way. It was a curious
coincidence that this single slip occurred at a moment and a place
where, had anything given way, there was nothing to prevent the mass
rolling over the edge of the rock and sinking, presumably for ever,
into deep water. As it turned out, the slip was taken up in time to
avert disaster, and thereafter the mass was forced, slowly but surely,
on to the deck of the ship.

The Eskimo were greatly disturbed at the spectacle of the meteorite
passing from the shore to the ship. They all left the vessel, saying
that even if it was forced on to the deck, directly it arrived there it
would smash its way through the vessel and plunge into the sea, carrying
the ship and all on board with it. From the time work was recommenced on
the task of removing the mass, storms and gales had persisted and the
sun had not been seen. The Eskimo were, therefore, deeply impressed
when, just as the Saviksoah reached the planking arranged for it above
the main hold and the tackles were cast loose, the sun shone out, a ray
falling from behind a cloud directly on the meteorite and changing it
from the dull brown-hued mass into a gleaming bronze.

As though it had yielded itself to the inevitable, the meteorite gave no
further trouble. It was gradually lowered into the hold and wedged so
tightly into position that it was impossible for it to move, however
much the ship rolled or pitched. Fortunate it was this work was so well
done, for when the return journey was commenced the _Hope_ had to fight
her way through a series of the most severe gales and storms that any on
board had experienced. The meteorite had yielded, but the Spirit of the
Arctic evidently had serious objections to it being carried off. But the
years of persistent effort had won. The mysterious source of the ancient
Eskimo iron had been discovered, and, at the same time, the greatest
meteorite the world was known to contain was revealed. It was a fitting
result that the trophy should be carried from the darkness of the Arctic
into the light of civilisation.




CHAPTER XI

THE SECOND VOYAGE OF THE _FRAM_

     Norwegian Enterprise--Mapping the Islands--Nearly Frozen--A Novel
     Warming-Pan--Eskimo Melody--Arctic Bull Fights--Death of the
     Doctor--Fire on the _Fram_--New Lands--Prehistoric People.


The expedition which formed the second visit of the _Fram_ to the Arctic
regions was equipped by private Norwegian enterprise, and sailed from
Larvick on June 24, 1898, the day known in Norway as St. Hans Day. The
party consisted of sixteen, all told, under the command of Captain
Sverdrup, who, with two other members of the party, were in the _Fram_
with Nansen on her previous voyage. The plan of operations was to
proceed to the most southerly point of Greenland, sail to the north
along the western coast to Smith Sound, where the ship was to push as
far to the north as possible and form a headquarters, whence sledge
expeditions were to be sent out in all directions to explore and survey
the immediate locality, and, at the same time, to observe and record all
natural phenomena of a scientific nature. As to the exact localities to
which chief attention was to be paid, the commander of the expedition
was to use his own judgment; but on one point the instructions were
definite and emphatic--there was to be no attempt at a dash for the
Pole.

On August 21 the _Fram_ reached a suitable place for winter quarters. On
the way along the Greenland coast the explorers had to take on board
dogs for the sledge teams, and also to obtain a store of walrus meat
wherewith to feed them, so that it was not until the date mentioned they
were able to reach Rice Strait, which afforded them all the facilities
they needed for winter quarters. As Peary was already to the north,
engaged in mapping out the land in that direction, the Norwegians
decided to give their attention to the land lying on the western side of
the Strait, in the vicinity of Hayes Sound, where Nares, in 1875, had
done considerable work. They completed the survey of the coast line
running round Robeson Channel, and, during their stay, not only mapped
out an area of one hundred thousand square miles, but also located
hitherto undiscovered land, which was named after King Oscar of Norway
and taken possession of in his name. Valuable additions were also made
to the zoological, geological, meteorological, and botanical records,
while the story of the expedition abounds in interesting experiences.

The sun set on October 16 for the remainder of the winter. A party was
out taking observations over some mountains behind the bay in which the
_Fram_ was anchored, and had returned to camp for the evening meal as
the sun was going down. One of the party drew the attention of the
others to it, and they gathered at the door of the tent and watched it
in silence. "We were looking at the sun for the last time that year,"
Captain Sverdrup wrote in his account of the expedition. "Its pale light
lay dying over the 'inland ice'; its disc, light red, was veiled on the
horizon; it was like a day in the land of the dead. All light was so
hopelessly cold; all life so far away. We stood and watched it till it
sank; then everything became so still that it made one shudder--as if
the Almighty had deserted us and shut the gates of Heaven. The light
died away across the mountains and slowly vanished, while over us crept
the great shades of the Polar night, the night that kills all life."

With a stretch of four months' darkness before them, it was impossible
to avoid recalling the records of others who had gone through the lonely
period of darkness and cold. It was a disquieting subject. Franklin,
with 138 men under his command, had seen the sun go down into the Polar
night, and not a man of all the party had lived to tell the tale.
Greely, with twenty-five men, had seen the silent darkness come on near
where they were situated at the moment--six had lived to see the dawn.
Nordenskjold, wintering in White Bay, had seventeen men die of scurvy,
with an abundance of food around them, for when the last victim was
found, lying where he fell, he had a piece of salt pork still clutched
in his fingers, while in the camp there were scores of tins of preserved
fresh meat unopened. True it was that science, since then, had made vast
strides, and prejudice and ignorance had been largely overcome; but when
men find themselves absolutely cut off from all communication with the
outside world, and with all sorts of possible dangers and disasters
hidden in the future, it is only the fool-hardy who fails to realise
them. The brave man does not shut his eyes to dangers; he looks them
squarely in the face and determines to overcome them. Such a man usually
wins. It is the man who shuts his eyes to what is in front of him who is
defeated.

The winter passed without any fatality among them, although there was an
occasion when one of the members nearly came to his end. Various trips
were taken when the moon was up to try and locate the site where Greely
made his historic camp on Pim Island. In February two men set out to
look for it, and, as they did not intend to be long away, they took
neither food nor sleeping-bags with them. The weather was clear and
cold, with the thermometer at -40° Fahr., but the men experienced no ill
effects from it on their journey. They found some pieces of rope and
sail-cloth scattered about at a spot on the north side of the island,
and came to the conclusion that this must have been the site of the
camp. Having examined the place, they were about to return to the
_Fram_, when one of them sank to the ground. His companion strove to
lift him up, but without avail; he had suddenly become exhausted, and
his strength gave out so entirely that he could not remain on his feet.
It was a serious situation. A few hours of inactivity in such a
temperature, without an excess of fur clothing and warm food, meant
freezing to death. His companion was in doubt whether to wait and strive
to rouse him, or to run to the ship for help. He adopted the latter
course, and sped away as fast as his legs could carry him. Arrived at
the _Fram_, he raised the alarm, and every one turned out and hastened
to the rescue. A sledge was quickly harnessed to a dog team, and on it
were placed furs and food. The place where the man had collapsed was
about a mile away, and the rescuers were soon at his side. He lay in a
heap on the frozen snow, too far gone to recognise any one. He was
pushed into a sleeping-bag, placed on the sledge, and driven off at top
speed to the ship, where he was promptly put into his bunk and
restoratives administered to him. Soon the efforts were successful, and
he sank into a sleep from which he awakened, many hours after, little
the worse for his adventure. He escaped without even a touch of
frost-bite.

A few days after this episode the temperature fell rapidly, until the
thermometer registered as low as -58° Fahr. Peary, the American
explorer, was at the time some fifteen miles to the north of the
_Fram_, and the temperature in his locality went down to -67° Fahr., a
cold so intense that, hardened as he was to the rigours of Arctic
weather, he had seven toes so severely frost-bitten that they had to be
amputated. A small party from the _Fram_ was out on the ice at the time,
and the cold was so trying to them that they squeezed into their
sleeping-bags clad, as they were, in heavy fur garments. Still they were
unable to get warm, so they lit their oil stove to raise the temperature
in the tent. While this was being done, one man complained bitterly of
the cold in his back, and a comrade, seeking a cause for it, found that
the moisture from his body had turned to white frost on the inside of
his thick woollen jersey. To thaw it, they put the lighted stove between
the jersey and the man's back, whereupon he exclaimed, "Ah, that's not
quite so cold."

Yet the way in which mankind can adapt themselves to all varieties of
climate, by use and custom, was shown by a visit they had from one of
Peary's Eskimo. He reached the _Fram_ on a day when the temperature was
at -40° Fahr. Invited on board, he said he must first change his
travelling clothes, and, in the open air, he stripped to the waist to
remove his heavy furs and put on a lighter suit. He was apparently as
unaffected by the intense cold on his naked flesh as one of the
Norwegians would have been had the thermometer stood at forty degrees
above instead of forty degrees below zero.

The visit of the Eskimo proved an enjoyable break to the explorers,
though their generosity in giving him presents, at the time of his
departure, resulted in so many more coming to visit them that they had
rather too much of a good thing. But when he first arrived the visitor
was peculiarly welcome. They entertained him to various amusements,
commencing with dinner and concluding with a concert. To the latter the
Eskimo contributed his share. He was greatly taken with a toy drum
belonging to one of the party, and played his own idea of a melody upon
it. As his hosts did not manifest any displeasure at his
performances--whatever they may have felt--he became bolder and offered
to sing them a song.

To the accompaniment of the drum, he commenced with a weird, wild wail,
which gradually developed in volume of sound and variety of intonation
until the listeners began to feel shivers running up and down their
spines. At that point the singer, who had so far sat rigid, began to
sway his body from side to side, while he tossed his head backwards and
forwards. He had long dank black hair, and, as he moved quicker and
quicker, in time with the drum and the staccato wails, his hair was
tossed over his face until the features were obscured. This appeared to
be the critical moment in the performance, for he raised himself from
his seat, and, with his hair tossing, his voice wailing, his body
swaying, and his hands thumping vigorously at the drum, he completed the
discomfiture of his hosts, who, disposed to smile at the beginning of
the performance, were distinctly uncomfortable at the finish. The
performer, however, was by no means dissatisfied with himself. He was a
great singer, he told them, perhaps the greatest in the tribe. They had
only to ask some of the others of his tribe to sing to realise the truth
of what he said, he added. But the Norwegians were satisfied with the
one experience.

[Illustration: ESKIMO VISITORS TO THE _FRAM_ IN NIGHT ATTIRE.]

During the sledge journeys numerous indications were found of musk oxen
being in the neighbourhood of the sheltered valleys in the interior of
the islands. As a supply of fresh beef was always desirable,
considerable attention was paid to these animals, and, from time to
time, the larder was kept well supplied with their meat. On these
hunting expeditions some interesting observations were made on the
habits of the oxen. One of the most interesting was as to the manner in
which they met attack. When they were disturbed in feeding, the herd
would retreat slowly and in order; but if they saw they were being
pursued, they moved towards any vantage ground, such as a rise or hill
summit, there to form themselves into a square. Each animal took up its
position as though by word of command, until they stood, shoulder to
shoulder, with their heads outward and so close together that their
horns often linked, while within the square were sheltered any young
calves there might be with the herd.

As the enemy approached one of the oxen, usually the oldest bull in the
herd, dashed out from his place in the square and bounded towards the
foe, with head down, horns brandished with sidelong tosses of the head,
snorting and bellowing defiance. As he left the square the ranks closed
up and remained so until he returned, when the ranks opened enough for
him to back into his place, while another charged out to carry on the
combat in front of the square. These movements were executed with
lightning rapidity, every animal dashing out in turn to seek single
combat, the one to advance being always the one to the right of the
returned champion. Usually the advance was for a distance of a dozen
yards, but there were occasions when the explorers saw the challenging
ox advance over a hundred yards from the main body.

When there were sufficient bulls in the herd to form the outer lines,
the cows were placed, with the calves, inside the square; but if the
bulls were not numerous enough to complete the outer ranks, then the
cows took their places beside the bulls. In one instance, where the herd
consisted of cows and calves only, the cows formed the square and
carried on the fight while the calves were sheltered within.

The courage displayed by the oxen was not restricted to their defence.
They appeared to be actuated by an _esprit de corps_ which could only be
likened to the heroism which animates men of fanatical fighting tribes.
They were apparently incapable of fear, even to that extent which makes
the saving of one's self a first consideration. When the square was once
formed it never broke. Every beast in it might be killed, one by one,
but there was never a sign of a break-away or a stampede. If only a few
were killed, the square stood its ground until the attackers retreated,
when, with an open field, the square slowly retired, still in formation,
and still ready, at the first signal, to halt and renew the fight. In
one instance, where every beast had been shot save one, that one made
his sortie, pranced round in defiance, and retired to the heap of slain,
all that remained of his gallant comrades.

Their method of defence was capable of repelling the attack of any
animal now inhabiting the Arctic regions, and more complete in its
system than appeared to be needed to repel any of the animals likely to
attack them. It was unnecessary for the repelling of bears; foxes would
never attack animals so large; the only animals likely to challenge a
contest were the wolves operating in a pack. But the Arctic wolves, as a
rule, hunt singly, or in pairs. There may have been a time, however,
when they formed themselves into packs, and from such a time the
defensive tactics of the oxen may date. Certainly the formation would
prove invulnerable against such an attack, as was evidenced by the way
in which a herd of oxen could hold at bay the dogs from the sledge
teams. As soon as oxen were sighted it was the practice to let the dogs
loose. They at once made for the oxen, and, as soon as the latter caught
sight of them, they formed into a square and remained so until the
explorers came up and selected such of the herd as they required for the
larder. In no instance did the dogs succeed in harming an ox, though
more than once a dog, venturing too near a prancing champion, was spun
up into the air to fall to the ground a sad and subdued creature, if it
were so fortunate as to escape with its life.

The return of summer, during the first year of their stay, was marred by
the death of the doctor. Early in June the shores of Hayes Sound were
being surveyed. The ice still covered the sea and the land was deep in
snow. One night, when the surveying party had returned to their tent and
were sitting round the oil stove eating their supper, they heard a man
outside asking if he might come in. They opened the tent flap and
discovered the doctor standing outside. He was evidently ill, and, as
they soon realised, snow-blind. He had missed his way while out after
specimens and had accidentally stumbled on the camp. He was taken in and
given warm food, which revived him somewhat, afterwards being put in a
sleeping-bag and made as comfortable as they could make him. In the
morning he pronounced himself much better, and said he would stay at the
camp, resting, for the day. The party left him with no misgivings, but
on their return in the evening they found him dead in the sleeping-bag.

Camp was struck the following morning and, with the body of the doctor
on the sledge, the party started back to the ship. It was a sad journey.
Not only was it the first time in the history of the _Fram_ that a
member of the ship's company had died, but the loss of the doctor was a
serious matter to the explorers, who were thus left without any
qualified expert to attend to them in the event of either sickness or
accident occurring. The procession reached the ship on June 15, and the
next morning the whole company formed up in funeral array to convey the
remains of the doctor to their last resting-place. They gave him a
sailor's burial. The national flag covered the body and bier, and the
explorers, walking slowly, two and two, proceeded down Rice Strait over
the ice to a spot where a hole had been cut through the ice to the open
water. The body was lowered to the water's edge, where it was held while
prayers were read and a hymn sung. "Then followed the moment when he
slowly slipped into the deep. We shall never forget it. We sang a hymn
and said the Lord's Prayer," Captain Sverdrup wrote.

As the survey work advanced to the west of the Sound, the discovery of
several inaccuracies in former maps led to the hope that new land might
be located in that direction. Ellesmere Land having been explored and
Sir Robert Inglis Peak shown to be non-existent, advantage was taken of
the opening of the ice in the summer seasons to push the _Fram_ farther
to the west, so as to enable the sledge parties to reach still greater
distances over the ice in that direction. It was by this means the
crowning triumph of the expedition was achieved, though at the time of
its achievement an event happened which very nearly brought about a
tragic ending. This was no less than a fire on the _Fram_.

There were, at the time, only nine men on board. For the winter, an
awning had been spread over the deck, below the shelter of which
numerous articles were stored, including the ammunition and
powder-boxes, a number of kayaks, spare wood for repairing sledges and
making _ski_, the oil barrels, and an iron tank full of spirits. The
chimney from the galley rose above this awning, and one day a spark fell
upon it. At once the canvas burst into flame.

On the first alarm, the mate, who was in charge, gave his attention to
the removal of the oil and explosives; but while these were being
dragged out of danger the flames spread rapidly from the awning to the
rigging, reaching the mainsail, which also became ignited. Then the fire
reached the kayaks, the coverings of which were all saturated with
grease. The blaze that followed set all the spare wood alight. The iron
tank, full of spirits, was thus surrounded by flames. It was impossible
to beat them back, and the men realised that if the tank burst and the
spirits caught fire, the ship was doomed. With despairing energy they
attacked the fire with buckets of water, and, despite the primitive
nature of the weapon, they succeeded in subduing the flames before
irreparable damage was done. The tank, fortunately, withstood the heat,
though it was badly warped. The kayaks were destroyed, as well as all
the spare wood, the rigging and sails on the mainmast, the awning, and
some stores on the lower deck, where the flames also penetrated. But the
ship was saved.

On October 13, 1900, the news was brought to the ship that the hopes of
discovering new land were likely to be realised. A party who had been
far out to the west had seen in the distance what appeared to be land at
a place where none was shown on the maps. Five days later, with a picked
band, Captain Sverdrup was hastening to the place indicated. As the
winter was near at hand, they could not do more than verify the news. In
the distance they saw what appeared to be new land, while near at hand
they found traces of large herds of oxen and reindeer. The larder was in
need of being replenished, and as it was impossible to proceed with the
survey of the newly discovered territory before the spring, the members
of the party secured as much beef and venison as they could for winter
supply. By the time they returned to the ship they had enough fresh
meat, not only for themselves but also for the dogs, to last until the
following spring.

On April 8, 1901, Sverdrup and his picked companions set out again to
explore the new territory. After pushing on as far as the outer limit of
the coast, they came upon what appeared to be a large bay. The land they
had descried lay on the far side of it, and for the moment they feared
that, after all, it was only a portion of the old, though making the
area of that much larger than had hitherto been believed. To prove or
disprove their fears they commenced to cross the ice in the bay. As they
proceeded, the land, at the head of the bay, was seen to suddenly open
out and reveal a sound running between two islands. It was new land
which lay before them, and with great jubilation they named the channel
Eureka Sound and the island after the King of Norway. The position was
78° 50' N. lat. and 84° W. long.

Close examination of this island led to the discovery of remains of
extensive Eskimo settlements, showing that at one time there had been a
considerable population where now not a single Eskimo was to be found.
The presence of whale bones among the ruins of the huts told of a still
further change that had occurred, for whales are now quite extinct in
that part, and have been so for a long period.




CHAPTER XII

ITALY CLAIMS THE RECORD

     Norwegian Aid--A Northerly Station--Premature Enthusiasm--Cold
     Comfort--An Arctic Greeting--A Hasty Landing--Disorganised
     Plans--Homeless Dogs--Making Fresh Plans--The Leader
     Frost-bitten--The Start for the Pole--Driven Back by Cold--A Second
     Start--First Detachment Lost--Anxiety for the Second--A Struggle
     for Life--Third Detachment Overdue--Fears of Disaster--Safe at
     Last--Italy sets the Record.


For the first time in the history of their country, the Italians entered
the field of Arctic exploration in the year 1899, when an expedition
under the command of the Duke of Abruzzi sailed in the _Stella Polare_,
and by means of dogs and sledges carried the Italian flag to higher
latitudes than any other explorers had succeeded in reaching. The record
up to the time of this expedition was that set by Nansen, who, with his
companion Johansen, attained to 86° 14' N. The Italians reached 86° 34'
N., or twenty geographical miles further north than the Norwegians.

The scheme of operations under which the Abruzzi expedition set out was
to sail as far north as possible along some coast line, establish winter
quarters, and, in the spring, to travel by sledges towards the Pole. The
expedition was composed of Italians and Norwegians, the men of the
latter race being taken to navigate the ship, the leader wisely
recognising that inasmuch as Italians were not used to navigation in
ice-bound seas, it would be hazardous to risk the safety of the whole
expedition in the early stages of the journey by manning the vessel with
them. The sledge party who attained the highest latitude were all
Italians, but the Norwegians shared the honours won, for without their
assistance the sledge party would have had little chance of penetrating
as far to the north as it did. In fairness, also, to all other men who
have striven so hard to unveil the secrets of the Arctic, it must be
admitted that the Italian success was based entirely on the knowledge
gained by other nations. The scheme of a dash by sledges was the scheme
that Peary had conceived and announced; the main depôt of the Italians
was that which had already been established at Cape Flora by the
Jackson-Harmsworth expedition; the route taken by the sledge party was
in the vicinity of the route Nansen and Johansen followed; the ship was
Norwegian built and Norwegian manned; the men who set out for the dash
to the Pole had, therefore, all the hard work done for them. Yet with
all these advantages they only reached twenty miles further, an
achievement not to be compared with that of Nansen and Johansen.

The expedition practically commenced its journey from Archangel, whence
good progress was made to Cape Flora, a food depôt being established in
the huts of the Jackson-Harmsworth party, which were found still
standing intact. After an ineffectual attempt to pass through
Nightingale Sound, the _Stella Polare_ got out of the ice on August 7,
and succeeded in reaching 82° 4' N. latitude in open water. This was to
the north of Prinz Rudolf Island.

As there were indications that the ice would soon be setting along the
coast, it was decided to sail to Teplitz Bay on Prinz Rudolf Island and
establish quarters for the winter. This bay is open towards the south
and west, while the land on the north is level but rocky. The ship
forced her way through the thin coast ice and came to anchor near enough
to the shore to permit the landing of stores to be easily carried out. A
more experienced leader might have had some doubts as to the security of
the situation as a place for a ship to remain during the winter
movements of the ice. With the bay open on two sides, it was scarcely
possible for it to escape from the pressure of moving floes outside; but
the opinion was held that the ice along the shores was strong enough to
withstand any pressure from the open sea, and so the _Stella Polare_ was
allowed to become fixed in the ice close to the shore.

Brief journeys along the coast and over the highest land which could be
reached--Cape Habermann was found to be 2900 feet high--effectually
disposed of the claims of Petermann Land and King Oscar Land. There was
no sign of either, and there is little doubt but that the explorers who
believed they had discovered these lands were deceived by massive bodies
of ice. The rectification of the maps to this extent was a valuable
service.

By September all their arrangements for spending the winter on the ship
were completed, and with the material which would be required for the
preliminary sledge expeditions to the north, and the establishment of
food depôts, all on shore, the explorers made merry on the evening of
the 7th in discussing the achievements which would result from the
working out of their plans. The difficulties which beset other
explorers, often from the very commencement of their journeys, had not
been experienced by them, and now, with their vessel almost as high to
the north as any vessel had yet been, with their complete outfit at one
of the most northerly stations yet established, and with everything snug
and secure for the winter, it is not surprising that they should have
allowed their enthusiasm to run away with them. It was the first time
that Italy had entered into the contest of winning fame from the
mysteries of the Arctic, and the outlook was so rosy that it almost
appeared as if they were going to signalise the fact by carrying the
flag to the Pole itself and showing to the world that the all-conquering
spirit of ancient Rome still animated the race. Men of colder
temperaments, the sons of the cold-blooded North, would probably have
postponed their rejoicings until the battle had been won, but the
enthusiasm of the South needed more than the gloom of an approaching
Arctic winter to subdue it. Wherefore the Arctic moved, and the children
of the South learned in a few brief hours something of the power and
might and majesty of the realms they had come to conquer.

An ice-floe, drifting in the sea beyond the bay, caught the edge of the
shore ice, in which the _Stella Polare_ lay at rest, as it passed. The
shore ice groaned at the strain, and along its length there ran a ridge
of hummock ice as the pressure sought relief. The line of the pressure
passed through the spot where the _Stella Polare_ was made fast. The
hummock rose against her bows and forced her ninety feet away from where
she had been, while, at the same moment, an increase in the pressure
caught her by the sides, heeled her over, and cracked her timbers till
those on board rushed to the deck under the belief that the vessel was
about to collapse. The rigging of the foremast was torn away, the planks
of the exposed side showed spaces of three inches between them, and
water poured in so rapidly to the holds that it was feared the ship
would go down. The hand-pumps were manned and worked, while the fires
were lit so as to get up steam and set the steam-pumps going, every one
else, who was not required for these jobs, working with might and main
to get all stores and provisions out of the ship and on to the ice, lest
she went down and left them stranded and foodless. The glamour of the
evening before was as a dream; the gloom of the present was a stern
reality to which they had awakened. The Arctic was giving a
characteristic and rugged greeting to the visitors from the South.

The stores were landed with the greatest rapidity, the activity with
which every one worked being still further stimulated by the news from
below that the one hand-pump, which was being worked by four men, could
not keep the water back, and that already it was almost touching the
bars of the furnaces. At one time it looked as though there would be no
chance of saving the fires, and had the water once reached them and so
prevented steam being got up, the plight of the explorers would have
been critical in the extreme. As it was, the Norwegian engineers worked
like heroes, and managed to have enough steam to start the steam-pumps
just as the water touched the fires in one of the boiler furnaces. The
steam-pump, assisting the hand-pump, was sufficient to keep the water
from rising further, but not enough to keep it back altogether. Neither
the steam nor the hand pump, by itself, could prevent the water from
rising. Both had to be kept going, therefore, although the number of men
thus taken away from unloading stores and provisions made that work
very much slower than was desired. But if the water reached to the fires
and put them out, there seemed to be little chance of saving enough to
keep the party alive during the winter. So they worked on with a brave
persistence, Italian and Norwegian alike, until they had all the stores
out on the ice, together with spars, ropes, sails, and all other things
needed for the construction of a shelter in which to pass the winter.
This was only completed after twenty-four hours of toil, and when it was
finished the worn-out party sought a brief respite in sleep. As soon as
the pumps ceased working the waters rose in the holds and over the
furnace bars, putting out the fires. Contrary to expectations, the ship
did not go down, the ice being sufficiently strong to sustain it from
sinking, and the water stopped rising when it had covered the furnaces.

Although the ship was now secure from sinking, it was heeled over to
such an extent that it was impossible to remain on board of it, so a hut
was erected ashore, and the stores stacked round it for the winter. For
ten days the entire party laboured at this work, and when it was
finished it was realised that all the plans for the preliminary sledge
trips must be abandoned. Instead of giving attention to reaching the
Pole, it was first of all necessary to see what could be done in the way
of repairing the ship so as to be able to get away before a second
winter could come upon them. A close examination revealed the fact that
the pressure of the ice had considerably affected the form of the ship.
The crank shaft was bent out of the straight, and the heavy iron beams
which had been put in to strengthen the vessel amidships were all bent
and twisted. The planks at the sides were started and gaped in many
places. The water, which had got in, had frozen, so that the furnaces
were covered in by a sheet of solid ice, while the same thing existed in
the hold. As the hand-pump could not lower the water alone, it was
decided to use a boiler and pump which formed part of the balloon
equipment. Although the use of these articles effectually terminated any
hopes of balloon experiments, it enabled them to get the water down
sufficiently to permit of repairs being effected. From the beginning of
October to the middle of November, the repairs fully occupied them; but
they succeeded in making the ship water-tight and available for
departure when the winter had passed. The bay, by this time, was frozen
over sufficiently to preclude any fears of further nips occurring.

[Illustration: ONE OF THE DIFFICULTIES ENCOUNTERED BY THE _STELLA
POLARE_.]

On November 20 the last vestige of daylight went, and thenceforward the
explorers were in all the gloom of the Arctic night. A heavy snow-storm
entirely covered the dog kennels, so that the animals had to run loose
for a time. This was not satisfactory, for those of the creatures which
were unable to squeeze into shelter near the hut, were frozen to the
ice as they slept. To overcome this, big holes were dug in the ground,
and the dogs driven in, and the entrances walled up. But the Arctic dog
is a creature of resource, and when the men in charge of them went in
due time to feed them, they found that the dogs had made an outlet for
themselves by burrowing through the snow, and were again at liberty. A
wall of biscuit tins was then built round the inside of the holes, and
the entire mass frozen by pouring water over the tins. But the dogs
again burrowed their way out, and they were then left to their own
devices, the holes being left open, so that there should be some shelter
available for the dogs if they liked to use it. Mostly they did not
like, preferring to squeeze in between the sides of the hut and the
kitchen, and contribute their share to the entertainment by occasional
howling choruses during the long dark hours of winter.

During the long night the plans for the sledge expeditions to the North,
which had been so effectively interrupted by the nipping of the ship,
were further considered. As the original scheme could no longer be
carried out, a modified plan was adopted. Under this, it was determined
to send out three parties, which were to start about the middle of
February and press forward towards the Pole. Each party was to consist
of three Italians. One was to carry provisions for thirty days, the
second for sixty days, and the third for ninety days. The second and
third parties were to carry kayaks.

At the commencement of the expedition it was intended that the Duke of
Abruzzi should lead the detachments as the head of the third party, the
one which would have the honour of proceeding the longest way; but early
in January he had two fingers of his right hand frost-bitten so severely
that the two top joints had to be amputated. This debarred him from
taking his place at the head of the enterprise, and he appointed Captain
Cagni to the lead in his stead. As at first arranged, the other parties
were commanded, the first by Dr. Cavalli, and the second by Lieutenant
Querini. A fourth party was to follow the other three for a couple of
days, as an auxiliary, so as to allow of a saving in the consumption of
provisions carried by the others. It was also arranged that twenty-five
days after the start of the expedition, those of the company who
remained behind at Teplitz Bay should send a watch party to Cape
Fligely, in order to be ready to set out and meet, and, if necessary,
render any assistance which the returning members of the first
detachment might require. From the top of Cape Fligely a distance of
eight miles could be seen over the ice to the north, and a signal-post,
erected on the cape, would be visible as a guide to the returning
explorers as they approached over the ice. The watch party was to be on
the cape again fifty-five days after the departure of the second
detachment, and eighty-five days after the departure of the third
detachment.

The date of departure was ultimately fixed for the 19th of February. The
detachments, when ready to start, numbered, in all, twelve men, with
thirteen sledges, drawn by 104 dogs, each sledge weighing, with its load
of provisions, 617 lbs. The weather, at the time of the start, was
intensely cold, there having been a gale blowing for some days before.
When all was ready for the march to begin, the detachments set out,
after hearty farewells from those who remained behind, and who watched
them slowly pass out of sight over the ice and into the cold mysteries
of the white region lying towards the north.

The camp at Teplitz Bay was strangely quiet after their departure, the
absence of the dogs, no less than the absence of the men, rendering the
place lonely and deserted. It was not expected that the auxiliary
detachment would be back again for some days, and it was with very great
surprise that the Duke of Abruzzi, while walking near the hut one day,
heard the sounds of dogs barking near at hand. He hastened in the
direction whence the sounds came, and was astounded to see Lieutenant
Querini coming towards him. Immediately he came to the conclusion that
disaster had overtaken the expedition soon after starting, and that the
lieutenant was the bearer of ill news, if not the only survivor of the
detachments. The facts were, however, not quite so bad as this. What had
happened was that the cold had become so intense, after leaving Cape
Fligely, that not only the men, but the dogs also, suffered severely,
and were almost incapacitated. The experience of a few days revealed
many points where improvement could be made in the arrangement of the
sledges and their loading, and the commander, realising that only
valuable time would be lost, and perhaps the entire expedition
jeopardised, by pushing on under the circumstances, decided to return to
the main camp, so as to overhaul the arrangements, and reorganise the
detachments in the light of their experiences.

By the time the detachments were again ready to start, February had
passed and March 10 had arrived. The loss of time, consequent on their
return, necessitated an alteration in the programme of all the parties,
and when they set out the second time the order of march was for the
first detachment to return after twelve days' march, the second in
twenty-four, and the third in thirty-six. The detachments were also
varied, so that the main detachment should number four instead of three
men. A Norwegian, the engineer of the ship, was included in the first
detachment at his earnest request.

The second start was made on Sunday, March 11, and this time there was
no turning back. On March 28 the Duke of Abruzzi went, with the watch
party, to Cape Fligely, and constructed a shelter wherein to remain in
readiness to greet the first detachment on their return, the date of
which was expected to be April 4. On that date, and for some days
before, an anxious watch was kept from the lookout point towards the
north, but no signs were seen of the returning explorers. For a day or
so this did not cause any grave anxiety, as it was quite possible that
there might be a brief delay, but as the days went by without a sign,
and the days grew into weeks, there was serious uneasiness at the
continued non-appearance of the men. The time arrived when the second
detachment was due, and still the watchers saw no signs of the returning
men. Uneasiness gave place to grave anxiety, and the few who remained at
the camp were beginning to wonder whether they alone would return home,
with the summer, with only a tale of loss and disaster to bear to their
country, when a man of the second party reached the camp in a state of
great exhaustion. His story was that his detachment, the second, had
parted with the third on March 31, and had successfully negotiated the
return journey up to April 15, when an open channel in the ice near the
island had stopped their forward march. For days they had sought a way
round it, but, failing, the leader had despatched the man in the kayak
to reach the watch party, and summon assistance of a boat to convey the
remainder over the channel. The man had attempted to land at a point
where the ice was some fifteen feet high, but while he was testing it to
see if he could clamber up, the kayak slipped away from him and left him
clinging, with no hope of escape if he slipped into the water below. He
was one of the Alpine guides, and, with his ice-axe, he managed to cut a
way up the ice to the summit, though the struggle was a terrible strain
on his strength and skill. When, at last, he reached the summit, he was
met with a new difficulty. He did not know where he was, nor in which
direction the camp lay. He was without food, or refreshment, but he made
his way to a higher point, from whence he was, fortunately, able to see
the top of the ship's masts showing over the ice. This gave him the
direction of the camp at Teplitz Bay, and he made his way thither, with
as much speed as he could. When he arrived, he had been battling his way
for over twenty-four hours, from the time he lost his kayak, a feat of
very great endurance.

In answer to anxious questions as to the first detachment, he said he
and all the rest believed the first detachment was in the camp, for it
had left the main body in time to reach Cape Fligely by April 2. At the
time it started back, owing to the drift of the ice, the island could be
distinctly seen, so that there could be no difficulty as to the men
knowing which way to go. Moreover, a change had been made in the
command, and the first detachment had left under the command of
Lieutenant Querini, Dr. Cavalli having been placed at the head of the
second detachment owing to his showing greater staying powers on the
march than the lieutenant.

As soon as the rest of the detachment had been conveyed from the ice
pack to the camp, Dr. Cavalli corroborated the story and shared, with
the rest of the expedition, the anxiety at the non-arrival of the little
band. His detachment, he said, had parted with the main party on 31st
March, and had seen Captain Cagni and his companions continue their way
to the north, with a train of six sledges and forty-eight dogs. The
first detachment might, he suggested, have been carried away to the
east, and, as they had no kayak with them, they might have been cut off
by an open channel and so prevented from reaching the island. Relief
parties were immediately sent out to search the ice in that direction,
and also to see whether the men had taken refuge on the islands, further
to the north-east, where Nansen and Johansen had passed their winter.
The search was continued until May 10, when the parties returned, having
searched far and wide but without finding any trace of the missing
detachment. It was then hoped that they had made their way to Cape
Flora, where there was an abundance of food and other necessaries, but
when the _Stella Polare_ touched there, on her way home, no signs were
found of the missing men, and it was then realised that they were lost.
How, or when, or where, they had met their end, no one could form any
opinion. A break in the ice may have precipitated them into a channel;
cold may have overcome them as they slept; moving hummocks may have
overwhelmed them, or a sudden snow-storm may have caused them to lose
their direction, and have led them into dangers they were not able to
escape. When no trace could be found of them, and no vestige of their
outfit discovered on the ice, or the islands, there was only one thing
the survivors could realise, and that was that their comrades had gone
out of the world in silence, in mystery, and in sacrifice to the
knowledge of humanity.

[Illustration: SKETCH MAP

Showing Captain Cagni's farthest north 86° 34', being 20' beyond the
point reached by Nansen.]

As the month of May gradually passed, the members of the expedition
gathered at Cape Fligely so as to maintain a steady watch for the return
of the main detachment. In addition to the watch party there was also a
party at Teplitz Bay, and word was sent from one place to the other as
the days went by, while short journeys were constantly being taken along
the shores on the lookout for the return of Captain Cagni and his
companions. The provisions they had with them were only calculated to
last until May 26, but the leader had expressed his intention, if he had
not succeeded in reaching far enough to the north, of proceeding on
reduced rations so as to attain as high a latitude as possible before
returning. On the reduced scale they would be able to subsist until
June 10, but when that date arrived and still there was no sign of them,
the remainder of the expedition became alarmed. The silent disappearance
of Lieutenant Querini and his companions did not tend to alleviate their
anxiety. A week passed without any sign; June 20th came and went, and
the next two days saw the little community depressed and sad at what
they regarded as the fatal silence. On the 23rd they barely exchanged
words with one another, lest they should add to each other's sorrow by
expressing the almost hopeless fear that every one felt. On the evening
of that day the watch party at Cape Fligely had retired to their shelter
when they heard the barking of dogs. Hastily going outside, they saw a
man, with a sledge, advancing from the direction of Teplitz Bay. They
waited in silence for him to come up, fearing he brought news of
disaster. But their fears were turned to joy when he shouted the news
that the third detachment had safely returned to camp, having penetrated
as far as 86° 34' N., and so established the "farthest north" record of
any expedition yet despatched to the Arctic.

The story Captain Cagni had to tell was one of persistent courage and
determination. The straits to which he and his companions were reduced
were shown by the condition of their equipment. They had a single
sledge in a very damaged state, a bottomless saucepan, a broken cooking
lamp, and a ragged tent. Their dogs were reduced to seven, the others
having been killed to feed the survivors as well as the men. On the
return journey the drift of the ice had carried them to the west, so
that when they reached the latitude of Teplitz Bay they were many miles
to the west of it. The condition of the ice had compelled them to go
still further away before they were able to turn and head direct for the
camp.

From March 11 to April 24 they marched steadily towards the north, and
covered something like six hundred miles in ninety-five days. For the
whole period of 104 days they marched 753 miles. During the first stage
of the journey they maintained a speed of five miles a day, but during
the second stage they doubled that, and covered, on an average, ten
miles a day. From their experience they argued it was impossible to
reach the Pole from any such base as that at Teplitz Bay while dog
sledges were the only available means of transport.

With the return of this detachment the work of the expedition was at an
end. The vessel was freed from the ice after a little difficulty, and,
proving to be seaworthy, steamed out of the bay on August 14. They
arrived at Hammerfest without mishap on September 5.




CHAPTER XIII

THE ANTARCTIC REGION

     The Mystery of the South Pole--Ignored by Early Navigators--An
     Accidental Dutch Discovery--Captain Cook Sets Sail--Discouraged by
     the Ice--Turns Back in Despair--A Second Accidental
     Discovery--Weddell breaks the Barrier--Antarctic Land
     revealed--British resume the Search.


While the desire to penetrate into the mysteries of the North held the
mind of mankind from the earliest times, the very existence of a similar
world of ice, at the opposite pole, was undreamed of until a few
centuries back. At the time when the world was generally held to be a
flat disc, this is not to be wondered at, seeing that there could only
be one other side possible under that belief, and that side the "under
world," into which it was not desirable that human beings should ever
penetrate. But the time came when the world was demonstrated to be a
sphere, and the more thoughtful of men realised the necessity of having
some theory wherewith to explain what form the world would take at the
opposite pole to the North. The theory which found most general
acceptance was that which contended for a similar distribution of sea
and land at the South as was currently supposed to exist at the North
Pole. It was argued that only by such a distribution could the balance
of the earth be maintained. Nor did the theorists stop there. The
ancient geographers delighted their hearts by imagining a southern
division of land and sea inhabited by identical animals, covered with
the same kind of verdure and plants, and occupied by similar races of
men to the North. In the absence of any evidence to contradict it, this
theory held for many years.

In the Middle Ages, when the Portuguese and Spaniards were sailing from
sea to sea, and later, when their successors, the Dutch, roamed the
ocean, carrying their flags to the East and the West, none seem to have
penetrated into the ice-bound regions of the South. The Cape of Good
Hope was doubled. Cape Horn was sailed round. Australia was located, and
even the south of Tasmania was visited. But further south the world was
still unknown.

An explanation of this may be found in the fact that in southern
latitudes the drift of ice is very much further away from the Pole than
is the case in the north. In the northern hemisphere massive ice-floes
are not encountered until the 70th parallel of latitude has been passed,
while it is not until the 75th parallel is passed that the ice becomes
so packed as to appear to be stationary. In the southern latitudes, on
the other hand, drift ice is encountered in the 50th parallel, and by
the time the 60th parallel is reached, the ice is found to be as close
set as it is in the 80th parallel in the north. In the islands off
Tierra del Fuego the mountains remain covered with snow down to the
water's edge through all the summer months, though the latitude is only
54° S.

This may be due, in a large measure, to the small quantity of land
existing in the south, as compared with the north. The heat of the sun
does not radiate from the sea with the same intensity as it does from
the earth, whence the ice, drifting from the south into the oceans
nearer the equator, melts more slowly, and is consequently enabled to
travel longer distances, thus lowering the temperature of the
surrounding atmosphere and still further delaying the melting process.
At a comparatively recent period, the limit of the floes, in the
southern oceans, was much nearer the equator than it is to-day, for the
most southerly parts of Africa, Australia, and America all show
unmistakable evidences of having, within recent times, been under a
great ice covering.

It was not until 1600 that the first contact was made with the southern
world of ice. Dirk Gerritz, a Dutch navigator, sailing with a squadron
for the East Indies, was separated from his other ships while passing
through the Straits of Magellan and was driven as far as 64° S. He
discovered, in that latitude, a rocky coast line covered with snow. The
discovery did not excite any great interest at the time, and, for a
period of nearly two centuries, nothing was done to probe further into
the mysteries of the South. In 1769 an expedition was sent out under
Captain Kerguellen to explore the regions lying to the south of the Cape
of Good Hope. He was successful in locating the group of islands, still
known as Kerguellen Islands, and sailed thence to Australia,
demonstrating that no land, other than these islands, existed between
the Cape of Good Hope and Australia.

In 1772, Captain Cook, who had already done so much to reveal the
southern hemisphere to the knowledge of man, left the Cape of Good Hope
with two ships, the _Resolution_ and the _Adventure_, in search of the
continent believed to exist somewhere beyond the regions hitherto
visited. In 48° 41' S. latitude, and 18° 24' E. longitude, a sudden fall
in the temperature from 67° to 38° Fahr. was experienced. On the
following day an iceberg, fifty feet in height and nearly half a mile in
length, was sighted. The course was continued to the south, but the
third day after sighting the first berg the sea had become so full of
ice that no further progress to the south was possible, although the
latitude was only 54° 50' S., the corresponding latitude in the northern
hemisphere being that of the city of Hull.

Skirting the ice-packs and working always to the southward, the vessels
managed to reach 55° 16' S. during the next three days, some few seals,
penguins, and other birds being seen on the floating ice as the ships
passed. The temperature was never above freezing, the sails were frozen
and the rigging covered with icicles. The fact that the ice was found to
be composed of fresh water, convinced Cook that there must be land still
further to the south, lying behind the ice-floes. He, therefore, kept on
to the east, always sailing as far to the south as the line of the ice
permitted. In reality, he was sailing round the Antarctic, from west to
east, skirting along the ice limit. In January 1773 the vessels were in
61° S. and 139° E. longitude. A month later he was nearly five hundred
miles to the south of the course Tasman had sailed when he discovered
Tasmania, but still no land was seen amongst the ice. This being the
summer season in the southern hemisphere, it was necessary to seek
winter quarters to the north if the ships were to escape imprisonment in
the ice for the season.

After a winter passed in the Pacific Ocean, Captain Cook took his ships
again to the south, towards the end of the year, and by January 30,
1774, they were in 71° 10' S. latitude and 106° 54' W. longitude.
Further progress to the south was barred by a line of high ice cliffs.
Describing the circumstances Captain Cook wrote:--

"At four o'clock A.M. we perceived the clouds, over the horizon to the
south, to be of an unusual snow-white brightness, which we knew
announced our approach to field ice. Soon after, it was seen from the
topmast head, and at eight o'clock we were close to its edge. It
extended east and west, far beyond the reach of our sight. In the
situation we were in, just the southern half of our horizon was
illuminated by the rays of light, reflected from the ice, to a
considerable height. Ninety-seven ice hills were distinctly seen within
the ice-field, besides those on the outside. Many of them were large and
looking like a ridge of mountains rising one above another till they
were lost in the clouds. The outer, or northern, edge of this immense
field was composed of loose or broken ice, close packed together, so
that it was not possible for anything to enter it. This was about a mile
broad, within which was solid ice in one continued compact body. It was
rather low and flat (except the hills), but seemed to increase in height
as you traced it to the south, in which direction it extended beyond our
sight.... I, who had ambition, not only to go further than any one had
gone before, but as far as it was possible for man to go, was not sorry
at meeting with this interruption, as in some measure it relieved us, at
least, shortened the dangers and hardships inseparable from the
navigation of the southern polar regions."

Returning again to the Pacific in order that his men might recuperate
after their hardships in the ice region, Captain Cook made a third
attack upon the Antarctic problem the following year--1775--when he
sailed to the south along the 27th meridian of west longitude. In
latitude 59° S. three rocky islets were discovered. They rose to a
considerable height, one of them terminating in a lofty peak shaped like
a sugar-loaf, to which the name of Freezeland Point was given, not, as
it might very well have been, in description of the land itself, but
after the man who first sighted it. Far to the east of this peak there
appeared a long coast line with lofty, snow-capped mountains, the
summits often rising higher than the clouds. To the extremity of this
coast the name of Cape Bristol was given. Land sighted still more to the
south was named Southern Thule.

As there appeared to be more probability of success being won on this
voyage, the ships proceeded to explore the seas in the neighbourhood of
these new lands; but a repetition of the trials and difficulties met in
the previous year brought the hopes to nought. Whichever way they sailed
they encountered ice, either in massive bergs, or lines of cliffs, miles
in length. On February 6, 1775, the cold hostility of the region daunted
even the brave heart of Captain Cook. He decided to turn back, writing
in his log: "The risk one runs in exploring a coast in these unknown and
icy seas is so great, that I can be bold enough to say that no man will
ever venture further than I have done, and that the lands which lie to
the south will never be explored."

Modern achievement in the Antarctic regions forms a curious commentary
on this outspoken opinion of so intrepid an explorer as the man who
laid the great island-continent of Australia open for the colonisation
of the British. But for the time being the opinion ranked sufficiently
with the authorities to put an end to all attempts to solve the mystery
of the Antarctic. Years passed without anything being done to penetrate
into the unknown, until, in 1819, Captain William Smith, commanding the
brig _William_, on a voyage from Monte Video to Valparaiso, was driven
as far to the south as 62° 30', in which latitude and longitude 60° W.
he discovered a group of islands and named them the South Shetlands. The
discovery was reported to the commander of H.M.S. _Andromache_, who at
once sailed to the locality and further explored the islands. These were
found to be a scattered group lying between 61° and 63° S., consisting
of twelve fairly large isles, and a number of small rocky islets.
Several of the isles were mountainous, and one peak was observed which
was estimated to be 2500 feet high. Beyond this brief expedition nothing
was done by the Navy, but during the next few years a considerable
amount of knowledge was gained by whaling captains who penetrated
further to the south.

Amongst others, Powell, in 1821, discovered land to the south of the
South Shetlands, naming it Trinity Land; while Palmer, an American
skipper, sailed along a coast to which he gave the name Palmer's Land.
A Russian navigator, Bellinghausen, exploring to the south and west of
the South Shetlands, located Alexander's Land, still more to the south
than Palmer's Land.

These repeated additions to the general knowledge gradually discredited
Captain Cook's assertion. The newly opened areas were found to be
replete with whales, seals, and other commercially valuable animals, and
ships of the mercantile marine continued to push nearer and nearer the
Pole. In 1822 a firm of traders sent out two vessels to the Antarctic
under the command of Captain Weddell, after whom the great Antarctic
seal is named. The vessels were small ships in comparison with the
modern build. One, the larger, was the _Jane_, a brig of 160 tons, and
the other a cutter, the _Beaufoy_, 65 tons. As Captain Weddell had
already done much geographical service in the South, his employers
instructed him to do all he could to discover fresh lands, and to
penetrate as far into the ice to the South as was possible. He succeeded
so well in carrying out the latter part of his instructions that, on
February 28, 1823, he carried the flag to 74° 1' S.

For some years nothing more of note was done, but in 1831, Captain
Biscoe, on board the brig _Tula_, located land--named Enderby's Land,
after his employers--in 65° 57' S. latitude and 47° 20' E. longitude.
Wind and storms intervening, he was unable to do more than identify one
promontory, which he named Cape Ann. The year following Biscoe added to
his record the discovery of Adelaide Island, Graham's Land, and a range
of mountains he named after himself, Biscoe's Range. He landed on the
newly discovered territory on February 21, 1832, and took possession of
it in the name of Great Britain. Seven years later, on board the _Eliza
Scott_, Biscoe found an island in 66° 44' S. latitude and 165° 45' E.
longitude, the shores of which were so precipitous that no landing could
be effected. Describing it, he wrote: "But for the bare rocks from where
the icebergs had broken, we should scarcely have known it for land, but
as we stood in for it we plainly perceived smoke arising from the
mountain tops. It is evidently volcanic, as specimens of stones, or
rather cinders, will prove."

Two years earlier the French Government had taken up the work the
British Government had neglected from the time of Captain Cook's
condemnation, and had despatched two ships, the _Astrolabe_ and the
_Zelée_, to try and get into higher latitudes than those reached by
Weddell. The Government of the United States also sent out vessels to
continue the work already so successfully done by American whaling
skippers. The voyages did not add materially to the discovery of land,
although some valuable scientific facts were observed and recorded.

The British Government then bestirred itself, and two ships, the
_Erebus_ and _Terror_, were placed under the command of Sir James C.
Ross, with Captain Crozier as second in command, to proceed to the
Antarctic regions and explore them.




CHAPTER XIV

VOYAGES OF THE _EREBUS_ AND _TERROR_

     A Fortunate Choice--Characteristic Southern Bergs--First Sight of
     the Continent--More British Territory--A Mighty Volcanic
     Display--Nearing the Magnetic Pole--The Antarctic Barrier--A Myth
     Dispelled--A Second Attempt--Held by the Ice--Third and Last
     Voyage--A Double Discovery.


The American and French expeditions having already selected areas for
their operations, Sir James Ross, not wishing to clash with them in any
way, directed his attention to that part of the Antarctic lying to the
south of Australia and New Zealand as his sphere of operations. Fortune
favoured him in this selection, for it is at this part of the Antarctic
region--situated between the meridians of 160° E. and 160° W.
longitude--that open water extends farthest into the high latitudes. He
chose the meridian of 170° E. as the line on which to sail to the south.
It was on this meridian that Balleny, in 1839, had found open water as
high as 69° S. The _Erebus_ and _Terror_ were equally fortunate, and
they were well to the south before they encountered sufficient ice to
prove difficult to navigation. Mostly they encountered icebergs, and
they were thus afforded excellent opportunities to note the
peculiarities of the southern bergs, and to compare them with those of
the Arctic. There was a manifest difference in both form and structure.
Those of the Antarctic showed little variety in shape, and in this they
were in marked contrast to the Arctic bergs. The bergs of the South were
very solid in appearance, with perpendicular grooves on the sides, and
level table-top summits. In size they ranged from 120 to 180 feet in
height, with a length varying from a few hundred yards to a couple of
miles.

Land was first sighted on January 11, 1841, when the ships were in lat.
70° 23' S. and long. 174° 50' E. The appearance of the land suggested
the tops of mountain peaks fully a hundred miles away. As the ships
sailed on, other peaks showed above the horizon, both to the east and
the west, and the majesty of their size left no room for doubt that they
were part of an area of land attaining to continental proportions. In
his account of the expedition, Sir James Ross wrote: "It was a
beautifully clear evening, and we had a most enchanting view of the two
magnificent ranges of mountains, whose lofty peaks, perfectly covered
with eternal snow, rose to elevations varying from 7000 to 10,000 feet
above the level of the ocean. The glaciers that filled their intervening
valleys, and which descended from near the mountain summits, projected,
in many places, several miles into the sea, and terminated in lofty,
perpendicular cliffs. In a few places the rock broke through the icy
covering, by which alone we could be assured that land formed the
nucleus of this, to appearance, enormous iceberg."

The range was named Admiralty Mountains, and the various peaks after the
different Lords of the Admiralty. With patriotic pride the leader
recorded that "the discovery of this land restored to Great Britain the
honour of having discovered the southernmost known land, which had been
so nobly won by the intrepid Bellinghausen, and for more than twenty
years retained by Russia."

The amount of ice along, and off, the shore prevented a landing being
made, but it was found to be possible to get ashore on an island not far
away from the mainland. The island was named Possession Island, in
commemoration of the fact that on its shores the ceremony of taking
possession of the newly discovered lands in the name of Great Britain
was duly celebrated. Situated in lat. 71° 56' S. and long. 171° 7' E.,
the island was found to be of igneous formation and accessible only on
its western shore. There were no signs of vegetation on the bare
volcanic rocks, "but myriads of penguins completely and densely covered
the whole surface of the island, along the ledges of the precipices, and
even to the summits of the hills, attacking us vigorously as we waded
through their ranks, and pecking at us with their sharp beaks, disputing
possession; which, with their loud, coarse notes and the insuperable
stench from the deep bed of guano, which had been forming for ages, and
which may, at some time, be valuable to the agriculturists of our
Australian colonies, made us glad to get away again, after having loaded
our boats with geological specimens and penguins."

As the voyage continued, the height of the mountains lying further to
the south of Admiralty Mountains was observed to be from 12,000 to
14,000 feet, the majority being obviously of volcanic origin. While
noting these characteristics, a phenomenon was witnessed which, for the
moment, suggested that they were in the presence of a mighty volcanic
upheaval. An angle was being measured, when, in the line of sight, an
island, about one hundred feet high, suddenly seemed to rise from the
ocean. All eyes were turned upon it, the dark colour of the new arrival
standing out in such pronounced contrast with the whiteness of the ice
around it. Then one, more observant than the rest, drew attention to the
fact that a large berg previously observed at the place where the island
had risen, had completely disappeared. At once the riddle was solved.
The berg had turned over, and, as the lower portion was composed of
earth-stained ice, it stood out in such strong relief against the other
ice that the mistake was easily accounted for.

One of the mountains slowly coming into view on the horizon as the ships
continued their way was so remarkably like Mount Etna in appearance that
it was so named by the members of the expedition, but official
requirements of the case necessitated another name being given to it.
It was entered in the record as Mount Melbourne, while another, lying
beyond it, was named Mount Monteagle. These were the highest mountains
seen up to that time, and presented an imposing appearance. Yet others
were sighted in the course of a few days which quite eclipsed them.
These were the two volcanoes which were named after the two vessels,
Mount Erebus and Mount Terror.

Mount Erebus, 12,400 feet high, was in active eruption when first seen,
and has been so on every occasion that man has looked upon it since. At
the time of its discovery it was giving a display that was
extraordinarily grand, the more so by reason of its surroundings. It was
snow-clad to within a few hundred feet of its conical summit, while its
huge base rested on a wide stretch of ice, gleaming and shimmering in
the sunlight. Between the ice wall, hundreds of feet high, which marked
the coast line, and the vessels, the water was blue and clear,
reflecting the hue of the sky above. From the crater alternate bursts of
smoke and flame were flung up, the rumbling sound of the explosions
floating down through the frozen stillness in a faint echo like that of
heavy distant artillery fire. In the official account it is described as
follows:--

"A volume of dense smoke was projected at each successive jet with great
force, in a vertical column to a height of between 1500 and 2000 feet
above the mouth of the crater, when, condensing at its upper part, it
descended in mist or snow, to be succeeded by another splendid
exhibition of the same kind in about half-an-hour afterwards, although
the intervals between the eruptions were by no means regular. The
diameter of the column of smoke was between 200 and 300 feet, as near as
we could measure it. Whenever the smoke cleared away, the bright red
flames that filled the mouth of the crater were clearly perceptible, and
some of the officers believed they could see streams of lava pouring
down its side until lost beneath the snow, which descended from a few
hundred feet below the crater and projected its perpendicular icy cliffs
several miles into the ocean."

So far as the leader of the expedition was concerned, there was another
circumstance in connection with the position in which the ships were
that appealed to him very particularly. He had, a few years earlier,
succeeded in locating the North Magnetic Pole. Bearings, taken in the
neighbourhood of the two volcanoes, revealed the fact that the South
Magnetic Pole was only about 170 miles distant. An effort was made to
penetrate to the South so as to sail over, or otherwise locate, the
exact position of the magnetic pole; but the weather conditions, which
had been so favourable to them up to that point, now told severely
against them. The thermometer fell rapidly, and the temperature went so
low that the spray, flung up by the ships, froze, as it fell, into solid
ice on the bows. Men were kept constantly breaking it away, but still
it accumulated, considerably interfering with the speed of the ships.
Then they found in front of them a great wall of ice rising out of the
sea, without a break or opening, to a height of some hundreds of feet.
They sailed along it for miles, but the only change was that it
increased in height until it towered a thousand feet above the level of
the ocean.

Although it was then midsummer, and the warmest part of the year, the
highest temperature during the day was never above twenty degrees below
freezing. At the corresponding period of the season in the Arctic, every
iceberg gives evidence of the warmer weather by commencing to melt, so
that from all of them streams of water are to be seen pouring down the
sides. But the bergs in the Antarctic showed no such streams of water.
All were solid, and the heat of the sun at midday was not able to cause
even the surface to thaw. During a gale, encountered in this locality,
the waves, as they broke over the sides, covered the rigging and sails
with hard, clear ice until it was almost impossible to handle the ropes
or furl the sails.

As February went by and they were still unable to work nearer the site
of the magnetic pole, the leader sought for a haven where the ships
could pass the winter, so as to be ready to recommence the work directly
the weather moderated with the approach of spring. But no such place was
to be found, the mighty barrier of ice stretching away to the horizon
with never a break in its massive towering front. Nothing was to be done
except turn the vessels to the North and make the best of their way into
milder latitudes until the winter had passed.

On the voyage towards the North, one of those accidents occurred to the
_Terror_ which, fortunately for the welfare of sailors, are not possible
nowadays. The bobstay of the bowsprit was smashed by coming in contact
with a mass of floating ice. At the time the temperature was such that
the bows of the vessel, as well as the bowsprit and its rigging, were
all covered with ice, which the men had to be continually trying to keep
clear. With the ship pitching to a heavy head sea, this was by no means
easy, yet it was simple compared to the work of repairing the damaged
bobstay. The men carrying out this work had to be slung over the bows,
and every time the ship pitched, they were plunged into the freezing
water, often being entirely immersed. The temperature of the sea at the
time was twelve degrees below freezing, and two hours were occupied in
effecting the repairs, man after man going over the bows to take the
places of those who were literally frozen out. The commander, with
pardonable pride, commented upon the pluck and hardy determination of
his men in carrying out this arduous task.

As they sailed to their winter quarters in an easterly course, they
passed the locality where the ships of the American expedition had
reported a discovery of land forming part of the great Antarctic
continent. A sharp lookout was kept for it, but no indications were
seen, and, when the two ships sailed over the spot where the continent
was supposed to exist, the conclusion was forced upon the leaders that
the Americans had been misled, as they had themselves on more than one
occasion, into regarding the combination of ice and cloud as land. So
suggestive of land did this combination often appear, that it was only
by the most careful and critical observation that similar mistakes were
not to be recorded against the _Erebus_ and _Terror_.

Early in April they arrived at Tasmania, leaving that colony in the
following July for New Zealand, where they stayed until December, when
they sailed once more to the Antarctic.

It was the intention of Ross to sail to the South along the 146th
meridian of west longitude, but the existence of heavy pack ice proved
an effectual obstacle to their progress. The ships became involved in
the pack, and only managed to force their way clear by the beginning of
February. This meant a great loss of valuable time, for they were only
able to reach 76° 42' S. latitude before they had to return. They
sighted the great barrier of ice lying to the south, with what appeared
to be high mountains, snow covered, rising behind. As no definite
observations could be made to demonstrate whether the heights were
mountains or only the summit of the Antarctic ice-cap, the discovery was
not claimed as being new land.

The vessels made their way to the Falkland Islands, where they passed
the winter, and on December 17, 1842, they sailed, for the third time,
to the South. The object of this voyage was to further explore Louis
Philippe Land and reach as high as Weddell had done. Excellent progress
was made, and, on the last day of the year, they sighted an island to
which the name Etna Island was given, as it was a volcano greatly
resembling, in miniature, the great volcano of Sicily. Further to the
south high peaks appeared, and, with the new year, a number of islands,
as well as what appeared to be portions of the mainland, were
discovered. Amongst others, the expedition found and named Paulet
Island, Cockburn Island, Snow Hill Island, and Mount Haddington, places
which were to be made still more familiar over half a century later by
the dramatic events which occurred to the Swedish expedition in 1901-3.

In addition to the discovery of land, it was also found that the waters
off this coast abounded with whales, and, by the time that the two ships
returned to the Cape of Good Hope, in March, they were able to claim,
for the record of the third trip, the double discovery of land and of
all the essentials for a profitable whaling industry. The ships had
circumnavigated the Antarctic region, and for many years thereafter
whalers were the main visitors. Until 1898 no official British
expedition sailed for the Antarctic, though there was a brief stay, just
within the Antarctic Circle, of H.M.S. _Challenger_ in 1874.




CHAPTER XV

THE _SOUTHERN CROSS_ EXPEDITION

     British continue the Work--Carrier Pigeons in the Ice--Withstanding
     a Nip--A Sea-quake--Cape Adare Station--A Cosy Camp--Edible
     Fish--Death visits the Camp--Penguin Peculiarities--A Derelict
     Blue-bottle--The Welcome Postman--A Thrilling Episode.


The first British expedition for many years was that which sailed from
the Thames in 1898 on board the _Southern Cross_, under the leadership
of C. E. Borchgrevinck, with the object of penetrating as far as was
possible to the south and exploring the Antarctic continent, or as much
of it as could be visited during a year's stay in those latitudes.

[Illustration: THE _SOUTHERN CROSS_ IN THE ICE PACK.

At work with the Theodolite.]

The leader of the party had already been on this continent in 1894, when
he voyaged into the Antarctic on board a whaler. He had landed on South
Victoria Land and Possession Island, and had reached as far south as 74°
10' S. He had discovered a sheltered beach, near Cape Adare, which he
recognised as an ideal site for the headquarters of an exploring party
equipped for a prolonged stay. On the same occasion he was fortunate in
finding a lichen growing on the rocks of Cape Adare, which was the first
instance of terrestrial plant life being observed in the Antarctic.
Imbued with enthusiasm as to the prospects of successful observation
being carried out from this point, he strove to arouse public interest
in the project. He found plenty of interest but not much financial
support, until he had the good fortune to meet Sir George Newnes, Bart.,
in 1898. That gentleman caught some of the enthusiasm which actuated
Borchgrevinck, and undertook to provide the necessary capital to enable
the expedition to be formed and despatched. Thereafter there was no
delay in the matter of organising the expedition. The _Southern Cross_,
a small barque-rigged steamer of 276 tons, and built by Colin Archer,
the builder of the _Fram_, was secured, and placed under the command of
Captain Bernhard Jensen. With stores and equipment for some years, a
crew of Norwegians, an efficient scientific staff, and a large kennel of
Arctic dogs, she left St. Katherine's Dock on August 22, 1898, amid much
popular demonstration and sailed for Tasmania.

Arriving at Hobart early in December, she took in further supplies, and
sailed again, on December 19, for the Antarctic. On December 30, in
latitude 61° 56' S. and longitude 153° 53' E., she encountered the first
ice, and a few days later was among the floes. Some carrier pigeons had
been taken on board at Hobart, and they were liberated when the vessel
was well within the ice limit. One was absent for about a week before it
returned to the ship, but the majority returned almost at once.

On January 14, 1899, land--Balleny Island--was sighted in latitude 65°
44' S. and longitude 163° 38' E., and the _Southern Cross_ was soon fast
in a pack. Advantage was taken of the opportunity to lay in a store of
seal flesh for the dogs. Two varieties were met with on the ice, leopard
seals and white seals, both so unaccustomed to the presence of man that
the explorers had no difficulty in walking up to them and killing them
as they lay on the ice.

After being held for a week the first nip was experienced. The movement
in the ice was very pronounced, and high pressure-ridges were thrown up.
When the pressure caught the ship there was some uneasiness in the minds
of those on board as to how she would stand the strain. She disposed of
all fears, so far as she was concerned, by rising a clear four feet when
the nip was at its worst, thereby adding another instance to the record
of her builder as a cunning designer of ships for ice navigation.

For a period of forty-eight days they were held in the pack, and the ice
then becoming more broken it was decided not to try any further to reach
to the south of Balleny Island; instead, it was determined to go direct
to Cape Adare, and establish the headquarters while the summer was still
with them. On February 12, a few days after getting into open water, and
when the vessel was making good progress under sail and steam, she was
noticed to shake violently. No ice was in sight, nor anything else that
could account for it, but there came a tremor which lasted for a couple
of seconds, followed by another after an interval of three seconds. The
phenomenon was noticed by men in all parts of the ship, and no
explanation could be given for it. A couple of days later they ran into
heavy weather, during which the temperature fell so low that everything
became covered with ice, an experience which was very similar to that
which befell the ships forming Sir James Ross's expedition in 1842. The
ship had to lay-to for two days until the weather abated, and, on the
second day after resuming her course, land was sighted, and the
_Southern Cross_ steamed into Robertson Bay in sight of Cape Adare and
the spot where the headquarters of the expedition were to be built.

The camp consisted of four huts, which were promptly erected and filled
with the stores and equipment. The landing party, consisting of ten,
made their home in one of the huts, utilising the others for the storage
of provisions, equipment, and other impedimenta. The dwelling-hut was
constructed with three doors, opening inwards, so as to facilitate the
escape of the residents should they become snowed in. Between the outer
and the middle doors there was a four-foot lobby, off which a small room
opened on either side. One of these was devoted to the development of
photographs and the storage of the more delicate instruments, while the
other was the taxidermist's studio. Both these rooms were lined with
wool and fur, and were entered through small sliding trap-doors two
feet above the ground. The interior of the hut formed one room, fifteen
feet square, and with ten bunks constructed along the north and east
walls, each bunk being closed in, so that the occupant could lie within,
out of sight of the others, a very serviceable arrangement under
circumstances where ten men are compelled to be in one another's company
morning, noon, and night for several months at a stretch. The windows
faced the west, and were double framed, with a space of three inches
between the frames. The walls were also double, with _papier-mâché_
packing between, while the ceiling was seven feet above the floor, also
packed with _papier-mâché_, and had above it an attic where stores which
required keeping fairly warm were placed.

Before they had everything completed on shore, a furious gale sprang up,
and from February 23 to 26 all the energies of the party were required
to keep the ship from being lost. She dragged her anchor and drifted
dangerously near the coast before steam could be got up, and even when
the engines were at full speed, she could barely do more than hold her
own. Once, two steel cables and a hawser were run out round a jutting
rock to afford her some stay, but they snapped like threads when the
puff caught her, and for the rest of the time she was kept standing off
and on under the lee of Cape Adare. During the winter the explorers had
further experience of the character of these southern gales, the wind
often attaining a velocity of eighty-five miles an hour, representing a
force capable of lifting up and carrying bodily away such a thing as a
whale-boat; while the air was, at such times, filled with pebbles and
small stones blown from the high lands behind the camp. On one occasion,
so fierce was the strength of the wind, that it was found impossible to
crawl on hands and knees, and with the assistance of a guide-rope, from
the hut to the thermometer-box a couple of hundred yards away. The
heaviest member of the party, a man over thirteen stone, was blown from
the rope and nearly lost while attempting the journey.

On March 2 everything was in order at the huts, and the shore party
landed to take up their residence. The flag presented to the expedition
by the Duke of York was hoisted, the _Southern Cross_ dipped her ensign
to it, everybody cheered, and the vessel steamed out of the bay for New
Zealand, leaving the devoted ten the only occupants of the great unknown
continent which lies 2500 miles to the south of Australia.

[Illustration: THE AURORA AUSTRALIS.

_Drawn by Dr. E. A. Wilson._]

They were not long before they commenced work. Cape Adare was explored
and its height determined to be 3670 feet above sea-level. Vegetation,
in the form of lichens, was traced up to a thousand feet, to which level
it was found the penguins made their crude nests and hatched their
young. Snow lay deep after three thousand feet, but no signs of life,
vegetable or animal, were discovered at that altitude. In the waters
below and around the cape several specimens of algæ, medusa, hydroids,
and other low forms of marine life were secured. In addition to these
specimens it was also discovered that there was abundance of fish in the
deeper waters of the bay. These were caught, both by net and line, and
the members of the expedition were agreeably surprised when it was found
that they were nearly all edible, for a constant diet of preserved food
soon palls, even on the healthiest appetites. As the ice spread farther
out over the bay the fishing was conducted through a hole cut through
the ice, and it was no uncommon experience of the fisher to be suddenly
confronted with the startled eyes of a seal which had risen from the
depth below, under the belief that the opening was a blow-hole for his
convenience.

On May 15 they saw the sun disappear below the horizon, above which it
would not reappear until July 27. The sun, as it disappeared, presented
a curious optical phenomenon. Its reflection appeared as a large red
elliptical glowing body which gradually changed into a cornered square,
while the sky, in its immediate vicinity, revelled in a blaze of
colours. As the sun slowly sank, the colours grew in intensity, reaching
the height of their vivid beauty as the last of the globe sank out of
sight. The Aurora Australis continued to give them displays of
colouring throughout the time when the moon was not shining and the sky
was otherwise dark. The temperature sank very low, at times, during the
night, -25° Fahr. being recorded, soon after the sun went below the
horizon, while later on the records were as low as -57° Fahr. Inside the
hut, however, the cold was not severely felt, the construction proving
excellent for the comfort of the men. The numbers of seals killed for
the dogs enabled them to cover the roof with the skins before it became
snowed over, while the ample supply of fur and woollen clothing kept the
expedition well clad.

[Illustration: EMPEROR PENGUINS.

The most southerly inhabitants of the Globe.

_From "The Siege of the South Pole," by Dr. H. R. Mill. By permission of
Messrs. Alston Rivers, Ltd._]

With one exception the winter passed without an untoward incident, the
exception being the illness of the zoologist of the party, who, after
being carefully nursed by the doctor and all the others, succumbed to
internal complications and died on October 13. This was the only
fatality during the expedition, and the loss of one out of so small a
party naturally had a saddening effect on the survivors. Before he died,
he indicated a spot a thousand feet up the slope of Cape Adare where he
wished to be buried, and, needless to add, his comrades loyally carried
out his last wishes. He died just at the time when the penguins, the
study of which had so engrossed him, were returning over the ice to
their nesting quarters. The first one arrived a few hours before his
death, and it was taken to him, at his request. The place where he
sleeps is on the line where vegetation ceases and above which the
penguins do not build.

It was a pity he did not live to see the return of the penguins, for
they came in myriads with the approach of spring. They advanced over the
ice in a long line, walking in single file, and apparently in
detachments of about sixty birds in each. They must have marched for
many miles, as there was no open water nearer from whence they could
have come, and they are not able to fly. As soon as they reached the
land they spread out in such a way as to suggest that each pair went to
the nest they had occupied before. These were simple affairs, consisting
of little more than a few pebbles arranged in a ring on beds of guano.
As a rule, two eggs were laid in each nest, and, for a month, male and
female shared the labour of sitting on them, commencing in November and
remaining on the nests until the young came out in December. The chicks
were fed by the parent birds until they were fairly well grown, when
they were driven into packs and left to look after themselves, with only
occasional help from the older birds. When they were able to look after
themselves, without further assistance, the parents departed. On such
occasions a curious habit was observed. The birds of a detachment seemed
to wait for one another until all were ready, when they would strut, in
a solemn procession, to the water's edge. Usually the white breasts of
the birds were spotlessly clean, but the time they spent on the nests
made them very dingy in appearance. As they strutted down to the water's
edge they were all sadly in need of a bath, yet, on arrival at the edge,
they would stand about, shiver, flap their diminutive wings, and
manifest all the hesitation which is shown by timid bathers when about
to take a plunge. Nothing would induce them to enter the water until
they were ready in their own good time, attempts, on the part of the
explorers, to drive them in, merely resulting in the birds turning round
and strutting on to the land again. When at length the time came for the
plunge, one would flap his wings, utter a cry, and take a header,
whereupon the others would follow, one after the other, all in line and
so rapidly that they presented the appearance of a stream being poured
out of a bottle. The plunge over, they returned to the shore, spotless
and clean.

As the gales were not over when the birds were sitting, they were
watched to see how they would prevent themselves from being blown away
by the fierce gusts. Almost as soon as the barometer gave indications of
the approach of a gale, the birds were seen to turn their heads towards
the south-east, the quarter from whence the wind came, and lie close to
the ground, with their heads down and their breasts pressed close to it.
On no occasion was a bird seen to be blown away from the nest.

During December, when the weather became milder, the interesting
discovery was made that insect life exists on the Antarctic land. Some
specimens were found among the mosses growing on the shore, and the
excitement which followed the discovery led one of the Finns, two of
whom were included in the party, to unconsciously play an effective
practical joke on the others. He found a dead blow-fly in a case of jam
and brought it to the hut as a trophy. For a time there was even greater
excitement, until some one thought to ask where the fly had been
captured.

On January 29, 1900, the _Southern Cross_ returned. She arrived in the
bay at a time when the explorers were sleeping after some heavy
journeys. The captain landed, and walking up to the hut, pushed the door
open and entered. He had the mail-bag with him, and flung it on the
table with a loud cry of "Post." In a moment the bunks were empty, the
sound of a strange voice rousing all the men, to say nothing of the
prospect of receiving news from the world out of which they had been so
long.

As there was no time to be lost, if they were to penetrate further to
the South before the mild weather passed, they moved on board the ship
as soon as they could, and by February 2 the _Southern Cross_ steamed
away again with all on board. They made excellent progress, passing
Mount Melbourne on February 6, approaching near enough to the coast
opposite to Mount Terror to permit them to land, after which they
steamed along the great ice-barrier until they found an opening, into
which they steamed, so as to enable a sledge party to land and push
forward to the South. It was this sledge party which reached "farthest
South," being on February 16 in latitude 78° 50' S., the highest
latitude reached up to that time.

But it was while they were ashore at Mount Terror that one of the most
exciting incidents of the whole journey occurred. The party landed at a
small beach which lay under cliffs towering five hundred feet above. In
order to get photographs of it, the boat was despatched back to the ship
for a camera, while Borchgrevinck and Jensen remained ashore. The boat
had not gone very far when a great roar sounded in the air. Those on
shore feared for the moment that a slide had begun in the cliffs over
their heads; but it was not the rocks that were moving. A mighty
glacier, which entered the sea near where they were standing, was
shedding an iceberg from the parent mass, and the noise was caused by
the rending of the ice as the millions of tons mass tore itself free.
The beach was barely four feet above the water, and, as the berg crashed
into the sea, it sent up a great wave that swept along the coast. The
men on the beach barely saw it coming before it was over them. Pressing
themselves against the face of the cliff at the highest point they could
reach, they held on for dear life while the icy water surged up and
over them. After the first wave had passed, others followed, though
these only reached up to their arm-pits, and had it not been for a
projecting point of rock, which served to break the force of the waves,
there is little doubt but that both would have been swept away. The full
force of the waves was shown only a few yards away from where the two
had stood, stones being torn loose and the mark of the water being left
twenty feet up the face of the cliff.

Having reached "farthest South," the homeward journey was begun on
February 19, and three days later the _Southern Cross_ steamed into Port
Ross, in the Island of Auckland. The expedition was then practically at
an end, having succeeded so well in its objects that it was able to
claim that it had located the Southern Magnetic Pole as being in
latitude 73° 20' S. and longitude 146° E.; had discovered insect and
plant life on the Antarctic continent; had reached the farthest South,
and had added very considerably to the geographical and scientific
knowledge of the world.




CHAPTER XVI

THE REVIVAL OF ANTARCTIC INTEREST

     Modern Means and Methods--Private Enterprise leads--The
     _Valdavia_--The _Belgica_ Expedition--International Action
     adopted--The German Expedition--An Ice-bound Land--Fresh
     Trade-Winds.


Towards the end of the last century there was a distinct revival, in
European scientific circles, of interest in the still unsolved problems
of the frozen South. Many causes contributed to this. The gradual
narrowing of the northern sphere, and the activity displayed in that
region by the Americans, to whom it especially appealed, led the
European geographers to remember the great amount of work yet to be done
in the South. The achievements of the Ross expedition, which had
satisfied public curiosity for the time being, now only stimulated
curiosity as to how much more could be ascertained by the use of modern
steamships and all the other improved appliances that had done so much
to help in Arctic work.

For a time private enterprise operated, and several vessels were
despatched, from time to time, some with excellent results; but
something more than private enterprise, working individually, was
required if all the benefits of a thorough exploration were to be
obtained. In her brief experience in 1874, H.M.S. _Challenger_ examined,
by means of sounding and dredging, the floor of the ocean to the south
of Kerguellen Island. The evidence collected pointed to the existence,
still further to the south, of an area of land approaching continental
dimensions. In 1898 a German steamer, the _Valdavia_, with Professor
Carl Chun on board, left Cape Town, rediscovered Bouvet Island, which
had not been visited from the time it was first seen by Captain Cook,
and collected further evidence, by sounding and dredging, of the
existence of extensive land nearer the Pole.

A Belgian, M. Adrien de Gerlache, fitted out a ship, the _Belgica_, and
sailed from Antwerp, in 1897, to explore the area lying to the south of
South America. In the early part of the voyage a new strait was
discovered between Danco Land and Palmer Land, but in February 1898 the
ship became involved in the ice and remained in it for a year, drifting
between 69° 40' and 71° 35' S. latitude and 80° 30' and 102° 10' W.
longitude. During the winter they had a period of seventy days'
darkness, spent on board, the effect of which was extremely depressing
to their spirits and injurious to their health. It was found that the
sea floor had shoaled up to the shallow depth of from 200 to 300
fathoms, suggesting the proximity of a large area of land, the actual
existence of which, however, the members of the expedition were not
able to observe.

An international agreement was then arrived at, through the influence of
the International Geographical Conference, under which three nations,
Germany, Sweden, and Great Britain, undertook to despatch to the
Antarctic, three separate expeditions, one from each country. They were
to sail from Europe in 1901, and while working on similar lines, and as
much in common as was possible, each was to have its distinct sphere of
operations. The British undertook the exploration of that area south of
Australia, where Ross had located the volcanoes Mount Erebus and Mount
Terror; the Swedes selected the lands lying to the south of South
America, while the Germans gave their attention to the seas already
visited by the _Valdavia_.

[Illustration: POLAR OUTFIT USED BY THE _BELGICA_ EXPEDITION.

Tent, Sledge and Snow Shoes.]

The German expedition sailed from Kiel on August 11, 1901, on board the
_Gauss_, and was under the command of Professor Erich von Drygalski.
Their first objective was Kerguellen Island, and the chief work carried
out was of a purely scientific character. It was originally intended
that all the expeditions should return to Europe after passing one
winter in the Antarctic. The Germans did so, but both the Swedes and the
British were unable to carry out this part of the programme, the former
in consequence of the loss of their ship in the ice, the latter because
their ship was hard and fast in the southern ice. The Germans were more
fortunate in escaping the ill effects of what was an unusually severe
ice season; but the other nations, by the longer stay they had in the
frozen regions, were able to return with a much more comprehensive
collection of information.

Leaving a small party at Kerguellen Island, the _Gauss_ sailed to her
allotted area, already revealed by the voyages of Cook, Bellinghausen,
Biscoe, and Kemp. The ice barrier prevented her reaching a very high
latitude, but the connection between Knox Land and Kemp Land, appearing
as isolated coasts on the old maps, was proved. On this land, during the
winter, large quantities of ice are formed, to drift out to sea in the
form of huge packs which effectually guard the shore from intrusion.
Forcing a way through the pack, the _Gauss_ found a brief stretch of
open water, the depth of which was found to shoal rapidly from 1500 to
120 fathoms. This led them to a rugged, steep coast line, occupying the
position of what Ross had defined in 1841 as "ice cliffs." The land was
too high and steep to permit them to land, and the ship, becoming
involved in the ice within sight of it, winter quarters were established
on the ice.

Severe gales hampered them in their work, but otherwise the winter
passed without any untoward incidents. The rocks composing the cliffs of
the coast were found to be ancient crystalline formations. The interior
of the land was entirely covered, so far as could be seen, by a solid
ice-cap forming one of the most extensive glacial regions now known to
exist. It seemed to be slightly receding, though no definite evidence of
this could be obtained in so short a time as that at the disposal of the
explorers.

One of the most useful observations made was that relating to the
direction of the winds. The trade-winds blowing in the "roaring
forties," and which serve so good a purpose in carrying ships round Cape
Horn and the Cape of Good Hope to and from Australia, blow from the west
towards the east. At the position occupied by the _Gauss_, inside the
Antarctic Circle, it was noticed that the prevailing winds were from
east to west. Thus, if a clear passage could be found, vessels sailing
round the southern ocean could select either an easterly or a westerly
route as suited them best, instead of having, as at present, to follow
that indicated by the wind.

At the expiration of the period allotted to them for their stay, the
explorers were able to get free from the ice, and return to Germany. In
this, as has been said, they were the only one of the three expeditions
keeping to time. They arrived home after an absence of twenty-eight
months, fourteen of which were passed in the South Polar ice.




CHAPTER XVII

THE SWEDISH EXPEDITION

     Sails in the _Antarctica_--Argentine Co-operation--First Antarctic
     Fossil--Building the Winter Station--A Breezy Corner--Electric
     Snow--A Spare Diet--New Year Festivities--The Missing Ship--Relief
     that never Came--A Devastating Nip--Castaway--The Unexpected
     Happens--A Dramatic Meeting--Rescued.


The expedition to explore the land lying in the Antarctic region to the
south of South America, which, under the international arrangement of
1895, was allotted to Sweden, was placed under the command of Professor
Otto Nordenskjold, with whom was associated Professor Johan Andersson,
both members of Swedish Universities. The steam barque _Antarctica_,
Captain C. A. Larsen, who had already had considerable experience in the
Polar regions, was selected as the vessel in which the expedition was to
proceed to the field of operations. The original plan was for the
expedition to leave Europe in 1901, and to be back in Sweden by May
1903.

The detailed plan was to leave Sweden as early as possible in the autumn
of 1901 for the South Shetlands, whence the vessel was to go to the east
coast of the land known to lie to the south of those islands.
Penetrating as far to the south as possible, a station was to be
established at any convenient point and a party of six left there, with
the necessary stores, apparatus, and equipment, to spend the winter,
while the ship was to return north to the Falkland Islands and spend the
winter with the remainder of the expedition carrying out scientific
investigations at Tierra del Fuego and South Georgia. On the arrival of
spring the _Antarctica_ was to pick up the members of the expedition who
might be in Tierra del Fuego and South Georgia and proceed south to the
winter station, take on board the members who had passed the winter
there, and return at once to Sweden.

Unfortunately for the successful carrying out of the plans, the summer
of 1902-3, in the Antarctic regions, was the coldest and the worst for
ice conditions that has ever been recorded, and the expedition, instead
of being able to carry out the plans laid down, experienced, instead, a
series of unexpected happenings which was fatal to the exact working out
of detail, but was rich in exciting and romantic episode. The Frozen
South, like the Frozen North, will not yield its secrets to the first
comer who demands them. The resources of the ice world, at either pole,
are too vast to be overcome without a fierce and prolonged struggle.

Instead of one winter, the Swedish expedition spent two in the ice
region, while, during the second, all the members of it were living on
the ice, though as three separate parties, each within a few miles of
the other, and all, more or less, ignorant of the proximity of their
comrades. The peculiar circumstances under which they became separated,
their experiences during that time, and the dramatic manner in which
they were reunited and rescued, will form the chief incidents of the
following pages.

Leaving Sweden on October 17, 1901, the _Antarctica_ proceeded to South
America, where, at the request of the Argentine Government, a
representative of that country, in the person of Lieutenant Sobral, of
the Navy, joined the expedition. In return for this courtesy the
Argentine Government offered to do all it could to assist the
expedition. How magnificently it carried out its promise will be seen
later.

Early in January the ship was amongst the ice, making her way as fast as
she could to the neighbourhood of Erebus and Terror Gulf, where it was
hoped a suitable site would be found for the winter station. The state
of the ice, however, was not favourable to this scheme, and, by the time
Seymour Island was sighted, it was evident there was little chance of
working into more southern latitudes. Nearly ten years before Captain
Larsen had visited this island, and had taken from it specimens of
fossil wood and molluscs, the first fossils ever discovered in the
Antarctic.

Before landing on it and seeking for more geological specimens, the
leader determined to try whether there was any chance of penetrating to
the South from a more westerly longitude. The ship was turned on to a
westerly course and kept on it until the beginning of February, but as
no opening was to be seen through the ice to the south, her head was
turned to the east once more, and she returned to the neighbourhood of
Seymour Island. On February 10 the vessel was in Sydney Herbert Bay,
which formed the hitherto unvisited part of Erebus and Terror Gulf. As
it was obviously impossible to get farther to the south, Nordenskjold
decided to establish the winter station on one of the islands in this
vicinity.

A brief visit to Seymour Island did not reveal the wealth of
fossil-bearing strata that was expected. Paulet Island was visited and
an interesting circular lake was discovered, lying in a circular range
of hills. The banks of the lake bore ample evidences that at one time
there had been great volcanic activity at the place, and the lake was
evidently formed in the hollow of the extinct crater. The place did not
appeal to them as a site for the winter station, and, as further
journeys revealed another island on the other side of Seymour Island,
where there was a beach which appeared to be sheltered from the
southward, the point whence the most violent winds blew, it was decided
to build the hut there.

The _Antarctica_ anchored in the bay opposite the beach and rapidly
unloaded the camp equipment. When everything was almost landed, a
movement in the ice at the mouth of the bay compelled the ship to stand
out into open water, so the party of six, who were to spend the winter
on the island, hastened ashore, where they had their hut to build and
all preparations to make without the help, which had been counted upon,
of the crew of the vessel. But this did not weigh heavily upon them, and
they set to work with a will. In the course of a week, the _Antarctica_
was able to get into the bay again and to land the remaining stores; but
by that time the hut was up and the adventurous six were almost settled
down to their routine work.

A day or so after landing, Nordenskjold discovered that the island they
were on--named Snow Hill Island--was peculiarly interesting from a
geological point of view, for he found fossils of ammonites, a token of
ancient life of the region which alone would have made the expedition
memorable.

During the first month of their sojourn, the party were fully occupied
in organising their scientific work and in taking preliminary trips
through the island. At an early date they satisfied themselves that
Admiralty Bay is a Sound, and that the portion of the continent
extending to the vicinity was more in the nature of a group of scattered
islands, with deep sounds passing between them, than a continuous
stretch of mainland. The microscopical examination of the soil revealed
the presence of numerous bacteria, while the examination of the waters
showed that the lower forms of life were well represented. On the land
there were abundance of penguins, seals, and migratory birds; but
otherwise there was an absence of the animals found throughout the
Arctic regions.

On one point they had reason to be dissatisfied with the position
selected for the station. At the time the site was chosen it was
believed that they would be well sheltered from the force of the gales.
The reverse was found to be the case. Gales came from the south-west for
days together and blew with a velocity that was astounding. On one
occasion a large bag of fossils, left on the steps of the hut, was blown
yards away; while on another, a barrel of bread was carried off, and a
whale-boat was lifted over a second boat and flung against a mass of
ice, a distance of twenty-one yards. When the boat was found, after the
storm had abated, it was lying keel upwards, with the greater part of
one side smashed in. The oars, thwarts, and inside planks were scattered
and broken, even the zinc plating being stripped off and blown away.

A curious phenomenon was observed during the progress of these gales.
The air became saturated with electricity to such an extent that the
metal parts of the instruments gave shocks to the fingers when touched,
while the tips of a man's fingers glowed with luminosity when outside
the hut in the dark. As a similar thing occurs in the Sahara during the
progress of a simoon or sand-storm, it was considered that the amount of
electricity was caused by the friction set up by the particles of snow
carried along in a never-ending cloud by the gale. The rate at which the
dry particles of snow moved was tremendous. An extra severe gale
carrying away the wind-gauge, it was not possible to keep a complete
record of the velocity of the gales, but from the records secured, it
was demonstrated that, during the first half of June, if the hut had
travelled with the same velocity as the wind rushed past it, a distance
of 14,900 miles would have been covered, or as far as from the hut to
Sweden and half-way back.

As winter approached, the storms obscured the sky and the sun was not
often seen. They were not far enough south to lose it altogether, and
all through the winter they had the benefit of its presence, though not
for many hours at a time. When it did come, however, it came with great
magnificence. After a series of storms they saw it rise one morning, and
the spectacle is described as gorgeous and beautiful. "The morning was
so clear and bright that I absolutely do not know with what to compare
it," Nordenskjold wrote. "A faint violet light lay along the horizon and
over Cockburn Island, which forms the central point of view from the
station. The sky gleams with a darker blue, and across it float long
streamers of ribbon-like clouds, which shine and flame in red. But ever
in the colours there is something pale, a paleness which predominates
with indescribable delicateness of tone in the tints of the horizon, and
in the blue and white shades of the stretches of land, which contrast so
strongly with the dull brown of our immediate neighbourhood, and even
with the sharply defined ice wall of Snow Hill. At about ten o'clock a
glowing spot begins to be visible on the horizon, and, presaged by a
perpendicular pillar of fire, there rises what would be the orb of the
sun, but which, in consequence of refraction, appears to us to be a
broad flaming moving belt of fire. On each side of the sun there are two
shining, intensely rainbow-coloured belts, forming parts of a ring,
which, however, can be seen but imperfectly. The sun rises higher in the
heavens and assumes by degrees his ordinary appearance, whereupon these
accessory phenomena disappear, together with the moon, whose crescent
has been visible in the sky until the last possible moment."

The winter passed without misfortune, and with the approach of spring
preparations were made for the first long sledge journey. On this, and
other journeys, they succeeded in travelling long distances over what
was often heavy ice, on two meals a day. The first, which was the more
substantial of the two, consisted of pemmican made into a thick
porridge-like soup, the nutritious qualities of which were felt even as
it was being eaten. This was followed by coffee, meat, biscuits, butter
and sugar. On such a meal the men existed and travelled all day, making
no stop until the evening, when they had their dinner, consisting merely
of pease or lentil soup, meat, chocolate, bread, butter, and, sometimes,
bacon. Immediately they had eaten this frugal repast they were in their
sleeping-bags and asleep.

After climbing the ice ridges, which rose along the shores of the
mainland, they succeeded in reaching the land itself on October 18,
though the only evidence of it was the appearance of some dark-coloured
rocks which showed above the ice. They were then in 56° 48' S. and 62°
11' W. This was as far as they penetrated, and the rapidity of their
movements is shown by the record they set of thirty-eight and a half
miles in one day. Other shorter trips taken over the islands in the
vicinity of Snow Hill Island resulted in the discovery of important
fossils, including the bones of an unknown vertebrate animal, some
mammoth penguins, as well as the leaves of different kinds of pine trees
and several ferns. These were all regarded as belonging to the Tertiary
period.

With the New Year of 1903 they indulged in festivities, not only on
account of the season, but also in anticipation of the early arrival of
the _Antarctica_. As they had no idea of spending two winters in
succession in the station, they had not been rigidly economical with
their stores. There was no shortage in anything, but there was not
enough to last them during a second winter on the same scale that they
had lived during the first. When the days went by and grew into weeks,
and no ship appeared, they began to take note of these things. For a
time they kept on the lookout, and, at night, would conjecture at what
hour on the following day the _Antarctica_ would appear, and by whom she
would first be seen, but as the month slipped by and no ship appeared,
they dropped the subject, with one accord, and, instead of discussing
when the vessel would arrive, they talked about the best way of spending
their second winter at the station. The penguin roosts were visited and
large numbers of the birds were killed and stored away for winter food,
while seals were slaughtered to provide food for the dogs and clothing
for the men. Although they never discussed it, the idea each man had
about the non-arrival of the _Antarctica_ was that she had become caught
in the ice, and so prevented from reaching them until it was too late in
the season. What had actually occurred never suggested itself.

After passing the winter as was arranged, the _Antarctica_ had proceeded
to Tierra del Fuego and South Georgia, had picked up all the members of
the expedition, and had steamed away to the South so as to reach the
winter station early in January. As she advanced, however, she found the
sea so blocked with ice that she could not follow the course she had
sailed the previous year. When she arrived at Hope Bay, some miles to
the north of the station, Professor Andersson and two companions landed
with sledges and sufficient provisions to last nine men for two months.
It was their intention to proceed over the ice to the station, while the
_Antarctica_ steamed away to the west, in the hopes of finding an
opening through the ice which would enable her to reach the station. If,
on the arrival of the relief party at the station, the _Antarctica_ had
not appeared, they were to return, with the other six, and wait for the
ship at Hope Bay.

Before proceeding over the ice to the station the three built a small
stone hut, where they stored the greater portion of the stores, and with
the remainder on their sledge they started on their march. But the ice,
which had been too compact for the ship to penetrate, was not compact
enough for them to traverse. Delay after delay was caused by leads and
channels, until it was forced upon them that they would not be able to
reach the station until the summer was over and the ice formed solid
over the sea. As by that time the _Antarctica_ ought to have arrived at
the station, they decided their best course was to return to the depôt
at Hope Bay and await her advent. They did so, but no ship appeared,
and, with the end of summer, it was clear to them that something had
happened either to the ship or at the station, and that the only thing
left for them to do was to make themselves as comfortable as they could.
With the limited store of provisions they had with them it was necessary
to go on short rations at once, though the capture of some penguins, the
shooting of seals, and the catching of fish by means of a hook made from
a strap buckle and a line of sealskin torn into strips, augmented their
stock of food and gave them, also, in the blubber of the seals, fuel and
light. Cooped up in their little stone hut, which was only built large
enough, in the first instance, as a place to hold their stores, they
went through the dreary months of winter with a contentment which was
the very acme of heroism.

Meanwhile the _Antarctica_ had steamed away to the west, and then, a
chance offering itself, had stood to the south until she was in the
latitude of Paulet Island. She turned to the east, heading in the
direction of the station on Snow Hill Island, when the ice caught her.
For days she remained in the pack, those on board chafing at the delay
and trying every device to get her free. But the ice was too strong, and
at last they were forced to admit that they were caught for the winter.
This was bad enough, but there was worse to follow. A movement began in
the pack, and a pressure-ridge started directly for the ship. It was
upon them almost before they realised it, and the crash with which she
heeled over told its own tale. The ice had torn a length of her keel
away, and had made a hole in her which it was impossible to repair.

Everything that could be got out was thrown on to the ice, and the
ship's company formed themselves into sledge parties to convey as much
as they could to the nearest land. This was Paulet Island, where they
arrived after an arduous march and at once set to work to construct a
shelter for the winter, which was now upon them. There they stayed,
within a few miles of the station, and of the other party at Hope Bay,
but all in ignorance of the proximity of one another, and quite unable
to communicate.

With the first sign of approaching spring the men at the station made
arrangements to resume their expeditions and complete the survey of the
islands in their immediate vicinity. The first trip was in the direction
of Hope Bay, and the party had been out some days when, in the dim
light, one thought he saw an unusual dark patch on the ice in the
distance. He drew his companion's attention to it, but neither cared to
trust their eyes. As they approached nearer, the dark patch resolved
itself into the figures of men, and a still nearer view revealed two
such extraordinary creatures that one of the men from the station
thought it would be as well to have a revolver ready in case of
emergencies. The two figures were in black garments, with black caps on
their heads, and their hands and faces were as black as their clothes,
while the upper parts of their faces were hidden by curious-looking
masks. Beside them was a sledge.

With considerable uncertainty the men from the station approached, and
were not reassured when they were asked, in English, how they were.
"Thanks; how are you?" they replied. "Don't you know us?" one of the
strange-looking creatures asked. "We're the relief party. Have you seen
the ship?" Then a third figure appeared from behind an ice hummock where
he had been preparing a meal. They were Professor Andersson and his
companions, who were on their way, for the second time, to the station.

Without loss of time the reunited comrades made their way to the
station, where soap and water and a fresh supply of clothes soon
transformed the appearance of the three who had had so trying a time in
the little stone hut at Hope Bay. But the situation was still fraught
with anxiety, now that both parties realised something very serious had
happened to the _Antarctica_. It was impossible for them to determine
whether she had gone to the bottom, or had been beset in the ice. Only
one thing was clear, and that was, that they would all have to stay
where they were until some help came to them. While they were still
debating what chances there were of any coming before another winter
went by, they were startled, one day, by the arrival of visitors. These
proved to be a search party from the Argentine cruiser _Uruguay_, which
the Argentine Government had despatched as the _Antarctica_ had not
returned at her appointed time. Help had come at a time and from a
quarter least expected.

But the news that the cruiser brought added very much to the fears the
explorers entertained as to the safety of the _Antarctica_ and her crew.
If she had been beset, some of her company could have reached the
station over the ice while it was still compact, or, if she was still
afloat, she ought herself to have been able to reach them. The absence
of all news made the members of the expedition gathered at the station
more than uneasy as to the fate of their comrades.

The morning after the Argentine officers arrived, one of the men,
looking out of the hut, exclaimed that eight men were coming over the
ice. Under the impression that they were some of the cruiser's crew sent
to assist in removing the baggage from the station to the ship, he went
out to meet them, walking slowly, as he tried to decide what was to be
done if they could not speak any language he knew. The others in the
hut, watching him, saw him suddenly leap forward and then turn to them
and wave his arms. "Larsen! Larsen is here!" they heard him shout.

With one accord they rushed out after him, and in a few moments were
eagerly shaking hands with the eight men, who were a detachment sent out
from the camp on Paulet Island to ascertain whether the party at the
station was still intact or whether it had been rescued. The news was
sent to the cruiser, and soon all the members of the expedition and
their baggage were on board and the ship was steaming for Paulet Island.

On arrival off the coast no signs of the remainder of the crew of the
_Antarctica_ were to be seen, so the whistle was blown. The men at the
time were all in the shelter, sleeping, and the sudden sound of the
whistle roused them. For the moment they could not believe their ears.
Then one of them looked out and saw the ship, and the shout with which
he and his companions greeted the sight rang far out over the water.

Professor Andersson and his two comrades had left the _Antarctica_ on
December 29, 1902; the ship was nipped on January 10, 1903; and the
castaways arrived at Paulet Island at the end of February. They had
lived in the shelter they constructed, subsisting mostly on penguin,
until November, when the Argentine cruiser arrived. Only one man had
died.

The expedition reached Buenos Aires on November 30, 1903, having, during
the time they had been in the Antarctic, collected a mass of interesting
and valuable scientific information.




CHAPTER XVIII

BRITAIN HOLDS HER OWN

     A Capable Crew--A Modern Franklin--Early Discoveries--Frozen in--An
     Historic Journey--The Record of "Farthest South"--How the Record
     was Won--Speedy Travelling--Receding Ice Limits--A Dying
     Glacier--The Secret of the Barrier--A Fatal Gale--Lost in the
     Snow--An Antarctic Chute--Prolonged Slumber--Antarctic Coal--Home
     with Honour.


The British Expedition, despatched under the international agreement,
was destined, not only to surpass the achievements of the other two, but
also to establish a series of records superior to anything that has yet
been accomplished in Polar exploration, either in the northern or
southern hemispheres.

The members of the expedition, consisting of Naval officers and men,
officers of the Mercantile Marine (Royal Naval Reserve), and civilian
scientists, sailed from Cowes on August 6, 1901, on board the
_Discovery_, a vessel specially built for the purpose. The ship
proceeded to New Zealand, and left there on November 28, 1901, for
Victoria Land. They arrived there December 24.

[Illustration: MAP OF SOUTH POLAR REGIONS.

The black line marks the voyage of the _Discovery_; the dotted line the
course of the record-making Southern sledge journey. On the right of the
map are seen the winter quarters of the German Expedition under Prof.
von Drygalski.]

In selecting the members of the expedition, great care had been
exercised, and the excellent results of the voyage may, in a great
measure, be attributed to this. No other qualification than fitness was
allowed to rank with the selecting committee, so that every one on board
the _Discovery_ knew what he had to do and was capable of doing it. This
is particularly true in regard to the commander, Captain Robert F.
Scott, R.N., of whom the President of the Royal Geographical Society
justly said: "the skilful and bold navigator, the ideal director of a
scientific staff, the organiser of measures securing the health and good
spirits of his people, and the beloved commander of the chosen band of
explorers who are ready to face hardships and dangers to secure his
approval." Throughout the entire period the expedition was away, the
attitude of the commander was entirely in keeping with the grandest
traditions of the service to which he belonged, and would serve to place
his name in the brilliant list of Polar heroes quite apart from the
splendid feats he personally performed while in the Antarctic. Prominent
amongst these stands the record of "farthest South," achieved by Scott
and two comrades, in September 1902, when the flag was carried to 82°
17' S., or some 250 miles nearer the Pole than it had yet been.

[Illustration: THE _DISCOVERY_ LYING IN WINTER QUARTERS, FROZEN IN.

The large hut could accommodate the whole crew, and was built in case of
a disaster to the ship. The smaller huts in the foreground were used for
magnetic and astronomical observations.]

The first point touched by the _Discovery_ on her voyage along the coast
of Victoria Land was Cape Adare, where the Newnes expedition, under
Borchegrevinck, passed the winter of 1899. Here a brief landing was
effected, a collection made of the rocks in the neighbourhood, and a
cairn built to hold a record for the information of the relief ship,
which was to be sent out in the following year. Continuing the voyage to
the South, the explorers visited Wood Bay, and, subsequently, discovered
an excellent harbour as far south as 76° 31' S.

Landing at Cape Crozier on January 22, and leaving another record there
for the information of the relief ship, the _Discovery_ went east along
the ice barrier until the 165th meridian of longitude was passed, when
the barrier was found to trend to the north, the sea becoming rapidly
more shoal. The coast line was followed to 76° S., or 150 miles further
than the expeditions before had gone. The ship was then turned, and, in
174° E. longitude, a place was seen where an inlet ran into the barrier.
A sledge party went on the ice and penetrated as far as 78° 50' S., the
point reached by Borchegrevinck in his sledge trip.

By this time it was realised that winter quarters must be selected, and
the _Discovery_ sailed to that part of the sea where Mount Erebus and
Mount Terror reared their lofty heads on the land. Examining the land
for a suitable site for the camp, it was learned that both Erebus and
Terror are situated on an island, and not, as was formerly believed, on
the mainland. At the opposite end of the island another smaller volcanic
mount was seen, with a still smaller one between it and the two giants.
The larger of these was named Mount Discovery, and, near its base, the
site of the camp was chosen. The ship was worked in as close to the
shore as was possible before the heavy frost set in, and, as she was
well constructed to withstand the pressure of ice, she remained in this
position until, after the second winter had been passed, the relief ship
arrived with sufficient explosives to blast a way out of the ice.

As soon as the members of the expedition had settled down and all was
made snug, trips were taken in all directions along the coast and over
the ice. The longest trip, taken in the following September, was
arranged for, food depôts being established as far to the south as the
stores could be conveyed.

On this trip, the historic one of the expedition, only three went. These
were Captain Scott, Lieutenant Shackleton, and Dr. Wilson. They had dogs
with them at the start, but the animals grew sick and weak, and were, at
last, quite useless in dragging the sledges. The three harnessed
themselves to the sledges in place of the dogs, and, handicapped with
this weight of 240 lbs. each, they pushed on until they reached 82° 17'
S. From the position they then occupied they were able to see as far as
83° 20' S., and would have gone as far, if not farther, but for an
insuperable obstacle that confronted them. The route they followed was
over rough ice, often yawning with deep crevasses, down which the
sledges had to be lowered and then hauled up on the other side. Some of
them were veritable chasms, but they faded into insignificance when
compared with the one which opened before the explorers at the end of
the march. For a time they examined this mighty ice ravine to see if it
were not possible, one way or another, to get across. The descent might
have been possible, and there was no great difficulty in crossing the
floor of it, but the far side rose in an unbroken precipice, and they
recognised it as insurmountable, even to such daring and intrepid
climbers as themselves.

From the latitude they had attained they were able to learn that
Victoria Land is traversed by a range of high mountains, which, in 82°
S., were from 10,000 to 14,000 feet high. A line of foot-hills, closely
resembling Admiralty Mountains in appearance, rose in longitude 160° E.
The route gradually ascended, as the party progressed, until a level
unbroken plain was reached, the altitude of which was 9000 feet. The
coast line could be seen stretching away due south to the 83rd parallel.

On the way back Lieutenant Shackleton unfortunately ruptured a
blood-vessel during an unusually heavy strain at the sledges. The
strength of all the party was severely taxed by the hardships of the
journey, and the sudden incapacitating of one of the three was a matter
of grave anxiety. He was relieved of the weight of his sledge, but they
all realised that if they were to get back alive to the ship, Lieutenant
Shackleton would have to walk, as the other two were utterly unable to
drag the sledges, with the food and supplies, and his weight as well.
With heroic determination he followed them on foot, only complaining
that his injury effectively prevented him from doing his share in the
hard work. So they journeyed, arriving at the ship after an absence of
ninety-four days, during which they must have covered quite a thousand
miles. The speed at which they travelled, when the ice conditions would
allow them to proceed, was as high as thirty-two miles a day, a speed
far greater than has been attained by other explorers, with one
exception, even when the sledges have been drawn by dog-teams.

[Illustration: THE "FARTHEST SOUTH" SLEDGE PARTY IN A BLIZZARD.

_Drawn by Stanley L. Wood._]

The exception was the record set by another party of the _Discovery_
explorers, who, without dogs, and with heavy sledges (240 lbs. a man),
covered thirty-three miles a day over the inland ice. This party went
out in a westerly direction and passed over the interior of Victoria
Land, which they found covered with an ice-cap forming a great plain
9000 feet above the sea-level. They were fifty-three days absent, and,
at their farthest, were 142 miles from the ship. When they turned back,
the plain on the horizon seemed to be higher than where they stood, and
rocks occasionally showed. Between this plain and the coast they had
several magnificent views of glaciers. In following one down they had an
interesting evidence of the fact that the ice in these regions is
receding, though at a rate that will require many centuries to pass
before it is all melted and the land made available for human
settlement.

They had followed down the glacier for a day, and the ice became so very
rough they were obliged to leave their sledges behind them and proceed
with the greatest care. As they continued to descend, the glacier
gradually dwindled and then suddenly ended in a low wall of ice. In the
valley beyond were some frozen lakes, beyond which the valley changed
into a series of deep, narrow gorges, filled with long lines and
confused heaps of stones and other débris, shed from the glacier as it
melted. Perhaps in this valley, more than anywhere else, lay the
evidences of what was happening and what had been. There lay the
glacier, inert and dead, while the summer sun was gradually wasting its
huge mass. On either side its shrinking tributaries had already severed
their connection with it, and receded up the mountain sides. Everything
pointed to receding glaciation. Not only were the gorges filled with the
stones and débris of the moraines, but thousands of feet up the
hill-sides they lay in clear-cut lines, showing how vast the proportions
of the glacier had once been.

Other glaciers observed gave the same indications. One of these, named
the Ferrar Glacier, after the discoverer, was described as containing
probably as much ice as any hitherto known in the world. Two others, the
Barnes and the Shackleton Glaciers, each contained a great deal more;
but all were greatly shrunk from the tremendous proportions they must
once have had, and which could be traced by the lines of moraines. It
was from observing these glaciers and speculating upon the immeasurable
quantity of ice that once must have slowly flowed along them to the sea,
that a theory was formed as to the real significance of the great ice
barrier lying to the south of the Antarctic Circle. The opinion was
generally entertained that the ice in this barrier is afloat. It had
receded from the time when Ross first discovered it. Even while the
expedition was in the neighbourhood it receded. In September 1902, a
depôt was established on the ice at a line drawn between a volcanic peak
at the extreme end of Minna Bluff and the top of Mount Discovery. In
November 1903, this spot was found to have moved 608 yards out of the
alignment, moving east of north. On the sides of Mount Terror, 800 feet
above the existing surface of the barrier, moraines marked its original
height. From these facts it was reasoned that at one time the ice
forming the cap over the Antarctic continent was enormously deeper than
it is to-day, and that it then extended out into the Antarctic Ocean for
probably hundreds of miles further than it now reaches. The slow but
steady flow of the great ice stream had absolutely filled the sea off
the coast of Victoria Land, and the barrier, now existing, was the
remains of this once mighty mass.

It was on one of these exploring journeys that a curious experience
befell one party, a member of which, unfortunately, lost his life in
consequence. The party were out with sledges and had halted for the
midday meal when a violent gale sprang up. As usual, the wind set the
snow in motion, and soon the men found themselves in a whirling cloud of
finely powdered snow which entirely shut out their view in all
directions. Believing themselves to be in the vicinity of the ship, they
left the sledges and set out to march to the vessel. Soon they found
themselves on a slope which they fancied they recognised as the one that
led down to where the ship lay in the ice. As they cautiously advanced,
one of the men missed his footing. What with the force of the wind, the
insecure foothold on the moving snow, and the declivity of the slope, he
was unable to stop himself, and slipped past his comrades and out of
sight in the whirling snow with the speed of lightning.

The officer in charge halted the other men, and all crouched down,
expecting their comrade to rejoin them as soon as he secured his
footing. After waiting some time without his appearing, the officer
advanced to find him. With the first step he also went out of sight as
though he had been shot from a gun. Then a third went forward, and was
at once lost to the sight of the others in the same way. The remainder
of the men, after waiting for some time, concluded the three had
reached the ship, and determined to set out after them. One man, a young
New Zealander named Hare, set off to reach the sledges and recover his
mittens. In the confusion of the whirling snow his absence was not
noted, and the rest of the party set out for the ship, which they were
satisfied was quite near. As a matter of fact, they were entirely out of
their bearings. The man who took the lead walked very cautiously down
the slope. He had heavy tacks in the boots he was wearing, and was thus
enabled to get a firm hold of the snow. To this he owed his life, for,
through the drifting snow, he suddenly saw an open chasm yawn at his
feet. He threw himself back and shouted to those behind to stop. All
tried to do so, but the man next to the leader was unable to pull up.
His feet shot from under him, and he was seen to dash past them like a
flash.

Out of the nine who had originally formed the party, four now remained
together. Warned by the sudden disappearance of the man Vince, who had
shot past them over the precipice, the four moved with the greatest
deliberation and caution. At length they were able to reach the shore
and locate the ship, whither they hastened with the news.

[Illustration: A DRIFTING ICE FLOE ATTACHED TO THE _DISCOVERY_ BY A
ROPE, WHILE THE CREW ARE DIGGING SUFFICIENT ICE TO REPLENISH THE FRESH
WATER SUPPLY OF THE SHIP.]

The alarm was at once given, steam was got up, the siren was set to
work, and its shrill notes penetrated far and wide, while relief parties
were organised and despatched. Knowing the route the men were to have
taken, no difficulty was experienced in tracking down the abandoned
sledges. But on arrival there the relief party was astounded to find the
officer and the two men who had vanished from the others while
descending the snow slope. The astonishment was increased when not one
of the three could explain how they had succeeded in returning to the
sledges. They remembered their experiences as they were hurled down the
snow slope, and each one told the same tale. Immediately they had stood
up against the gale they felt their feet go from under them, they rushed
forward with incredible speed, so fast, indeed, as to have absolutely no
control over themselves, and then they plunged into a mass of soft snow.
There they found themselves and one another. They were still dazed when
found. Subsequent examination showed that the slope down which they had
been hurled extended for a distance of five hundred yards and terminated
with the bank of snow, into which they had plunged. The bank was within
fifteen feet of a cliff which had a clear drop of two hundred feet to
the shore-ice below.

It was over this cliff that Vince had gone, and no trace of the
unfortunate fellow was ever found. Nor were the relief parties
successful in discovering Hare, the New Zealander. When all had returned
to the ship he was also given up as lost, but to the amazement of every
one he was seen returning to the ship on the second day after the gale.
He explained that on his way back to the sledges he had fallen in the
snow and had lost consciousness, returning to his senses some time after
to find himself completely buried in a snow-drift. He had struggled out
and made his way to the ship. It was his turn to be amazed when he was
told he had been searched for during the whole of the previous day. It
was some time before he would believe that what he referred to as to-day
was in reality yesterday. He had lain in the snow for a period of
thirty-six hours. When he fell, the heavy snow had apparently covered
him, and so kept the heat of his body from leaving him. He had thus sunk
into a heavy snow-sleep, and his physical stamina had done the rest in
helping him towards recovery. His escape, without even a frost-bite, is
unique in the annals of Polar experiences.

During the second year of their stay, a discovery was made, which, from
a geological point of view, exceeded in value all the others put
together. It was in October that a sledge party set out to penetrate
into the interior of Victoria Land. They travelled over the ice plain at
an average altitude of 9000 feet until, in 78° S. and 146° 30' E., they
were at a distance of 270 miles from the ship. The interior of the land
seemed to stretch in a vast continental plateau continuously at a height
of 9000 feet. In one of the many ravines examined, sandstone strata were
discovered, in one of which there was a narrow seam of fossil plants.
The "coal measure" was only one-eighth of an inch in thickness, but
within it were found specimens of plants belonging to the Miocene
period.

In February 1904 the relief ship _Morning_ arrived at the station, and,
with the explosives she brought with her, the _Discovery_ was freed from
the ice and commenced her homeward journey. She had completed a stay of
two winters in a latitude 500 miles further South than any other ship
had wintered, while the expedition had reaped a success such as no other
expedition has ever achieved in either Arctic or Antarctic regions.



THE END


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